Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 29-November 4, 2015

Man on Wire

While The Walk earned plenty of accolades for its immersive acrophobia-inspiring 3D camera work, it bombed at the box office and faced a backlash from critics who were mostly bored by director Robert Zemeckis' corny dramatization of the events leading up to Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire stunt at New York's World Trade Center.

Universally, the critics who panned the non-high-wire scenes of The Walk urged their readers to seek out Man on Wire, the Oscar-winning 2008 documentary on Petit's "artistic crime of the century".

So with The Walk finishing up what turned out to be a lackluster stint in cinemas, here comes a brilliant bit of counter-programming that is also complementary from the Documentary Club, which brings in Man on Wire for a limited run.

Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive, even better than for The Walk. It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. For more details, check the Documentary Club's Facebook page and SF Cinemas' booking site. Rated G

Also opening

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – It's Halloween weekend, so distributors and theater chains feel duty-bound to shove horror films down our throats. In this teen-oriented zom-com, three young troopers on their last camping trip together discover the true meaning of friendship when zombies overwhelm their town. They join forces with a cocktail waitress from a strip club to fight the undead. Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Halston Sage and David Koechner star. Critical reception is just starting to quiver. Rated 15+

Regression – This supposed "true story" set in 1990 in Minnesota, has Ethan Hawke as a detective investigating a Satanic cult and the case of a teenager (Emma Watson) who has accused her father of unspeakable acts. But the facts don’t add up. A psychologist (David Thewlis) is brought in to dig deeper. Critics aren't buying it. Rated 15+

Mon Son Phee (มอญซ่อนผี, a.k.a. Ghost Ship) – Venerable Thai studio Five Star Production gets back in the water with this horror set aboard a cargo ship. The story plays on that ancient nautical notion that women are bad luck aboard ships, and the superstitious crew have much to fear when they find the corpse of the captain's wife boxed up in the hold. Spooky stuff starts happening as the boat heads into a storm. Achira Nokthet, who previously served as an art director on Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's It Gets Better and the films of Poj Arnon, and helmed a segment of Tai Hong Tai Hian, makes his feature directorial debut. Sean Jindachote stars, along with Phuwadon Wetchawongsa, Akkarin Akaranithimetrath and gay-film cult actor "Fluke" Pongsatorn Sripinta. Rated 13+

Ju-on 4: The Final Curse – The Japanese horror franchise that's also known as The Grudge continues with the older sister of a schoolteacher who disappeared going to look for her sibling. The trail leads to a student’s home and more dark secrets. Masayuki Ochiai, who helmed the Japanese-Hollywood remake of the Thai horror Shutter, directs. Don't count on this actually being the "final" one. It's Thai-dubbed most places, but has the Japanese soundtrack with English and Thai subs at SFW CentralWorld, SFC Terminal 21, Paragon and Esplanade Ratchada. Rated 15+

Foodies: The Culinary Jet Set – Now, for Halloween, here are the most horrifying and insufferable of ghouls – gourmet food bloggers. This documentary follows well-to-do restaurant reviewers in their obsessive quest to dine at the world’s most luxurious eateries. Among them are Thai food blogger Perm Paitawyat, along with Lithuanian model Aiste Miseviciute, London writer Andy Hayler, Hong Kong blogger Katie Keiko Tan and opinionated New Yorker Steven Plotnicki. Critical reception is mixed, with Screen Daily quipping "what it does do – sadly – is foster the increasingly popular habit of taking pictures of food in restaurants." It's at Apex, Esplanade Ratchada, House, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin, Paragon, Quartier CineArt and SFW CentralWorld. Rated G

Love Arumirai (เลิฟอะรูมิไลค์ รักอะไรไม่รู้) – Ah, hey, a body swap. It worked for the recent Amazon series Red Oaks, so maybe it'll work here. The story of this Thai film has to do with the seven-year marriage between Geng (Phisanu Nimsakul) and fashion model Bella (Cheeranat Yusanon) turning stormy. The bickering husband and wife face their toughest test yet when they wake up one morning and get a shock when they go to the mirror. Seree Phongnithi is the screenwriter on this debut feature from Munwork Production.

Lady of the Dynasty – Fan Bingbing portrays Concubine Yang, one of the most famous women in Chinese history, in her epic affair with Emperor Xuanzong (Leon Lai) during a time of rebellion against the ruling family. Chinese censors have taken an increasingly dim view of these lavish historical epics and their cleavage-baring costumes. They also don't like "sex on horseback", a scene of which was cut from Lady of the Dynasty, according to reports. Shi Qing directs, with help from a production team that included Zhang Yimou. It's Thai-dubbed most places, but has the Japanese soundtrack with English and Thai subs at SFW CentralWorld, SFC Terminal 21 and Paragon. Rated 18+

Talvar – A real-life unsolved whodunnit, the 2008 Noida double murder, serves as the basis for this thriller. The story follows the case, which involved the death of a teenage daughter and the family's 45-year-old handyman. It was covered sensationally by the media, fuelling much public speculation about who the culprit or culprits were. Irrfan Kahn stars, portraying an investigator who, in Rashomon-like fashion, presents various conflicting versions of how the crime went down. Konkona Sen Sharma also stars. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – It's Halloween weekend, so of course, the FGC is showing, duh, Halloween. The classic slasher-horror from the master, John Carpenter, screens on Saturday in an event sponsored by a beer brand and featuring spooky cocktails. Punters who show up in costume will get prizes. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – Movies about climate change are scheduled for next month, starting with Les Temps Changent (Changing Climates, Changing Times). The 2008 made-for-TV movie imagines what life will be like in the year 2075, and it seems to mirror the current immigration crisis that has beset Europe. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, November 4, at the Alliance.

Take note

As mentioned here last week, Spanish Film Week is next week at SF World. It now appears they will only show four films, rather than five,

And the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand has booked its last film for the year, screening the sweet Thai comedy-romance The Teacher's Diary on November 9.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 22-28, 2015

Vanishing Point

Winner of the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Vanishing Point (วานิชชิ่ง พอยท์) is artist-filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong's feature-length debut. It deals with the themes he explores in his short films and video-art installations, which reflect on strict Buddhist teachings and the dangers of materialism and greed.

Part of the inspiration for Vanishing Point stems from a horrific car crash Jakrawal's parents were involved in long ago, and newspaper clippings of the wreck, featuring a car bent in half, opens the film. With that as a jumping-off point, the highly abstract art-house film becomes a psychological drama, about a family man and a reporter whose lives are two parallel lines, and eventually intersect at that "vanishing point" on their existential plains.

This new Vanishing Point is not directly related to the cult-classic 1971 car-chase movie, but both films deal with philosophical themes and arrive at more or less the same destinations.

Vanishing Point, which has been shown at many film festivals, had its local premiere last Friday, with the film's crew taking over a derelict former porn cinema in Bangkok and having attendees be part of a giant art installation.

It has received much praise from Jakrawal's fellow indie filmmakers, as well as from more-learned critics and academics. I'm still not sure what to make of it, but I liked it. It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, and comes to SFX Maya Chiang Mai on November 5. Rated 15+

Also opening

Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg directs this fact-based account of a humble New York family attorney who, at the height of the Cold War, is tasked by the U.S. government with brokering a prisoner exchange, trading his client, a convicted Soviet spy, for U.S. Air Force spy-plane pilot Francis Gary Powers, whose U-2 was shot down over Russia. Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda and Amy Ryan star. Screenwriters included the Coen brothers, who in addition to making their own films, are frequent hired-gun scribes. I mean, they helped write Angelina Jolie's war movie Unbreakable, for Pete's sake. With Oscar-buzz prestige attached to Bridge of Spies, critical reception is generally positive. Rated G

The Little Prince – An colorful elderly aviator befriends a neighbor girl and distracts her from her studies with his epic story of a mysterious boy prince who lived on a tiny planet. Directed by Mark Osborne, who previously did Kung Fu Panda, this animated adaptation of the story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery features the voices of Jeff Bridges, James Franco, Rachel McAdams and many others. Along with Pixar's Inside Out, The Little Prince seems destined to be in the Oscar race for best animated feature. Critics are full of praise. Rated G

Straight Outta Compton – From the violence of the streets in the 1980s, five young men in Compton, California, formed the rap group NWA – Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella – translating their experiences into brutally honest music that controversially rebelled against the police and other authorities. Stars include O'Shea Jackson Jr., portraying his father Ice Cube. F. Gary Gray, who made his debut in 1995 with Ice Cube's stoner comedy Friday, directs. He gained a lot of street-cred from Hollywood execs for Straight Outta Compton and has been tapped to direct the next Fast and Furious movie. Critical reception is generally positive. This was a breakout hit this summer in the States, and it's sure to please musicians and fans in Thailand's own hip-hop scene. It's at Apex, Paragon and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 18+

The Last Witch Hunter – Vin Diesel wants another franchise to add to his work in Fast and Furious and Riddick. The musclebound man with the voice of a gravel truck stars in this supernatural fantasy as an ancient warrior, whose path of vengeance converges with that of the resurrected Witch Queen, whom he first killed long ago, but not before she cursed him with immortality, depriving him of an after-life with his wife and daughter. Elijah Wood and Michael Caine also star. Hollywood scion Breck Eisner (The Crazies) directs. Critical reception has been dismal so far. Rated 15+

The Visit – M. Night Shyamalan wants his career back. The director of cult favorites like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable has helmed a string of duds of late, among them After Earth and The Happening. With The Visit, he teams up with Blumhouse Productions, the purveyors of found-footage horror thrillers like Paranormal Activity, for a story of camera-toting youngsters visiting their grandparents' rural Pennsylvania farm. There, they find grandma and grandpa are up to no good. Critical reception is mixed, but good enough for some critics to call this Shyamalan's "return to form". Rated 15+

Hor Taew Taek ... Hak na Ka (หอแต๋วแตก แหกนะคะ) – In exaggerated Gothic style, the fifth entry in Poj Anon’s crossdressing horror-comedy franchise has former students returning to their boarding-school alma mater as teachers. They deal with a problem ghost while fending off a takeover attempt by a rival. Jaturong Phonboon, Ekachai Srivichai, Charoenporn Ornlamai, Weeradit Srimalai and Sudarat Butprom are among the stars. Rated 15+

Water Boyy the Movie – Teenage lads discover they have feelings for one other in this gay romance about gifted swimmer Num (Anuphat Laungsodsai), whose father (Nopphon Komarachun), the coach for the national swim team, brings Muek (Papangkorn Rerkchalermpon) to train with him. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight is an encore screening of So Very Very (จริงๆ มากๆ, Jing Jing Mak Mak), a South Korean romantic comedy about a struggling young South Korean filmmaker who marries Thai woman. Directed by Jack Park, the indie film recently played at House on RCA. Tomorrow, it's Le château de ma mère (My Mother's Castle), a sequel to last Friday's Mon Pere, adapted from the autobiographical novel of Marcel Pagnol. Saturday's Irish film is the black comedy Waking Ned Devine, while Sunday has one more Robert Aldrich film for the month, The Dirty Dozen, still one of the best "team assembly" movies ever made. Next Wednesday is one more documentary for the month, Touching the Void, following mountaineers on a hazardous quest on a Peruvian peak. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – It's romance across the social-class divide in Pas son genre (Not My Type), a 2014 drama by Lucas Belvaux that stars Émilie Dequenne and Loïc Corbery. It's about a philosophy student falling in love with a hair-dresser. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 28, at the Alliance.

Take note

The next Documentary Club offering at SF cinemas will be Man on Wire, the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary about high-wire artist Philippe Petit's 1974 stunt at the World Trade Center in New York. It has seen a resurgence in interest thanks to director Robert Zemeckis' dramatization of the event in The Walk. The doc will screen in a sneak preview at some SF cinemas from 8pm on Monday and then open for real next Thursday at select SF branches.

Coming up next month is Spanish Film Week from November 5 to 8 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Supported by the Embassy of Spain, it'll screen five fairly recent critically acclaimed Spanish films, El Niño, Magical Girl, 10,000 KM, Loreak and the animated musical romance Chico and Rita.

The World Film Festival of Bangkok runs from November 13 to 22 at SF World, opening with the Thai film Snap, a brand-new feature from Kongdej Jaturanrasamee.

And from November 26 to 29, also at SF World, is the Bangkok edition of the International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls. Find out more at the EVAGWG film festival website or the Facebook event page.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 15-21, 2015

White God

Stray dogs unite and revolt against their human overlords in White God, an unusual thriller from Hungary that won prizes at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

The story centers on a girl (Zsófia Psotta), who is forced to give up her pet dog after she moves in with her mean father, who lives in an apartment building that doesn't allow pets. He also doesn't want to pay the city's "mongrel" tax. So, the lovable mutt Hagen is abandoned, only to become the leader of a pack of 250 half-breed canines that take over Budapest.

Directed by Kornél Mundruczó, White God won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. The film also took the Cannes fest's sidebar Palm Dog prize, and was Hungary's submission to the Academy Awards. No dogs were harmed in the making of the film, which involved no computer-graphic trickery. All those dogs are real.

White God is the second film brought in by the new indie distribution outfit HAL Film, which recently released another buzzworthy title at Cannes in 2014, The Tribe. The man behind HAL is Dhan Plewtianyingtawee, the owner of a film school who wanted more Thais to see the kinds of weird and wacky films he likes. You can read a story about him in BK magazine.

Critical reception is mostly positive. It's in Hungarian with English and Thai subtitles at House on RCA as well as Esplanade Ratchada, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and Paragon. Rated 18+

Also opening

The Walk – From I Wanna Hold Your Hand to Back to the Future, Roger Rabbit to Forrest Gump, and Polar Express to Flight, everything director Robert Zemeckis has learned how to do in the past has been put into The Walk, which viscerally recreates the death-defying stunt by Frenchman Philippe Petit, who walked a high wire strung up between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York in 1974. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars. Critical reception is wildly positive. This moves to general release after a one-week sneak preview run. I saw it last weekend, and it's an amazing feat of filmmaking that will have you gripping your armrests throughout. Go on, see it in IMAX 3D. Rated G.

Crimson Peak – In 19th century England, a young author (Mia Wasikowska) is charmed by a nobleman (Tom Hiddleston) and moves into his isolated country manor, high up on a hillside of red clay. There, she starts to learn the ghostly secrets of the crumbling mansion. Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver also star. Much anticipated by fans, this Gothic horror fantasy is the latest effort from Mexican master Guillermo del Toro (Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth). He actually built a three-story house on a movie lot to give his actors and viewers a palpable sense of the film's grand scale. Critical reception is building up. Rated 18+

Good Kill – Ethan Hawke is your surrogate as you sit in the pilot's seat in America's controversial drone war. In Good Kill, he's a former U.S. Air Force fighter jockey who transitions to unmanned aerial operations, guiding drones in bombing missions over Afghanistan from a base in Las Vegas. January Jones and Zoe Kravitz also star. Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War) directs. Critical reception is leaning to positive. Rated 15+

The Intern – Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro are a mismatched couple in this romantic comedy. She's the young founder of a lucrative online fashion business that joins a new internship programme for senior citizens, bringing a bright 70-year-old widower (De Niro) into her life. Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, It's Complicated) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G

The Down (เดอะดาวน์) – Five twentysomething Thais who just happen to have Down syndrome are spotlighted in this documentary, which aims to show people with Down syndrome in a positive light, living ordinary lives and contributing to society. The five are Sutthiphot "Bank" Kanoknak, who works at a Uniqlo store, Kamonporn "Pan" Vachiramon, an AIS customer service staffer, twin Special Olympics bocce-ball champs Onnipa "Orm" and Atiya "Un" Kanjanasiri, and Starbucks employee Sirinluck "Beer" Chalat. The film is a passion project of producer-director Wongthanong Chainarongsingha, founder of A Day magazine. You can find out more about the movie in an article in The Nation. It is showing at Major Cineplex and SF cinemas. Rated G

Detective Conan: Sunflowers of Inferno – The latest adventure of Japanese manga and anime's boy detective has him on the trail of a fake Van Gogh "Sunflower" painting. Thai-dubbed. Rated 13+

Pyaar ka Punchnama 2 – Kartik Aaryan, Nushrat Bharucha, Sunny Singh, Sonalli Sehgall, Omkar Kapoor and Ishita Sharma star in this sequel to a 2009 Bollywood romantic comedy. Having all met their true loves at the beach in the first film, here the guys are still learning to cope with their demanding girlfriends. Luv Ranjan directs. It's in Hindi with English subtitles (sorry, no Thai) at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Fresh from its run at House on RCA, the South Korean-Thai romantic comedy So Very Very (จริงๆ มากๆ, Jing Jing Mak Mak) comes to the club tonight for the first of two special screenings. Tonight, director Jack Park will be on hand to talk about his film, which follows a struggling young South Korean filmmaker as he falls in love with a Thai woman and marries her. To attend, check out the Facebook events pageSo Very Very also screens at the club next Thursday. Tomorrow, it's La Gloire de mon père (My Father's Glory), a 1990 drama set in the pre-war French countryside that is adapted from the autobiographical novel of Marcel Pagnol. Saturday's Irish film is The Field, a 1990 drama by Jim Sheridan with Oscar nominee Richard Harris as an elderly sharecropper in a dispute over his rented farmland. And Sunday has another fitful collaboration between the great Bette Davis and director Robert Aldrich in Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Next Wednesday is another documentary, the food flick Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Bangkok – The club's Contemporary World Film Series heads to Switzerland next Monday with Sam, a 2015 drama about a boy whose parents are divorced, who goes to live temporarily with his alcoholic father. The show is at 7pm on Monday, October 19. Admission is 150 baht for non-members. Swiss wine and cheese is being laid on by the Swiss embassy, and it's 100 baht to have some of that.

Alliance Française – Couples fall in and out of love over the course of visits to the countryside in Week-ends (Weekends in Normandy), a 2014 comedy-drama by Anne Villacèque that stars Karin Viard, Noémie Lvovsky, Jacques Gamblin and Ulrich Tukur. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 21, at the Alliance.

Take note

You have another chance to see the charming Thai indie film P'Chai My Hero (พี่ชาย My Hero) this week as it is released back into cinemas for a limited run. Also known as How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), the coming-of-age drama is experiencing an "Oscar bump" as the result of being picked as Thailand's submission to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Feature. With plenty of warmth and humor, it deals with many issues, including gay themes and Thailand's unique military draft lottery. It's at Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and Esplanade Ratchada.

There's also a Thai film you won't be seeing this week, the Buddhist-themed thriller Arbat, which was to be released but has been banned at the behest of Buddhist groups.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 8-14, 2015


Emily Blunt is your guide into the dark underbelly of America's continuing war on drugs. In Sicario, she is the hard-driving, by-the-book chief of an FBI hostage-response unit, who makes a grisly discovery in a cartel safehouse along the U.S.-Mexico border. The high-profile case brings her to the attention of a sketchy, flip-flop-clad Defense Department operative (Josh Brolin), who is running a top-secret task force. She's in way over her head, trying to keep up with a quietly intense Latino operative of ambiguous origins (a terrific Benicio del Toro).

Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) directs. Sicario premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Critical reception has been very positive, with Oscar buzz already generating for the performances by Blunt and del Toro, and the stunning cinematography of the bleak landscape by master lensman Roger Deakins.

Sicario moves this week to a wide release, following two weeks of nightly sneak previews. Rated 15+

Also opening

The New Rijksmuseum – Filmed over the course of many years, this documentary covers the controversial renovation of the historic main building of Amsterdam’s landmark art museum, which is home to many masterpieces and finally reopened in 2013 after 10 years of costly delays. Among the issues causing the hold-up was the powerful lobby of Dutch bicyclists, which objected to plans that would altered the museum's main-thoroughfare two-wheeler path through the museum's archway entry. This is the latest entry in SF Cinemas' Doc Holiday series, put on in conjunction with the Documentary Club. Critical reception has been generally positive. It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. For showtimes and other details, please check the the Documentary Club Facebook page or SF Cinemas' booking site. Rated G

Pan – The origins of Peter Pan are imagined in epic detail in this fantasy by director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna). Living a bleak existence at a London orphanage, 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) is whisked away to the magical world of Neverland, where he's befriended by James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the warrior princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). They must band together to save Neverland from the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman. No, really. That's Hugh Jackman). This film has been controversial because of the casting of Mara as Tiger Lily, a character typically portrayed as Native American. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 2D and converted 3D. Rated G

We Are Your Friends – Former teen idol Zac Efron is trying hard to be edgy. Following his comic turn as a rowdy frat boy in Bad Neighbors, the former Disney star takes another gritty turn in We Are Your Friends, playing a young DJ struggling to break into the club scene in Hollywood. He’s taken under the wing of an older DJ (Wes Bentley), but things get complicated when the young man makes an unexpected connection with his new mentor’s girlfriend. A flop on release in the U.S. in August, critical reception has been mixed. Rated 18+

Sinister 2 – A young mother (Shannyn Sossamon) moves into an old farmhouse with her twin boys, who become haunted by an evil entity and are forced to watch gruesome home movies in the basement. This is a sequel to a 2012 horror, with James Ransone (Ziggy from The Wire) reprising his role from the first film as Deputy So-and-So. Here, he's Ex-deputy So-and-So, but is still on the case, trying to prove the evil ghost is real. This is cut from the same horror cloth as other Blumhouse Productions, such as Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Critical reception is not as positive as it was for the first Sinister. This was in sneak previews last week and now moves to a wider release. Rated 18+

Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3 – Rubber-suited masked superhero motorcycle riders have another outing in Japan's long-running tokusatsu franchise. Thai-dubbed. Rated G

Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages – And here's another entry in a long-running Japanese franchise. These anime movies (Pokémon, Doreamon, etc.) are brought in for the kiddies when school is on break. Thai-dubbed. Rated G

Jazbaa – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan stars in this drama, which is a Bollywood remake of the South Korean drama Seven Days. Aish portrays a high-powered lawyer whose daughter is abducted. Instead of money, the kidnapper wants the lawyer to defend a career criminal who is appealing his conviction for rape and murder. Irrfan Khan, Shabana Azmi, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Jackie Shroff also star. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

Shnit International Short Film Festival – The third Bangkok edition of the Swiss-based fest is running until Sunday at the Lido cinemas in Siam Square. Begun 13 years ago, the gimmick of this festival is that it is held on the same weekend in many cities worldwide. In addition to the line-up of submitted finalist foreign shorts, there is the "Made in Thailand" program on Friday and Saturday night, with the finalist Thai entries Gen A by Napat Tangsanga, Enlightenment by Sampattavanich Disspong, Ma Nyein Chan by Natpakhan Khemkhao, Once Upon a Time in Tungyahlaum by Natthapat Kraitrujpol, Echoes from the Hill by Pasit Tandaechanurat and Jirudtikal Prasonchum, We Used to Love Each Other by Aroonakorn Pick, Deleted by Nitaz Sinwattanakul and 1428 by Autthavisit Hatsadinthon Na Ayutthaya. Find out more at the festival's Facebook events page.

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, the club offers another film by English writer-director Andrew Birkin, 1988's Burning Secret, starring Faye Dunaway, Klaus Maria Brandauer and child actor David Eberts in a coming-of-age drama. "Vastly underrated" and "recommended" is what the FGC has to say about it. Tomorrow, it's another French film based on the writing of Marcel Pagnol, 1986's Manon des Sources, which is a sequel to the countryside epic Jean de Florette, shown at the club last Friday. Saturday's Irish entry is Once, an ultra-low-budget 2007 hit musical drama about romance between buskers in Dublin. Glen Hansard from The Frames and Markéta Irglová star. On Sunday, screen sirens Bette Davis and Joan Crawford square off in the campy psychological thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? It's part of a monthlong tribute to journeyman director Robert Aldrich. Next Wednesday, it's the documentary Crumb, which has Ghost World director Terry Zwigoff profiling his friend, influential counterculture comic artist R. Crumb. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – Monday is a special evening for the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series, which welcomes award-winning Filipino director Brillante Mendoza and his acclaimed 2007 drama Foster Child. The screening is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, with Netpac founder and president Dr Aruna Vasudev also present. Winner of the Netpac jury prize at the Brisbane film fest and dozens of other awards, Foster Child centers on a poor woman (Cherry Pie Picache) who works as a foster mother for an adoption agency. Here, the foster parent Thelma achingly forms a bond with the toddler John-John, and follows her on her last day with him before she hands him off to a wealthy American family. Netpac, which is a grouping of Asian filmmakers, academics and critics, organizes special juries that present awards at top film festivals. The evening, set for Monday, October 12, starts at 6pm with a cocktail reception. Vice Minister for Tourism and Sports, Associate Professor Chavanee Tongroach is scheduled to be on hand to introduce Mendoza and Vasudev before the screening at 7.30. There will then be a talk session with the director and the Netpac head. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 100 baht for the Bombay Gin cocktails and snacks. Another film is set at the FCCT on October 19, the Swiss father-son drama Sam.

Alliance Française – A tax inspector (Benoît Poelvoorde), his new bride and her sister become entwined in a love triangle in 2014's 3 coeurs (3 Hearts). Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve also star. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 14, at the Alliance.

Sneak preview

The Walk – Filmed in actual 3D, everything about The Walk is calculated to make you queasy, and there are reports of viewers actually getting sick while watching it. "We worked really hard to induce vertigo," director Robert Zemeckis has said about his latest film, which is a dramatization of the life of high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who in 1974 walked on a cable he illegally strung up between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. It's a story previously covered in the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire. Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays the thrill-seeking French daredevil Petit. Oscar buzz is really heating up for this one and critical reception is very positive. Now, I don't generally recommend you plunk down the several hundred baht to see movies in 3D, but every once in awhile, a film comes along that is a true 3D event worth a gander. To get the full effect, you'll want to see The Walk in IMAX. And while there are now several of the newer smaller IMAX screens in Thailand, the only authentic full-size IMAX screen is the Krungsri IMAX Paragon Cineplex. Accept no substitutes. The Walk is in sneak previews from around 8 nightly before a wider general release next week.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 1-7, 2015

May Who?

Teenage angst takes the form of electricity in the Thai teen romance May Nhai .. Fai Raeng Fer (เมย์ไหน..ไฟแรงเฟร่อ , a.k.a. May Who?), which is about a schoolgirl who is afflicted with a powerful electrical charge, which she releases when her heartbeat reaches 120 beats per second. This makes it difficult for her to get close to anyone.

Sutatta Udomsilp stars as May. She keeps a low profile at school in order to keep her shocking condition a secret, but her heart gets racing whenever she sees the star athlete Fame (Thanapob Leeratanakajorn). Her superpower is discovered by classmate Pong (Thiti Mahayotharak), a shy guy who also keeps to himself but has a crush on the school's most popular girl (Nareekul Katepraphakorn). So May agrees to help Pong score with his crush if he keeps her secret and helps her hook up with Fame.

May Who? has movie studio GTH doubling down on the last few months of the year, as the film is being released less than a month after the studio's current hit Freelance. Usually the studio makes just two or maybe three films a year, and spreads them out more. Sure to also do well at the box office, May Who? is directed by Chayanop Boonpakob, a former indie filmmaker who got his big commercial break with the 2011 hit SuckSeed, about a teenage rock band. Along with the special effects related to the girl's superpower, May Who? also includes animated segments, inspired by notebooks Chayanop drew in when he was in high school.

The new film has been accompanied by the usual promotional blitz by GTH, but it's been a bit awkward because talented young actress "PunPun" Sutatta has been suspended from working by the company after she and members of the cast of Hormones the Series misbehaved on a train while visiting Japan. They posted a clip of their rowdy behavior on social networks, not realizing that being disruptive on public transport is seriously frowned upon in orderly Japan. To prevent the breach in etiquette from becoming a major international incident, GTH made all involved issue apologies, and they punished PunPun and the others by banning them from social media and suspending them from work. And PunPun's suspension doesn't end until sometime next week, too late to support her new film before its release.

You can read more about the movie in an article in The Nation. Rated G

Also opening

The Tribe – From Ukraine, this crime drama is set in a boarding school for deaf children, where a new kid is drawn into the school's institutional system of organized crime. He becomes a pimp for a classmate and crosses the line when he falls in love with her. Directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, The Tribe was one of the most-buzzed-about, controversial titles at the Cannes Film Festival last year. It won loads of prizes on the festival circuit and made the top-10 lists of many critics. An unusual film, it's brought to Thai cinemas by a new distribution outfit, HAL Film, which will also release another buzzworthy oddball from film festivals, the Hungarian canine crime drama White God. Free of conventional dialogue, the characters in The Tribe communicate only in Ukrainian sign language and there are no subtitles, which is how it's meant to be seen. It's at Paragon and Esplanade Ratchada. Rated 20-

The Martian – Matt Damon is an astronaut left for dead on Mars after the mission is hit by a dust storm and the crew are forced to flee. Looking at a four-year wait for help to arrive, he turns to science to survive, using his skills as a botanist to grow a food crop. Meanwhile on Earth, there are conflicts in Nasa, where officials determine a rescue mission is too risky. Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Donald Glover also star. Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Alien) directs, marking his return to space after last year's Biblical epic Exodus. Critical reception is very positive, especially from excited Nasa scientists, who worked closely with the production to keep things real. It's in 2D and converted 3D. Rated G

Hotel Transylvania 2 – The Sony Pictures Animation franchise continues, with Dracula opening his monsters-only resort hotel to the general public as he gets to know his half-human half-vampire grandson. Adam Sandler voices Dracula, with the voice cast featuring his pals Kevin James and David Spade. Other returnees from the first film include Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez and Steve Buscemi. Mel Brooks is among the new additions. He plays Dracula's dad Vlad. Written by former Saturday Night Live staffer Robert Smigel (the hand and voice behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), this harmless family-friendly feature is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who previously did the cartoon series Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 3D as well as 2D. Rated G

Attack on Titan: End of the World – Here's the sequel to Attack on Titan: Part 1, which was released here last month. A live-action adaptation of a manga series, the story is set in a post-apocalyptic future and deals with humans fighting against giant man-eating beings that have taken over the world. In Part 2, young hero Eren (Haruma Miura) leaves his walled city to join a revenge-seeking scouting party. Critical reception is mixed. As with Part 1, it's Thai-dubbed in most places, but has the original soundtrack at a few select downtown locations, including SF Terminal 21, SF Rama 9, Paragon and the Quartier CineArt. Rated 13+

Singh Is Bliing – Akshay Kumar stars in this colorful Punjabi comedy, which is a sequel of sorts to 2008's Singh Is Kiing, in which he played a happy-go-lucky simpleton who becomes a crime kingpin in Australia. Here, his comic misadventures take him to Romania in pursuit of a mysterious woman. Amy Jackson, Kay Kay Menon and Lara Dutta also star. It's directed by Prabhu Deva, who previously worked with Akshay on the action comedy-drama Rowdy Rathore. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Paragon and at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – October at the FGC spotlights the work of English writer-director Andrew Birkin on Thursdays, starting tonight with the 1993 coming-of-age family drama The Cement Garden, based on novelist Ian McEwan's book. It won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin film fest. Fridays are devoted to adaptations of works by French writer Marcel Pagnol, starting tomorrow with 1986's rural drama Jean de Florette, which starred Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil and Yves Montand and was at the time the most-expensive French film ever made. It won dozens of awards. Head to Ireland on Saturdays, with a line-up that starts with Alan Parker's The Commitments, about working-class Dubliners who form a soul band. The classic films of Hollywood tough-guy director Robert Aldrich screen on Sundays, starting with the 1955 film-noir Kiss Me Deadly. Ralph Meeker stars as Mickey Spillane's Los Angeles private eye Mike Hammer. Wednesdays have a line-up of documentaries, beginning next week with The Aristocrats, which is the story of a filthy joke that has kept comedians in stitches for generations. Special events in October include screenings of the made-in-Thailand South Korean romance So Very Very, courtesy of director Jack Park. And there's no Irish film on the last Saturday of the month. Instead, it's John Carpenter's Halloween, because, well, just look at the calendar. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – There are two free French films to list. At 2pm on Saturday, there's a "kids' movie", Peau d'âne. Also known as Donkey Skin, Jacques Demy's 1970 live-action musical is adapted from an old French fairy tale about a king who has grown wealthy thanks to his pet donkey's excrement of gold. When his wife dies, he seeks to marry his own daughter. With the help of her fairy godmother, the princess escapes the incestuous marriage by donning the skin of the magical donkey and going into hiding. Catherine Deneuve is the princess. Next week's usual free French film is La belle vie (The Good Life), a 2012 drama about brothers who have lived a life on the run with their father, dodging a custody battle with their mother. Coming of age, the youngest brother experiences his first crush. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 7, at the Alliance.

Shnit International Short Film Festival – The third Bangkok edition of Shnit runs from next Wednesday until October 11 at the Lido multiplex in Siam Square. Now in its 13th year, the Switzerland-based Shnit fest is held simultaneously in several cities, with Bangkok joining Bern, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Cape Town, Moscow, San José and Hong Kong. The selection includes new short-film entries from around the world plus a special bloc of "Made in Thailand" shorts. Find out more at the festival's Facebook events page.

Sneak preview

Sinister 2 – A young mother (Shannyn Sossamon) moves into an old farmhouse with her twin boys, who become haunted by an evil entity and are forced to watch gruesome home movies kept in the basement. This is a sequel to a 2012 horror, with James Ransone (Ziggy from The Wire) reprising his role from the first film as Deputy So-and-So. Here, he's an ex-deputy, but is still on the case, trying to prove the evil ghost is real. Critical reception is not as positive as it was for the first Sinister. It's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly in most cinemas and opens wider next Thursday. Meanwhile, the excellent U.S.-Mexico crime thriller Sicario continues in sneak previews before also opening wider next week.

Take note

The World Film Festival of Bangkok is set for November 13 to 22 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Keep an eye on the festival's Facebook page for a glimpse of the selection.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand has a special event on October 12 to mark the 25th anniversary of Netpac, the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, with a screening of the indie Filipino film Foster Child. Director Brilliante Mendoza is scheduled to be in attendance with Netpac president Aruna Vasudev.

And outside Bangkok, Filmvirus has organized a touring show for Filipino director Lav Diaz's Venice prize-winning opus From What Is Before. Running just over 5.5 hours, it is an epic drama set in a small town during the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s. It screens on October 10 at Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani, 5pm on October 12 at Walailak University in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, 2pm on October 21 at Silpakorn University Pathum Thani and 2pm on November 7 at Chiang Mai University. Screenings in Bangkok are in the planning stages.