Slumdog extended again! Frozen Flower heats up Airport Plaza!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, May 28, 2009
… through Wednesday, June 3
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Slumdog Millionaire. Star Trek. Angels & Demons. A Frozen Flower.
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 28, 2009.
There’s also information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space.
This year’s Oscar best picture Slumdog Millionaire continues at Vista, and it’s good to see Vista supporting this fine film, despite very disappointing attendance figures. Viewings have been reduced to two a day, in the evening, 7:15 and 9:30 pm. Last days! See it while you can! You really need to see it on a cinema screen with a sound system big enough to bring the brilliant sound track to life!
This is Issue Number 31 of Volume 4 of these listings – halfway through our fourth year!
Now there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at http://thomatpattaya.blogspot.com/.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* A Frozen Flower / Ssang-hwa-jeom /쌍화점: Korea, Drama/ History/ Romance – 133 mins – Directed by Yu Ha, A Frozen Flower is a visually stunning historical movie set against the last days of Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty (late 14th Century), and deals with the long homosexual love relationship between the king, played by Ju Jin Mo (in the lower half of the picture above), and his chief bodyguard, Hong Lim, played by Jo In Sung, the one with his arm around the king in the picture above. These are Korea’s two top male stars. Definitely not for everyone, as in addition to much beautiful costuming, there is a lot of uncostumed sex – a lot of it! But although the homosexual relationship is at the heart of the film, most of the seemingly endless sex is purely heterosexual. For whatever reason, the film has been a huge hit in Korea. The film is basically a melodrama, with some scenes of epic grandeur, and I found it quite exciting and interesting.
Happily, it’s being shown here with the original Korean soundtrack, and with English and Thai subtitles. That’s great! That’s the way films in a foreign language should be presented, I think.
YesAsia: One of Korea's most talked about films of 2008, A Frozen Flower goes behind the royal curtain to unveil an emotionally charged saga of love, sex, politics, and betrayal during the final days of the Goryeo Dynasty. Like The King and The Clown, A Frozen Flower tore down taboos to blockbuster reception with the depiction of homosexual love between a king and his bodyguard. But A Frozen Flower takes it many steps further on an erotic level, making headlines for its nudity and explicit sex scenes and setting a new box office record for adult-rated films. Teaming up again with A Dirty Carnival director Yu Ha for his last film before entering military service, Jo In Sung delivers the boldest performance of his career as a warrior torn between the bedchambers of the King and Queen. Ju Jin Mo (200 Pounds Beauty) won Best Actor at the 45th Baeksang Arts Awards for his magnificent turn as the King in love with his general, while Song Ji Hyo (Sex is Zero 2, Jumong) makes her big-screen breakthrough as the Queen doomed by her own sexual and romantic awakening.
Under the thumb of the Yuan Dynasty, the Goryeo King (Ju Jin Mo) is pressured to either produce an heir or name his cousin the Crown Prince. The King's true love, however, is his chief bodyguard Hong Lim (Jo In Sung), and he has never so much as touched the Queen (Song Ji Hyo). The King instead asks Hong Lim to sleep with the Queen, believing his problems to be solved as long as a son can be produced. But Hong Lim and the Queen's sexual encounter marks the beginning of a dangerous and passionate triangle of forbidden love, jealous rage, and heartbreaking betrayal.
A Frozen Flower will receive the most attention because of its homosexual angle, but the film contains very little in gay eroticism. There’s one kissing scene between the king and the bodyguard, while the film features numerous graphic sex scenes between the bodyguard and the queen. While the film does open with a prominent gay angle, the film eventually settles on the heterosexual relationship between the bodyguard and queen as the crux of its story.
* Terminator Salvation 4: 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 – fourth 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. Plenty of chases, explosions, and great effects. Mixed or average reviews: 51/51 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: With Terminator Salvation, director McG has brought the venerable sci-fi/action series back to the screen, with plenty of chases, explosions, and yes, machines. But critics say he's forgotten the key ingredient that made the originals so compelling – the human factor. Christian Bale is John Connor, leading the human resistance against Skynet, which has conquered our dystopian planet with its armies of Terminators. The reviewers say the action sequences are well handled, but the performances are middling, and the story inspires little emotional investment. Salvation is the worst-reviewed entry in the Terminator franchise.
* 2022 Tsunami: Thai, Action/ Disaster – Here’s the studio 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.” You’ll have to make up your own mind on this one. Shown here in Thai only with no English subtitles.
Night at the Museum 2: Escape from [Battle of] the Smithsonian: US/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – 105 mins – If you liked the first adventure, you’re sure to like this one even more – bigger, better, and with fantastic special effects. After a wacky night at the New York Museum of Natural History, the perpetually hapless Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after some of his resur-rected friends were shipped to Washington for storage. He finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the mu-seum's most noteworthy historical figures. Mixed or average reviews: 43/50 out of 100.
Slumdog Millionaire: US/UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 120 mins – A cinema is the only place to really appreciate the fantastic images, sounds, and music of this spectacular film, which 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. Don’t miss it!
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 – A tight, taut thriller. 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. Mixed or average reviews: 48/50 out of 100.
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.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, June 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.
And looking forward:
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, and a speech-assisted dog.
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!Michael Mann’s latest film pits Johnny Depp against Christian Bale as the two star as career criminal John Dillinger and G-man Melvin Purvis, respectively, in Public Enemies, a Great Depression-era drama about the FBI’s attempts to shut down organized crime. The film features a strong supporting cast, including Billy Crudup, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard.
Jul 16 – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Latest Harry Potter episode.As the boy wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) enters his sixth year at Hogwart's, danger is afoot thanks to the growing forces of He Who Shall Not Be Named. But that's not the only hazard Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to contend with, as another sort of fickle magic is in the air: teenage hormones. Expect director David Yates to serve up the usual brand of Harry Potter excellence (he directed the last HP film, Order of the Phoenix) although screenwriter Steve Kloves has taken some liberties with the material, so Potterites, beware! Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was.