Thursday, September 4, 2008

What's On starting September 4

Nicholas Cage on murder spree!

Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, September 4

by Thomas Ohlson

Best bets: WALL•E. Mamma Mia!

To avoid like the plague: Death Race.

Of special note: Trois Couleurs / Three Colors on Fridays September 12, 19, and 26 at Alliance Française.

Trois Couleurs / Three Colors by Krzysztof Kieslowski – This is a major film event in Chiang Mai, and should merit your consideration. The three films that make up this trilogy are being shown on three successive Fridays at the Alliance Française this month (on the 12th, 19th, and 26th), and three successive Saturdays at Film Space in December. (Film Space had originally scheduled them for September as well, but quickly moved them to December when I pointed out that the Alliance was showing the same three films.)

These are quite amazing films, and you owe it to yourself to begin your acquaintance with them, if you haven’t already. But you will want to return to them again and again to savor their richness, as their secrets are not discovered easily. More details can be found under the Alliance Française section below.

Here is my list of movies currently playing at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and at Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Thursday, September 4, 2008. There is also information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space. This is Issue Number 45 of Volume 3 of these listings.

Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week

* Bangkok Dangerous: US Action/Drama – 100 mins – Directors Danny and Oxide Pang return in a remake of their popular 1999 thriller about a ruthless hitman (this time Nicolas Cage) who travels to Bangkok in order to carry out four crucial (for him) murders. During the course of his jobs, the triggerman falls in love with a pretty local girl while also forming a friendly bond with his young errand boy. Makers of the movie are saying that they were shooting the film in Bangkok during the 19th of September coup d'état two years ago. Filming stopped, but only for six hours. They are fond of claiming that they fired the only shots in the coup. Rated R in the US for violence, language, and some sexuality.

* Tevada Tokmun / Te-wa-da / เทวดาตกมันส์: Thai Comedy – 90 mins – Some Academy Fantasia 4 winners from the hit TV reality show in a comedy about the misadventures of an angel and a monk.

Mamma Mia!: US/UK/Germany Comedy/ Musical/ Romance – 108 mins – Starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth. Donna, an independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island, is about to let go of Sophie, the spirited daughter she's raised alone. On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, Sophie invites to the wedding three men from Donna's past, all possibly her father. Popular ABBA music that I find horrifyingly infectious and which I can’t get rid of. Extraordinarily vivacious and energetic musical that is bound and determined to make you sing and dance and feel good about marriage and things like that. Mixed or average reviews: 51/53 out of 100.

Boonchu 9 / Boon-Choo / บุญชู 9: Thai Comedy – 90 mins – A continuation of this popular Thai comedy series. The son of the original Boonchu is a happy monk who is defrocked by his mother and sent to university in Bangkok. There he meets up with new “friends” – two homeless kids – who, as friends will do, drug him and mug him.

Boys Over Flowers: Final / Flower 4 (F4) Final: Japan Romance/Comedy – 130 mins – Wildly popular film in Japan, based on a top selling manga, featuring five popular Japanese idols, following the travails of a working-class girl at an elite prep school who must contend with a four-man clique (the “Flower 4”) of “rich, gorgeous guys” from extremely powerful families. Thai dubbed with no English subtitles.

WALL•E: US Animation/ Comedy/ Family/ Romance/ Sci-Fi – 98 mins – It’s a work of genius from the first frame to the last! Robot love on a dead Earth, and the cutest love story in years. There's virtually no dialogue for the first 40 minutes; you’ll be enthralled. And the brilliant animation continues throughout the closing credits. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 93/85 out of 100. There’s a terrific Pixar cartoon before the feature.

The Coffin / Longtorai / Long Dtor Dtai / Lhong Tor Tai / โลงต่อตาย: Thai Horror – 90 mins – Ananda Everingham as a claustrophobic architect who participates in coffin rituals to gain a new lease on life. It has much going for it, with a stellar cast and a fine director, but I was mightily confused. It didn’t seem to be the movie that director Ekachai Uekrongtham set out to make. The script won a prestigious prize from the Rotterdam Festival, but the movie hadn’t been made yet, and to get the necessary funding he had to change it into a horror flick, making compromises along the way. The beautifully shot opening sequence of the burial ritual at the temple gives an idea of what the film could have been. And although this is the director’s first English language film, it is shown in Thailand only in a Thai-dubbed version, with English subtitles which don’t jibe with the movement of the lips. The result for me is simply awkward.

Made of Honor: US Comedy – 101 mins – A piece of fluff about, what else, love problems, with the appealing stars Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan. Generally negative reviews: 37/39 out of 100.

Death Race: US Action/Thriller – 90 mins – The most twisted spectator sport on earth as violent criminals vie for freedom by winning a race driving monster cars outfitted with machine guns, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers. The previews are the most repulsive imaginable, and have convinced me I don’t wish to see it. The consensus: Little more than an empty action romp – mindless, violent, and lightning-paced. Rated R in the US for strong violence (mauling, maiming, bruising, beating, impalement, immolation, detonation, decapitation) and language. Mixed or average reviews: 42/48 out of 100.

Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, September 11

You Don't Mess with the Zohan: US Action/Comedy – 113 mins – Starring Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Nick Swardson, and Rob Schneider. Zohan is an Israeli commando who fakes his own death in order to pursue his dream: becoming a hairstylist in New York. Mixed or average reviews: 54/53 out of 100.

Burn / คนไฟลุก: Thai Thriller – 90 mins – All you ever wanted to know about “SHC” – Spontaneous Human Combustion. As you certainly know, that’s the familiar medical condition wherein a living human being suddenly bursts into flames. Director Peter Manus examines this serious human malady, and perhaps will show how you can innoculate yourself against this happening to you. Perhaps diet has something to do with it.


Burn circles around the mystery of Spontaneous human combustion (SHC), the belief that the human body sometimes burns without an external source of ignition. The story follows the investigation of a female victim’s mysterious death caused by SHC. Mona, the daughter of the victim, is an ambitious lawyer who accidentally involves in the crime. She regrets the unfinished reconciliation between her and her mother. The incident brings her to Ploy, a nurse whose mother passed from SHC as well. Both girls seek to find the truth behind their mother’s death. Kwan, a diehard journalist, follows her instinct to unveil the evil force behind the case.

Can this be suicide, murder, accident, or a secretly religious sacrifice? The mystery behind “deadly fire” needs to be revealed before fire erupts.

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