An unsocial kid starts something called Facebook!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, November 25, 2010
… through Wednesday, December 1
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: The Social Network. Harry. Oceans.
What a shame Fair Game didn’t show. I’ll keep my hopes up.
The fantastic, incredible, brilliant opening scene
about the Facebook founder
This is Issue Number 4 of Volume 6 of these listings, in our sixth year!
Luang Prabang Film Festival in Luang Prabang: Dec 4 to 11. Open air, free, 30 films.
The Bangkok International Film Festival has been cancelled for this year.
I’m glad Oceans is still playing at Vista, because I feel bad I didn’t send out a special report last week urging everyone to see it. It was only after I was able to see it that I realized what a really great film it is. So I say again, don’t miss it if you ever were interested in documentaries about life in the great world around us. In terms of photography and message, it’s at the top of the list of best nature films ever made. Only three times a day: 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 7:30 pm.
The Social Network is in “Preview” mode at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza, meaning that it hasn’t officially opened yet, and will only be shown this week in special showings after 8 pm. Opens officially next Thursday.
At the Cineplexes!
Let Me In: (No, not showing yet!) I don’t know what happened, it seemed a sure thing that this would show up. It shows that you really can’t guess these things. I’m hopeful it will come one of these days, as I’m very anxious to see it, and in a regular cinema. UK/ US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Romance/ Thriller – A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Abby, a mysterious 12-year-old who moves next door to Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a social outcast who is viciously bullied at school. In his loneliness, Owen forms a profound bond with his new neighbor, but he can't help noticing that Abby is decidedly weird! As in, she drinks blood. You can see it’s exciting and intriguing trailer here. Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence, language, and a brief sexual situation. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Similar to the original in all the right ways -- but with enough changes to stand on its own -- Let Me In is the rare Hollywood remake that doesn't add insult to inspiration.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* The Social Network: US, Biography/ Drama/ History – 2 hrs – By David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, Panic Room). A terrific film in my opinion, though I think the main protagonist an ugly, amoral being who I would want to have nothing to do with. I think what comes off the worst in the film is Harvard University – including its president. Makes me feel rather happy I didn’t end up going there. Bunch of spoiled juvenile snobs! Anyway, the film is about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook, and the main instigator is the lowest of the low human beings, a person nobody would want to be friends with. Yet he founds a gigantic enterprise based on friendship! No, wait! It’s not friendship – it’s fake friendship! Well, that explains it. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 95/95 out of 100.
They thought this film was the one to beat at Academy Award time, until it opened to tepid response. Now the field seems to be wide open. But see this mesmerizing film for its portrayal of the type of person you apparently have to be to make it in the world of internet marketing. You won’t be pleased, but you will be gratified at some of the turn of events. Excellent performances, and a very unsettling one from the lead.
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.”
What’s amusing is that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to be all that upset at the way he’s portrayed. He says that sure they had to exaggerate a bit to make it dramatic, but other than that, what’s the problem?
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, The Social Network is a riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.
* Unstoppable: US, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – 1 hr 38 mins – Exciting thriller starring Denzel Washington taming a runaway train, and maybe the most entertaining movie you will see this year. Generally favorable reviews: 67/68 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: As fast, loud, and relentless as the train at the center of the story, Unstoppable is perfect popcorn entertainment -- and director Tony Scott's best movie in years..
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I: UK/ US, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery – 2 hrs 26 mins – The first of the two-part conclusion to the series; Part II due in July of 2011 – both directed by David Yates, who has directed the last two Harry Potter films. You know you’re going to have to see it, so why fight it. And you know what you’re in for: a superbly told tale, with some of the finest British character actors. Shown in two versions at Vista at Kad Suan Kaew, both regular 2D, but one is English with Thai subtitles and the other is strictly Thai-dubbed only. Shown in three versions at Airport Plaza: a regular 2D version, a digital 2D version – but not 3D, and a Thai-dubbed non-digital 2D version. Digital is better than the usual film in most people’s opinion (though definitely not all). Whether it’s worth the added price of admission is your decision. Generally favorable reviews: 67/72 out of 100.
Voldemort's power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore's work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for the trio, and the rest of the Wizarding World, so everything they do must go exactly as planned.
Originally to be released in 3D, this decision was scrapped just weeks before release, “due to the difficulty of converting the film into the format.” And therein lies a story. There’s been a growing controversy about last-minute or even some not-so-last-minute conversions from regular 2D to 3D, generally seen as a means of charging more at the box-office and cashing in on the 3D “wave.” Some of these conversions have been dreadful, such as last summer’s Clash of the Titans and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – but even the best fall far short of a film designed from the start for 3D using 3D cameras at every step. So at the very, very last minute, Warner Bros. pulled the plug on the conversion job, fearing it might result in an ignoble end to a noble series. By doing so they as much as admitted that the conversion process available for transforming 2D to 3D is simply inadequate at the present time. However, they are still saying they plan on using the conversion process for the second part next summer, hoping maybe that the process will improve enough in the meantime to be acceptable. Stay tuned for the future of 3D in the movies!
But as to the movie itself, I’m puzzled by the reviews by those critics who have seen it. They are quite mixed reviews, some saying it’s everything you could wish for, others saying it’s curiously dark with the look and feel of a film noir thriller from the Forties or a tense wartime spy yarn. Harry is a fugitive, like an innocent man trapped in the sticky web of a Hitchcock suspense story – “a development slightly more disconcerting than it is welcome.” Well, now we can see for ourselves.
Oceans: France/ Switzerland/ Spain, Documentary/ Drama – 1 hr 44 mins – Absolutely brilliant and beautiful – a must-see movie if there ever was one. An ecological drama/documentary, filmed throughout the globe. Part thriller, part meditation on the vanishing wonders of the sub-aquatic world. Generally favorable reviews: 75/74 out of 100. At Vista only, in French with English and Thai subtitles.
IMDb Viewer: Absolutely stunning. Simply the most beautiful underwater imagery I've ever seen. It's hard to remain not too affected when talking about ecology. Here, the off screen speech is quite subtle, not too naive and not boring, because sparingly used, which leaves long lapse of dreamy sequences, without a word. Technically, it's easily one of the best documentary ever made. The camera work and photography are incredible; the montage is very effective, alternating slow and fast paced sequences. The score is not too obtrusive. Visually stunning, subtle, very recommended.
Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman: There have, over the years, been a lot of terrific undersea documentaries, but if you want to know what distinguishes this new one, it comes down to a single word: technology. In Disney's Oceans, a new generation of digital cameras has been used to capture the spindly, slithery, downright otherworldly creatures that roam the ocean floor, and those cameras don't just bring you right up close. They capture, as never before, the literal, tactile texture of all those elegant sci-fi beings — the palpitating softness of a giant jellyfish, the mattress-like belly of a blue whale (the single largest animal in the history of the world), the crinkly body of a ray so svelte and multicolored it looks like a rippling Hermès scarf.
Skyline: US, Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 1 hr 40 mins – After a late night party, a group of friends are awakened in the dead of night by an eerie light beaming through the window. Like moths to a flame, the light source is drawing people outside where they suddenly vanish into the air. It’s soon discovered that an otherworldly force is swallowing the entire human population off the face of the earth. With a cast of relative unknowns and shot independently of any major studio, this film is very much the vision of its two creators, the Brothers Strause (Colin and Greg) whose company Hydraulx has provided visual effects for Avatar, Iron Man 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 300, and who have worked as FX designers/supervisors on seemingly every other big-budget production to be released over the past decade or so. There are over 800 VFX shots in the film, more than most of the big-budget effects-laden epics of late. And these effects are really superb, setting a new level of special-effects work. But the dialogue and the plotting are really bad. I mean, probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. Generally unfavorable reviews: 26/29 out of 100. English at Major, Thai-dubbed at Vista with no English subtitles.
Paranormal Activity 2: US, Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – 1 hr 31 mins – After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem. I’ve seen this, and if you’re up for another “found amateur film” where you’re asked to believe these things actually happened to regular people who happened to tape them, then this film will offer a few really off-the-wall scary moments, when you least expect them. And you’ll be asking yourself what did you really see happen in the last few minutes. But you have to really want to suspend belief and hang in there during the nights when the camera was taping and nothing happened. Great believable acting by the family dog. Rated R in the US for some language and brief violent material; only 13+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews: 51/61 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Paranormal Activity 2 doesn't cover any new ground, but its premise is still scary -- and in some respects, it's a better film than the original.
The Last Exorcism: US/ France, Horror/ Thriller – 1 hr 27 mins – When he arrives on the rural Louisiana farm of Louis Sweetzer, the Reverend Cotton Marcus expects to perform just another routine "exorcism" on a disturbed religious fanatic. But little does he know. It doesn't fully deliver on the chilly promise of its Blair Witch-style premise, but it offers a surprising number of clever thrills. Generally favorable reviews: 63/63 out of 100. At Vista only.
Scheduled for December 2
Cool Gel Attacks / Kra Deub / กระดึ้บ: Thai, Comedy/ Sci-Fi – Pa and Maow are neighbors who have hated each other for a long time. But, when an unidentified gel-like object falls from the sky in their neighborhood, and it turns out to be a deadly creature from outer space, the two foes abruptly team up to get rid of the alien one-eyed slug. Directed by and starring Jaturong Mokjok. No doubt with the usual Thai light comedic touch. Oh, and of course, with the ever-present Kohtee Aramboy.
And looking forward
Dec 9: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: US, Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – 1 hr 55 mins – Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world. I just learned that it’s going to be a post-production 3D job, which has been bad news so far.
* = Coming soon (hopefully)
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, November 26, 8 pm: Cause toujours! / Me and My Sister (2004) by Jeanne Labrune – 87 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles.
With Victoria Abril, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Sylvie Testud.
My first is a moth (exasperating)
My second is a mute (enigmatic)
My third is a house (worrying)
My all is a film, which takes the form of a fantasy, about mistrust and its contrary: trust.
– Alliance description
James Travers, Filmsdefrance: Summary
Whilst Jacinthe becomes obsessed with the insects which seem to be taking over her apartment, her best friend Léa takes an interest in an apparently dumb middle aged man who works in a supermarket. One day, whilst en route for a stay in the countryside, Léa sees the dumb man on a train and follows him to his home. Not having seen Léa for several days, Jacinthe becomes concerned for her safety…
Intended as the closing installment in a loose trilogy of films (the first two being Ça ira mieux demain (2000) and C'est le bouquet! (2002)) Cause toujours! is one of those gentle comedies which starts out well but just fails to take off. Part of the problem is that its writer/director Jeanne Labrune seems to have embarked on the project without a clear idea about where the story is heading, who the characters are, or indeed what kind of film it is. Consequently, the film feels listless and disjointed, a pot pourri of interesting but pretty random ideas. The numerous thriller references are clumsy and an unwelcome distraction, whilst the jokes are much too obvious to make you laugh. The film has a great cast who do what they can, but the lackluster script and aimless direction greatly diminishes its enjoyment value.
On Friday, December 3, 8 pm: La Grande vadrouille / Don't Look Now - We're Being Shot at (1966) by Gérard Oury – 132 mins – France/ UK Comedy. No English subtitles.
With Bourvil, Louis de Funès, Terry Thomas, Claudio Brook, Andréa Parisy, Colette Brosset.
Augustin Bouvet, painter and Stanislas Lefort, conductor at the Paris Opera, were leading a quiet life in wartime Paris. Until the day they take charge of three British airmen shot down over the city.
A British bomber is shot down over Paris by the Germans. Its crew (Terry Thomas as a flight captain) land there by parachute. With the help of some French civilians (Louis de Funès in the role of a conductor and Bourvil as a house painter) they try to escape over the demarcation line into the southern part of France, still not occupied by the Germans.
– Alliance description
Paris 1943. Three Allied parachutists land unexpectedly and turn upside-down the peaceful lives of Stanislas, a conductor, and Augustin, a decorator. The only way to get rid of their unwanted guests is to lead them to the free zone. This was the highest-grossing film in France for more than thirty years!
IMDb viewer: One of the most popular French movies of all time! Starring the famous Bourvil/Louis de Funes tandem it is a highly entertaining caper set in WWII German-occupied France, where these two unlikely heroes reluctantly must help some downed British airmen to escape.
A perennial favorite on French TV during the Christmas or Easter holidays it is one of those rare movies you can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. It runs more than two hours but moves along at an incredible pace. Movie relies big time on the clash of character between de Funes as the self-important musical director of the Opéra de Paris and Bourvil as the simple housepainter. But also the hilarious script, some spectacular set pieces (including a spielbergesque chase by German sidecars) and a surprising finale all add up to making Vadrouille one of the best and most entertaining French movies ever.
Made on a lavish budget by Gerard Oury who would go on to make some other highly successful comedies, mostly starring big French stars as de Funes and Bourvil, but also Jean-Paul Belmondo, Pierre Richard and Christian Clavier. Up to that time movies made in France took war rather seriously, but La Grande vadrouille sparked of an endless string of farces set in WWII which almost invariably depicted the French as very clever and cunning, always outwitting the Germans in the end.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
November is “The Month of Mathematics” at Film Space. December, “The Month of Animation.”
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, November 27, 7 pm: The Professor and His Beloved Equation / Hakase no aishita sûshiki (2005) by Takashi Koizumi – 1 hr 57 mins – Japan, Drama/ Family/ Romance – This is the story of a relationship between a single mother housekeeper, her ten-year-old son, and a brain-damaged mathematics professor.
A Nutshell Review, Dick Steel, Singapore: This is a very beautiful movie.
If Mathematics was never your choice subject in school, with the way the subject is presented in this movie, I'm sure it'll win some new fans over. The last time I can remember where Maths was used as a central plot device was in Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind, but here, it gains a lot more mileage than that Hollywood movie.
I enjoyed the method in which Maths was written into the script, into the characters, and given a life of its own. It revived interest in things like perfect numbers, prime numbers, pi, the imaginary number, and Euler's famous equation. Even if you're clueless about the concepts of these terms, the movie will succinctly introduce them in a highly enjoyable manner. I'm actually quite in awe how complex terms can be weaved so simply into the entire narrative, and made it all work together so well.
Borrowing a similar plot device to Memento, a Maths professor suffers from current memory loss, and can only remember events up until his accident. Everything else that is current lasts only 80 minutes, which is why he relies on little notes and his blackboards to remind himself of important current information each time he comes back to square one. A housekeeper is hired to look after him, and despite the trying times and unique circumstances, both of them manage to strike a deep friendship, through the help of mathematics - one who inspires, and the other who admires. The friendship develops further as the housekeeper's 10 year old son, nicknamed by the Professor "Root" for his square head, comes into the picture, and three of their lives become intertwined.
There are many touching moments in the movie, and almost everything revolved around mathematics, food, and even baseball! But you'd come to understand that the movie goes beyond that, and clearly the message is in the philosophy of maths itself, using concepts and applying it to real life, to living life. As such, it made the mathematical concepts introduced here quite accessible and easy to understand.
The formation of friendships is core to the story, and the antagonist is none other than a jealous sister-in-law trying to break up what seemed to be going good for everyone involved. I sort of paralleled it to real life, in a not-too-recent episode which I and a few friends personally encountered, and the subsequent treatment we suffered. It makes you wonder how sometimes, even though with honest and sincere intentions, and out of the earnestness in valuing a friendship, you're demonized.
It's quite uncanny, but all 3 characters in the professor, the housekeeper and her son are all quite lovable, both in character and in presentation. The cinematography is brilliant too, bringing out the best in the landscapes of the town that they live in, in a picturesque like fashion.
I liked the simplicity of the movie, and the feel good factor that exudes from it. It's very beautiful and poetic to watch, given its even and comfortable pace, and it's definitely one of my favourite movies of the year,
Asia Pacific Arts, Ada Tseng, 20 Feb 2009: In love stories, logic is often an obstacle to be overlooked when it comes to fulfilling matters of the heart. It's the enemy of intuition. Nobel-prize winning economists can't calculate the probability of a relationship working out, just as mathematicians who have dedicated their lives to studying theorems can't depend on proofs to determine whether people's intentions are trustworthy. In fiction, logic-heavy endeavors typically associated with left-brain thinking -- math, science -- are depicted as contradictory to emotions that are less easy to rationalize (love, loss, loyalty). The Professor and His Beloved Equation / The Housekeeper and the Professor, the latest Ogawa novel to be translated into English by Stephen Snyder, sees math not for its cold rationality, but for its adventurous sense of wonder -- an adventurousness wholly consistent with human relationships and their uncertainties.
The Housekeeper and the Professor is told from the perspective of a young housekeeper who has been hired to take care of a brilliant math professor. The 64 year-old professor was forced into retirement decades earlier, after a car accident left him with only eighty minutes of short term memory. Unable to retain new information, he spends most of his time working on puzzles that he finds in mathematics journals -- meant for amateurs, but a good pastime for a man who has a photographic understanding of numbers.
When the professor interacts with strangers, he always starts with a question, for example, "What is your shoe size?" or "What is your birthday?", so he can latch onto a number and determine its (and the person's) greater significance in his world. He quickly calculates that the housekeeper's birthday, February 20th (220), and the number 284 that is engraved on his wristwatch are a rare pair of "amicable numbers," because the sum of 220's factorials (1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 10 + 11 + 20 + 22 + 44 + 55 + 110) adds up to 284, and vice versa (284's factorials: 142 + 71 + 4 + 2 + 1 = 220). The professor delights in discovering this fact every single morning when he is reintroduced to her.
What's interesting about The Housekeeper and the Professor is that it doesn't treat logic as something that is at odds with emotional instincts, or something that devalues actions that cannot be explained. Instead, the characters use the philosophies of mathematics ("God's Notebook," they call it) to encourage a belief in greater possibilities that might be beyond their current comprehension. Their eternal curiosity is what allows the characters to maintain a meaningful relationship that, for the professor, can only occur in the present.
December is “The Month of Animation” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, December 4, 7 pm: Harvie Krumpet (2003) by Adam Elliot – 23 mins – Australia, Animation/ Comedy/ Short/ Drama
Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: Geoffrey Rush is the voice of the titular character in this short, clay-animated film about the life of a man with terrible luck. But even after being... Geoffrey Rush is the voice of the titular character in this short, clay-animated film about the life of a man with terrible luck. But even after being born with Tourette's Syndrome, losing a testicle, getting struck by lightning, and developing Alzheimer's, Harvie is still able to look on the bright side of life and understand the valuable things he has seen and learned along the way! Harvie Krumpet, which is the product of Australian director Adam Elliot, has won over 50 awards internationally, including Best Animated Short at the 2003 Academy Awards.
At the Gay Film Series
Next showing November 28: Coffee Date (2006). Films with a gay theme shown generally 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.firstname.lastname@example.org, mark in subject area “reserve” with the number in your party. To be placed on the mailing list for advance notice of movies just put in the subject line: “mailing list.”