Thursday, July 3, 2014

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

The Last Executioner

Hot off a best-actor win at the Shanghai International Film Festival, The Last Executioner  (เพชฌฆาต, Petchakat) is a biopic about Chavoret Jaruboon, who served as a one-man firing squad in the notorious "Bangkok Hilton" prison.

A wild rock 'n' roller in his youth, Chavoret went from entertaining American GIs with his guitar to starting a family. Putting his rock-musician dreams on hold, he took a job as a guard in Bangkwang Prison. Rising through the ranks, the lethal job of death-row executioner fell to him. Taking aim with a machine gun, he executed 55 prisoners over the course of 19 years – a task that had him struggling to reconcile the good and bad karma.

Directed by Tom Waller, who follows up his mystery thriller Mindfulness and Murder, it stars Vithaya Pansringarm, who won the best actor prize in Shanghai. He made his breakthrough as a leading man as the policeman-turned-monk-turned-sleuth in Mindfulness and Murder, and gained further acclaim for his performance as a chilling vigilante ex-cop in Nicholas Winding Refn's Bangkok crime thriller Only God Forgives.

In The Last Executioner, the cast is rounded out by  Penpak Sirikul (It Gets Better), who portrays his wife, and David Asavanond (Countdown) as a shadowy spirit figure who haunts Chavoret and represents his conflicted conscience. Thira Chutikul plays the younger Chavoret.

As a special treat, Waller and Vithaya will be present for a screening at 6.45 tonight at SFX the Emporium. Rated 15+

Also opening

The Wind Rises – Retired animator Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature is a long-in-the-works passion project of his. Recalling his earlier classic Porco Rosso, about a pig who is a World War I flying ace, The Wind Rises is the fictionalized biographical tale of aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, best known for the Zero, the formidable Japanese fighter of World War II. It follows his growing up with dreams of flying, but his poor eyesight means he'll never sit in the cockpit. He is then inspired by an Italian aeronautical designer and sets out to build beautiful planes. He joins a major Japanese engineering firm just as the imperial war machine is starting to tool up. Controversial because of its subject matter, critical reception has been mostly positive. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex, House, Esplanade Ratchada, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and Paragon Cineplex. Rated G

Million Dollar ArmMad Men's Jon Hamm trades in his grey flannel for travelling duds in this Disney sports flick. It's the fact-based story of a struggling sports agent who heads to India to run a televised talent search for cricket bowlers to learn to throw a baseball and become pitchers in Major League Baseball. Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin star. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. This opened in a sneak preview run two weeks ago and now moves to a wide release. Rated 13+

Begin Again – John Carney, who directed the sleeper-hit Once about love between Dublin buskers, returns to the musical-romance scene. Keira Knightley stars as a young folk musician in New York who's just lost her boyfriend and songwriting partner. Performing in the East Village, she catches the eye of a disgraced record-label executive (Mark Ruffalo). Hailee Steinfeld and Adam Levine also star. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 15+

Ek Villain – A young man with a dark past sees his life turning around when he meets a nice girl and decides to settle down. But then she's murdered, setting the man off on a vengeful path where the lines between good and evil are blurred. Sidharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor and Ritesh Deshmukh star. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Central Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Bobby Jasoos
–  Vidya Balan is a lady detective in Hyderabad in this Bollywood comedy. It's in Hindi with English subtitles at SF Cinema City Terminal 21, SF Jungceylon and SFX Pattaya Beach. Opens Friday.

Also showing

House 10-Year Anniversary – In addition to its regular screenings of new releases, House cinema on RCA also has a vast line-up of special shows this month in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Tonight at 7 is a free sneak preview of The Rover, an Australian crime thriller starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce that'll be released later this month. Tickets are handed out an hour before the show. Other highlights include two free shows on Sunday courtesy of the Alliance Française – the Jacques Tati classic Playtime and the Oscar-nominated animated feature The Illusionist. Notably, they will be screened from 35mm film, not digital. Others are the Australian clay animated black comedy Mary and Max on Tuesday (also on film) and the Thai indie documentary-drama Mother on Wednesday. Check the Facebook schedule for the full line-up and check the Facebook page for showtimes.

The Friese-Greene Club – Stories from Latin America unfold on Thursdays this month, starting with 1981's Pixote, about the disturbing life of a street kid in Sao Paulo. Friday coincides with America's Independence Day holiday, with fireworks on the big screen in the epic historical romance Gone with the Wind. Saturdays are all about Australian films, opening with Phillip Noyce's heart-rending fact-based Outback tale Rabbit-Proof Fence. And put on your dancing shoes on Sunday, for a series of Fred Astaire films, kicking off with 1935's Top Hat. Naughty nuns and bad brothers are featured on Wednesdays, with the Powell-Pressburger classic Black Narcissus, which deals with conflict among nuns in the Himalayas. 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.

Bangkok Comic-Con – Not to be confused with the Thailand Comic-Con that was held in May, the True Corporation and BEC Tero-sponsored Bangkok Comic-Con from tomorrow until Sunday at Royal Paragon Hall aims to offer something closer in feel to the San Diego Comic-Con, with discussion panels, previews of upcoming films and even a sneak-peek screening. Among the highlights will be a video conference by Ian Somerhalder from The Vampire Diaries and Stephen Amell from Arrow. Michael E. Uslan, executive producer of the Batman films and animated series, is in town for a talk on bringing the Dark Knight from the page to the screen. And the Iron Throne is the centerpiece of a look inside the world of HBO's hit fantasy series Game of Thrones. There are also performances and cos-play, including an appearance by Thailand's vaunted 501st Legion – they're stormtroopers from Star Wars, even if they are a bit short. United International Pictures will have extensive previews for such upcoming films as Hercules, Lucy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and there will be a full sneak peek at Seth MacFarlane's upcoming comedy western A Million Ways to Die in the West. For more details, check the Facebook page.

Filmvirus K-PopPop – The next-to-last double bill of the series has two South Korean films from last year, starting with Montage, a thriller in which relatives and a troubled cop team up to solve a 15-year-old kidnapping case. Then, in The Five, strangers team up to take revenge on a serial killer. 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.

Alliance Française – This month's theme "On a Journey" carries on with Goodbye Morocco, a 2012 drama about Moroccan woman who is supervising the building of a beachside villa with her Spanish lover. When their work uncovers an ancient fresco, she sees an opportunity. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, July 9.

Take note

The Short Film Marathon is under way in the FA Cinematheque at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Screening the more than 500 entries for next month's 18th Thai Short Film and Video Festival, the marathon shows are from 4.30 to 8.30pm Wednesday to Friday and 11am to 8.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, until August 6.

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