Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whats On starting July 30

Drama underground in New York City!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, July 30, 2009


… through Wednesday, August 5


by Thomas Ohlson


Best Bets: Harry Potter.  Pelham 1 2 3.  Public Enemies.


There’s also blog for Pattaya, at  


Bangkok International Film Festival: Sep 24 to 30.

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 40 of Volume 4 of these listings.


Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week


* 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, played by John Travolta, 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.


StageAndCinema, Kevin Bowen: There are two going theories about director Tony Scott.


The first is that he’s the world’s most offensive hack action director, polluting the cinema with shallow flash and dismal MTV tendencies only to produce generic action drivel. The second view – held by approximately nine of us, warmed at night only by the virtue of being right – is that Scott has evolved into a classical auteur, a director who uses the dominant studio visual language of his age to express his artistry.


In the latter view, two of his last three films (Man on Fire, Domino, DéjàVu) are unfairly condemned acts of genius (although the nine of us never agree which two). This theory mainly leads to Internet message board clashes, usually ending in intense disagreements over whether the brilliantly anarchic Domino is a misunderstood masterpiece or completely unwatchable.


… I don’t expect this film to settle the enigma of Tony Scott. While it toys with some of the themes he has been exploring in recent films – time, chance, cultural dystrophy, technologically fractured perspectives – it seems much more straightforward than his most recent work.


* 17 Again: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – 102 mins – A mild comedy about redoing life over again from high school, and generally making the same mistakes again. It uses a well-worn formula, but has just enough Zac Efron charm to result in a harmless, pleasurable teen comedy. Mixed or average reviews: 48/51 out of 100.


* 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.

Public Enemies: US, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ History/ Thriller – 140 min – With Johnny Depp as the criminal John Dillinger and Christian Bale as G-man Melvin Purvis in this Great Depression-era drama about the FBI’s attempts to stop a gangster crime wave. The film features a strong supporting cast, including Billy Crudup, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, Rory Cochrane, and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (for her role as Edith Piaf in the 2007 La môme /La vie en rose). Rated R in the US for gangster violence and some language. Generally favorable reviews: 70/63 out of 100.


I think it’s a mess, albeit a brilliant mess, but I don’t want to unnecessarily discourage you from seeing it, because it offers many pleasures. It’s an impeccably crafted film, with some fine performances, vast attention to period detail, an innovative use of high-definition video instead of film, and a fascinating era recreated. Still, it’s a hodge-podge in my opinion, and doesn’t gel into anything coherent.


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. 


Rotten Tomatoes:The Harry Potter franchise has maintained a level of quality nearly unmatched in recent times. And the latest, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is no exception. The production design is moody and impeccable, the tension is palpable, and there's a welcome strain of humor to the proceedings. In addition, the three principal actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watsonhave grown into their roles, and the supporting players are outstanding.


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 girls backpack for a year in London, Paris, and Rome, working in Thai restaurants when they run short of money. Filmed on location. Based on the director's own experiences of living and working abroad.People dream of a happy life in London or Paris with lots of spare time to travel around, but it's not like that,” he says.When you work in a restaurant, you spend most of your time indoors and you stay in a small space to save money.



Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, August 6


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – Paramount Pictures and Hasbro give us another action-adventure based on toys, like Transformers. “From the Egyptian desert to deep below the polar ice caps, the elite G.I. Joe team uses the latest in next-generation spy and military equipment to fight the corrupt arms dealer Destro and the growing threat of the mysterious Cobra organization to prevent them from plunging the world into chaos. Although the term "G.I. Joe" was a generic term given to the general infantrymen of the United States Army during World War II, it here refers to a Hasbro-created military-themed line of action figures and toys which lasted from 1982 to 1994, and included well over 500 different figures and 250 vehicles and playsets. A series of comics were printed as part of the promotion package. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans.


Sam Chuk: Thai, Drama – 90 mins – Based on a true story, the film exposes 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.


And looking forward:


Aug 20 Inglourious Basterds: US/ Germany, Action/ Adventure/ WarQuentin Tarantino's long-awaited tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in WWII France is unlikely to get usurped as the most bad-ass movie of 2009, thanks to the fact that, well, it's a Quentin Tarantino film. Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, leader of the titular squadron that includes Samm Levine, Eli Roth, and B.J. Novak; along with German actress and Allied agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), they attempt to bring down the Nazis -- in the bloodiest way possible. Mike Myers, Cloris Leachman, and Samuel L. Jackson also star in the exploitation throwback, so look forward to a star-studded (and gore-filled) good time. Early reviews: Mixed or average: 56 out of 100.    



At Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University on Thursday, July 30, 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Screening of short films by Thunska Pansittivorakul.


Location: Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University   คณะวิจิตรศิลป์ มหาวิทยาลัยเชียงใหม่


Free entry/ snack and drink provided.

Group discussion: “Liberalizing and Personalizing of Film” and short film screening of Thunska Pansittivorakul.

Thunska Pansittivorakul is a columnist in many film magazines and he is the founder of, a group of independent filmmakers with unique style. His short films and documentary features have been screened in festivals around the world. He received the Silpatorn Award from the Thai Ministry of Culture's Office of Contemporary Arts and also awarded by many international film festivals.

Thunska’s short films scheduled to be shown are:


Unseen Bangkok / มหัศจรรย์กรุงเทพ

Vous Vous Soviens De Moi? / ในวันที่ฝนตกลงมาเป็นคูสคูส

You are Where I belong to / ปลายทาง

Middle-earth / มัชฌิมโลก

This Area is Under Quarantine / บริเวณนี้อยู่ภายใต้การกักกัน


For further information contact:

For further information on the films:















Movie Scores


The scores given, on a basis of 100, are from two web sources. The first, in bold, is from, and the other is from 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 CineplexAirport 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”.]


Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


At Alliance Française on Friday, July 31:  Trafic / Traffic (1971) by JacquesTati – 96 mins – France/ Italy, Comedy. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81 out of 100.

With Jacques Tati, Maria Kimberly,Marcel Fraval.              


Mr. Hulot drives a recreational vehicle from Paris to Amsterdam in his usual comic, disastrous style.

Alliance description, Mark Bourne: A mime, director, and actor, Tati cast himself as M. Hulot in four movies -- Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953, Mr. Hulot's Holiday in the USA), Mon Oncle (1959, Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film), his masterpiece Playtime (1967), and Trafic (1971). Like a character from the earlier era of Chaplin and Keaton (two of Tati's acknowledged influences), Hulot is comically at odds with the people and things he encounters in his misadventures in the modern world. His signature trenchcoat, high-water pants, pipe (smokeless), hat, and tipsy-flamingo walk make him immediately recognizable, as does the umbrella he always carries but doesn't open until the end of the final Hulot film, Trafic. He interacts with the world -- especially in the earlier films -- with an obliviousness that's childlike in a way that underscores how much our world may have grown too "adult" for our own good.


Tati once said that the aim of his comedies was not to send us rolling in the aisles with one-liners and stock situations. Instead he strived to "turn regular life into a gag." The gag may be on us, but we still get to enjoy the sweet ride.


Rotten Tomatoes: JacquesTati's beleaguered and oblivious alter ego Mr. Hulot returns for his fourth screen appearance in this ridiculous and sublime automobile-focused film. Cars and drivers, present as subplots in Tati's previous comedies, take center stage in Traffic. In his latest incarnation, Hulot is a vehicle designer at the Parisian firm Altra. Having recently completed the prototype for a Rube Goldberg mousetrap-like ultra convenient camper van, Hulot and Altra's pesky public relations girl, Maria (Maria Kimberly), embark to bring their newest creation to an auto show in Holland. The eagle eye of Tati's airtight humor follows Hulot on his doomed path to Amsterdam; he runs out of gas, has various accidents and engine difficulties, and invokes the wrath of both the police and customs officers. Interspersed between gags are seemingly documentary visions of French motorists picking their noses, being mimicked by their own windshield wipers, and generally causing trouble. Minimal dialogue, spectacular visual puns, and an awe-inspiring ballet-like car crash complete the Tati take on car-and-driver culture. 


Available on DVD from


At Alliance Française on Friday, August 7:  Indochine / Indochina (1992) by Régis Wargnier – 160 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 63 out of 100. This is the uncut version. 1993 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

With Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Perez, Jean Yanne, Linh Dan Pham.


Indochina during the 30's. One of the largest rubber-tree plantations is owned by the French colonist Eliane, a proud but imprudent woman. She lives with her father and her native adoptive daughter Camille. At an auction Eliane gets to know the young officer Jean-Baptiste; after a short affair she refuses to see him again. But in the meantime Camille falls deeply in love with the young man, so Eliane takes the necessary steps to cause a transposition of Jean-Baptiste onto a far island. Though Camille gets married to another man, she goes on a long journey throughout the country in order to find the one she loves…

Alliance description


Rotten Tomatoes Synopsis: Romantic melodrama set during French colonial rule in Vietnam from 1930-1954. French national Eliane thinks of Vietnam as home: she owns a rubber plantation there, and has adopted Camille, the Vietnamese child of Eliane's deceased friends. But mother and daughter are soon at odds over both romance and politics: Camille has fallen for French naval officer Jean-Baptiste, who was once Eliane's lover, and has also become a revolutionary determined to destroy the French-run government. Tensions deepen when authorities sentence Camille to a French labor camp, and Eliane takes charge of Jean-Baptiste and Camille's baby. As time passes, it becomes clear that France's reign in Vietnam will soon end -- leaving mother, daughter, and grandchild on different sides of the ideological issue... 


DVD available from


At Alliance Française on Friday, August 14:  Pépé le Moko (1937) by Julien Duvivier – 94 mins – France, Crime/ Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 86 out of 100.


With Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Gabriel Gabrio, Marcel Dalio,Fernand Charpin, Line Noro.



Pépéle Moko”, a famous gangster chased by the police of Algiers hides in the Kasbah… One night, after a fight between his men and the police, Pépé, slightly injured takes refuge in a house where he meets a young woman, Gasy… 

Alliance description



A notorious gangster hides out in the Casbah for safety and soon realizes he's a prisoner, unable to ever leave its confines. He becomes obsessed with a beautiful outsider, and this attachment ultimately leads to his doom. Based on D'Ashelbe's novel and remade in America as "Algiers."


San Diego Metropolitan:  It's not just an important film; it's also great entertainment, a compelling screen romance -- and one of the best places to see hunky Jean Gabin at the height of his career.


Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


August is The Month of Realityat Film Space.


Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.


At Film Space Saturday, August 1:  The Case of the Grinning Cat / Chats perchés (2004) by Chris Marker – 59 mins – France, Documentary. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: Shortly after September 11, 2001, when much of the world was showing its public support for New York City and America, a cartoonish smiling cat began appearing in Paris, stenciled on walls, buildings, trains, and the street. The yellow cat with its huge grin evoked the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll's classic tale Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but there was something very mysterious behind it. Eclectic documentarian Chris Marker became so intrigued by the graffiti cats that he began searching for them throughout the city, turning his own adventures into the charming 58-minute film The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés). Octogenarian Marker, the director behind such well-regarded works as Sans Soleil, A.K., and La Jetée, is a well-known cat lover; his cartoon depiction of his own cat, Guillaume-en-Egypte, is considered his alter ego, and he has made a short film about his feline pet as well, "Cat Listening to Music." For a while, the grinning cat disappears, but it shows up again at rallies on masks and placards. Meanwhile, the political climate has changed; Parisians are now protesting the Iraq war and the U.S. government, and especially President George W. Bush, so the reappearance of the cat takes on new meaning. Marker also follows the travails of Bolero, a real cat who lives in the Paris Metro subway system. Written, directed, and photographed by Marker, The Case of the Grinning Cat is an entertaining look at pop culture, political protest, the mass media, and street art.


The New York Times: Mr.Marker, whose best-known works remain his films “La Jetée” (1962) and “Sans Soleil” (1982), has a way of shooting in video that makes you think he’s probably had a camera embedded in his head. (Photographs always show him holding a camera in front of his face.) In The Case of the Grinning Cat, he fluidly moves over and under Paris, capturing images of fugitive beauty and pathos. The cat, a token of Mr. Marker’s own wryly detached, fully informed political conscience, observes this post-Sept. 11 landscape with little comment. He lets the wars and the rallies, where angry young protesters invoke Iraq in the same breath as Vietnam — but somehow forget the Kurds — largely speak for themselves. Mr. Marker doesn’t forget, but neither does he linger. He has places to be, cats to admire, a world to embrace.


DVD available from


At Film Space Saturday, August 8:  McLibel (2005) by Franny Armstrong, Ken Loach – 85 mins – UK, Documentary. Universal acclaim: 81/80 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: McLibel is the true story of a postman and a gardener who took on McDonald's and wouldn't say "McSorry," in a legal battle since described as "the biggest corporate PR disaster in history." McDonald's loved using the UK's libel laws to suppress criticism. Major media organizations like the BBC and The Sun had crumbled and apologized. But then McDonald's sued penniless activists' Helen Steel and Dave Morris. In what became the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel 2" represented themselves against McDonald's USD$19 million legal team. Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage, and the company's advertising to children. Outside the courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them. Legal maneuvers. A visit from Ronald McDonald. Top U.S.executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations. Even spies. Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded in the European Court of Human Rights. And the result took everyone by surprise - especially the British Government. Filmed over ten years by no-budget Director Franny Armstrong (Drowned Out), McLibel features reenactments of key courtroom scenes directed by Ken Loach. McLibel is not about hamburgers. It is about the power multinational corporations wield over our everyday lives and two unlikely heroes who are changing McWorld.



DVD available from


At Film Space Saturday, August 15:  Black Sun (2005) by Gary Tarn – 75 mins – UK, Documentary. Generally favorable reviews: 65 out of 100.


Stunning visuals in a documentary about painter gone blind.  


Justpressplay: As director Gary Tarn floats the camera high above the rooftops of New York City’s bustling metropolis and people scurry far below like ants, it’s with a creeping sense of it-could-happen-to-anyone dread that we listen to narrator Hughes De Montalembert describe the brutal and senseless attack on his person that robbed him of his sight. One night, outside his home near Washington Square, two men forced him inside and demanded money. When Hughes informed them he didn’t have any the situation turned ugly and the men attacked him. While attempting to fight one of the men off with a poker from the fireplace, the other sprayed paint remover into his eyes, blinding him.


As an artist and filmmaker the sheer psychological devastation is almost beyond comprehension. But rather than give up and resign himself to the darkness, Hughes’ story is one of hope, triumph and a gentle hymn to the indomitable nature of the human spirit. With a quiet air of dignity, Hughes's gentle, warbling narration combined with Tarn's opaque cinematography act as a sort of lullaby to the senses as he at once captivates you with his soothing tones and regales you with his enlightening and empowering struggle. As Hughes describes the slow deterioration of his sight in the hours following the attack, Tarn fades us in and out with dark, grimy yellow filters and oblique tracking as slowly we too are plunged into darkness.


From there it’s a journey of rediscovery as Hughes begins his rehabilitation


DVD available from