Friday, August 7, 2009

Whats On starting August 6

The gangsters depart; the “Joes” arrive!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, August 6, 2009


… through Tuesday, August 11


by Thomas Ohlson


Best Bets: Harry Potter.  Sam Chuk.  Pelham 1 2 3. 


Now online! with a listing of movie times that I try to keep completely up to date, as much as possible in the uncertain world of movie times. Go to:


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


Bangkok International Film Festival: Sep 24 to 30.

EU Film Festival in ChiangMai: 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 41 of Volume 4 of these listings.


Programs change on Wednesday next week, which is a holiday, the Queen’s Birthday/ Mother’s Day.

Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week


* G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – From Hasbro the toy-makers we get another action-adventure film based on toys, very much like Transformers: Nonsensical mayhem, and very loud, but stylish. I actually found it more enjoyable than Transformers, which I guess might not be saying much. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans. Directed by Stephen Sommers. Early reviews: Mixed or average: 59 out of 100.


Empire, Dan Jolin: The trick with Stephen Sommers is not to take him too seriously. His Deep Rising (giant squid-monster attacks hijacked luxury cruiser) was immensely daft, but huge fun. Same goes for The Mummy. And there is a level on which GI Joe, his brash, loud take on the long-lived Hasbro toy line, is enjoyable. The way, for example, it embraces cliché. In one scene, chumpy hero Duke expresses his anguish by riding a motorbike through a military graveyard in the rain. Wearing sunglasses. In another, the token team ice-queen (Rachel Nichols’ laserbow-wielding Scarlet) announces to horny-dog Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, whose spoof credentials fit well) that she doesn’t believe in emotions because they aren’t scientifically provable. Even if they are.

The script is almost wilfully stupid, throwing out such anti-zingers as, “Damn, that ninja’s fast!”, “dead guys don’t breakdance”, and one gloriously random comment from The Baronness (Sienna Miller, slumming it) to a shrieking bystander she’s just threatened with a gun: “Nice shoes”. Hugging the dumb and making it fun is Sommers’ strength. G.I.Joe may not be a great movie, but it sure is a hoot and a half, just make sure to find that inner child in you that still likes to play pretend. GO JOE!

* Sam Chuk / สามชุก: Thai, Drama 115 mins – [Picture at very top of this newsletter.] Based on a true story, this is a rarity for Thailand: a thoughtful, well-done social issues film, exploring 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. Affecting performances, choppy storytelling style, a bit sentimental at times, but overall a heart-rending document. Directed by Thanit Jintanukul [Tanit Jitnukul / ธนิตย์ จิตนุกูล].


About the director:


Wikipedia: Tanit was born in 1956 in Songkhla Province. He made his name doing historical battle epics, directing a string of them: Bang Rajan, Legend of the Warlord and Sema: Warrior of Ayutthaya. However, he's worked in many genres, including horror (Art of the Devil and Narok), crime-action (102 Bangkok Robbery) and comedy (Andaman Girl).


He won best director honors at the Thailand National Film Awards for Bang Rajan. The film was also screened at the 2000 Fantasia Festival, where it placed second in the international competition. Bang Rajan was later "presented" by Oliver Stone in a theatrical release in the United States.


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, beautifully played by John Travolta [picture at right], 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.



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. 



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 Thai girls backpack for a year in London, Paris, and Rome, working in Thai restaurants when they run short of money. Filmed on location, and based on the director's own experiences of living and working abroad.


Wise Kwai’s review:  3 out of 5 - Just okay.


Two young women do a bit of growing up in Dear Galileo - the overwhelmingly light travel drama by GMM Tai Hub and director Nithiwat Tharatorn.



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. I choose not to see it.


Wise Kwai’s review:  2 out of 5 - Barely watchable.


A couple or three decent gore-worthy moments and a satisfying twist ending make 6:66 Tai Mai Dai Tai worth a look, if only just barely. Mostly though, 6:66 Tai Mai Dai Tai is aggravating because it frequently doesn't make any sense.It's a bit odd for Thai horror in that it's rooted in Christian, rather than Buddhist mythology, with God invoked as the ultimate decider of when someone dies, and the 6:66 in the title referencing the mark of the beast or Satan.




Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Wednesday, August 12


Trail of the Panda / Xiong mao hui jia lu: China, Family – 87 mins – A Disney live action film directed by Chinese director Yu Zhong and shot in the wilderness of Wolong, Sichuan (the area that was destroyed during the massive earthquake of May 2008). Trail Of The Pandais the story of a little panda cub who is separated from its mother and subsequently rescued by an orphaned boy after going through a series of hardships and dangers in the forest.


In Country & Melody 2 (E-Som Somwang) / อีส้มสมหวัง ชะชะช่า: Thai, Comedy/ Musical – 90 mins – Som and Somwang from the first episode abandon their musical band to pursue their dreams in Bangkok. Somwang gets a job as a singer in a night cafe, and is soon allured by the night life, girls, and fame. The change in Somwang makes Som heartbroken, but the news of Som’s pregnancy seems to reconcile the two.


Jija - Raging Phoenix / จีจ้า ดื้อ สวย ดุ: Thai, Action/ Romance – 90 mins – Martial arts film starring the amazing girl from Chocolate, JijaYanin, a true female action icon, who here combines a stunning martial art style with a love story. Focused specifically to Jija''s skills and personality, the film fuses her martial arts skills with break dancing.



And looking forward:


Aug 20Inglourious Basterds: US/ Germany, Action/ Adventure/ WarQuentin Tarantino's long-awaited tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in WWII France. Early reviews: Mixed or average: 56 out of 100.    




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, 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.


Pépé le 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.


Terence Clarke: Gabin simply fills the role of Pépé le Moko, an intrepid thief who has had to leave his beloved Paris under trying circumstances, and is now hiding from the French police in the complicated, turbulent warren of The Casbah in Algiers. He is the personification of Ernest Hemingway’s famous definition of courage, that it is “grace under pressure”. He also has a very humorous glint in his eye, especially when he’s engaged in slang badinage with his pals or with the police inspector Slimane who, although Pépé’s pursuer, also thinks of him as a friend, a man to be respected. Pépé is as well a great lover. One of the Arab men in the quarter says of him that the day Pépé le Moko dies, there will be five thousand widows in The Casbah.



At Alliance Française on Friday, August 21:  Le dernier métro / The Last Metro (1980) by François Truffaut – 131 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 74 out of 100.


With Gérard Dépardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Jean Poiret, Heinz Bennent.


Lucas, a German-Jewish refugee, wants people to believe he went into exile leaving the management of the famous “Théâtre de Montmartre” to his wife, Marion. Actually, he is hiding in the basement. Daxiat, a theatre critic and a pro-nazi journalist, suspects something…

Alliance description


Rotten Tomatoes: FrançoisTruffaut, whose "Day for Night" explored the world of filmmaking, turns to the stage in this story of a small theater company during the German occupation of France. Marion Steiner, the theater's owner, is desperately trying to keep both the troupe and Lucas, her Jewish husband, alive. To do this, she's staging a new play, which must be successful if she is to maintain the theater. Not only is this an artistic imperative -- the building also serves as a refuge for Lucas, who's hiding from the Nazis. But just as the actors begin their rehearsals, an anti-semitic journalist ensconces himself in the theater, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. Will he discover Lucas's hideaway... or the truth about the political affiliations of the group's lead actor?







Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


August isThe Month of Reality at 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 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 a 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

2007 BAFTA / Nominated for Best Debut Film

2006 Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival / Grand Prix Winner

... it’s one of the boldest, most beautiful and haunting films to have appeared from anywhere... An extraordinary evocation..." Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph

"A work for all places and times; for anyone who seeks fully to live, to engage, it is indeed essential viewing" Time Out *****

Gary Tarn's remarkable film BLACK SUN, winner of many international awards and co-produced by Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, Children of Men) and John Battsek (One Day in September), tells the story of Hugues de Montalembert, a French artist and filmmaker living in New York, who was blinded during a violent assault in 1978.



With this portrait of a unique man and his extraordinary reaction to a life-changing event, Tarn has created an expressionist film whose power lies in visualising a world from the perspective of the blind de Montalembert. Part- survivor's testimony, part- philosophical meditation on the nature of perception, BLACK SUN is a celebration of life that makes us see the world anew.


DVD available from



At Film Space Saturday, August 22:  Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation (1999) by Chris Rodley, Dev Varma – originally 312 mins – UK, Documentary/ History.


A serious, non-titillating history of pornography, from the earliest days of erotic art right up to the present day's multimedia. This documentary mini-series, originally aired on British television in 1999, is a six-part series which examined many aspects of pornography. Each of these six parts focused on a different aspect of the history of pornography.


Ten years in the making, the series told for the first time on British television the history of pornography: it charts the changes in sexual imagery prompted by the advent of new technologies over thousands of years, from ancient times to print, photography, film, video and the Internet. With unprecedented access to the modern porn industry, interviews with pornography experts and historians, and an unparalleled collection of archival material, it is also the story of how these technological mediums influenced the development of pornography, who used it, how it was distributed, and how it was censored.


But the real story of pornography is also a secret history of civilization. Pornography, far from being some smutty sideshow on the margins of society, has in fact played a vital and central role in civilization and our cultural evolution.


Each program focuses on a different technology and how that new technology revolutionized pornography and made it available to new groups of people, however hard the authorities tried to control it.


DVD available from