Monday, June 30, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: House 10-Year Anniversary, July 3-30, 2014

Dogged by an inconvenient location and periodic rumors of its demise, House, the twin-screen "boutique" cinema on Royal City Avenue, has nonetheless survived and attracted a cult following with its eclectic selection of award-winning foreign dramas, erotica, documentaries, animation and Thai independent films.

Celebrating 10 years this month, House has a series of special screenings. Many of the films were big hits at House in past years and will show under the "House Phenomenon" banner. Also, several of the screenings are free. Here's the line-up via Facebook:

  • July 3: The Rover – Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce are earning rave reviews for this gritty Australian crime drama. It'll get a sneak preview before a general release later this month. Free.
  • July 4: Surprise film. Free.
  • July 5: Surprise film from the Japan Foundation. Free.
  • July 6: Two films courtesy of the Alliance Française, the Jacques Tati classic Playtime and the Oscar-nominated animated feature The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), which is based on an unproduced screenplay by Tati. Free.
  • July 7: Surprise film. Free.
  • July 8: Mary and Max – This darkly comic clay-animated feature is about an Australian teen girl who becomes a penpal with a lonely middle-aged man in New York. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette star.
  • July 9: Mother – Vorakorn Ruetaivanichkul directs this hybrid documentary drama about the mental breakdown of his mother. This is another sneak preview ahead of a planned general release.
  • July 10: The Fault in Our Stars – Shailene Woodley stars in this coming-of-age drama as a teenage cancer patient who is sent to a support group. This a sneak preview ahead of the planned July 24 release. Free.
  • July 11: Last Life in the Universe – Pen-ek Ratanruang's 2003 quirky comedy-drama had a suicidal Japanese fugitive (Tadanobo Asano) pairing up with a lonely Thai woman (Sinitta Boonyasak). Featuring cinematography by Christopher Doyle, it's not just one of Pen-ek's best but one of the best films ever. Free.
  • July 12: Mosquito Film Project – This is a line-up of offerings from Mosquito Films Distribution, a new outfit formed by several well-known Thai independent filmmakers, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Aditya Assarat, Pimpaka Towira and Anocha Suwichakornpong.
  • July 13: A pair of documentaries from the Alliance Française – Nostalgia for the Light, which examines relatives of of Chileans who "disappeared" during the Pinochet regime, and All Is Forgiven, about a daughter coming to terms with her father's drug addiction. Free.
  • July 14: Surprise film. Free.
  • July 15: A Separation – This Oscar-winning Iranian family legal drama was a big hit when it screened at House a couple years ago.
  • July 16: City of God – Brazilian youngsters look for a way out of the slums in this gripping crime drama.
  • July 17: The Grand Budapest Hotel – For reasons beyond my comprehension, Wes Anderson's much-anticipated new film isn't getting a theatrical release in Thailand. It's going straight to DVD, which is so damn disappointing. So, sadly, this will likely be the only chance for Bangkok cinema-goers to see it on the big screen. Free.
  • July 18: Lust, Caution – Rated 20- for its explicit sex scenes, Ang Lee's Chinese spy thriller, set in World War II Shanghai, got pulses racing when it screened for several weeks at House in 2007. Free.
  • July 19: Surprise film from the Japan Foundation. Free admission.
  • July 20: Food Festival – The program includes the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi and a talk by twin-sister filmmakers Wanweaw and Weawwan Hongvivatana.
  • July 21: Tokyo Sonata – Kiyoshi Kurosawa's drama looks at a dysfunctional family of four in Tokyo.
  • July 22: Blue is the Warmest Color – Another "House phenomenon" movie, this sexually explicit French romance follows a young woman's exploration of her sexuality.
  • July 23: The Song of Sparrows – This 2008 Iranian drama follows a young man who loses his job at an ostrich farm and then heads to Teheran to find another job.
  • July 24: Boyhood – Twelve years in the making, Richard Linklater looks at one kid's life has he grows into a teenager. This is termed a "sneak preview" though the general theatrical release isn't yet scheduled. Free.
  • July 25: Surprise film. Free.
  • July 26: Ter Day – Phenomenal young director Nawapol "Ter" Thamrongrattanarit ran a viral social-networking campaign to pack House for screenings of his two indie films, 36 and Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy. They'll both get encore screenings.
  • July 27: Two classic more French films from the Alliance Française – To Our Loves by Maurice Pialat and La Cérémonie by Claude Chabrol. Free.
  • July 28: Surprise film. Free admission.
  • July 29: Once – This musical romance about street musicians in Dublin was a surprise sleeper hit.
  • July 30: Love of Siam – This 2007 epic gay teen romance become even more epic when House released the three-hour director's cut by Chookiat Sakveerakul and had fans lined up out the door.

For details about showtimes and subtitles, check House's Facebook page.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 26-July 2, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

"I've never done a sequel," Mark Wahlberg declares in a studio interview about Transformers: Age of Extinction.

And, for now, he's correct, since this fourth entry in director Michael Bay's Transformers franchise is actually more a reboot than a sequel, with plans to carry the series on for a second trilogy.

A whole new human cast is introduced. Gone is the annoying Shia LaBeouf. Megan Fox, bless her heart, is long since forgotten. Now it's Wahlberg's turn to guide us back into the world of shape-shifting alien robots.

It's been four years since an epic battle sent the benevolent Autobots and the villainous Decepticons into hiding.

Wahlberg is Cade Yeager, a struggling tinkerer who salvages a battered old semi-truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots.

The discovery puts Yeager and his daughter in the crosshairs, as forces commanded by paranoid government officials come calling. The Decepticons are also on alert, and again, all of humanity is in peril.

Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, T.J. Miller, Kelsey Grammer and Titus Welliver also star. John Goodman is among the new Transformer voices.

Critical reception is surprisingly positive so far, with the consensus being this fourth installment gets back to the basics of giant robot movies.

It's in actual 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. In fact, excitable director Bay says 60 percent of the film is made to fit the IMAX screen and that's the way he wants folks to see it. In Thailand, the only authentic full-size IMAX screen is at Paragon – other IMAX outlets here are not the true IMAX aspect ratio and size. Rated 13+

Also opening

Magic Magic – A young insomniac woman loses the ability to tell dreams from reality in this psychological thriller starring Juno Temple, Emily Browning and, playing remarkably against type, Michael Cera. They are among travelers who head to a remote hideaway in the Chilean countryside, and everyone gangs up on the poor girl. Chilean helmer Sebastián Silva directs. Critical reception is generally positive. It's at Paragon, CentralWorld and House on RCA. Rated 15+

Punjab 1984 – Supposedly the biggest Punjabi film ever, this drama is set during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Punjab State. There, a mother searches for her son who has been accused of being a terrorist. Diljit Dosanjh, Amrinder Gill, Kulraj Randhaw, Kirron Kher and Pawan Malhotra star; Anurag Singh directs. In Punjabi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Central Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Now in the final week of June, tonight's offering is I Am Cuba, a 1964 Soviet-Cuban drama that was forgotten until the mid-1990s, when Martin Scorsese happened upon it and pushed for a full restoration. Featuring extraordinary Russian cinematography, the club's schedule notes "it is both a love letter to Cuba and shameless propaganda". Tomorrow, there's a private event, and Saturday is for card-carrying members only – the first-year anniversary party with an encore screening of the first film shown at the club – Ridley Scott's sci-fi/film-noir masterpiece Blade Runner. The month closes out with John Huston's The Misfits, the last film by both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

Filmvirus K-poppop – First up in this Sunday's double bill of contemporary South Korean films is National Security, a 2012 drama that's based the memoir of Kim Geun-tae, a democracy activist who was kidnapped and tortured for 22 days in 1985 under the military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan. That's followed by The Terror Live, a 2013 thriller in which a down-on-his-luck news anchor exploits a terrorist attack for his own gain. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Pridi Banomyong Library's Rewat Buddhinan Room, floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. They'll then want an ID that can be copied. The campus is located on the river opposite the Chao Phraya River Express Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier. Take a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat. Call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – For his 2011 drama Trishna, celebrated director Michael Winterbottom adapts the classic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and ports the setting of the star-crossed romance to Rajasthan, India, where the scion of a wealthy British-Indian family falls for a local lass who works in the family's hotel. Riz Ahmed and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) star. Supported by the British Council, the screening will also feature Fullers London Pride beer and fish and chips. Postponed from May 26 due to the curfew imposed by the junta, the show is at 7pm on Monday, June 30 at the FCCT. Admission is 150 baht for non-members plus 100 baht more for the brew and snacks.

Alliance Française – After taking a month off due to other French cultural events happening during La Fête, the Alliance's free films start back up next week. July's theme is "On a Journey", and the series kicks off with La vierge, les coptes et moi, a 2012 comedy in which a filmmaker heads to Egypt to make a movie about the supernatural appearances of the blessed Virgin in the Christian Coptic community. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, July 2.

Take note

The IMAX release of Transformers: Age of Extinction prompted me to go searching for information about authentic IMAX theaters. It's a confusing situation because not all IMAX theaters are created equal. It's worth noting – again – that in Thailand, there's only one real IMAX screen, at Paragon. The other IMAX screens here are smaller.

Anyway, according to the list, two more IMAX venues are planned as developers seek to cover every square meter of Bangkok with malls. One will be at the Emquartier, opening this year opposite the Emporium. Another is planned for the Bangkok Mall, a massive development that's being readied at the Bangna intersection. It'd be nice if at least one of the planned new IMAX cinemas had the full-size 72 foot × 53 foot (22 meter × 16.1 meter) IMAX screen like at Paragon, but with seating that isn't as cramped as Paragon's.

The 18th Thai Short Film and Video Festival is coming up in August, and starting on Wednesday, at the FA Cinematheque in the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, there will be the Short Film Marathon, in which some 500 entries to the festival will be screened. Shows are from 4.30pm Wednesday to Friday and 11am to 8.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, until August 6.

There's also the Southeast Asia Cinemas Conference from July 7 to 10 at the Thai Film Archive. Aside from addresses, panel talks and presentation of academic papers, the highlight will be film screenings. Among them will be the latest opus by Filipino auteur Lav Diaz, Norte, the End of History, which is a loose adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Other films include Dustin Nguyen's eastern-western Once Upon a Time in Vietnam, the award-winning Singaporean family drama Ilo Ilo and a brand-new Indonesian film, Rocket Rain. Registration is free for Thais, costs some for others. See the website for details.

Bangkok Comic-Con is set for July 4 to 6 at Royal Paragon Hall.

Finally, it appears that BIC.MOV.Fest set for July 3 to 6 at Paragon is not happening. Inquiries have so far been left unanswered and the festival's Facebook page has not been updated since before military takeover of the government in May.

Update: Some part of BIC.MOV.Fest have merged with Bangkok Comic-Con, while other parts of the movie festival, mainly activities planned by the Culture Ministry, have been postponed.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 19-25, 2014

Hong Hoon

Madame Tussauds will disagree, but some folks believe that having a wax figure made out of yourself before you die is bad luck, a notion that is explored in Hong Hoon (ห้องหุ่น, a.k.a. Crack My Skin).

The thriller originated as a radio drama by Somsuk Kaljaruek, and was remade for TV a few times. Now it's a movie by Kantana Motion Pictures, a newly launched production shingle of the Kaljareuk clan's Kantana Group, an entertainment company better known for its soap operas and post-production work on most of the movies released in Thailand and around the region.

The director is Kulp Kaljareuk, grandson of the radio play's writer and son of Kantana Group honcho Jaruek Kaljaruek. He's making his feature directorial debut.

Ananda Everingham stars as a guy investigating the death of his sister, which had something to with wax figures. He teams up with a woman named Ploy (Rattanarat Aurthaveekul), whose father's death also involved wax figures.

The two stars promoted the film at the recent Thailand Comic-Con and also got naked for a photo shoot that went viral on the Internet. Rated 15+

Also opening

Chinese Puzzle – Cédric Klapisch directs this third entry in his Spanish Apartment series of romantic comedies that started with 2002's L'Auberge Espagnole and was followed by 2005's Russian Dolls. Romain Duris again stars as the hapless Frenchman Xavier, who has divorced his longtime friend Kelly. She's moving to New York with their children, so he decides to follow. Audrey Tautou and Cecile de France also star. This screened along with the other two films in the trilogy at the recent EU Film Festival and now moves to limited release. It's at Apex Siam Square, SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and SF Cinema City Terminal 21. Rated 15+

Zulu – No, gosh darn it, not that Zulu. (Though wouldn't that be something to see on the big screen?) This Zulu stars Orlando Bloom and Forrest Whitaker as a pair of cops in apartheid-era South Africa. They are investigating the deaths of two women in Cape Town. Jerome Salle (Largo Winch) directs. Rated 18+

Grace of Monaco – Nicole Kidman portrays the actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly in the 1960s. While her husband Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) is in a bitter fight with France over tax issues, she’s mulling a return to Hollywood to act in a Hitchcock film. Frank Langella also stars. The opener of this year's Cannes Film Festival, Grace of Monaco was largely panned. It's been controversial for a number of reasons, chiefly being a dispute between director Olivier Dahan and producer Harvey Weinstein over which version of the film to release. It's also been been criticized by the princely family. Rated 15+

Mr. Jones – A couple head to a cabin in the woods to make a nature documentary, but their plans change when they discover the neighboring cabin belongs to the infamous reclusive artist Mr. Jones. They decide to investigate, despite warnings they they should stay away. Sarah Jones and Jon Foster star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

Phoobao Thai Baan Isaan Indy (ผู้บ่าวไทบ้าน อีสานอินดี้) – This Northeastern rural comedy-romance actually opened a couple weeks ago, but mainly only in upcountry cinemas. It was a phenomenon, with locals flocking to see it and earning enough at the box offices that Bangkok multiplex operators decided they wanted a piece of the action. Uten Sririvi, who sold a family rice field to fund the film, directs this tale of a young man (Thanachat Tulyachat) who wants to be a filmmaker but has put his dreams on hold until his sweetheart returns from overseas. She comes back, but has her British boyfriend in tow. There's more about it in The Nation. It's in the Isaan dialect with central Thai subtitles – no English. Rated G

Born to Be Yai (ห้องหุ่น, Yak Yu Yang Yai) – Growing up in a poor family, Chai (Sorawit Suboon) is forced to leave school after completing his primary education so he can contribute to the family’s finances. But he holds onto hope that his rags-to-riches dream will come true. Update: According to The Nation, this is a fact-based biopic about direct-sales entrepreneur Anantachote Chaipreecha, who produced the film. Rated 13+

Iceman – Donnie Yen stars in this Hong Kong take on Captain America, the comic-book hero frozen for 70 years and then reawakened to become part of a huge movie franchise. Here, Donnie's part of a group of Ming Dynasty palace guards, frozen for centuries, who awaken in modern-day Hong Kong. The hero (Donnie, of course) takes up with a nightclub hostess while his foes fall in with a gang of Indian grifters. Wang Baoqiang, Kang Yu and Eva Huang also star. This 3D action-comedy had a long and troubled production history, and critics say it has all kinds of problems. Here, it's Thai-dubbed only, and isn't even in 3D.

Humshakels – Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Ram Kapoor each play triple roles in this comedy about best friends who are unaware of their doubles who are also best friends who are unaware of yet another bunch of dopplegangers who are also best friends. 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 – A young woman races against the clock to save her boyfriend in Run Lola Run, a hyperkinetic crime thriller by German director Tom Tykwer, released 15 years ago this week. Tomorrow, forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown, Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning film noir, released 40 years ago this week. On Saturday, wax on, wax off with the original Karate Kid, which debuted 30 years ago. And on Sunday, no one will hear you scream if you watch Alien, released 35 years ago to the day. Next Wednesday, it's back to director Zhang Yimou, and To Live, his 1994 depiction of life during Mao's revolution. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

Filmvirus K-PopPop – I haven't made it up to Thammasat for this film series yet, so unless I hear different, I'm assuming it is still going on. This week's double bill of contemporary South Korean films is a pair by cult director Jang Joon-hwan, starting with his 2003 debut, the insane genre-bending sci-fi comedy Save the Green Planet, in which a hapless weirdo kidnaps a pharmaceutical executive because he thinks the businessman is an alien. That's followed by Jang's long-awaited sophomore feature, last year's Hwayi: A Monster Boy, a revenge thriller about a kid raised by five criminal fathers to become the perfect assassin. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Rewat Buddhinan Room on floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. They'll then want an ID that can be copied. The campus is located on the river opposite the Chao Phraya River Express Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier. Take a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat. Call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Thai Aurora at the Horizon – After playing to a packed room at TK Park last Sunday, this festival of 14 short films on Thai politics moves to the Reading Room on Silom Soi 19 for a 2pm screening on Sunday. There's a review over at that other blog. Check the trailer. Running 102 minutes in total, all have English subtitles. There will be a directors' talk afterward. Entry is free.

Sneak preview

Million Dollar Arm – Jon Hamm from TV's Mad Men stars in this fact-based Disney sports comedy as a sports agent who heads to India to recruit unlikely new talent for the pitchers' mounds in Major League Baseball. Critical reception is mixed. For the next two weeks, it's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly at most multiplexes. Rated 13+

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 12-18, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Vikings of Berk saddle up for another ride in How to Train Your Dragon 2, a sequel to the acclaimed 2010 first entry in the DreamWorks Animation franchise.

Chieftan's son Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless discover a secret cave that is home to hundreds of wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider. It could be the turning point in the village’s battle against villains Eret the Dragonknapper (Kit Harington from Game of Thrones) and Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou).

Baruchel – check out his hockey comedy Goon – considers this a saga like Star Wars. It's a big franchise, with a pretty good ongoing TV series plus another movie in the pipeline. Other voices in star-studded cast include Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig.

Oscar buzz is already warming up for this, and DreamWorks Animation could have a shot at its first statuette since 2005 – rival Pixar Animation won't release a new film this year. However, it'll likely face competition from Warner Bros.' The Lego Movie, and Walt Disney Animation Studios will have its first Marvel Comics animation, Big Hero 6, out in November. Critical reception is wildly positive. It's in 3D (real) in some cinemas. Rated G

Also opening

Maleficent – Angelina Jolie stars in this live-action fantasy-epic reimagining of the story of the villainess from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. She's a tragic figure driven to evil by a troubled past. Long before she cast a sleeping spell on the beautiful Princess Aurora, Maleficent was a pure-hearted fairy who fell in love with Stefan, a power-hungry young man who betrays her in order to be king. She plots her revenge, but is conflicted. Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley and Brenton Thwaites also star. And, in a bit of stunt casting, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt plays a toddler Aurora. Robert Stromberg, Oscar-winning art director on Alice in Wonderland and Avatar, makes his directorial debut. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas. Rated G

Pob Na Pluak (ปอบหน้าปลวก , a.k.a. The Ugly Ghost) – TV comedienne Sudarat "Tukky" Butrprom plays on her popular "ugly" image in this horror-comedy from producer Prachya Pinkaew. It's yet another version of the Phi Pob tale. Here, the malicious entrail-eating spirit is haunting a furniture factory. Tukky is a manager in charge of interns, screaming uniformed female university students, who all claim to be possessed by Pob. Tony Rakkaen also stars along with comedian Ping Lumpraploeng, who directs. Rated 15+

Mun Pleaw Mak (มันเปลี่ยวมาก, a.k.a. Paranoid) – A young man (Tana Chatborirak) faces comical situations involving a trickster spirit that takes possession of various things, including a vehicle's GPS navigation system and a dummy traffic cop who comes to life and gives chase while riding a zebra from a spirit-house shrine. It's a horror-comedy omnibus from studio M-Thirtynine, with directors Teekayu Thamnitayakul, Sakon Tiacharoen and Phairot Prasartong. Rated G

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – James Woods is a shady journalist hoping to cash in on a restive country's turmoil in Salvador. An early effort from director Oliver Stone, it screens tonight. Tomorrow, actor-director Tim Blake Nelson offers a modern twist on Shakespeare's Othello with O, set in an American high school. "Really a lot better than it sounds," advises the club's program. True! Saturday's censor-challenging, unsimulated-sex entry is Intimacy, a 2001 British drama about a lonely bartender who wants more from his no-strings-attached relationship with an anonymous woman. Sunday, watch out for those subway vents – it's Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-Year Itch. And next Wednesday starts a week of anniversary screenings, with Sam Peckinpah's epic western The Wild Bunch, released 45 years ago. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

Filmvirus K-poppop – Despite Thammasat University's Tha Prah han campus being a hotbed of political protest, as it traditionally has, the Filmvirus Sunday series seems to be continuing. This week's double-bill of contemporary South Korean cinema starts with The Yellow Sea, a crime thriller about a taxi driver who takes an assignment as a hitman in order to clear his debt with the mob. It competed in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2010 and won best director for Na Hong-jin at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. That's followed by Life Track, a 2007 drama about a disabled man who encounters a deaf-mute girl on the run from the cops. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Rewat Buddhinan Room on floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. They'll then want an ID that can be copied. The campus is located on the river opposite the Chao Phraya River Express Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier. Take a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat. Phone numbers to try are (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Thai Aurora at the Horizon – In the works long before the military's takeover of the government made political talk a risky endeavor, this independent film festival will screen 14 short films by young directors who offer different perspectives on politically charged issues. "From power relationships and education to the media, each film takes on a different topic to create awareness and encourage political participation," the organizers say. "We do not expect to change the country, directly or immediately. But this project might be one way to approach the current crisis." Starting at 2pm on Sunday, the venue is TK Park on the eighth floor of CentralWorld (above the Central Food Hall). Here's the line-up:

  • Lice in the Wonderland, Boonyarit Wiangnon
  • Mosquito in the Ant Land, Supakit Seksuwan
  • Introducing Post Thailand, Nuttawat Attasawat
  • Brother Ping-Ping Waiting in Line to Eat Fried Chicken, Thai Pradithkesorn
  • When I Was in Grade 12, Prempapat Plittapolkranpim
  • After Babylon, Napat Treepalawisetkun
  • The Taxi Meter, Natpakhan Khemkhao
  • Education Suicide, Karnchanit Posawat
  • Sleepwalker, Manasak Khlongchainan
  • My Hand is Still Looking, Harin Paesongthai
  • Tear of Child, Weerachai Jitsoonthorntip
  • Shut Sound: Lao Duang Duen, Joaquim Niamtubtim
  • The Youth, Ukrit Sa-nguanhai and Chayajee Krittayapongsakorn
  • Here Comes the Democrat Party, Chulayarnnon Siriphol

Check the trailer. Running 102 minutes in total, all have English subtitles. There will also be a directors' talk afterward. Entry is 20 baht. And, the entire program will be repeated at 2pm on June 22 at The Reading Room.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – After a bit of a hiatus due to the curfew, the Contemporary World Film Series is back on. Screening at 7pm on Monday, June 16, Travellers and Magicians is a 2003 drama that was the first feature to be made in Bhutan, a hermetic Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. A road movie, it follows a junior government official who falls in with a colorful group of other travelers, among them a wise monk who tells a story about a magician, which parallels the story of the young man. It's directed by Khyentse Norbu, a holy man who is believed to be a reincarnate lama. The screening is courtesy of the Royal Embassy of Bhutan, which will provide free drinks and snacks and promote its Bhutan-Thai Friendship discount travel deal. Admission is free! Next up at the FCCT will be Trishna on June 30, rescheduled after being cancelled last month due to the curfew.

Take note

An ultra-luxury cinema was launched last Friday, the Embassy Diplomat Screens at the recently opened Central Embassy mall near BTS Ploenchit. The five-screen multiplex is similar to the other VIP cinemas at high-end malls, such as Paragon and CentralWorld, with plush, reclining sofa-like seats, blankets, pillows and a special menu with pricey food and drinks delivered to you on bended knee by servers. There's even a USB charging port to charge your phone or tablet while the movie is playing. (Surely, patrons of this refined cinema wouldn't use their phones during a movie?) Tickets are 900 baht, which is less than Paragon's Blue Ribbon theaters but more than SFW CentralWorld's First Class. For now, it seems the Embassy Diplomat Screens are a standalone operation, and with no apparent connection to other major cinema operators. For showtimes, check the website.

Meanwhile, yet another mall has opened, Siam Square One, on the location of the Siam Theatre, which burned down in an alleged arson attack in the aftermath of the 2010 red-shirt protests. The new mall doesn't boast a multiplex, though there's a Sky Hall auditorium, which will presumably host performances and events.

The "three-fingers" protesters who are causing so many problems for the military government switched tactics last Sunday, staging brief demonstrations in various places around Bangkok. Meanwhile, the junta had its security forces standing guard in key places, such as Victory Monument, Siam BTS station and the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. The show of force aimed to deter the protesters while malls stayed open, activities proceeded and non-protesting people went about their day.

By the way, the midnight-to-4am curfew has been dropped across much of the country, but it's still on in Bangkok, and probably will remain as long as those pesky "three fingers" protesters continue to make appearances, just to punish us all.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 5-11, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Wash, rinse, repeat. Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise in another post-apocalyptic tale of the future. In Edge of Tomorrow, he's an ordinary suit-and-tie guy who is drafted into the military, dropped into a D-Day-style warzone and almost instantly killed. However, he finds himself caught in a time loop and fighting and dying over and over and over again. Sounds like all his movies.

He then meets a more-seasoned soldier – a tough lady warrior (Emily Blunt) who takes no guff. She whips him into shape and teaches him how to stay alive a bit longer and get closer to finally defeating the mysterious enemy.

Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson and Noah Taylor also star. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Swingers) directs. It's adapted from a 2004 Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The script, long in development, went through the Hollywood mill, with the final draft by Christopher McQuarrie, the writer-director of Reacher, which also starred Cruise.

Critical reception is surprisingly positive. "Gripping, well-acted, funny and clever," says the consensus. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G

Also opening

7500Too soon after the mysterious tragedy of the vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, this air-travel thriller deals with a Los Angeles-to-Tokyo flight that encounters a supernatural force over the Pacific Ocean. Leslie Bibb, Ryan Kwanten, Jerry Ferrara, Amy Smart, Jamie Chung and Scout Taylor-Compton star. Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge) directs. This was supposed to come out sometime last year, but was delayed for unknown reasons. There isn't much of a critical response. Rated 15+

The Rooms (ห้อง/หลอก/หลอน, Hong/Lork/Lorn) – Three directors – Panjapong Kongkanoi, Itthisak Uasoontornwattana and Jaded Uaychimplee – offer a mix of romance, horror and comedy in a trio of ghost stories. Asa Wang, Taveerit Joonlasap and Sawika Chaiyadej star. Rated 15+

Sri Thanonchai 555+ (ศรีธนญชัย 555+) – Thanachat Tulyachat, the young actor best known for the Boonchoo comedy franchise reboot, stars in this period-costume comedy as the historical folklore figure Sri Thanonchai, a consummate trickster who is famous for his wit but also uses his gifts to take advantage of others. Rated 15+

Poo Baow Tai Ban (ผู้บ่าวไทบ้าน อีสานอินดี้) – It's a Northeastern rural comedy-romance from a new Khon Kaen-based outfit, E-San Indy Film Studio. Sri Thanonchai leading man “Arty” Thanachat Tulyachat also stars in this one. He's a guy pining after a local lass who has plans to leave the village and move to the big city. Martin Brewer, a Briton with a farm and family in the area, also appears. It's at Major Cineplex, mainly upcountry branches for now, and is in Northeastern dialect with central Thai subtitles. A wider Bangkok release is planned for later. Rated G

Holiday – Akshay Kumar is a military officer who goes undercover to destroy a terrorist sleeper cell in this Bollywood action comedy. Sonakshi Sinha also stars. Brought in by the BollywoodThai crew, it's in Hindi with English subtitles at SF Cinema City Terminal 21. For more details, call (089) 488 2620. Opens Friday.

Also showing

Kafka Festival in Bangkok – Wrapping up with a screening at 6 tonight, the Goethe-Institut's celebration of writer Franz Kafka has two films – the 1965 Czech short Postava k podpírání (Joseph Kilian) and the 2006 documentary Who Was Kafka? For details, see the website.

European Union Film Festival – Various quirky characters come together in Finsterworld, the first fictional feature by documentarian Frauke Finsterwalder. Aiming to explore the German psyche, it screens at 6.30 tonight as the final entry in the Bangkok edition of the annual EU fest. Tickets are handed out 30 minutes before showtime. For details, check or

The Friese-Greene Club – Democracy? That's what Jack Lemmon is questioning when he travels to Chile in 1973 in search of his son in 1982's Missing by Costa-Gavras, screening tonight. Tomorrow's modern interpretation of classic stories is Cruel Intentions, a 1999 reworking of Les Liaisons dangereuses with wealthy New York high schoolers in place of 18th century French aristocrats. Saturday, say no to censorship with Klip, a sexually explicit 2012 Serbian drama about a 14-year-old Belgrade party girl. Follow that up with Sunday's Marilyn Monroe movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Wear your diamonds. Next Wednesday has Zhang Yimou's 1990 tragedy Ju Dou, which was initially banned in China because it was so vividly bleak. It stars Gong Li in the title role as a young woman sold into an abusive marriage who captures the eye of her husband's young adopted nephew. It won the Luis Buñuel Special Award at Cannes. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

Filmvirus K-PopPop – Twelve contemporary South Korean films will be screened from this Sunday until July 13 in the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan. Organized by Duangkamol Bookhouse's Filmvirus crew, the series was to have started last Sunday, but was wisely postponed when they got wind of plans for a protest. Starting at 12.30pm, the lineup opens with Bleak Night, a 2010 coming-of-age drama that centers on a father searching for answers after the mysterious death of his teenage son. That's followed by Ba-bi (Barbie), in which young sisters are at odds when an American man has to choose which one of them to adopt. Other films in the series are The Yellow Sea and Life Track on June 15, a double bill by Jang Jooh-hwan of Save the Green Planet and Hwayi: Monsters Boy on June 22, National Security and Terror Live on June 29, Montage and The Five and July 6 and Iri and Breathless on July 13. The venue is the Rewat Buddhinan Room on floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. They'll then want an ID that can be copied. The campus is located on the river opposite the Chao Phraya River Express Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier. Take a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat. Phone numbers to try are (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

ChopShots Travel Festival – Award-winning documentaries from this year's ChopShots Documentary Film Festival in Jakarta will screen on Sunday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre's fifth-floor auditorium. Here's the lineup:

  • Consider – Panu Saeng-Xuto directs this 20-minute examination of a transgender teenager's conflict with one intolerant teacher. 1.30pm.
  • Where I Go – The winning Best Southeast Asian Short Documentary, Cambodia's Neang Kavich directs this look at a young Cambodian-Cameroonian man and the struggles he's faced with discrimination and coming to terms with his own identity. Follows Consider.
  • Flaneurs #3 – The second-place Southeast Asian short by Indonesia's Aryo Danusiri is a 13-minute experimental work that captures "a throng of believers crowd[ed] together in front of a stage. The speeches have ended. They are enraptured." 4.30pm.
  • Madam Phung's Last Journey – A special mention winner, this feature by Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Tham follows a cross-dressing carnival troupe with such fairground attractions as a lottery, a miniature train ride, a bouncy house, merry-go-round, balloons and darts and a shotgun aiming at members performing songs and sketches. 4.45pm.

From 3 to 4.30, there will be a talk with filmmakers Neang Kavich, Nontawat Numbenchapol, Panu Saeng-Xuto and Kamolwan Nophaket. Admission is free and all films have English subtitles. For more details, check the BACC page.

Take note

The curfew has been lifted in the prime travel destinations of Pattaya, Samui and Phuket, but Bangkok and the rest of the country remain under lockdown from midnight to 4am. Keep your eyes and ears open for news of protests. As with last weekend, the military may move into areas and shut everything down.