Digital 3D for one dimensional film (if that)!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, September 3, 2009
… through Tuesday, September 8
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bet: Inglourious Basterds.
Picture at right is from Inglourious Basterds.
There’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at:
Bangkok International Film Festival: Sep 24 to 30. (Schedule promised by Sept. 5th. Some 31 films announced– follow link)
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 45 of Volume 4 of these listings. Next change next Wednesday, with the advent of Phobia 2, and probably again on Thursday.
Because of delays inherent in the film rating system, with a ratings board that is only on the job part time and can only see one film a day, distributors are expecting delays in the releasing of films.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* The Final Destination 4: In Digital 3D! US, Horror/ Thriller – 82 mins – 18+ -- After a teen's premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded his plans. In its wisdom, Major Cineplex has chosen this film to inaugurate its new digital 3D cinema system here in Chiang Mai in Cinema 3. And the price of regular seats has been raised from 120 baht to perhaps 200 baht for the added dimension and added clarity!
But I have to tell you the movie is only one dimension in terms of story and character. Nevertheless, you sort of get your money’s worth with this one, should you enjoy watching deaths: It contains 11 death scenes, the most of any film in the series. They brag about it! Rated R in the US for strong violent/ gruesome accidents, language, and a scene of sexuality; “18+” in Thailand, under the new ratings system which went into effect August 11. “18+” is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. Generally unfavorable reviews: 30/30 out of 100.
Far be it from me to discourage you if you truly slaver over this sort of thing, but I thought it truly repulsive and offensive. You have various human organs flying at you right through the cinema, and yes your reflexes make you actually duck!
I found it interesting to note where the Thai subtitles appear in 3D – they appear to be floating in the air about five rows ahead of you in the cinema, which means that sometimes they’re actually behind an image on the screen. The glasses use nice solid plastic frames, not the like the cardboard ones they used last time.
Technically, the 3D, and the digital sound and image, work just fine, though you can’t really appreciate the digital clarity of the image in 3D as the glasses and the visual process seem to muddy the image up a bit. When you see a non-3D digital movie, you are struck at once with the clarity and super-sharpness of the image.
The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt: The new gimmick here is that all the flying body parts and absurd impalements come in 3D. And that's about as inspired as anything gets in this edition. Story and character get chucked to the sidelines as the arena has room for only death scenes.
Variety, Jordan Mintzer: An array of gory mayhem only marginally enhanced by 3-D and a plot as developed as a text message.
Boston Globe, Wesley Morris: The writers don’t write, the director doesn’t really direct, and the actors don’t exactly act. They wait for the movie’s contraptions to impale them.
Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: As mesmerizing as watching bread toast. Death, be not proud, indeed.
* The Gamer: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 95 mins – 18+ – By the writers and directors of the two recent Crank movies, this continues their quest for bigger explosions, and action which is even more “non-stop.” Set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid, allowing millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death. Rated R in the US for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and language; “18+” in Thailand.
* The Elephant King: US/ Thai Drama/ Romance – 92 mins – Vista brings back this film which originally showed in Chiang Mai in January. It's a well done “farang in Thailand” story, filmed for the most part in Chiang Mai. Two American brothers – one domineering, the other introspective – binge on drink, drugs, and women in our fair city. The mother (Ellen Burstyn) dispatches the younger son Oliver off to Chiang Mai to do everything he can to lure his reckless, older brother Jake back home to the U.S. to face pending fraud charges. Oliver finds the intoxication of Chiang Mai hard to resist, and as he falls deeply in love for the first time, his brother Jake slips deeper into despair, and the seams of their relationship begin to come undone. Rated R in the US for sexual content, drug use, language, and some violence; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. Vista only. In English with Thai subtitles, despite what the Vista website may say.
My Ex / Fan Kao / แฟนเก่า: Thai Horror/ Romance – 90 mins – Ken is a heartthrob of an actor with a bad boy reputation of loving beautiful girls and then dumping them. After his marriage, one of his ex-girlfriends comes back from the grave to exact revenge. Director: Piyaphan Chuphet (Phii mai jim fun / Vow of Death, Necromancer).Unaccountably bloody, dreadful, and confusing, even for a Thai flick. Some interesting cinematography.
Inglourious Basterds: US/ Germany/ France, Drama/ Action/ Adventure/ War – 153 mins – Quentin Tarantino's exceptionally bloody tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in World War II France, starring Brad Pitt and an amazing Christoph Waltz, a little-known Austrian actor, in a truly fine performance. A must-see movie, though I’m uncomfortable with the fact that I’m recommending a film that carries violence to such extremes. But it’s just that I find the filmmaking skill so mind-blowing. Never have I felt such a deliciously slow and inexorable building of tension in a scene, and such studied control over all the aspects of moviemaking. Will forever change how war movies are filmed, and not only because of its extensive use of German and French – it’s simply a milestone in the history of film.
Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence, language, and brief sexuality. In Thailand it’s rated “18+” under the new ratings system. “18+” is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. There’s a warning to this effect just before the film’s main titles. Generally favorable reviews: 69/70 out of 100.
Note that this is basically a foreign-language film, in German, French, and Italian, as well as English, with subtitles.
Buppha Rahtree 3.2: Rahtree's Revenge / บุปผาราตรี 3.2: Thai, Horror/ Romance – Continues the romantic-horror story of the revengeful ghost of Buppha and her love struck cartoonist, played by Mario Maurer of Love of Siam fame. There’s the creepy little girl again; and Rahtree herself (Chermarn Boonyasak),playing with a straight razor; and the comic troupe is all present and accounted for. An exceptionally bloody and confusing horror flick, and one of those where most of the work of scaring the audience is done by the soundtrack’s spooky music and sound effects. Rated “18+” in Thailand under the new ratings system. “18+” is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. Has the dubious honor of being the first Thai film to be rated under the long-awaited Thai movie-rating law.
Trail of the Panda / Xiong mao hui jia lu / 熊貓回家路: China, Family – 87 mins – A Disney live action film directed by Chinese director Yu Zhong about a panda cub that is separated from its mother and subsequently rescued by an orphaned boy after going through a series of hardships and dangers in the forest.
The film was shot in the wilderness of Wolong, Sichuan, the area that was destroyed during the massive earthquake of May 2008, as the film crew was shooting, trapping some 28 crew members, including the director, in the mountains for four days. The magnitude 8.0 quake left more than 80,000 people dead or missing, and 370,000 injured. Also lost was the 10-year-old female panda playing Pang Pang’s mother in the film; she died in the quake, leaving three orphans.
Made in conjunction with China’s Wolong Panda Reservation, the movie is a plea for understanding of pandas and for preserving their existence. The parents of Lin Ping, the new Chiang Mai Zoo panda cub born May 27, are from this panda center.
The story is sweet and the film is charming with several things to recommend it – the very winning 11-year-old boy who stars, the loving shots of the countryside, the animal photography – overall it’s a good film for families with kids. And the social and political implications of the fact of the movie are of interest as well; pandas are a part of the culture of Chiang Mai now, as are our relations with China due to the panda loans (China still owns the pandas we have, even the new cub).
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – It’s from Hasbro the toy-makers, and is very much like Transformers – Critic-proof nonsensical mayhem, and very loud, but stylish. Make sure you take your earplugs! Generally negative reviews: 32/40out of 100.
I actually found it quite a bit more enjoyable than Transformers, which I guess might not be saying much. But if you like an occasional action flick, I think this is one of the better ones. With Dennis Quaid and Marlon Wayans (he was a lot of fun!). Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy and it’s two sequels, and Van Helsing).
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Wednesday, September 9
Phobia 2 / Haa Phrang / ห้าแพร่ง: Thai, Horror – 15+ – Literally "five crossroads," this is a five-part horror anthology by some of Thailand’s best-known directors of horror films, including segments by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom (Shutter), Paween Purikitpanya (Body #19), Songyos Sugmakanan (Dorm), and Visute Poolvoralaks.
And looking forward:
Sep 17 – District 9: South Africa/ New Zealand, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Action/ Thriller– 112 min – 28 years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. Rated R in the US for bloody violence and pervasive language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81/77 out of 100.
Genre master Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, etc.) produced this science-fiction film, the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp. He simply gave the director $30 million to make whatever he wanted. The result was this film. Shot in Johannesburg.
Rotten Tomatoes: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.
Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey: In a good summer, there's usually a movie that will come out of nowhere and completely wow us. This is a good summer, and that movie is District 9. Though the themes are universal, the director's childhood in South Africa clearly informs the film's sensibility, in this case greatly adding to its distinctive look and feel. It's an impressive first feature for the 29-year-old Blomkamp.
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.
Movie Rating System
There are seven categories under the new system:
Category 1 covers educational films that all are encouraged to see;
Category 2 films are those deemed suitable for a general audience;
Category 3 films are suitable for viewers aged 13 years and over;
Category 4 for those over 15;
Category 5 for those over 18; and
Category 6 for those 20 and older.
And then there’s the invisible Category 7, which doesn’t need a symbol because it’s absolutely forbidden to be shown.
The ratings 1 to 5 are only a guide and will be enforced mainly by social pressure, according to Culture Minister Teera Salakpetch, but entry to Category 6 films will be strictly controlled, with fines of between Bt20,000 and Bt100,000 for cinemas that do not comply.