Drama underground in New York City!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, July 30, 2009
… through Wednesday, August 5
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Harry Potter. Pelham 1 2 3. Public Enemies.
There’s also blog for Pattaya, at http://thomatpattaya.blogspot.com/.
Bangkok International Film Festival: Sep 24 to 30.
EU Film Festival in Chiang Mai: 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 40 of Volume 4 of these listings.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: US/UK, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – 121 mins – I found it a thoroughly engrossing and exciting film, and a satisfying dramatic experience – everything Public Enemies tried for and failed to achieve. In my opinion. 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 John Travolta, 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.
StageAndCinema, Kevin Bowen: There are two going theories about director Tony Scott.
The first is that he’s the world’s most offensive hack action director, polluting the cinema with shallow flash and dismal MTV tendencies only to produce generic action drivel. The second view – held by approximately nine of us, warmed at night only by the virtue of being right – is that Scott has evolved into a classical auteur, a director who uses the dominant studio visual language of his age to express his artistry.
In the latter view, two of his last three films (Man on Fire, Domino, DéjàVu) are unfairly condemned acts of genius (although the nine of us never agree which two). This theory mainly leads to Internet message board clashes, usually ending in intense disagreements over whether the brilliantly anarchic Domino is a misunderstood masterpiece or completely unwatchable.
… I don’t expect this film to settle the enigma of Tony Scott. While it toys with some of the themes he has been exploring in recent films – time, chance, cultural dystrophy, technologically fractured perspectives – it seems much more straightforward than his most recent work. …
* 17 Again: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – 102 mins – A mild comedy about redoing life over again from high school, and generally making the same mistakes again. It uses a well-worn formula, but has just enough Zac Efron charm to result in a harmless, pleasurable teen comedy. Mixed or average reviews: 48/51 out of 100.
* 6:66 Death Happens / 6:66 Die Not Die / tai mai dai tai / 6:66 dtaai mai dai dtaai / ตายไม่ได้ตาย: Thai, Horror – 90 mins – Susie-Susira plays a crime reporter who starts seeing weird and scary things after someone who was supposed to die doesn't die, causing a rip in the fabric between life and death, or something like that. A dreadful movie, to gauge from the previews and posters.
Public Enemies: US, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ History/ Thriller – 140 min – With Johnny Depp as the criminal John Dillinger and Christian Bale as G-man Melvin Purvis in this Great Depression-era drama about the FBI’s attempts to stop a gangster crime wave. 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.
I think it’s a mess, albeit a brilliant mess, but I don’t want to unnecessarily discourage you from seeing it, because it offers many pleasures. It’s an impeccably crafted film, with some fine performances, vast attention to period detail, an innovative use of high-definition video instead of film, and a fascinating era recreated. Still, it’s a hodge-podge in my opinion, and doesn’t gel into anything coherent.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: US/ UK, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery/ Romance – 153 mins – This, the latest and darkest Harry Potter episode, set a new worldwide opening day box office record, with an astounding one-day global box office gross of more than $104 million. Generally favorable reviews: 78/73 out of 100.
I think it’s a dazzling film with brilliant cinematography, fantastic effects, and moments of emotional power. But I think you’ll find it incoherent unless you’re a close follower of the previous films, or have immersed yourself in the books. If not, large sections of the film will make absolutely no sense whatsoever. If you've read the book, you can plug the plot holes with what you know. Otherwise, all the characters seem to know things the audience is never privy to.
Worth seeing for the great art direction and scenic design alone. But for all the rest as well. It’s really well directed, with excellent performances, and an exciting story.
Rotten Tomatoes:The Harry Potter franchise has maintained a level of quality nearly unmatched in recent times. And the latest, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is no exception. The production design is moody and impeccable, the tension is palpable, and there's a welcome strain of humor to the proceedings. In addition, the three principal actors –Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson – have grown into their roles, and the supporting players are outstanding.
Dear Galileo / หนีตามกาลิเลโอ: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – 90 mins – A pleasant enough outing about girls on their own in Europe – low-keyed and low-powered, slow and meandering. From Nithiwat Tharathorn, one of the famed “Fan Chan Six,” who continues his examination of students in love as two teenage girls backpack for a year in London, Paris, and Rome, working in Thai restaurants when they run short of money. Filmed on location. Based on the director's own experiences of living and working abroad. “People dream of a happy life in London or Paris with lots of spare time to travel around, but it's not like that,” he says.“When you work in a restaurant, you spend most of your time indoors and you stay in a small space to save money.”
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, August 6
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – Paramount Pictures and Hasbro give us another action-adventure based on toys, like Transformers. “From the Egyptian desert to deep below the polar ice caps, the elite G.I. Joe team uses the latest in next-generation spy and military equipment to fight the corrupt arms dealer Destro and the growing threat of the mysterious Cobra organization to prevent them from plunging the world into chaos.” Although the term "G.I. Joe" was a generic term given to the general infantrymen of the United States Army during World War II, it here refers to a Hasbro-created military-themed line of action figures and toys which lasted from 1982 to 1994, and included well over 500 different figures and 250 vehicles and playsets. A series of comics were printed as part of the promotion package. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans.
Sam Chuk: Thai, Drama – 90 mins – Based on a true story, the film exposes the lives of seven teenagers who are entangled with and devastated by drug use in a small province called Sam Chuk. Their local teacher tries to teach them to cope with their problems.
And looking forward:
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.
At Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University on Thursday, July 30, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Screening of short films by Thunska Pansittivorakul.
Location: Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University คณะวิจิตรศิลป์ มหาวิทยาลัยเชียงใหม่
Free entry/ snack and drink provided.
Group discussion: “Liberalizing and Personalizing of Film” and short film screening of Thunska Pansittivorakul.
Thunska Pansittivorakul is a columnist in many film magazines and he is the founder of Thaiindie.com, a group of independent filmmakers with unique style. His short films and documentary features have been screened in festivals around the world. He received the Silpatorn Award from the Thai Ministry of Culture's Office of Contemporary Arts and also awarded by many international film festivals.
Thunska’s short films scheduled to be shown are:
Unseen Bangkok / มหัศจรรย์กรุงเทพ
Vous Vous Soviens De Moi? / ในวันที่ฝนตกลงมาเป็นคูสคูส
You are Where I belong to / ปลายทาง
Middle-earth / มัชฌิมโลก
This Area is Under Quarantine / บริเวณนี้อยู่ภายใต้การกักกัน
For further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on the films: http://www.popcornmag.com/bbs/index.php?showtopic=6479
The scores given, on a basis of 100, are from two web sources. The first, in bold, is from Metacritic.com, and the other is from RottenTomatoes.com. Both read a great number of critics and convert what is said into scores, which are then averaged. For movies released in the US only.
The new website redesign for MovieSeer
Major Cineplex – Airport Plaza
Schedule on MovieSeer (newly redesigned; not working too well)
[In the large form on the right side, select in the center box first Major Cineplex, and then Chiang Mai. If it’s not there, it's because it hasn't been entered yet – try again later. On the next line, make sure “By Theater Group” is checked. Then click “Search”.]
Vista – Kadsuankaew
Schedule on MovieSeer (newly redesigned, not working too well)
[In the large form on the right side, select in the center box – way at the bottom – “Other Group”, and then “Kadsuankaew”. If it’s not there, it's because it hasn't been entered yet – try again later. On the next line, make sure “By Theater Group” is checked. Then click “Search”.]