Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, March 4, 2010
… through Wednesday, March 10
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Alice in Wonderland. The Book of Eli. 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.
Or, you can watch a delayed and edited version on a big screen at the Rati Lanna 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, John Richard, 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 Rati Lanna Resort.
An Evening with the Stars! A Care for Dogs Foundation Fundraiser
Enjoy a night of sparkle and glamour! There will be live movie songs from singers, Ana Gracey and Antima Khuttiwung, as well as a raffle and a silent and live auction!
See the Oscar ceremony in style at the first Oscar Viewing Party!
All proceeds will help homeless dogs and cats in Chiang Mai. For further information and ticket locations, go to the foundation’s website at
The 8th World Film Festival of Bangkok: Nov 5 to 14, 2010.
And yes, I’m still disappointed!
To right, not scheduled:
The Hurt Locker
Here’s a current scorecard of how our cineplexes are doing:
Recent no-shows: Shutter Island, Up in the Air, Invictus, Burn After Reading, Cirque du Freak. Important films not scheduled for Chiang Mai: The Hurt Locker, The Lovely Bones, 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.
So I’m still disappointed. If you are too, consider letting them know about it. I urge you to do so. For Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza, 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 ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; Nutthapong. Each of the links given here contains the person’s email address.
You might also leave a message on their website, http://www.majorcineplex.com/contactus.php and on their Facebook account, http://www.facebook.com/MajorGroup. These last two would be especially effective if you can write in Thai. Thank you for your help.
Up in the Air note: Although the cineplexes may not be showing Up in the Air, Citylife Magazine is! As a benefit for trees. Yes, you remember them, the nice leafy things that used to grow everywhere? Citylife, to celebrate the Oscars season, as well as to raise funds to continue and expand on their carbon neutral initiative, will hold an outdoors movie night in their Citylife garden on March 17th from 6 pm. Actual viewing will start at 6.30 pm. The film will be the Oscar-nominated best picture contender Up in the Air starring George Clooney. They will provide chairs and a mat, but if you wish to bring your own cushions, deckchairs or anything else, that would be great. Tickets are 200 baht per person with one popcorn/soft drink combo as well as a chance to play fun games to win silly prizes. Onsite will be soft drinks, beers, wine, and snacks for sale. The evening will kick off with live music followed by a short film (fifteen minutes) produced by Chiang Mai University students. Go! – for a fun-filled evening of movies and entertainment. All for a great cause.
Tickets can be bought at Citylife office, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 053 225 201 to book tickets. Please email should you wish to come, so they can prepare for numbers, but tickets will be on sale at the door.
Avatar note: No showings of Avatar this week. I’m guessing it will return after it wins the Best Picture Oscar Sunday night.
Sound quality note: Cinema 7 is again having sound problems: the sound wavers, as though the film is not being fed through the projector at a constant speed. Particularly noticeable and intensely aggravating in music with sustained notes.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Alice in Wonderland: US, Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – 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. Very early scores: Mixed or average reviews: 59/60 out of 100.
Boxoffice Magazine, Pete Hammond: Tim Burton, plus Alice, plus 3D, equals an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind movie experience.
Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore: Burton has imagined what at times is a literally eye-popping world of beasties, Scots accents, and gloom. “Logic and proportion” go out the window as Alice drinks this and shrinks, eats that and grows, and everyone and everything around her is stretched, bulbously blown up, or otherwise deformed in endlessly inventive ways. Whatever the virtues of Avatar, this is the most fanciful use of 3D ever to hit the big screen.
And Burton has cast it near perfectly. Anne Hathaway is a pale and dainty “Glenda the Good Witch” sort of White Queen. HUGE-headed Helena Bonham Carter is the eternally ill-tempered Red Queen, barking at her court of freaks and frogs and her playing-card soldiers in an Elizabethan temper.
“OFF with their heads!”
And Johnny Depp, as a madder-than-usual hatter in revolt against that tyrant, toys with a Highland accent.
“Dooooon with the bloody Red Queen!” he purrs.
* Daybreakers: Australia/ US, Action/ Drama/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 98 mins – In the year 2019, a plague has transformed most every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind. The film stars Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, and brief nudity. Mixed or average reviews: 57/54 out of 100.
Arizona Republic, Bill Goodykoontz: Daybreakers isn't a great film, but it's a good one, and in a market oddly lousy with vampire tales, it's an original.
Right: Ethan Hawke in Daybreakers
Rotten Tomatoes: Though it arrives during an unfortunate glut of vampire movies, Daybreakers offers enough dark sci-fi thrills -- and enough of a unique twist on the genre -- to satisfy filmgoers.
Reelviews, James Berardinelli: The premise is intriguing: What would happen if a mass vampire epidemic swept across the planet (sort of like the zombification of mankind in the George Romero movies) and humans - the major food source - became endangered? The best parts of Daybreakers relate to exploring the society that might emerge in such a situation, including the potential economic, political, technological, and military implications. The movie, written and directed by brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, doesn't just pay lip service to the background material. It is effectively interwoven into the story's tapestry, and may intrigue those who have grown weary of standard-order vampire movies. In addition to the back story, the movie raises questions about ideas as far ranging as what it means to be human and the morality of ethnic cleansing (an allegorical aspect). Daybreakers is primarily an adventure/thriller, and there are plenty of traditional elements, but more thought went into mapping out the scenario than one often uncovers in this sort of motion picture.
If ideas and back story represent Daybreakers' strengths, its action sequences are its Achilles' heel. Although not poorly executed, most exist in the gray zone between "obligatory" and "ordinary." It's as if they have been included simply because the filmmakers are concerned there might not be an audience for an overly talky, sedate vampire movie in which there isn't a female character named Bella running around. So we get stock situations like car chases, monster mayhem, and predictable betrayals.
On balance, however, there are more things to like about Daybreakers than to dislike. The production is loaded with impressive touches, some more nuanced than others.
IMDb viewer: A lot of blood and gore ... and it goes downhill from there.
Daybreakers was a surprising disappointment, the movie is rated well, but after seeing it, it felt like a waste of both time and money. The movie starts off quite well, with several allegories to our present day problems and threats, but that just evaporates very quickly.
A feeble attempt at a plot in the middle and the end fails rather miserably, as one illogical event follows another in the latter two thirds of the movie. New plot twists are introduced every few minutes, and, worst of all, have a minimal effect on the ending.
The only positive note in the movie is it's unflinching portrayal of violence - if you call that a positive note, that is. However, it is so exaggerated and theatrical it looks even more unreal than it already is.
You can skip this one and you won't miss a thing.
About the twin directors, the brothers Michael and Peter Spierig
Here’s another directing pair who are twin brothers, like the directors of The Book of Eli, Albert and Allen Hughes. And – here’s the mind-blowing fact about it all – the two sets of twins were born on the same day, April 1, 1972! Unless, of course, someone somewhere is playing an April Fool’s Day joke. The Hughes twins were born in Detroit, Michigan, and the Spierig twins born in Germany. But isn’t that creepy! The same day, the same year!
Although the Spierig brothers were born in Germany, they grew up in Brisbane, Australia. Michael studied graphic design at university, while Peter studied film and television. A commercial director had watched a number of their short films and asked them to direct commercials for Australian Union, which they did for the next three years. After that the two agreed on pooling together their life savings and creating their first film, Undead (2003), which turned out to be a zombie horror comedy. They are known for directing visceral and often violent horror movies.
* Dear John: US, Drama/ Romance/ Wa r– 105 mins – A romantic drama about a soldier who falls for a conservative college student while he's home on leave. Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas. Directed by Lasse Hallström (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, My Life As a Dog, The Cider House Rules, The Hoax).Mixed or average reviews: 43/43 out of 100.
Arizona Republic, Bill Goodykoontz: Awash in mawkish sentimentality, Dear John still will move you deeply - if you're a 12-year-old girl.
The New York Times, A.O. Scott: Dear John carefully distills selected elements of human experience and reduces them to a sweet and digestible syrup. It may not be strong medicine, but it delivers an effective, pleasing dose of pure sentiment and vicarious heartache.
Roger Ebert: Lasse Hallstrom's Dear John tells the heartbreaking story of two lovely young people who fail to find happiness together because they're trapped in an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Their romance leads to bittersweet loss that's so softened by the sweet characters that it feels like triumph. If a Sparks story ended in happiness, the characters might be disappointed.
New York Post, Lou Lumenick: Dear John is the sort of movie that gives tearjerkers a bad name.
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.
About the twin directors, the brothers
Albert and Allen Hughes
Right: working with Denzel on Eli
Born 1 April 1972, in Detroit, Michigan, Albert and Allen Hughes began making movies at age 12, but their formal film education began their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. They soon made a short film entitled How To Be A Burglar and people began to take notice. Their next work, Uncensored videos, was broadcast on cable, introducing them to a wider audience. After high school Albert began taking classes at LACC Film School: two shorts established the twins' reputation as innovative filmmakers and allowed them to direct Menace II Society (1993), which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and grossed nearly 10 times as much as its $3 million budget. After following up with Dead Presidents (1995), which I have seen and which I like quite a lot, they directed the feature-length documentary American Pimp (1999) .
Who Are You? / ใครในห้อง / ฮูอาร์ยู: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – 105 mins – Also known as “Who R U?” Veteran actress Sinjai Plengpanich (Love of Siam), seen to right, 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” and is 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 / กองพันครึกครื้นท.ทหารคึกคัก: Thai, Comedy – 115 mins – Nobody knows how to translate the title. Kong Rithdee calls it The Exhilarating Regiment. Film Business Asia calls it Jolly Rangers. Anyway: You’re in the Army now! Ain’t it fun?! (Remember, this is what we get instead of one of the Oscar contenders.) It’s been described as a “gays in the military romp.” Studio synopsis: ”Jiwon, a young lad, is enlisted to the army where he meets his new and unusual friends.” I’ll bet!
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.
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. At Vista only, and only in a Thai-dubbed version.
The film has a cameo – one of his final performances – by actor David Carradine, who died in a bizarre accident in Bangkok during post-production.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, March 11, 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.
Green Zone: France/ US/ Spain/ UK, Action/ Drama/ Thriller/ War – 115 mins – Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a US Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region. Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson. Director: Paul Greengrass. Rated R in the US for violence and language.
Universal Pictures synopsis: Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) re-team for their latest electrifying thriller in Green Zone, a film set in the chaotic early days of the Iraqi War when no one could be trusted and every decision could detonate unforeseen consequences.
During the US-led occupation of Baghdad in 2003, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) and his team of Army inspectors were dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in the Iraqi desert. Rocketing from one booby-trapped and treacherous site to the next, the men search for deadly chemical agents but stumble instead upon an elaborate cover-up that inverts the purpose of their mission.
Spun by operatives with intersecting agendas, Miller must hunt through covert and faulty intelligence hidden on foreign soil for answers that will either clear a rogue regime or escalate a war in an unstable region. And at this blistering time and in this combustible place, he will find the most elusive weapon of all is the truth.
The Little Comedian / Baan Chan ... Talok Wai Gon (Por Son Wai) / บ้าน ฉัน...ตลก ไว้ ก่อน (พ่อ สอน ไว้): Thai, Family/Comedy – Directed by Witthaya Thongyooyong, one of the directors on the famed Fan Chan. The Little Comedian is about a family comedy troupe which harbors a black sheep – a son who isn't funny and is constantly upstaged by his filthy-mouthed younger sister. Comedian Jaturong Mokjok plays the father of the clan.