Thursday, June 17, 2010

Whats On starting June 17

Action. Mindless Action.


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, June 17, 2010


… through Wednesday, June 23


by Thomas Ohlson


Best Bets[Nada]


This newssheet is also online! Go to:


Right, The A-Team. I’m guessing

not as good as The Losers was.

Too bad it’s closed.



This is Issue Number 33 of Volume 5 of these listings.


The Karate Kid has been postponed to June 24. Do you think they maybe noted my negative comments? No, I don’t think so.

Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week

* The A-Team: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – 117 mins – A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed. Directed by Joe Carnahan; starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley. And here’s an oddity: though it’s only rated PG-13 in the US, it’s rated 18+ in Thailand – the equivalent of an R rating in the US. Could be because of the incessant and emphatic smoking. Mixed or average reviews: 47/53 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: For better and for worse, Joe Carnahan's big-screen version of The A-Team captures the superficial, noisy spirit of the TV series.

Newark Star-Ledger, Stephen Whitty: Rent The Losers if you want a cheesy action movie. Wait for The Expendables if you want a gritty, pumped-up one. And mark this A-Team strictly C-grade.

Richard Roeper: To say it's cartoonish would be to insult cartoons.

Christian Toto: Dumb, noisy, and relentlessly violent ... did you expect anything different?

Willie Waffle: Were you really going to see The A-Team for character development, logic, and an intricate plot?

Roger Ebert: The A-Team is an incomprehensible mess with the 1980s TV show embedded inside. The characters have the same names, they play the same types, they have the same traits, and they're easily as shallow. That was OK for a TV sitcom, which is what the show really was, but at over two hours of Queasy-Cam anarchy, it's punishment.

The movie uses the new style of violent action, which fragments sequences into so many bits and pieces that it's impossible to form any sense of what's happening, or where, or to whom. The actors appear in flash-frames, intercut with shards of CGI and accompanied by loud noises, urgent music, and many explosions. This continues for the required length, and then there's some dialogue. Not a lot. A few words, a sentence, sometimes a statement that crosses the finish line at paragraph length.

... How is it interesting to watch a movie in which the “action” is essentially colorful abstractions? Isn't it more satisfying if you know where everyone is, and what they're doing, and how they're doing it in real time? ...

To give it credit, the movie knows it is childish. The PG-13 is appropriate. There's little actual gore, no sex beyond a chaste kiss, no R-rated language, but ohmigod, there's smoking! Alert to pre-teens: Try one of those fat cigars Hannibal smokes, and you won't feel like eating dinner.

* StreetDance 3D: UK, Dance/ Drama – 98 mins – In order to win England’s Street Dance Championships, a dance crew is forced to work with ballet dancers from the Royal Dance School in exchange for rehearsal space. Directed by Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini; starring Charlotte Rampling, Nichola Burley, Roy Winsor, and Rachel McDowall. Generally favorable reviews: 65 out of 100.

Daily Express, Allan Hunter: The storyline owes a lot to American hits such as Step Up and Save The Last Dance. Brassy northerner Carly (Nichola Burley) and her crew have fought their way into the finals of the UK Street Dance Championships. Her boyfriend abandons her and there is nowhere left to rehearse until she visits the Royal Dance School and headmistress Helena (Charlotte Rampling) makes her an irresistible offer – rehearsal space in return for teaching her staid students some moves.

You can guess the rest, especially when Carly catches sight of fit ballet boy Tomas (Richard Winsor). Appearances from Britain’s Got Talent stars Diversity, Flawless, and George Sampson, along with some nimble routines, enhance the appeal of this energetic, unpretentious slice of teen entertainment.

FILMINK (Australia), Alicia Malone: The story is predictable and the acting is not always natural, but StreetDance 3-D is enjoyable to watch, thanks to the impressive dance sequences...and there are plenty of them. Expertly helmed by music video directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini, the routines are spectacular in 3-D, with the technology really bringing each dance style to life.

The routines are set to a great soundtrack of recent hits, and feature dancers from the TV show Britain's Got Talent. StreetDance 3-D might not put any new wrinkles in the dance movie genre, but its visually impressive dance scenes and bright tone will suit families keen for a feel-good film.

Urban Cinefile, Louise Keller: Sensational dancing, funky music, and romance all play their part in this upbeat, crowd pleasing film about passion and dreams. A cut above the usual dance movie, there's a twist to this story. Yes, of course it is about street dancing, but the storyline takes us in a slightly different direction, fusing classical ballet with improvised hip-hop dance moves - and the result is hot. Lovely Yorkshire actress and dancer Nichola Burley makes a star turn as Carly, facing major professional and personal challenges to achieve her goals. With impressive 3D effects to help put us in Carly's dancing sneakers, first time directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini succeed in delivering a vibrant film bursting at the seams with joie de vivre.

... There's dancing in the street, in the rain, on a roof top overlooking London at dawn, on steps, in malls and even in a sandwich shop, where there is a great routine involving cucumbers, bread, and cold meats. The climactic dance sequence is edge-of-seat stuff, when passion, technique, and improvisation are happily come together in one joyous, heart-pumping finale.

* Nang Takien / Takien: The Haunted Tree / นางตะเคียน: Thai, Drama/ Horror – 90 mins – Studio synopsis: Yaibua is a woman in despair. Unemployed and betrayed, she returns to her hometown where her family is her last hope. On her arrival, she finds her parents and sister are gone. Distraught, Yaibua tries to contact Pichan, her boyfriend, but she doesn’t hear any news, and hangs herself on a big tree near the graveyard. But the wrongdoing she has done from her past life to this life causes her spirit to possess the tree, waiting for Pichan and her own redemption.. . . Apparently that makes sense to somebody. Rated 18+ in Thailand.

        Wise Kwai: The latest ghost story to hit the big screen in Thailand is Takien: The Haunted Tree about the spirit of a suicidal garment-factory worker inhabiting the tree where she hanged herself. Directed by Saiyon Srisawat and produced by Pacific Island Film, there's sure to be a moralistic message rooted in there somewhere. Pacific Island is the company that last year released Samchuk, a moral-filled schoolboy drugs drama that won best-actor prizes for Paramej Noi-um during this year's movie-awards season.

There's a subtitled trailer at YouTube, and it seems to tell another story, involving more black magic and revenge.

Looks pretty dreadful to me.

Prince of Persia: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance – 116 mins Based on the video game, which I’ve played and am now playing again, and enjoying. Some of the rather unique moves that you make in the game, such as running along walls at an angle to the ground, are duplicated here, and there’s some sense of the action and the visuals. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, a very enjoyable villain in Ben Kingsley, and a lot of fun with the comedy of Alfred Molina. Mixed or average reviews: 50/50 out of 100.

The story is sort of an old-style Arabian Nights story in the Thief of Baghdad mode, set in medieval Persia when a nefarious nobleman covets the Sands of Time, a legendary gift from the gods that allows its possessor to turn back time. It’s a profoundly silly story, but the silliness is okay, and beautifully done, and with a few delightful performances, but ruined for me by the editing of the action sequences, of which tนางตะเคียนhere are of course a lot. They’re all rapid-fire sequences devoid of any narrative structure, giving only impressions of battle, with no idea of who is doing what to whom. I’m fed up with them – these sorts of sequences of late have made a number of half-way decent movies unwatchable in my opinion.

Rolling Stone, Peter Travers: What's missing in Prince of Persia is a sense that all the running, jumping, climbing and fighting is leading to something. The best video games challenge you to reach the next level. Prince of Persia is content to skim the surface.

ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Gamers will find a lot of the jumping, climbing, swinging, and other maneuvers employed by the characters to be familiar. Of course, it's a lot more fun to play a game than it is to watch one being played, and this applies here, as well. The real standout is Alfred Molina, hamming it up as a desert entrepreneur who races ostriches and avoids paying taxes. It's a stock character, but portrayed with considerable verve. Ben Kingsley, slumming as he is wont to do from time-to-time, is entertaining, although his portrayal seems uncannily like an audition for Ming the Merciless in a new version of Flash Gordon.

Prince of Persia falls into the ever-popular category of summer cinema which was best described by Shakespeare as "sound and fury, signifying nothing." It looks impressive (all the more so because no one forced a 3-D conversion) and there's never a dull moment. Director Mike Newell understands the dynamics and rhythm of a big-budget fantasy adventure, having already taken the reins for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so he crafts something eminently watchable. But, in large part because of extreme narrative deficiencies, it's hard to see Prince of Persia as anything more substantive than drive-in fare. With lots of running around and plenty of special effects, the only thing missing for the viewer is a game controller and the ability to replay some of the most challenging moves and jumps.

Arizona Republic, Bill Goodykoontz: The audience should be given game controllers upon entering the theater. It wouldn't mean the film would make any more sense, but at least you'd feel like you had some say in the matter.

Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: By no means a great film, but it is an entertaining one, a nearly bloodless, family-friendly throwback of sorts to a cinematic age when Persian palace intrigue, winsome princesses, and ambitious princes ruled the back lots and Errol Flynn was in like, well, Errol Flynn.

Poh-Tak / Po Taek / โป๊ะแตก: Thai, Comedy – 90 mins Directed by popular comedian-turned-director, Mum Jokmok, this is a comedy parody that explores lives in front of and behind the cameras of the Thai film industry. Features many of the regulars on Mum’s very popular TV show. Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5 – Just okay.

Wise Kwai: Petthai "Mum Jokmok" Wongkumlao pulls back the veil over Thai movie-industry magic for the self-deprecating comedy Po Taek (โป๊ะแตก), in which the major butt of jokes is his old mentor, veteran comedian, actor and director Thep Po-ngam.

Thep, who in real life has been having financial problems, appears in Mum's office at Bang Fai Productions – a shop where Mum holds all the job titles, from executive producer down to janitor. Thep's bowing and scraping, hoping to make an ambitious, meaningful, highly personal project that he's been wanting to do for a long time, but is immediately dismissed by Mum and instead roped into making an action comedy the studio has starting that very day.

Soon Thep finds himself standing next to a Brahmin priest going through the traditional prayer ceremony at the start of production, only this rite is accompanied by a marching band, hip gyrations and heads whacked with urinal bottles and serving trays.

There are shenanigans on the craft-service line as the slovenly caterer only uses his hands to dish up the food.

A husband-and-wife comedy team works out their real-life marriage problems onscreen, with the wife putting her foot down, on her husband's chest. The spousal bickering blows a lid when scantily clad young actress Cherry Supaporn comes to the set and has her cleavage rammed head-first by the husband comic, and then Mum, who wants to show him how to do it. This brings Mum's stern wife to the set for a fierce tongue lashing.

There's also weird tongue action going on in a bedroom scene involving Cherry, Teng, and Nong.

Even the stuntmen don't escape the comic barbs, as a trio of amputee pyrotechnic experts show up and mistime their explosions.

In another scene, Thep wrecks the stunt car. He's bleeding from his bald dome, but Mum and everyone else is only concerned with whether the old car can be used again.

The jokes come fast and furious and had the audience in stitches for the first hour or so. By the last half hour, the jokes are more mean-spirited, the laughs are fewer and further between and the premise wears off as it becomes apparent this is simply a loose collection of satiric gags about movie-making and not much of a story.

I appreciated the smaller moments, like when Mum is just hanging out with his crew while there's downtime, and he asks anyone if they have something funny to talk about. I got the sense it was something real. It's insight into Mum's hands-on directing style, which has him jumping up from behind his monitor to actually show the actors what he wants, rather than try and explain it.

The all-star cast includes Mum's TV comedy cohorts Pongsak "Teng Terdterng" Pongsuwan, Choosak "Nong Chachacha" Iamsuk, Kom Chuanchuen, Note Chern-yim, Ping Lumprapleung, Apaporn Nakonsawan and "Tukky" Sudarat Butrprom.

A notable player is dreadlocked Thai-speaking Ghanian comedian Johnson Amidou, who's been featured in Thep's movies, among them the African adventure Duk Dum Dui. Johnson holds his own against the dimwits Teng and Nong, and eventually storms off the set after putting up with so much abuse.

When the time comes for Johnson's scene, it's the long-suffering Nong – who's complained about his small, ridiculous roles in The Bodyguard movies – to don not only blackface, but entire black, nearly naked body.

It's tasteless, politically incorrect humor, but that's what sells. Po Taek debuted at No. 1, according to Box Office Mojo, earning around 23 million baht and following on the heels of another smash-hit movie-making parody, Sam Yan, from rival studio Film R Us.

With that kind of money being banked, I'm sure that Mum and his producers at Work Point, Baa-Ram-Ewe and Sahamongkolfilm are already thinking of more ways to skewer their own industry.

Sex and the City 2: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – 146 mins – “Has generated some of the most hostile and outraged reviews in recent memory. “ The horror, the horror,” wrote one critic. “Nothing says putrefying, rotten and vile quite like this sequel,” wrote another. Everything about the film has been faulted”— so says the New York Times critic Manohla Dargis. “What’s not to loathe?” critic Richard Roeper asks. However, it’s a hugely successful series in some circles, so maybe you will like it. And the powers that be at the studio that produced it are seriously considering sequel number 3.

In this unfortunate episode, the girls take off to and take on the United Arab Emirates – except that they used Morocco instead. Scathingly unfavorable reviews: 28/38 out of 100. Rated R in the US for some strong sexual content and language; 15+ in Thailand. Airport Plaza only.

USA Today, Claudia Puig: Steer clear of the mortifying mess that is Sex and the City 2. An insult to the memory of the cleverly written show and its celebration of friendship, it's a slap in the face for the four gal pals (often photographed at unflattering angles) and an affront to Muslims.



Scheduled for June 24

Knight and Day: US, Action/ Comedy/ Thriller The film where Tom Cruise gets to show his chops again, after some absence. And early reports say this is a superior film in every way, with the old Cruise magic in place. And the magic of Cameron Diaz. Studio synopsis: An action-comedy centered on a fugitive couple (Cruise and Diaz) on a glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure where nothing and no one - even themselves - are what they seem. Amid shifting alliances and unexpected betrayals, they race across the globe, with their survival ultimately hinging on the battle of truth vs. trust. Directed by James Mangold, starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, and the great Viola Davis who just this week won Broadway’s Tony Award for best actress in a play (Fences, co-starring Denzel Washington), the second time she has won that award.

The Karate Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/ Sport140 mins – It stars a talentless kid who is only in films because his doting Dad is so powerful in the business. In my considered opinion, the kid is a spoiled brat, nay, a little snot! Responsible single-handedly for ruining the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Directed by Harald Zwart, with Jackie Chan. Filmed in Beijing emphasizing tourism sites, which apparently the Chinese required as part of the co-production deal. Internationally the film tends to be referred to as The Kung Fu Kid despite its origins as a remake, because in fact what the kid does now is Kung Fu. Mixed or average reviews, and I can’t believe they’re that good: 60/60 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: Produced by Will Smith and featuring his son, Jaden, in the title role and Jackie Chan as the martial arts mentor, The Karate Kid remake appears to be less faithful to its source material than A-Team  is. Key changes include a younger Kid than Ralph Macchio was in the 1984 smash, a new location that he moves to (China instead of Los Angeles; a big change because both the Kid and his mentor were cultural outsiders in the original, now it's just the Kid), a glossier veneer and a different martial art: kung fu instead of the titular karate (the picture has sometimes been called The Kung Fu Kid by its producers).

And looking forward

Jul 15: Inception: Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard; Directed By: Christopher Nolan.

Rotten Tomatoes: Just what exactly does Christopher Nolan have in store for us with Inception?

The Dark Knight director has mostly kept his lips sealed on his movie's plot details, other than that it's a sci-fi thriller set in the architecture of the mind. What we do know is that Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a new kind of corporate spy – one who steals ideas from the minds of others by hooking them up to a machine in a drug-induced haze. Promotional material has been enigmatic: a droning teaser trailer featuring fist fights where the rules of gravity seem to keep changing, another trailer posing questions about the power of ideas, and a poster showing DiCaprio standing tall as water rushes into the city.

Marketing efforts based on mystery have paid off for Nolan so far in his career: he gets us curious, then follows through with some of the best movies of their respective years. In what is likely this Summer's most mysterious potential blockbuster, we'll all uncover what tricks Nolan has up his sleeve this time around on opening weekend.

Jul 22: The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – The story follows the adventures of Aang, a ten year old successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. Starring Dev Patel, the contestant in Slumdog Millionaire. Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, and Jackson Rathbone.

Rotten Tomatoes: M. Night Shyamalan makes his return to theaters following 2008’s The Happening with The Last Airbender, a movie that feels like it has been in theater previews forever because, well, it has been. Now, finally, the airbending shall commence.

Airbender tells the story of a force known as The Avatar, the only one in the world with the power to control the elements of earth, wind, water, and fire to maintain peace between the tribes of the elements. After The Avatar disappears, a 12 year old by the name of Aang has to master the elements, embrace his destiny, and restore peace after a hundred year war begins between the tribes.

Nickelodeon fans will recognize the story and characters from the original animated Nick series. Rumor has it that this could be the first of a series of Airbender movies, so there will be a lot riding on the young boy's abilities this summer. No pressure, Aang

Jul 22: The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, and Alfred Molina; Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

Rotten Tomatoes: You have to wonder if German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe realized he was creating a timeless classic when he penned his poem Der Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) in 1797. After several interpretations in print, on television, and in film, most notably by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, Disney has decided to completely reimagine the poem once again, this time in a live-action film starring Nicolas Cage as the sorcerer and Jay Baruchel as his titular apprentice.

2010's Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set in contemporary New York, where a college kid (Baruchel) is recruited by a wizard named Balthazar (Cage) to undergo training for an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. In other words, you probably won’t see Baruchel chasing down any dancing brooms with an axe. What the film does promise, however, is a bit of Cage’s trademark loopiness, some grand action sequences (the movie’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, after all), and plenty of jokes that take advantage of the "everyman in over his head" premise.

As for the talent involved, Baruchel is an up-and-coming hot commodity these days, and Nicolas Cage is, well, Nicolas Cage. The supporting cast is bolstered by the presence of people like Alfred Molina and Monica Bellucci, and there are few names who are as synonymous with big, blockbuster action as Jerry Bruckheimer, so this could turn out to be a tidy little crowd pleaser.

Jul 29: Splice: Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac; Directed by: Vincenzo Natali.

        Rotten Tomatoes: Another Sundance premiere hits the big time with the sci-fi/thriller Splice, directed by Vicenzo Natali (Paris je t’aime, Cube). Splice tells the story of two genetic engineers who combine the DNA of animals to create hybrids; when they decide to ignore protocol and, without permission, fuse human DNA into a new hybrid, well, it's safe to say the creation goes mildly bonkers.

Audiences will get a double paranoid dose of Adrian Brody, as his roles in Splice and Predators have him running from plenty of monster types all summer long. Joel Silver said that "Splice is like nothing you’ve ever seen before" upon acquiring the Sundance film, and the CGI used to create "Dren," the hybrid creature, is said to be particularly impressive in a summer filled with plenty of special effects.

Will Splice end up being another sleeper hit? The genetically modified thriller has generated a fair amount of buzz, and Dren will have a lot to prove to audiences that have been anticipating the film since January.

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, June 18, 8 pm: Je crois que je l'aime / Could This Be Love? (2007) by Pierre Jolivet90 mins – France, Comedy / Drama / Romance. English subtitles. Lucas, a rich 43 years old industrialist, is just getting over a terrible breakup when he meets Elsa, a nice looking, famous, 38 year-old ceramist to whom he commissions a fresco. Irresistibly attracted to the young lady, Lucas tries to conquer her. But even though he is a highly-skilled business man, Lucas lacks assurance when dealing with love. He therefore hires Roland Christin, a private detective from his firm, to spy on Elsa and find the reasons behind Elsa’s celibacy. Roland uses all the latest investigation techniques at his disposal for an ancestral feeling : love.

With Vincent Lindon, Sandrine Bonnaire, François Berléand, Kad Merad, Liane Foly.

Forty-three-year-old Lucas, a rich, divorced industrialist, is irresistibly attracted to thirty-eight-year-old Elsa, a renowned ceramist whom he’s commissioned to create a fresco for his office foyer. But, still smarting from a recent disappointment in love, he asks Roland Christin, a private detective from his company, to discover the reasons why this lovely woman is still single. Without the slightest scruple, Roland puts the most modern of surveillance methods into operation. Lucas better beware if Elsa finds out...

– Alliance description

DVD Talk, Svet Atanasov: A pre-occupied CEO falls for a highly independent artist in a Paris-set, colorful, but ultimately too predictable, light comedy by Gallic helmer Pierre Jolivet. Occasional bits of fresh humor ease pic's too-sweet-bordering-bitter narrative but it all ends with the mandatory love-conquers-all lesson many will undoubtedly find annoying.

Lucas (Vincent Lindon) is struck by Elsa's (Sandrine Bonnaire) beauty when he sees her working on a giant ceramic floor in the foyer of his building. He approaches her and asks if she would be willing to have lunch with him. After a stereotypical exchange of misleading lines she agrees. Something more than a friendship is in the making.

Lucas likes Elsa and Elsa likes Lucas. Both of them however have second thoughts about why the other is interested. Elsa believes that Lucas is a man who can have any woman he desires - he is rich, handsome, and successful. Lucas is suspicious because the last time he approached a beautiful and independent woman she turned out to be a spy for a rivaling company. And so the fun begins.

Watching yet another film about the two sexes and their typical insecurities however wasn't much fun. At least not for this reviewer. Filled with plenty of one-liners and awkward situations which in real life would be anything but "romantic" Could This Be Love? (2007) gets a pass only because of the two thesps and their ability to improvise. An aging Sandrine Bonnaire delivers a few impressive jabs at Vincent Lindon's macho-wannabe character who eventually succumbs to, you guessed it, the power of amore.

But things get even more tedious with the introduction of a secondary character (François Berléand) who becomes Elsa's shadow. He must confirm that she isn't paid to spy on Lucas and therefore her feelings are real. As expected a string of annoying scenes further damages the little that actually works here eventually proving that romantic comedies are next to impossible to keep away from ridiculous scripts.

Pierre Jolivet has been undeniably more successful as a writer (Luc Besson's Le Dernier Combat/ Subway) than as a director (the exception being En Plein Coeur) and I am somewhat surprised to see him fully devoted to shooting a comedy. Could This Be Love? isn't a disappointment of paramount proportions but to claim that it is original, fresh, or actually "romantic" would be simply unfair. If anything, it comes dangerously close to what Hollywood mass-produces each year, and I don't think that this could be considered a compliment.



At Alliance Française on Friday, June 25, 8 pm:  Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé / Not Here to Be Loved (2005) by Stéphane Brizé – 93 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles.

With Patrick Chesnais, Anne Consigny, Raymond Pellegrin, Georges Wilson, Lionel Abelanski.

Fifty-year-old Jean-Claude Delsart, worn out by his police work, gave up on the idea of life offering any sweet surprises some time ago. But he hadn't counted on just what would happen when he finally got up the nerve to learn the tango...

– Alliance description

Neil Young’s Film Lounge: Still waters run persuasively deep in Not Here to Be Loved, a startlingly dry - and ineffably "French" - comedy/ romance in which almost every word, gesture, and shot is expertly weighted for maximum effect. The story of an unlikely relationship which blossoms between divorced, Prufrock-ish, 50-year-old bailiff Jean-Claude (suitably hangdog Patrick Chesnais) and Francoise (spirited Anne Consigny), the significantly younger woman he meets at a tango class - despite the latter's impending marriage to pudgy would-be novelist Thierry (Lionel Abelanski) - may be, if anything, a little too restrained, slow-burning, and subtle for some. Patient (older?) viewers, however, will find many rewards in this deliciously poised, impeccably-observed fable of lonely lives redeemed by the possibility of a second chance.


At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


June is “The Month of Alpha and Omegaat 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.


George Carlin as our favorite Cardinal.

At Film Space Saturday, June 19, 7 pm:  Dogma (1999) written and directed by Kevin Smith 130 mins – US, Adventure/ Comedy/ Fantasy. Starring Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Alan Rickman. I loved George Carlin’s portrayal of Cardinal Glick! Rated R in the US for strong language including sex-related dialogue, violence, crude humor, and some drug content. Generally favorable reviews: 62/62 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: Imaginative theology and a bigger than usual budget make Kevin Smith's fourth film a kind of post-Catholic fantasy that only a comic-book enthusiast of his caliber could dream up. The plot is set in motion by two banished angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck). After a few millennia in Wisconsin, they've discovered a loophole in Catholic doctrine that would allow them back into heaven--but prove the fallibility of God and destroy the universe. Unaware of the peril, they make their way to New Jersey to receive a plenary indulgence. Meanwhile, God has dispatched a seraphim (Alan Rickman) to recruit lapsed-Catholic Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) to stop the angels. She finds help in muses, prophets (Jay and Silent Bob), and the forgotten 13th apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock). Before long, all hell breaks loose (literally), and God (Alanis Morrisette) has to put in an appearance of her own. The success of the film is in the juxtaposition of Smith's trademark acerbic attitude and witty dialogue against the enormous canvas of Christian iconography and apocalyptic conflict.

Slate, David Edelstein: (Oct. 4, 1999) At a press conference following the screening of his film Dogma, which will have its first public showing October 4 as part of the New York Film Festival, the writer, director, and professed devout Catholic Kevin Smith appeared both shell-shocked and befuddled by the outrage that his movie, sight unseen, had provoked. We're talking about a fury so fierce (it has been spearheaded by a group called the Catholic League) that Miramax and its parent company, Disney, dropped the theological comedy-thriller like a hot cross bun. Protests are planned for Monday at Lincoln Center, and all involved (the picture's new distributor is Lion's Gate Films) have braced themselves for more noise and death threats. The only silver lining, said Smith, was that he'd edited out that "elephant-dung Madonna scene. I mean, it's one thing to have the Catholic League mad at you, but you don't want to have the mayor of New York mad at you."

Finally seeing the movie, I find it hard not to share Smith's perplexity. It would be one thing if Dogma were, as charged, virulently anti-Catholic or even blasphemous. But the film, a sort of apocalyptic Miltonian vaudeville, is among the most passionately religious and God-fearing ever made in this country. It's supremely moving. True, it's also raucous, bloody, smutty, and strewn with four-letter words, and the final incarnation of the Almighty has little in common with depictions you might find in, say, the Vatican museum. Yet the qualities that make Dogma seem a work of irreverence are precisely those that make it so spiritually reanimating. The film has been made by an artist for whom questions of faith are central to daily life. It seems only logical, then, not to segregate those questions from that life but to weave them in with the filmmaker's other obsessions: friendship, lust, drinking, love of trashy horror flicks, and the compulsion to sit around b.s.'ing all night about why the Creator made so many things that are patently absurd.

The movie's canvas--too vast to itemize completely here--features a New Jersey bishop (a Borscht Belt turn by George Carlin) who argues that Jesus should not be represented by gory images of his earthy demise. After all: "He was a booster!" Seizing on a loophole in Catholic dogma, the Bishop plans to reconsecrate his church so that anyone who passes through its archway will be officially cleansed of sin and entitled to enter heaven. This attracts the notice of two waggish, somewhat insane fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who have a hilarious Hope-Crosby rapport): They have spent 2,000 depressing years in exile (in Wisconsin) and now see a way to "go home." The problem, then, is the tension between dogma and God's will. If the angels (who become serial killers on their trek to New Jersey, gorily murdering Ten Commandments violators as a kind of last hurrah), succeed in their mission, God will be shown to be fallible, the center will not hold, and the apocalypse will destroy all life in the universe.

Representatives of the Devil, naturally, do all they can to make that happen, while God's servants--among them Alan Rickman as the resonant and wearily fey "Voice of God," Salma Hayek as a slinky muse, and Chris Rock as the "Thirteenth Apostle" (the black one expunged from Scripture)--struggle to stave off Armageddon. For reasons that would spoil a number of surprises, their efforts revolve around a Catholic woman named Bethany (an unprecedentedly soulful Linda Fiorentino), who goes to church every Sunday but feels that God has stopped listening. The core of the film, emotionally, is Bethany's conversations with sundry mortals, angels, and demons about her loss of faith. The complaints about Catholic dogma are voiced by Rock's liberal Apostle, who argues that what matters most is faith and not the rituals that are supposed to give it a Seal of Approval.

So yes, Dogma is critical of organized religion. But why not regard it as the constructive criticism of a believer? Smith described it as "kicking the tires of my faith," and added that he considers both God and Jesus "friends" who would not be averse to having fun poked at them--especially when that fun is grounded in a fervent respect for their existence and power. In the movie's credits, Smith thanks a "Sister Theresa," who changed his life, he said, when she declared that Jesus' remark during the Last Supper that Peter would be the rock of his church was likely facetious--a joke. Suddenly, Smith said, the figures at the heart of Christianity weren't abstract theological mouthpieces but flesh-and-blood humans who spoke his language.

Smith believes that the Catholic League, which is authorized by neither the Church nor the Vatican, was looking for an excuse to attack Disney that particular week. (Many of the letters sent to Miramax chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein were homicidally anti-Semitic.) But I'm not so sure that the film would have slipped by unnoticed in any event. Another deeply devout and religious film, Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), was furiously attacked for portraying Jesus as lost and uncertain--plagued by doubts. Smith slyly echoes Scorsese's film when Rickman's Voice of God, attempting to convert the reluctant Bethany to his cause, explains that Jesus didn't take it any better when told of the painful destiny that awaited him: "I had to deliver the news to a scared child who only wanted to play with other children." There are people who find threatening the idea that no serious faith, no faith worth a damn--not of men, angels, or even Jesus--could possibly be untested.

It's the atheists and agnostics who have the easiest time making movies nowadays--the ones who don't confront the issue of faith at all. The believers, meanwhile, get crucified. "I tried to do something good and got hassled for it," said Smith. "To spread the word of Christ, and also throw in a few fart and dick jokes." An amusing series of titles that open the film now urge the audience not to get too worked up--to see the movie not as a fanatical attack on religion but as a reverent goof. But he's worried about the "good Christians" who haven't seen Dogma yet and have written to say that he better buy himself a flak jacket. Once they see it, he said, their minds will change--"I mean, it's got a rubber poop monster!"

Hate mail to then distributor Miramax/Disney, origin unknown: I vehemently protest against the production of Dogma.Just what is it with you people anyway?Well, I'll tell you - anyone involved in such a production is a scumbag! Now take it from there!

Hate mail to then distributor Miramax/Disney, Mt. Pleasant, SC: You are the producer of Dogma right? Well, you need to stop it. Do not sell it or show it. Fire the actors, burn the scenery and scripts. Let the footage already made, everything, be destroyed. If you have already sold it, take it back. Use the force of a legal lawsuit if neccessary. Please. It is a horrible, evil, blasphemous movie against our Holy Mother Mary. End it now - you are making a very powerful someone very very VERY VERY very angry. That someone is God - I urge you to destroy the movie 'Dogma'. Please do this... your souls depend on it. May God have sweet mercy toward you -

Hate mail to then distributor Miramax/Disney, origin unknown: There the KKK, there's you

There was Hitler, there's you

There are Satanic beliefs, there's you

There are un-American bigots, there's you

There are the un-Godly + damned, there's you

All that's vile comes from you. You teach hatred and prejudice. You insult Christians, especially Catholics. How Satanic!! Yet you demand respect + are quick to yell prejudice. How can you expect what you don't give?

You teach hatred, you insult others, yet, demand respect. Hitler didnt die, your still doing his hatreds and works.

Are you aware you're un-American? You demand your rights you demand + so on, but insult others + their beliefs. How low-down and hateful! May God judge your terrible acts. To get respect you must give it + you are cowards + highly prejudiced.



At Film Space Saturday, June 26, 7 pm:  Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones 91 mins – UK, Adventure/ Comedy. This is an absurdist send-up of the legend of King Arthur and his knights' quest for the Holy Grail. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Universal acclaim: 90/78 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.

IMDb Plot Summary: The movie starts out with Arthur, King of the Britons, looking for knights to sit with him at Camelot. He finds many knights including Sir Galahad the pure, Sir Lancelot the brave, the quiet Sir Bedevere, and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Lancelot. They do not travel on horses, but pretend they do and have their servants bang coconuts to make the sound of horse's hooves. Through satire of certain events in history (witch trials, the black plague) they find Camelot, but after literally a quick song and dance they decide that they do not want to go there. While walking away, God (who seems to be grumpy) come to them from a cloud and tells them to find the Holy Grail. They agree and begin their search. While they search for the Grail, scenes of the knight's tales appear and why they have the name they have. Throughout their search they meet interesting people and knights along the way. Most of the characters die; some through a killer rabbit (which they defeat with the holy hand grenade), others from not answering a question right from the bridge of Death, or die some other ridiculous way. In the end, King Arthur and Sir Bedevere are left and find the Castle Arrrghhh where the Holy Grail is. They are met by some French soldiers who taunted them earlier in the film, so they were not able to get into the castle.

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