Slumdog exits Vista! Frozen Flower extended at Airport Plaza!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, June 4, 2009
… through Wednesday, June 10
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: A Frozen Flower. Drag Me to Hell. 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, June 4, 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 has left Vista, and many thanks to Vista for bringing us this fine film. Meanwhile another very interesting film has been extended at Major Cineplex, A Frozen Flower, but with only one showing a day, at 7:30 pm. Thanks to them for bringing this unusual and beautiful film to Chiang Mai.
And in the main stream, Drag Me to Hell has gotten the best reviews of any horror film in years.
This is Issue Number 32 of Volume 4 of these listings – halfway through our fourth year!
There’s now a blog for Pattaya, too, at http://thomatpattaya.blogspot.com/.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Drag Me to Hell: US, Horror/ Thriller – 99 mins – Director Sam Raimi started out making perversely entertaining horror fare like the Evil Dead movies before directing blockbusters like Spider-Man. Well, he's back, and in outstanding B-movie form. Alison Lohman stars as a loan officer who becomes the victim of a curse, with evil spirits on her trail and certain damnation in her future – unless she can break the spell. Drag Me to Hell is a wickedly good time: blood-curdlingly scary and ghoulishly funny, it's also taut and timely. It’s the best-reviewed horror film in years. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83/78 out of 100. The Vista version is dubbed into Thai, with no English subtitles; in English at Airport Plaza.
Rotten Tomatoes: Sam Raimi returns to top form with Drag Me to Hell, a frightening, hilarious, delightfully campy thrill ride.
* Blood: The Last Vampire: Hong Kong/ Japan, Action/ Horror – A remake of the 2000 movie of the same name. A vampire who is part of a covert government agency that hunts and destroys demons in a post-WWII Japan is inserted into a military school to discover which one of her classmates is a demon is disguise. Rated R in the US for strong bloody stylized violence. In English at Airport Plaza, in Thai only at Vista.
Twitch: Bottom line is, Blood: The Last Vampire is a straightforward action film. Forget the wafer thin plot and try to ignore the potential where certain scenes could have been made better. It’s nice to look at with plenty of style over substance, and unfortunately nothing more.
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, and his chief bodyguard, Hong Lim, played by Jo In Sung. 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. By my count, the queen and the bodyguard demonstrate all but two of the 64 commonly accepted Kama Sutra positions, and that includes the one in a library using military tactics texts. As far as I can see, none of this has been censored or cut in any way by our paternalistic Thai censors.
But there is one cut, apparently by the director, that’s a bit unusual. It happens right at the end of the film, after all the deaths and the camera tracks into the room with the painting of the two men on horseback. Originally, there was a sudden flashback to the young prince and his favorite guard boy on a hill overlooking the palace [see picture]. They talk a bit, and the prince asks the boy how he likes the palace, and the boy says, “It’s great! I would love to live there.” And the prince says, “Then how about living together our entire life?” And that’s how it all began. Then the film goes on to pick up with the ending as shown in the cinema, the two grown men riding together and shooting arrows, becoming the painting the prince drew. If you should care to watch this missing scene, it’s available on YouTube. The whole film is available there, in nine-minute segments. This scene occurs in Part 15 beginning at minute 7:10. You can find Part 15 by searching inside YouTube for “Frozen Flower Part 15” or by following this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfViauGlBlE&feature=related. Just click on it if you’re reading this online. Then go to minute 7:10.
The film has been a huge hit in Korea. It’s basically a melodrama, with some scenes of epic grandeur, and I found it quite exciting and a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing movie. I recommend it.
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. At Major Cineplex, Airport Plaza only.
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.
DVD available with English subtitles from YesAsia.
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. If you’ve seen any of the other three installments of this series, you know what to expect: Plenty of chases, explosions, and great effects. Mixed or average reviews: 52/51 out of 100.
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 resurrected friends were shipped to Washington for storage. He finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum's most noteworthy historical figures. Mixed or average reviews: 42/50 out of 100.
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.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, June 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. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 88/86 out of 100. Rotten Tomatoes: Another masterful work of art from Pixar, Up is an exciting, hilarious, and heartfelt adventure impeccably crafted and told with wit and depth.
And looking forward:
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.
Jun 23 (yes, a Tuesday) – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: US, Action/ Sci-Fi. It’s Autobots® versus Decepticons®, Round 2, in Michael Bay’s film based on Hasbro’s Transformers™ action figures. Look how we have to write about it! It’s all about trade names and merchandising! The action figures for sure will be on sale in the lobby. Start saving your money, they won’t be cheap. With Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and John Turturro.
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 (… oops! I named him!) is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. If, indeed, ever it was.