Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whats On starting September 30

Don’t invest too deeply in Wall Street!

Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, September 30, 2010

 

… through Wednesday, October 6

 

by Thomas Ohlson

 



Best Bets: Eternity.  Wall Street 2.   

 

Shia should have been trading credit derivatives!”

-Bear Stearns

 

This is Issue Number 48 of Volume 5 of these listings.

 

EU Film Festival in Bangkok: Oct 21 to 31.

1st Doi Saket International Film Festival: Oct 23 to 30. Film list now available: http://dsiff.tumblr.com/films   

EU Film Festival in Chiang Mai: Nov 4 to 14. At Antique House. Open air, free. Film list attached.

World Film Festival in Bangkok: Nov 5 to 14.

Bangkok International Film Festival: Nov 19 to 29.

Luang Prabang Film Festival in Luang Prabang: Dec 4 to 11. Open air, free, 30 films. www.lpfilmfest.org

 

I’ve attached a list I just received of the films to be shown at this year’s European Union Film Festival. It will be held outdoors, and no admission will be charged. Location is the Antique House, 71 Charoen Prathet Road. Understand that this is a preliminary list, and there may be changes. More details forthcoming.

 

Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week

* Detective Dee / Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame / D-Project / Di Renjie / 狄仁杰之通天帝国: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Crime/ Thriller 2 hrs – When the mysterious deaths of a series of loyal subjects threaten to delay the 690 A.D. inauguration of Empress Wu Zetian, she summons the infamous Detective Dee back from an exile into which she cast him.. She appoints him Chief Judge of the Empire, a prestigious position that he had declined when she had offered it to him eight years ago. Starring Andy Lau and Tony Leung Ka Fai. Based on the Chinese folk hero Di Renjie, who was one of the most celebrated officials of the Tang Dynasty, and popularized in the West by a series of detective novels written by Robert Van Gulik, who called him "Judge Dee". A co-production between China and Hong Kong, the film was directed by Tsui Hark, and nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. Shown in a Thai-dubbed version only, and only at Airport Plaza.

Slant, Fernando F. Croce: Decades after reinvigorating Hong Kong's martial-arts market, Tsui Hark has lost none of his flair for genre spectacle in this elaborate, breathlessly paced Wuxia whodunit. Something of a political fairy tale (as in Tsui's earlier films, it could easily open with "Once upon a time in China..."), the story is set in 687 A.D. as the emperor's widow (Carina Lau) is about to become the country's first female ruler. With her coronation and the construction of a towering Buddha statue in her honor drawing near, court officials begin to inexplicably and horribly burst into flames. Divine intervention or seditious conspiracy? Detective Dee (Andy Lau) is recruited to find out, with a beautiful warrior (Li Bingbing) by his side and hordes of kung fu foes before him. Sammo Hung's choreography, with fight scenes shot as cartwheeling flurries of gold, blue, and crimson, is just one of the pleasures in a film that also includes shapeshifting heroines, talking stags, a toppling colossus, cheesy digital compositions, and wacky exchanges ("What's a Phantom Bazaar?" "It's a spooky pandemonium!"). Ripping fun.

* Saturday Killer / Mue Puen Dao Phra Sao / มือปืน ดาว พระ เสาร์: Thai, Action/ Comedy 1 hr 50 mins – The film revolves around a troublesome gunman who kills for money to cure his impotence, and a mysterious girl he has a crush on but whose heart he can never seem to win. This is the middle film in a trilogy of crime films, Friday Killer, Saturday Killer, and Sunday Killer, all with well-known comics paired up with popular leading ladies. Saturday Killer is being released first because Friday Killer was deemed too downbeat to start off with. The trilogy marks a return to the hitman genre for Yuthlert Sippapak, a prolific genre-hopping filmmaker who made his debut with 2000's comedy-action-drama Killer Tattoo.

Wise Kwai: It appears the dramatic Friday Killer is too downbeat for Yuthlert's producers at Phranakorn Film, who will likely release the more comedy-oriented Saturday Killer and Sunday Killer first with Friday Killer coming out sometime next year. The films all pair veteran comic actors with starlets in a mash-up of genres that include crime drama, romance, and comedy. Friday Killer stars Thep Po-ngam as an ageing gunman who's released from prison to discover he has a daughter, and she's a policewoman gunning for him. Saturday Killer (มือปืน ดาวพระเสาร์) stars Choosak "Nong Chachacha" Iamsuk and Cris Horwang while Sunday Killer (มือปืนพระอาทิตย์) pairs Kotee Aramboy with May Pitchanart Sakhakorn.

Yuthlert Sippapak's Friday Killer was given the top prize, the International Break-out Award, at this year’s Phuket Film Festival, with the prediction that the prolific genre-hopping director will have "great success with his trilogy of hitman films (Friday Killer, Saturday Killer, Sunday Killer) but will go on to break out of directing domestic Thai films and pick up a wider regional and international audience."

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – 1 hr 46 mins – A 2009 remake of the 1956 Fritz Lang film noir film which starred Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine. This one stars Michael Douglas, as a writer whose plan to expose a corrupt district attorney takes an unexpected turn. I have a feeling this pops up because of the current Michael Douglas buzz; if you can’t get Wall Street, get another film he’s in. Also starring Jesse Metcalf, who’s been in a bunch of TV series. Generally unfavorable reviews: 35/30 out of 100. At Vista only.

IMDb synopsis: High profile lawyer, Martin Hunter has an impeccable record putting criminals behind bars and is a shoo-in for governor in the upcoming election. But when ambitious rookie journalist, C.J. Nicholas begins investigating Hunter for tampering with evidence to secure his convictions, the district attorney's perfect record is up for scrutiny. Commencing a risky game of cat and mouse with Hunter, C.J. frames himself as a murder suspect to catch the corrupt D.A. in the act. Romantically involved with C.J. but unaware of his assignment, assistant D.A. Ella Crystal becomes caught between her boss's political ambitions and C.J.'s dangerous expose. As mounting evidence stacks up against both men, Ella's own life becomes threatened when she discovers incriminating proof that puts the fate of both C.J's innocence and Hunter's reputation in her hands.

Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Hackneyed and over dramatic, this undercooked courtroom drama suffers from bad dialogue and a twist ending you'll see from a distance.

Village Voice, Melissa Anderson: Lang's film, the last he made in the U.S., exposed the immorality of the death penalty; Hyams's retread offers only more plot and longer, louder car chases.

The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis: Capably directed by Peter Hyams (who removed the anti-death-penalty slant from Douglas Morrow’s 1956 screenplay), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt barrels along without fuss or emotional depth. Despite excellent stunt work and a too-brief appearance by Orlando Jones as an unflappable cop, the movie never rises above mediocrity.

Combustible Celluloid, Jeffrey M. Anderson: This remake of Fritz Lang's 1956 film saw a tiny theatrical release before going straight to DVD, and considering the recent track record of director Peter Hyams (A Sound of Thunder, The Musketeer, End of Days, etc.), there's no surprise that it's bad. Hyams takes a perfectly good story and kills it with logic loopholes, inconsistent character behavior, horrendous, headache-inducing cutting, and a number of brainless chase scenes. 

DVD Talk, Brian Orndorf: Mystery plays a pivotal role in Reasonable Doubt, but mystery is not exactly what Hyams achieves with his motion picture. Hey, it's been tough out there for the filmmaker, who hasn't made a decent movie since 1994's Timecop Reasonable Doubt has a very sludgy, workmanlike feel to it, made by filmmakers and actors who either are unskilled for this sort of challenge or just wanted a free trip to Louisiana.

Not really a courtroom drama nor explicitly a murder mystery, Reasonable Doubt hangs in a tedious void, running around in increasingly implausible circles as it waits to spring a twistapalooza in the final act, hoping to purple nerple viewers into thinking they've seen something sufficiently mind-bending. Trouble is, it takes 90 minutes of flaming illogic and infuriating Jesse Metcalfe emoting (he's a sincerely unresponsive actor) to get to the ludicrous ending, making the payoff not worth the interminable journey.

Michael Douglas only pops up in the picture to say hello, taking on what amounts to a cameo role for reasons unclear (his screen panache is sorely missed). The rest of the film rests on the uncoordinated shoulders of Metcalfe, who is all wrong for the part.



Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps: US, Drama – 2 hrs 13 mins – Oliver Stone directs Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Frank Langella, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, Eli Wallach, and Vanessa Ferlito in this follow-up to the acclaimed 1987 film – 23 years later. Here the disgraced Wall Street corporate raider imprisoned in the first movie is released, and as the global economy teeters on the brink of disaster he partners with a young Wall Street trader on a two-part mission: To alert the financial community to the coming doom, and to find out who was responsible for the death of the young trader's mentor. Mixed or average reviews: 59/60 out of 100. 

There are reasons to see Wall Street. There are some really good turns by a number of people: Michael Douglas, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella, Josh Brolin. Some of these scenes are well-done with a lot of intensity in the execution. But without much point or purpose, for me. Oliver Stone seems to visit many of the events of the financial crisis without explaining what's really going on. I think if you were very familiar with the events, you could bring your already-formed feelings to bear on the scenes you witness, but without being so primed, it really makes no sense. Everyone is very intense and angry and confrontational about something, but what about is not explained. They might give the excuse that the issues and the manipulations are way too complicated to explain to the populace in a popular movie,  but I don't think that's true. Hard work, and requires thought, but very possible. The comics do it all the time, and Jay Leno and the others do it every night. Think of Jon Stewart, or Bill Maher. I saw on the internet some British comics give a beautiful explanation of derivatives and the shenanigans about them. And how even investment brokers are influenced by the names of things: given a fund called Premium Derivatives and another called Preferred Premium Derivatives, you would naturally pick the "Preferred" one, even without knowing a thing about either of them.

I find the movie profoundly unsatisfactory, like most all Oliver Stone’s movies. Too many things that don't make sense, that seem to sound an alarm, but without any clarity about what the alarm is about. But still with a lot of skill in filming scenes where much of great moment seems to be happening.

Rotten Tomatoes: It's more entertaining than many sequels, but with Oliver Stone directing, a terrific cast, and a timely storyline that picks up where the original left off, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps should be better.

New York Times, Joe Nocera: In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, many of the characters — and firms — are stand-ins for real people and real companies. Frank Langella’s character is based on Jimmy Cayne, the former chief executive of Bear Stearns, the first Wall Street firm to be brought down by the crisis. Josh Brolin, who plays the villain of the piece, is meant to bear a physical resemblance to Jamie Dimon, the head of J. P. Morgan. But Mr. Brolin’s firm, Churchill Schwartz, is modeled on Goldman Sachs, ruthlessly taking advantage of competitors in ways that are — how to put this? — ethically challenged.



Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was not the fictionalized version of the financial crisis of 2008 I had expected.

“I don’t know how you show a credit default swap on the screen,” Mr. Stone said. Never mind that the financial crisis was what had prompted his involvement in the first place. Or that the feelings of outrage and fear that the crisis fueled are feelings that Mr. Stone seems to share. Or that his many fans were surely expecting — like me — a movie that took on the financial crisis and eviscerated the folks responsible.

It just couldn’t be done, Mr. Stone said, not in a mainstream movie. “The idea that the entire system was dependent on a credit bubble that could pop overnight — that is really hard to convey on-screen.”

I wasn’t really buying what Mr. Stone was selling. The more he protested, the more he sounded like a man who hadn’t pulled off what he had set out to accomplish and was now making after-the-fact excuses. Not unlike Wall Street itself in the aftermath of the financial crisis, when you come to think of it. There is something a little unfair, I realize, in criticizing a director for not making the film you had hoped he would make. But fans of the original Wall Street will come to this new movie expecting Mr. Stone to tap into the nation’s anger by dramatizing Wall Street’s sins. They are going to be disappointed. Mr. Stone looked the crisis straight in the eye — and blinked.

Rotten Tomatoes: Few movie characters have personified the zeitgeist like Gordon Gekko; Michael Douglas' masterful portrayal of an unscrupulous corporate raider resonated powerfully when Oliver Stone's Wall Street was released in 1987 -- just weeks after the stock market crashed. Now, with our economy again in turmoil, Stone and Douglas are back with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. However, if movie critics picked stocks, they'd probably rate this sequel as a "hold"; they say Money is slick, well-paced and strongly acted, but its story is haphazard and its moralizing occasionally heavy-handed. Shia LaBeouf stars as a financial wiz who's dating Gekko's daughter. Fresh from prison, Gekko becomes the young man's mentor -- but at what cost? The pundits say that Douglas, reprising his most iconic role, is excellent, and Stone's direction is fast-paced and visually sharp. However, others find the movie over-plotted and less insightful than its predecessor.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec / Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec / พลัง อะเดล ข้ามขอบฟ้า โค่น 5 มหาภัย: France, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery – 1 hr 45 mins – This version English dubbed (over French – i.e., their mouths are pantomiming French, what you hear is English) with Thai subtitles. An adventure written and directed by Luc Besson set in the early part of the 20th century, and focused on a popular novelist and her dealings with would-be suitors, the cops, monsters, and other distractions. Adapted from what is said to be an extremely popular comic adventure series written and illustrated by French comics’ artist Jacques Tardi. The film is set in the carefree world before World War I, where Adèle Blanc-Sec, an intrepid young writer, will go to great lengths to achieve her goals, even sailing to Egypt to get a mummy. At Airport Plaza only.

I really don’t know what to say about this movie. Maybe I’ll just cop a plea and say “You have to be French!” The strange, sometimes cruel humor. (Such as the slapstick around the guillotine that ends with the wrong person getting beheaded.) (Or such as the supposedly humorous way in which Adèle turns her sister into a living vegetable by managing to have her fall backwards on a hatpin during a tennis match thereby driving a pin through her brain.) Nonchalant, off-handed nudity. Pleasant pictures, pleasant story, pleasant costumes, nostalgic times, a “carefree world.” You, or your children, might find it enjoyable enough.

 



Originally in French, this is an English-dubbed version, apparently one of many languages into which it has been dubbed. (Even Thai.) But as you know, the French are love to dub, and yet have always been sloppy about it. Throughout its film history, even French films shot in French were dubbed in French, sometimes by the original actors, but as often not. And never very carefully. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone. At any rate, here the lips are never in synch with the words you hear in the film. If that bothers you, then this will bother you a great deal. As for Adèle, I don’t know whose voice we’re hearing, but it’s not a well-trained voice, rather grating and irritating, and cannot keep up with Adèle’s fast-paced speech pattern. Her voice dubbing is the worst in the film, very bad indeed, but most of the others were exceptionally well-matched and well-executed.

All in all an extremely strange film. So . . . French!

Eternity / Chua Fah Din Salai / ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย: Thai, Drama/ Romance – A class act in many ways, and always-solid Thai filmmaking. It’s one of the most interesting Thai movies to come along in some time, for a number of reasons. Based on a revered and classic Thai novel of 1943, the film depicts a forbidden love story in which adulterous lovers are physically chained together for all eternity. Starring Ananda Everingham. 

Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D): UK/ Germany/ US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 1 hr 37 mins – The series continues. This time, in a world ravaged by a virus infection turning its victims into the Undead (in other words, Zombies), Alice (Milla Jovovich), continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets a new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes which takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive they find the city is overrun by thousands of Undead. Rated R in the US for sequences of strong violence and language. Generally unfavorable reviews: 37/39 out of 100. Shown in 3D at Airport Plaza (and for a change real it’s real 3D); in 2D and Thai-dubbed only at Vista.

I want to emphasize that the Airport Plaza 3D version is real 3D, in fact using the same cameras James Cameron created for his feature Avatar. These systems and cameras remain at the cutting edge of 3D technology. Why they would want to use all this marvelous technology for a zombie flic is another question entirely. But I want to clear up any confusion as to what kind of 3D is actually being used under the generic and often misleading label of “3D” by places like Major Cineplex. They charge the same price for genuine 3D like this film as for rip-off cheapie post-production 3D, which takes a 2D film and adds some 3D feel to it. And without me to tell you, you’d never know!

Guardian.co.uk, Phelim O'Neill: The fourth Resident Evil movie has 3D as its main selling point, and without doubt the 3D is of a very high quality. There are plenty of visually impressive scenes, with planes skimming over glaciers or examining the inside of huge, expansive white hangars. But as we have come to expect from this series, and this director, the films always look good and have well-staged action, but they don't have one iota of originality or imagination – to the extent of virtually recreating key scenes from The Matrix, Die Hard and The Descent. It matters not, though; if you've seen the previous three RE films, you'll know not to expect any surprises. Milla Jovovich is relaxed and at ease in her role; another dozen or so Resident Evil films and she might even be quite good.

BrianOrndorf.com, Brian Orndorf: It’s a polished effort, but astoundingly joyless and deathly dull, which seems par for the course when it comes to the “Resident Evil” movies.

Hello Stranger / Kuan Muen Ho / กวน มึน โฮ: Thai, Comedy/ Romance2 hrs 15 mins – Riding the local wave of fascination in all things Korean (but especially the teen and tiny boy-band, pop-star craze), another director tries his hand at a rom-com about Thais in that mesmerizing country that seems to breed only cute muppets. Still a huge hit

The Snow White / Tai Tang Glom / ตายทั้งกลม: Thai, Horror/ Thriller 1 hr 30 mins – Two students stealthily dissect the dead body of a pregnant woman just to get the dead infant in her belly to do black magic. But the magic doesn't work, and they're hunted by the ghost of the dead woman. Rated 18+ in Thailand. At Airport Plaza only.

 

Scheduled for October 7

Red Eagle: Ananda will be putting on a red mask and getting into action in Red Eagle / Insee Daeng, the re-launch of an action franchise from the 1950s and '60s that starred the legendary leading man Mitr Chaibancha. Wisit Sasanatieng (Fah Talai Jone, Mah Nakhon) directs this highly anticipated, wildly hyped movie.

 

... and looking forward

Oct 1 (US) Oct 28 (Singapore): The Social Network: US, Drama/ History – By David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, Panic Room). A story about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook. Studio synopsis: “On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history... but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.

Oct 28 (Thailand): Hereafter: US, Thriller – A supernatural thriller centered on three people -- a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London school boy -- who are touched by death in different ways. Matt Damon, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Dec 26 (Australia): The King’s Speech: UK/ Australia, Drama/ History – Already an Oscar hopeful or contender in many people’s view. Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stutter and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country into war.

Based on the true story of the Queen of England's father and his remarkable friendship with maverick Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue The King's Speech stars Academy Award nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man) as King George VI, who unexpectedly becomes King when his brother Edward abdicates the throne. Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine) stars as Logue, the man who helps the King find a voice with which to lead the nation into war.

The multi-award-winning cast includes Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall, and Michael Gambon.

Rope of Silicon, Brad Brevet: If you read my review ... of Tom Hooper's The King's Speech you are already fully aware that I loved it and already see Oscar nominations in its future. Starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, the film centers on King George VI and his speech therapist Lionel Logue as the two work to correct George's stammer leading up to his speech declaring war against Germany.

 




* = Coming soon

AF = Alliance Française; FS = Film Space; GF = Gay Film Series


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, October 1, 8 pm:  Coup de torchon / Clean Up / Clean Slate (1981) by Bertrand Tavernier 2 hours 8 mins – France, Comedy/ Crime/ Drama. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 72 out of 100.

With Philippe Noiret, Isabelle Huppert, Guy Marchand, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Stéphane Audran.

“A bid for survival” located in Bourkassa, a small village in French Eastern Africa, Lucien is a policeman embroiled in a series of murders. Ridiculed by his fellow whites, he is going to take revenge… in his own way...

– Alliance Française description

Roger Ebert / April 6, 1983: Bertrand Tavernier's Coup de Torchon is a cruel intellectual joke played on its characters -- who endure boredom, self-contempt, hate, dust, flies, and sometimes even death without being allowed to know they're only part of an existential parable. Tavernier's film is about poor white trash in Africa in 1938, and there are times when they seem almost real -- but they're never allowed the pulse or the stubborn indomitability of their slovenly cousins, William Faulkner's Snopes family.

The movie is set in a small Senegalese village, on the eve of World War II. Tavernier shot on the actual location, and he achieves an absolutely convincing reality, right down to the reddish mud that has been splashed by the rain onto the yellowing stucco walls of the village sheds. His village is populated by lazy, corrupt French colonials, and by a supporting cast of Africans who drift through the background, unconcerned with the lives of the whites except when they have the misfortune to incur their wrath.

On Friday, October 8, 8 pm:  Adorable Menteuse / Adorable Liar (1961) by Michel Deville – 1 hr 45 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles. B&W.

With Marina Vlady, Michel Lonsdale, Macha Meril, Jean-Marc Bory.

Marina Vlady plays the role of an 18 years old chatter-box who can't help telling a lie every 5 minutes. When she falls in love with an older man, she vows to reform and speak only the truth. But her reputation precedes her…

– Alliance Française description

“This light romantic comedy has the allure and feel of New Wave cinema but is actually pretty inconsequential besides the works Truffaut and Godard.”

© James Travers 2000

 

 

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm

 

October is “The Month of Undead Returnsat 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, October 2, 7 pm:  They Came Back / Les revenants (2004) written and directed by Robin Campillo – 1 hr 42 mins – France, Drama/ Fantasy – In French, with English subtitles. The lives of the residents of a small French town are changed when thousands of the recently dead inexplicably come back to life and try to integrate themselves into society that has changed for them. Generally favorable reviews: 65 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: A group of zombies walk out of their graves and head back home in this intriguing French film directed by Robin Campillo. Relatives of the undead aren't quite sure what to do with their returning loved ones, and neither is the government -- so the zombies are placed in emergency housing while authorities figure out what their role in society will be. Meanwhile, the ghouls are secretly going around conducting a little business of their own.

Shadows on the Wall, Rich Cline: Leave it to the French to come up with a talky, existential zombie movie! It simply has to be seen to be believed. And it's worth seeing too, since the filmmakers have come up with a terrifically inventive approach to the idea.

The film simply opens with thousands of people walking out of the local cemetery, causing mass confusion throughout a French city (and apparently all over the world). Although the dead seem to just want to resume their lives, the local officials study them intensely, and work to cope with all these extra people, from refugee centers to psychological counseling. We settle on three main threads: A city employee whose young husband returns; the town mayor whose wife is back; and a couple reunited with their 6-year-old son.

To describe this as a thriller is rather misleading. Yes, it's very creepy, and increasingly so as we begin to realize that, although they are the same people as before, the returnees are up to something. They all seem to move in slow motion, barely talking, constantly walking, looking knowingly. And even more unsettling is the reaction of the town, from constant surveillance to finding a drug that will control them. And there's also a kind of deranged Cocoon thing going on here as well, since most of the undead are elderly people with longing, soulful eyes, like they're slightly out of synch with the real world.

It's extremely well-filmed, with a simple color code helping us keep track of who's who, along with the sinister heat-sensitive cameras that track the slightly cooler zombies' movements. And the cast is superb--introspective and intensely personal, drawing us in and making our heads spin with the ramifications. It's wonderfully unbalanced and strange filmmaking; the bracingly straightforward approach actually makes it even more haunting as we just wait for it all to go horribly wrong. Writer-director Campillo delights in dropping little hints, letting characters discuss the situation without any real understanding and drawing out emotional resonance everywhere. Fascinating, entertaining and, ultimately, surprisingly provocative.

Reeling Reviews: While at first the dead are treated like refugees with the rights to return to their families and their jobs, their strange behavior turns the tide and the living begin treating them like second class citizens.  They are 5 degrees cooler than the living, who put them under surveillance and discover that they all, even the eldest, walk fifteen kilometers a day towards a meeting place at night.  They are drugged to slow down, like mental patients. Their vacant behavior is diagnosed as copying the living and replaying from memory (one can observe that Martha, who as the eldest returnee has the most memories, shows the greatest spark of life whereas Sylvain is little but walking doll who creeps out his classmates), their comprehension of word patterns failing when put into unfamiliar configurations.  Mathieu, reintegrated in his job as an architect, deliver plans which his superiors interpret as nonsensical, and so he is downgraded to manual labor.  But his plans are at the heart of the night wanderings - those who have returned immediately focus on returning from whence they came.

 

At Film Space Saturday, October 9, 7 pm:  Flesh for Frankenstein / Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (1973) directed by Paul Morrissey, written by Paul Morrissey and 3 others 1 hr 35 mins – US/ Italy/ France, Drama/ Horror/ Sci-Fi – In French and English, with English subtitles as needed. In Serbia, Baron Frankenstein lives with the Baroness and their two children. He dreams of a super-race, returning Serbia to its grand connections to ancient Greece. In his laboratory, assisted by Otto, he builds a desirable female body, but needs a male who will be superbody and superlover. He thinks he has found just the right brain to go with a body he's built, but he's made an error, taking the head of a gay aesthete. Meanwhile, the Baroness has her lusts, and she fastens on Nicholas, a friend of the dead lad. Can the Baron pull off his grand plan? He brings the two zombies together to mate. Meanwhile, Nicholas tries to free his dead friend. What about the Baron's children? Rated R in the US. Generally favorable reviews: 67 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes Synopsis: Udo Kier is the Baron Frankenstein, attempting to create a new race of humans out of body parts. He wants to mate his male creation to his female creation so he figures he needs the brain of a real lady's man. By mistake, he beheads a man about to enter a monastery to become a monk. The creature shows no interest in his female companion, but the Baron's sex starved wife shows interest in him. He ends up killing her – squeezing her to death while they are performing sex. In the finale, the Baron has his hand smashed off by an iron gate and a spear struck through him with his liver dangling on the end. This film is filled with lots of soft core porn, nudity, and splatter.

 
 
At the Gay Film Series

 

Films with a gay theme shown every two weeks, with very limited seating, in a private home. Reservations a must to attend films in this series. To reserve: send email to: Chiangmai.triangle@gmail.com, mark in subject area “reserve” with the number in your party. For example, “Re: reserve 2.” To be placed on the mailing list for advance notice of movies just put in the subject line: “mailing list.” 

Sunday, October 10, 7 pm:  Maurice (1987) directed by James Ivory – 2 hrs 20 mins – UK, Drama/ Romance Two male English school chums find themselves falling in love at Cambridge. To regain his place in society, Clive gives up his forbidden love, Maurice (pronounced "Morris") and marries. While staying with Clive and his shallow wife, Anne, Maurice finally discovers romance in the arms of Alec, the gamekeeper. Written from personal pain, it's E.M. Forster's story of coming to terms with sexuality in the Edwardian age. Generally favorable reviews: 74/70 out of 100. Reservations a must.

We will show the movie promptly at 7:00PM as it's 140 minutes. After, we'll have a discussion over coffee, tea, or whatever. Bring snacks such as cookies, cake, etc. to share. There will only be 8 people and you must reserve. This is on a first come first serve basis.

Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: The second of the three Merchant/Ivory films adapting E.M. Forster novels (between A Room with a View and Howard's End), Maurice deals with a theme few period pieces dare mention--a young man's struggle with his homosexuality. It's not just a gay coming-of-age story, however. The hero wrestles with British class society as much as his personal and sexual identity.

The film opens on a stormy, windswept beach, as an older man awkwardly instructs young, fatherless Maurice Hall (James Wilby) in the "sacred mysteries" of sex. The same turbulent, wordless struggle with passion lasts throughout this slowly evolving, beautifully filmed story. Novelist E.M. Forster's brainy, British melodrama hinges on choice and compulsion, as the pensive hero falls for two completely different men. First comes frail, suppressed Clive (Hugh Grant), who wants nothing more than classical Platonic harmony... and a straight lifestyle. (Grant's performance is so convincing, one wonders how he ever became a heterosexual sex symbol.) After Clive's wedding, Maurice turns to hypnosis to cure his unspeakable longings. Unfortunately, his "cure" is interrupted by Clive's lustful, brooding, barely literate gamekeeper Scudder (Rupert Graves), a worker more at home gutting rabbits than discussing the classics. Maurice's love for a "social inferior" forces him to confront his illicit desire and his ingrained class snobbery. --Grant Balfour

2 comments:

gloowhyinthai said...

I was told there is a new film venue on/off Nimman, though I can't remember the name. Do you have any information about this place? From my understanding it opened pretty recently.

Thomat said...

I haven't heard of any, but if you find out any more information, please let me know!

- Thomat