Only five films this week at the Cineplexes!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, October 15, 2009
… through Wednesday, October 21
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: G-Force (at Airport Plaza, for the fun of the 3D Digital). Michael Jackson’s “This Is It!” (Oct 28)
EU Film Festival in Chiang Mai: Nov 5 to 15. At Vista at Kad Suan Kaew.
World Film Festival in Bangkok: Nov 6 to 15.
EU Film Festival in Bangkok: Nov 19 to 29.
This is Issue Number 51 of Volume 4 of these listings. I skipped over issues 47 and 48 which were not published as I was in the hospital for two weeks undergoing a quadruple bypass operation. For awhile, aspects of this blog will be reduced in scope.
Special note: Michael Jackson’s “This Is It,” a performance tape of rehearsal footage for the show Michael was working on at the time of his death, is being presented world-wide on October 28, for two weeks only. That includes Chiang Mai’s Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza. Tickets are on sale now, at 150 baht. In other cities, many showings are already sold out, but not here.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Bangkok Traffic Love Story / Rot Fai Faa Ma Ha Na Tur (I Ride the Skytrain to See You) / รถไฟฟ้า..มาหานะเธอ: Thai, Romance/ Comedy – 120 mins – A cute-looking romantic comedy about a 30 year old single woman who is suddenly forced to give up her car and ride the Bangkok public transportation system, where she falls for a maintenance engineer of the BTS electric train system.
Fame: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Family/ Musical/ Romance – 107 mins – An updated version of the 1980 musical, which centered on the students of the New York Academy of Performing Arts. Starring Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth. The film is undone by its choppy editing, its incomplete characterizations, and its apparent desire to appeal to the High School Musical generation. Generally unfavorable reviews: 39/46 out of 100.
The New York Times: The feature debut of the choreographer and video director Kevin Tancharoen suffers from a surfeit of flash, but it nonetheless offers the undeniable power of young performers pursuing art at peak dexterity. . . A closing multidisciplinary extravaganza lets Mr. Tancharoen and his cast flaunt their chops, and viewers can celebrate the glorious image of youth in full creative flower.
The Hollywood Reporter, Stephen Farber: It's almost laughably bland and watered-down in its desire to appeal to the widest possible audience.
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: A cheesy production with underdeveloped characters that feels more like a TV pilot than a self-contained motion picture.
Roger Ebert: Why bother to remake "Fame" if you don't have a clue about why the 1980 movie was special? Why take a touching experience and make it into a shallow exercise? Why begin with a R-rated look at plausible kids with real problems and tame it into a PG-rated after-school special? Why cast actors who are sometimes too old and experienced to play seniors, let alone freshmen?
A sad reflection of the new Hollywood, where material is sanitized and dumbed down for a hypothetical teen market that is way too sophisticated for it. It plays like a dinner theater version of the original.
The Ugly Truth: US, Comedy/ Romance – 96 mins – 18+ – The consensus seems to be that, despite the best efforts of Gerard Butler and Kathrine Heigl, The Ugly Truth suffers from a weak script that relies on romantic comedy formula, with little charm or comedic payoff. Rated R in the US for sexual content and language. Generally unfavorable reviews: 28/38 out of 100.
Roger Ebert: Katherine Heigl plays Abby, producer of the early morning news on a Sacramento station that is operated like no other station in the history of television. Anchored by a bickering married couple, the broadcast is tanking in the ratings, and so her boss forces Abby to bring in Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), a macho local cable personality whose ideas about the battle of the sexes date back to about Alley Oop. Heigl and Butler are so pleasant in The Ugly Truth that it’s a shame to spoil their party. But toil and try as they do, the comedy bogs down in relentless predictability and the puzzling overuse of naughty words. Once the movies were forbidden to drop the f-word at all, but in this one, it’s only an opening salvo in a potty-mouth bombing run.
The New York Times, Manohla Dargis: A cynical, clumsy, aptly titled attempt to cross the female-oriented romantic comedy with the male-oriented gross-out comedy that is interesting on several levels, none having to do with cinema.
G-Force: In Digital 3D. US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – 88 mins – A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world. Major Cineplex is showing this on their new Digital 3D in Cinema 3. This one should be a minor delight – the digital and the 3D worth checking out for this one, and even worth spending the extra dough for. Mixed or average reviews: 41/45 out of 100.
Roger Ebert: G-Force is a pleasant, inoffensive 3-D animated farce about a team of superspy guinea pigs who do battle with a mad billionaire who wants to conquer the earth by programming all the home appliances made by his corporation to follow his instructions. It will possibly be enjoyed by children of all ages. The film is non-stop, wall-to wall madcap action.
New York Post, KyleSmith: Thanks to an unexpected twist and a clever motivation lurking in the back story of the super-villain, G-Force has enough going on to more or less maintain grown-up interest, and there's plenty to please the kiddies.
Oh My Ghosts! / Hortaewtak 2 / Hor Taew Taek Haek Krajerng / หอแต๋วแตกแหกกระเจิง: Thai, Comedy/ Horror – 90 mins – 15+ – Usual Thai comedy featuring popular Thai comedians. Three companions in drag, tired of being frightened by horrible ghosts that haunt their dorm, summon a spirit to help them get rid of them.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, October 22
Surrogates: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 104 mins – Previews look fascinating to me for this one. Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop (Bruce Willis) investigates the murder of the genius college student who invented the surrogates. As the case grows more complicated, the withdrawn detective discovers that in order to actually catch the killer he will have to venture outside the safety of his own home for the first time in many years, and enlists the aid of another agent (Radha Mitchell) in tracking his target down. Jonathan Mostow directs this adaptation of the graphic novel by author Robert Venditti and illustrator Brett Weldele.
And looking forward:
Oct 28– Michael Jackson’s This Is It: US, Documentary/ Music – A compilation of interviews, rehearsals, and backstage footage of Michael Jackson as he prepared for his series of never-to-be, sold-out shows in London. I’ve seen several short segments, and I think he looks great and moves in a way that is a wonderment. For a list of the musical numbers, go here. The film opens world-wide on October 28, and will be shown here in high-definition Digital format at Airport Plaza only, for two weeks only. Advance tickets on sale now at 150 baht. This is turning into a huge event in many cities throughout the world, though not here in Chiang Mai as yet, but Chiang Mai residents always seem to wait till the last minute. But in Bangkok lines of fans wrapped around the block at box office ticket counters throughout the city, and by the end of the first day it was reported that all tickets for the first showings across Bangkok were sold-out. In London, This Is It sold more than 30,000 tickets in its first 24-hours of sale, setting the biggest ever one-day sales record in the UK.
Kenny Ortega (director of the High School Musical series of films) was both Michael Jackson's creative partner and the director of the stage show, and he is also directing the film. He says, "It will also show Michael as one of the greatest entertainers in the world and one of the industry's most creative minds…I think the footage will show that the process was something that Michael deeply enjoyed and that it was clear he was on his way to another triumph."
Nov 12 – 2012: US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Director Roland Emmerich has given movie watchers several apocalyptic films in the past in Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, and he offers another look at the end of the world in 2012. This action film stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Amanda Peet. The film proves conclusively that the world will end on December 21, 2012, so let’s hope the studio recoups its investment before then. It’s the Mayan Long Count calendar that contains the proof, and it’s irrefutable. Don’t make any plans for Christmas that year! For further information, read John Major Jenkins, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date (1998).
Dec 17 – Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – From director James Cameron, his first feature film since Titanic. The story involves a band of humans pitted in battle against a distant planet's indigenous population. In December 2006, Cameron described Avatar as "a futuristic tale set on a planet 200 years hence... an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience... [that] aspires to a mythic level of storytelling."