Monday, June 18, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: FilmsForum Cinema Diverse series

FilmsForum is the newest movie group in Bangkok, and they've started a new screening series called Cinema Diverse at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Cinema Diverse aims to screen acclaimed movies from around the world, with the filmmakers and cast present.

The first Cinema Diverse show is this Sunday with Rang Rasiya (Colors of Passion), a 2008 Hindi-language historical drama. With support from the Indian embassy, director Ketan Mehta and lead actress Nandana Sen will join the opening ceremonies at 5pm, with the movie starting at 6 in the BACC’s fifth-floor auditorium.

Touching on the themes of morality and freedom of the arts, as well as religious conflict, Rang Rasiya is a biographical drama about the famous 19th-century Indian portrait painter Raja Ravi Varma, portrayed by Randeep Hooda, and his passionate relationship with a beautiful woman, Sugandha, who inspired many of his portraits. The artist, who hailed from Kerala in southern India, is best known for his paintings of Hindi goddesses like Lakshmi, Saraswati and Devi. But he also painted sensuous portraits of beautiful women like Sugandha, which got him in trouble with conservative Hindus.

Other movies in the Cinema Diverse series are:

  • Nikkini Vasa (August Drizzle) from Sri Lanka on July 28.
  • Nino from the Philippines on October 20.
  • Matir Moina (Clay Bird) from Bangladesh on November 24.
  • Fah Talai Jone (Tears of the Black Tiger) from Thailand on December 22.

All will screen from 5pm in the fifth-floor auditorium at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. For more details, visit or their Facebook page.

Rang Rasiya will also screen at 8pm on Monday, June 25, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, with director Ketan present. Admission for non-members is 150 baht plus 200 baht for anyone wanting the Indian food and wine served by the Indian embassy.

Take note

I'll be taking a couple week's break from updating this blog, but before I go, I want to mention the MovieMov Italian Film Festival 2012, which runs from July 3 to 7 at SFW CentralWorld. In what's sure to be another popular free movie festival – get in line early to collect your tickets to get a good seat – highlights include a Sergio Leone retrospective, showing all his great spaghetti westerns like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West as well as his gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America. This is rare chance to see these classic movies on the big screen, and I've been told they are cinema-quality digital files, not mere DVDs. There's also newer Italian films plus a line-up of acclaimed Thai movies, mostly indie films that have been big hits at festivals around the world, such as Mundane History, I Carried You Home and It Gets Better. There's also the Bangkok premiere of In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire, the debut feature by Wichanon Somumjarn. The closing film is the latest from Italian horror master Dario Argento, Dracula 3D.

See you again in a couple weeks or so.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 14-20, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

The films of Wes Anderson, such as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, have a cult following, thanks to their quirky characters, wry, absurdist humor, lavishly detailed and exacting production designs and the antics of Bill Murray. Detractors dismiss Anderson's films as "precious", and perhaps they are, but that's what makes them special.

His latest effort, Moonrise Kingdom, should not disappoint his fans.

Set in 1965, on an island off the coast of New England, the story involves a pair of precocious 12-year-old kids – a boy scout and a girl from a dysfunctional family – who decide to run off and get married. A search party forms to rescue the kids as a storm approaches. The scene is like a painting of a vanished America by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to Anderson regulars like Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, there's Bruce Willis as the police chief, Edward Norton as the scoutmaster, plus Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban.

Moonrise Kingdom premiered as the opener of this year's Cannes Film Festival, shockingly the first time one of Anderson's films has been invited to the prestigious fest. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at Apex Siam Square.

Also opening

Antapal (อันธพาล) – Kongkiat Khomsiri, director of such acclaimed, retro-infused crime dramas as Muay Thai Chaiya and Slice, offers a fresh, violent take on the fact-based account of young gangsters in 1950s and early '60s Thailand. It's much the same story that was done by director Nonzee Nimibutr and screenwriter Wisit Sasanatieng in 1997's Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters (2499 Antapan Krong Muang), though Kongkiat insists it isn't a remake. "Tao" Somchai Kemglad and Krissana "Noi" Sukosol Clapp star as a pair of young hoodlums who take on the old-time mafia to shake up the Thai underworld. They then find themselves challenged by a pair of even younger hoodlums who are obsessed with the style of James Dean and being gangster kingpins themselves. Rated 18+.

Coriolanus – Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this contemporized adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, which is scripted by John Logan (Gladiator). He's a leader who's pushed by his manipulative mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and ultimately ousted from power by a discontented public. He then offers his life and services to his sworn enemy (Gerard Butler). Brian Cox and Jessica Chastain also star. Coriolanus premiered in competition at last year's Berlin Film Festival. Critical reception
is mostly positive. Rated 15+.

Piranha 3DD – Having played for two weeks already in sneak previews, the 3D horror-comedy with the not-so-subtle double-entendre title finally opens in a wider release. A follow-up to the 2010 version, itself a remake of a cult-classic Roger Corman B-movie, the action this time has the bloodthirsty flesh-eating prehistoric fish finding their way into a newly opened water park to feast on babes in bikinis. Ving Rhames, despite having been eaten in the first part, returns for more fun, as do Christopher Lloyd and Paul Scheer. Joining the cast is "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff plus Gary Busey, Katrina Bowden, Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Chris Zylka and David Koechner. Critical reception is mostly negative, but if you liked the first one, you might want to give this one a chance. In 3D. Rated 20-.

Dark Tide – Halle Barry is back in a bikini for this underwater thriller. She's an expert diver who's famous for swimming with great white sharks, but after a near-fatal close call, she's been out of the water for nine years. Coaxed back in by her ex-boyfriend and a wealthy backer, she has to face her fears. Olivier Martinez also stars. Critical reception is mostly negative. It's at Apex Siam Square.

Architecture 101 (Rak-Reak) – This South Korean romance has two students in an introductory architecture class falling in love. Then, 15 years later, she tracks down her old flame to seek his help in building her dream home. Uhm Tae-woong, Han Ga-in, Lee Je-hoon and Bae Suzy star. It's at Major Cineplex, Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.

Chernobyl Diaries – Young travellers seeking an "extreme" adventure book a tour of the abandoned city where the workers of the failed Chernobyl nuclear power plant lived. There, they find they are not alone. Oren Peli, the director behind the Paranormal Activity "found-footage" horror franchise, produces this. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+.

Four Stations (Sathanee See Phak, สถานี 4 ภาค ) – Boonsong Nakphoo, who previously did the low-budget farmer drama Poor People the Great, directs this four-segment feature, supported by the Culture Ministry's Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, that collects stories by SEA Write Award and National Artist authors from different regions of the country. The stories are "Dtu Pboo" ("ตุ๊ปู่") by Mala Kamchan (มาลา คำจันทร์) from the north, "Songkram Cheewít Suan Dtua Kongtoo Taa"  ("สงครามชีวิตส่วนตัวของทู-ทา") by  Wimon Sainimnuan, a.k.a. Wat Wanlayangkoon (วัฒน์ วรรลยางกูร) from the central plains, "Lom Laeng" ("ลมแล้ง") by Khamsing Srinawk a.k.a. Lao Khamhom (ลาว คำหอม) from the northeast and "Baan Glai Reuan Kiang" ("บ้านใกล้เรือนเคียง") by Paitoon Tanya (ไพฑูรย์ ธัญ ญา) from the south. It's at the Lido at 6.30 nightly until next Wednesday.

Ferrari Ki Sawaari – Vidhu Vinod Chopra, producer of such Bollywood hits as 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai, presents this comedy about a boy who has dreams of playing on the Lords' cricket ground. To fulfill his son’s dream, the honest and upright father (Sharman Joshi) performs the first small act of dishonesty in his life – he borrows a gleaming red Ferrari, just for one hour. The only trouble – he doesn’t inform its legendary owner. And so begins a wild, bumpy ride. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Friday and Sunday at 7.30 and Monday at 8 and at Major Central Rama III on Saturday at 7.30 and Sunday at 4. Call (089) 488 2620, (02) 225 7500 or log on to

Also showing

Amazing Thailand 9FilmFest – The second annual edition this short-film film festival will be held on Sunday, June 17 in the Infinicity Hall lobby of Paragon Cineplex.

More than 150 entries were submitted, with 29 semi-finalists from which the nine finalist shorts were chosen.

Here's the list of finalists, which are mostly from Thailand:

  • The Moment, Pathomwat Wansukprasert
  • Video Call, Wattanapong Wongwan
  • Where the Heart Is, Rattha Buranadilok & Thammaruja Dharmasaroja
  • Smiling Heart, Karawee Chokkunawattana
  • Numberman in Love, Eiji Shimada
  • Love Cookies, Sugimasa Yamashita
  • Friend, Narongchai Parthumsuwan
  • Rec. Life Titsalak Kamngam
  • Jack's Chronicle, Pissapob Silltham

Among the entries is a returnee from last year, Eiji Shimada's Numberman, which took the top prize in 2011.

Top prize is 600,000 baht from a total prize purse of more than 1 million baht, thanks to such sponsors as the Tourism Authority of Thailand, AIS, Major Cineplex and Ford.

The rules are that the films have to be nine minutes or less and must include a signature item, which this year was "heart".

Activities start at 11.45am, with a screening of Man with a Video Camera 2, the latest effort by 2011 9FilmFest finalist and last year's winner of the best cinematography award, Kris Clijsters.

Then will be the screening of the semifinalist shorts mixed with video-and-music mixes by DJs.

The finalist shorts start screening at 7pm in a ceremony emceed by filmmaker and former Miss Thailand World "Pop" Areeya Chumsai.

Other celebs include the jury members, MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wych Kaosayananda, Australian director George Miller, American filmmaker Ron Fricke and  2011 9FilmFest finalist Kanin Ramasoot.

The evening’s  special  guest is American R&B, jazz and gospel singer Howard McCrary, who acts in Smiling Heart. A Grammy Award nominee, he'll close the evening with a set of his songs, including "The Land of Smiles" and "Smile from the Heart" from the short film.

“This year, the films have been amazing and creative.  Using the heart as a signature item, has given us films filled with love, yet often times with tragedy. We promise a rollercoaster of feelings when you see the films on the night of 17 June,” says Brian Bennett, 9FilmFest founder.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 7-13, 2012


Ridley Scott directed two of the best sci-fi movies of all time, Blade Runner and Alien. So it's with much anticipation that he returns to the sci-fi genre with Prometheus, a prequel to the Alien movies.

A team of explorers journey to the darkest corners of the universe. They are searching for the origins of mankind, but what they find may mean the end of it.

Charlize Theron, coming off a critically hailed performance in last week's Snow White and the Huntsman, stars as the icy-cold corporate administrator the mission aboard the spaceship Prometheus. Michael Fassbender is the ship's android crewman, and Noomi Rapace, the original "girl with the dragon tattoo", is the starry-eyed researcher. Idris Elba and Guy Pearce also star.

From the look of the trailers, Prometheus looks every bit as tense and scary as Scott's Alien. Critical reception is mostly positive. In 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX Digital. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Hysteria – This British romantic comedy tells the surprising story of the invention of the electro-mechanical vibrator at the very peak of Victorian prudishness. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Felicity Jones, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett star. Critical reception is mixed. At Major Cineplex. Rated 13+.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted – Alex the vain lion, Marty the wise-cracking zebra, Gloria the sassy hippo and Melman the neurotic giraffe are determined to return to New York's Central Park Zoo, from which they escaped two movies ago. Leaving Africa behind, they take a detour through Europe where they are chased by a fanatical French animal control officer (Frances McDormand) and fall in with a circus troupe. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer all return to the voice cast in this DreamWorks Animation franchise. Critical reception, so far, is positive. In 3D in some cinemas. Rated G.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Mel Gibson is back in bad-ass mode as a con artist who wrecks his car while fleeing from the U.S. border patrol and ends up in a sprawling Mexican prison. There, the "gringo" learns the ways of the prison with help from a 10-year-old boy. Also known as Get the Gringo, this went direct to home video in the U.S., where critical reception has been surprisingly positive. Rated 18+.

Also showing

Crazy Wisdom, one of the highlights of the Buddhist Film Festival.

International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 Bangkok – Starting today and running through Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, the Buddhist film fest will screen around 30 features and shorts from around the world, mainly from Asia. The selection includes such highlights as 1967's Yellow Robe from Sri Lanka, 1968's Talking Heart from Myanmar, 2007's Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame and the 2011 documentary Crazy Wisdom, about unconventional Tibetan Buddhist guru Chogyam Trungpa who was a pivotal figure in bringing Buddhism to the West. There's also a selection of Thai shorts and features, as well as a young filmmakers' competition. Tickets are 120 baht. Check the festival website for the full schedule.

The Flying Pigs from Poland.
European Union Film Festival 2012 – Twenty-three films from 17 EU member states are screening for free until Sunday in the fifth-floor auditorium at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. As with other free film festivals in Bangkok, you'll likely want to get in line early in order to get a decent seat. Check the line-up and schedule at Facebook.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 Bangkok

Around 30 features and shorts, mostly from around Asia, will screen in the International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 Bangkok from June 7 to 10 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

Part of events celebrating 2,600 years since the Lord Buddha's enlightenment, it's a collaboration between filmmaker Pimpaka Towira, who's previously programmed the for-now-defunct Bangkok International Film Festival, and Gaetano Kazuo Maida, executive director of the Buddhist Film Foundation, which puts on the International Buddhist Film Festival.

Among the highlights is several older films, such as 1989's Come, Come, Come Upward by South Korea's Im Kwon-taek, 1979's Raining in the Mountain by King Hu, 1967's Yellow Robe from Sri Lanka, 1996's Gone, Gone, Forever Gone by Ho Quang Minh from Vietnam, and from Myanmar, Talking Heart, a 1968 drama by Thu Kha.

There's also Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, an award-winning Iranian film that's set in Afghanistan and deals with a girl who simply wants to go to school but is stymied at every turn.

Another noteworthy film is the 2011 feature by Cambodia's Rithy Panh, The Catch, adapted from a novel by Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe. Panh sets it during the Khmer Rouge era, with a boy soldier guarding an African-American POW.

Among the Thai selection will be brand-new shorts by well-known filmmakers Chookiat Sakveerakul, Uruphong Raksasad and Sivaroj Kongsakul. There's also an offering by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, his 2007 short Morakot, and classic films from South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The fest actually opens on Wednesday night at the Scala Theatre with an invitation-only screening of The Light of Asia, the 1925 silent by Franz Osten and Himansu Rai. The Korphai band conducted by Anan Nakkhong will provide live Thai classical accompaniment. Restored in 2001 by Europe's Arte channel, it's the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the man who become Lord Buddha.

The festival is also holding a competition for student filmmakers, with 13 shorts being screened.

Well-known monks V Vachiramethi, Jayasaro Bhikku, Phra Paisal Visalo and Phra Dhamma Kosajarn also selected some films for the Carte Blanche program.

Tickets are 120 baht.