Friday, January 29, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: Japanese Film Festival, Sayonara Setsuko

The Japan Foundations' annual gift to movie-goers, the Japanese Film Festival, comes to SF World Cinema at CentralWorld during next month’s Valentine’s Day holiday, with a selection of nine romance films under the theme “Shapes of Love”.

Among the highlights is Love and Peace, the latest weird movie from Sion Sono, who tells the story of a struggling rock musician whose life is changed after he comes in contact with a tiny magical turtle that brings him good luck. Winner of the Audience Award at Montreal’s Fantasia fest, critics gave the oddball Love and Peace high marks. “It’s Babe by way of Godzilla, except that here, our human protagonist, Kyo (Hiroki Hasegawa), inhabits the pigsty, while the giant reptile in question has only benevolent intentions,” said Peter DeBrugge of Variety.

The hyper-prolific Sono also has Be Sure to Share, a 2009 drama in which a young man named Shiro is caring for his cancer-stricken father. Shiro reflects on his strained relationship with his strict dad while also keeping a secret about his own illness from his friends and family.

The Japanese film industry’s own “master of romance”, Takehinko Shinjo, returns with his fifth feature in Beyond the Memories, in which a heartbroken young woman learns to feel love. Based on a best-selling manga, the story centres on Kanna (Masami Nagasawa), who has been sad since her childhood best friend was killed in a car wreck as he was expressing his love for her. She’s been unable to have feelings for any men since, but then she meets Roku (Masaki Okada), the brooding employee of a manga-publishing house.

Another first love is featured in My Pretend Girlfriend, in which nerdy high-schooler Noburu is tasked by senior student Miyazaki with being the “fake boyfriend” of the new girl in school, Momose, in order to cover up a fling that Miyazaki and Momose are having.

Still another popular manga, “Kinkyori ren ai”, which is also a hit TV series, comes to the big screen as Close Range Love. It’s the story of age-challenged romance, with brainy high-school girl Yuni at the top of her class in all subjects except English. So she is ordered to attend one-on-one sessions with Haruka, the school’s new English teacher, a handsome young man.

Other titles are It All Began When I Met You, which has six love stories involving 10 people; Jinx!!!, about a South Korean exchange student playing matchmaker between an uptight classmate and a shy boy; Poison Berry In My Brain, in which the voices in a woman’s head debate whether she should reach out to a guy she met at a party, and Three Stories of Love (a.k.a. Lovers), which covers the loves and losses of three loosely connected people.

The Japanese Film Festival runs from February 11 to 14 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld in Bangkok, February 19 to 21 at SFX Maya Chiang Mai, February 26 to 28 at SF Cinema City, CentralPlaza Khon Kaen and March 4 to 6 at SF Cinema City, CentralPlaza Surat Thani. Tickets are Bt120 in Bangkok, Bt80 in Chiang Mai and free in Khon Kaen and Surat Thani. For more details, check or

In the run-up to the Japanese Film Festival, Filmvirus and the Japan Foundation have joined for Sayonara Setsuko: A Tribute to Setsuko Hara, which is set for February 7 at The Reading Room in Bangkok.

On of Japan’s most revered actresses, Hara died last September at age 95. Though she had quit acting in 1963 and had not appeared on screen for more than 50 years, she left behind an unforgettable legacy.

“We invite you to pay tribute to the restrained beauty and effortless talent of Setsuko Hara and remember an exquisite time in world cinema through three movies by three masters of Japanese cinema: Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse,” says Filmvirus, a group of fanatically dedicated Thai cinephiles.

Three films will showcase her legacy, starting with 1946’s No Regrets for Our Youth
by Kurosawa, followed by Ozu’s Late Spring from 1949. Mikio Naruse’s Repast from 1951, completes the triple feature. The show starts at 1pm. For more details, check the Facebook events page.

(Cross-published in The Nation)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 28-February 3, 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Michael Bay takes a break from transforming robots and mutant turtles to direct the fact-based military thriller 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which recounts the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Embassy compound in Libya, and the defense of the place and its people by a small team of private security contractors, all former military special-ops veterans.

James Badge Dale and John Krasinski head the ensemble cast, which also features Pablo Schreiber, Max Martini, Toby Stephens and David Costabile. Chuck Hogan (The Strain, Prince of Thieves) wrote the screenplay, adapted from the book by Mitchell Zuckoff.

Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

Also opening

The Boy – Just as Thailand's own creepy doll trend has made headlines, here's a horror film about a haunted toy that's uncannily similar to Thailand's so-called "child angels". The story has a young American woman taking a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that her 8-year-old charge is a life-sized doll, and that her employers' real son died some 20 years before. After breaking some of the rules concerning the "child's" care, and various disturbing and inexplicable events, she comes to believe that the doll is actually alive. Critical reception is generally negative. Rated 15+

The Finest Hours – In 1952, two oil tankers are sinking off the coast of New England during a severe winter storm. While senior rescuers are sent to fetch the crew of one of the wrecked ships, younger, less-experienced Coast Guardsmen are sent out in tiny lifeboats to the other. Meanwhile, the crew of the ship tries to survive, while on land, there's drama with the wives of the rescuers. The fact-based drama stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G.

Burnt – Bradley Cooper is a troubled two-star Michelin chef who loses his job in Paris. He sobers up while shucking oysters in New Orleans and seeks a fresh start and a third Michelin star with his own eatery in London. He assembles the best chefs he can find and clashes with a strong-willed sous chef (Sienna Miller). John Wells (August: Osage County and TV's Shameless) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

Exposed – Whoa. Poor Keanu. He's a police detective who uncovers evidence of corruption while trying to solve the mystery of his partner’s death. Meanwhile, a  Latina girl (Ana De Armas) is experiencing strange things after witnessing what she believes to be a miracle. The film was originally called Daughter of God, and focused on the girl and her supernatural religious experience, but studio execs wanted the focus on a big-name star, so Lionsgate Premier changed it so it mostly dealt with Reeves' brooding detective. Critics are trashing it. Rated 15+

Finding Calico – A retired school headmaster (Issei Ogata) is left alone after the death of his wife, except for the stray tri-colored cat that his wife used to feed. The widower at first doesn’t care for the feline, but when the cat stops coming around, he rallies the community to find her. Also known as Sensei to Mayoi Neko, a.k.a. Teacher and Stray Cat, it's adapted from a fact-based novel by Chiaki Kizuki. Rated 13+

Khon Muay Kab Rak Thee Taektaang (ฅนมวยกับรักที่แตกต่าง, a.k.a. Boxing in Love) – Former childhood sweethearts – traditional dancer Roong and boxer Yord – are reacquainted years later in Bangkok, where Yord gets mixed up with mobsters. Roengsak Misiri  and Kriangsak Phinthutrasi direct. Rated G

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – There's a private screening tonight but the club is open tomorrow for one more film lensed by the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. It's Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Saturday, there's one more Paul Thomas Anderson movie for the month, 2012's The Master, which features Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a Scientology-like cult, and Joaquin Phoenix as the drifter alcoholic war veteran who falls under the cult leader's spell. Sunday has Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. 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.

German Open Air Cinema – Queer history comes into focus in The Circle (Der Kreis), in which homosexual schoolteacher Ernst Ostertag (Matthias Hungerbühler) gets involved with a gay-activist publication in Zurich in the 1950s, and falls in love with transgender performer Robi Rapp (Sven Schelker). It won several prizes, including the Teddy Award at the Berlin film fest in 2014. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 2, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1. It's the second-to-last screening of the series, which wraps up on February 9.

Alliance Française – A small-town woman tries to make it in the big city in Le Beau monde (High Society). Arriving in Paris, she crosses paths with a fashion designer who sponsors her enrollment in a top fashion school. Meanwhile, she dumps her hometown boyfriend and takes up with her sponsor's hi-so son. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, February 3, at the Alliance.

Sneak preview

The Danish Girl – One of the first patients to undergo sexual reassignment surgery is covered in this highly fictionalized historical drama. Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne star as Dutch painter couple Gerda and Einar Wegener, whose relationship evolves after Gerda asks her husband to pose as a woman for a portrait. Thereafter, Einar decides he wants to be Lili. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables), the film has been a major nominee, with Golden Globe, Academy Award and Bafta nods for both Vikander and Redmayne (a big winner last year for his turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything). Critical reception is generally positive. It's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly in most multiplexes and opens wider next Thursday. Rated 18+

Take note

Tonight is the opening of Future's Ruins: The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project Installation at H Project Space. The work of researcher Philip Jablon, it's an exhibition of photos of the old stand-alone movie theaters that used to be common landmarks in cities across the region, but are fast disappearing. The show runs until May 29.

Ahead of the Japanese Film Festival from February 11 to 14 at SF World, there is a sidebar program, Sayonara Setsuko: A Tribute to Setsuko Hara, on Sunday, February 7 at the Reading Room. Put on by Filmvirus, with support from the Japan Foundation, the event will screen three classic films starring actress Setsuko Hara, who died last September at age 95. The films feature her work with three masters of Japanese cinema, 1946's No Regret for Our Youth by Akira Kurosawa, 1949's Late Spring by Yasujiro Ozu and 1951's Repast by Mikio Naruse. The show starts at 1pm. I'll have a complete look at the Japanese Film Fest in the next few days.


The Documentary Club supported the local release of "the iPhone movie" Tangerine. I incorrectly stated last week that HAL Film was behind both Tangerine and 45 Years. Apologies to both the Doc Club and HAL Film for the mix-up.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 21-27, 2016

45 Years

Tensions surface between an elderly childless couple as they prepare to celebrate their 45th anniversary in 45 Years, which stars Tom Courtenay and features an Oscar-nominated turn by Charlotte Rampling.

Geoff (Courtenay) and Kate (Rampling) are a comfortably well-off liberal couple who are planning a small celebration when Geoff receives news that the body of his girlfriend has been found in the Swiss Alps, where she fell and died while hiking with him 50 years before. While bittersweet memories come flooding back for Geoff, Kate begins to wonder if their entire marriage was based on a lie.

It's the first release of the year from HAL Film, the film school that entered the movie distribution business last year with the release of the offbeat foreign indie titles White God and The Tribe

Directed by Andrew Haigh, 45 Years debuted in competition at Berlin last year, where it won the Silver Bears for best actor and actress for Courtenay and Rampling. Other wins included the European Film Awards, festivals in London, Edinburgh and Valladolid and more accolades from critics' societies worldwide. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. Rated G

Also opening

Tangerine – And now, oddly, the Documentary Club has a dramatic feature, Tangerine. It's the indie comedy-drama that's known in the biz as "that iPhone movie". So I guess it is intended by the Doc Club to show the possibilities of that gadget you're carrying. The story centers on transgender prostitute Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), who goes off on a tear through Hollywood with her friend and fellow hooker Alexandra (Mya Taylor) after she hears her pimp-boyfriend Chester (James Ransone) has cheated on her. Directed by Sean S. Baker, the entire low-budget feature was shot with the iPhone 5S and created a sensation at Sundance last year. Critical reception is generally positive. It's in limited release at SF World Cinema, SFX Central Rama 9, SFX Central Lat Phrao and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Rated 18+

Steve Jobs – In addition an iPhone movie, here's a movie about the man who brought us the iPhone. Oscar-winning Social Network screenwriter Aaron Sorkin teams with Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle for yet another movie about the mercurial Apple Computer co-founder who died in 2011. The movie is based on Walter Issacson's best-selling biography and on interviews Sorkin conducted with various figures. Michael Fassbender portrays Jobs in the biopic, which tracks him as he prepares for the launch of three key products – the Macintosh, the NeXT and iMac G3 – and also deals with his strained relationships with family and colleagues. Nominated for four Golden Globes, including best actor and screenplay, it won the supporting-actress Globe for Kate Winslet, who plays Jobs' co-worker and confidante. It's also an Oscar nominee for actor and supporting actress. Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels also star. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated G

Awasarn Loke Suay (อวสานโลกสวย) – The year in Thai cinema commences with this teen psychological drama from Kantana Motion Pictures, in which a faded Internet idol (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) becomes upset at being unseated by a new schoolgirl star (Napasasi Surawan). She decides to teach the naive upstart a lesson in cruelty. Pun Homcheun and Onusa Donsawai direct, adapting a short film of the same name. In a gimmick to gin up publicity, there are two versions – rated 18+ and the “uncut” 20-

Krasue Kreung Khon (กระสือครึ่งคน) – And there's another Thai film to start 2016 – veteran actor-director Bin Banluerit's horror-comedy, which has a jungle tribe of dwarfs being terrorized by the notorious krasue, the female ghost of Southeast Asian folklore that’a floating vampiric head and entrails. Rated 15+

Airlift – Bollywood action star Akshay Kumar revisits the 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait after the invasion by Iraqi forces during the First Gulf War. Over 59 days, Air India flew nearly 500 planes into the war zone to airlift some 177,000 Indians, a feat that holds a Guinness Record for the most people airlifted by a civilian airline. Nimrat Kaur (The Lunchbox) also stars. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhuvmit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight (not last Thursday as I erroneously stated here last week), Sayajit Ray's restored epic Apu trilogy wraps up with 1959's last chapter Apur Sansar. Tomorrow, it's the director's cut of Michael Cimino's epic western Heaven's Gate, which was a legendary flop on release and brought down the United Artists studio. Part of a monthlong tribute to the late cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, it's now hailed as a modern masterpiece. Saturday's Paul Thomas Anderson film is Punch-Drunk Love, which is possibly the best film Adam Sandler will ever be part of. Sunday has Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized in her apartment by intruders. And next Wednesday is another "U.S. Meet World" entry of films that were popular with the meth-heads and trailer-park trash in the good old U.S. of A. It's Like Water for Chocolate, which became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film there. 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.

German Open Air Cinema – The Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots of 1992 are recalled in We Are Young. We Are Strong (Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark.), a historical drama that tracks the lives of various characters throughout the night in which unemployed youths violently vented their boredom and anger on a public housing development that was home to Vietnamese, Romanian Roma and other foreign migrants. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 26, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – A 15-year-old girl is desperately in love with her 19-year-old boyfriend when he decides to leave her and explore the world in Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse). Hard feelings emerge eight years later when the two lovers are reunited. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, January 27, at the Alliance.

Take note

I've already mentioned the upcoming Japanese Film Festival, which is set for February 11 to 14 at SF World Cinema.

Another event to mention is the Bangkok Art and Culture Center's Cinema Diverse: Directors' Choice series, which wraps up on February 6 with a screening of the Chilean drama No hosted by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand's most-celebrated filmmaker. He and film critic Kong Rithdee will talk about the movie afterward, with translation in English. Registration opens at 4.30pm with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other upcoming events this year include the Goethe-Institut and Thai Film Archive's Wim Wenders Retrospective, which will include Wings of Desire outdoors at Lumpini Park in February and a 3D screening of Pina at the Archive in March. There's also the Salaya International Documentary Film Festival in March, the Archive's travelling Memories fest in April, the Silent Film Festival of Thailand in June and the Thai Short Film and Video Festival in August. I'll have more details on some of those events in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: January 14-20, 2016


Nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, Spotlight went home empty handed from the first big show of Hollywood's awards season. But don't count Spotlight out just yet – it's likely to be a major Academy Award nominee and is already a nominee for Baftas, Screen Actors Guild Awards and many more. Spotlight also already won the Film Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award for best ensemble cast.

A newspaper drama in the grand muckraking tradition of All the President's Men, Spotlight is the fact-based account of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe in 2002, who get wind of a massive official cover-up of rampant sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. They blow the lid off the story and win a Pulitzer.

Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup and John Slattery star. It's directed by Tom McCarthy, who debuted to much acclaim with The Station Agent. He's also an actor, having previously played a quote-fabricating Baltimore Sun reporter on TV's The Wire.

Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 15+

Also opening

Cop Car – Two boys find an abandoned sheriff's cruiser in the countryside and, with lights flashing and siren blaring, take the Crown Vic for a joyride. Meanwhile, the absent sheriff – a corrupt and dangerous lawman played by Kevin Bacon – angrily sets out to find his missing car. The debut feature by young indie director Jon Watts, Cop Car picked up solid buzz from its premiere at Sundance last year, helping to propel Watts into the top ranks as he was selected to helm yet another Spider-Man reboot. I have actually seen Cop Car and am here to say it is a terrific little movie. Many critics think so too. Rated 15+

The 5th Wave – Yet another talented young actress is dropped into yet another young-adult science-fiction franchise. Adapted from the 2013 novel by Rick Yancey – the first in a trilogy, of course – The 5th Wave stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, The Equalizer) as a 16-year-old heroine who has survived four apocalyptic waves of an alien invasion. She needs to find her little brother before he becomes a weapon in the fifth wave. Critical reception is just forming. Rated 13+

Ip Man 3 – Donnie Yen tangles with Mike Tyson in this third installment in director Wilson Yip's series of biographical dramas about Ip Man, the 1950s Hong Kong kung-fu grandmaster who, according to legend, taught Bruce Lee. The story has Ip Man keeping a low profile as he quietly teaches martial arts and looks after his family. He returns to the public eye to tangle with a street-brawling property developer (Tyson) who is bullying residents. Yuen Woo-Ping choreographed the action. He's the painterly martial-arts wizard behind such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Matrix and Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster (which was also about Ip Man). Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+

Sweet Alibis – Mismatched, bumbling police partners investigating the death of a poodle stumble onto a drug case involving gay gangsters in this Taiwanese crime farce. Alex Su is a cowardly, more-seasoned cop with Ariel Lin as a rookie cop trying to prove herself to her father. Matt Wu (Sway) also stars. A nominee for awards at 2014's Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards the and Osaka Asian Film Festival, Sweet Alibis got some decent reviews. It's at Esplanade Ratchada and Major Ratchayothin. Seems it is in Thai only. Rated G

Wazir – An anti-terrorism police officer (Farhan Akhtar) who is grieving over the death of his daughter bonds with the girl's chess master (Amitabh Bachchan) and comes up with a strategy to battle the terrorist threat. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also opening

The Friese-Greene Club – Sayajit Ray's restored epic Apu trilogy wraps up tonight with 1959's last chapter Apur Sansar. Tomorrow, cue the banjo music for a relaxing canoe trip with Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox in Deliverance, part of a month-long tribute to the late cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. This Saturday's Paul Thomas Anderson entry is his "documentary" on the "golden age of porn", Boogie Nights. And Sunday has another great Audrey Hepburn film, 1953's classic Roman Holiday. Next Wednesday is another "U.S. meet World" entry that exposed flyover-state hayseeds to "foreign" films, 1994's Il Postino. 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.

German Open Air Cinema – A young computer whiz joins masked hackers who stage increasingly daring raids on corporations and the government in Who Am I – No System Is Safe. Tom Schilling stars and Baran bo Odar directs, tossing in Fight Club references. It was a major nominee at last year's German Film Awards and won for editing, sounding and production design. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 19, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – There are two free French films to report this week. First up at 2pm on Saturday is a children's matinee, the animated Gus - Petit oiseau, grand voyage (Yellowbird). Featured at last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok, it's about an unusual orphaned yellow bird who becomes the unlikely leader of a mass migration to Africa. And then the usual 7pm Wednesday screening is Séraphine, an award-winning 2008 historical biographical drama about painter Séraphine Louis. Yolande Moreau stars.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 7-13, 2016

Cartel Land

One of the most significant contributions to the Thai movie-going world in 2015 was the formation of the Documentary Club, which brought in a steady stream of buzzworthy new documentaries to local cinemas and promoted them mostly through online social media.

Formed as a personal project of Bioscope magazine editor Thida Plitpholkarnpim, the Documentary Club has been a big success, showing that mainstream audiences really do want to watch documentaries, and it forges on into 2016, with its ongoing Doc Holiday series at SF Cinemas, starting with Cartel Land.

Directed by Matthew Heineman (Kathryn Bigelow is among the executive producers), Cartel Land gets into Sicario territory as it trains lenses on the ongoing Mexican Drug War and profiles vigilante efforts to stop the violence on both sides of the border, with the U.S.-based Arizona Border Recon founded by Tim “Nailer” Foley and Mexico's Autodefensas, run by a physician, Dr. Jose Mireles.

One of the titles being mentioned as a possible Oscar nominee, Cartel Land premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival, where it won Best Director and the Special Jury Award for Cinematography in the U.S. Documentary Competition.

It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. For more details, check the Documentary Club Facebook page. Rated 18+

Also opening

The Big Short – The beginnings of this fact-based financial comedy go back to the closing credits of The Other Guys, the 2010 Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy about police partners trying to arrest a crooked Wall Street financier. Humorously illustrated with simple charts and diagrams, the closing credits of The Other Guys explained the Ponzi scheme that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. Director Adam McKay, better known for comedies like Anchorman or Stepbrothers than for prestige-seeking social-commentary pieces, wanted to continue with that theme. That led him to this unlikely adaptation of Michael Lewis' non-fiction book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. It's about financial-world outsiders who spot a worrisome trend in the housing-lending market and then decide to profit from the inevitable collapse. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and a bearded Brad Pitt are among the ensemble cast. Earning comparisons to another much-acclaimed high-energy finance flick, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and is being mentioned as a possible Oscar nominee. Critical reception is generally praiseworthy. Rated 15+

The Hateful Eight – Right from the beginning, Quentin Tarantino has made a big deal out of his latest picture. He threw a tantrum when the script was leaked and vowed not to make the movie. Friends and financial backers convinced him to change his mind, and so he organized a table read of the script before a live audience. More yes-men emerged to tell Tarantino to make the movie. In shooting it, he decided to revive a moribund film format, Ultra Panavision 70, and then take it on a "roadshow" to the handful of theaters still equipped to project 70mm. It comes to us in digital form only, which is too bad. With plenty of Tarantino's non-stop, rapid-fire vulgarities, the story is about passengers on a stagecoach – a hangman (Kurt Russell), his condemned prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a bounty hunter and former Union Army cavalry major (Samuel L. Jackson) and a town's new sheriff (Walton Goggins) – seeking refuge from a blizzard in a remote outpost. They encounter four other figures – an elderly Confederate general (Bruce Dern), a cowboy (Michael Madsen), an Englishman (Tim Roth) and a Mexican (Demián Bichir) – whose motives are mysterious. Influenced by TV westerns such as Bonanza and The Virginian, it's been described as an Agatha Christie drawing-room mystery set in the old American west. It is already nominated for three Golden Globe Awards: screenplay, best score (by Ennio Morricone, his first in decades) and actress (for Leigh, her second Globe nod following 1994's Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle). And The Hateful Eight is also feeling the Oscar buzz. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+

The Dressmaker – Kate Winslet stars in this Australian comedy-drama. Set in the early 1950s, it's about a small Outback town's former resident, who left in disgrace decades before, returning to care for her ailing, eccentric mother (Judy Davis). An accomplished Paris fashion designer, she sets up her sewing machine and begins to bring a new sense of style to the locals, among them the town lawman, played by Hugo Weaving. Liam Hemsworth also stars. Jocelyn Moorhouse (Muriel's Wedding, How to Make an American Quilt) directs. It was a major nominee at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards and winner of the best actress, supporting actress and supporting actor prizes for Winslet, Davis and Weaving. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Satyajit Ray's restored Apu Trilogy screens on Thursdays. Tonight, it's the second entry, 1956's Aparajito. Fridays have a line-up of great motion pictures lensed by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who died on January 1 at age 85. It starts with Robert Altman's LA-noir entry, The Long Goodbye, starring Elliott Gould as detective Philip Marlowe. Saturdays are devoted to Paul Thomas Anderson, who was right out of the gates with his first feature, Hard Eight, starring Philip Baker Hall as a roving gambler who takes a young buck (John C. Reilly) under his wing. Gwyneth Paltrow also stars. And watch for Philip Seymour Hoffman – it wouldn't be a PT Anderson film without him. Sundays, the church pews are reserved for worshipers of St. Audrey, starting with 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Truman Capote, Blake Edwards and Henry Mancini will deliver the liturgy. Wednesdays thumb their nose at the corn-fed with "U.S. Meet World", a series of critically acclaimed "foreign" films that for reasons nobody can figure were hits in the United States. Next week's offering is all about that American fascination for weird Spanish Civil War stories with Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. 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.

German Open Air Cinema – The Swiss embassy chips in with I Am the Keeper (Der Goalie bin ig), a drama about a criminal who is released from prison after he served his time and kept his mouth shut. He seeks a fresh start back in his hometown and falls for a local diner's waitress while trying to stay out of the way of his past. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 12, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – It's West Side Story in France in Geronimo, which has star-crossed young lovers from rival gangs shielded by an idealistic young community educator. Tony Gatlif directs. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, January 13, at the Alliance.