Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Whats On starting August 12

A mixed bag of four films arrives for the Holiday!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Wednesday, August 12, 2009


… through Wednesday, August 19


by Thomas Ohlson


Best Bets: Harry Potter.  Pelham 1 2 3.  Jija.


Picture at right is from G.I. Joe, and shows Korean actor Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, the ninja specialist, terrorist, and assassin.


The listing of movie times on this blog I try to keep up to date, as much as possible in the uncertain world of movie times.


There’s a blog for Pattaya, too, 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 42 of Volume 4 of these listings.


Programs changed this week on Wednesday because of the holiday, the Queen’s Birthday/ Mother’s Day. Next change next Thursday.


Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week

* Jija - Raging Phoenix / Jija-DueSuaiDu / จีจ้า ดื้อ สวย ดุ: Thai, Action/ Romance – 110 mins – One of the biggest Thai Martial arts action films of the year, starring the amazing girl from Chocolate, Jija Yanin, a true female action icon, who here combines her stunning martial arts style with a love story. Fashioned specifically to Jija’s skills and personality, the film interweaves her fighting skills with a considerable amount of break dancing, led by the quite talented and amazingly athletic B-Boys Thai, a Thai B-Dance team of three.


* 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 2 / อีส้มสมหวัง ชะชะช่า: Thai, Comedy/ Musical – 115 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.


* Orphan: US/ Canada/ Germany/ France, Drama/ Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – 123 mins – A husband and wife who recently lost their baby adopt a 9-year-old girl who is not nearly as innocent as she claims to be. Rated R in the USfor disturbing violent content, some sexuality, and language. Mixed or average reviews: 42/52 out of 100.


Rotten Tomatoes: While it has moments of dark humor and the requisite scares, Orphan fails to build on its interesting premise and degenerates into a formulaic, sleazy horror/thriller.


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – Attracting families as well as younger and older men, this wild action-adventure film based on toys scored one of the best August openings of all time, in the US and internationally. It’s from Hasbro the toy-makers, and is very much like Transformers – Critic-proof nonsensical mayhem, and very loud, but stylish. Make sure you take your earplugs! Generally negative reviews: 32/40 out of 100.

G.I. Joe was far from being a guaranteed success, given its blatant gung-ho U.S. military theme, not particularly appealing to overseas audiences (to say the least). But they solved that problem by simply changing the US combat group into an international combat group, which actually follows more closely the comic book series, which expanded the original team of U.S. military operatives to include operatives from other countries. Then they deliberately set the film in a number of foreign locales, and featured an international cast including Korean actor/ singer/ heartthrob Byung-hun Lee [picture to right], British actress Sienna Miller, the superb French-Moroccan actor Said Taghmaoui, and the well-regarded South African stage and screen actor Arnold Vosloo. The strategy appears to have worked; the film did significant business in many Asian territories, especially South Korea and China.


I actually found it quite a bit more enjoyable than Transformers, which I guess might not be saying much. But if you like an occasional action flick, I think this is one of the better ones. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans (he was a lot of fun!). Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy and it’s two sequels, Van Helsing).


Time, Richard Corliss: The only collateral damage is in the audience, where, as you sit through the movie, you can feel your IQ drop minute by minute.


Empire, Dan Jolin: The trick with Stephen Sommers is not to take him too seriously. . . . 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!


Philadelphia Inquirer David Hiltbrand: A brazen, earsplitting, eye-popping, oddly satisfying action extravaganza.


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, 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 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.

Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, August 20


Inglourious Basterds: US/ Germany, Action/ Adventure/ WarQuentin Tarantino's long-awaited, exceptionally bloody tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in World War II France, starring Brad Pitt. Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence, language, and brief sexuality. Early reviews: Generally favorable: 64 out of 100.    


Bandslam: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Music – 111 mins – Probably the only film ever with a character named “Sa5m.” (Hint, the “5” is silent; it’s a sign of her independence, you know?) A new kid in town, teenager Will Burton, assembles a fledgling rock band to compete against the best in the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands. Stars Disney Channel superstars Vanessa Anne Hudgens (High School Musical 1, 2, 3) and Alyson Michalka (Phil of the Future, pop duo Aly and AJ), joined by Gaelan Connell (Chocolat), Scott Porter (Speed Racer) and Lisa Kudrow ("Friends"). Against all odds, their band develops a sound all its own with a real shot at success in the contest. Meanwhile, romance brews between Will and Sa5m (Hudgens), who plays a mean guitar and has a voice to die for. Or so it says here in their promotional literature . . .


Buppha Rahtree 3.2: Rahtree's Revenge / บุปผาราตรี 3.2: Thai, Horror/ Romance The incremental sequel to Buppah Rahtree 3.1: Rahtree Reborn that continues the romantic-horror story of the revengeful ghost of Buppha and her love struck cartoonist.    



And looking forward:


Nov 122012: US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ ThrillerDirector 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, who originally attempted to get this film made in 1999 immediately after his huge success with Titanic (1997). However, at the time, the special effects he wanted for the movie ran the proposed budget up to $400 million. No studio would fund the film, and it was subsequently shelved for almost ten years. This is, in fact, the director’s 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." A January 2007 press release described the film in these words: "Avatar is also an emotional journey of redemption and revolution.


Dec 24Sherlock Holmes: US/ UK/ Australia, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ ThrillerDetective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr. – not his picture to the right!) and his stalwart partner Watson (Jude Law) engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England. This new Holmes is rougher, more emotionally multilayered, more inclined to run with his clothing askew, covered in bruises and smudges of dirt and blood. He falls into modern-style funks between cases, lying on the sofa, suffused with anomie, unshaven and unkempt, surrounded by a pile of debris. But when he applies himself, Holmes is as fast with his body — he is a bare-knuckle boxer, a crack shot, and an expert swordsman — as he is with his mind. But … no cocaine. Says the director Guy Ritchie, “It’s a family picture.”


Mar 4, 2010 Alice in Wonderland: US, Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy I am looking forward to this one! Seems to me like a perfect marriage between director Tim Burton and the Lewis Carroll classic. The film stars frequent Burton collaborator Johnny Depp [picture above, right] as the Mad Hatter, Mia Wasikowska as Alice, and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Also with Helena Bonham-Carter, Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman.



At “Look At This Gallery” on Thursday, August 20, at 7:30 pm: 


The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) by Stephan Elliott – 104 mins – Australia, Comedy/ Drama/ Musical – Two drag queens and a transsexual get a cabaret gig in the middle of the desert. Generally favorable reviews: 68/68 out of 100.


Just so you’ll know, this film won the 1995 Oscar for Best Costume Design; the famous thong dress, which helped win the award, cost only $7.


James Berardinelli: This often-ribald comedy varies from amusing to hilarious. Most of the best lines are too "colorful" to repeat here. Priscilla is not a film for those who are made uneasy by Benny Hill. The end credits (during and after) contain some of the movie's most inventive humor. Early departers deprive themselves.


While each of the three leads is good, the standout performance belongs to normally-serious veteran actor Terrence Stamp, who has previously appeared in such diverse outings as Billy Budd and Superman (I and II). Here, he brings a quiet dignity to the role of Bernadette. That's not easy to do considering some of the outrageous costumes he's required to wear.


The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a great deal more appealing than many might suppose it to be. It's a road movie that's anything but typical or traditional. So, whether or not you share the proclivities of Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia, the trio's cinematic cabaret is nevertheless something to smile and laugh your way through.









































089-8385641 FOR FURTHER INFO


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 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.


TV Guide: Based on the life of a real criminal who hid in the Casbah under the protection of his pals, Pépé le Moko stars Jean Gabin as the title thief, brigand, and charmer, who has surrounded himself with loyal gang members and keeps them in line through the sheer force of his personality, never resorting to violence. Tired of life with his moll, Ines (Line Noro), and of being on the run, Pepe yearns for his old days in Paris. He falls in love with a gorgeous tourist, Gaby Gould (Mireille Balin), but in the process lets his guard down and gives Algerian police inspector Slimane (Lucas Gridoux) the opportunity to finally nab him.


Pépé le Moko owes a thematic and stylistic debt to the early Hollywood gangster films, most notably Howard Hawks' Scarface, but director Julien Duvivier took the conventional mix of love and bullets and made it into dark poetry. Indeed this film is cited as a prime example of the Poetic Realism movement in France. The camera undulates through dingy realistic sets cloaked in deep shadow. The performances are so naturalistic that the actors don't seem to be acting, and the lack of sentimentality deserves special praise.


The film's success and the universality of its themes can be attested to by the fact that a Hollywood version, Algiers, was made immediately after Pépé le Moko and released in the States before the original could be imported. Charles Boyer turned the part of Pepe down when it was offered by Duvivier, then starred in the US version when Gabin refused to make the trip to Hollywood, explaining that he, like French wine, "didn't travel well." When WW II started, the French government banned the film as too depressing and demoralizing, especially since the news from the front was also bleak. The Germans took over and their puppet government retained the ban, but the moment the war ended, Pépé le Moko was again shown and hailed as a classic.



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?


NY Times, Vincent Canby:FrançoisTruffaut's The Last Metro is a dazzlingly subversive work. The film has the form of a more or less conventional melodrama, about a small Parisian theater company during the 1942-44 Nazi occupation, though the film's methods are so systematically unconventional that it becomes a gently comic, romantic meditation on love, loyalty, heroism, and history.


The Last Metro is about the manner in which the Theatre Montmartre actors approach their work, their shifting relations with each other, and the way in which each responds to the condition of being "occupied."


The Last Metro doesn't dwell on the horrors of Nazi-encouraged, French anti-Semitism, which flourished during the occupation, but it is haunted by those horrors. They are there in the sorrowful love scenes of Marion and Lucas Steiner, which are among the loveliest moments in all of Mr. Truffaut's works, and in what seem to be throwaway scenes, as in a chance encounter Marion has at Gestapo headquarters with a young French woman who has been playing both sides to go on living.



At Alliance Française on Friday, August 28:  Mélo (1986) by Alain Resnais – 112 mins – France, Drama.  English subtitles.


With Sabine Azéma, Fanny Ardant, Pierre Arditi, André Dussollier.


Two violonist, Pierre and Marcel have met at the Academy of Music. During a friendly meal, Marcel makes the acquaintance of Pierre’s wife. They become lovers but Romaine can’t answer Marcel’s demand: he wants her to leave her husband…

Alliance description


Rotten Tomatoes: Known for stylistically adventurous films like Last Year At Marienbad, French director Alain Resnais transitions to a self-consciously subdued form in Mélo. Adapted from the 1929 play by Henri Bernstein, the film follows the evolving love triangle between a violinist's wife and his best friend. "Melo" is short for melodrama, and the film offers an intriguing exercise in that tried-and-true form.


Cineaste, David Sterritt: Mélo, a 1986 release, reflects Resnais’s career-long interest in blurring the boundaries between cinema and theater, life and performance. The screenplay is taken directly from an eponymous stage play by Henry Bernstein, first produced in 1929. Arditi and Dusollier play classical musicians who are close friends despite their different lifestyles—one is a single-minded careerist, the other is a mellow suburbanite who loves married life as much as music. Little does the suburbanite know that his old pal and his pretty young wife are sliding into a passionate affair that will have grim consequences. Filmed entirely on theatrical sets, Mélo is lushly artificial in everything but its emotions, and the artifice actually enhances the feelings it conveys. One example is a scene where a grieving man recites a letter from a dead woman he loved; the camera moves tactfully away from him and the image fades to darkness while his voice continues to read, as if the film itself were journeying to the underworld at this moment.


Mélo is a more complicated title than it seems—derived from the Greek for “music,” it’s a French colloquialism for “weepy” and “schmaltzy,” and it’s also a term for “melodrama,” which originally meant “drama with music.” (M. Philippe-Gérard composed the movie score, but Brahms and J.S. Bach—another Bergman connection – are also heard.) Each of these meanings is germane to the subtly multifaceted film.