Slumdog Millionaire at Vista!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, May 14, 2009
… through Wednesday, May 20
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Slumdog Millionaire. Star Trek. Wolverine. Angels & Demons.
Here is my list of movies playing in Chiang Mai at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and at Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Thursday, May 14, 2009.
I’ve also included here information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space for the next three weeks.
This year’s Oscar best picture Slumdog Millionaire is at Vista, and hooray for them! See it! (Star Dev Patel is at right.)
This is Issue Number 29 of Volume 4 of these listings – in our fourth year!
Now there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at http://thomatpattaya.blogspot.com/.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Slumdog Millionaire: US/UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 120 mins – This film won Oscar best picture and best director – and awards for adapted screenplay, original score, film editing, original song, sound mixing, and cinematography. Rated R in the US for some violence, disturbing images, and language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 86/82 out of 100. At Vista only.
An impoverished Indian teen becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?”, wins, and is then suspected of cheating. Trailer available here, just click.
Roger Ebert: This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time, about a Mumbai orphan who rises from rags to riches on the strength of his lively intelligence. It tells the story of an orphan from the slums of Mumbai who is born into a brutal existence. A petty thief, impostor and survivor, mired in dire poverty, he improvises his way up through the world and remembers everything he has learned. High-spirited and defiant in the worst of times, he survives. He scrapes out a living at the Taj Mahal, which he did not know about but discovers by being thrown off a train. He pretends to be a guide, invents "facts" out of thin air, advises tourists to remove their shoes and then steals them. . . . The film uses dazzling cinematography, breathless editing, driving music, and headlong momentum to explode with narrative force, stirring in a romance at the same time. For Danny Boyle, it is a personal triumph.
Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Millions (2004) which was given a showing at Film Space on March 14, Sunshine (2007)).
* Angels & Demons: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – 140 mins – The team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns for the highly anticipated Angels & Demons, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. Ron Howard again directs. Early reviews: mixed or average: 49/54 out of 100.
When Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati "the most powerful underground organization in history" he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization's most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. Upon learning that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, Langdon travels to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop, action-packed hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow the 400-year-old Path of Illumination that marks the Vatican's only hope for survival. Stars Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor.
Note that although the novel upon which the film is based is set before the events of the novel The Da Vinci Code, the film has been written as a sequel to follow after events in The Da Vinci Code (2006).
After church officials denied the filming of Angels & Demons on church property, director Ron Howard rebuilt the Vatican in a scaled-down version to replace the real thing. Shown here is a shot of the construction of the Vatican.
* Bangkok Adrenaline / อะดรีนาลีนคนเดือดสาด: Thai, Action/ Adventure – 92 mins – A Thai action-comedy created by and mostly starring Western foreigners, many of them stunt professionals, in a story about four deadbeat expatriates trying to survive in Bangkok after getting in debt to local gangsters. In a desperate bid to save themselves, they kidnap a beautiful heiress for ransom. Directed by Raimund Huber, it stars the British-born, tricking stunt actor Daniel O'Neill, a Jackie Chan stunt team veteran with acting credits that include Tony Jaa's The Protector. Shot entrely in Thailand and filmed in English, mostly, but shown here dubbed in Thai, with no English subtitles.
Star Trek (2009): US/ Germany, Sci-Fi/ Adventure/ Action – 126 mins – All new! And I think it’s a great deal of fun, for fans of the series, and also for those who are not. This much-anticipated film is a reboot of the series, going back to the series’ ’60s roots by depicting the formative experiences of the legendary heroes Kirk and Spock. The young James Tiberius Kirk is played by Chris Pine as a wild Iowa boy whose father sacrificed himself at the helm of a spaceship at the very moment the child was being born. He is convinced to attend the Starfleet Academy with an eye to joining the crew of the Enterprise.
Headed for the same destination is Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, who has had a troubled background as a half-human, half-Vulcan. How these two very opposite figures become mutually trusted colleagues is the basic story of the film. It’s very well done, and I found it engrossing. From director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Lost, and Alias). Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83/81 out of 100.
Time Out Online, Tom Huddleston: It’s a genuine pleasure to report that Abrams’s Star Trek is a winner on almost all fronts. The cast – from Chris Pine’s whisky-soaked, pugilistic lothario Kirk, through Bruce Greenwood’s commanding Pike, to Simon Pegg’s overenthusiastic Scotty – are almost flawless. Perhaps the hardest task goes to Zachary Quinto, not just essaying the series’ most iconic character, Spock, but face-to-face with his predecessor Leonard Nimoy, thanks to the film’s time-mangling plotline. Luckily, Quinto delivers a note-perfect performance, managing, as Nimoy did before him, to make this taciturn, officious, archly superior lifeform enormously likeable.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: US/ New Zealand/ Australia, Action/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 97 mins – Though most reviews are lukewarm, I think it’s simply brilliant, starting out with eight minutes of nigh perfect popular filmmaking, a sequence that is thrilling, sensible, and, wonder of wonders, deeply intriguing! It then veers into a quiet sequence building up a love-interest, which might seem to be just padding, but no, get involved with it, because the love relationship leads to some real emotional payoffs down the line. Really, it’s a superb action film for anyone who likes the genre, with excellent performances by Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and many others. Mixed or average reviews: 43/44 out of 100.
Stay for two very short additional scenes during the closing credits, one of which, in a bar in Japan, is a lead-in to the sequel.
Horsemen: Canada/ USA, Drama/ Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – 110 mins – A strange film, with an intriguing premise and a fairly interesting relationship between father and sons. Dennis Quaid plays a bitter detective emotionally distanced from his two young sons following the death of his wife. While investigating a series of murders of rare violence, he discovers a terrifying link between himself and the suspects in a chain of murders that seem to be based on the Biblical prophecies concerning the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. That’s a fascinating idea to me, and I just wish it had been more coherent in its telling. Rated R in the US for grisly and disturbing content, some sexual images, and language.
The film’s distributor, Lionsgate, opened the film to just 75 theaters in the US in early March, apparently hoping to sneak it in quietly and wait for real income from other sources and DVD. I really wanted it to be better, but nevertheless there are some nice things in it. There are only two reviews in existence so far:
Variety: Much of the initial action, as it shifts from blood-splattered crime scene to detailed autopsy and back, plays out in territory well trod by the latest and not-too-latest works of the torture-porn/Splat Pack school. A scene in which Breslin investigates a tattoo/S&M parlor connected to the murders typifies the approach of screenwriter David Callaham (Doom), as the script tries to immerse us in a faux-seedy world torn from a dozen other movies.
Thankfully, Breslin's shattered home life, where he remains estranged from his two young sons (Lou Taylor Pucci, Liam James) following the death of his wife from cancer, adds something vaguely human and original to the story. Quaid is best in these domestic sequences, in which he makes the tiresome pull between work and family seem believable -- much more so than when he's on the beat and merely going through the motions.
A Nutshell Review: as the trailers would have pretty much revealed, the serial killer victims are all tortured with meat hooks of sorts, and he's faced with more than one killer who model themselves after the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Sounds like your average detective movie right? I guess a memorable film from the genre like Se7en will only come once in a blue moon. This film by Jonas Akerlund tries to elicit similar moods devoid of humor and is all seriousness in tone, but its plot turned out to be quite flimsy thin, and those who have experienced enough of the genre, would have guessed the culprit for the last act somewhere by the mid-way point.
Dennis Quaid shows how he ages well into delivering stellar, lead performances, and makes it believable he's a man constantly struggling with a work-life balance.
Ultimately, the message here is how important parents play in nurturing their children, and should be very much involved in their development, rather than thinking that cash would be a sufficient substitute and settle everything.
Mor 3 Pee 4 / ม.3 ปี4 เรารักนาย: Thai, Romance/ Comedy– 90 mins – A nice little advertisement for MSN: Four teenagers make friends and chat online on MSN. Thee and Nut are brothers living in Bangkok, June and Jane are sisters who live in Phuket. Do the two pairs finally meet? Well it’s called a “romance” after all! Note: shown in Thai only, with no English subtitles.
Saranae Howpeng / สาระแนห้าวเป้ง!!!: Thai, Comedy – 90 mins – Movie version of "Saranae Show" – a popular Thai comedy TV show that has been on the air for 11 years. With many well-known Thai comedians, including Mum Jokmok (Petchthai Wongkamlao), Kietisak "Hoi" Udomnak, Ple Nakorn, and Willy McIntosh.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, May 21
Night at the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian: USA/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – After a wacky night at the Museum of Natural History, the perpetually hapless Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after shipping two of his resurrected friends to Washington by mistake. As a result, he finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum's most noteworthy historical figures. Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan are back, and this time they're joined by Amy Adams, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Guest. The central thrust of the film will be bringing to life the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world's largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart flew on her nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic and Al Capone's rap sheet and mug shot to Dorothy's ruby red slippers and Archie Bunker's lounge chair. This is the first major film to be shot inside the Smithsonian in Washington, and it may never be the same. …
And looking forward:
May 28 – Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins: US/ Germany/ UK, Action/ Sci-Fi – 130 mins – With Christian Bale, Moon Bloodgood, and Common; directed by McG. In this highly anticipated – in some quarters – new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.
May 28 – 2022 Tsunami: Thai, Action/ Disaster – Here’s their synopsis: “Thailand 2022. …All life is swept away in an enormous tidal wave, the land is destroyed, and the only way to survive now is to battle nature itself.”
Jun 4 – Drag Me to Hell: Director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy, Evil Dead series) returns to the horror genre with this original tale of a young woman's desperate quest to break an evil curse. Surprisingly good reviews. Alison Lohman plays an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend. Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should she follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her bossand get a leg-up on a promotion? She fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs. Ganush and dispossessing her of her home. In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on her, transforming her life into a living hell.
Jun 11 – Up: Disney/Pixar animated fantasy. A comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman (voiced by Ed Asner) who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. Also starring Christopher Plummer.
Jun 18 – State of Play: A thriller about a principled investigative journalist in the midst of a vast conspiracy – engrossing, smart, unnerving, and surprisingly timely, and a tribute to the hardworking reporters that shed light on our political system. Russell Crowe stars as an old-school Washington beat reporter who's had a solid professional rapport with an up-and-coming congressman (Ben Affleck) -- that is, until some of the congressman’s associates turn up dead. Crowe uneasily joins forces with Rachel McAdams, a blogger at the paper, to untangle a sinister web of secrets and lies. The film’s ensemble, which also includes Helen Mirren as an exacting editor, is unimpeachable, as is the immediacy and authenticity of the newsroom setting.
Jul 2 – Public Enemies: With Johnny Depp as Dillinger!
Jul 16– Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.