Friday, September 4, 2009

Whats On starting September 3

Digital 3D for one dimensional film (if that)!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, September 3, 2009


… through Tuesday, September 8


by Thomas Ohlson


Best Bet: Inglourious Basterds


Picture at right is from Inglourious Basterds.


There’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at:  


Bangkok International Film Festival: Sep 24 to 30. (Schedule promised by Sept. 5th. Some 31 films announced– follow link)

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 45 of Volume 4 of these listings. Next change next Wednesday, with the advent of Phobia 2, and probably again on Thursday.


Because of delays inherent in the film rating system, with a ratings board that is only on the job part time and can only see one film a day, distributors are expecting delays in the releasing of films.


Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week


* The Final Destination 4: In Digital 3D! US, Horror/ Thriller – 82 mins – 18+ -- After a teen's premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded his plans. In its wisdom, Major Cineplex has chosen this film to inaugurate its new digital 3D cinema system here in Chiang Mai in Cinema 3. And the price of regular seats has been raised from 120 baht to perhaps 200 baht for the added dimension and added clarity!


But I have to tell you the movie is only one dimension in terms of story and character. Nevertheless, you sort of get your money’s worth with this one, should you enjoy watching deaths: It contains 11 death scenes, the most of any film in the series. They brag about it! Rated R in the US for strong violent/ gruesome accidents, language, and a scene of sexuality; “18+” in Thailand, under the new ratings system which went into effect August 11. “18+” is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. Generally unfavorable reviews:  30/30 out of 100.


Far be it from me to discourage you if you truly slaver over this sort of thing, but I thought it truly repulsive and offensive. You have various human organs flying at you right through the cinema, and yes your reflexes make you actually duck!


I found it interesting to note where the Thai subtitles appear in 3D – they appear to be floating in the air about five rows ahead of you in the cinema, which means that sometimes they’re actually behind an image on the screen. The glasses use nice solid plastic frames, not the like the cardboard ones they used last time.


Technically, the 3D, and the digital sound and image, work just fine, though you can’t really appreciate the digital clarity of the image in 3D as the glasses and the visual process seem to muddy the image up a bit. When you see a non-3D digital movie, you are struck at once with the clarity and super-sharpness of the image.


The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt: The new gimmick here is that all the flying body parts and absurd impalements come in 3D. And that's about as inspired as anything gets in this edition. Story and character get chucked to the sidelines as the arena has room for only death scenes.


Variety, Jordan Mintzer: An array of gory mayhem only marginally enhanced by 3-D and a plot as developed as a text message.


Boston Globe, Wesley Morris: The writers don’t write, the director doesn’t really direct, and the actors don’t exactly act. They wait for the movie’s contraptions to impale them.


Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: As mesmerizing as watching bread toast. Death, be not proud, indeed.


* The Gamer: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 95 mins – 18+ By the writers and directors of the two recent Crank movies, this continues their quest for bigger explosions, and action which is even more “non-stop.” Set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid, allowing millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death. Rated R in the US for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and language; “18+” in Thailand.


* The Elephant King: US/ Thai Drama/ Romance – 92 mins – Vista brings back this film which originally showed in Chiang Mai in January. It's a well done farang in Thailand story, filmed for the most part in Chiang Mai. Two American brothers – one domineering, the other introspective – binge on drink, drugs, and women in our fair city. The mother (Ellen Burstyn) dispatches the younger son Oliver off to Chiang Mai to do everything he can to lure his reckless, older brother Jake back home to the U.S. to face pending fraud charges. Oliver finds the intoxication of Chiang Mai hard to resist, and as he falls deeply in love for the first time, his brother Jake slips deeper into despair, and the seams of their relationship begin to come undone. Rated R in the US for sexual content, drug use, language, and some violence; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. Vista only. In English with Thai subtitles, despite what the Vista website may say.


My Ex / Fan Kao / แฟนเก่า: Thai Horror/ Romance – 90 mins – Ken is a heartthrob of an actor with a bad boy reputation of loving beautiful girls and then dumping them. After his marriage, one of his ex-girlfriends comes back from the grave to exact revenge. Director: Piyaphan Chuphet (Phii mai jim fun / Vow of Death, Necromancer).Unaccountably bloody, dreadful, and confusing, even for a Thai flick. Some interesting cinematography.


Inglourious Basterds: US/ Germany/ France, Drama/ Action/ Adventure/ War153 mins – Quentin Tarantino's exceptionally bloody tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in World War II France, starring Brad Pitt and an amazing Christoph Waltz, a little-known Austrian actor, in a truly fine performance. A must-see movie, though I’m uncomfortable with the fact that I’m recommending a film that carries violence to such extremes. But it’s just that I find the filmmaking skill so mind-blowing. Never have I felt such a deliciously slow and inexorable building of tension in a scene, and such studied control over all the aspects of moviemaking. Will forever change how war movies are filmed, and not only because of its extensive use of German and French – it’s simply a milestone in the history of film.


Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence, language, and brief sexuality. In Thailand it’s rated “18+” under the new ratings system. “18+” is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. There’s a warning to this effect just before the film’s main titles. Generally favorable reviews: 69/70 out of 100.


Note that this is basically a foreign-language film, in German, French, and Italian, as well as English, with subtitles.


Buppha Rahtree 3.2: Rahtree's Revenge / บุปผาราตรี 3.2: Thai, Horror/ Romance Continues the romantic-horror story of the revengeful ghost of Buppha and her love struck cartoonist, played by Mario Maurer of Love of Siam fame. There’s the creepy little girl again; and Rahtree herself (Chermarn Boonyasak),playing with a straight razor; and the comic troupe is all present and accounted for. An exceptionally bloody and confusing horror flick, and one of those where most of the work of scaring the audience is done by the soundtrack’s spooky music and sound effects. Rated “18+” in Thailand under the new ratings system. “18+” is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. Has the dubious honor of being the first Thai film to be rated under the long-awaited Thai movie-rating law.    



Trail of the Panda / Xiong mao hui jia lu / 熊貓回家路: China, Family – 87 mins – A Disney live action film directed by Chinese director Yu Zhong about a panda cub that is separated from its mother and subsequently rescued by an orphaned boy after going through a series of hardships and dangers in the forest.


The film was shot in the wilderness of Wolong, Sichuan, the area that was destroyed during the massive earthquake of May 2008, as the film crew was shooting, trapping some 28 crew members, including the director, in the mountains for four days. The magnitude 8.0 quake left more than 80,000 people dead or missing, and 370,000 injured. Also lost was the 10-year-old female panda playing Pang Pang’s mother in the film; she died in the quake, leaving three orphans.


Made in conjunction with China’s Wolong Panda Reservation, the movie is a plea for understanding of pandas and for preserving their existence. The parents of Lin Ping, the new Chiang Mai Zoo panda cub born May 27, are from this panda center.


The story is sweet and the film is charming with several things to recommend it – the very winning 11-year-old boy who stars, the loving shots of the countryside, the animal photography – overall it’s a good film for families with kids. And the social and political implications of the fact of the movie are of interest as well; pandas are a part of the culture of Chiang Mai now, as are our relations with China due to the panda loans (China still owns the pandas we have, even the new cub).



G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 107 mins – It’s from Hasbro the toy-makers, and is very much like TransformersCritic-proof nonsensical mayhem, and very loud, but stylish. Make sure you take your earplugs! Generally negative reviews: 32/40out of 100.


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 and Marlon Wayans (he was a lot of fun!). Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy and it’s two sequels, and Van Helsing).



Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Wednesday, September 9


Phobia 2 / Haa Phrang / ห้าแพร่ง: Thai, Horror – 15+ – Literally "five crossroads," this is a five-part horror anthology by some of Thailand’s best-known directors of horror films, including segments by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom (Shutter), Paween Purikitpanya (Body #19), Songyos Sugmakanan (Dorm), and Visute Poolvoralaks.


And looking forward:


Sep 17 – District 9: South Africa/ New Zealand, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Action/ Thriller112 min 28 years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. Rated R in the US for bloody violence and pervasive language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81/77 out of 100.


Genre master Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, etc.) produced this science-fiction film, the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp. He simply gave the director $30 million to make whatever he wanted. The result was this film. Shot in Johannesburg.


Rotten Tomatoes: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.


Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey: In a good summer, there's usually a movie that will come out of nowhere and completely wow us. This is a good summer, and that movie is District 9. Though the themes are universal, the director's childhood in South Africa clearly informs the film's sensibility, in this case greatly adding to its distinctive look and feel. It's an impressive first feature for the 29-year-old Blomkamp.



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.



Movie Rating System


There are seven categories under the new system:


Category 1 covers educational films that all are encouraged to see;

Category 2 films are those deemed suitable for a general audience;

Category 3 films are suitable for viewers aged 13 years and over;

Category 4 for those over 15;

Category 5 for those over 18; and

Category 6 for those 20 and older.

And then there’s the invisible Category 7, which doesn’t need a symbol because it’s absolutely forbidden to be shown.


The ratings 1 to 5 are only a guide and will be enforced mainly by social pressure, according to Culture Minister Teera Salakpetch, but entry to Category 6 films will be strictly controlled, with fines of between Bt20,000 and Bt100,000 for cinemas that do not comply.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


September features François Truffaut at Alliance Française.


At Alliance Française on Friday, September 4:  Les quatre cents coups / The 400 Blows (1959) by François Truffaut – 96 mins – France, Drama/ Crime. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 88 out of 100.


With Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Rémy, Guy Decomble.



Antoine Doinel is 14 year old. His parents do not show much interest in him. He skips school to go to the movies and play with his friends. He discovers his mother has a lover. Antoine steals a typewriter, which leads to his suspension from school...

Alliance description


Intensely touching story of a misunderstood young adolescent who left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime. A seminal French New Wave film that offers an honest, sympathetic, and wholly heartbreaking observation of adolescence without trite nostalgia.

A young Parisian boy, Antoine Doinel, neglected by his derelict parents, skips school, sneaks into movies, runs away from home, steals things, and tries (disastrously) to return them. Like most kids, he gets into more trouble for things he thinks are right than for his actual trespasses. Unlike most kids, he gets whacked with the big stick. He inhabits a Paris of dingy flats, seedy arcades, abandoned factories, and workaday streets, a city that seems big and full of possibilities only to a child's eye.



Rotten Tomatoes: Director FrançoisTruffaut's first feature film, The 400 Blows, is a landmark in French cinema. Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is a 13-year-old boy who can't seem to do anything right. His parents yell at him and then bribe him for his love and his promises to work harder in school. Meanwhile, his schoolteacher is out to get him and blames Antoine for everything--turning him into the class clown. As a result, Antoine runs away from school and his difficult family, living on the streets of Paris and committing petty crimes. While his life on the street is tough, it's much better than dealing with his preoccupied parents and his accusatory teacher. Nonetheless, things only go downhill for Antoine, descending to a simultaneously painful and beautiful conclusion. A truly impressive film, The 400 Blows is raw, honest, and intensely emotional. Imbued with a strong and complex personality, Antoine maintains his poise and self-confidence, even as he endures abusive treatment from every adult he encounters. René Simonet (Patrick Auffray) is Antoine's one pal, and the unspoken dialogues between the boys, depicted by Truffaut through the boys' facial expressions and with masterful roving photography, allow the viewer to see through Antoine's eyes and understand his unflinching tenacity. Few films have captured the difficulties of childhood as well as this acclaimed French masterpiece. Essentially the start of the French New Wave movement, The 400 Blows is also the beginning of Truffaut'sAntoine Doinel cycle, which follows Léaud as Antoine in five additional films over the course of 20 years. 



At Alliance Française on Friday, September 11:  Jules et Jim/ Jules and Jim (1962) by François Truffaut – 110 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 89 out of 100.


With JeanneMoreau, Oscar Werner, Henri Serre, Marie Dubois.


Two young men, Jules and Jim, have been the best of friends for many years, and their friendship becomes even more closer the day they discover that they love the same woman and that she loves them both… A strange situation indeed, but even stranger is this young woman who, although her behaviour could seem paradoxical to others, keeps a surprising simplicity and purity in the relationship with her two lovers.

Alliance description


Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman., Sean Axmaker: François Truffaut's third feature, though it's named for the two best friends who become virtually inseparable in pre-World War I Paris, is centered on Jeanne Moreau's Catherine, the most mysterious, enigmatic woman in his career-long gallery of rich female portraits. Adapted from the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, Truffaut's picture explores the 30-year friendship between Austrian biologist Jules (Oskar Werner) and Parisian writer Jim (Henri Serre) and the love triangle formed when the alluring Catherine makes the duo a trio. Spontaneous and lively, a woman of intense but dynamic emotions, she becomes the axle on which their friendship turns as Jules woos her and they marry, only to find that no one man can hold her. Directed in bursts of concentrated scenes interspersed with montage sequences and pulled together by the commentary of an omniscient narrator, Truffaut layers his tragic drama with a wealth of detail. He draws on his bag of New Wave tricks for the carefree days of youth--zooms, flash cuts, freeze frames--that disappear as the marriage disintegrates during the gloom of the postwar years. Werner is excellent as Jules, a vibrant young man whose slow, melancholy slide into emotional compromise is charted in his increasingly sad eyes and resigned face, while Serre plays Jim as more of an enigma, guarded and introspective. But both are eclipsed in the glare of Moreau's radiant Catherine: impulsive, demanding, sensual, passionate, destructive, and ultimately unknowable. A masterpiece of the French New Wave and one of Truffaut's most confident and accomplished films.


DVD available from



At Alliance Française on Friday, September 18:  La Peau Douce/ The Soft Skin (1964) by François Truffaut – 165 mins – France/ Portugal, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Generally favorable reviews: 74 out of 100.


With Françoise Dorléac, Jean Desailly, Nelly Bénédetti, Daniel Ceccaldi.



Pierre Lachenay is a well-known publisher and lecturer, married with Franca and father of Sabine, around 10. He meets an air hostess, Nicole. They start a love affair, which Pierre is hiding, but he cannot stand staying away from her…

Alliance description



Rotten Tomatoes: The Soft Skin, from one of the New Wave's most prolific directors, François Truffaut, is a brilliant classic replete with intrigue, emotion, and stunning imagery. This anatomy of an affair between successful publisher and novelist Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly), and airline stewardess Nicole (Françoise Dorléac), begins on Lachenay's trip to Lisbon for a lecture. On the airplane he watches, enraptured, as Nicole changes out of her work shoes and into sexy, sling-back pumps. From there, his lust for her only grows, and he begins a deeply involved affair with her that continues back in Paris. Meanwhile Lachenay's perfect bourgeoise wife, Franca (Nelly Benedetti) is entertaining friends and playing with their cute five-year-old daughter, Sabine (Sabine Haudepin), seemingly unaware of her husband's strange behavior. But when Franca discovers that he's been cheating and may even be in love, she reacts irrationally. The Soft Skin's surprising finale is one of the most memorable in film history. Perhaps it is Truffaut's attention to detail that builds so much tangible emotion into his films. The camera seems to skim over surfaces, examine the unattractive angles of people's faces, read street signs. In the car, the camera is riding in the back seat, but as the car speeds up, it's pressed against the windshield. In The Soft Skin, Truffaut expresses a precise emotion with each sequence. Viewers of the film are so often nervous because of the way Lechenay's gaze flits around, blurring up the scenery, frantically. Then, when Lechenay is with his lover, Nicole, the light is bright, the gaze is steady, the mood is triumphant. In the final scenes, as the cobblestones of Parisian boulevards whiz by chaotically, we are reminded of the suspenseful clues given in Hitchcock movies, and we know what is about to happen. At once beautiful and hilariously observant, Truffaut's expressive visuals make The Soft Skin an inarguable masterpiece. 



DVD available from