Slumdog extended! The Smithsonian comes to life!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, May 21, 2009
… through Wednesday, May 27
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Slumdog Millionaire. Star Trek. Wolverine. Angels & Demons.
Here is my list of movies playing in Chiang Mai at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and at Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Thursday, May 21, 2009.
I’ve also included here information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space for the next three weeks.
This year’s Oscar best picture Slumdog Millionaire is at Vista, and hooray for Vista! See it! And you need to see it on the big screen with a sound system big enough to bring the brilliant sound track to life!
This is Issue Number 30 of Volume 4 of these listings – halfway through ourfourth year!
Now there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at http://thomatpattaya.blogspot.com/.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Night at the Museum 2: Escape from [Battle of] the Smithsonian: US/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – 105 mins – After a wacky night at the New York 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, Dick Van Dyke, and Steve Coogan are back, and this time they're joined by Amy Adams, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Guest.The central thrust of the film is to bring to life the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart flew on her nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic and Al Capone's rap sheet and mug shot to Dorothy's ruby red slippers and Archie Bunker's lounge chair. This is the first major film to be shot inside the Smithsonian in Washington, and it may never be the same. If you liked the first adventure, chances are you’ll like this one, too.
* Krasue vs. Pop / Kra Seu Fad Pop / กระสือฟัดปอบ: Thai, Horror/ Comedy – 90 mins – Their description: “A fight between two ghosts set in a village where people still believe in superstition. When a wicked witch doctor summons a bloodthirsty, yet sexy ghoul from her grave, the only person who can stop the dangerous ghoul is a kind-hearted, pretty girl who holds her secret: a filth-eating spirit. Meanwhile, a group of college student set a trip to the village. The finally struggle in the middle of the ghoulish fight, and find the way to stop the thrill that threatening the village.” Now you know, it’s your move.
Or heed the words of my favorite Bangkok film journalist, Wise Kwai: Krasue vs. Pop – Holy crap. This ghost comedy looks so bad I think I might have to see it to believe it. Two of Thailand's most feared female ghosts are played by pretty young actresses. Krasue is Southeast Asia's gut-munching flying vampiric head that trails its entrails around. She's been depicted in lots of films, like 1981's Mystics in Bali, 2002's Krasue, Yuthlert Sippapak's Krasue Valentine and that recent award-winning Sylvania light bulb commercial. Pop is perhaps less well known. A demonic spirit that likes to eat people's livers and possess women's bodies, I am guessing she's been depicted on film many times in the past. Probably most famous film is 2001's Body Jumper (Pop Weed Sayong), which is actually quite a bit of fun.
Slumdog Millionaire: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 120 mins – A cinema is the only place to really appreciate the fantastic images, sounds, and music of this spectacular film, which 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: 86/82 out of 100. At Vista only. Don’t miss it!
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) which was given a showing at Film Space on March 14, Sunshine (2007)).
Angels & Demons: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – 140 mins – A tight, taut thriller. The team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns for the highly anticipated Angels & Demons, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. Ron Howard again directs. Mixed or average reviews: 48/50 out of 100.
When Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati "the most powerful underground organization in history" he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization's most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. Upon learning that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, Langdon travels to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop, action-packed hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow the 400-year-old Path of Illumination that marks the Vatican's only hope for survival. Stars Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor.
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).
Milwaukee Journal, Duane Dudek: Like The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons is a smoke-and-mirrors shadow play of half-truths, a synthesis of pseudo-history and pseudo-science.
Emanuel Levy: The premise of Angels & Demons is rather simple. Our smart and cool Cambridge hero, who had incredibly and incredulously cracked the world's most controversial code, finds evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood, the Illuminati, one of the most dangerously powerful underground organizations. This time around, the Illuminati's target is the Catholic Church itself, their most despised enemy.
I am not a die-hard fan of Brown's prose as a novelist and so any changes from his books are welcome by me if they account for a better picture. It's a relief to report that most of the risible and lurid currents of Da Vinci Code have been excised. Do not get me wrong: The plot is far from complex or nuanced; in fact, it's quite shallow. However, the plot effectively interweaves some basic ideas and subplots so that viewers of all ages and creeds can basically understand the picture, without having seen the first film. Indeed, disregarding religious arguments, quasi-cerebral ideas, and issues of family lineage, all unnecessary burdens on Da Vinci Code, the new narrative operates on the viscera level, aiming for the eyes and guts rather than mind or heart; it's cold, mechanically constructed piece of work.
Unfolding as a breezy if old-fashioned psycho-religious thriller, Angels & Demons favors plot over characterization, ending on such a preposterously compromising note about the co-existence of science and religion that you begin to suspect that shrewd diplomats, not artists or filmmakers, are behind the machinations.
Star Trek (2009): US/ Germany, Sci-Fi/ Adventure/ Action – 126 mins – All new! And I think it’s a great deal of fun, for fans of the series, and also for those who are not. 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. It’s very well done, and I found it engrossing.From director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Lost, and Alias). Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83/81 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: 43/44 out of 100.
Stay for two very short additional scenes during the closing credits, one of which, in a bar in Japan, is a lead-in to the sequel.
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 28
Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins: US/ Germany/ UK, Action/ Sci-Fi – 130 mins – With Christian Bale, Moon Bloodgood, and Common; directed by McG. In this highly anticipated – in some quarters – new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.
2022 Tsunami: Thai, Action/ Disaster – Here’s their synopsis: “Thailand 2022. …All life is swept away in an enormous tidal wave, the land is destroyed, and the only way to survive now is to battle nature itself.”
And looking forward:
Jun 4 – Drag Me to Hell: Director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy, Evil Dead series) returns to the horror genre with this original tale of a young woman's desperate quest to break an evil curse. Surprisingly good reviews. Alison Lohman plays an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend. Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should she follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her bossand get a leg-up on a promotion? She fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs. Ganush and dispossessing her of her home.In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on her, transforming her life into a living hell.
Jun 11 – Up: Disney/Pixar animated fantasy. A comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman (voiced by Ed Asner) who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. Also starring Christopher Plummer, and a speech-assisted dog.
Jun 18 – State of Play: A thriller about a principled investigative journalist in the midst of a vast conspiracy – engrossing, smart, unnerving, and surprisingly timely, and a tribute to the hardworking reporters that shed light on our political system. Russell Crowe stars as an old-school Washington beat reporter who's had a solid professional rapport with an up-and-coming congressman (Ben Affleck) -- that is, until some of the congressman’s associates turn up dead. Crowe uneasily joins forces with Rachel McAdams, a blogger at the paper, to untangle a sinister web of secrets and lies. The film’s ensemble, which also includes Helen Mirren as an exacting editor, is unimpeachable, as is the immediacy and authenticity of the newsroom setting.
Jul 2 – Public Enemies: With Johnny Depp as Dillinger!Michael Mann’s latest film pits Johnny Depp against Christian Bale as the two star as career criminal John Dillinger and G-man Melvin Purvis, respectively, in Public Enemies, a Great Depression-era drama about the FBI’s attempts to shut down organized crime. The film features a strong supporting cast, including Billy Crudup, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard.
Jul 16– Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Latest Harry Potter episode.As the boy wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) enters his sixth year at Hogwart's, danger is afoot thanks to the growing forces of He Who Shall Not Be Named. But that's not the only hazard Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to contend with, as another sort of fickle magic is in the air: teenage hormones. Expect director David Yates to serve up the usual brand of Harry Potter excellence (he directed the last HP film, Order of the Phoenix) although screenwriter Steve Kloves has taken some liberties with the material, so Potterites, beware! Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was.