Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 26-October 2, 2013

The Heat

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock show that female police officers can run, gun and swear just as well as the best of their male counterparts in The Heat.

This mismatched-buddy-cop comedy has Bullock as an uptight and talented FBI special agent. She is perhaps too uptight and talented, because she constantly shows up her colleagues – even the police dog – and never admits she's wrong. She has alienated everyone around her. Determined to move up in rank and further prove herself, Bullock is given one more chance by her supervisor (a wonderfully weary Damian Bichir) – go to Boston to investigate a drug ring.

There, in Beantown, McCarthy is a tough foul-mouthed police detective who only works alone and is feared by criminals and cops alike. She is basically a female version of Gene Hackman in The French Connection.

So, of course, these two cops who don't play well with others have to partner up to solve the case.

Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directs.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. It's at SF cinemas only. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Rush – Director Ron Howard takes on the fast-paced world of Formula One auto racing with this look back at the 1976 rivalry on and off the track between womanizing English driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and the methodical, brilliant Austrian, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and critical reception is generally positive. Rated 15+.

Runner Runner – Justin Timberlake matches wits with Ben Affleck in this thriller about the world of Internet poker. Timberlake is a hotshot college student to gambles for his tuition money and loses. He then decides to confront the man who beat him (Affleck) – a criminal mastermind living in style in Costa Rica. Gemma Arterton also stars. This doesn't open in the U.S. until next week, so critical reception isn't registering yet. Rated 13+.

Pawn Shop Chronicles – This shaggy-dog action-comedy has three storylines revolving around a small-town pawn shop. They involve a man searching for his kidnapped wife, a sad-sack Elvis impersonator and white-supremacist meth heads. Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Elijah Wood. Vincent D’Onofrio and Paul Walker star. Wayne Kramer (The Cooler, Running Scared) directs. This had a limited release in the U.S. earlier this summer and critical reception is a bit unknown. It's at SF cinemas only. Rated 18+.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Catch the great Peter Sellers in one of his earliest performances in the 1959 comedy I'm All Right Jack. David Cronenberg demonstrates the proper way to do a horror remake with the 1986 classic The Fly, starring Jeff Goldblum as "Seth Brundlefly" and Geena Davis. Gross-out stunts are in store in Saturday's "midnight movie", John Waters' Pink Flamingos. And Sunday's classic is the 1939 romantic drama Goodbye Mr. Chips. Shows start at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from around 6pm. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so please check the website to make bookings.

Inspecteur Lavardin – The Alliance Française Bangkok has moved from its old location on South Sathorn to new digs in the Lumpini area at 179 Thanon Witthayu (Wireless Road). And after taking a month off to get resituated, the weekly free movies resume with a line-up of crime dramas, starting with Claude Chabrol's 1986 murder mystery. It's in French with English subtitles. The show's on at 7.30pm on Wednesday, October 2.

Sneak previews

Prisoners – Oscar buzz is already surrounding this child-abduction drama starring Hugh Jackman. He's a family man who becomes increasingly desperate and angry after his six-year-old daughter goes missing. A police detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) tracks down a suspect (Paul Dano) but then has to let the mentally not-all-there man go due to lack of evidence. So Jackman takes things into his own hands. Viola Davis and Terrence Howard also star. Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) directs. Prisoners premiered to much acclaim at this year's Telluride festival, and critical reception is mostly positive. It's in sneak previews this week from around 8 nightly at most cinemas.

About Time – Britain's romantic-comedy king Richard Curtis directs this yarn about a young man who learns the men in his family have the ability to travel back in time for short increments. Domhnall Gleeson (son of Irish actor Brendan) stars as an awkward guy who uses his gift to strike up a romance with a pretty girl (Rachel McAdams). Bill Nighy is the guy's cool dad. Critical reception is generally positive. It's in sneak previews at most multiplexes at around 8 nightly for the next two weeks before opening wide on October 10. Rated 13+.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bangkok CInema Scene: Movies opening September 19-25, 2013


Neill Blomkamp, the South African director who made his debut in 2009 with the thrilling sci-fi adventure District Nine, is back with Elysium, offering more social commentary against a futuristic dystopian backdrop.

It's a future about 140 years from now where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened to the poor that the 1 per cent richest of us don't even live here – they reside on a luxurious space station known as Elysium, where everyone is beautiful and wealthy and never sick. The rest of us are stuck down here on Earth, which has been devastated.

Among those toiling away is Matt Damon. He becomes a fugitive on the run and is determined to break into Elysium.

District Nine star Sharlto Copley also stars, playing a hard-ass security agent, and Jodie Foster presides over it all as the Secretary of Defense.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to favorable. It's also at IMAX theaters. Rated 15+.

Also opening

You’re Next – A gang of masked, axe-wielding murderers descend upon a family reunion and the hapless victims seem trapped, until an unlikely guest proves to be the most talented killer of all. Adam Wingard, who directed segments of the cult-hit V/H/S anthology horror anthologies, helms this thriller, which premiered to much acclaim at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 18+.

Diana – The final turbulent years of Princess Diana's life is recounted in this biopic starring Naomi Watts as the Princess of Wales. It focuses mainly on her romance with a British-Pakistani surgeon, Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews from Lost and Planet Terror), who she dated for 18 months before the pressure of the tabloid spotlight became too great.  It's based on Kate Snell's 2001 book Diana: Her Last Love and is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the filmmaker best known for the Hitler biopic Downfall that has been used countless times as the "Hitler reacts" meme on the Internet. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+.

Namaste Hello Byebye (นมัสเต จ๊ะเอ๋ บ๊ายบาย, Namaste Ja-Eh Byebye – Suchart Manaying stars in this spiritual road-trip comedy as a young woman who is laid off from her job. She joins a Buddhist pilgrimage that is part of the Sathien Dhammasathan Center's Bhikkhuni in Two Lands project, which ordains girls at the birthplace of Buddhism in India and Nepal. Rated G.

Phata Poster Nikla Hero – Shahid Kapoor and Ileana D'Cruz star in this comedy about an actor who is mistaken to be a supercop. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Peter Sellers shows off the full range of his chameleon-like comic talents in Stanley Kubrick's doomsday satire Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, screening tonight at the FGC. Sellers plays three roles, the U.S. president, a stuffy British Royal Air Force officer and the oddball wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist Strangelove. He was also supposed to play the pilot of the B-52 bomber, but after Sellers sprained an ankle, that role ended up going to iconic cowboy actor Slim Pickens. George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn and James Earl Jones also star. Friday's David Cronenberg movie is Dead Zone starring Christopher Walken as a guy who wakes up after years in a coma to find he has horrifying psychic powers. Saturday's "midnight movie" is the controversial 1932 movie Freaks, featuring actual carnival sideshow performers. Sunday's classic is It Happened One Night, Frank Capra's 1934 madcap romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  Shows start at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from around 6pm. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so please check the website to make bookings.

The Style by Toyota 9FilmFest – The finalists have been chosen for this year's 9FilmFest, with the screening set for 7pm on Sunday, September 22 at Paragon Cineplex in Bangkok. Entry to the screening is by invitation, but just send an e-mail to and explain in one sentence or two “why you like 9FilmFest?” and the festival organizers might let you in. Of course, you can always turn up on the day, hoping to get in to see the films, but there's no guarantee there will be enough seats in the theater.

Here's a look at the nine finalists, which all use this year's unique "9 signature item", which is "waterway".

  • The Guardians, directed by Disspong Sampattavanich – A canal village's resident "crazy man" is determined to teach himself to swim in hopes of connecting with the soul of his late son.
  • Distortion, directed by Thana Chairatanasil – Despite his father's warnings about hanging out down by the river, a boy falls in with the wrong crowd, opening a doorway to a doomed life.
  • Teppanyaki Kamikazi, directed by Raymond Lewin – The Great Penguino, an out-of-work street magician, struggles to find work. But he's easily distracted by beautiful women.
  • Bangkruai Pradesh, directed by Rattha and Pathara Buranadilok – Footage from the Flood of 2011, recovered from the memory card of a flood-damaged camera, is used in this documentary in which a young man recounts his experience in the disaster.
  • The Great River, directed by Steve Rouse – A father gives his young son a toy boat, but the family lives in a canal community and is surrounded by dangerous polluted water. So the boy has to dig his own canal to play with the boat.
  • Clueless?, directed by Byron Bishop – A farmer and his wife discover a man, apparently dead, in a rice paddy. They go to the police station, where an overzealous detective treats them as suspects. Watch for an appearance by actor Bishop's supermodel wife Cindy Bishop.
  • Lie, directed by Narongchai Parthumsuwan – A pudgy, balding middle-aged man poses as a young pop star, attracting a high-school girl. And she wants to meet.
  • The Cream, directed by Naruphon Punphairoj and Satit Ngerntong – A man hopes a tube of face cream will make him handsome.
  • Clock Blocked, directed by Robert Peters – A time-obsessed man has found the perfect woman – she's punctual – except for today.

In addition to the movies, the 9FilmFest has many other activities. Events get underway at 3.30pm on Saturday in the Paragon Cineplex Infinicity Hall with an international dance workshop hosted by choreographer Eddie Baytos. That's followed at 5.30 by a Dj music set and then a magic show at 6.30 with Tommy Tucker and "Teppanaki Kamikaze" star Dr Penguino. Sunday opens at 5 with a world music concert by Eddie Baytos and his all-star band, the Nines. Thanks to support by Technicolor, valuable post-production services were provided to make the films presentable on the big screen, with the finalists unspooling at 7pm.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 12-18, 2013

Pain and Gain

Director Michael Bay takes a break from making movies about giant robots to make Pain and Gain, a broad action-comedy involving giant men. It's a fact-based tale, about an actual gang of bumbling criminals who were members of a Miami bodybuilding gym.

Mark Wahlberg stars as a financially struggling trainer. He becomes jealous of a new gym member's wealth, and, influenced by a motivational speaker (Ken Jeong from The Hangover), he hatches a scheme to kidnap the rich guy (Tony Shaloub).

He ropes in a couple others, a musclebound ex-con born-again Christian (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and a bodybuilder (Anthony Mackie) whose use of steroids has rendered him impotent.

Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson and Rob Corddry also star.

Critical reception is evenly mixed. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Jobs – For the longest time, I assumed this movie was another of Ashton Kutcher's elaborate "Punk'd" practical jokes. But, apparently, this is a real movie, and it's actually happening. Kutcher portrays the co-founder of Apple Computer, who dropped out of college, tripped out in India and then started a computer company in a garage. Through various struggles with stiff corporate investors and narrow-minded engineers who don't care about the little things like typefaces, he becomes one of the most-hailed tech visionaries of the modern age. Josh Gad also stars as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Others include Dermot Mulroney as a slick venture capitalist with J.T. Simmons and Matthew Modine among the corporate suits. Critical reception is mostly negative, so perhaps wait – another Steve Jobs biopic is in the works, with screenwriting whiz Aaron Sorkin handling the script. Rated 13+.

Mood Indigo (L'écume des jours) – Inventive special-effects master Michel Gondry returns to his native France for this surreal fantasy romance starring Romain Duris as the wealthy owner of a preciously quirky bar. One day he meets and woman (Audrey "Amelie" Tautou) and falls in love. All seems happy as they get married, but during their honeymoon, Chloe becomes ill and has a mysterious waterlily growing inside her. Gad Elmaleh and Omar Sy (Intouchables) also star. It's based on a 1947 novel by Boris Vian, "Froth on the Daydream" a.k.a. "Foam of the Daze". Critical reception is mixed. It's in French with English and Thai subtitles at Apex in Siam Square.

First Love (เฟิร์ส เลิฟ) – Phitsanulok province is ready for its close-up in this romantic comedy that stars popular TV actor "James" Jirayu Tangsrisuk as a young man who develops a crush on a pretty girl (Kiratika Swangjang) and takes up ballroom dancing to win her heart. He gets help from a comical dance instructor (comedian Kom Chuanchuen). Rated 15+.

Sadako – The powerful "hair ghost" of the Ring movies returns in this 3D entry in the J-horror franchise. When one of her female students dies after viewing the footage of a suicide on the Internet, a high-school teacher and her boyfriend are drawn into the horror that has been created by the man who appears in the suicide footage, Kashiwada. His intention is to create chaos in the world by bringing back the evil Sadako and the power of her curse. Stars Satomi Ichihara, Yusuke Yamamoto and Ai Hachimoto. It's in Japanese with English subtitles at Paragon, but not in 3D. Other places it's in 3D, but is mostly Thai-dubbed though there appears to a few places with Japanese soundtrack and Thai subs only. Rated G.

Grand Masti – Bollywood's answer to the raunchy American Pie franchise reunites the guys from the first comedy in 2004. Vivek Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani and Riteish Deshmukh star as old college chums who attend a reunion at their alma mater, Shree Lalchand University of Technology and Science, or SLUTS for short. It's fun at first, but then turns dangerous. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight's offering at the FGC, The Party, is one of Peter Sellers' zaniest efforts with director Blake Edwards. With Sellers daubing on the brown greasepaint for his portrayal of a bungling Indian actor who is mistakenly invited to a lavish dinner, it's racially insensitive by today's standards but it remains a cult classic. Tomorrow it's Jeremy Irons and Jeremy Irons as twin gynecologists in David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers. Take note: This Saturday, the club is closed for a private function, and the scheduled midnight movie El Topo has been postponed. The club is open again on Sunday for a classic screening of the Marilyn Monroe showcase Some Like It Hot. Next Wednesday's members-only "sex" movie is The Exterminating Angels, Jean-Claude Brisseau's tale of a director and his casting couch. Shows start at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from around 6pm. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so please check the website to make bookings.

Elle Fashion Film Festival – Style icon Tilda Swinton, heads the cast in I Am Love, a drama about a dysfunctional wealthy Italian textile-manufacturing family. That screens at 8 tonight. Tomorrow night it's L'Amour Fou, a look at fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent and his lover Pierre Berge. Saturday has a full schedule, starting at 2 with Face (Visage), Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang's trippy visit to the Louvre. That's followed at 5 by Color Me Love, a 2010 Chinese remake of The Devil Wears Prada. At 8, it's Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, depicting the legendary affair between titans of the fashion and music worlds. Sunday at 3 has  Heartbeats (Les amours imaginaires), Xavier Dolan's drama about an unusual love triangle. The fest closes at 8 on Sunday with Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux à la reine), chronicling the last days of Marie Antoinette. Diane Kruger stars. The fest takes place at SFX the Emporium. Tickets cost 150 baht. For more details, visit

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 5-11, 2013

Spring Breakers

Director Harmony Korine is no stranger to generating water-cooler talk with his controversial and polarizing films that are down-and-dirty portrayals of the lives of youngsters.

His latest unapologetically grimy, candy-colored effort, Spring Breakers, stars ex-Disney princesses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens along with Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine as four bikini-clad college girls who turn to robbery to finance their spring-break vacation. Caught and put in jail, they are bailed out by a sleazy, oddball character named Alien, played James Franco in one of his most iconic roles.

Premiering at last year's Venice film festival, Spring Breakers achieved almost-instant cult status. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 20-.

Also opening

Riddick – Before there was Fast and Furious there was Pitch Black. Vin Diesel returns to the role that made him a cult favorite in this third live-action outing for the space-faring anti-hero Riddick. Up against an alien race of predators that look similar to the nasty creatures in Prometheus, he activates an emergency beacon that alerts bounty hunters from across the galaxy. They arrive to find themselves as mere pawns in Riddick's game of revenge. Two other favorite actors among the sci-fi crowd also star – Karl Urban (Dredd and Star Trek) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Others include Dave Bautista and Bokeem Woodbine. David Twohy, director of the previous two Riddick movies, also returns. Buzz is pretty high for this but it's only opening in the U.S. this week, so critical reception is still a bit thin. Rated 15+.

The Bling Ring – And here's more youngsters breaking bad. Sofia Coppola directs this fact-based black comedy about young Hollywood social-climbers who rob the homes of celebrities, stealing their luxury-brand fashion accessories. Harry Potter witch Emma Watson stars along with Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien and Taissa Farmiga. Premiering in the Un Certain Regard program of this year's Cannes Film Festival, critical reception is mixed leaning slightly to positive. Rated 20-.

Closed Circuit – Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star in this Brit thriller as two lawyers who have a secret romantic past. They are assigned to the defense team of a high-profile terrorism case involving a mysterious explosion in a busy London market. John Crowley (Intermission) directs. Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ciarán Hinds, Jim Broadbent and Riz Ahmed also star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+.

The Man Who Laughs – Jean-Pierre Ameris directs this new adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel about a man with a scar on his face that gives him a permanent smile, kind of like the Joker in The Dark Knight. Marc-André Grondin stars as the young man Gwynplaine who is raised as travelling performer by Ursus (Gerard Depardieu). Alongside the beautiful blind girl Déa (Christa Thoret), the three travel from village to village until the day Gwynplaine learns that he's the heir to a large and noble family and distances himself from the only two people who have ever loved him for what he is. In French with English and Thai subtitles. Rated 15+.

Switch – The always-smooth Andy Lau stars in this Chinese spy thriller as a special agent who battles an array of foreign villains as he tries to recover a Yuan Dynasty scroll that holds ancient secrets. Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.

Shuddh Desi Romance – Shield your eyes or turn your head demurely away, because there's supposedly kissing in this Bollywood romantic comedy. It stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – This month the FCG features movies starring Peter Sellers on Thursdays, the body horror of director David Cronenberg on Fridays, Midnight Movies on Saturdays, classics on Sundays and "boundaries of sex" on Wednesdays. Tonight, it's Sellers as a mentally handicapped gardener mistaken to be an eccentric millionaire in Hal Ashby's Being There. Tomorrow it's Videodrome. David Lynch's disturbing Eraserhead is on Saturday, preceded by a documentary, Midnight Movies – From the Margin to the Mainstream. Sunday is a little movie about a guy who thought it would be fun to run a newspaper. He goes crazy and ends up mumbling "Rosebud". Next Wednesday it's In the Realm of Senses, Oshima's 1976 erotic cinema classic. The FCG is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from around 6pm. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so please check the website to make bookings.

Elle Fashion Film Festival – Dovetailing nicely with this week's release of The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers is this festival of films inspired by the world of fashion. It runs from September 10 to 15 at SFX the Emporium. Here's the line-up:

  • A Single Man – Designer Tom Ford makes his bow as a director with this drama starring Colin Firth as a gay man in 1960s Los Angeles. Tuesday, September 10, 8pm.
  • Blancanieves – Brothers Grimm meets The Artist in this highly stylized black-and-white silent Spanish retelling of the story of Snow White. It's set during the Roaring '20s. Wednesday, September 11, 8pm.
  • I Am Love –  Tilda Swinton heads the cast in this drama about a dysfunctional wealthy Italian textile-manufacturing family hit by hard times. Thursday, September 12, 8pm.
  • L'Amour Fou – This documentary looks at the relationship of fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent and his lover Pierre Berge. Friday, September 13, 8pm.
  • Face (Visage) – Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang travels to the Louvre in Paris for this comedy-drama that explores the myth of the legendary beauty Salome. Saturday, September 14, 2pm.
  • Color Me Love – This 2010 Chinese romantic comedy is a remake of The Devil Wears Prada. Saturday, September 14, 5pm.
  • Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky – Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen star in this romance that traces the rumored affair between titans of the worlds of fashion and music – the creator of Chanel No. 5 perfume and the composer of The Rite of Spring. Saturday, September 14, 8pm.
  • Heartbeats (Les amours imaginaires) – Xavier Dolan directs this 2010 drama about a couple – a man and woman – who fall in love with the same guy. Sunday, September 15, 3pm.
  • Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux à la reine) – The last days of Marie Antoinette in power are seen through the eyes of a young female servant who reads aloud to the queen. Diane Kruger is Antoinette with Léa Seydoux and Virginie Ledoyen also starring. Sunday, September 15, 8pm.

Tickets cost 150 baht. As part of the fest, there is an art installation in the Emporium's first-floor Fashion Avenue. For more details, visit SF Cinema City's fstival page or