Double feature split in two!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, July 1, 2010
… through Wednesday, July 7
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (3D).
Right, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
This is Issue Number 35 of Volume 5 of these listings.
The double feature that has been playing around the world, Toy Story & Toy Story 2, has been split in two by Major Cineplex, I suppose so they can get twice the money. The two films have gotten high praise, originally and on this go-around, so I’d go see them if I were you, but I’d let them know of your displeasure also.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: US, Fantasy/ Romance/ Thriller – 124 mins – The gang is back again! In this episode, which I know you’ve been waiting for breathlessly, Bella (Kristen Stewart) once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings. And that malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of all this, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward (heartthrob Robert Pattinson) and her friendship with Jacob (heartthrob Taylor Lautner) – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the struggle between vampire and werewolf, and a tissy fit between fans of each. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life – and the film’s fans. Mixed or average reviews: 58/61 out of 100. The Vista version is Thai-dubbed only.
The New York Times, A.O. Scott: Eclipse, directed by David Slade ... is a more robustly entertaining film than either of its predecessors. The previous entry, New Moon, was a sustained (and to some viewers, tedious) exercise in delayed gratification. You had to wait a long time to see Mr. Lautner unveil his pectoral muscles or morph into a wolf, and Mr. Pattinson vanished altogether. This time we are treated to nicely costumed flashbacks to vaguely defined earlier eras, album-cover tableaus of the Cullen clan and the Volturi (including Dakota Fanning but minus Michael Sheen, for now) and some moderately thrilling if visually muddy fight sequences.
If there is a bit more humor on display here — some of it evidence that an element of self-conscious self-mockery is sneaking into the franchise — there is also more violence, and, true to the film’s title, a deeper intimation of darkness. What there isn’t, as usual, is much in the way of good acting, with the decisive and impressive exception of Ms. Stewart, who can carry a close-up about as well as anyone in movies today.
Mr. Lautner still seems to have recently escaped from a high school cheerleading squad somewhere, and Mr. Pattinson’s pout conveys not the existential angst of a lovelorn immortal, but rather the peevishness of a guy who just lost a Greta Garbo lookalike contest — for the third time in a row! — to his own girlfriend.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned). It has blood, death, and either nothing but sex or no sex at all.
In case you need some clarification on who is who in the large cast of characters, and would like some back-story, Rotten Tomatoes has come up with a Guide for 18 of the main characters, and one on the wolfpack. You can find it at the following link, click on it to go there:
Here’s their take on Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner. (You’ll remember I discussed the Quileute tribe of Washington State at length when the last episode came out, and how their myths describe them as being descended from wolves.)
Jacob Black wears many hats in The Twilight Saga: he's Bella's best friend, a muscle bound shape-shifter, and a talented member of the Quileute people. Gone are his long raven locks and boyish appearance from Twilight, as Jacob underwent an unusual coming of age in New Moon that transformed him into a P90X model, and, well, he turns into a wolf that is five times the size of his human form when he "phases" or, for non-Twilighters, "Hulks out."
Before Jacob experienced his hairy transformation, he was a family friend of the Swans, a new generation member of the Quileute Native American tribe, and the previous owner of Bella's tank of a truck. Since meeting, the two formed a connection that transcends normal levels of best friendship, leaving Bella confused and almost addicted to Jacob's affection and charm. However, in New Moon, when Jacob underwent his metamorphosis, he grew distant from any outsiders who didn't understand his existence.
Fiercely loyal and protective, Jacob is not only extremely gifted physically, but he is responsible and strong in character. As part of a chosen group that exists to protect the Quileute land from vampires, Jacob is, by default, at odds with Edward, but their respective relationships with Bella have helped bring civility to their conversations. It's clear that Bella's heart lies with Edward, but Jacob's character makes him nearly as compelling a choice for her.
Next week we’ll delve into the wolfpack itself.
And this just in!!
Twilight's Robert Pattinson Related to Original Dracula
It turns out that the world's most popular young vampire is related to the historical inspiration for Dracula.
That's right, Robert Pattinson, star of the Twilight films is of the same bloodline as Vlad Dracule III, 15th-Century psychopathic warlord who is (un)affectionately known as Vlad the Impaler. Ancestry.com have done the digging and come up with this quite amazing link between the onscreen and supposed real life vampires.
* Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (3D): US, Animation/ Family – 2 hr. 53 min. – Playing throughout the world as a double-feature but unaccountable split in two by the benign masters of Major Cineplex! At any rate, these are two of the best films of the 90s, in a lot of people’s opinion, and are here gussied-up in 3D – nothing gimmicky, just a little added depth. It’s probably not necessary, but it allows you to see these two terrific Pixar films in a theater with an audience, like you should. Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, and John Ratzenberger. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 96/93 out of 100.
From the studio, Disney/Pixar: This extraordinary double feature, taking the latest advances in digital 3D technology "to infinity and beyond," will play exclusively in 3D. Toy Story, the industry's first ever computer-animated feature and the first feature released by Pixar Animation Studios in 1995, and Toy Story 2, the critically acclaimed sequel that debuted in 1999, were both directed by filmmaker John Lasseter. Both films have been meticulously re-rendered in 3D from the original digital files using the latest state-of-the-art technology.
Variety, Todd McCarthy: A fresh look at the two Toy Story films, which are being released today as a double bill in 3D for a two-week engagement, only reaffirms what fresh, lively, and imaginative creations they are.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, Mike Scott: These are paradigm-shifting masterpieces, films that launched a second golden age of animation. Of course they hold up.
Newsweek, David Ansen: The superrealist images beguile us with their bold wit, and the storytelling is so tight, urgent, and inventive there doesn't seem to be a wasted moment. Which makes you wonder – why can't scripts this clever be written for human beings?
* Bitter/Sweet / Kam Fah Ha Sut Rak / ข้ามฟ้าหาสูตรรัก: US/ Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Studio synopsis: “American businessman Brian Chandler has a perfect life with a great job and beautiful fiancée. When his boss, renegade coffee mogul Calvert Jenkins sends him to Thailand to inspect a crop for purchase, Brian meets Ticha, a beautiful Bangkok executive who has long-since given up on the prospects of finding love. At the urging of her old village and her coffee farmer parents, Ticha brings Brian to the coffee fields of Southern Krabi, with the hopes that Brian will purchase coffee there.” In Thai and English with English and Thai subtitles as needed. At Vista only.
The film won awards at last year's WorldFest in Houston. It played in LA's Feel Good Film Festival where it was nominated for Best Director (Jeff Hare) and Best Cinematographer (Sayombhu Mukdeeprom). Its Asian premiere was in the 11th Mumbai Film Festival. It won the Best Foreign Film award at the 3rd Mammoth Film Festival in December. Other festival appearances have included Louisville's International Festival of Film, the Naples International Film Festival, and the Charleston Film Festival.
Wise Kwai: What an embarrassment. Stilted, awkward dialogue and laughable contrivances make this movie more bitter than sweet. Kip Pardue stars as a young, uptight executive for a coffee company, sent by his boss (a clearly bemused James Brolin) to Thailand. On a buying trip to the Robusta-growing region of picturesque Krabi, the man makes contact with a fiery public-relations executive, played by Mamee Nakprisit. Her parents are the growers in the region. She hates the guy at first sight, but then falls in love with him.
None of it makes sense. What would she see in a cold, anal-retentive jerk who won't take his shoes off because "they're Italian"? And he's already engaged. And why would he be attracted to a woman with such obvious emotional issues, whose bitchiness is just a mask for her teary-eyed insecurities?
Along for the ride are Spencer Garrett as a drunken Austrian expat – a comic-relief wingman for Pardue's character – and Kalorin Supaluck Neemayothin as the drunk's long-suffering girlfriend. Pakkaramia Potranan is Mamee's even-bitchier sister with a boxer boyfriend (Akara Amarttayakul, putting on a brave face and diving right in). Mr. Muay Thai is in for a shock late in the film. Veteran actors Viyada Umarin and Sompob Benjathikul are obligingly used as the mom-and-pop coffee farmers. Singer Tata Young appears briefly, so her name and face can be used on the posters. A Thai-pop soundtrack keeps things bouncing along, even when they don't need to be.
Coffee lovers will perk up at the lovingly photographed bushes and beans.
Interestingly, the producer and co-writer of Bitter/Sweet, Urs T. Bruner, also runs the Bon Cafe coffee company in Thailand. The coffee's not bad, but this movie is pretty undrinkable stuff.
Score: 2/5 = Barely watchable.
Knight and Day: US, Action/ Comedy/ Thriller – 110 mins – The film where Tom Cruise gets to show his chops again, after some absence. And he is charming, no doubt about it. It’s more of a rom-com than an action flick. I was mildly amused by it. Cruise and Cameron Diaz play a fugitive couple on a glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure where nothing and no one - even themselves - are what they seem. Mixed or average reviews: 46/56 out of 100.
NY Times, A.O.Scott: A loud, seemingly interminable, and altogether incoherent entry in the preposterous and proliferating “action-comedy” genre, it stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz as a pair of hastily sketched cartoon characters hurtling from plane crash to car chase to further car, helicopter and motorcycle chases, one involving stampeding bulls.
Ms. Diaz is June Havens, a collection of alternately appealing and exasperating traits thrown together to satisfy market research data suggesting that audiences go for women who are tough but not aggressive, flaky but not nuts, sexy but not actually having sex, and willing to fall for a certain kind of guy without entirely losing their heads. That certain kind of guy — “I’m that guy,” is indeed one of his more memorable lines — would be, in this instance, Mr. Cruise, who tries to walk the dental-floss-thin line between good-humored winking and outright self-parody.
He plays Roy Miller (perhaps not his real name), a C.I.A. superassassin who collides with Ms. Diaz’s character at the Wichita airport. She is going home to Boston for her sister’s wedding, while Roy is either trying to steal or trying to protect a powerful and secret energy gizmo that will eventually allow the filmmakers to introduce Paul Dano as the nerdy sidekick. Mr. Dano is especially necessary because the romantic chemistry between the principals — not unpromising in theory — sputters out like the initial blind-date spark on an early episode of a matchmaking reality show.
Meanwhile, Peter Sarsgaard, equipped with a superfluous accent to show what a serious actor he is despite the numskullery surrounding him, plays the heavy, Roy’s intra-agency rival, with Viola Davis as their boss. Not a bad cast, you will have noticed. But alas, as they ricochet across the globe, from a South Pacific island to the streets of Seville, they all seem to run out of things to do.
... So what is missing? Oh, I don’t know — wit, fun, sexual tension, risk, originality. Maybe one or two other things. But will anyone notice?
Rotten Tomatoes: Say what you will about Tom Cruise's oddball public persona, but the guy has charisma to spare. Critics say his presence goes a long way toward enlivening the action/ comedy/ romance Knight and Day, which is otherwise short on logic and ultimately favors bombast over charm. Cruise stars as a (possibly insane) rogue agent who recruits Cameron Diaz for his latest globe-trotting mission -- but is he who he seems? The pundits say Cruise and Diaz are fine, but this implausible (and surprisingly violent) film is undercut by strained plotting.
The Karate Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/ Sport – 140 mins (yes, it’s a long bugger!) – The movie stars a talentless kid who is only in films because his doting Dad is so powerful in the business. This remake, directed by Harald Zwart, with Jackie Chan, was 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, because in fact what the kid does now is Kung Fu. Generally favorable reviews: 61/60 out of 100. The Vista version is Thai-dubbed.
Rotten Tomatoes: It may not be as powerful as the 1984 edition, but the 2010 Karate Kid delivers a surprisingly satisfying update on the original. 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).
That Sounds Good / Rao Song Sam Khon / เรา สองสาม คน: Thai, Romance/ Comedy – A romance-comedy that follows the journey of two girls and one guy, and how they form a complicated love triangle on their journey through three countries: Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Directed by Leo Kittikorn, responsible for such items as Ahimsa: Stop to Run, and Saving Private Tootsie. In Thai with English subtitles.
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 – but 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.
Richard Roeper: To say it's cartoonish would be to insult cartoons.
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? ...
Prince of Persia: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance – 116 mins – An old-style Arabian Nights story in the vein of the Thief of Baghdad. But I can’t believe how terrible the movie really is. It’s ruined for me by the editing of the action sequences, of which there are a lot. They’re all rapid-fire, and devoid of any narrative structure, giving only impressions of battle, with no idea of who is doing what to whom. 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.
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.
Scheduled for July 8
Predators: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Topher Grace. Directed by Hungarian filmmaker Nimród Antal (Kontroll), and produced by the maverick film director Robert Rodriguez. Here we have a revamp of the Predator film series focusing on human survival on the Predator's home planet. It’s not a rewriting of the original Predator but is intended as a sequel to both Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990), the two Arnold Schwarzenegger films, ignoring completely what happened in the two Alien vs Predator films.
Despicable Me (3D): US, Animation/ Family – 95 mins – Studio synopsis: “In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. (Yes, the moon!) Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world's greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith, and Agnes.” Opens in the US on 9 July; few reviews so far.
IMDB Viewer: It is amazing! It is charming without being corny; hilarious without resorting to stupid pop-culture references; exciting without being overly loud... and the best thing: it plays like a fable.
It is absurd! ... but in a good way. The whole plan is to steal the moon, for crying out loud! How ridiculous could that be? And yet, we are led to root for the evil genius to be able to do just that. The whole thing is so tongue in cheek that you will pee in your pants laughing at the effects of having no moon for a few minutes (it is a quick flash of things, for they are so funny).
The movie is incredibly intelligent. The jokes are dead on and VERY imaginative (for example - and this is not a spoiler - pay attention to how they manage to produce light when Dr. Gru and two of his minions are in a ventilation duct at Vector's fortress - just delightful).
You will fall in love with his minions, and if you have a soft heart, with the three orphan girls.
OH, I almost forgot!! The 3D... this is the best usage of 3D I've seen (excepting "Avatar", of course) in a movie. There is a roller coaster ride scene that will literally "tickle your tummy" (like my kids said). For the first three seconds it easily compares to the effects found in "The Simpsons Ride" at Universal Studios.
The action sequences are thrillingly enhanced by the right amount of 3D, and make sure you STAY while the credits roll on. There is some OBVIOUS usage of 3D on those scenes with very funny results. Actually, here's a hint: sit down and enjoy these scenes while the people in the rows in front of you try to exit the theatre; the point of reference they offer will enhance the 3D in such a cool way that it will seem that they will bump into the staircase and the minions protruding from the screen (I suppose that was the intention of these bonus scenes, and boy they nailed it!) All in all, do yourself a favor and go WATCH it... I am sure I will do it again!
Kao Rak / Sorry Saranghaeyo / เการักที่เกาหลี Sorry ซารังเฮโย / ซารังเฮโย เการักที่เกาหลี: Thai/ South Korea, Comedy/ Romance – Kana is a girl who is so obsessed with Korean styles that she convinces Mara, her sister to travel to South Korea with her. In South Korea, Kana and Mara pursue their separate dreams - Kana wants to see Ajoo, her favorite Korean star while Mara wishes to look pretty by means of Korean surgery. Directed by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story (2007)).
Wise Kwai. Feb 23, 2010: Poj Arnon is the latest Thai filmmaker to be caught up in the trend of Korean pop culture. He started shooting a movie last week in Gangwon Province, South Korea.
Sorry Sarahaeyo (Sorry Sa Rang He Yo) is a Thai-South Korean co-production aimed at promoting tourism in South Korea. It's a romance about a vacationing Thai woman, played by Thai-Japanese model Haru Yamakushi, who falls in love with a South Korean actor, played by singer Noh Ah Joo.
At a press event in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago, Poj stated it’ll be the first time he’s directed a romance about a woman in love with a man. He’s better known for his katoey comedies and the gay romance Bangkok Love Story.
Production on Sorry began on February 17 in Gangwon Province and is expected to wrap by March 2. Shooting locations will include Chuncheon City, Pyeongchang County, Sokcho City and Kang Neung City. The movie is co-produced by Poj's production company Film Guru and South Korea's Don't Worry.
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 – 103 mins – The story follows the adventures of Aang, a 12-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. With Dev Patel, the contestant in Slumdog Millionaire, and starring 12-year-old Noah Ringer as Aang. Based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, the hugely successful Nickelodeon 61-episode Emmy Award-winning American animated television series, now being shown here in Thailand in four marathon sessions each week on TrueVisions TV. Or you can watch them all on the Nickelodeon website, with the very first one from 2005 here. The series and the film are set in an Asian-influenced world of Chinese martial arts and element manipulation, drawing on aspects of traditional Asian (especially Chinese and Japanese) culture and Indian religions (Hinduism and Buddhism). The film is written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and it doesn’t have the word “Avatar” in the title for obvious reasons. This is the first of a planned trilogy.
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: 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.
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.
On Friday, July 2, 8 pm: La Fleur du mal / The Flower of Evil (2003) by Claude Chabrol – 104 mins – France Drama/Thriller. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews 67/68 out of 100. Rated R in the US for brief language.
With Benoît Magimel, Nathalie Baye, Mélanie Doutey, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Le Coq, Thomas Chabrol, Henri Attal.
Anne runs for re-election to the town council, shepherded by Matthieu, her fellow candidate and campaign manager. Her husband, Gérard, a businessman and philanderer, hates the campaign and feels vindication when a nasty leaflet circulates about their family history. His son, François, just back from the U.S., is in love with his step-sister Michèle, and she with him, although something is amiss besides their being cousins. Watching it all is their elderly Aunt Line, who has her own haunting memories...
– Alliance Description
Three generations of a wealthy Bordeaux family are caught in the crossfire when Anne decides to run for mayor, thanks to a political pamphlet that revives an old murder scandal.
Senses of Cinema: Along with François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol's name is famously associated with the path-breaking criticism of Cahiers du Cinéma and the rise of the French New Wave. But whilst Truffaut and Godard saw themselves as auteur and innovator, to survey Chabrol's long career is to see a craftsman productively immersed in the conventions and compromises of mainstream filmmaking.
Born in Paris in 1930, Chabrol was evacuated during the Occupation to the Creuse department in the Massif Central. Growing up in the village of Sardent, he and a friend set up a makeshift 'cinema' in a barn. Playing the roles of programme director, exhibitor, and projectionist, Chabrol got around the German prohibition against Hollywood by advertising German genre movies as American “super-productions.” Returning to Paris after the Liberation, he began attending the thriving postwar ciné-clubs and cinémathèques where he met Truffaut, Godard, and Eric Rohmer. An ardent fan of Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock, he was . . .
On Friday, July 9, 8 pm: Le Roi danse / The King Is Dancing (2000) by Gérard Corbiau – 110 mins – France/ Germany/ Belgium Drama/History. English subtitles.
With Benoît Magimel, Boris Terral, Tchéky Karyo, Colette Emmanuelle, Cécile Bois.
Le Roi Danse is a lush portrayal of the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. We trace the evolution of Versailles from swamp to pleasure garden. The plot focuses on the relationship between the young king and his court composer Lully. Lully, played with mad intensity by Boris Terral, is an impassioned dancer, composer, and conductor who worships his sovereign as man, god, and muse. The film examines Louis XIV not as statesman but as consummate artist and obsessive visionary, who maintains his hold on his courtiers--allies and enemies alike--via the splendor of the world he has created at Versailles and his own self-affirming glory...
– Alliance Description
With its emphasis on intrigue, sexual diversity, music, and self-delusion, the film turns the world of baroque music into kinky melodrama, as we watch the bisexual Lully oscillate between debauched hedonism and his platonic love for the King. We observer Louis the XIVth's changing allegiances between Molière, the court dramatist, and Lully, the court composer, in a series of off-color vignettes with a vaguely homosexual subtext, complete with scenery-chewing, bodice-ripping drag-queen-on-a-rampage mad scenes. One reviewer: “Truly cinema by hairdressers for hairdressers.”
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
July is “The Month of Consequences” 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, July 3, 7 pm: Sunset at Chaopraya / Khu gam / คู่กรรม (1996) directed by Euthana Mukdasanit – 135 mins – Thai, Drama. – Adapted from the novel Khu Kam by Thommayanti, the story is a love triangle, set in World War II-era Thailand, and depicts the star-crossed romance between an Imperial Japanese Navy officer and a Thai woman who is involved with the Free Thai resistance. Singer Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre stars as the Japanese officer Kobori, reprising his role from a popular, 26-episode television series in 1990 that was based on the book. Aside from the 1990 series, the story has been adapted numerous times, including a film in 1973, another film in the 1980s and a musical play in 2003.
Rotten Tomatoes: A love triangle plays out in Thailand against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation during World War II. Kobori, a Japanese navy captain, falls in love with Ungsumalin, a Thai woman who was involved with Vanus, a member of the Free Thai movement. Vanus, while gaining political momentum in England, asks Ungsumalin to marry him upon his return to Thailand. Ungsumalin must then choose between matters of country and matters of the heart.
IMDb Viewer: "War destroys the loser, the winner, and everybody involved" -- this opening quote from the movie establishes the theme. A story set during WWII, of a Thai woman who marries a Japanese officer for political reasons; she is caught between her growing love for her Japanese husband and the Thai resistance movement and her returning lover, Vanus. There are overtones of "Romeo & Juliet", interesting traditional music, beautifully photographed scenes of the countryside and the Chaopraya River, and a promise made beneath a tree.
Wikipedia: The Plot: It is 1944, and the Japan's efforts to win the Pacific War are failing, and a Thai woman, Angsumalin, has just lost her husband, Kobori, an officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The scene then flashes back to 1939, the early days of World War II in Siam, to Angsumalin meeting one last time with her former lover, a young Thai man named Vanus. He is leaving for England for his studies and hopes that Angsumalin will wait for him and marry him when he returns.
Shortly thereafter, Thailand is invaded by Japanese military forces. In Thonburi, opposite Bangkok on the Chaophraya River, the Imperial Japanese Navy establishes itself at a base. The forces there are led by Kobori, an idealistic young captain. One day he sees Angsumalin swimming in the river and falls for her. She, being a proudly nationalistic Thai woman, despises him because he is a foreigner.
Nonetheless, Kobori persists at seeing her and a courtship develops. Angsumalin sees a way to use Kobori to serve the underground Free Thai Movement while she waits for Vanus.
Then, for political reasons, Angsumalin's father insists that she marry Kobori. Understanding that Angsumalin is not marrying him out of love, Kobori promises not to touch her, but he breaks that vow after the wedding.
Despite this, Angsumalin develops tender feelings for Kobori, but is still torn by her feelings for her nation and Vanus, who returns to set in motion a conflict between the two men.
At Film Space Saturday, July 10, 7 pm: Lust, Caution / Se, jie / 色，戒 (2007) directed by Ang Lee – 157 mins, edited version 148 mins – US/ China/ Taiwan/ Hong Kong, Drama/ Romance/ Thriller/ War. – A Chinese espionage thriller film directed by Taiwanese American director Ang Lee, based on the short story of the same name published in 1979 by Chinese author Eileen Chang. The story is mostly set in Hong Kong in 1938 and in Shanghai in 1942, when it was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army and ruled by the puppet government led by Wang Jingwei. It depicts a group of Chinese university students from the Lingnan University who plot to assassinate a high-ranking special agent and recruiter of the puppet government using an attractive young woman to lure him into a trap. Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexuality; edited version rated R for strong sexual content and a scene of brutal violence. Generally favorable reviews: 61/61 out of 100.
Studio synopsis: The new film from Ang Lee, the Academy Award-winning director of "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." A startling erotic espionage thriller about the fate of an ordinary woman's heart, it is based on the short story by revered Chinese author Eileen Chang, and stars Asian cinema icon Tony Leung opposite screen newcomer Tang Wei. Shanghai, 1942. The World War II Japanese occupation of this Chinese city continues in force. Mrs. Mak, a woman of sophistication and means, walks into a café, places a call, and then sits and waits. She remembers…how her story began several years earlier, in 1938 China. She is not in fact Mrs. Mak, but shy Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei). With WWII underway, Wong has been left behind by her father, who has escaped to England. As a freshman at university, she meets fellow student Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom) Kuang has started a drama society to shore up patriotism. As the theater troupe's new leading lady, Wong realizes that she has found her calling, able to move and inspire audiences – and Kuang. He convenes a core group of students to carry out a radical and ambitious plan to assassinate a top Japanese collaborator, Mr. Yee (Tony Leung). Each student has a part to play; Wong will be Mrs. Mak, who will gain Yee's trust by befriending his wife (Joan Chen) and then draw the man into an affair. Wong transforms herself utterly inside and out, and the scenario proceeds as scripted – until an unexpectedly fatal twist spurs her to flee. Shanghai, 1941. With no end in sight for the occupation, Wong – having emigrated from Hong Kong – goes through the motions of her existence. Much to her surprise, Kuang re-enters her life. Now part of the organized resistance, he enlists her to again become Mrs. Mak in a revival of the plot to kill Yee, who as head of the collaborationist secret service has become even more a key part of the puppet government. As Wong reprises her earlier role, and is drawn ever closer to her dangerous prey, she finds her very identity being pushed to the limit.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a tense, sensual, and beautifully-shot espionage film.