M. Night destroys the Avatar, singlehandedly!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, August 5, 2010
… through Wednesday, August 11
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bet: Inception.
This is Issue Number 40 of Volume 5 of these listings.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Salt: US, Action/ Thriller – 1 hr 40 mins – Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, and Chiwetel Ejiofor; directed by Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, Rabbit-Proof Fence). Studio synopsis: As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor, and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who Is Salt?" Early reviews: Generally favorable: 65/61 out of 100. (Bold scores are from Metacritic / light scores from Rotten Tomatoes.)
Variety, Justin Chang: Noyce rolls up his sleeves and delivers an unpretentious piece of action-movie craftsmanship that proves worthy of its star's own consummate professionalism.
Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt: While preposterous at every turn, Salt is a better Bond movie than most recent Bond movies, as its makers keep the stunts real and severely limit CGI gimmickry.
Rotten Tomatoes: Now that the Cold War is long over, they don't make thrillers like they used to. Oh, wait, maybe they do. The critics say Salt is a solid, meat-and-potatoes spy flick with a standout performance from Angelina Jolie -- and, unfortunately, a completely preposterous plot. Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who goes on the run after being accused of spying for the Russians. Will she be able to prove her innocence? The pundits say Salt is an effective popcorn movie that firmly establishes Jolie in the upper echelon of action stars, bar gender. However, many also note that even popcorn movies need cohesiveness and believability, and that Salt is often tripped up by its gaping plot holes.
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Angelina Jolie gives it her all in the title role, and her seasoned performance is almost enough to save Salt from its predictable and ludicrous plot.
Rotten Tomatoes: It has been said that sex and violence are closely related, and nowhere is that marriage of ideas more evident than in the transformation of Angelina Jolie into one of this decade’s hottest action stars. And this transformation has come full circle to the point that she’s even taking roles away from Tom Cruise. Originally written with a male lead in mind, Salt is the story of a CIA operative who is accused of being a Russian double agent intent on assassinating the president, and must evade capture long enough to prove her innocence. The role was repurposed for Jolie, but being that she’s a bona fide action star now, little needed to be changed specifically for her; it still looks to be an explosive thrill ride, with all the sex appeal that comes out of the box with Jolie.
* Step Up 3D: US, Drama/ Music/ Romance – 1 hr 47 mins – A tight-knit group of street dancers team up with NYU freshmen to find themselves pitted against the world's best breakdancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever. Third installment of the Step Up series, popular with fans of dance and pop music films. Not yet shown in 3D here, now 2D and only at Airport Plaza.
* Boonchu 10 / บุญชู 10: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Number 8 in the homespun teen comedy series of a country boy’s adventures in Bangkok! (They skipped numbers 3 and 4 as an advertising gimmick.) The amusing and romantic story of Boonchu and his son Boonchoke continues when Boonchu and his friends journey into a forest to find Boonchoke who is now studying herbs. Wise Kwai says that Actor-screenwriter Kiat Kitjaroen, who's been with the Boonchu series since the beginning in the 1980’s, took over the directing job after the long-running series director Bhandit Rittakol died on October 1 at age 58. In Thai only at Vista, with English subtitles at Airport Plaza.
The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – 1 hr 43 mins – I saw this yet again yesterday, and this time in 3D (the 3D prices go down to 150 baht on Wednesday “Movie Day” at Airport Plaza). You’ll recall I’ve reported that this 3D was a hasty decision of the producers at the last minute, and the final cut of the film, shortened by 25 minutes, was hurriedly transformed into 3D by a post-production process of questionable quality. It’s not good 3D. I think we should call this process something like “2D Plus” to distinguish it from real 3D, planned from the beginning for 3D and using 3D equipment and cameras from the beginning.
And yes it is darker than the 2D version, not as crisp, the colors a bit muddy, but for me not as much as I was expecting. I do think that given a choice you should see the 2D version. If, that is, you plan to see it at all. And despite the terrible reviews it has received, it seems to be doing surprisingly well. You have a choice of seeing it in either 2D or 3D at Airport plaza; at Vista it’s only in 2D and is Thai-dubbed. Generally unfavorable reviews: 20/28 out of 100. The Metacritic score of 20 is only one point away from their category “Overwhelming dislike.”
I’ve already described how disappointed I am with the film and how fond I am of the source material, the 61-episode American animated television series on Nickelodeon, titled Avatar: The Last Airbender. That series, and this film, are set in an Asian-influenced world of Chinese martial arts and element manipulation, drawing on aspects of traditional Chinese and Japanese culture, and on Indian religions.
At this viewing I was particularly annoyed by the acting of Nicola Peltz as Katara. It really was a horribly inadequate acting job, and since she was tasked with the unenviable job of delivering reams of voice-over narration to a seemingly unending extent, her inadequacies were laid out for all to see at too-frequent intervals. I don’t want to call her a terrible actress because what we see might be the result of a number of things, including bad directing and bad dialogue. But whatever the cause, this performance just didn’t work. Her delivery was breathy, unbelievable amateurish, with little connect with what she was saying. This was also true to a lesser extent with the other two juvenile leads, Jackson Rathbone as Sokka, and the Avatar himself, Aang, played by Noah Ringer.
My recommendation still is to buy the truly fine animated series, and skip the movie.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: Despite flashy special effects, The Last Airbender squanders the potential of its popular source material on an incomprehensible plot, laughable dialogue, and a joyless sense of detachment.
How dare you mess with
me like that!
San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle: After spending the past decade making bad movies, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has branched out in The Last Airbender. He has made a really bad movie.
To be specific, he has made a dull, boring, poorly acted, limply written and thoroughly unappealing fantasy, featuring bland characters locked in a struggle of no interest. What's more, his film doesn't derail. It's off track from its first seconds, from an opening scroll that's confusing to a first scene showing two teenagers walking along a frozen landscape, spouting pure exposition.
And then - oh no - the two young people are suddenly in danger! Now this is amazing: Shyamalan gives us two characters without a hint of charm, without anything that might kindle even a spark of human sympathy, and then he expects us to care that they're in trouble. But really, it's the audience who's in trouble. Five minutes in, and already there's no hope.
... The movie is in 3-D, and it's the worst use of 3-D in the modern era. It's unimaginative, not eye-catching and ends up actually emphasizing the fakeness of the effects and the landscape. For example, say you have two people in the foreground walking through an ice-covered terrain. To create a visual effect whereby the eye lifts out those two figures ends up calling our attention to the artifice - that these are two actors walking against a blue screen, and that the snow, ice and glaciers are all computer-generated.
Roger Ebert: The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.
Let's start with the 3D, which was added as an afterthought to a 2D movie. Not only is it unexploited, unnecessary, and hardly noticeable, but it's a disaster even if you like 3D. M. Night Shyamalan's retrofit produces the drabbest, darkest, dingiest movie of any sort I've seen in years. You know something is wrong when the screen is filled with flames that have the vibrancy of faded Polaroids. It's a known fact that 3D causes a measurable decrease in perceived brightness, but Airbender looks like it was filmed with a dirty sheet over the lens.
Now for the movie itself. The first fatal decision was to make a live-action film out of material that was born to be anime. The animation of the Nickelodeon TV series drew on the bright colors and "clear line" style of such masters as Miyazaki, and was a pleasure to observe. It's in the very nature of animation to make absurd visual sights more plausible.
Since Airbender involves the human manipulation of the forces of air, earth, water and fire, there is hardly an event that can be rendered plausibly in live action. That said, its special effects are atrocious. The first time the waterbender Katara summons a globe of water, which then splashes (offscreen) on her brother Sokka, he doesn't even get wet. Firebenders' flames don't seem to really burn, and so on.
The story takes place in the future, after Man has devastated the planet and survives in the form of beings with magical powers allowing them to influence earth, water and fire. These warring factions are held in uneasy harmony by the Avatar, but the Avatar has disappeared, and Earth lives in a state of constant turmoil caused by the warlike Firebenders.
Our teenage heroes Katara and Sokka discover a child frozen in the ice. This is Aang (Noah Ringer), and they come to suspect he may be the Avatar, or Last Airbender. Perhaps he can bring harmony and quell the violent Firebenders. This plot is incomprehensible, apart from the helpful orientation that we like Katara, Sokka and Aang and are therefore against their enemies.
The dialogue is couched in unspeakable quasi-medieval formalities; the characters are so portentous they seem to have been trained for grade school historical pageants. Their dialogue is functional and action-driven. There is little conviction that any of this might be real even in their minds. All of the benders in the movie appear only in terms of their attributes and functions, and contain no personality.
Potentially interesting details are botched. Consider the great iron ships of the Firebenders. These show potential as Steampunk, but are never caressed for their intricacies. Consider the detail Miyazaki lavished on Howl's Moving Castle. Trying sampling a Nickelodeon clip from the original show to glimpse the look that might have been.
I don’t look like that!
After the miscalculation of making the movie as live action, there remained the challenge of casting it. Shyamalan has failed. His first inexplicable mistake was to change the races of the leading characters; on television Aang was clearly Asian, and so were Katara and Sokka, with perhaps Mongolian and Inuit genes. Here they're all whites. This casting makes no sense because (1) It's a distraction for fans of the hugely popular TV series, and (2) all three actors are pretty bad. I don't say they're untalented, I say they've been poorly served by Shyamalan and the script. They are bland, stiff, awkward and unconvincing. Little Aang reminds me of Wallace Shawn as a child. This is not a bad thing (he should only grow into Shawn's shoes), but doesn't the role require little Andre, not little Wally?
As the villain, Shyamalan has cast Cliff Curtis as Fire Lord Ozai and Dev Patel (the hero of Slumdog Millionaire) as his son Prince Zuko. This is all wrong. In material at this melodramatic level, you need teeth-gnashers, not leading men. Indeed, all of the acting seems inexplicably muted. I've been an admirer of many of Shyamalan's films, but action and liveliness are not his strong points. I fear he takes the theology of the Bending universe seriously.
As The Last Airbender bores and alienates its audiences, consider the opportunities missed here. (1) This material should have become an A-list animated film. (2) It was a blunder jumping aboard the 3D bandwagon with phony 3D retro-fitted to a 2D film. (3) If it had to be live action, better special effects artists should have been found. It's not as if films like 2012 and Knowing didn't contain "real life" illusions as spectacular as anything called for in The Last Airbender.
I close with the hope that the title proves prophetic.
Reel Views, James Berardinelli: How could a movie crafted with such obvious and far-reaching incompetence be allowed to open with the label of a "major summer release? " With a script written on a level that only a seven-year old could appreciate, The Last Airbender is an insult to anyone with a triple-digit I.Q. and a willingness to use it inside the confines of a movie theater. This is bad filmmaking and bad storytelling. It also sounds what should be the death knell to M. Night Shyamalan's career. With The Last Airbender following up The Happening and Lady in the Water, it's astonishing to think that any studio would entrust this man with another project.
Orlando Sentinel Roger Moore: M. Night Shyamalan peers over the edge and into the abyss with The Last Airbender. Yes, that’s water ahead of him, water all around him. And it’s swirling. This colossal folly, the fiasco of the summer of 2010 — gives us all a ringside seat at the sight of Mr. “I See Dead People’s” career gurgling down the drain.
io9: A lavish parody of big-budget fantasy epics. It's got everything: the personality-free hero, the nonsensical plot twists, the CG clutter, the bland romance, the new-age pablum. It's an absurdist masterpiece, in which a million things happen but nothing takes place. (In completely flat 3-D.) Stuff happens, and then more stuff happens, and what does it mean? We never know, because it's time for more stuff to happen.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joe Williams: Shyamalan's latest creation is a toxic potion that will put children to sleep and kill his career.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: US, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Drama/ Fantasy – 1 hr 50 mins – Completely disposable. If you have nothing else to do and want to waste a couple of hours without thinking too much, this is one way to do it. Especially if you like the persona of Nicolas Cage.
The film is directed by Jon Turteltaub, who led Cage through his paces in National Treasure 1 & 2. You remember the Sorcerer’s Apprentice plot: A sorcerer leaves his workshop in the hands of his apprentice, who gets into trouble when the broomstick he's tasked to do his chores for him somehow develops a mind of its own.
Well, anyway that’s the plot of the segment in Walt Disney’s Fantasia which is supposedly the origin of this movie. It is said that the idea was mostly Nicolas Cage's, who wanted to make a feature length movie based upon the Fantasia segment. The cast is made up of Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer and computer simulation expert, based on the magician portrayed in Fantasia; Jay Baruchel as Dave Stutler, an average college student who becomes Blake's apprentice – he is based on the character played by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia; and Alfred Molina as an evil magician. The original Paul Dukas music, by the way, featured in the original Fantasia segment, is so poorly orchestrated and rearranged here as to be nearly unrecognizable.
I am way put off by the physical mannerisms and irritating, whiney, unpleasant voice of Jay Baruchel, who plays the apprentice. I just don’t want to be around him. But that’s a personal reaction of course.
But more serious is the terrible editing, at least that’s the way I see it. Here again we have a superb example of action editing where you cannot tell what’s happening or who is doing what to who. Just impressions, no dramatic meaning. Montage sequence of meaningless car chases and wrecks. Rapid-fire flashes of images. I’ve talked about this before, and I am now officially starting a list of “Bad Editors – Guilty of Crimes Against Cinema!” “Movie Assault and Battery.” A list of those criminally responsible for making a movie unwatchable by the editing alone. Apprentice was edited by William Goldenberg, and he goes to the top of the list, being the first one. He edited the two Nicolas Cage vehicles in the National Treasure series, and Miami Vice in 2006, and is now in the process of editing Transformers 3, where he’ll fit right in. If you have nominations for this list, feel free to let me know.
Mixed or average reviews: 46/50 out of 100. Vista also has a Thai-dubbed version.
Rotten Tomatoes: The Sorcerer's Apprentice provides plenty of wizards and sorcery. What it lacks, say critics, is originality and inspiration. Jay Baruchel stars as a college kid who finds himself in the midst of a battle against the forces of evil, one that's being spearheaded by Merlin disciple Balthazar (Nicolas Cage). The pundits say Apprentice is passable stuff, and its decent action scenes should please the kiddies, but overall it's a bland enterprise with an overabundance of CGI effects.
Time, Richard Corliss: Well, it's better than The Last Airbender. A time-spanning epic about a kid with superpowers who must overcome bad wizards from ancient times and all places, Jerry Bruckheimer's production of The Sorcerer's Apprentice has a surface sheen and hurtling pace woefully lacking in Airbender. And whereas viewers of the recent M. Night Shyambles hoping to see their favorite A-listers slumming had to make do with The Daily Show's resident Islamic correspondent, Aasif Mandvi, in a serious role that was impossible to take seriously, Apprentice has Nicolas Cage in subdued-nutsy mode, and all-purpose overactor Alfred Molina in full hissable majesty.
... I have another question, posed out of befuddlement, not hostility: Why is Jay Baruchel in show business? The 28-year-old Canadian rose from subsidiary slacker in Knocked Up to the male lead in She's Out of My League and the voice of the boy hero in How to Train Your Dragon. Yet if he has big-screen charm or a gift for inhabiting characters or delivering lines, I'm missing it. ... There are plenty of other young actors (paging Anton Yelchin) who'd give life, zest, and watchability to the roles Baruchel gets. Is there an industry rule that he has to be constantly employed?
JoBlo’s Movie Emporium, Chris Bumbray: Fairly fun, and occasionally exciting, but so bombastic that you'll feel more like you're being bombarded, than actually watching a film.
Inception: US/ UK, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 2 hrs 28 mins – Just a terrific film! Turning into a top box office attraction in the US/ UK, and worldwide, including here in Thailand. It’s a true action film, with car chases and gunfights, which brings in the action fans, but it’s for the thinking man as well! It’s a puzzle in a maze, and very exciting, to the emotions and the mind. I loved it! Has garnered a raft of ecstatic reviews from those attuned to Christopher Nolan’s brand of mind games, and for those who appreciate his sort of thing, this is certainly a not-to-be-missed event. Just yesterday, at a restaurant, I was witness to a heated discussion on what was real and what was dream in the film. Highly recommended! See it multiple times to get more of what's going on; no one will ever get it all. Generally favorable reviews: 74/74 out of 100. Only once a day now at both locations.
Inception’s opening marked another commercial coup for writer-director Christopher Nolan following his record-breaking The Dark Knight. Leonardo DiCaprio gives another in his string of outstanding performances. Also starring Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard. It’s written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan, so it’s his baby entirely, and it’s a worthy successor to his memorable Memento. All about controlling a person through messing with his dreams.
Rotten Tomatoes: Christopher Nolan is on a roll. He took the superhero movie to new heights with The Dark Knight, and now he's back with Inception, which critics are calling an ambitious, dreamy sci-fi heist movie that's quite a mind bender. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, an American expat skilled in stealing ideas from people's dreams. He's offered an opportunity to return to the States if he can pull off one last big job -- and, naturally, metaphysical complications ensue. The pundits say Inception is a visual marvel and a brainy head trip -- in fact, you'll probably have to see it multiple times to get everything that's going on.
Metromix.com, Geoff Berkshire: The next step in [Christopher] Nolan's evolution as one of the master filmmakers of our time ... combines the jaw-dropping action of The Dark Knight with the ingenious plotting of Memento.
CHUD, Devin Faraci: Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miracle.
Cinematical, Todd Gilchrist: A stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I've seen in years.
Tukky / Tukky Chao Ying Khai Kob / Princess Tukky / ตุ๊กกี้ เจ้าหญิงขายกบ: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Thai fantasy tale of an ugly princess in a magical land. The top Thai film, in its third week. In Thai only at Vista, with English subtitles at Airport Plaza.
Scheduled for August 12
Toy Story 3: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – 1 hr 43 mins – I have seen this, and I think it is inspired. I loved every minute of it. The set-up: Andy, the boy who owns the toys, is now 17 and ready to head off to college, leaving Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and the rest of the toy-box gang to ponder their uncertain futures. When the toys are accidentally donated to the Sunnyside Daycare center they're initially overjoyed to once again be played with, but their enthusiasm quickly gives way to horror as they discover the true nature of the establishment under the rule of the deceptively welcoming "Lotso" Bear. Now, all of the toys must band together in one final, crazy scheme to escape their confines and return home to Andy. Starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, and many other very talented actors; there are 302 characters in the film! Reviews: Universal acclaim: 92/88 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: Deftly blending comedy, adventure, and honest emotion, Toy Story 3 is a rare second sequel that really works.
Sun Online, Alex Zane: This is an almost flawless example of a movie that will keep pretty much any person of any age enthralled and entertained.
Splice: (May be delayed until August 19.) Canada/ France/ US, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 1 hr 44 mins – Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac; Directed by: Vincenzo Natali. Elsa and Clive, two young, rebellious, and to me mostly repulsive scientists defy legal and ethical boundaries to forge ahead with a dangerous experiment: splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new organism. Named "Dren,” the creature rapidly develops from a deformed female infant into a beautiful but dangerous winged human-chimera, who forges a bond with both of her creators - only to have that bond turn deadly. If you have sex with an underage creature that’s only 50% human, does that count? And when your wife has sex with a creature that’s 50% her daughter, is that incest or bestiality? These are the ridiculous moral questions raised by this film. If these questions keep you awake nights, this movie is for you. I found the two leads disgusting human beings and their relationship with each other dismaying demonstration of the worst in human behavior. An unpleasant movie. Rated R in the US for disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence, and language. Generally favorable reviews: 66/66 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: It doesn't take its terrific premise quite as far as it should, but Splice is a smart, well-acted treat for horror fans.
Huang Pee Teng / Luang Pee Teng III / The Holy Man III / หลวงพี่เท่ง 3 รุ่นฮาเขย่าโลก: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – 1 hr 30 mins – Noi is a rockstar who starts to feel the boredom in the disunion of Thai society. He eventually finds the path to tranquil world as he enters the monkhood. Now Noi is a young, self-confident, and stubborn monk who has to deal with many hilarious situations with his new companions. It seems like Noi couldn't really escape from the world of confusion.
Little Thing Called Love (2010) / First Love / สิ่งเล็กๆ ที่เ��ียกว่า...รัก: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – 1 hr 30 mins – A young and ordinary high school girl has a big crush on a heartthrob senior at school, played by for-real heartthrob Mario Maurer. To make him see that she exists in his world, the girl tries to improve her physical looks and tries to become the star at school. However, her crush seems not to work too well.
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, August 6, 8 pm: Ce soir ou jamais / Tonight or Never (1961) by Michel Deville – 1 hr 43 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles. B&W.
With Claude Rich, Anna Karina, Georges Descrières, Guy Bedos, Françoise Dorléac.
Laurent has to prepare a musical show. That evening, he calls together his collaborators in his apartment under the roofs of Paris who will become the witnesses of his quarrels with his girlfriend. A sophisticated banter in the style of Marivaux or "marivaudage" in the Paris of the early 60s.
– Alliance Description
It’s an early film by Michel Deville, about a group of young friends (mostly couples), their relationships, their crises. The movie culminates in a long party where games are played and feelings explode. The film is "Nouvelle Vague" at its best. Anna Karina gives a performance greatly admired by some: “She smiles, she dances, she's ecstatic, she's sad, she cries and has nervous breakdowns - all in one. She's a wonderful actress and human being and it's very interesting seeing Anna Karina in a film not directed by Godard.”
On Friday, August 13, 8 pm: La Trahison / The Betrayal (2006) by Philippe Faucon – 1 hr 20 mins – France/ Belgium, Drama. In French and Arabic with English subtitles.
With Vincent Martinez, Cyril Troley, Ahmed Berrhama.
Algeria, 1960. War has been raging for six years and it will take two more years before Algeria – in French hands since 1830 – gains independence following a referendum decided by General De Gaulle. Lieutenant Roque, a Frenchman, is in command of an isolated post of thirty soldiers in the south-eastern region of Algeria. All the men have been drafted; among them are four young Muslims – French of North African origin as was said back then. Caporal Taïeb acts an interpreter for Roque. The post’s mission is to assure the security and control of a neighboring village and its environs, and the displaced, unemployed men and women, teenagers, and children living there. Everyone is tired of this interminable war and eager to lead normal lives again. Roque sometimes manages to gain people’s trust, even if many are no doubt secretly partisans of the FLN (National Liberation Front) and Algerian independence. Neither war nor peace will stop Roque from seeing his mission through. Then, all of a sudden, everything goes awry…
– Alliance Description
Set amidst the turmoil of the war of independence, Philippe Faucon’s film focuses on a group of “harkis,” Algerian soldiers working with the French to defeat the efforts of the FLN freedom fighters. Led by a French lieutenant (Martinez) who is fatigued by the long, seemingly irresolvable conflict with the Algerian people, the Arab soldiers face their own moral crises as they comply with aggressive acts of interrogation and torture. The scope of the struggle is made more tangible by Faucon, who balances scenes of the lieutenant with the conflicted Arab soldiers.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
August is “The Month of Telltale” 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. All films not in English are shown with English subtitles.
At Film Space Saturday, August 7, 7 pm: Always: Sunset on Third Street / Always zoku san-chôme no yûhi / ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日 (2005) directed by Takashi Yamazaki – 2 hrs 13 mins – Japan, Drama/ Family – English subtitles. The film won 12 prizes at the 2006 Japanese Academy Awards, including the awards for Best Film, Director, Actor, and Screenplay. It also won the audience award at the 2006 New York Asian Film Festival. Based on Sunset on Third Street (三丁目の夕日, San-Chōme no Yūhi), a Japanese manga series by Ryōhei Saigan. As of 2009, 56 volumes of the manga had been published. It was also a short-lived anime series from 1990 to 1991 and a pair of films, this one, Always Sanchōme no Yūhi, and the sequel, Always Zoku Sanchōme no Yūhi, were based on stories and characters from the manga.
The manga and this film is set in postwar Japan between 1955 and 1964 and focuses on stories illustrating the humor and pathos of ordinary life in the Japan of that era, mainly about the residents of the fictional Tokyo neighborhood of "San-Chome" - "Third Block”. However, many stories take place with one-story characters (not only people but animals and legendary creatures) and in other parts of Japan.
Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and... The film is a Chaplinesque fable about the power of imagination set against the stark reality of World War II Europe. The film combines satire,... Leaving her provincial home, teenage Mutsuko arrives in Tokyo by train to take a job in a major automotive company but finds that she is employed by a small auto repair shop owned by Norifumi Suzuki. Suzuki's hair-trigger temper is held somewhat in check by the motherly instincts of his wife, Tomoe, and his young son Ippei immediately bonds with Mutsuko as if she were his older sister. The Suzuki shop lies almost in the shadow of the Tokyo Tower as it rises steadily above the skyline during construction in 1958. Others in the neighborhood also are striving to better themselves as Japan continues to emerge from the shadow of war. Hiromi has just abandoned her shady life as a dancer to start a sake bar. Abandoned by his single mother, young Junnosuke is first handed off to Hiromi but she passes him off to Ryunosuke Chagawa, a struggling writer who runs a candy shop and only manages to sell adventure stories for boys as his serious novels continue to be rejected. Junnosuke is an avid reader of Chagawa's stories and begins to idolize him upon learning about his authorship. Junnosuke also writes stories, and makes friends with Ippei and others when they discover his tales that show Japan in the hi-tech future of the 21st century.
At Film Space Saturday, August 14, 7 pm: Big Fish (2003) directed by Tim Burton – 2 hrs 5 mins – US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy – In English. Mixed or average reviews: 57/64 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and... The film is a Chaplinesque fable about the power of imagination set against the stark reality of World War II Europe. The film combines satire,... The film is a Chaplinesque fable about the power of imagination set against the stark reality of World War II Europe. The film combines satire, physical comedy, social commentary and a touch of the surreal into a uniquely moving story of love. At the center of the fable is Guido, an enchanting individual with childlike innocence and grand dreams of owning his own book shop. It's 1939, and he has come to the Tuscan town of Arrezzo with his poet friend Ferruccio. With unabashed humor and joy, the two seek fortune and romance, ignoring the growing anti-Semitism and Fascist government that surrounds them. Guido falls in love with Dora, a beautiful young school teacher, and a fairy tale romance ensues.