Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whats On starting February 25

Major Cineplex disappoints its patrons

Major Cineplex disappoints its patrons!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, February 25, 2010


… through Wednesday, March 3


by Thomas Ohlson


Best Bets:  Avatar. The Book of Eli.  The Wolfman.  Percy Jackson.

Academy Awards (the “Oscars”): Mar 8 at 8 am Thai time on the “E!” channel on True Visions (silver and platinum packages only). Actual awards show itself starts at 8:30 am. Arrivals show begins 6 am.


Right, Denzel Washington in

 The Book of Eli


Or, you can watch a delayed and edited version on a big screen at the RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort, beginning at 6:30 pm on March 8 as a benefit for Care for Dogs Foundation. One of Chiang Mai’s most avid film fans, Tim McGuire, will be your host. Welcome cocktails, soft drinks, and a buffet are included in the 750 baht price of the ticket, with all proceeds going to Care for Dogs Foundation. The venue is made possible by the generosity of the RatiLanna Resort. For information go to the foundation’s website at


The 8th World Film Festival of Bangkok: Nov 5 to 14, 2010.

EU Film Festival in Chiang Mai: sometime in November also, exact date uncertain.


This newssheet is also online! With up-to-date movie times. Go to:


This is Issue Number 17 of Volume 5 of these listings, in our fifth year!


What a disappointment!

I am really upset with Major Cineplex this week. After promising the arrival of two excellent films today, both up for various Academy Awards, neither arrives! I’m talking about Up in the Air, with George Clooney, and Invictus, with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. This is on top of their decision not to show The Hurt Locker here, which is one of the finest films of this or any other year. But that decision at least is understandable, given the grim nature of the story. I am still hoping they might relent and eventually show The Hurt Locker here, though it sure won’t be a money-maker. Maybe if it wins the Oscar for best picture of the year, we’ll have a chance; it is up for that prize and eight others, just like Avatar.


But there should be no problems with Up in the Air and Invictus. There is, I think, much about these two films which would interest the general majority of people who see films in our fair city. George Clooney is certainly a favorite film star, as are both Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. And the sports aspect of the latter seems to me sure to be of interest to the Major Cineplex audiences.

For weeks now in Chiang Mai, Major Cineplex has been promoting Up in the Air for February 25, showing previews for it, having posters up with a date for February 25 – a movie high on the list of Oscar movies for this year, which all movie goers I know of are very anxious to see. I’m sure I’ve also seen posters for Invictus. I believe the decision to cancel these showings here represents a serious misreading of the tastes of Chiang Mai filmgoers on the part of Major Cineplex.

 Above not scheduled: The Hurt Locker


I have written them an email message, for what good it might do. If you feel as I do and would like to write to them also, please, I urge you to do so. Send the message to Patcharee Wonkumyod who is Assist Cinema Manager at the Chiang Mai branch, with copies to as many of these as you would like:Soraya Chearananta ; Teerapong Chamanon ; Kitiya Chitmunchaitham ; ; ; Nutthapong. Each of the links given here contains the person’s email address.


You might also leave a message on their website, and on their Facebook account, These last two would be especially effective if you can write in Thai. Thank you for your help.


And to add insult to injury, what is being shown instead of the Oscar contenders is probably one of the most unremarkable Thai films ever produced, a film so bad that they haven’t even put an English title to it, out of shame, I suppose. If you were going to translate it, it would come out something like The Jolly Battalion, or perhaps The Gay Battalion, with the subtitle The Vivacious Soldiers. It's been described as “a gays-in-the-military romp” and will be handled no doubt by the Thai filmmakers with their usual sensitivity when dealing with such topics.


Here’s a current scorecard of how our cineplexes are doing:


Recent no-shows: Shutter Island, Up in the Air, Invictus. Important films not scheduled for Chiang Mai: The Hurt Locker, The Lovely Bones, Precious, A Serious Man. Fun films not scheduled for Chiang Mai: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Where the Wild Things Are, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, The Men Who Stare at Goats.


Avatar note: Airport Plaza returns Avatar to the 3D version; only one showing a day (weekdays) at 9:30 pm. But check! Times can change daily.


Now playing in Chiang Mai (i.e., “What’s left”)    * = new this week


* The Book of Eli: US, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Thriller/ Western – 118 mins – The story revolves around a lone warrior (Denzel Washington) who must fight to bring society the knowledge that could be the key to its redemption. Gary Oldman portrays the despot of a small makeshift town who's determined to take possession of the book Eli's guarding. It's certainly uneven, and many viewers will find that its reach exceeds its grasp, but The Book of Eli finds the Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen) injecting some fresh stylish fun into the kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland filmgoers have seen more than enough of lately. Rated R in the US for some brutal violence and language. Mixed or average reviews: 53/53 out of 100.

From the studio, Warner Bros: In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth--all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water...or for nothing at all.

But they're no match for this traveler.


A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli (Denzel Washington) seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It's not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive--and continue.


Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the self-appointed despot of a makeshift town of thieves and gunmen. Meanwhile, Carnegie's adopted daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) is fascinated by Eli for another reason: the glimpse he offers of what may exist beyond her stepfather's domain.

But neither will find it easy to deter him. Nothing--and no one--can stand in his way. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.


Rotten Tomatoes: For those who like their religious parables with plenty of fire and brimstone, The Book of Eli should be up your alley. That said, most critics say Eli is a bit of a muddle. Denzel Washington stars as the title character who, even though he walks through a post-apocalyptic, illiterate wasteland, will fear no man, for he carries the last known copy of the Good Book -- as well as plenty of deadly weaponry. Standing in his way is the frontier-town despot Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who wants to get his hand on the book. The reviewers say The Book of Eli has its moments, adding some originality to the recent glut of cinematic dystopias. However, others say it's awfully inconsistent, and never quite achieves the grandeur it's aiming for.

* Who Are You? / ใครในห้อง / ฮูอาร์ยู: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – 90 mins – Also known as “Who R U?” Veteran actress Sinjai Plengpanich (Love of Siam)stars as a mother whose son has withdrawn from social life and locked himself away in his room for five years. The only way she can communicate with her son is to write on a piece of paper and slip it under the door. This is the psychological condition of hikikomori andis the major plot point of the film. This thriller comes from writer Eakasit Thairatana (13 Beloved, Body #19) and director Pakphum Wonjinda(VDO Clip, Scared).


* Kong Phan / Gong-pan / Korng Pan Kreuk Kreun, Tor Tahan Keuk Kak / กองพันครึกครื้น.ทหารคึกคัก: Thai, Comedy – 90 mins – Nobody knows how to translate the title. Kong Rithdee calls it The Exhilarating Regiment. Film Business Asia calls it Jolly Rangers. I call it Gobbledygook Brigade. Anyway: You’re in the Army now! Ain’t it fun?! (Remember, this is what we get instead of one of the Oscar contenders.) Studio synopsis:  ”Jiwon, a young lad, is enlisted to the army where he meets his new and unusual friends.” I’ll bet!


The Wolfman: UK/ US, Horror/ Thriller – 110 mins I consider this an excellent spare, dark, and brooding Gothic version of the famous tale, told with great style and much blood. For those who like Gothic straight-up horror and blood, this is a welcome new and classic $85 million remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney movie.

Starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. Rated R in the US for bloody horror violence and gore; 18+ in Thailand. Vista has a Thai-dubbed version as well as an English version. Mixed or average reviews: 44/48 out of 100.


Dark Horizons, Garth Franklin:  There's the distinct impression of a stronger and more focused version of the film existing somewhere (either on paper or on reels) that has been defanged by not just the production's problems but a ruthless 'editing by committee' process.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: Canada/ US, Adventure/ Fantasy 119 mins – The Mount Olympus gods are not happy:  Zeus' lightning bolt has been stolen, and high school student Percy Jackson is the prime suspect in this sprawling and entertaining teen adventure. As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his two close friends embark on an adventure to catch the true lightning thief, and return the lightning to Zeus. Logan Lerman as Percy is an excellent new teenaged hero like Harry Potter, but for me a lot more interesting and with a lot more charisma; a sequel is already announced for next year. Stay around for an additional short scene during the closing credits. Mixed or average reviews: 47/52 out of 100.


Urban Cinefile, Andrew L. Urban: It's a rich film, filled with detail, but never buried by it, and it works both as a primer for Greek mythology and a vibrant fantasy.


Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 162 mins – Nine Oscar nominations. Now the highest grossing film in the world ever, bypassing the director’s own Titanic. It’s a very good film. It has ages-old, sure-fire plotlines that strike a lot of sensitive spots in the human psyche. Director James Cameron has produced a major achievement as well as atechnological breakthrough. It’s gotten near-universal reviews from critics and fans. Of course it will win the Oscar! Reviews: Universal acclaim: 84/76 out of 100. 


This week at Major Cineplex the 3D version has re-appeared, and the 2D version is gone. The 3D is on for a once-a-day showing on weekdays (at 9:30 pm). But check! Times can change daily.


True Legend / Su Qi-Er / 苏乞儿 / ยาจกซูตำนานหมัดเมา: China, Action/Drama/ History – 115 mins – So Chan, or Su Qi-Er, a wealthy man living during the Qing Dynasty loses his fortune and reputation as a result of a conspiracy against him. After being forced out onto the streets, Su dedicates his life to martial arts and reemerges as a patriotic hero. With David Carradine, Jay Chou, and Michelle Yeoh.

Shown in 2D at Vista in a Thai-dubbed version only, no English subtitles. At Airport Plaza it’s shown in partial 3D; it’s Thai-dubbed only with no English subtitles. As to the 3D aspect, it’s a little misleading to call it a 3D film, as there are only two 3D sequences, with a total time of about 18 minutes. The two 3D action sequences are actually cut into many small 3D segments; theaudience is instructed to put on and take off the 3D glasses during viewing. Director Yuen Woo-Ping said they wanted to make the film entirely 3D, but that would have cost several million dollars more and another five years to complete. Some theaters in China decided not to show the 3D version in order to avoid the possible damage to the glasses due to the frequent putting them on and taking them off.


The film features one of the final performances by actor David Carradine, who died in a bizarre accident in Bangkok during post-production.


Little Big Soldier / ใหญ่พลิกแผ่นดินฟัด:   China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy – 85 mins – An old soldier kidnaps the young general of an enemy state and takes him on a long journey to collect the reward. The role of the Little (Young) Soldier was originally written for Jackie Chan (and by Jackie Chan), who came up with the idea of the story Little Big Soldier 20 years ago. However, it took 20 years to wrap up the script, and now Jackie Chan is cast as the Big (elder) Soldier instead. The film is also produced as well as written by Jackie Chan. Shown at Airport Plaza only in a Thai-dubbed version only, no English subtitles.


Valentine’s Day: US, Comedy/ Romance Critics have been unkind to this story of Intertwining couples and singles in Los Angeles as they break-up and make-up from the pressures and expectations of Valentine's Day. It’s a huge hit in the US. Directed by Garry Marshall, with a star-studded ensemble, including Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah. Generally unfavorable reviews: 34/38 out of 100.


Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, March 4, 2010


I don’t know what good it does to list these, as the films scheduled are thrown out on a whim, so it seems, by the movie purveyors here in town. Is it any wonder people who are really fond of movies are going to the cinemas less and less? Fairly soon, I fear, everyone will have their own little film theater at home, and watch every movie on DVD. Really a shame.

Or … one could perhaps steel oneself for the discomfort of the Alliance Française. … Or put on old clothes and head for Film Space.

 Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar

Anyway, there is one film scheduled for next week at the cineplexes that seems pretty sure, because it’s a world-wide opening date, and that one is:


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 Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Mia Wasikowska as Alice, and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Also with Helena Bonham-Carter, Crispin Glover, and Alan Rickman as our favorite caterpillar.

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