The Iron Man returns!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, April 29, 2010
… through Tuesday, May 4
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bet: Iron Man 2.
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.
At right, Samuel L. Jackson, in
Iron Man 2
Note about the blog: The movie times will only be updated once a week for now. Times subsequent to those listed there, and in this newssheet, please get from the cinema websites, or by phone. Or by just going to the cinemas and looking.
Schedules will change Wednesday, May 5, which is a holiday (Coronation Day).
This is Issue Number 26 of Volume 5 of these listings.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Iron Man 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 124 mins – US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Glwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Garry Shandling, Paul Bettany (fresh from Legion), Samuel L. Jackson, and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Seems like it will be a wild, lavish, and expensive film that’s a lot of fun. The wonderful actor Robert Downey Jr. again, of course, plays the role of Tony Stark, the wealthy playboy whose exploits as Iron Man are now public knowledge after his admission at the close of the first film. Tony is under pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military, but he is unwilling to give away too much.
Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2
* Kheaw Ar-Khad / The Intruder / เขี้ยวอาฆาต: Thai, Horror/ Suspense – 115 mins – It’s payback time when hundreds of cobras attack residents of an apartment that was built on their breeding ground. The story goes that when the film was in production last year, two of the actors were actually bitten by the snakes. Make of that what you will.
* Edge of the Empire / Kon Tai Ting Pandin / คนไททิ้งแผ่นดิน: Thai, Action/ Drama – 125 mins – A film inspired by Thai historical heroes who sacrificed their lives to fight against an invasion by the Han tribe. In southern Mongolia over 1,000 years ago, a small tribe existed called “Tai,” a colony enslaved by the Great Han. They were the forefathers of the present-day Thais.
Wise Kwai: There’s a trailer for the historical epic Kon Tai Ting Pandin (คนไททิ้งแผ่นดิน), a.k.a.Edge of the Empire, posted at YouTube in high-def with English subtitles. The new reel shows off the work of filmmaker Paul Spurrier, director of the bargirl witchcraft thriller P, who served as director of photography on Edge of the Empire. Directed by Nirattisai Kaljareuk, it's been in production for four years -- much of it in post-production, giving it the "most extensive CG background work of any Thai film yet produced," says the YouTube description.
It's based on the legends of the heroic struggles and sacrifices of the ancient ethnic Tai people. Among the cast is songs-for-life icon Ad Carabao, who stars as the leader of a Tai group. He also wrote and sings the movie’s title track. "I feel passionate about a story that urges Thais to love each other and unite," Ad was quoted as saying by Soopsip in The Nation recently. "This is a very timely film." According to Ad, Nirattisai "really studied the background of the Tai and every bit of the history to get everything perfect." Kon Tai Ting Pandin is set for release on April 10.
The Crazies: US, Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 100 mins – A remake or reimagining of George Romero’s 1973 film, by director Breck Eisner, the son of Disney’s Michael Eisner. A husband and wife in a small Midwestern town find themselves battling for survival as their friends and family descend into madness in The Crazies. A mysterious toxin in the water supply turns everyone exposed to it into mindless killers and the authorities leave the uninfected to their certain doom. Rated R in the US for bloody violence and language; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews: 55/61 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Tense, nicely shot, and uncommonly intelligent, The Crazies is the rare horror remake that works.
The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Rechtshaffen: Part zombie movie, part apocalyptic bioterror, part military conspiracy thriller, the refit hybrid doesn't stint on the visceral kicks demanded by contemporary audiences while remaining reasonably true to those Romero roots.
Legion: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – 100 mins – In the first minute, the angel Michael falls to earth and then cuts off his wings. It goes on from there with, I must admit, a certain amount of evocative style. First 40 minutes are terrific; then I suggest you leave. Here’s how they describe it: “After a terrifying biblical apocalypse descends upon the world, a group of strangers stranded in a remote truck stop diner in the US Southwest unwittingly become humanity's last line of defense when they discover the diner's young waitress is pregnant with the messiah.” With Paul Bettany. Generally unfavorable reviews: 32/37 out of 100. At Vista only.
Rotten Tomatoes: Despite a solid cast and intermittent thrills, Legion suffers from a curiously languid pace, confused plot, and an excess of dialogue.
Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore: Profane, profanely silly, and blasphemous to beat the band, Legion begins well before plunging into the abyss of tedium.
Kick-Ass: US/ UK, Action/ Comedy/ Drama – 117 mins -- An unnoticed high school student and comic book fan decides one day to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training, or meaningful reason to do so. It’s been hailed as a rollicking, virtuoso comic-book adaptation that fizzes with originality, feisty wit, and an unexpected degree of heart. With Nicolas Cage. Rated R in the US for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity, and some drug use - some involving children. 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews: 67/68 out of 100. At Vista only, in only a Thai-dubbed version.
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Ong-Bak 3: Thai, Action – Tony Jaa in the historical martial-arts conclusion of the two-part prequel to the Ong-Bak movie that made him a star in 2003.
At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon." A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
At Alliance Française on Friday, April 30, 8 pm: L'Homme du train / Man on the Train (2002) by Patrice Leconte – 90 mins – Comedy/Drama. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 75/75 out of 100.
With Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-François Stévenin, Charlie Nelson, Pascal Parmentier, Isabelle Petit-Jacques, Edith Scob.
At a deserted train station, a teacher and a gangster meet and realize that each might have been better suited to the other man's way of life. As a friendship of sorts develops between these opposite personalities, each starts to envy the other and by the week's end, everything will change for both of them...
– Alliance description
RottenTomatoes: In a sleepy French backwater, a train pulls into a deserted station, depositing a lone passenger: a grizzled man in a fringed leather jacket. He looks like a criminal, albeit an aging criminal, a man who has never before asked questions of life or made deep connections with anybody, arriving for a final showdown, and he is. But, within minutes, he bumps into a local retired poetry teacher in dapper clothes, a man who looks like someone waiting for something exciting to happen, who appears perfectly settled in his life, and he was…until now.
Suddenly, these two disparate men are about to find, at the very end of the line, an unexpected friendship, an opportunity to look back on their dashed hopes, and a magical, momentary chance to explore the road not taken.
Patrice Leconte's award-winning Man on the Train is a simple, humor-filled tale that resonates with deeper themes of friendship and fate, of longing and regret and most of all, of the passage of time and the choices we make. It is the story of two men who might never have met but for an accident, who appear to have nothing in common, yet who change each other's view of life at the last possible moment.
When the criminal Milan (French rock icon Johnny Hallyday) rolls into town planning to knock off the local bank on Saturday, he assumes it will go off without a hitch. Then he encounters Manesquier (leading French actor Jean Rochefort). A retired poetry teacher whose sedentary lifestyle bores even himself, Manesquier offers Milan a much-needed drink of water in his musty old chateau. The only thing they seem to share is that Manesquier, too, has an important date on Saturday; but his is for open-heart surgery. From the start, the two men are equally wary of the other. Manesquier senses that Milan is up to no good, while Milan is driven crazy by Manesquier's incessant talking. But, when Milan is forced to hole up in Manesquier's mansion until the robbery, the distance between them begins to disappear. Suddenly, Manesquier wonders what it would be like to trade his books and art for Milan's gun and life of adventure. Meanwhile, Milan covets Manesquier's bedroom slippers and cozy life of stability.
As their friendship develops, surprising moments of humor and tenderness emerge, as each seemingly defies his personality to explore his yearning for the life of the other.
Saturday arrives. Milan and Manesquier have no choice but to part ways and head towards their different destinies. But even their destinies are no longer the same, for their very dreams have become intertwined.
At Alliance Française on Friday, May 7, 8 pm: Les choristes / The Chorus / The Choir (2004) by Christophe Barratier – 95 mins – France/ Switzerland/ Germany, Drama/ Music. English subtitles. Mixed or average reviews: 56/63 out of 100.
With Gérard Jugnot, Jacques Perrin, François Berléand, Marie Bunel, and Jean-Baptiste Maunier.
Set in 1948, a professor of music, Clément Mathieu, becomes the supervisor at a boarding school for the rehabilitation for minors. What he discovers disconcerts him - the current situation is repressive. Through the power of music, will Clément transform the students?
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: A memorable entry in the genre of inspirational pedagogical films, The Chorus is an uplifting tale of a masterful teacher who put his heart into his work and changed the lives of his students forever. With a soundtrack of boys' singing, the lovely music of this film is the glue that will stick to viewers long after watching it. Set in 1940s rural France, at a school for poor boys who are delinquent or orphaned, the story feels timeless in the way that it captures a crucial moment in the lives of the boys involved. Ranging from early elementary school level to junior high, the boys struggle for independence and self-expression. They defy authority, especially when it comes from their brutally unfair and abusive headmaster, Rachin (Francois Berleand). And in general, because they feel neglected by their families, or don't have any family at all, there is something disjointed and sullen about the boys. Only after their teacher, Clement Mathieu (Gerard Jugnot), shows them that he will guide them, befriend them, and teach them by piquing their curiosity, not by insisting or punishing, do they begin to change. The choir he forms, and the songs he teaches the boys, become a source of pride for them, allowing them to rise above the confines of their meager and stifling school, and dream of a bright future. Director/writer Christophe Barratier has created a moving and beautiful film with more than a few life lessons hidden within. The music, written by Bruno Coulais, features the angelic voice of Jean-Paul Bonnaire, who plays Morhange in the film.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
May is “The Month of Surreal” 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 at least 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, May 1, 7 pm: The Wayward Cloud / Tian bian yi duo yun / 天邊一朵雲 (2005) by Tsai Ming-Liang – 114 mins – France/ Taiwan, Comedy/ Drama/ Musical/ Sci-Fi. The film was Taiwan's official entry for the 78th Academy Awards in the foreign-language category. There is extensive male and female nudity, although not full-frontal. It grossed more than million Taiwan dollars in its theatrical release in Taiwan, which was an amazing commercial achievement for the Taiwan film industry, more than twenty times the usual Taiwan films. Generally favorable reviews: 66-71 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: As the people of Taipei face a lack of water, some turn to watermelons for their succulent fruit juices. Meanwhile, a young woman falls for a man without realizing he is a porn star. Surreal and... As the people of Taipei face a lack of water, some turn to watermelons for their succulent fruit juices. Meanwhile, a young woman falls for a man without realizing he is a porn star. Surreal and fantastical, The Wayward Cloud tells its story slowly and with style, often breaking out into charming musical sequences.
Independent, Anthony Quinn: Features the most explicit use of a watermelon ever filmed.
BBC, Jonathan Trout: As the people of Taipei face a lack of water, some turn to watermelons for their succulent fruit juices. Meanwhile, a young woman falls for a man without realizing he is a porn star. Surreal and... On one hand, The Wayward Cloud is a tender urban romance, punctuated with vibrant 50s-style song and dance numbers. On the other, it features extended bouts of unflinchingly simulated pornography, sudden injections of black physical humor, and nary a word of script. It's the madcap finale to a loose trilogy from Taiwanese director Tsi Ming-Liang, and whilst emphatically not to all tastes, fans of the obscene, the experimental, and the outrageous should make every effort to get along.
Set in a modern city against a major drought and a national obsession with watermelons – bear with me – it's the story of a quiet girl, Shiang-Chyi, who meets a boy, Hsiao-Kang, in a park outside her high-rise apartment block. With the only line in the movie, she recognizes that he once sold her a watch, from which a gentle intimacy grows. Unknown to her, though, he is now working, only a few floors up, as a porn star – a secret that cannot stay hidden forever.
Relentless nudity, interminable faux-porn gruntings, and that striking muteness combine for a pervasive sense of voyeurism. We watch entranced as the characters tiptoe through one another's lonely lives – until we are shunted awake by the musical interludes. Comic and lavishly produced, these sequences – one featuring giant dancing penises, another sees Hsaio-Kang as a merman – shatter the dingy, dramatic dripfeed, give voice to the characters' inner feelings, and keep things impressively weird right up to the eye-watering climax.
At Film Space Saturday, May 8, 7 pm: El Topo (1971) by Alejandro Jodorowsky – 125 mins – Mexico, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Western. The Definitive Cult Spaghetti Western. According to IMDb, this was first released as an underground film, and it was thanks to John Lennon that the film acquired a worldwide distribution. He was so impressed by this movie that he urged a close friend of his to buy the rights and take charge of distribution. Generally favorable reviews: 68 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: With its combination of surreal imagery and assault on the ideals of the Western, El Topo may appear to be equal parts Luis Buñuel and Sam Peckinpah, but it's all Alejandro Jodorowsky. In addition to his directing duties, Jodorowsky contributes to the film's writing, music, editing, and costumes, as well as starring as El Topo ("the Mole"). El Topo journeys across the desert to battle a group of gunfighters, but it's not the plot that's important in this midnight movie classic. The masterful blend of brutal violence and beautiful images make Jodorowsky's film essential viewing for anyone looking beyond the offerings of the megaplex. Decades have passed since its first screening, but El Topo hasn't lost any of its ability to shock and amaze.
Eye for Film, Anton Bitel: A mystic trip through political, religious, and philosophical terrains, gunning down all normative notions of what the western - or indeed Western civilization - is supposed to be.