Hogwarts students fight “He Who Shall Not Be Named”!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, July 16, 2009
… through Wednesday, July 22
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Harry Potter.
It’s here, and you’re sure to see it, so get your tickets now! Harry Potter, of course!
Now there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at http://thomatpattaya.blogspot.com/.
Bangkok International Film Festival: Sep 24 to 30.
EU Film Festival in ChiangMai: Nov 5 to 15.
World Film Festival in Bangkok: Nov 6 to 15.
EU Film Festival in Bangkok: Nov 19 to 29.
This is Issue Number 38 of Volume 4 of these listings.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: US/ UK, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery/ Romance – 153 mins – The latest and darkest Harry Potter episode, the Sixth. Will it be the blockbuster the movie folk expect it to be? Will it thrill us all? Early viewers say yes! But you must go see for yourself! You know you will see it, sooner or later, don’t you?
As Harry Potter begins his 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he discovers an old book marked mysteriously "This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince" and begins to learn more about the dark past of He Who Shall Not Be Named.
They are saying that it’s a dazzlingly well-made film as Voldemort (… oops! There I go again, naming him!) tightens his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Indeed, the story heads for one major character's death at the end of Part Six, in preparation for the final awful confrontation between Harry and archfiend Voldemort in the climactic "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," now being shot as a two-part film, to be released November 2010 and July 2011. This should be the last of the series, as it’s the last of the books on which the series is based, but the author of the books, J.K. Rowling, and the studio both say, “Never say never.”
The series of Harry Potter books by British author J.K. Rowling has really turned into a phenomenon! “HarryPotter and the Half-Blood Prince” is the sixth book in the series; the first book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was first published in 1997 with an initial print-run of 500 copies in hardback, three hundred of which were distributed to libraries. Two hundred copies! But at the time the book of this film was published, July 16, 2005, the book sold nine million copies in just the first 24 hours after its release. Nine million!
And this record was beaten by the performance of the next and last book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” published just two years ago, and which sold 11 million copies within 24 hours of its release: 2.7 million copies in the UK and 8.3 million in the US.
Yes, quite a phenomenon. The current film and book is set during Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts, and explores Lord Voldemort's past, and Harry's preparations for the final battle amidst emerging romantic relationships and the emotional confusions and conflict resolutions characteristic of mid-adolescence.
Indeed, on this last point, I find that one of the most interesting aspects in the "Harry Potter" movie series has been the watching of the three main cast members — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson — as they grow up: very literally age from children into adults. For years now, we've seen their slow and often graceless shift into puberty. Early glimmerings of romance were present in the previous film, but here the stirrings return in full force as Harry pairs up with Ginny Weasley, and Ron, after some fumbling due to ignorance, embraces his long-foreshadowed connection with Hermione.
And don’t overlook some of the other developing personalities, especially in this film Draco Malfoy, played by Tom Felton, who really comes into his own in this episode as he attempts to fulfill his destiny of evil. The actor, whose hair is actually brown and who has to continually bleach it for these films, originally tried out for the part of Harry, but is very happy with the way things worked out, as he enjoys exploring the evil in his character.
MTV Movies: Five years after Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy first set foot in Diagon Alley to buy their school supplies, the gray-eyed villain of his class has come a long way. Though he may not be using nearly as much hair gel as he did in his first year, the son from a wealthy, traditionally Slytherin family comes back to school in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" with a harder heart and a burden mounted with destiny and anger following the events of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
When Draco first enrolled at Hogwart's, he had already inherited father Lucius' frighteningly blond hair and racist disregard for "Mudblood" children such as Hermione Granger, who was born to non-magical parents. The Sorting Hat unsurprisingly placed Draco in Slytherin House, where he would go on to cultivate his jealous rage toward Harry, whom he envied for snagging an early spot on Gryffindor's Quidditch team. Still too young and inexperienced to join his house's team or pose any threat as a full-fledged Death Eater, Draco didn't waste any time earning the allegiance of his Slytherin henchmen Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle or establishing himself as an enemy of Harry, Hermione, and Ron Weasley.
Though Tom Felton has been quoted as saying he originally wanted the role of Harry Potter, he claimed Draco Malfoy as his own from the first time he bleached his hair for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The musically inclined actor already had a foothold in sizable parts from 1997's "The Borrowers" and the 1999's "Anna and the King." When Felton eventually found out that he had been offered the part of Draco, he reportedly hadn't read any of J.K. Rowling's books.
If Draco's dark destiny was faintly evident in "HarryPotter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the true weight of his evil responsibilities now appears to be a fully illuminated path in "HarryPotter and the Half-Blood Prince." Lucius Malfoy [his father] was defeated during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," implying that not only is Draco's father now a prisoner in Azkaban; there is now a hole to be filled in the ranks of Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters. As Voldemort's ultimate plan unfolds, Draco is charged with the duty of fulfilling his ominous potential in his sixth year at Hogwart's.
The long-ago picture above is of the hero and anti-hero from their first picture, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And here’s a more recent picture of the now very much grown up Daniel Radcliffe in love with a horse, naked on both sides of the Atlantic, in the Tony-award-winning stage play, Equus in London and New York. (This is not a scene from the movie!!)
At any rate, get prepared for a grand and exciting ride. As dear Albus Dumbledore says, “In my life I have seen things that are truly horrific. Now I know you will see worse.”
Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: US, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Romance – 94 mins – Manny, Sid, Diego, and Ellie are back in this third film in the computer-animated Ice Age series. With those creatures in starring roles, we hear again the vocal talents of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Queen Latifah – and newcomer Simon Pegg, as a crazed weasel. In this outing, Manny and Ellie are expecting their first baby, while Sid the sloth tries an unconventional way of starting a family that gets him into trouble. With all this talk of babies, Diego is fearful of losing his saber-toothed edge, but a journey to save Sid may just turn the whole group into heroes. In addition to all that adventure, it wouldn’t be an Ice Age film if Scrat weren’t on a desperate hunt for an acorn – but gets distracted by a shapely female squirrel. Mixed or average reviews: 52/53 out of 100.
Brian Orndorf: Certainly a familiar cocktail of cartoon accomplishments and luxurious CG vistas, but a cozy one, confident with its brand of humor. The simplicity is refreshing, opening the film up to hundreds of smaller pleasures and laughs.
Roger Ebert: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the best of the three films about our friends in the inter-species herd of plucky prehistoric heroes.
Wongkamlao / Wong-Kum-Lao / วงษ์คำเหลา: Thai, Comedy/ Family – 90 mins – Popular comedian turned director Mum Jokmok both directs and stars in this quite well-received romantic comedy in which Mum plays the heir of the Wongkamlao Family, an extremely wealthy family that runs a jewelry business. He falls in love with the poor English tutor of his younger brother, over the objections of his class-conscious family. (In Thai only at Vista, English subtitles at Airport Plaza.)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi. It’s Autobots® versus Decepticons®, Round 2, in Michael Bay’s film based on Hasbro’s Transformers™ action figures. With Shia LaBeouf, MeganFox, and JohnTurturro. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s even clearer that it’s all about trade names and merchandising! Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) again joins with the Autobots® against their sworn enemies, the Decepticons®. I’m convinced that to really enjoy this film you need years of training. With video games. Generally negative reviews: 35/41 out of 100.
Hollywood Reporter: Bay's team of four editors stitch together smashing but meaningless images, though it's as difficult to make out which machine is which as it is to tell what anyone is saying. The noise level -- not helped by Steve Jablonsky's relentless score -- is super-intense and everyone yells lines at high speed. Because nothing they're saying makes any sense, it's hardly important.
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.
Scheduled for ChiangMai cineplexes on Thursday, July 23
Public Enemies: US, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ History/ Thriller – 140 min – 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 this 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, Stephen Dorff, Rory Cochrane, and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (for her role as Edith Piaf in the 2007 La môme/ La vie en rose). Rated R in the US for gangster violence and some language. Generally favorable reviews: 70/63 out of 100.
The New York Times, Manohla Dargis: A grave and beautiful work of art.
Dear Galileo / หนีตามกาลิเลโอ: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – 90 mins – From Nithiwat Tharathorn, one of the famed “Fan Chan Six” – i.e., one of the six neophyte directors who collaborated while in University on what is probably the most enchantingly delightful Thai film ever, Fan Chan (My Girl) (2003). All six have since gone on to direct other films; this is Nithiwat’s second film on his own; his first solo film was the sweet Seasons Change (2006) about students at a music college. In Dear Galileo he continues his examination of students in love as two teenage girls plan to backpack for a year in the "Big Three" of Europe – London, Paris, and Rome. Filmed on location in Europe.
And looking forward:
Jul 30 – The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – 121 mins – Denzel Washington plays a New York City subway dispatcher who’s day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. The criminal mastermind, played by JohnTravolta, is the leader of a highly-armed gang of four who threatens to execute the train’s passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, the dispatcher employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit the criminals and save the hostages. But there’s one riddle about it all: even if the criminals get the money, how can they possibly escape? A reworking of the 1974 film. Rated R in the US for violence and pervasive language. Mixed or average reviews: 55/56 out of 100.
Aug 20 – Inglourious Basterds: US/ Germany, Action/ Adventure/ War – Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in WWII France is unlikely to get usurped as the most bad-ass movie of 2009, thanks to the fact that, well, it's a Quentin Tarantino film. Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, leader of the titular squadron that includes Samm Levine, Eli Roth, and B.J. Novak; along with German actress and Allied agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), they attempt to bring down the Nazis -- in the bloodiest way possible. Mike Myers, Cloris Leachman, and Samuel L. Jackson also star in the exploitation throwback, so look forward to a star-studded (and gore-filled) good time. Early reviews: Mixed or average: 56 out of 100.