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+

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