Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening July 26-August 1, 2012

Seven Something (ก 7 ปี ดี 7 หน)

Film studio GTH celebrates seven years with Seven Something (รัก 7 ปี ดี 7 หน, Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon), a three-segment comedy-drama that looks at the stages of life at various seven-year cycles.

The first part, directed by Paween Purijitpanya, and starring Jirayu La-ongmanee and Suthata Udomsilp is about romance at the age of 14.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, which covers a celebrity couple (Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang) breaking up when they are 21 and reuniting at age 28.

Jira Maligool directs the third part, which features Nichkhun Horvejkul from the Korean boyband 2PM and newscaster Suquan Bulakul in a story about a woman marathon runner going through a crisis at age 42.

Most of the cast and crew have all been a major part of GTH's success.

Director Paween did the well-regarded horror thriller Body #19 and also had a hand in the hit horror compilations Phobia and Phobia 2. His segment Seven Something, 14, marks a departure for him as he makes a foray into teen romance.

Young actor Jirayu was in last year's hit rock 'n' roll romance SuckSeed while Suthata was in another big GTH hit from last year, the pyschological thriller Laddaland.

Adisorn is one of the six directors of GTH's first big hit Fan Chan and also directed and co-wrote the hit romance Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story. His segment, 21/28 reunites hims with his BT(L)S leading lady Cris Horwang, who co-stars with Sunny, the leading man from the big GTH hit romance Dear Dakanda.

And Jira, a co-founder of the studio, marks his return to directing for the first time since 2005's historical drama The Tin Mine.

His segment, 42.195, about marathon runners, has a pair of acting newcomers – veteran newscaster Sukwan Bulakul and singer Nichkhun Horvejkul of the South Korean boyband 2PM.

There will also be cameos and supporting appearances by other GTH stars. Among them is Panissara "Opal" Phimpru, who's been the saucy comic-relief character in several GTH films, most notably Dear Dakanda, but is now a popular TV personality and hostess. Rated G.

Also opening

To Rome with Love – Woody Allen continues his tour of famous European cities, weaving together four tales of Rome. One has an American architect (Alec Baldwin) reliving his youth. Another has an ordinary man (Roberto Begnini) suddenly made a celebrity. Another story has a young couple drawn into separate romantic encounters, while the fourth plot involves an amateur opera singer being wooed by a talent scout. Penélope Cruz, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Judy Davis, Greta Gerwig and Woody himself are among the other stars. Reception has been mixed, with most critics feeling let down by Woody after his best film in years, Midnight in Paris. At Apex Siam Square, Paragon Cineplex and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 13+.

Elles – Juliette Binoche is a reporter for Elle magazine who immerses herself in a prostitution ring run by a pair of university students (Joanna Kulig and Anais Demoustier). Critical reception is mostly negative. It's in French with English and Thai subtitles at House on RCA.

Step Up Revolution – The fourth entry in the dance-movie franchise centers on a young woman (Kathryn McCormick) who arrives in Miami with hopes of becoming a professional dancer. She falls in love with a guy (Ryan Guzman) who leads a dance crew in elaborate "flash mobs". They band together to save a historic neighborhood from being redeveloped by the girl's rich father. There's not yet any reviews. Rated 15+.

My Way – Taking inspiration from a photo of a Korean in Nazi uniform among the dead on D-Day in World War II, this action epic follows rival marathon runners (South Korea's Jang Dong-gun and Japan's Joe Odagiri) as they go into combat, first for the Japanese and then the Russians. Eventually, their path takes them to the beaches of Normandy. Kang Je-Gyu (Taegukgi) directs and Fan Bingbing also stars. The most expensive South Korean film made yet, critical reception, is mixed. In Japanese and Korean with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Cinema Diverse – The second entry in the Bangkok Art and Culture Center's FilmsForum screening series is Nikkini Vasa (August Drizzle) from Sri Lanka at 5pm on Saturday in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium. It's the debut feature by Aruna Jayawardanait, who will be present for the screening along with second-lead actress Sulochana Weerasinghe. The 2011 drama is about a lonely female mortician who is shunned by other villagers. Matters are further complicated when a rival mortician arrives on the scene. It's been screened various festivals, including the Vesoul International Festival of Asian Cinema in France, where it won the two top awards – the International Jury and Netpac prize.

Cendres et sang (Ashes and Blood) – Fanny Ardant directs this 2009 drama about old hatreds between rival families being rekindled by an exiled woman's visit to a wedding. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, Auguest 1, at 7.30pm.

Take note

Director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's indie Thai comedy-drama P-047 has been a surprise hit in its limited release, screening to packed houses at the Lido and Esplanade Ratchada.

According to the Bangkok Post, screenings were added to meet the demand, mostly from fans of indie rock musician Apichai Trakulpradetkrai who makes his acting debut in the lead role of a shy locksmith who helps an aspiring mystery writer break into people's homes, not necessarily to steal things, but to "borrow" other people's lives. It was expected that P-047 would screen for just one week, but now it appears its run will be extended for one more week.

Aside from P-047, the other hot ticket in Bangkok cinemas is The Dark Knight Rises, which had its opening weekend in the U.S. marred by the fatal shooting of audience members at a theater in Colorado.

In Bangkok, apparently unfazed fans were flocking to the IMAX at Paragon – the only "real IMAX" theater in Thailand – with the decent seats – at the rear in the center – booked solid. The Dark Knight is screening at conventional cinemas as well as the smaller-screen IMAX Digital cinemas. However, certain scenes were filmed with the extra-large IMAX-format cameras, and it's only at the IMAX at Paragon where those scenes can be enjoyed at the aspect ratio intended by director Christopher Nolan and his director of photography Wally Pfister.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

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

P-047 (Tae Phiang Phoo Diaw, แต่เพียงผู้เดียว)

Having toured the festival circuit for the past year or so, director Kongej Jaturanrasmee's trippy psychological drama P-047 (Tae Peang Phu Deaw, แต่เพียงผู้เดียว) returns to Thailand this week for a limited theatrical release.

In a look at the meanings of identity and personality, P-047 is the story of a lonely locksmith (Apichai Trakulpradetkrai) who joins up with an aspiring writer (Parinya Ngamwongwan) to break into other people's homes – not to steal anything but just to temporarily "borrow" the lives of others. But things get complicated when they pry too deeply into someone else's life.

P-047 premiered last year at the Venice fest, where it was a last-minute addition to the out-of-competition program. Other appearances have included the World Film Festival of Bangkok and last month's Los Angeles Film Festival.

Critics have been stumped by the fragmented story, but are generally positive. In Bangkok, it'll be screening at the Lido in Siam Square and at the Esplanade Cineplex Ratchadaphisek as well as at Major Cineplex Chiang Mai.

The trailer is embedded below.

Also opening

The Dark Knight Rises – Eight years have passed since Batman vanished into the shadows after taking blame for the death of Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent. Batman's alter-ego, the millionaire Bruce Wayne, has turned reclusive, but he and Batman are needed again when the cunning thief Catwoman arrives on the scene, followed by the mysterious and brutal masked terrorist Bane, who is intent on destroyiing Gotham City. Christian Bale returns as Batman with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as the terrifying Bane. Also returning are Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard joining the cast this time around. It's the finale of director Christopher Nolan's celebrated Batman trilogy, adapted from DC Comics. Critical reception, so far, is positive, though some critics who issued negative reviews have received death threats and Rotten Tomatoes turned off its commenting system in response. It's in 2D only, as Nolan, a film purist, insists. In addition to regular cinemas, it's also showing at IMAX theatres, but it's only the IMAX at Paragon that has 70mm film and the screen with the correct aspect ratio as intended by Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister. The IMAX Digital theaters at Ratchayothin and Pinklao are digital only and also have slightly smaller screens. So if you want to see the true IMAX version of TDKR, the only place to see it is at Paragon. Rated G.

Legendary Amazons – Here's a Chinese tale that goes back to the early 11th century, about the Yangs, a family of generals. When most of the men are killed in the war, the family's grand matriarch (Cecilia Cheung) takes up arms and dons armor to lead the other widows into battle. Richie Ren also stars, playing the lone surviving male of the clan. The tale was previously told in the 1972 Shaw Brothers release, The 14 Amazons. Frankie Chan directs this remake, which attempts to cast the tale in the same light as other recent Chinese costumed epics, with mixed results. Jackie Chan is among the producers. It's Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Traces – Photos and video art from across Southeast Asia are featured in the Traces exhibition at the Jim Thompson Art Center on Kasemsan Soi 2, near the National Stadium BTS station. Of interest to cinema-buffs will be a display of photos from the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, with images of the old stand-alone cinemas across Thailand, Laos and Burma. Among the video installations is Bangkok in the Evening by Sompot Chidgasornpongse, which captures Bangkokians as they pause their daily routines and stand still for the 6pm playing of the national anthem. Also of note is Nguyen Trinh Thi’s Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over, a documentary on the Ho Chi Minh Trail that turns into a look at censorship when the filmmakers are detained for questioning by police and the camera kept rolling. Also entertaining is
Ho Tzu Nyen’s Utama – Every Name in History is I, which is a fantastical look at the legendary ancient history of Singapore. It runs until October 31 at the Jim Thompson Art Centre, which is open daily and has free admission.

Film Poster Art by Chawana Boonchoo – Here's another art exhibition that movie-goers will want to check out: a look at the old movie posters by painter Chawana Boonchoo at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. A self-taught artist, Chawana painted posters from 1964 to 1990. This was an era when the posters were colorfully lavish, with intricate compositions that would capture the key moments and visual elements of the films in all their explosive fury. It's an art that's become lost in this era of Photoshop and movie trailers that stream on the web. Chawana has since gone on to be a respected for his landscape and nature paintings. In addition to the dozens of Chawana's poster prints on the BACC's third floor, there is a handful of his original poster paintings in the Thai Film Archive's new FA Cinematheque on the BACC's second floor. The exhibition runs until July 29. It's open daily except Mondays and admission is free.

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr. Hulot's Holiday) – Jacques Tati directs and stars in this classic 1953 comedy in which Tati's clumsy pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot causes havoc when he checks in to a beachside hotel for a vacation. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, July 25, at 7.30pm.

Take note

Cinema Diverse – The second entry in the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre's FilmsForum screening series will be Nikkini Vasa (August Drizzle) from Sri Lanka at 5pm on July 28 in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium. The 2011 drama is the debut feature by Aruna JayawardanaIt, who will be present for the screening with actress Sulochana Weerasinghe.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

With an asteroid hurtling towards Earth and most of humanity in a panic about the end of existence, one guy (Steve Carell) stays strangely calm as he decides to take a road trip and is accompanied by his neighbor (Keira Knightly).

A dark comedy, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, is the directing debut by screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, who previously wrote the fun, quirk-filled romantic-comedy Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Martin Sheen, Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt and William Petersen are among the other stars.

Critical reception is mixed, but I have to say, despite the ponderous title, this looks intriguing. It's at House on RCA and Paragon. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Heaven and Hell (Wong Jorn Pid, วงจรปิด)  – Two of Thailand's gifted horror filmmakers, Yuthlert Sippapak and Tiwa Moeithaisong, join forces for this trio of scary stories that are purportedly taken from security cameras in three places: a broken-down elevator (Hell No. 8), a convenience store (the cheekily named Heaven 11) and a creepy old house (Ghost Legacy). Yes, it looks like another entry in the tiresome trend of "found footage" horror films, but hopefully Yuthlert and Tiwa can offer something fresh. Yuthlert, a prolific, genre-hopping director, previously did the stylish horror-comedy Buppa Rahtree film series while Tiwa, a talented cinematographer and editor, previously directed the controversial cannibalism thriller Meat Grinder. Rated 18+.

The Dictator – Having previously assumed the guises of idiot wannabe-gangsta Ali G., boorish Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat and flamboyantly gay German fashion reporter Bruno, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen takes on what may be his most outlandish persona yet – Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, a Muammar Gaddafi-styled dictator of a North African country. When he's kidnapped in a plot orchestrated by his conniving uncle (Ben Kingsley) and replaced by a lookalike, Aladeen finds himself stuck in New York where he ends up working in a co-op grocery run by a rights activist (Anna Faris). This has been playing in cinemas for two weeks already in a sneak-preview run and now opens in a wider release. Critical reception is mixed, edging toward positive. Rated 18+.

Ice Age: Continental Drift – The fourth entry in Twentieth Century Fox's Blue Sky Studios animation franchise finds the mismatched trio of prehistoric mammals, Manny the wooly mammoth, Diego the sabertooth tiger and Sid the sloth, embarking on yet another adventure after their continent is set adrift. On their ice floe on the high seas, they encounter more colorful talking-animal characters, who are pirates. As always, it's the antics of the hapless Scrat the sabertooth squirrel that sets things into motion. Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo return to the voice cast that also features Peter Dinklage, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Keke Palmer, Chris Wedge, Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Drake, Nicki Minaj and many others. There's not yet critical consensus because the movie isn't out in the U.S. until tomorrow. In 3D. Rated G.

The Prodigies – Five teenagers with psycho-kinetic powers who've been groomed for a special program are attacked in an act of betrayal by the program's founder. They then plan their revenge. This animated feature is from French video-game designer Antoine Charreyon. Critical reception is mixed, with reviews at TwitchFilm, Digital Journal, Quiet Earth, Moria and Criticize This!. In 3D. Rated 15+.

Apartment 143 – Sigh. More fake "found footage". Here, in this Spanish-made thriller, parapsychologists investigate strange happenings in an apartment building. Rated 15+.

Also showing

A scene from Shellshock, a jury-prize winner.

Bangkok International Student Film Festival – The third annual fest started on Tuesday and runs through Sunday in the fifth-floor auditorium at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. They've already selected their competition winners: Best Picture to So it Goes, a travel drama by Antti Heikki Pesonen from Aalto University, Finland, and jury prizes to Shellshock, a World War II movie by John Corcoran from Dublin Institute of Technology and the photography thriller Photoshop by Sopolnawitch Achira Ponglamjiak from Mahidol University International College. The remaining programs include Middle East and African and Thai Student showcases today, Australian and "adults only" showcases tomorrow, German and South American showcases on Saturday and Queer and Immigrant films on Sunday. Check the full schedule at the website and find out more at Facebook.

Marathon 16 – As it does every year, the Thai Short Film and Video Festival shows all of its entries, numbering around 500 or so, in a "marathon". It's been going on since last month and runs until July 31, with screenings from 5.30 to 8.30pm on weekdays (except Mondays) and 11am to 8.30 on Saturday and Sundays in the fourth-floor screening room at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. The best will be selected for competition in the main event, the 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival from August 16 to 26 at the BACC.

A Mighty Heart – Angelina Jolie portrays Marianne Pearl, the crusading wife of Daniel Pearl, the journalist kidnapped by Islamic militants in Pakistan. This critically acclaimed fact-based 2007 drama is by British director Michael Winterbottom and is screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand at 8 tonight, with support from the British Council. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 50 baht for anyone who wants to drink some Fuller's London Pride beer.

L’heure d’été (Summer Hours) – Olivier Assayas directs this 2008 drama starring Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling and Jérémie Renier about siblings who must come to terms with their mother's mortality as they decide what to do with her childhood belongings. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, July 18, at 7.30pm.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

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

Magic Mike

Channing Tatum is Magic Mike, a veteran stripper who takes a young dancer (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing, teaching him all about stripping, partying and picking up women.

Matthew McConaughey is their eccentric boss, an ex-stripper himself. "Get a good thong," is his advice.

The screenplay by Reid Carolin is in part based on Tatum's own experiences as a stripper in Florida when he was 19 years old. Steven Soderberg directs. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Growing up in Illinois, I never heard this story about America’s 16th president – when Abraham Lincoln’s mother was killed by a supernatural creature, he took his trusty axe in hand and mades it his mission to exterminate the undead. Benjamin Walker stars as Honest Abe and Timur Bekmambetov directs. It's produced in part by Tim Burton. Critical reception is leaning to negative. In 3D. Rated 18+.

Cosmopolis – David Cronenberg takes on the financial crisis with with Robert Pattinson as a hedge-fund trader in New York. He’s heading across town to get a haircut when the crisis hits and chaos breaks out in the streets. It premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Hong Kong director Johnnie To helms this romantic comedy about young mainland woman (Gao Yuanyuan) working as a financial analyst in Hong Kong. She gets into love triangle between a playboy CEO (Louis Koo) and a drunk hobo (Daniel Wu) who saves her life. It was nominated for several awards and reviews, including the one at Nutshell Review, are generally positive. It's in Cantonese with English and Thai subtitles at House.

Also showing

MovieMov Italian Film Festival – This year's festival features a retrospective of all of Sergio Leone’s features, including Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dynamite, a.k.a. Duck, You Sucker, and Once Upon a Time in America, as well as newer Italian films such as Dario Argento's Dracula 3D and even a selection of Thai indie films that have been hits at film festivals. Tickets are free, handed out 30 minutes before showtime. As with other free festivals, you should expect a large turn-out, so choose your films carefully  and be prepared to queue up an hour or so into order to get a decent seat. Read more about it in a recent Nation article.

Take note

The UMG RCA has closed, and the old box office on the first floor has been entirely removed. But don't worry, House cinema, on the third floor of RCA Plaza, remains open for business.