Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 26-April 1, 2015


British expat readers have been pestering me for months about this one. "When is Paddington coming to Bangkok?" they have asked repeatedly.

Well, please stop bothering me. He's here now.

The marmalade-loving "rarest of bears" of British children’s literature comes to the big screen in this tale that explains how he came to arrive in the big city. Discovered at a London railway station, lost and alone with a note around his neck, Paddington is taken in by the kindly Brown family, however a sadistic museum taxidermist has other ideas.

Ben Whishaw (the new Q from the Bond series) is the voice of Paddington. Colin Firth was originally supposed to do it, but he didn't fit. Plunging into the depths of the uncanny valley, the bear was created for the screen with a combination of computer-generated imagery and animatronic puppetry. His human saviors are Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky), with Nicole Kidman as the evil museum lady.

Paul King wrote the screenplay and directs. Michael Bond, the author of the books, was also involved.

Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated G

Also opening

Home – A fugitive member of an invading race of space aliens is befriended by a plucky teenage girl in this new feature from DreamWorks Animation. It's winning praise for voice work by Rihanna as the girl Tip. Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) voices the alien named Oh. Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin are also featured. Critics are mixed. This opened last week in a sneak preview run and how moves to a wider release. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G

X+Y – An autistic teenage math prodigy (Asa Butterfield) discovers new confidence and friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad for the International Mathematics Oympiad. Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins also star. It's directed by Morgan Matthews as a fictionalized follow-up to his documentary about teen math geniuses Young Beautiful Minds. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 13+

Robot Overlords – With Earth conquered by robots from a distant galaxy, a teen discovers a way to sneak past the cyber sentries and form a resistance group with other youngsters. Hot on their trail is an ex-teacher and robot collaborator. Callan McAuliffe, Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley star. Critical reception isn't really a thing. Rated 15+

Citizenfour – This year's Academy Award winner for best documentary feature comes to Bangkok in an extremely limited release as part of Doc Holiday, which in recent months has organized a series of screenings of acclaimed documentaries at SF Cinemas. Citizenfour is directed by Laura Poitras, a noted documentary filmmaker who began receiving encrypted e-mails from someone named "citizen four" who leaked information about the US National Security Administration's illegal wiretapping. This prompted her and a team of journalists to fly to Hong Kong to meet the source, who turned out to be fugitive former NSA computer administrator Edward Snowden. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. It screens from tomorrow until Sunday at SF World Cinema and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Advance bookings are recommended. For details, please check the SF Cinemas website.

Also showing

Salaya International Documentary Film Festival – Entries in the Asean documentary competition are screening from 1pm today and tomorrow at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Special screenings include Position Among the Stars from the fest's "director in focus" Leonard Retel Helmrich at 5 today followed at 7pm by Love Is All: 100 Years of Love and Courtship, which weaves together home movies and historic footage to survey romance, from the first kiss, to mixed-race pairs and homosexual love. Tomorrow at 3, there's a one-off screening of Diving Bell: The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol, a controversial account of last year's South Korean ferry disaster, followed at 5pm by Frederick Wiseman's three-hour opus National Gallery. On Saturday, the fest moves back to the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, and wraps up with The Wages of Resistance: Narita Story, Helmrich's Promised Paradise and the closing film, the new Thai documentary Y/Our Music, with an after-party and live music. It's not a bad idea to reserve your seats, and you can do so online at

The Friese-Greene Club – Top talents of Hong Kong and Chinese cinema converge in Hero, Zhang Yimou's vivid martial-arts fantasy starring a terrific Jet Li as a lawman who tells of his fights with warriors who attempted to assassinate an emperor. Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Donnie Yen also star, with cinematography by Christopher Doyle. Tomorrow, head to the pancakes house with the Coen Bros. and their critically acclaimed 1987 black comedy Fargo. Saturday has the final entry this month from Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore, the 2000 drama Malena, in which a beautiful woman disrupts life in a village. And Sunday is the third offering in a tribute to Sir Carol Reed, with the film-noir thriller Our Man in Havana. Based on a Graham Greene novel, it stars Alec Guinness as a hapless vacuum-cleaner salesman caught up in an espionage scheme. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.  For April's schedule, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – Free French films continue in April with Les garçons et Guillaume, à table! (Me, Myself and Mum), an autobiographical comedy-drama from actor-director Guillaume Gallienne, who adapts his one-man stage show about his sexually confused upbringing and his love-hate relationship with his domineering mother. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, April 1 at the Alliance.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 19-25, 2015

Lupin the Third

Lupin the Third, the live-action adaptation of a long-running manga series gets a limited release following its local premiere at last month's Japanese Film Festival.

Ryuhei Kitamura (VersusThe Midnight Meat Train) directs this adventure tale about the gentleman thief Lupin III (Shun Oguri) and his colorful partners in crime. While trying to stay a step ahead of Lupin III's dogged nemesis Inspector Zenigata (Tadanobu Asano), they come to a fictional Southeast Asian land that looks a lot like Thailand. There, they face a powerful enemy while trying to retrieve the priceless Crimson Heart of Cleopatra. There's a host of Thai talent in the cast, including Rhatha Pho-ngam, Vithaya Pansringarm and Nirut Sirichanya.

Critical reception has been mixed, mostly negative. But to me, it looks more interesting than the major Hollywood release this week. You can read more about Lupin III in an article at The Nation. It's at SF Cinemas, with the original soundtrack with English and Thai subtitles SFC Terminal 21 and SFW CentralWorld. Update: It's also at Apex Siam Square. Rated 13+

Also opening

The Way He Looks – Blind teenager Leonardo struggles with independence, and spends most of his free time with neighbor girl Giovana. Their friendship takes a turn with the arrival of a new boy at school whom Leonardo feels instantly connected to. Directed by Daniel Ribeiro, this Brazilian coming-of-age gay romance won the Fipresci critics prize and the Teddy Award for LGTB-themed features at last year's Berlin International Film Festival. Critical reception is generally positive. This picture comes to us through the singlehanded efforts of indie film enthusiast "Ken" Thapanan Wichitratthakarn, who saw The Way He Looks at a Hong Kong festival and loved it so much, he just had to acquire the Thai theatrical rights for it. You can read more about that in an article in The Nation. It's in Portuguese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square, House on RCA and SFW CentralWorld.

Insurgent – Just let me see if can contain my excitement for this week's big Hollywood tentpole release, the second entry in the latest adaptation of a series of best-selling young-adult science-fiction novels. Following the first entry Divergent, the story has young heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her guy pal Four (Theo James) living as fugitives in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world. While they are hunted by the power-hungry Erudite faction, Tris must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance that threatens to tear society apart. Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer also star. Critical reception is mostly negative, but movie critics aren't who this movie was made for. It's in fake 3D (why bother?) in some cinemas including IMAX. Rated 15+

2538 Alter Ma Jive (2538 อัลเทอร์มาจีบ) – It's Back to the Future for a young Thai guy who discovers a message on an old pager belonging to his parents. He first tries to call the number on his smartphone, but, in the way things always go with cellphones in movies, the battery is dead. So he finds a still-working old-fashioned phone booth to call the number, and is transported 20 years back in time to 1995, altering the events in which his parents met and fell in love. Danarun Ramnarong and Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul star. It's directed by "Sua" Yanyong Kuru-angkul. Rated 13+

Feel Good Roosuek Dee The Me Kan (Feel Good...เพราะรู้สึกดีที่มีกัน) – Three stories are depicted in this indie Thai romantic comedy. They involve a pair of newlyweds, two college kids and a young man who uses a science to win over the girl he loves. Ratcd 15+

Zhongkui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal – The anti-hero of Chinese legend Zhong Kui (Chen Hun) is forced into a battle among the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell as he attempts to save his countrymen and the woman he loves (Li Bingbing). It's Thai-dubbed in most places, except for SFW CentralWorld and Paragon. Rated 13+

Also showing

German Film Week – As covered in a special update last week, German films are screening at 7 nightly until Sunday at Paragon Cineplex. Tonight, it's the adventure yarn Measuring the World, about German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and geographer Alexander von Humboldt and their surveys of the world in the 1800s. Tomorrow is the road movie The Man Who Jumped Over Cars and Arab-Jewish relations are covered Saturday's Kaddisch for a Friend. The closing film is the 1954 adaptation of the famous children's book Emil and the Detectives. Tickets are free and can be booked by calling (02) 108 8231-32, e-mail or check For more details, visit

The Friese-Greene Club – A barely literate 13-year-old girl (Wei Minzhi) is left in charge of a rural schoolhouse and pluckily rises to the challenge of stopping the school's loss of students in Zhang Yimou's 1999 drama Not One Less. Tomorrow, it's the Coen Bros.' Barton Fink, which they dashed off while experiencing writer's block on the screenplay for Miller's Crossing. Actually, they say, Barton Fink is about wallpaper. Saturday, Tim Roth is an enigmatic piano player born aboard an ocean liner in The Legend of 1900, another of the films of Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore. It features a score by the great Ennio Morricone. Sunday is another of Sir Carol Reed's film-noir thrillers, 1948's The Fallen Idol. Based on a Graham Greene novel, it's about a butler (Ralph Richardson) who is implicated in a murder by the towheaded boy who idolizes him. And next Wednesday is the final entry in a series of Jean-Pierre Jeunet films, the epic World War I romance A Very Long Engagement. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.  For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Salaya International Documentary Film Festival – The schedule is now complete for the fifth annual edition of Salaya Doc, and seats can be booked online. The opener is at 1pm on Saturday at the Thai Film Archive with The Look of Silence, the follow-up to The Act of Killing, which probed genocide by the Indonesian military in the 1960s. Weekend highlights include Asean competition entries plus a pair of films about film, Flowers of Taipei: New Taiwanese Cinema and Love Is All: 100 Years of Love and Courtship. Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery screens at the Archive on Monday. The screenings then shift to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center from Tuesday until next Friday. Among the highlights are the films of this year's director in focus, Dutch-Indonesian auteur Leonard Retel Helmrich, who is known for his "single-shot cinema" technique. His films are Eye of the DayShape of the MoonPosition Among the Stars and Promised Paradise. More details of the festival are covered over at that other blog and in a special posting from last week.

A scene from No Word for Worry, screening on Tuesday at the BACC as part of Salaya Doc and on Thursday at the FCCT.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – In addition to Salaya Doc, more documentaries are on offer at the FCCT, which has Life and Death at Preah Vihear, director David A. Feingold's examination of the conflict of the disputed territory around the 11th century Hindu temple on the Thai-Cambodian border. That's at 7pm on Tuesday, March 24. And next Thursday is a Salaya Doc entry, No Word for Worry, Norwegian director Runar Jarle Wiik's look at the fast-fading "sea gypsy" culture of the Moken people in Myanmar's Mergui archipelago. For more details, please see the FCCT website.

Alliance Française – This month's films have featured stories of women going through major life changes, and the final entry next Wednesday is the 2013 comedy-drama Elle S'en Va (On My Way), starring Catherine Deneuve as a 60-year-old woman who is dumped by her lover and left with a financially troubled family restaurant. She gets in her car and just starts driving. It's in French and English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, March 25 at the Alliance.

Sneak preview

Home – A fugtive member of an invading race of space aliens is befriended by a plucky teenage girl in this new feature from DreamWorks Animation. It's winning praise for voice work by Rihanna as the girl Tip. Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) voices the alien named Oh. Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin are also featured. Critics are mixed. It's in sneak previews from around 2pm in most cinemas from Saturday until Wednesday before opening wide next Thursday. Rated G

Take note

Apologies for omitting several film events from last Thursday's update. I belatedly found out about German Film Week and quickly put up a special post. I wonder if there's anybody at the Goethe-Institut who can tip me off to the German film events? I only seem to find out about them after they'e already started. Other quickie updates of things I missed earlier, such as for the BACC's Cinema Diverse series last Saturday and yesterday's screening of Song of the Lao Elephant at the FCCT, were handled on my Twitter feed, so please keep on eye on that for late-breaking #BangkokCinemas updates.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: Salaya Doc 2015

With an abiding focus on Southeast Asia, as well as filmmaking and cultural preservation, the Salaya International Documentary Film Festival returns for its fifth edition from March 21 to 28 at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, and from March 24 to 27 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

Opening film
  • The Look of Silence – Director Joshua Oppenheimer continues to examine genocide in Indonesia with this follow-up to his Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing, which rounded up the lethal men behind Indonesia’s anti-communist purges of the 1960s. The Look of Silence centers on an optometrist who uncovers the identity of the men who killed his brother. Winner of the Venice fest’s grand jury prize and awards at many other festivals, The Look of Silence has been much acclaimed, and has even been made required viewing for Indonesian military troops.
Closing film
  • Y/Our Music – Unusual figures at the fringes of Thailand’s music scene are featured in this indie doc by Waraluck “Art” Hiransrettawat Every and David Reeve. It journeys through the Isaan countryside and hidden pockets of Bangkok to survey an array of musicians, from the amateur maker of bamboo saxophones to veteran performers of traditional songs. The documentary premiered at last year’s Busan fest, and this week makes its North American premiere at the music-leaning South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
Special screenings

  • Southeast Asian Cinema – When the Rooster Crows – Italian director Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso interviews four of the region's cinema talents: Cannes-winning best director Brillante Mendoza from the Philippines, Singapore’s Eric Khoo, Indonesia’s Garin Nugroho and Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang. It is generously sprinkled with clips from all the directors’ films, and has interviews with producers, critics and behind-the-scenes talents. I reviewed it at last year's Luang Prabang Film Festival.
  • Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema – Here's a look at the influential stalwarts of Taiwanese cinema, among them Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, and how they aided Taiwan’s transformation from a hub of cheap plastics manufacturing to a cultural and technological powerhouse. Artists and filmmakers from other parts of the world are interviewed about how Taiwanese cinema has shaped their work. They include Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul invoking his “film is memory” mantra, along with Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Jia Zhangke, Wang Bing, Ai Weiwei and others.
  • Love is All: 100 Years of Love and Courtship – Rare footage from the British Film Institute and Yorkshire Film Archive covers this history of romance in film, from the very first kisses ever caught on film, through the disruption of war, to the birth of youth culture, gay liberation and free love. It's directed by Kim Longinotto directs, and Richard Hawley, formerly of the British rock band Pulp, provides the soundtrack.
  • No Word for Worry – Norwegian director Runar Jarle Wiik looks at the fast-fading culture of Moken “sea gypsies” in Myanmar, and one young man's efforts to preserve it.
  • The Wages of Resistance: Narita Stories – This is a followup to the series of classic documentaries by Ogawa Shinsuke about the farmers who opposed the building of Tokyo's Narita airport in the 1960s. They haven't given up, and are now fighting airport expansion. It's directed by Daishima Haruhiko with Otsu Koshiro, who served as cinematographer on Shinsuke's earlier docs, which I saw at the 2011 edition of Salaya Doc.
  • National Gallery – And the festival continues to fete the esteemed 85-year-old “institutional” documentarian Frederick Wiseman. Last year the festival featured his At Berkeley and this year it's an exhaustive three-hour look behind the scenes of the revered London art museum.

Asean competition

  • The Storm Makers – Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh, whose Oscar-nominated The Missing Picture screened in Salaya last year, produces this work by French-Cambodian director Guillaume Suon. It's the story of Aya, a young woman who at age 16 was sold into work as a maid in Malaysia, where she was exploited and beaten for two years without receiving any pay. “I should have died over there”, she says. The director then has a chat with Pou Houy, the notorious head of a recruiting agency who shamelessly admits he doesn’t care what happens to the women he hires, and that he’s only interested in profit.
  • Die Before Blossom – Indonesian director Ariani Djalal focuses on two families during a decisive period of their daughters’ schooling in Yogyakarta, just as public education in Indonesia is coming under political pressure to include more Islamic teachings in its formerly secular curriculum.
  • Lady of the Lake – Yangon Film School student Zaw Naing Oo directs this examination of Myanmar’s “cult of the nat” – spirit worship – in a village on Moe Yun Gyi Lake, in the country’s southcentral Bago Region.
  • Echoes from the Hill – In northern Thailand, a village inhabited by the “Pgaz K’Nyau” – simple humans – is under threat. Their sacred belief is to remain in harmony with nature, even as they come into conflict with the Thai government’s attempts to build a dam and make their ancestral forest lands a national park. Jirudtikal Prasonchoom and Pasit Tandaechanurat, students King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang direct.
  • Madam Phung’s Last Journey – Ageing drag queens lead a transgender carnival troupe around Vietnam. At each town, a pattern is repeated. Locals are at first enchanted by the entertaining visitors, but later at night, after the drinks have flowed, the scene turns ugly, and the troupe has to beat a hasty retreat. Nguyen Thi Tham, who spent around a year embedded with the troupe, directs. I reviewed it at last year's Luang Prabang Film Festival.
  • 03-Flats – Lei Yuan Bin seeks to dispel the dull and drab image of Singapore's public housing program with help from three single women who have made their flats into spaces that can truly be called homes.

Please note that the screening schedule had not yet been completed when I last checked, and that this is only a tentative lineup. I'll aim to have further information in time for my usual update next Thursday. For more details, check or

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: German Film Week 2015

Fairy tales, comedies, historical dramas and children's stories are set for German Film Week, which starts on Monday at Paragon Cineplex. Here’s the rundown:

  • March 16 – The Golden Goose – In this 2013 live-action made-for-TV adaptation of the tale, a peasant comes into possession of a valuable farm animal and wants to give it to a sad princess, but the road to her castle is paved with envy.
  • March 17 – West – An East German chemist enters into sham marriage in order to move to West Berlin, and the circumstances of her arrival make the CIA suspicious.
  • March 18 – Jakob the Liar – A Holocaust drama from 1975, this was the first East German film to be entered into the Berlin film fest (then held in West Berlin), and it won a Silver Bear for the performance by Vlastimil Brodsky. It was also the first East German film to get an Oscar nomination.
  • March 19 – Measuring the World – The 2012 drama is adapted from a novel about German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and geographer Alexander von Humboldt and their surveys of the world in the 1800s. Detlev Buck (Same Same But Different) directs.
  • March 20 – The Man Who Jumped Over Cars – A young man flees Berlin and sets out for southern Germany on foot, and is joined along the way by others looking to change their lives.
  • March 21 – Kaddisch for a Friend – A teenage Palestinian refugee with a strong hatred for Jews comes to Berlin to live with relatives, and finds himself in a position where he’s asking an elderly Jewish neighbour for help.
  • March 22 – Emil and the Detectives – This is a 1954 adaptation of the famous children’s book by Erich Kästner and illustrator Walter Trier. Based on an earlier screenplay by Billy Wilder, it’s the story of a boy who is robbed of his money, but rather than tell his mother, he enlists dozens of local children to get the loot back.

Shows are at 7 nightly (the opening film is preceded by a reception at 6pm). All films will be shown in German with English subtitles.

Tickets are free and can be booked by calling (02) 108 8231-32, e-mail or check For more details, visit

In addition, there is the ongoing German Film Series, which since January has had screenings once a month at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center and the Thai Film Archive.

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 12-18, 2015


Disney continues its drive to do live-action remakes of all its beloved animated films with Cinderella, the fairy tale of a young woman who is forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepmother.

Stage and screen actor Kenneth Branagh directs, helping to bring a tragic Shakespearean vibe to the Disney princess tale. Lily James is the young heroine Ella while Cate Blanchett is her cruel stepmother. Helena Bonham Carter is the fairy godmother and Richard Madden is Prince Charming. Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, Twilight: New Moon) wrote the final screenplay.

Cinderella premiered at the Berlin film fest, and critical reception is generally positive. Rated G

Also opening

Run All Night – Liam Neeson must never rest. He was just in cinemas with the punchfest Taken 3 and now he's back with Run All Night, an action drama in which he's an ageing hitman who has to take on his brutal former boss (Ed Harris) in order to protect his estranged son (Joel Kinnaman). Common, Génesis Rodríguez and Vincent D'Onofrio also star. It's directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the Spanish helmer who has previously steered Neeson through the memory-loss thriller Unknown and the air-hijack drama Non-Stop. Critical reception  is just gearing up. Rated 15+

Everly – Salma Hayek takes the lead in this ultra-violent action drama. She's working as a prostitute in order to infiltrate the organization of a Japanese mobster (Hiroyuki Watanabe). Against seemingly insurmountable odds, she fights back as her luxury apartment comes under siege from an endless array of hired killers. Interestingly, Kate Hudson was originally set to star in the role that went to Hayek. Joe Lynch (The Knights of Badassdom) directs. Critical reception is mixed, but if you're into action movies, maybe make this a double-bill with Run All Night (see above) or another female-led action drama, Bollywood's NH10 (see below). Rated 18+

Superfast! – As the seventh installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise races towards us for release next month, here's an extremely broad parody of the car-chase action series from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the same guys who've brought us such crude comedy knock-offs as Date Movie, Epic Movie and Disaster Movie. Critical reception is ... well, who really cares? Rated G

P.K. – Originally released in December, this record-setting Bollywood comedy is back for a wider release. Aamir Khan stars as an innocent stranger with a child-like outlook on life who arrives in the big city and causes those around him to rethink the way they see the world. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex.

NH10 – Anushka Sharma stars in this rare female-led Bollywood action drama. She's a young woman on a road trip with her boyfriend, travelling along Punjab state's National Highway 10 near the Pakistan border. They run into conflict with violent criminals and eventually it's up to the woman to make a stand for survival. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Directors' month continues with movies by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Zhang Yimou, the Coen Bros., Guiseppe Tornatore and Sir Carol Reed. Tonight, watch Zhang Ziyi make her debut in The Road Home, the epic tale of star-crossed romance between a schoolteacher and a rural girl, and of their son, who must carry his father's coffin back to his remote village by foot. Tomorrow, Nicolas Cage takes on a character that would serve as a template for the countless other dimwitted hicks he's played in other movies. It's the Coens' hilarious crime caper Raising Arizona, also starring Holly Hunter, John Goodman and William Forsythe. On Saturday, an elderly Italian embarks on a journey to visit his five children in Gisuseppe Tornatore's Everybody's Fine. Sunday is the first of three movies by Sir Carol Reed this month – 1947's Odd Man Out, in which an Irish nationalist is pursued by authorities in Belfast. Next Wednesday, it's Jean-Pierre Jeunet's disarmingly charming romantic comedy Amelie. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.  For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – A judge is surprised to find she's pregnant and the father is a violent criminal from her court in the 2013 comedy 9 Mois Ferme (Nine Months Stretch). It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm next Wednesday.

Take note

The Salaya International Documentary Film Festival runs from March 21 to 28 at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom and also from March 24 to 27 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Highlights include The Look of Silence, which is a follow-up to the Indonesian genocide doc The Act of Killing. There is also National Gallery, the latest from esteemed "institutional" documentarian Frederick Wiseman and many others. I'll aim to cover it all in a special update tomorrow.

Just hours after last week's post went online, the Apex website returned to life. Long may it stay active.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 4-11, 2015


South African director Neill Blomkamp is having another moment. With his third full-length feature Chappie hitting cinemas, Blomkamp has been making the rounds of premieres and press conferences to promote the sci-fi thriller, but he's also talking about his next project, a sequel to Aliens, which will bring back Sigourney Weaver and also ignore the third and fourth entries in that sci-fi franchise.

Anyway, Chappie has Blomkamp touching on the themes of humanity, technology, machines and class differences that he explored in his previous efforts, his well-received debut District 9 and the more-ambitious Elysium, which bombed with critics, but Blomkamp accepts the blame.

In a future when rampant crime is controlled by an aggressive robotic force, one police robot named Chappie is stolen and has its programming changed so that it starts to think for itself. While one programmer (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) tries to help the friendly robot, an engineer (Hugh Jackman) who is violently opposed to artificial intelligence sets out to destroy the robot.

Sigourney Weaver also stars, as does Blomkamp's longtime collaborator, South African actor Sharlto Copley, who provides the voice of Chappie. Critical reception is just starting to percolate. Rated 15+

Also opening

Cat a Wabb! (แคท อ่ะ แว้บ! #แบบว่ารักอ่ะ , a.k.a. Cat AWOL) – A young woman takes an internship with a TV commercial director and develops on instant crush on the guy. Meanwhile, her company has to make a TV spot with a celebrity cat, a potbellied Burmese bronze named Johnny, who causes a panic after he goes missing. Popular young actress "Bae Fern" Pimchanok Luewisatepaiboon stars, along with this season's rom-com leading man, "Pe" Arak Amornsupasiri. TV comedy cohorts Pongsak Pongsuwan and Chusak Iamsuk add comic relief. A production by Workpoint Entertainment, it's directed by Narubodi Wechakam, who previously did a couple of the Saranae comedy films. Rated 13+

Mor 6/5 Pak Ma Tha Phe 3 (ตัวอย่าง มอ6/5 ปากหมาท้าผี3, a.k.a. Make Me Shudder 3) – Director Poj Arnon always seems to have a current-events angle with his movies. Here, he uses the recent 10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami for the latest installment of his comedy-horror franchise involving around a dozen shrieking schoolboys. Previous entries were in 2013 and last year. Here, they are in for more scares when they head to Phuket and investigate an abandoned hotel that’s haunted by ghosts of the tsunami. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – March is "directors' month" at the club, which will feature the work of France's Jean-Pierre Jeunet, China's Zhang Yimou, American siblings Ethan and Joel Coen, Italy's Giuseppe Tornatore and Britain's Sir Carol Reed. Tonight, fall in love with all over Gong Li again in Yimou's masterpiece Raise the Red Lantern. Tomorrow, it's the Coen Bros' debut, and still one of their best, Blood Simple. Memories unspool on Saturday in Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso. This Sunday is a special event, Welcome to the Machine, a 2012 documentary that promises to "reveal the secrets of the music industry". Director Andreas Steinkogler will be on hand for a talk afterward. Next Wednesday is Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's cult sci-fi The City of Lost Children. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.  For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – There are two free programs at the Alliance this week. First up on Saturday is something for the children, a new adaptation of Belle et Sébastian, an adventure drama about a little boy and his giant Pyrenean Mountain Dog who aid resistance fighters in the French-Swiss Alps during World War II. It was previously made as a French TV series that inspired a cult following as well as the name of a band. It screens at 2pm on Saturday. And at 7pm next Wednesday is Respire (Breathe), a 2014 coming-of-age drama about the intense relationship of two teenage girls.