Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 26-30, 2012


Guy Pearce goes out of this world in Lockout, a sci-fi hostage drama that's set in a maximum-security prison in space.

In a scenario that closely mirrors Escape from New York, he's a government agent who's been falsely imprisoned and his only chance of freedom is rescuing the U.S. president's daughter (Maggie Grace), who's being held hostage in the space prison.

It's directed by Stephen St. Leger and James Mather from their script co-written with Luc Besson, who is also a producer. Peter Stormare also stars.

Critical reception is mixed, but it looks like a fun return to form for Pearce, the star of such movies as Memento and L.A. Confidential. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Safe – Jason Statham is doing his gruff Jason Statham act again, only this time he's doing it while protecting a little Chinese girl who is a mathematics wiz. She's being pursued by Chinese and Russian mobsters, as well as corrupt officers in the New York police department. Statham portrays a second-rate cage fighter, who, it turns out, is an ex-cop – one of the NYPD's toughest. Critical reception is mixed, but if you're a fan of Statham's action movies, then you probably won't be disappointed by this. Rated 18+.

From Up on Poppy Hill – Nestling in comfortably with the nostalgic Always 3, which opened in cinemas last week, comes this Studio Ghibli anime adaptation of a manga about Yokohama schoolchildren working to save their clubhouse from destruction as Japan prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. Goro Miyazaki directs. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. In Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square.

Venom (อสรพิษ, Asoraphit) – A gifted boy shadow puppeteer's life is in danger after he's bitten by a cobra, but villagers believe the snake to be holy and will not help the boy. Based on the novella by famous Thai writer Danarun Sangthong, the movie is partially funded by the Culture Ministry’s Thai Khem Khang (Strong Thailand) project. Jarunee Thammayu directs. At Apex Siam Square.

Also showing

New Spanish Film Week – As covered in a recent special blog entry, seven highly acclaimed Spanish films from the past year or so will screen for free at 7 nightly until Wednesday at Paragon Cineplex. The fest opens tonight with the Oscar-nominated animated feature Chico and Rita, a musical romance that follows a Cuban musician and a singer as they chase their dreams from Havana to Las Vegas. Other highlights include Balada Triste de Trompeta (The Last Circus), about a sad clown in a circus in the 1970s. That's on Sunday night. There's also No habrá paz para los malvados (No Rest for the Wicked), a fact-based thriller about the 2004 Madrid terrorist attacks, on Tuesday. Tickets are free and available from the festival ticket table from around 5pm daily.

A Costa dos Murmurios (The Murmuring Coast) –  Mozambique in the 1960s colonial era is the setting for this 2004 drama by Margarida Cardoso. A young woman leaves Lisbon to join her fiancé, a soldier in Africa. Soon, she finds he's not the same man she fell in love with. The screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand is courtesy of the Embassy of Portugal, which will provide wine and snacks. Admission for non-members is 150 baht. The show time is at 8 tonight (Thursday, April 26).

Hong Kong Film Festival – As covered in a recent special blog entry, ten recent critically acclaimed hit Hong Kong movies will unspool from Friday through Monday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Highlights include director Ann Hui's A Simple Life, which has won many awards this year for performances by Andy Lau and Deanie Ip, portraying an aged servant who is cared for by her master after she has a stroke. Check the schedule at the SF Cinema website. Line up a half hour before showtime to get your free ticket.

Sneak preview

The Cabin in the Woods – Before Joss Whedon started work on The Avengers, he co-wrote and produced this horror-comedy that you're not supposed to talk about. It's wildly popular and much acclaimed and is in sneak previews this week at around 8 nightly. Rated 18+.

Take note

The UMG RCA lobby. Photo via Khajochi Blog.

It's been rumored that the UMG RCA will close on May 1, but now I've heard it may remain open another week so that it may show the upcoming blockbuster superhero film The Avengers.

One of Bangkok's older multiplexes and owned by studio Sahamongkol Film International, the UMG RCA has seen dwindling audiences in recent years as mainstream movie-goers, especially teenagers and young adults, have been drawn to the bigger and flashier shopping-mall multiplexes.

RCA Plaza suffers from a lack of public transport connections – neither the subway nor the City Link rail line stop there, nor do any public bus lines serve the area, leaving personal cars and taxis the only way to visit the place.

The location is also home to the popular House boutique cinema, which was carved out of the formerly five-screen UMG RCA multiplex, but I have been assured that House will not be closing, at least not right now.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: New Spanish Film Week, Hong Kong Film Festival 2012

You'll have hard choices to make next week as competing cinema chains stage competing film festivals – New Spanish Film Week at Paragon Cineplex and the Hong Kong Film Festival at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld – both boasting line-ups of recent award-winning movies.

First up is Paragon's New Spanish Film Week, running from April 26 to May 2. Organized in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain, screenings will be at 7 each night. Admission is free. You'll probably need to look for a table in the cinema lobby to get your ticket. Most of the films, all from the past year or two, were big winners of the Goya Awards (the "Spanish Oscars") and their Catalan counterpart the Gaudi Awards.

Here's the line-up:

  • April 26 – Chico and Rita. This Oscar-nominated musical animated feature is set in Cuba in 1948, and follows the romance between the singer Rita and the musician Chico. It won the Goya and Gaudi Awards for best animated feature.
  • April 27 – Pa negre (Black Bread). In the post-war Catalan countryside, a boy finds the corpses of a man and his son in the forest and authorities want to pin the blame on the boy's father – so the kid sets about to find the truth, ultimately confronting the monster that lives within him. Winner of several Goya Awards last year, including best director for Agustí Villaronga and best film.
  • April 28 – The Primos (Cousinhood). Three cousins revisit the village where they spent their summer vacations in their youth.
  • April 29 – The Balada Triste de Trompeta (The Last Circus). It's 1937 in the midst of the Spanish civil war and the circus has come to town. Then, what nobody expected, the circus performers and rounded up and forced to join the fighting. Later, in 1973, the son of the clown from that earlier circus is struggling as the "sad clown" in another circus. It was nominated for multiple Goya Awards and won for makeup and special effects.
  • April 30 – Mientras Duermes (Sleep Tight). This Hitchcock-inspired thriller is about a man who's obsessed with a woman who lives down the hall in his apartment building, and he sneaks into her room each night to lie with her and appease his fantasies. It won several Guadi Awards, including best director Jaume Balagueró.
  • May 1 – No habrá paz para los malvados (No Rest for the Wicked). This fact-based thriller looks ties into the events leading to the 2004 terrorist bombing in Madrid.  José Coronado stars as a burned-out cop involved in a triple murder, who, in the process of trying to cover his tracks, uncovers an Islamist cell planning a terrorist attack.Winner of multiple Goya Awards this year, including best film, best director for Enrique Urbizu and best actor for Coronado.
  • May 2 – Blackthorn Sin Destino. This western revisits the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with Sam Shepard stepping into the role made famous by Paul Newman. Here, the ageing criminal mastermind is hiding out in Bolivia and hopes to pull off one last job so he can return to the U.S. It won four Goya Awards this year, including Best Cinematography.

Down the road at CentralWorld, at the SF World Cinema, the Hong Kong Film Festival runs from April 27 to 30, with a line-up of 10 films, many of them critically acclaimed award-winners. Here's the line-up:

  • The Beast Stalker – Dante Lam's taut 2008 crime thriller stars Nicholas Tse as a tough cop whose efforts to catch criminal caused a car wreck that left the wanted man in a coma, a fellow officer crippled and a public prosecutor's daughter dead. He's wracked with guilt, and then the criminal wakes up. Nick Cheung also stars.
  • Soundless Wind Chime – This gay-themed romance is about a Chinese man who goes to Switzerland in search of the spirit of his dead lover, and he finds a lookalike guy working in an antique shop.
  • Accident – Soi Cheang's 2009 crime thriler is about a criminal mastermind known as the Brain (Louis Koo) who stages elaborate traffic wrecks in order to cover up bigger crimes. After one of his accidents goes wrong and kills one of his gang, he becomes suspicious of an insurance investigator (Richie Ren), leading to paranoia and great tension.
  • At the End of Daybreak – Actually a Malaysian film (though the producer is from Hong Kong), director Ho Yuhang's sneaking, slow-burn thriller is about a young man looking to escape the burden of living with his alcoholic shopkeeper mother (Kara Hui, who won many awards for this role). He enters into an illicit relationship with a teenage schoolgirl, and runs into conflict with her parents. It screened at the 2010 World Film Festival of Bangkok.
  • Echoes of the Rainbow – Alex Law directs this nostalgic comedy-drama set in Hong Kong of the 1960s as seen through the eyes of a child in a family with a working class father, a happy-go-lucky mother and an aspiring, starry-eyed elder brother. Simon Yam, Sandra Ng and Aarif Rahman star.
  • Night and Fog – A father becomes full of despair as he's unemployed and becomes increasingly abusive against his wife and daughters. The wife turns to social service agencies for help, but finds no solutions, not even from her own family. Ann Hui directs this 2009 drama, which stars Simon Yam and Jingchu Zhang.
  • Breakup Club – An aimless young man (Jaycee Chan) takes up documentary filmmaking after he's dumped by his on-and-off girlfriend, recording his discovery of a magical website that promises to reunite lost loves if they are willing to break up another couple.
  • Lover's Discourse – Four love stories are woven together in this omnibus. Each episode is independent of the next yet each is interconnected.
  • A Simple Life – Director Ann Hui's fact-based drama has dominated the major Hong Kong and Chinese-language movie awards this season. Deanie Ip stars as a servant who's worked for four generations of a Hong Kong family and is now with the last remaining family member (Andy Lau) when she has a stroke. Giving ever more time and attention to his servants needs and pleasures, the man comes to realize how much she means to him.
  • Quattro Hong Kong – Two compilations of four short films each were commissioned for the Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2010 and 2011. The first Quattro had films by Hong Kong directors Fruit Chan with The Yellow Slipper, Heiward Mak with We Might as Well be Strangers, Herman Yau with Fried Glutinous Rice and Clara Law and The Red Earth. Quattro Hong Kong 2 from last year was Pan-Asian, with contributions from Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul (M Hotel), Malaysia's Ho Yuhang (Open Verdict), the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza (Purple) and Hong Kong's Stanley Kwan (13 Minutes in the Lives of ...). Six of the eight shorts have been combined for the Bangkok screening, omitting the segments by Ho Yuhang and Law. So it's really Quattro and a Half

The schedule for this one is a bit trickier, but helpfully, it's been posted at the SF Cinemas website. Tickets are free. Line up a half hour before showtime in the cinema lobby to get them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 19-25, 2012


Since 2007's acclaimed drama Love of Siam, Chookiat Sakveerakul has mainly contributed to short-film projects such as 4 Romances, Lud 4 Lud and Sawasdee Bangkok, and he's still in short-film mode of sorts as he directs his first feature film in five years, Home (Home ความรัก ความสุข ความทรงจำ, Home Khwam Rak Khwam Sook Khwam Songjam). Dedicated to his recently departed father, it's a heartfelt and sentimental collection of three stories, all set in his hometown of Chiang Mai, which ponders endings and beginnings.

The first story is set at night under the luminous glow of a Catholic high school, where a soon-to-graduate senior (Juthawut Wattanakampon) has set up his camera and is taking photos of the empty campus. He encounters an underclassmen acquaintance (Kittisak Pathomburana) and the two boys form a bond of friendship and perhaps something more over the course of the evening. But the morning brings a painfully awkward goodbye.

The middle section stars Penpak Sirikul, who solidly anchors the film as the widowed wife of a farmer who's still trying to solve the puzzle left to her by her husband, who died of throat cancer. In his last stages, after he could no longer speak, he was leaving notes for his wife, which she continues to find as she goes through his papers or looks in other nooks and crannies of their belongings. This dramatic section is lightened by Penpak's character's farmhand nephew and his dingbat girlfriend, who live with her. At the dinner table one evening, at Penpak's urging, the girl starts to talk about her sexual frustration due to her man being tired from farm work all day, and she reels off a endless stream of metaphors – her cobwebbed cave, her closed shop, etc.

The closing section is a wedding, with "Noon" Siriphan Wattanajinda as a northern bride who's marrying a wealthy factory owner (Ruangsak Loychoosak) from Phuket in the south. With her bubbly personality, she seems to be a poor fit for the rather stiff, close-mouthed guy. And after reuniting with her friends, she starts to have second thoughts. Classic romantic-comedy misunderstandings lead to tears and ritual public humiliation amid shooting gold confetti.

A longer review and links to other stories about Home are over at the other blog. Notably, most of the dialogue is in the northern Thai dialect, and presumably most cinemas will have dual English/central Thai subtitles. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Always: Sunset on Third Street 3 – The meticulously detailed, unabashedly sentimental family drama series, based on a popular manga, continues with this third installment that unfolds the continuing stories of the tight-knit san-chome neighborhood near Tokyo Tower. Here, drama plays out against the backdrop of Tokyo's continuing post-war modernization as it prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. Takashi Yamazaki again directs. Check the review by the Japan Times' Mark Schilling for more details. If you're a fan of the series, you might have already known that House cinema on RCA had a revival run of the first two films in recent weeks, and now they are playing all three. A 3D version screened in Japan, but it's only 2D here in Thailand. It's at Apex Siam Square and House.

The Raven – John Cusack portrays author Edgar Allan Poe as he's called upon to solve a mystery involving a madman committing horrific murders inspired by Poe's darkest works. Poe joins with a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans) in a quest to get inside the killer's mind and stop him from making every one of Poe's brutal stories a reality. Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson-Cohen also star. James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) directs. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. Rated 18+.

360 – Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) offers a roundelay of stories that examine how sexual relationships can transgress social boundaries. Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Foster star. Critical reception is mixed. At Apex Siam Square and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 15+.

Also showing

À nos amoursSandrine Bonnaire stars in this 1983 character study as a promiscuous 15-year-old Parisian girl, who despite her age, engages in a number of affairs in reaction to her miserable situation at home. Maurice Pialat directs. It's at the Alliance Française at 7.30 on Wednesday, April 25.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 12-18, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

In Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a stuffy fisheries scientist (Ewan McGregor) is hired by a sheikh to introduce British salmon to the desert country.

It's an impossible job, but the British government's hard-charging press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches onto the scheme as a means of distracting the public from bad news about the war.

So the expert presses ahead with the absurd plan and in the process has a life-changing experience that sees him falling for the sheikh's financial adviser (Emily Blunt).

Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat) directs. The script, based on a novel by Paul Torday, is by Simon Beaufoy, who previously adapted 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire.

Critical reception for this "feel good" movie is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated G.

Also opening

Battleship – Before there were video games, there was the simple naval-combat board game in which ships are secretly placed on a grid and your opponent tries to guess where your hidden ships are by calling out the grid coordinates. "You sunk my battleship," was the cry of defeat. Now that board game has been transformed by toymaker Hasbro into a big-budget action film, with an alien invasion taking place during war games in the Pacific. It more closely resembles Transformers, which funnily enough, is also a Hasbro toy franchise. They should find a way to work G.I. Joe into the movie so three Hasbro franchises can get in on the action all at once. Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgaard, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker star. The singer Rihanna also stars, making her big-screen debut. Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom, The Rundown) directs. This doesn't open in the U.S. until next month, so there's not yet any critical reception. Rated 13+.

One for the Money – Katherine Heigl is a woman who's desperate for cash. She takes a job working for her sleazy cousin's bail-bonds company, and her first job is tracking down a former vice cop and murder suspect who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in high school. Julie Ann Robinson (The Last Song) directs. It's been unfavorably compared to a similar movie, The Bounty Hunter, which starred Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Better movies along these lines might be Midnight Run or even Domino. Perhaps stay inside during the insane Songkran holiday and watch those instead. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Le genou de Claire (Claire's Knee) – Eric Rohmer directs this 1970 drama about a 35-year-old professor who is suddenly struck with the urge to touch a teenage girl's knee. It's at the Alliance Francais at 7.30 next Wednesday.

Sneak preview

Home (Home ความรัก ความสุข ความทรงจำ, Home Khwam Rak Khwam Sook Khwam Songjam) – Matters of heart and family are still near and dear to Love of Siam director Chookiat Sakveerakul and he explores them in his new movie Home, which opens in wide release next Thursday but is in sneak previews this weekend through Monday at select cinemas at around 8 nightly. Home is a collection of three stories set in Chookiat's northern Thailand hometown of Chiang Mai. One has a pair of high-school pals (Juthawut Wattanakampon and Kittisak Pathomburana) reminiscing about their school days, and there's an undercurrent of perhaps something more than friendship. Another thread is about a northern gal ("Noon" Siriphan Wattanajinda) who's getting cold feet as she's about to marry a southern lad (Ruangsak Loychoosak). And a third storyline stars veteran actress Penpak Sirikul – yes, her, again – who earlier this year starred in It Gets Better and is on big screens now in She. In Home, she portrays a soon-to-be-widowed wife of a man (Witoon Jaiprom) with terminal cancer. Rated 18+.

Take note

The ticket sellers at the Scala will be on the job for a while longer it seems. Photo by Philip Jablon.

It looks like the Lido and Scala cinemas are safe from destruction for the time being.

Chulalongkorn University says it has no plans to tear down the two remaining iconic cinemas in Siam Square. At least not yet.

It was all a big misunderstanding, Chula officials say, arising from a press conference they held to publicize the start of construction on their new Siam Square One mall on the site of the Siam Theatre, which suspiciously burned down in the spate of arson attacks during the break-up of the red-shirt political protests in 2010. It was at that press conference that the Chula officials might have mentioned something about it being "curtains" for the Lido and Scala, and that was what was duly reported in the press.

The news created a lot of negative publicity for the university, with movie-goers criticizing the august institution as they rallied to save the Lido and Scala from the wrecking claw.

"Plans have yet to be developed regarding the future of the site," Chula says in a press release, translated on the Southeast Asian Movie Theater Project blog. "All concerned parties will have a say in the matter during the planning process."

The Thai-language press release is on file (PDF) at It's dated March 19. I'm unsure why it's taken so long for the news of the clarification to be reported.

Keep in mind, Chula is not saying they'll never tear down the Lido and Scala – they just don't have any plans to do so at the moment. That could all change when Apex's lease on the Lido runs out next year and Scala's lease is up in 2016.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 5-11, 2012

Black Gold

Director Jean-Jacques Annaud, maker of such films as The Name of the Rose and Seven Years in Tibet, was in Tunisia shooting Black Gold, an epic about about two sheikhs fighting over oil in the 1930s Middle East when Arab Spring broke out, and suddenly the authorities wanted to know why Annaud had 300 guns and loads of other military hardware.

Antonio Banderas stars. He had cornered Annaud, telling the director he'd always wanted to portray an Arab.

Tahir Rahim from Un Prophet also stars, along with Mark Strong (who's gone Arabic before in Body of Lies and Syriana) and Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire.

It premiered at last year's Doha Tribeca International Film Festival. Critical reception is still bit thin, and is so far mostly negative. It's only at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Himizu – Sono Sion adapts a popular manga for this story of star-crossed romance between troubled teenage schoolkids. It's set against the backdrop of disaster in northern Japan. Himizu premiered in competition at last year's Venice festival, where Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor and Actress. At House.

Titanic in 3D – James Cameron’s smash-hit 1997 disaster epic has been remastered and converted to 3D in honor of the 100th anniversary of the demise of the unsinkable ocean liner. One entire scene has even been reshot, to fix astronomical inaccuracies in the night sky. It's the same movie – only now the iceberg is in 3D. Critical reception remains fresh, even after all these years. Also at IMAX. Rated 13+.

The Cold Light of Day – After his family is kidnapped while on a sailing vacation in Spain, a Wall Street trader (eventual Superman star Henry Cavill) goes on the run and uncovers a conspiracy involving a mysterious briefcase. Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver also star. There's no critical reception yet because the movie hasn't been released in the US. Rated 13+.

The Vow – A young woman awakens from a coma and doesn’t remember her husband – only her ex-fiancé. Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum and Scott Speedman star. Critical reception is mostly negative. At SF cinemas. Rated 13+.

Housefull 2: The Dirty Dozen – The game of one-upmanship between competitive conmen continues as they all get married and then go to visit a wealthy in-law. The overstuffed cast has Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Shreyas Talpade, Ritesh Deshmukh, Asin, Jacqueline Fernandez, Shazahn Padamsee, Zarine Khan, Mithun Chakraborty and more. It's in Hindi with English subtitles at SF Cinema Terminal 21 at 8.30 tonight and tomorrow, SFW CentralWorld on Saturday at 8, Major Rama III on Sunday at 4 and 7pm and at Major Sukhumvit on Monday at 8. Call (089) 488 2620, (02) 225 7500 or see

Mr. Idol – Three years after the death of the lead vocalist of her band, a producer (Park Ye-jin) returns to South Korea with the intention of making a comeback. She finds a promising new lead singer, but after a bit of success, a rival music company posts a damaging video clip. Ji Hyun-Woo and Jay Park also star. It's at most cinemas, including Apex Siam Square. Rated 13+.

Plon Naya 2 Ai Yah! (ปล้นนะยะ 2 อั๊ยยยย่ะ) – It was back in 2004 when director Poj Arnon made the bank-robbery farce Spicy Beauty Queens in Bangkok, about colorful transgender cabaret dancers robbing a bank to pay for sex-change operations. Now they are back in their sequined costumes and outlandish wigs for this sequel. Jaturong Pollaboon returns as the ringleader, after having fled abroad. He comes home to finally have that operation. But then the hospital is stormed by a radical student group, led by Somchai Kemklad, doing his usual Somchai Kemklad hotheaded act. Original cast member Charoenporn "Kohtee" Onlamai is among the returnees. They're joined by Kirk Schiller, among others. Actress "Tak" Bongkote Kongmalai is also in cast, apparently having forgiven Poj after they feuded during the making of the martial-arts flick Chalee's Angels a.k.a. Dangerous Flowers. Rated 15+.

Ma Mha 2 (มะหมา 2) – And here's another Thai sequel. This one is to the NGR studio's 2007 talking-dog movie that had the English title of Mid-Road Gang. It proved pretty popular and led to more opportunities for the Chaipak Dog Training Center, which has since supplied many trained dogs to the entertainment industry. Pantham Thongsang again directs. It's mostly a batch of new dogs doing all kinds of new tricks, like running through alleys and jumping through hoops as if they were Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak. The canine cast is led by a pure-breed Thai Bangkaew named Jer. He's voiced by young actor Jirayu La-ongmanee. Jer runs into trouble when he's unjustly accused of attacking his master’s child but in fact, the infant has been kidnapped and it’s up to Jer to rescue the tyke. Pitisak Yaowananon, who starred in Pantham's 2004 drama Ai Fak, also stars. More about the movie is in a Bangkok Post story. Rated G.

Also showing

Burmese Dreaming – With the recent election win by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, many media organizations, now including The Nation, have changed their long-standing policies to refer to Burma as Myanmar. And the former capital is Yangon, not Rangoon. Whatever. Though the political landscape has changed, the human-rights abuses of the past shouldn't be forgotten. So it goes in this 2010 film in which a young Karen woman has a nightmare about the killing of her father by soldiers in a mountain village. She wakes up in a refugee camp on the Thai border. She has been there for six years but still her mind is elsewhere. It's based on the life of Say Say Lah, a refugee imprisoned by the military at age five. Other stories are edited from the tales of students in Umpiem refugee camp. It screens at 8 tonight at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. Entry for non-members is 300 baht.

Belle de jour  – The Alliance Francais has resumed its screenings after a hiatus last month for the French Film Festival and other activities related to Le Fete. In fact, just yesterday, they showed the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Sorry I didn't know about it until now. Next Wednesday it's another classic of French cinema – 1967's Belle De Jour, starring Catherine Deneuve as a housewife who grows bored and secretly sneaks off to work in a whorehouse during her afternoons. It's directed by Luis Buñuel. Other screenings this month are Le genou de Claire from 1970 and A nos Amours from 1983. Check the Alliance Francais website for more information. Show times are at 7.30 on Wednesdays.

Take note

The staircase and five-layer chandelier in the Scala's lobby. Photo by Philip Jablon, via the Southeast Asian Movie Theater Project.
There might have been a stay of execution in the pending plans to raze Siam Square's Lido and Scala cinemas, according to the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, which reports the ornate art-deco Scala theater will be the recipient of an "Award for Outstanding Conservation of Art and Architecture 2012," by the Association of Siamese Architects Under Royal Patronage.

It "should be good news and help to delay demolition."

But don't relax until Chulalongkorn University officially calls off plans to demolish the cinemas.

 There's more news for Thai readers at at Matichon Online.

Lido plans are also on hold pending a decision by Chulalongkorn University, the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project reports.

Earlier, the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project had reported on a "pending victory":

In a recent e-mail exchange with the general manager of Apex, an interesting new development was made known.

Apex president Nanta Tansacha has applied to the "Architectural Society" - which I'm guessing is the abbreviated title of "The Association of Siamese Architects Under Royal Patronage" - to have the Scala Theatre certified as architecturally/historically significant. The certification will be made in April or May.

No further details were made available.

If this designation comes to fruition, it ought to make it illegal to demolish the Scala.

Surf over to the blog post for lots of photos and the ending quote.

Nanta is also interviewed (in Thai) at Matichon Online.

There's also an article in last week's Bangkok Post in which Dr Permyot Kosolbhand, vice-president of Chulalongkorn's Property Management Office, is quoted as saying there are no plans to demolish the Lido and the Scala – "yet".

But wealthy Chulalongkorn University reportedly wants more and more money and aims to make that dough with the development of new commercial properties – building more malls in an area already saturated with malls.

Among its major developments is a new mall on the site of Apex's Siam Theatre, which was suspiciously torched in the arson attacks that followed the break-up of the red-shirt political protests on May 19, 2010.

Here's some quotes from Permyot:

"The Lido is not a heritage site. I can't see any point in conserving this theatre," said Dr Permyot.

"I would like to ask the opposition group one question: do they really see movies there?"

However, the professor quipped: "On the positive side, at least now we know that so many people love Lido."

So you see what kind of mind the folks who oppose Chula's plans are up against.