Friday, May 8, 2009

Movies Update - Friday, May 8

Horsemen sneak into Major Cineplex without warning!


Chiang Mai movies update, Friday, May 8, 2009



by Thomas Ohlson



Horsemen showed up unexpectedly on Thursday at Major Cineplex – such a surprise that not even their website listed it or its times. Not surprisingly, no one bought a ticket to the first showing at 11:30 am, and it was cancelled. In the picture here you see Lou Taylor Pucci as Alex Breslin in the mystery thriller.


 I saw it today, and my comments are below. You will also see a revised schedule for Major Cineplex, good for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and possibly Monday, which is yet another holiday, Ploughing Day, though it’s not a big one.


And, Major Cineplex still has a 20 baht surcharge for Wolverine!


And, a sale of movies.


Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week  

* Horsemen: Canada/ USA, Drama/ Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – 110 mins – A strange film, with an intriguing premise and an interesting relationship between father and sons. Dennis Quaid plays a bitter detective emotionally distanced from his two young sons following the death of his wife. While investigating a series of murders of rare violence, he discovers a terrifying link between himself and the suspects in a chain of murders that seem to be based on the Biblical prophecies concerning the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. That’s a fascinating idea to me, and I just wish it had been more coherent in its telling. Rated R in the US for grisly and disturbing content, some sexual images, and language.


The film’s distributor, Lionsgate, opened the film to just 75 theaters in the US in early March, apparently hoping to sneak it in quietly and wait for real income from other sources and DVD. July 14 is the date set for the DVD release, and it will include an audio commentary by the director Jonas Akerlund and the director of photography Eric Broms, and deleted scenes. I’ll bet anything some of the deletions are good, and needed in the film. I really wanted the present film to be better, but nevertheless there are some nice things in it. There are only two reviews in existence so far:

Variety: Much of the initial action, as it shifts from blood-splattered crime scene to detailed autopsy and back, plays out in territory well trod by the latest and not-too-latest works of the torture-porn/Splat Pack school. A scene in which Breslin investigates a tattoo/S&M parlor connected to the murders typifies the approach of screenwriter David Callaham (Doom), as the script tries to immerse us in a faux-seedy world torn from a dozen other movies.


Thankfully, Breslin's shattered home life, where he remains estranged from his two young sons (Lou Taylor Pucci, Liam James) following the death of his wife from cancer, adds something vaguely human and original to the story. Quaid is best in these domestic sequences, in which he makes the tiresome pull between work and family seem believable -- much more so than when he's on the beat and merely going through the motions.


A Nutshell Review: as the trailers would have pretty much revealed, the serial killer victims are all tortured with meat hooks of sorts, and he's faced with more than one killer who model themselves after the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sounds like your average detective movie right? I guess a memorable film from the genre like Se7en will only come once in a blue moon. This film by Jonas Akerlund tries to elicit similar moods devoid of humor and is all seriousness in tone, but its plot turned out to be quite flimsy thin, and those who have experienced enough of the genre, would have guessed the culprit for the last act somewhere by the mid-way point.


Dennis Quaid shows how he ages well into delivering stellar, lead performances, and makes it believable he's a man constantly struggling with a work-life balance.

Ultimately, the message here is how important parents play in nurturing their children, and should be very much involved in their development, rather than thinking that cash would be a sufficient substitute and settle everything.

Technically, one aspect which irked me, was how low the cropping turned out to be. I have read that there were constant boom mikes spotted in shots, so it could be a bad by-product of having to address that problem. So there were a lot of heads cut off at the foreheads during shot-reverse-shot conversational pieces, and various other medium to close up shots, that irritated the hell out of me. 


I, too, noticed the strange cropping at the top of the film.





Classified Ad!   DVD movie sale, and other items!


One of my longtime and enthusiastic readers, Jim Messenger, is leaving Chiang Mai and selling his collection of movies and other items. He is having a sale tomorrow (Saturday, May 9) at his house, which is near Suthep and Canal roads, next to Wing 41. If you’re interested in any of these items, or would like a complete list of items for sale, email him at




20 B/W master copies movie classics from 20’s top 40’s,

10-15 master copies movie classics from the 50’s and 60’s, 

10-15 master copies movie classics from the 70’s to present,

3-60 master copies movie classics from today,

100-150 copies of modern movies,

7 DVDs from today: 1 series Rome (Vol 1 and 2),        

7-8 V CD-DVD storage boxes.




20 classical music CDs,  (now 50b each)

30-50 music cassettes ( ??? ) .. make an offer.


2 computers


1 DMD Duron Processor (1.01GH2, 896.MB RAM), DVD, burner, 2 speakers) (it works perfectly… 7000B or best offer A really good computer. Good virus protection and servicing. ) .. make an offer.

1 Intel Celeron (63 MB RAM) (VCD Player) (perfect for writers now 3000b or best offer). make an offer.


1 AIWA double cassette player and radio (1 cassette not work, (now 300 B). make an offer.

1 Aconia CD/Radio small stereo, (1 year old, perfect condition…. now 700b)

1 small Aconia Cassette Player (100B…75B... make an offer).         


1 mountain bike BCA American (... make an offer.

1 motorcycle Honda Dream 100 cc 14 yrs old, make an offer.


Many other items.





Thursday, May 7, 2009

Whats On starting May 7

Slumdog Millionaire in one week at Vista!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, May 7, 2009


… through Wednesday, May 13


by Thomas Ohlson


Best BetsStar Trek.  Wolverine.


Here is my list of movies and times for Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and for Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Wednesday, May 7, 2009. 

I’ve also included here information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space for the next three weeks.


Vista has confirmed May 14 for the opening of this year’s Oscar best picture Slumdog Millionaire. I think this is quite a coup for Vista.


This is Issue Number 28 of Volume 4 of these listings – in our fourth year!


And now there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at  


New website for Major Cineplex


Here you go:  Schedule on Major Cineplex Website or


It’s basically in a mixture of Thai and English, and this is how you work it: The link above gets you to the “Showtime” page. On the right two-thirds of the screen you will see two lists, movies, and theaters. At the top of the list of movies, click “Select All Movie.” On the list of theaters, click “Chiangmai.” This is one of four cities in the Zone UPC-North section, which is the 6th region down, or the 4th from the bottom. Then hit “go” either at the top or the bottom of the lists, and almost immediately you will get at the bottom of the page a list of the movies, the cinemas (โรง) they are in, and their remaining times (เวลา) for the day. If you do this after midnight, you will get a blank. Times are posted later in the morning. You have no way at the moment for getting any times except for the current day, and only the remaining times. (I try to keep this blog current with the times.)

Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week

Star Trek (2009): US/ Germany, Sci-Fi/ Adventure/ Action126 mins – All new! This much-anticipated film is a reboot of the series, going back to the series’ ’60s roots by depicting the formative experiences of the legendary heroes Kirk and Spock. The young James Tiberius Kirk is played by Chris Pine as a wild Iowa boy whose father sacrificed himself at the helm of a spaceship at the very moment the child was being born. He is convinced to attend the Starfleet Academy with an eye to joining the crew of the Enterprise.


Headed for the same destination is Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, who has had a troubled background as a half-human, half-Vulcan. How these two very opposite figures become mutually trusted colleagues is the basic story of the film. From director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Lost, and Alias). Early reviews: Universal acclaim: 94/81 out of 100.


Time Out Online, Tom Huddleston: It’s a genuine pleasure to report that Abrams’s Star Trek is a winner on almost all fronts. The cast – from Chris Pine’s whisky-soaked, pugilistic lothario Kirk, through Bruce Greenwood’s commanding Pike, to Simon Pegg’s overenthusiastic Scotty – are almost flawless. Perhaps the hardest task goes to Zachary Quinto, not just essaying the series’ most iconic character, Spock, but face-to-face with his predecessor Leonard Nimoy, thanks to the film’s time-mangling plotline. Luckily, Quinto delivers a note-perfect performance, managing, as Nimoy did before him, to make this taciturn, officious, archly superior lifeform enormously likeable.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: US/ New Zealand/ Australia, Action/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller 97 mins – Though most reviews are lukewarm, I think it’s simply brilliant, starting out with eight minutes of nigh perfect popular filmmaking, a sequence that is thrilling, sensible, and, wonder of wonders, deeply intriguing! It then veers into a quiet sequence building up a love-interest, which might seem to be just padding, but no, get involved with it, because the love relationship leads to some real emotional payoffs down the line. Really, it’s a superb action film for anyone who likes the genre, with excellent performances by Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and many others. Mixed or average reviews: 44/44 out of 100.


Stay for two very short additional scenes during the closing credits.


Mor 3 Pee 4 / .3 ปี4 เรารักนาย: Thai,Romance/ Comedy90 mins – A nice little advertisement for MSN: Four teenagers make friends and chat online on MSN. Thee and Nut are brothers living in Bangkok, June and Jane are sisters who live in Phuket. Do the two pairs finally meet? Well it’s called a “romance” after all! Note: shown in Thai only, with no English subtitles.


Saranae Howpeng / สาระแนห้าวเป้ง!!!: Thai, Comedy 90 mins – Movie version of "Saranae Show" – a popular Thai comedy TV show that has been on the air for 11 years. With many well-known Thai comedians, including Mum Jokmok (Petchthai Wongkamlao), Kietisak "Hoi" Udomnak, Ple Nakorn, and Willy McIntosh.


Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, May 14

Slumdog Millionaire: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 120 mins – This film won Oscar best picture and best director – and awards for adapted screenplay, original score, film editing, original song, sound mixing, and cinematography. Rated R in the US for some violence, disturbing images, and language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 86/83 out of 100. At Vista only.


An impoverished Indian teen becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?”, wins, and is then suspected of cheating. Trailer available here, just click.


Roger Ebert: This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time, about a Mumbai orphan who rises from rags to riches on the strength of his lively intelligence. It tells the story of an orphan from the slums of Mumbai who is born into a brutal existence. A petty thief, impostor and survivor, mired in dire poverty, he improvises his way up through the world and remembers everything he has learned. High-spirited and defiant in the worst of times, he survives. He scrapes out a living at the Taj Mahal, which he did not know about but discovers by being thrown off a train. He pretends to be a guide, invents "facts" out of thin air, advises tourists to remove their shoes and then steals them. . . . The film uses dazzling cinematography, breathless editing, driving music, and headlong momentum to explode with narrative force, stirring in a romance at the same time. For Danny Boyle, it is a personal triumph.


Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Millions (2004) [Note: Millions was given a showing at Film Space on March 14], Sunshine (2007)).


Angels & Demons: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – 140 mins – Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon works to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican. The Vatican appears not to be too pleased with this film, understandably, and Vatican officers banned the movie from being filmed in its grounds. The filmmakers had to build a scale replica of St. Peter's Square, one of the crucial locales of the story. Note that although the novel upon which the film is based is set before the events of the novel The Da Vinci Code, the film has been written as a sequel to follow after events in The Da Vinci Code (2006).


And yet a second sequel to The Da Vinci Code is in the offing:


Author Dan Brown has announced that his next installment in the "Da Vinci Code" series will be "The Lost Symbol," which Doubleday will publish in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 15. The first print run will be a whopping 5 million copies. Much more than that will be needed if the sales of "Angels and Demons" and "Da Vinci Code" are anything to go by.


"Angels and Demons" has sold 39 million copies to date, and that number is certain to go up following the book’s recent reemergence on the New York Times bestseller list in anticipation of the film’s release. Those sales lag behind "The Da Vinci Code," whose 81 million copies sold puts it behind the Bible but not much else.


Sources said Brown has completed his manuscript. Sony has the rights to the Robert Langdon character, which gives the studio the right to negotiate a deal for the new title. The studio will be bullish. "The Da Vinci Code" grossed $758 million worldwide in 2006, and Columbia has high hopes for the sequel.


And looking forward:


May 21 – Night at the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian:  USA/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – After a wacky night at the Museum of Natural History, the perpetually hapless Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after shipping two of his resurrected friends to Washington by mistake. As a result, he finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum's most noteworthy historical figures. Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan are back, and this time they're joined by Amy Adams, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Guest.                  




Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


May is The Month of Eric Rohmerat Alliance Française.


At Alliance Française on Friday, May 8:  Holiday!  Visakha Bucha Day!  No showing. 


At Alliance Française on Friday, May 15:  Four Early Works by Eric Rohmer France. B&W. English subtitles.


A collection of philosophically-oriented early works by French New Wave auteur Eric Rohmer, whose meditative, deliberately-paced romance stories dramatize the inconstant nature of the human heart.


1. Présentation ou Charlotte et son steak / Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak (1960) by Eric Rohmer– 12 mins – France, Romance/ Comedy/ Short. B&W. English subtitles.


With Jean-Luc Godard, Andrée Bertrand, Anne Couderet.


Charlotte is leaving. Before catching her train, she goes to her apartment for a quick snack -- a steak, as it happens. Walter accompanies her; the little time Charlotte will take to prepare and eat her steak represents his last opportunity to patch things up with her. A tall order, given the utterly unromantic circumstances...

– Alliance description


2. Nadja à Paris / Nadja in Paris (1964) by Eric Rohmer – 13 mins – France, Short. B&W. English subtitles.


With Nadja Tesich (also the writer).


Nadja, a Yugoslavian-born American student, lives at the Cité Universitaire in Paris, strolls in the city and gives her impressions of the different districts she visits...

– Alliance description


IMDb viewer:tells the story of a Yugoslavian-born girl, who was adopted by an American family, who goes to study at the Cité Universitaire in Paris. The character development, considering the brevity of the film, is pretty good, but overall, the film doesn't pack much of a punch at all. Rohmer's other films tend to have an overlying meaning (or "point"), often in a moral lesson. This short is basically a love letter to Paris. "We'll always have Paris." We've all heard that before, and we accept it. Hearing a student experiencing the joy of Paris for the first time isn't exactly exhilarating.



3. La boulangère de Monceau / The Baker of Monceau / The Girl at the Monceau Bakery (1962) by Eric Rohmer – 23 mins – France, Romance/ Short. B&W. English subtitles.


With Barbet Schroeder, Michéle Girardon, Bertrand Tavernier, Claudine Soubrier, Fred Junk.


In Paris, in June, a young man approaches a girl in the street, but after several days without seeing her again, he becomes involved with the girl in the local bakery. Eventually he has to choose between them when he arranges dates with them on the same day...

– Alliance description


Simple, delicate, and jazzy, the first of the Moral Tales shows the stirrings of what would become the Eric Rohmer style: unfussy naturalistic shooting, ironic first-person voice-over, and the image of the “unknowable” woman. A law student (played by producer and future director Barbet Schroeder) with a roving eye and a large appetite stuffs himself full of sugar cookies and pastries daily in order to garner the attentions of the pretty brunette who works in a quaint Paris bakery. But is he truly interested, or is she just a sweet diversion?


IMDb viewer: The first of Eric Rohmer's six moral tales, The Girl at the Bakery Monceau is probably what newcomers to the unorthodox style film-making Rohmer employs should first be exposed to. Not because they should be seen in order but more or less due to the fact that the film is under thirty minutes. As in all the tales the theme (chauvinist male protagonist conflicted over two women) remains the same and in Monceau you are given a small dose of what will carry over into the full length explorations of men in self righteous struggle with reality and ideals.

Rohmer's literary style can be quite trying and his protagonists obnoxiously condescending. His characters are neither heroic nor noble. Rohmer's narrative style which depends heavily on interior monologue reveals some ugly truths that may not cause catastrophe but offer insightful points of view that makes the audience pause in reflection. We sometimes see ourselves in such reflections as well as friends and acquaintances.

Eugene O'Neil said, "We live in illusion and die in reality." In all of his tales Rohmer narrows that gap, exposing a humdrum reality with a fickle illusion born of self deception. There is a subtle subversive reward to be found in all of the "Moral Tales" and with The Girl at the Bakery Monceau he is off to an excellent start.


IMDb viewer: It's said that a writer tells the same story over and over again. Eric Rohmer during a period spanning some nine years developed an idea in regards to the relationship between a man, the ideal woman he loves, and the alluring temptation that presents itself as an aggressive female. In La boulangère de Monceau, he begins his six-part observation.


4. La carrière de Suzanne / Suzanne's Career (1963) by Eric Rohmer – 54 mins – France, Romance. B&W. English subtitles.


With Catherine Sée, Philippe Beuzen, Jean-Claude Biette, Patrick Bauchau, Christian Charrière, Diane Wilkinson, Pierre Cottrell.


Bertrand, a shy and reserved student, admires the rogue confidence of his best friend Guillaume while he exploit the generosity of the sweetly seductive Suzanne...

– Alliance description


Bertrand bides his time in a casually hostile and envious friendship with college chum Guillaume. But when ladies’ man Guillaume seems to be making a play for the spirited, independent Suzanne, Bertrand watches bitterly with disapproval and jealousy. With its ragged black-and-white 16mm photography and strong sense of 1960s Paris, Rohmer’s second Moral Tale is a wonderfully evocative portrait of youthful naiveté and the complicated bonds of friendship and romance.


IMDb viewer: The MO is the same the usual suspects in place in Erich Rohmer's second of his six moral tales. Lifeless amateur actors, cinematic style sacrificed for literary interior monologues about blasé people leading unremarkable lives. Suzanne is basically a three character story told by Bertrand, a bit of a self righteous twerp who remains conflicted about his feelings for the innocent and gullible Susan and his relationship with the amoral Guillaume who exploits Susan. Both men have a low opinion of Susan who in part brings it on herself by allowing the men to use her for her money and in the case of the rakish Guillaume for sex as well.


More concerned with character than plot, Rohmer gives us healthy servings of pettiness, ego, condescension, and denial served up by a self absorbed threesome blind to every one's view but their own. Less than an hour long (Rohmer time) the pace is still slow and the characters repetitious bad habits irritating but if one remains patient is rewarded with an ending rich in truth.


While the more polished, bigger budgeted and lengthier later tales such as Claire's Knee and Love in the Afternoon have a more professional patina about them Suzanne sans all these trappings is still told in the same Rohmer unique way.


The films of Erich Rohmer are an acquired taste. In Night Moves, a hard boiled private investigator played by Gene Hackman says viewing a Rohmer film is like watching paint dry. For twenty years I agreed with this assessment. I may still, but once dried and finished I now see a work of interesting art that is both challenging and pure.


Suzanne is an interesting sketch but for those unfamiliar with Rohmer, I would recommend any of the last three of the six tales first for their accessibility. Watch one and if it doesn't agree with you, wait ten to twenty years and try again. In Rohmer's case patience is a necessity.



At Alliance Française on Friday, May 22:  Le genou de Claire / Claire's Knee (1970) by Eric Rohmer – 110 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83 out of 100.


With Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu, Béatrice Romand, Laurence de Monaghan.


Jérôme 35 years old, is on holiday in Talloires, near Annency. He meets Aurora, a Rumanian novelist, whom he came to know about six years ago. During her holidays she rents a room in a villa near the lake. She invites Jérôme to come to her villa and introduces him to the owner and to her daughter Laura who is 16 years old.


Jérôme is going to get married in one month time. Laura not knowing it, tries to seduce him and by curiosity, he enters into affair…

– Alliance description


Jérôme, a 35-year-old diplomat, is struck by teenage girl Claire and harbors an unquenchable desire to touch her knee.


Roger Ebert: Now if I were to say, for example, that Claire's Knee is about Jerome's desire to caress the knee of Claire, you would be about a million miles from the heart of this extraordinary film. And yet, in a way, Claire's Knee is indeed about Jerome's feelings for Claire's knee, which is a splendid knee. Jerome encounters Claire and the other characters in the film during a month's holiday he takes on a lake between France and Switzerland. He has gone there to rest and reflect before he marries Lucinda, a woman he has loved for five years. And who should he run into but Aurora, a novelist who he's also been a little in love with for a long time.


Aurora is staying with a summer family that has two daughters: Laura, who is sixteen and very wise and falls in love with Jerome, and Claire, who is beautiful and blonde and full of figure and spirit. Jerome and Aurora enter into a teasing intellectual game, which requires Jerome to describe to Aurora whatever happens to him during his holiday. When they all become aware that Laura has fallen in love with the older man, Jerome encourages her in a friendly, platonic way. They have talks about love and the nature of life, and they grow very fond of each other, although of course the man does not take advantage of the young girl.


But then Claire joins the group, and one day while they are picking cherries, Jerome turns his head and finds that Claire has climbed a ladder and he is looking directly at her knee. Claire herself, observed playing volleyball or running, hand-in-hand, with her boyfriend, is a sleek animal, and Jerome finds himself stirring with desire.


He doesn't want to run away with Claire, or seduce her, or anything like that; he plans to marry Lucinda. But he tells his friend Aurora that he has become fascinated by Claire's knee; that it might be the point through which she could be approached, just as another girl might respond to a caress on the neck, or the cheek, or the arm. He becomes obsessed with desire to test this theory, and one day has an opportunity to touch the knee at last.


As with all the films of Eric Rohmer, Claire's Knee exists at levels far removed from plot (as you might have guessed while I was describing the plot). What is really happening in this movie happens on the level of character, of thought, of the way people approach each other and then shy away. In some movies, people murder each other and the contact is casual; in a work by Eric Rohmer, small attitudes and gestures can summon up a university of humanity.


Claire's Knee is a movie for people who still read good novels, care about good films, and think occasionally.