Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's On starting December 18

The Day the Earth stillborn at boxoffice!

Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, December 18

by Thomas Ohlson

Best Bets: Traitor. Twilight. Ong-Bak 2. EU Film Festival.

Here are my comments on the films playing at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and at Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Thursday, December 18, 2008. There is also information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space for the next three weeks. And you will find the remaining schedule for the European Union Film Festival which started its public showings last Friday at Vista in Kadsuankaew, and runs through this coming Sunday, December 21.

This is Issue Number 8 of Volume 4 of these listings – in our fourth year!

The Day the Earth Stood Still didn’t fare too well at the US boxoffice on its opening weekend; it did better overseas, but created only a tepid boxoffice response here in Thailand. Seldom have I seen such rants against an actor as there were for the boy in the movie, who most reviewers call an atrocious actor in a badly written part that was even more badly directed. I think he skewered the film way off the track and filled viewers with irrelevant hate toward the child as a person and as an actor, and brought into the film irrelevant issues of race. And all because he was given the part through the power and influence of his father, Will Smith, who seems determined to turn him into a star whether we like it or not.

Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week

* Happy Birthday / แฮปปี้ เบิร์ดเดย์: Thai Drama/ Romance – 90 mins – Starring Ananda Everingham. Looks like a real weepy love story. This time Ananda is a travel photographer who travels around Thailand with his guide/girlfriend, until the girl is involved in a terrible car accident and ends up in a hospital in a coma, while Ananda waits at her bedside for her to wake up. It’s a follow up to the 2007 well-received film Me ... Myself, also starring Ananda, which I enjoyed. From the previews, I have to say this one looks perfectly tedious, despite the fact that I’m a fan of Ananda. We’ll hope for the best.

The Day the Earth Stood Still: US Sci-Fi/ Drama/ Thriller – 103 mins – Other than the child, I enjoyed this! If you like sci-fi thrillers, you should too, except for the child. Of course, you have to be willing to accept a lot of the “aliens invade Earth” conventions. I did, and found it a lot of fun. Except for the child, who simply spoils every scene he’s in – and he’s in it a lot. Seems to me he’s a sterling example of why you shouldn’t adopt stray kids. However, the bright side of it is he’s apparently a thoroughly spoiled brat of an actor who very likely will take to drugs and self-destruct soon, saving us from having to see him again. (But none too soon – would you believe, he’s now been given the role of the Karate Kid in the upcoming sequel? May the Saints preserve us!)

Never have I seen such hate-filled reviews and internet reaction to an actor and his performance! Some samples:

IMDb viewer deconspiratoromania: i hate him i hate him i hate him i hate him

Another: I spent the whole movie waiting for his character to die.

Another: This has to be one of the most unnecessary characters in a movie EVER! I kept hoping the aliens would finish off the planet just so we could be free from that annoying little BRAT! No such luck!

Another: i wanted him to get eaten by those bugs.

He suffers from the same problem as his dad, he thinks just because he stars in a movie that he can also serve as the screenwriter (or take over as screenwriter). His character in this film didn't seem far removed from who he seems to be in real life, an egomaniac like his dad, and a bossy one at that.

I was almost physically pained when this kid was onscreen.

No casting director, producer, executive producer, director, etc. would give that kid a second look if he came in for an audition. The fact that he can't act is bad enough but to have such a ludicrous, outlandish 'fro like that where he looks more like a Muppet than a 10 yr. old boy is completely insane. It’s painfully obvious that his old man used his pull with industry execs to get his kid the part.

What kind of parents allow their kid walking around with hair like that? Are they scared to take him to the barber? They think he's grown enough to say no? Will and Jada....CUT THE BOY'S HAIR!

That rat's nest is a disgrace and clearly his parents are to blame. I can only imagine the cooties that this kid has. It’s not just gross, it’s DISGUSTINGLY gross.

Looks like the bush I have in my garden that needs to be pruned. He looks like a damn Muppet and he totally ruined "The Day the Earth Stood Still" for me. He has no acting talent and obviously his father used his muscle to get his kid the part. No casting director in their right mind would hire him looking like that and not being able to bring any sense of conviction to the role. Every scene with him made me cringe and I just couldn't take the movie seriously.

I can honestly say that this kid is atrocious in the film and clearly got the part because of his Father's prominence in Hollywood. There are literally thousands of other kids that could have done a much better job with the role...its painfully obvious that nepotism speaks louder than talent and merit these days. And what director/producer/casting director in their right mind would pick a kid with such a hideous hairstyle???? I found this kid's appearance so ludicrous that it actually gave the movie a comical feel to it. The movie would have been moderately enjoyable with a seasoned child actor in such a pivotal role. The kid absolutely ruined this movie for me.

(On a more restrained note!):

Jordan Hoffman, Ugo Movieblog: I may be allowing some bizarre and irrational emotions to take over here, but I think I hate this kid. The fundamental reason is this: I’m gonna’ be stuck with this kid for the rest of my life. You see, I intend to continue watching and being enthused by the cinema until I am no longer drawing breath. Young Mr. Smith, being just the age of 10, it stands to reason that I have now been condemned to spending a goodly part of my life with this tyke. He’ll be cast as The Kid in at least one major motion picture a year until he gets a little older. Then he’ll no doubt take a shocking star turn in the 2015 remake of Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho. He’ll be dubbed a hero for taking such chancy roles and then there’ll be no stopping him from there.

I was not consulted on this!

I know I sound ridiculous, but I have a little bit of a point. There is a little bit of a pact between we, the movie going audience, and Hollywood when they anoint new stars. We have to at least be given a chance to discover them ourselves. Jaden Smith is just straight-up nepotism, and I think we all can’t stand that. We get enough nepotism and favoritism in life.

Jaden Smith isn’t the world’s worst kid actor – but he’s certainly no better than the 500 other ones currently in the Screen Actor’s Guild who could have played the part. Yet there he is, with his cool floppy hair and smug attitude. . . . So, in conclusion, Eff You, Jaden Smith.

And again:

Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon: . . . critiquing the performance of a child actor is not something I typically like to lower myself to doing, but Smith is downright terrible in this flick. It wouldn’t have mattered, as it often doesn’t with child actors, had so much of the third act not depended on his storyline.

But as for Keanu Reeves, he’s perfect for the part of the alien! Absolutely perfect, because he really is an alien himself! We have always known that. Think about it – think about him in any movie he’s ever been in. He is not human! He is truly an alien himself, a little spooky, but accessible, and I love him just the way he is!

This is a remake of the landmark film of 1951 with Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Sam Jaffe, directed by Robert Wise. This time Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, a mysterious alien who travels to Earth with a simple mission: to save the planet. He lands his vast space ship in Central Park, New York, and tries without success to announce his plans to the world via a speech at the United Nations. He’s shot and taken into custody instead. Thus rebuffed, to goes to the backup plan: He will destroy everything, then re-populate our planet with clones of the current species. All, that is, except humans who he feels are responsible for Earth's destruction and must be permanently destroyed. He unleashes swarms of dust size robots who sweep through New York and the surrounding area dissolving everything in their path. As mankind fights to survive, one female scientist, with her horrid son tagging along, tries to convince Klaatu to stop the earth’s destruction and give us a second chance.

Mixed or average reviews: 40/41 out of 100.

Transporter 3: France Action/ Crime – 100 mins – I’ve seen it, and I can attest that it’s an action movie – meaning that there’s a lot of explosions, car crashes, and men being violent and assertive. And it’s all quite well done, and seasoned with just the slightest bit of plot and humor. If that’s what you like, this is for you.

Jason Statham returns for a third time now as Frank Martin, a former British Special Forces soldier turned mercenary, whose specialty is delivering risky items in a timely fashion. In this third installment, Frank who has just relocated to Paris, awakes to find himself with a bomb strapped to his wrist which threatens to blow up should he try to remove it. Mixed or average reviews: 51/50 out of 100.

Roger Ebert: A perfectly acceptable brainless action thriller.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua: US Comedy/ Adventure/ Family – 91 mins – With the voices of almost every Spanish-accented voice in Hollywood, including Plácido Domingo! In this Disney comedy, a pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua named Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore) finds herself accidentally lost in the mean streets of Mexico. Now alone for the first time in her spoiled life, she must rely on some new friends to help her to find her way back home. It’s a pretty ordinary talking animal picture, but well done of its kind, so if this is your cup of tea, you should enjoy it well enough. Especially if you like dogs, because they really are terrific! Critical reaction seems to be very mixed, with people either loving it or hating it. Overall, it comes out as mixed or average reviews: 41/50 out of 100.

Ong-Bak 2: Thai Action/ Adventure – 100 mins – With Tony Jaa, who also directed. I’m not sure what your reaction will be to this film, for it’s rather difficult and really not too much fun to watch. It’s quite dark, and exceptionally violent. Not for children! But it’s extraordinary in many respects, and approaches almost every aspect of an action film in a new way. And it seems a terribly personal film for Tony Jaa, in which he apparently is trying to exorcise some inner demons. I think it’s a fascinating attempt.

Here is the official synopsis: “Set in the regal times of King Naresuan, Tony Jaa plays Tien, a man who was born into nobility but had it stripped from him after his parents were brutally murdered. During his childhood Tien learned Khon, a form of dance which is usually reserved for royalty. Although he didn't know it yet, Khon would later prove to be an invaluable aide to him. After seeing his parents murdered when he was at the tender age of 10, Tien is forced to live on the streets where he is eventually captured by a group of thieves who take him in and teach him how to steal and fight. Tien’s expertise as a thief and fighter grows, and it isn't long before he is made head thief. Then Tien sees something that makes his stomach churn. A competition is being held to find the best knights to serve under the very man who had killed Tien's parents all those years ago. Tien passes the tests easily and is made Lord Rachasana's 2nd Knight. Now, he has his opportunity to strike but he will have to use all his skill and ingenuity if he is going to get his revenge on the man who killed his parents, and stay alive.”

Twilight: US Vampire love – 121 mins – It’s quite well done overall, and I rather enjoyed it. Robert Pattinson is indeed a handsome, smoldering devil as the vampire.

In the story of Twilight, you have your against-the-odds teen love, your woman in peril, your vampires, and your cult following. It’s a complex story, in three volumes so far and more to come. Mixed or average reviews: 56/53 out of 100.

Vista has a Thai-dubbed version only, with no English subtitles. Airport Plaza has it in the original English, with Thai subtitles.

Traitor: US Drama/Thriller – 114 mins – With Don Cheadle. Probably in its last days. See it while you can. Another serious look at the world of moral uncertainty amid the war on terror. I am very fond of this movie; I think Don Cheadle gives another outstanding performance in this film – really a great person to watch. And I found the story (by Steve Martin) very engrossing.

James Berardinelli, Reel Views: Traitor is an uncommonly intelligent espionage thriller that explores the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by agents who go deep undercover in the service of their country. For movies that revolve around terrorist organizations and acts, there are typically two approaches: a gung-ho, "John Wayne" style and a story that seeks to humanize the terrorists. Traitor takes a different, less straightforward trajectory that exhibits the complex motivations of the terrorists as well as those who oppose them without resorting to caricatures on either side. The film's villains are not cookie-cutter bad guys and the FBI agents are neither bumbling nor infallible. Caught in the middle of everything is a man trying to save innocent lives but whose actions end up taking them as well.

. . . As a thriller for adults who don't require manic chases, frenetic shoot-outs, and ten cuts per second, Traitor is smart, effective, and at times suspenseful. It's one of a very few terrorist-themed movies that presents its situation without resorting to exploitation or oversimplification.

The story: Straight arrow FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) heads up the investigation into a dangerous international conspiracy, and all clues seem to lead back to former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn (Cheadle). A mysterious figure with a web of connections to terrorist organizations, Horn has a knack for emerging on the scene just as a major operation goes down. The inter-agency task force looking into the case links Horn to a prison break in Yemen, a bombing in Nice, and a raid in London, but a tangle of contradictory evidence emerges, forcing Clayton to question whether his quarry is a disaffected former military operative – or something far more complicated. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Clayton tracks Horn across the globe as the elusive ex-soldier burrows deeper and deeper into a world of shadows and intrigue. Only mixed or average reviews: 60/60 out of 100. Nevertheless, despite the lukewarm reviews, I suggest you go. At Vista only, sharing a cinema with the EU Film Festival.

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