Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 24-30, 2014

The Railway Man

Here's another movie made in Thailand, which dovetails nicely with the ongoing Thailand International Destination Film Festival.

The Railway Man is about a British war veteran who tries to come to terms with the psychological trauma he suffered as a prisoner working on the Thai-Burmese Death Railway under the Japanese.

The setting is the same as The Bridge on the River Kwai, though that classic film wasn't made here – it was shot in Sri Lanka.

Colin Firth stars as Eric Lomax, a British veteran who, years after the war, seeks out his former tormentor, the Japanese officer Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada). He then returns to Thailand – it really is Thailand this time – to take the train to Kanchanaburi and walk over that iconic bridge and revisit the site of his torture. The film is based on Lomax's 1995 autobiography.

Other stars include Jeremy Irvine as Lomax during the war, Nicole Kidman as his wife and Stellan Skarsgard as his best friend. Australian helmer Jonathan Teplitzky (Better Than Sex, The Burning Man) directs.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 15+

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson is earning widespread praise for her portrayal of an alien who preys on men in Scotland in Under the Skin, the much-anticipated third film by English director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth).

Adapted by Glazer and Walter Campbell from Michel Faber's 2000 novel, the film was shot guerrilla style, with hidden cameras. The actress approached non-actors and picked the men up in unscripted conversations.

Critical reception is mostly positive. It premiered in the main competition at last year's Venice Film Festival. Nominations include best director and actress at the British Independent Film Awards and best film at the London Film Festival. Rated 15+

Also opening

Brick Mansions – When he died in a November car crash, Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker had completed several films. Brick Mansions is one of them. He portrays an undercover Detroit cop working to bring down a crime lord who rules over a dangerous neighborhood that's been cordoned off from the rest of the city. Written and produced by Luc Besson, it's a remake of Besson's Paris-set crime drama District 13 and stars District 13 leading man, parkour stuntman David Belle as a guy who reluctantly teams up with Walker's character. Rap musician RZA portrays the crime lord. This is just coming out in the U.S. this week, so critical reception isn't registering. Rated 13+

The Nut Job – The boom in computer animation continues with this Canadian-South Korean co-production that's a heist flick about talking squirrels looking to steal a bunch of peanuts. The voice cast features Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Stephen Lang, Maya Rudolph, Liam Neeson and Katherine Heigl. Critics aren't going nuts over this – it's strictly kiddie fare. It's at SF cinemas. Rated G

The End (ผู้หญิงเลือกได้) – Fed up with her cheating boyfriend, a woman (Natalie Duchien) decides to pick up a strange man in a pub – a decision that will change her life forever. Parm Rangsri (Pawnshop) directs. Rated 18+

Also showing

Thailand International Destination Film Festival – Spotlighting Thailand's role in international film productions, the second edition of the Destination Film Festival continues until Monday at Paragon Cineplex. Today's screenings are the classic Cambodian war drama The Killing Fields, the 1997 Bond entry Tomorrow Never Dies starring Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh, and the Thai premiere of A Stranger in Paradise, an action thriller about a Wall Street trader who ends up trapped in Bangkok's underbelly of crime.Tomorrow, the screenings include Secret Sharer, an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad story about a ship's captain who lands in trouble after he rescues a Chinese woman from the sea. And there will be Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, a gritty action drama starring Scott Adkins. Saturday's offerings are Trafficker, about a young Vietnamese man caught up in a life of crime; Out of Inferno, the Pang brothers' 3D disaster drama about firefighters battling a high-rise blaze; and Glory Days, about a 1990s rock band reuniting and attempting to relaunch their music careers from Pattaya. Sunday includes the Thai big-screen premiere of The Scorpion King 3 and the Indian Olympic athlete biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Monday's screenings include the thriller The Mark: Redemption and the 1976 Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee. Following many of the films, there will be question-and-answer sessions with the stars, producers, directors and film crews. Tickets are free and can be booked in advance by calling (096) 324 2642. For the schedule, please see program guide, the website or Facebook page.

Swedish Film Festival – Controversial documentaries, award-winning historical dramas and a childhood adventure are set to screen in the Swedish Film Festival. Organised by the Embassy of Sweden, seven films will be shown from tonight through Sunday at SFX the Emporium. Here's the lineup:

  • Big Boys Gone Bananas!* – A 2011 documentary about another documentary by Fredrik Gertten, it depicts the director's legal troubles after he was sued by Dole for his 2009 film Bananas!*, which covered allegations relating to the fruit grower’s pesticide use at a plantation in Nicaragua.
  • Call Girl – A 2012 drama directed by Mikael Marcimain, it’s based on the “bordellharvan” political scandal of the 1970s, which linked prominent Swedish politicians to a prostitution ring that included underage girls. The story focuses on a delinquent girl who is sent to live in a juvenile home and is eventually recruited by the prostitution ring’s madame (Pernilla August). It received the Fipresci Discovery Prize at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the Silver Award at the Stockholm film fest and was nominated in 11 categories in Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards, including best film, director and screenplay, and won in four technical categories.
  • TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from the Keyboard – This documentary follows Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm, the founders of the Pirate Bay, the torrent-tracking website. The movie was released legally and for free on the Pirate Bay and other BitTorrent sites, but, controversially, several Hollywood studios flexed their censorship muscles and pressured Google to remove any search links pointing to it.
  • The Last Sentence – This is a biographical drama about Torgny Segerstedt, a Gothenburg newspaper editor whose criticism of Hitler and the Nazis ran counter to the Swedish government’s intentions of remaining neutral during World War II. Jesper Christensen stars as Segerstedt. Other cast members include Pernilla August, Bjorn Granath and Ulla Skoog, who won best supporting actress at last year’s Guldbagge Awards.
  • The Ice Dragon – A 2012 adaptation of a children’s novel, depicting the adventure of 11-year-old Mik, a boy in search of a new home. Trekking across the snow-covered countryside, he learns about whales, fishing, friends and love while staying a step ahead of the authorities. It won for best visual effects at last year’s Guldbagge Awards.
  • Avalon – This acclaimed 2011 comedy-drama won the International Critics Award at Toronto and scored Guldbagge Awards last year for best actor and supporting actor. Johannes Brost and Peter Carlberg star in the tale, which takes its inspiration from the hit Roxy Music song of the same name and follows a 60-year-old high-society man who is determined to party as if the ’80s never ended.
  • Behind Blue Skies – Set during the 1970s, its stars Bill Skarsgard as a young man who takes a summer job at a Swedish resort hotel. He’s taken under the wing of the hotel manager (Peter Dalle), who mixes the lad up in various shady business deals.

Tickets are free and can be picked up in the cinema lobby 30 minutes before the shows. For the full schedule, visit

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Anthony Hopkins stars in The Efficiency Expert, a.k.a. Spotswood. He's a cold-blooded management consultant who's sent to Australia to straighten out a troubled factory and its wacky bunch of workers. Tomorrow, Albert Brooks looks at impossible relationships in Modern Romance. On Saturday, David Mamet has a young industrial engineer (Campbell Scott) caught in a complex scam in The Spanish Prisoner. Steve Martin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Felicity Huffman, Ben Gazzara and Ricky Jay also star. Sunday is the final Michael Redgrave movie of the month, the 1945 Ealing Studios' horror anthology Dead of Night. It features Redgrave obsessed by his ventriloquist's puppet. And April closes out with next Wednesday's Seduced and Abandoned, with director James Toback following Alex Baldwin around at the Cannes Film Festival as the actor rubs shoulders with many celebrities while trying to drum up funding for a film. Shows start at 8. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so reservations are a must. There are sometimes additions and changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page for updates.

Bangkok Autism Film Festival – In observance of World Autism Awareness month, the third Bangkok Autism Film Festival will screen four films on Saturday at Paragon Cineplex. The fest opens at 11am with The Story of Luke, a 2012 comedy about a young autistic man who seeks a job and a girlfriend. Next at 2 is Travels with My Brother, a 2009 short film about a high-functioning autistic man and his relationship with his sister as they travel about their hometown of Toronto. That's followed by Children of the Stars, a 2009 mid-length documentary about a Chinese family and the struggles to cope with their five-year-old autistic son. After another screening of The Story of Luke, there will then be a benefit gala called Indigo Night (dress code indigo blue) and the world premiere of Documenting the Rainbow (Ban Tuk Sai Roon). Directed by Ranitar Charitkul, it documents the making of a play, The Rainbow Theater. Tickets are 250 baht (700 baht for VIP), though the tickets to the Indigo Night gala and Documenting the Rainbow will be sold separately. Proceeds benefit the Rainbow Room Foundation. For details, call (02) 712 5204-5 or e-mail For the schedule, please check the Facebook events page.

A scene from the Oscar-winning short Helium.
What the Festival – WTF Cafe and Gallery, a popular venue for in-the-know artsy types in Bangkok, celebrates four years this weekend with a festival that will feature the screenings of Oscar-winning and nominated short films. The party starts on Saturday on Sukhumvit Soi 53 – a sweaty hike from Thonglor BTS or a taxi ride from Phrom Pong BTS – but the short films screen on Sunday, from 5 to 5.45pm at Opposite Mess Hall, the trendy eatery across the alley from WTF. The films include That Wasn’t Me (Aquel No Era Yo), a Spanish effort that looks at child soldiers in Africa. It won Spain’s Goya Award last year and was an Oscar nominee this year. Next is the Oscar-nominated Finnish comedy Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? It follows an overwhelmed mother trying to rush her family out the door for a wedding. Finally, there's  Helium, the Academy Award-winning short this year. It's about terminally ill boy who escapes to a magical fantasy world through stories told to him by the hospital's eccentric janitor. The party wraps up with an acoustic street performance by the Morlam International Band. For more details, see the gallery's website.

Film Virus Double Bill – The final pair of movies in the series at Thammasat University are "little gems", starting with 2011's The Dish and the Spoon, a drama by American indie director Alison Bagnall. Greta Gerwig and Olly Alexander star as a couple thrown together under traumatic circumstances. And the closing film is 1987's Housekeeping, starring Christine Lahti and Sara Walker as teen sisters who go to live with their eccentric aunt (Andrea Burchill) in rural Idaho. It's by Scottish director Bill Forsyth. The show starts at 12.30pm on Sunday. The venue is the Rewat Buddhinan Room in the basement of the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan. You'll need to show your I.D. and have it scanned to gain entry. To get there by ferry, take the Chao Praya River Express to Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier and then transfer to a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat piers.

Alliance Française – A young man's plans for romance are foiled when the French government calls an early end to the long summer holiday in order to rescue the economy in La Fille Du 14 Juillet (The Rendez-vous Of Déjà Vu). The 2013 screwball comedy is directed by Antonin Peretjatko and stars Grégoire Tachnakian, Vimala Pons, Vincent Macaigne. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 30 at the Alliance Française de Bangkok. It's at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless roads, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Take note

Hey, here's Major Cineplex showtimes, which I can't find a link for on their website. So I tried a Google search, and that page is what I found.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 17-23, 2014


Wally Pfister, the lensman for  Christopher Nolan on everything from Memento to The Dark Knight Trilogy, makes his feature directorial debut with Transcendence, a Nolanesque high-concept sci-fi thriller in which a man's experiments with artificial intelligence threaten to bring an end to human existence.

Johnny Depp stars as an ambitious tech guru who wants to create a powerful sentient computer network that combines the collective knowledge of everything. "Once online, its analytical power will be greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world," he says. His controversial experiments make him the target of anti-technology extremists who inadvertently become the catalyst for him to take his work to the next terrifying level.

Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser and Morgan Freeman also star.

This is just coming out, so critical reception is still being parsed. Rated 15+

Also opening

Need for Speed – Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman from TV's Breaking Bad) stars in this adaptation of the popular Electronic Arts video game. He's an ex-convict street racer who joins a cross-country race with revenge on his mind and a massive bounty on his head. Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton also star. Critics aren't racing to praise it, but if you like car-chase flicks (or the Emmy-winning Aaron Paul) then it's probably okay. This opened in sneak previews last Friday and moves to a wider release today. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated 13+

My House (บ้านขังวิญญาณ, Baan Khung Winyarn) – After a young couple move into a new home with their daughter and mother-in-law, the whole family starts to change. The girl sleepwalks, the husband is always bad-tempered and the food goes rotten at an alarming rate. When the mother-in-law dies, the couple decides to investigate. Akara Amatayakul and Ariya Tharnwong star. It's directed by Theeratorn Chaowanayothin, who a few years back took part in the omnibus horror Ngao. Rated 18+

Khumba – Not content to let Disney's The Lion King nor DreamWorks' Madagascar hog all the talking African animal action, South Africa's Triggerfish Animation Studio turns out this musical tale about a half-striped zebra who is rejected by his superstitious herd. He embarks on a daring quest to earn his stripes. The voice cast includes Jake T. Austin, Liam Neeson, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E. Grant, Steve Buscemi and a host of others. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G

Lupin the 3rd vs Detective Conan – Anime franchises cross over as the boy detective Conan Edogawa aims to catch master thief Arsene Lupin III, who is suspected of stealing the the Cherry Sapphire. It was a nominee for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, which went to Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises. It's at SF cinemas only and it Thai-dubbed only. Rated 13+

2 States – A young man and woman meet at college and fall in love. Trouble is, they are from different states with wildly different cultures – he's from Delhi and comes from a Punjabi household while she is from a Tamil Brahmin family in Chennai, and none of the parents are going to easily accept the marriage. Starring Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, this romantic comedy is based on the partly autobiographical 2009 novel by Chetan Bhagat. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Paragon, Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Anthony Hopkins is in one of this career-best performances in Merchant-Ivory's Remains of the Day, portraying a butler who begins to question his lifelong loyalty. Tomorrow, Albert Brooks takes a witty look at what happens after we die in Defending Your Life. Saturday, a film crew invades a small town, leading to chaos in State and Main, written and directed by David Mamet. Sundays this month are normally for Michael Redgrave movies, but this week there's a special event – it's Cinematography Evening. The guest is Geoff Boyle, an early adopter of digital technology who's shot such films as The Mutant Chronicles and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which was made in Thailand. The event, sponsored by VS Service, a prominent production-services firm, begins at 7pm with a screening of Boyle's documentary Side by Side. Next Wednesday, go behind the scenes of the golden age of Filipino exploitation cinema in Machete Maidens Unleashed. Shows start at 8 unless otherwise noted. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so reservations are a must. There are sometimes additions and changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page for updates.

Film Virus Double Bill – Saddle up and hit the trail to Thammasat University on Sunday as the Double Bills resume with a pair of "late westerns". First up is Uli Edel's 1999 made-for-TV movie Purgatory, in which outlaws ride into a town that turns out to be a holding space for the Wild West's legendary figures. The terrific cast includes Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts, Randy Quaid and Donnie Wahlberg. That's followed by John Wayne's swansong, 1976's The Shootist, directed by Don Siegel. The show starts at 12.30pm. The venue is the Rewat Buddhinan Room in the basement of the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan. You'll need to show your I.D. and have it scanned to gain entry. To get there by ferry, take the Chao Praya River Express to Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier and then transfer to a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat piers.

Thailand International Film Destination Festival – The second edition of the Thailand Film Office's showcase of foreign film productions in Thailand has three screenings daily from April 22 to 28 at Paragon Cineplex. The offerings include such classics as the Oscar-winning The Killing Fields and the Robin Williams' laughfest Good Morning Vietnam, in which Thailand stood in for its wartorn neighbors. There will be two Bond movies – The Man with the Golden Gun and Tomorrow Never Dies.  And there are a host of premieres, among them Glory Days, about a '90s hair-metal band reuniting in Pattaya and attempting to turn back the clock. Other films include the Bangkok crime flick Only God Forgives, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. Local premieres include the Pang brothers' 3D disaster thriller Out of Inferno and Hong Kong director Benny Chan's crime drama White Storm. The schedule has yet to be finalized, so keep your eye on the website and Facebook page.

Alliance Française – Romain Lévy directs the 2012 comedy Radiostars, about shock jocks from a failing radio station who hit the road in a bid to win back their audience share. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 23 at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless roads, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Take note

I can't seem to find showtimes on Major Cineplex's website. Where'd they go? Their smartphone app still carries the timings though. And so does Moveedoo.

With Songkran out of the way, film-event organizers aren't letting the heat slow them down. Upcoming engagements include the Swedish Film Festival from April 24 to 27 at SFX the Emporium, the Autism Film Festival on April 26 at Paragon and Bangkok International Student Film Festival from April 29 to May 4 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 10-16, 2014

The Lunchbox

There's Bollywood and then there's proper Indian cinema. The Lunchbox firmly fits in the latter category. Not your usual trifle off the Bollywood assembly line, The Lunchbox is a Hindi-language arthouse hit that has been critically acclaimed around the world.

The setting is in modern Mumbai and covers a unique part of the city's culture, the dabbawalla, in which hot lunches are delivered from homes and central kitchens to workplaces. It's a complex system that's been in place for more than a century, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Things hardly ever go wrong, but in The Lunchbox a mistaken delivery leads to a relationship between two strangers – a weary, soon-to-retire widower and an unhappy housewife.

Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi) is the office worker Saajan, who one day is pleasantly surprised to have a good meal delivered to him, instead of whatever boring lunch he usually gets each day. Inside he finds a note. It's from the housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur) to her husband. Saajan pens a response, which gets back to Ila. She keeps sending him lovingly prepared lunches and notes.

Written and directed by first-time helmer Ritesh Batra, The Lunchbox premiered during Critics Week at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Pundits immediately pegged it as a lock for India's submission to the Academy Awards, so there was a lot of outrage after The Good Road was submitted instead.

Honors include Best Actor for Khan and best screenplay at the Asian Film Awards (an upset over The Grandmaster), Best Screenplay and Jury Grand Prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and Best Supporting Actor for Nawazuddin Siddiqui, best screenplay and Outstanding Achievement for Irrfan Khan at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.

Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive.

It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Apex in Siam Square, House on RCA, Paragon, SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and several Major Cineplex branches, including Sukhumvit (Ekamai) and Rama III.  Rated 15+


Darren Aronofsky first got interested in the Biblical tale of Noah and the Ark when he was kid, penning a poem about it when he was in the seventh grade. Now, with plenty of clout built up after the critically acclaimed triumphs of Black Swan and The Wrestler, Aronofsky was able to put his stamp on the story of an ordinary man taking on a huge challenge.

Russell Crowe stars as the simple carpenter and family man who has a vision of God flooding the world to cleanse it of its wickedness. He builds a giant box for his family and all the earthly critters. Other stars include Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone.

Among religious critics, Noah has been controversial and they say the action-packed epic takes too many liberties. It's been banned in several countries, including Malaysia. In Singapore and other places, disclaimers have been posted at the box offices, noting that "Noah is director Darren Aronofsky's version of the story of Noah ... inspired by the Book of Genesis. Though artistic license has been taken, we believe the film to be true to the values and integrity of the biblical story."

Secularly, critical reception has been mixed, leaning to positive. I haven't seen it yet, but I think it's hard to top Bill Cosby's take on the tale. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas. Rated 15+

Also opening

Mor 6/5 Pak Ma Tha Mae Nak (มอ 6/5 ปากหมาท้าแม่นาค, a.k.a. Mathayom pak ma tha Mae Nak) – Thailand's reigning cinematic snakeoil salesman Poj Arnon is a shameless opportunist. Never one to shy away from making a film that's ripped from today's headlines, his latest zeitgeist-capturing effort is this comedy, which blends last year's blockbuster Thai movie Pee Mak – the record-shattering box-office hit – with his own 2013 horror-comedy, Mor 6/5 Pak Ma Tha Pee in which bratty schoolboys run and scream as they are chased by ghost teachers. Here, they pray to the Mae Nak shrine for good luck on their school-entrance exams, but one of the lads insults the legendary ghost wife. They are then pulled into a time warp, end up back in Mae Nak's day and for some reason take off their shirts as they come to Mae Nak's aid. She's portrayed by Wanida "Gybzy Girly Berry" Termthanaporn, who joins the elite echelon of Thai actresses to take on the role. Oh, and hey, just to top Pee Mak, it's in 3D! Rated G.

Kan Krai Khai Pha Mhai (กรรไกร ไข่ ผ้าไหม, a.k.a. Rock, Paper, Scissors) – Having wrapped up his Panya Raenu trilogy of comedies about low-income Isaan schoolchildren, director Bin Bunluerit turns his attention to a wealthy city school where impossibly precocious girls take part the school's endless array of extracurricular activities, including sports, singing, ballroom dance and trying to impress cute boys. Rated G.

Rio 2 – Blue Sky Studios and Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha return with a sequel to their 2011 animated feature about a pet bird who goes on a globetrotting adventure. This time out, the rare Blue Spix Macaws Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) fly into the Amazon to search for a surviving flock of their endangered kind. Other voices include Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx and Critical reception is mixed. This opened last week in afternoon sneak previews and now moves to a wider release. In 3D in some cinemas. Rated G.

Bhoothnath Returns – Amitabh Bachchan has another outing as the heroic ghost of the hit 2008 horror comedy. Here, the Ghost Nath takes on a corrupt local politician. Boman Irani and Shahrukh Khan also star. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhuvmit (Ekamai), Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight the FGC presents Anthony Hopkins in 1994's Shadowlands, director Richard Attenborough's take on author C.S. Lewis' relationship with poet Joy Davidman (Debra Winger).Tomorrow, hitch a ride with Albert Brooks on a cross-country RV trip in Lost in America. Saturday is Oleanna, director David Mamet's adaptation of his own play about a college professor (William H. Macy) blindsided by a sexual harassment rap by one of his students. Sunday features Michael Redgrave in the 1951 drama The Browning Version, in which a retiring teacher confronts failure. Next Wednesday, get the inside story on an obsessive amateur filmmaker as he tries to make a horror film in American Movie. Shows start at 8. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so reservations are a must. There are sometimes additions and changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page for updates.

Alliance Française – Next week's offering is a slice of quirk from writer-director Sólveig Anspach in Queen of Montreuil, about a young widowed woman who returns to her home in the hipster Parisian suburb of Montreuil. She holes up with a group of colorful acquaintances, including a depressed sea lion. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 16 at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless roads, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Take note

More apologies this week – I failed to note the Goethe-Institut's monthly German Film Series entry that was screened on Tuesday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. There's still a chance to see the film, the 2005 comedy One Day in Europe, at 1pm on Sunday at the Thai Film Archive.

Although the Thai New Year festival doesn't officially begin until April 13, it's likely that the celebrations will actually begin tomorrow if not right now. Officially just a three-day holiday, one of the Songkran days this year falls on the weekend, necessitating a "substitution day". So the water warfare and powder bombings will last even longer, finally ending on Wednesday, April 16. So take precautions.

Following Songkran, events include the Thailand International Film Destination Festival from April 20 to 29 at Paragon, the Swedish Film Festival from April 24 to 27 at SFX the Emporium and the Autism Film Festival on April 26 at Paragon. Also, the Film Virus Double Bills resume on April 20 at Thammasat University.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 3-9, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans returns as Marvel Comics' World War II supersoldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Two years after aliens nearly destroyed New York City in The Avengers, the good-hearted, upstanding and moral Cap is still struggling to find his place in modern society. He's got a list of things to catch up on  and experience, among them eat Thai food.

But a new threat emerges in the form of the Winter Soldier – a steel-armed killer created by Soviet scientists. Turns out it is Cap's old Army buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). In battling the new villain, Captain America teams up with superspy Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) as well as another superhero member of the Avengers, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

Samuel L. Jackson also stars, making his return as the eyepatch-clad S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, and Robert Redford is Agent Alexander Pierce. Cobie Smulders also returns as Agent Maria Hill.

Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who did Welcome to Collinwood and You, Me and Dupree, but also such TV series as Community and Arrested Development, direct.

Critical and fan reception of this film is crazily positive. They're calling it the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet. As with the other films in this series, there will be at least two post-credits bonus scenes and teasers to forthcoming attractions, so awkwardly keep your seat and be patient as all the names of the film crew scroll by. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G

Also opening

American Dreams in China – This sprawling Chinese rags-to-riches drama charts the rise of three ambitious friends over the course of 20 years as they build a business empire on teaching English. It's directed by celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Peter Chan, with cinematography by Christopher Doyle. Huang Xiaoming, Deng Chao, Tong Dawei and Du Juan star. It won best film, best director and best actor for Xiaoming at China's Golden Rooster Awards last year. Critical reception is mixed. It's in Mandarin with English subtitles at Paragon, SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada, Major Ratchayothin and House on RCA. Rated 15+

Tarzan – Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan the Ape Man again comes to the big screen, this time in motion-capture animation from a German studio. Twilight heartthrob Kellan Lutz is Tarzan, the orphan boy raised by apes in the African jungle. With his love interest Jane Porter (Spencer Locke), he faces the mercenary army of the evil CEO who took over the Greystoke family business after Tarzan's parents died in a plane crash. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 3D. Rated G

Main Tera Hero – David Dhawan directs this comedy about a small-town guy who heads off to college in Bangalore and falls for a beautiful but mysterious young woman (Ileana D’cruz) and then is caught up in a conflict with a corrupt cop (Arunoday Singh) and a gangster (Anupam Kher) whose daughter (Nargis Fakhri) is charmed by him. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Thursdays this month are devoted to Anthony Hopkins, featuring his films from before he blew up big with Silence of the Lambs. This week's entry is 1987's Charing Cross Road, a transatlantic romance that also stars Anne Bancroft. Fridays are for the films of actor-director Albert Brooks, starting with 1987's Broadcast News. Clipped, crisp dialogue is on tap every Saturday this month with the films of David Mamet, starting with his 1987 drama House of Games, starring Lindsay Crouse as a woman in over her head when she encounters a clique of colorful conmen. Michael Redgrave is the star of Sunday movies, starting this week with The Importance of Being Earnest from 1952. Wednesdays feature documentaries about obsessive filmmakers, and in line with the upcoming release of Noah, next week's offering is Audience of One, about a Pentecostal preacher who gets a message from God – "Make a movie!" Shows start at 8. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so reservations are a must. There are sometimes additions and changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page for updates.

Festival of Luis Buñuel in Mexico – Five films made by Spanish auteur Luis Buñuel during his Mexican period from 1946 to 1965 will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6. The event, co-sponsored by the Archive and the Embassy of Mexico, opens at 1pm with the comedy El Gran Calavera (The Great Madcap) from 1949. There will then be a talk in Thai by film expert Wiwat "Filmsick" Lertwiwatwongsa. They'll then show the 1952 comedy Subida al Cielo (Ascent to Heaven, a.k.a. Mexican Bus Ride) from 1952. Sunday opens at 1pm with La Illusion Viaja en Tranvia (Illusion Travels by Streetcar) from 1954. Next is the 1959 religious epic Nazarín, which won the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was Mexico's submission to the Academy Awards. The closer is the 1951 family drama La Hija del Engaño (The Daughter of Deceit). All are in Spanish with English subtitles. For more details, check the film archive website or the Facebook page.

Alliance Française – A delinquent boy run scams on wealthy guests at a Swiss ski resort to support his older sister in the 2012 drama L'enfant d'en haut (Sister). Directed by Ursula Meier, who won the Silver Bear in Berlin for her picture, it stars Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 9 at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless roads, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Take note

Scala stairs by PJ.
There is an important article at the Southeast Asian Movie Theater Project. If you care a wit about the future of the Scala theater or life in Bangkok itself, please read it.

Apologies to any readers who showed up late to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand's screening of the Cuban film La Bella del Alhambra on Monday. The FCCT has changed its usual screening time, starting at 7pm rather than 8.

Aside from the Friese-Greene Club, another freeloader movie venue that's been mentioned in the press and social media lately is Jam Cafe, off Sathorn Road in the neighborhood of Surasak BTS station. They show movies on Wednesday nights, but they keep their programming a surprise until almost the last minute. This month's theme is "so bad it's good" and this week's selection turned out to be the truly awful Jean-Claude Van Damme film Street Fighter.

The website for House cinema on RCA seems to have gone belly up, but I assure you the place is still open for business. The best way to keep updated is to "like" their page on Facebook.

The Thai Film Archive follows the excellent programming of Salaya Doc with films by Luis Buñuel this weekend. I haven't regularly covered the Archive's activities for a couple reasons, one that it's a bit far from Bangkok and two because the films aren't often English friendly – they show many great old Thai films, but most don't have subtitles. However, henceforth, if I spot something that might be of interest I will mention it.

The Film Virus Double Bill at Thammasat University is taking a break for Songkran. Whew. Programs will resume there on April 20.

Coming up, the Thailand International Film Destination Festival returns for a second edition, running from April 20 to 29 and showing a bunch of foreign films that were made here. Hopefully, I'll have more details about that soon.

And looking further ahead, there's the Swedish Film Festival from April 24 to 27 at SFX the Emporium.