The gangsters depart; the “Joes” arrive!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, August 6, 2009
… through Tuesday, August 11
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Harry Potter. Sam Chuk. Pelham 1 2 3.
Now online! with a listing of movie times that I try to keep completely up to date, as much as possible in the uncertain world of movie times. Go to:
And there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at:
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 41 of Volume 4 of these listings.
Programs change on Wednesday next week, which is a holiday, the Queen’s Birthday/ Mother’s Day.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – From Hasbro the toy-makers we get another action-adventure film based on toys, very much like Transformers: Nonsensical mayhem, and very loud, but stylish. I actually found it more enjoyable than Transformers, which I guess might not be saying much. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans. Directed by Stephen Sommers. Early reviews: Mixed or average: 59 out of 100.
Empire, Dan Jolin: The trick with Stephen Sommers is not to take him too seriously. His Deep Rising (giant squid-monster attacks hijacked luxury cruiser) was immensely daft, but huge fun. Same goes for The Mummy. And there is a level on which GI Joe, his brash, loud take on the long-lived Hasbro toy line, is enjoyable. The way, for example, it embraces cliché. In one scene, chumpy hero Duke expresses his anguish by riding a motorbike through a military graveyard in the rain. Wearing sunglasses. In another, the token team ice-queen (Rachel Nichols’ laserbow-wielding Scarlet) announces to horny-dog Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, whose spoof credentials fit well) that she doesn’t believe in emotions because they aren’t scientifically provable. Even if they are.
The script is almost wilfully stupid, throwing out such anti-zingers as, “Damn, that ninja’s fast!”, “dead guys don’t breakdance”, and one gloriously random comment from The Baronness (Sienna Miller, slumming it) to a shrieking bystander she’s just threatened with a gun: “Nice shoes”. Hugging the dumb and making it fun is Sommers’ strength.
Joblo.com: G.I.Joe may not be a great movie, but it sure is a hoot and a half, just make sure to find that inner child in you that still likes to play pretend. GO JOE!
* Sam Chuk / สามชุก: Thai, Drama – 115 mins – [Picture at very top of this newsletter.] Based on a true story, this is a rarity for Thailand: a thoughtful, well-done social issues film, exploring 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. Affecting performances, choppy storytelling style, a bit sentimental at times, but overall a heart-rending document. Directed by Thanit Jintanukul [Tanit Jitnukul / ธนิตย์ จิตนุกูล].
About the director:
Wikipedia: Tanit was born in 1956 in Songkhla Province. He made his name doing historical battle epics, directing a string of them: Bang Rajan, Legend of the Warlord and Sema: Warrior of Ayutthaya. However, he's worked in many genres, including horror (Art of the Devil and Narok), crime-action (102 Bangkok Robbery) and comedy (Andaman Girl).
He won best director honors at the Thailand National Film Awards for Bang Rajan. The film was also screened at the 2000 Fantasia Festival, where it placed second in the international competition. Bang Rajan was later "presented" by Oliver Stone in a theatrical release in the United States.
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, beautifully played by John Travolta [picture at right], 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.
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.
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 Thai girls backpack for a year in London, Paris, and Rome, working in Thai restaurants when they run short of money. Filmed on location, and based on the director's own experiences of living and working abroad.
Wise Kwai’s review: 3 out of 5 - Just okay.
Two young women do a bit of growing up in Dear Galileo - the overwhelmingly light travel drama by GMM Tai Hub and director Nithiwat Tharatorn.
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. I choose not to see it.
Wise Kwai’s review: 2 out of 5 - Barely watchable.
A couple or three decent gore-worthy moments and a satisfying twist ending make 6:66 Tai Mai Dai Tai worth a look, if only just barely. Mostly though, 6:66 Tai Mai Dai Tai is aggravating because it frequently doesn't make any sense. … It's a bit odd for Thai horror in that it's rooted in Christian, rather than Buddhist mythology, with God invoked as the ultimate decider of when someone dies, and the 6:66 in the title referencing the mark of the beast or Satan.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Wednesday, August 12
Trail of the Panda / Xiong mao hui jia lu: China, Family – 87 mins – A Disney live action film directed by Chinese director Yu Zhong and shot in the wilderness of Wolong, Sichuan (the area that was destroyed during the massive earthquake of May 2008). Trail Of The Pandais the story of a little panda cub who is separated from its mother and subsequently rescued by an orphaned boy after going through a series of hardships and dangers in the forest.
In Country & Melody 2 (E-Som Somwang) / อีส้มสมหวัง ชะชะช่า: Thai, Comedy/ Musical – 90 mins – Som and Somwang from the first episode abandon their musical band to pursue their dreams in Bangkok. Somwang gets a job as a singer in a night cafe, and is soon allured by the night life, girls, and fame. The change in Somwang makes Som heartbroken, but the news of Som’s pregnancy seems to reconcile the two.
Jija - Raging Phoenix / จีจ้า ดื้อ สวย ดุ: Thai, Action/ Romance – 90 mins – Martial arts film starring the amazing girl from Chocolate, JijaYanin, a true female action icon, who here combines a stunning martial art style with a love story. Focused specifically to Jija''s skills and personality, the film fuses her martial arts skills with break dancing.
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. Early reviews: Mixed or average: 56 out of 100.
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”.]