What’s your top ten list?
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, December 23, 2010
… through Wednesday, December 29
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Millennium 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Millennium 2: The Girl Who Played With Fire. Millennium 3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. TRON (probably).
Jeff Bridges returns in Tron.
This is Issue Number 8 of Volume 6 of these listings, in our sixth year! This works out to be the 268th weekly newsletter! Whew! And that’s not counting the daily newsletters during film festival times.
2010 Top Ten
A correspondent – “Tunwa” – has written on my blog:
BEST OF 2010
1 The Social Network
2 เจ้านกกระจอก Mundane History
3 Toy Story 3
5 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
7 The American
8 Harry Potter 7.1
10 บ้านฉัน..ตลกไว้ก่อน The Little Comedian
How does that compare with your list?
It’s great that Vista is bringing us the entire series of Millennium films. I’ve seen two now and I find them thoroughly enjoyable, on many levels. They’re intriguing as well as exciting, and contain a unique performance by the female lead, Noomi Rapace. The only objection I have is that the subtitles are poor, physically – the white subtitles do not have a black outline, so when shown against a scene that is mostly white, they are impossible to read. Very infuriating, but thankfully there’s enough other stuff to make up for it, and you are rarely at a complete loss to know what’s going on. Based on the two I’ve seen, I highly recommend you see the series. One reader of this newsletter who I ran into at the latest film, says he has read the first two novels and is halfway through the third, and recommends you read the books as well as see the films for a unique present-day literary experience. The series, however, may not be over, even though the three novels were published posthumously and thought to be complete containing all of the Millennium stories he wrote, it now seems that he had imagined a series of ten books, and there is a fourth book in some state of completion locked in a battle between his family and his publisher, but that there is a more complete fifth novel in the jealous possession of his life-long companion, who also has books six through ten in some unknown state of completion. The Swedish film adaptations have done moderate business at the U.S. box office -- for hard R-Rated, foreign films that deal with adult subject matter, that is. Director David Fincher has already begun work on his English-language version of Dragon Tattoo, which will feature Daniel Craig and Fincher’s Social Network star Rooney Mara as Salander.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* TRON: Legacy (3D): US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 2 hrs 7 mins – Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), a rebellious 27-year-old, is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin Flynn (Oscar- and Golden Globe-winner Jeff Bridges), a man once known as the world's leading video-game developer. Looking into his father's disappearance, he finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin's loyal confidant, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.
In this film, the 3D is an integral part of the experience, so yes, see it in 3D. They u
sed an updated version of the 3D camera system that James Cameron used to make Avatar, and by all reports, the 3D is spectacular and cutting-edge. In English and, so they tell me, Hungarian. Mixed or average reviews: 49/56 out of 100. (The scores, on a basis of 100, are from two web sources. The first, in bold, is from Metacritic.com, and the other is from RottenTomatoes.com. Movies released in the US only.)
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Tron Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.
Roger Ebert: To the sad story of a father who was trapped inside a snowman for the winter (Jack Frost), we must now add Tron: Legacy, where the father has been trapped inside a software program for 20 years. Yes, young Sam Flynn has grown up an orphan because his dad was seduced and abducted by a video game. Now a call comes for the young hero to join his old dad in throwing virtual Frisbees at the evil programs threatening that digital world.
This is a movie well beyond the possibility of logical explanation. Since the Tron universe exists entirely within chips, don't bother yourself about where the physical body of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has been for the last two decades; it must surely have been somewhere, because we can see that it has aged. The solution I suppose is that this is a virtual world and it can do anything it feels like, but how exactly does a flesh-and-blood 20-year-old get inside it? And what does he eat?
Joseph Kosinski's Tron: Legacy steps nimbly over such obstacles and hits the ground running, in a 3-D sound-and light show that plays to the eyes and ears more than the mind. Among its real-world technology is a performance by Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn at two different ages — now, and 20 years ago. The original Tron was made 28 years ago, but that would have made young Sam Flynn, his son, nearly 30, which is too old for the hero in a story of this sort. The ideal age would be around 12.
In a flashback, we see Kevin, lord of a mighty software corporation, taking leave of his son as a child. At first, you think Jeff Bridges looks younger in this scene because of makeup or Botox or something, and then you realize this is Bridges' body and voice but his face has been rendered younger by special effects. They're uncanny. The use of profiles and backlighting makes the illusion adequate for this purpose. The real Bridges turns up later inside the program, whiskery and weathered, but the CGI version of younger Jeff sticks around to play Clu, a digital doppelganger he created, who now desires (you know this is coming) to control the world.
Kevin and Sam reconcile and bond. They join other cyberspace allies, notably including the beguiling Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who cyber-Kevin has apparently been fathering instead of poor orphaned Sam. Does this symbolize the ways video games can destroy real-life relationships? Just asking. I'm thinking of Quorra and Sam as a possible romantic couple, but there's the pesky problem that she is virtual, and he bleeds when he's cut — I think, although maybe not inside the program. This brings us back to a central question about Avatar: What or who, precisely, was Neytiri falling in love with?
I'm giving this more attention than the movie does, which is just as well. Isaac Asimov would have attempted some kind of scientific speculation on how this might all be possible, but Tron is more action-oriented. (Personal to sci-fi fans: If 2001 is Analog, Tron: Legacy is Thrilling Wonder Stories.)
The first Tron (1982) felt revolutionary at the time. I'd never seen anything like it. We showed it again at Ebertfest a few years ago. It was the first movie to create a digital world and embed human actors; always earlier that had been done with special effects, matte shots, optical printers, blue screen and so on. Tron found a freedom of movement within its virtual world that was exhilarating. The plot was impenetrable, but so what?
Tron: Legacy, a sequel made 28 years after the original but with the same actor, is true to the first film: It also can't be understood, but looks great. Both films, made so many years apart, can fairly lay claim to being state of the art. This time that includes the use of 3-D. Since so much of the action involves quick movement forward and backward in shots, the 3-D effect is useful, and not just a promiscuous use of the ping-pong effect. It is also well-iterated. (A note at the start informs us that parts of the movie were deliberately filmed in 2-D, so of course I removed my glasses to note how much brighter it was. Dimness is the problem 3-D hasn't licked.)
A long time ago in 1984, Jeff Bridges appeared as an alien inhabiting a human body in John Carpenter's Starman. An article in the New York Times magazine called him the perfect movie actor. He wasn't flashy; he was steadily, consistently good. Now that he has won an Oscar for Crazy Heart and is opening soon in True Grit, that is still true. Here is an actor expected to (1) play himself as a much younger man, (2) play himself now, and (3) play a computer program (or avatar?), and he does all three in a straightforward manner that is effective and convincing (given the preposterous nature of the material).
Sam (Garrett Hedlund), circa 20, is well-suited to his role, somewhat resembling Bridges. Olivia Wilde makes a fragrant Quorra. In some inexplicable way, these actors and Bruce Boxleitner (Tron) and Michael Sheen (Zuse) plausibly project human emotions in an environment devoid of organic life, including their own.
The artificial world is wonderfully well-rendered, building on the earlier film's ability to bring visual excitement to what must in reality, after all, be slim pickings: invisible ones and zeroes. I soon topped off on the thrill of watching Frisbees of light being hurled, but some of the chases and architectural details are effective simply because they use sites and spaces never seen. And the soundtrack by Daft Punk has such urgent electronic force that the visuals sometimes almost play as its accompaniment. It might not be safe to play this soundtrack in the car. The plot is another matter. It's a catastrophe, short-changing the characters and befuddling the audience. No doubt an online guru will produce a synopsis of everything that happens, but this isn't like an opera, where you can peek at the program notes.
I expect Tron: Legacy to be a phenomenon at the box office for a week or so. It may not have legs, because its appeal is too one-dimensional for an audience much beyond immediate responders. When 2001 was in theaters, there were fans who got stoned and sneaked in during the intermission for the sound-and-light trip. I hesitate to suggest that for Tron: Legacy, but the plot won't suffer.
IMDb Viewer: A dazzling and spectacular special effects extravaganza, despite its flaws.
Right off the bat I'm going to say that I didn't see the first film. Obviously I've heard from a lot of people saying that they need to see the first film before watching this one, seeing as this is a direct sequel to a nearly 30 year old cult sci-fi film. But, seeing that I didn't have time, I decided to watch the sequel anyway.
Now keep in mind that Disney took a HUGE risk in making a sequel to a movie that is not very often talked about when it comes to movies as opposed to many blockbusters today. The first TRON had no famous franchise to speak of (apart from the real games inspired by it). Adding to the danger is the film's budget - reportedly between US$ 200 - 300 million. With that kind of money you'll wonder what exactly was Disney hoping for with this film.
Never mind the fact that the story is a bit unfocused and could be rounded up in a more polished way. Never mind too that the fantastic world and great ideas aren't expanded upon some more, as well as the fact that the script could use a little bit more originality.
Also, not forgetting some good (in Jeff Bridges' case, great as always as he plays two very different characters with perfect emotional resonance - proving that he still has the chops to carry a big movie) performances by the cast - with Garrett Hedlund showing great leading man potential and Olivia Wilde looking great and cute to boot. Michael Sheen, Beau Garrett, and Bruce Boxleitner (apparently returning to his role from the first film, so it seems) all give good support.
No sir-ee, what you pay for - and what you get in spades - are the special/visual effects. Goodness me, this is quite possibly the best special effects I've seen all year, and that's saying something. I have to admit though, the CGI that makes Jeff Bridges young look jarring, but that is overshadowed by the compelling, groundbreaking special/visual effects that really bring you into the cybernetic world. Who doesn't want to take a ride on one of those fantastic, futuristic vehicles? Who doesn't want those awesome light-cycles or one of those dueling/data discs? It is possible that, like Avatar a year ago, this film can be a game-changer for special/visual effects alone.
It's a real treat for the eyes, and it's even better in 3D which is splendidly used to flesh out the dimensions and graphics of the cyber world bring you even deeper into the world instead of things merely flying out to you and post-production conversion like in SO many 3D movies (Note that in the 3D version, there's a disclaimer before the film starts, saying that parts of the film are filmed in both natural 2D and 3D as they way they should be. Just so you know, this shows that the filmmakers care for what they want to give you).
Very ambitious architect-and-designer-turned-first-time-filmmaker Joseph Kosinski hit a home run with this film, crafting an extraordinary and spellbinding world of escapism that looks slick, stylish and extremely cool to watch. Kosinski and the production team fill the cyber world with heaps of imagination and the result is what you see on screen. And here I thought Hollywood would recycle certain design patterns (plot patterns still need work though). Kosinski is a truly visionary filmmaker that one really has to keep an eye on.
The production design is on par with the special effects, it is nothing short of spectacular and perfect. The cinematography which is big and wide and best of all NOT shaky allows you to savor every moment of SFX goodness. The superb sound effects serve to complement the visuals and the electronic world, and all for the better. Daft Punk's varying but atmospheric electronic/orchestral score all but suits the film's mood perfectly with its techno beats and soaring string during moments.
Overall, this is perhaps a fine way to end the blockbuster season of 2010, and this is a definite must watch for all looking for an escape. The special effects alone are worth the price of TWO movie tickets, and with that I say, give this one a try, even if you haven't seen the first one. It aims to entertain and to dazzle the audience, and it succeeds brilliantly. Excuse me while I rent the first one now.
Overall rating: 75/100
Movieweb, Julian Roman: TRON: Legacy is flawless technically. The visual and aural elements are tremendous. The world of the grid is rippling with detail. The action scenes, particularly the light cycle races, are awesome. Factor in the 3D and IMAX aspect and you're in for an event.
... The special effects are intense, so anyone with light sensitivity should really avoid the IMAX version.
And from Sweden, the third in the Millennium series, along with the first and second.
* Millennium 3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest / Luftslottet som sprängdes: Sweden/ Denmark/ Germany, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – in Swedish, with Thai and English subtitles – 2 hrs 27 mins – The third and final episode in the “Millennium” series of three films widely popular throughout the world. In this final episode, two seriously injured people arrive at the emergency ward of the Sahlgrensa hospital in Gothenburg. One is the wanted murderer Lisbeth Salander who has taken a bullet to the head and needs immediate surgery, the other is Alexander Zalachenko, an older man who Lisbeth has attacked with an axe. In this third novel in the Millennium trilogy, Lisbeth is planning her revenge against the men who tried to kill her, and even more importantly, revenge against the government which nearly destroyed her life. But first she must escape from the intensive care unit and exculpate her name from the charges of murder that hangs over her head. Rated R in the US for strong violence, some sexual material, and brief language; 15+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews: 60/58 out of 100. At Vista only, with thanks for bringing this series to Chiang Mai.
If you’d like to check out a trailer with very nice English subtitles (wish the ones at Vista were as good):
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Slow and mostly devoid of the stellar chemistry between its two leads, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest is a disappointingly uneven conclusion to the Millennium trilogy.
Rotten Tomatoes summary: Lisbeth is recovering in a hospital and awaiting trial for three murders when she is released. Mikael must prove her innocence. Meanwhile, Lisbeth is plotting her own revenge against the people who put her in this situation
IMDb viewer: The best of the bunch!
After watching Hornets’ Nest, you'll want to go back to Dragon Tattoo and experience all three films again in sequence. Like coming to the end of an exceptional book, you'll hope for more, surely another way to eke out a Lisbeth Salander film to enjoy. She has become with this trilogy one of the strongest female characters in 21st century film. No wonder actresses were battling to play her--she is the equivalent to Jason Bourne in any regard. (I can't imagine Hollywood doing a better job of these films--can you?)
I believe Hornets’ Nest is best of the bunch. Salander is cornered, in hospital and under arrest, in danger of being recommitted to the institution that held her under guardianship. Despite her uncommunicative nature, Salander has friends, true friends who'll stick their necks out to protect her. But Salander is always willing to fight for herself, and she finds ways to do battle.
Hornets’ Nest gives us a better film than the other in terms of suspense and dramatic flow. The pieces assemble, the foes are distinguished from the good guys, there is conflict and threat launched in surprising ways. Of the three, Hornets’ Nest is the most suspenseful and best executed of the films in my opinion, a superb finish to a wonderful series.
Excuse me while I start reading the books.
Withrowag, Alex Withrow: In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo we found out that Lisbeth Salander, the best, most acutely-written literary character in years as played to fearless perfection by Noomi Repace, did indeed have a large dragon tattoo. Months later, we learned that she had played with fire; now she's the girl who kicked the hornet's nest. What does that mean, exactly? I have no idea. Minor details.
Hornet's Nest picks up the second where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off, so much so that the two can be viewed as the same film, with a three month intermission.
Lisbeth, now in police custody after arising from the grave and attempting to murder her deranged daddy, is shackled from fighting for her life. That's where Mikael comes in. He's smarter than the cops, more convincing than the thieves and fares pretty well with the ladies. He's like James Bond, but the kind that could actually exist.
Nvqvist, with his scarred face and everyman belly, has done wonders with a very complicated, demanding role. Half physical, half ingenuity; he plays Blomkvist as a guy you fear but are immediately willing to divulge any and all information to.
I've said this before, but, let's be honest, this is Repace's show. In what has by far been the year's most challenging role, Noomi Repace has excelled as Lisbeth. She brings one of the most popular contemporary literary characters to life, exceeding all expectations. As Lisbeth, Repace is utterly convincing in everything she does. The way she stares down her accusers, or strokes a keyboard, or takes a drag off her cigarette; each mannerism and expression is undeniably flawless.
Daniel Craig should do well as Blomkvist in David Fincher's version of Dragon Tattoo, but my God does Rooney Mara have some very big shoes to fill.
I'll be rooting for her, knowing all too well that nothing she does will top the original.
Millennium 2: The Girl Who Played with Fire / Flickan som lekte med elden: Sweden/ Denmark/ Germany, Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – in Swedish, with Thai and English subtitles – 2 hrs 9 mins – The second in the “Millennium” series of three films widely popular throughout the world. Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of Millennium magazine, has made his living exposing the crooked and corrupt practices of establishment Swedish figures. So when a young journalist approaches him with a meticulously researched thesis about sex trafficking in Sweden and those in high office who abuse underage girls, Blomkvist immediately throws himself into the investigation. But Lisbeth is then accused of three murders, causing her to go on the run while Mikael works to clear her name. Rated R in the US for brutal violence including a rape, some strong sexual content, nudity, and language; 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews: 66/64 out of 100. At Vista only, with thanks for bringing this series to Chiang Mai.
The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern: These are the Swedish-language screen adaptations of the late Stieg Larsson's remarkable crime novels, starting with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Now the second film has arrived with a grittier sensibility, thanks to a different set of filmmakers, but with the same sensational star, Noomi Rapace, who continues to redefine our notions of a contemporary heroine.
The Girl Who Played With Fire, which was directed by Daniel Alfredson from a screenplay by Jonas Frykberg, doesn't have the nuances of its predecessor. It's more of a straight-ahead action saga, although straight ahead is a better description of the hurtling pace than the convoluted plot, which takes all sorts of twists and turns in the present while delving further into the tortured past of its heroine, Lisbeth Salander. If you're resistant to extravagant melodrama, or flat-out horror tropes, you may find the film inferior to "Dragon Tattoo. For my own part, I confess to enjoying the lurid stuff just as much as the dramatic intricacies that reflect the texture of the source. (At least some of the texture; what's decreasingly present in the screen adaptations is Mr. Larsson's moral outrage at what he saw as modern society's pervasive corruption.)
This time there's plenty of opportunity for lurid developments because Lisbeth, suddenly accused of two murders, is desperate to exonerate herself, and she's up against some desperate characters. (One of them, a brutal monster with bleached blond hair, has a rare disease called congenital analgesia; he can feel no pain.) The shadowy connections between her various adversaries, or torturers, can be difficult to keep straight. Still, everything makes sense, apart from a few giddy leaps of logic, and the commanding figure of Ms. Rapace always fills center stage.
Just think of what she's asked to do—keep us constantly connected to a seethingly angry, chain-smoking, kick-boxing, foul-mouthed, bisexual Goth hacker with a history of violence that she frequently and ferociously updates. The actress gets immeasurable help from the writing: Lisbeth's anger is matched by her intelligence and her physical prowess, which enables her to administer as well as absorb pain in megadoses. But none of it would register without Ms. Rapace's singular combination of eerie beauty and feral intensity. She's a movie star unlike any other.
Salon, Andrew O’Hehir: There's way too much plot here getting in the way of the story, which makes it tough for Alfredson and cinematographer Peter Mokrosinski to focus on the series' strongest elements. Of course it's the character of Lisbeth that has made these books and movies into a worldwide phenomenon, and Rapace gets to ride motorbikes, steal cars, and do some paramilitary, weapons-based action sequences. But Lisbeth is more a cog in a big, grinding engine in The Girl Who Played With Fire, which at its best captures both the beautiful but lugubrious Swedish landscape and the existential mood of contemporary northern Europe, trapped between the info-capitalist future and the ideological prisons of the past.
People of Lisbeth's generation, and even Blomkvist's, aren't personally implicated in the crimes of World War II (the specter in Dragon Tattoo) or the soulless gamesmanship of the Cold War (referenced here). But even in the Internet age they still have to live in the world those events created, and Larsson's genius was to suggest a connection between those cruel but supposedly dead ideologies and a continuing legacy of misogyny, rape and violence against women. This sense of history as a living, malevolent presence is largely alien to Americans -- William Faulkner aside -- and is just one of two or three dozen reasons why the Hollywood version of this story, if it ever gets made, is likely to get it all wrong.
Millennium 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women): Sweden/ Denmark/ Germany/ Norway, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery – in Swedish and English, with Thai and English subtitles – 2 hrs 32 mins – Studio synopsis: “Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, ruthless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vanger's are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves." Rated R in the US for disturbing violent content, including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity, and language; 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews: 76/72 out of 100. At Vista only.
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Its graphic violence and sprawling length will prove too much for some viewers to take, but Noomi Rapace's gripping performance makes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo an unforgettable viewing experience.
Philadelphia Enquirer,Steven Rea: Rife with nightmarishly violent and horrific behavior. It's intense, graphic, frightening. And, yes, exhilarating.
BKO: Bangkok Knockout / Kod Su Kod So / โคตรสู้ โคตรโส: Thai, Action/ Drama – “Directed by Panna Rittikrai (the director of Born to Fight and fight coordinator for Ong-bak and Chocolate), a legend in Thai action cinema, this film features a range of martial art disciplines. The story centers on a group of fight club pals, whose styles vary from Muay Thai and Capoeira to Kung Fu and Tai Chi, must fight for their lives when one of their friends is kidnapped.” At Airport Plaza only.
Wise Kwai: Stunt guru Panna Rittikrai, the mentor of Tony Jaa, directs this one, and he's seeking to outdo all the insanely dangerous-looking action he displayed in the 2004 stuntfest Born to Fight.
Bangkok Knockout is the story of a college "fight club" whose members are together for a reunion when one of their number is kidnapped. So they have to combine all their mad skilz – Muay Thai, kung fu, capoeira and other forms of badassery – to rescue their friend.
Yes or No / อยากรัก ก็รักเลย: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – “Pie is a sweet girl who has moved into a new dorm where she finds out that Kim, her new roommate seems to be a tomboy. While their friendship is developing, Pie and Kim begin to wonder if the feeling they feel for one another is just an ordinary friendship or a real love.”
Wise Kwai: In Yes or No (Yak Rak Kor Rak Loei) a college girl named Pie (Sucharat Manaying) has a tomboy named Kim (Supanat Jittaleela) as a roommate They have their differences at first. The girl thinks the tomboy with the Korean pop-star hair is a guy. They divide their room in half with a line that shall not be crossed.
But they eventually become friends.
And perhaps it will be more than friendship?
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: US, Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – 1 hr 55 mins – I found this an excellently-crafted movie, and quite superlative for its type. It’s a detailed fantasy about a magical land, and if you like that sort of thing, or your kids do, then you will love this. The 3D version is not available as of today. Airport Plaza has a 2D version, and a 2D Thai-dubbed version. Vista has only a 2D Thai-dubbed version, with no English subtitles. Mixed or average reviews: 53/58 out of 100.
Lulla Man / Lunla Man / Poo Chai Lunlla / ผู้ชายลัลล้า สูตร 3G ซ่าส์ ซ่าส์หากิ๊ก: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – 1 hr 50 mins – “Three fun-loving married guys always sneak off to have affairs with girls. With sophisticated skills to avoid being caught by their wives, the guys are reckless and never realize that their wives have now teamed up to give them a bitter lesson.” Extended TV comedy show, with Mum Jokmok and the usual Thai comedians.
Scheduled for December 30
The Tourist: US/ France, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – 1 hr 33 mins – Johnny Depp stars as an American tourist whose playful dalliance with a stranger leads to a web of intrigue, romance, and danger. With Angelina Jolie and Paul Bettany. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others). The Lives of Others I loved, and it met with great critical success. We saw it here at a EU Mini-Film Festival in March of 2008. For this one, however, despite the can’t-be-beat stars -- Generally unfavorable reviews: 37/41 out of 100.
... and looking forward
Jan 6, 2011: Hereafter: US, Drama/ Fantasy – 2 hrs 9 mins – “A drama centered on three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. George ( Matt Damon) is a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (Cécile De France), a French journalist, has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren), a London schoolboy, loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each on a path in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might-or must-exist in the hereafter..” Matt Damon, directed by Clint Eastwood. Mixed or average reviews: 56/61 out of 100. But it sounds fascinating to me.
Jan 6: Megamind: US, Animation/ Action/ Comedy – 1 hr 35 mins – Actually, believe it or not, I found this rather cute and funny. But you do have to like animation. Studio blurb: “Megamind is the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known... and the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way. Each attempt, a colossal failure thanks to the caped superhero known as "Metro Man", until the day Megamind actually defeats him in the throes of one of his botched evil plans. Suddenly, the fate of Metro City is threatened when a new villain arrives and chaos runs rampant, leaving everyone to wonder: Can the world’s biggest ‘mind’ actually be the one to save the day?” Generally favorable reviews: 63/67 out of 100.
Jan 27: The Fighter: US, Biography/ Drama/ Sport – 1 hr 55 mins – Highly praised film likely to be a serious contender for many Oscar honors. The Fighter is a drama about boxer "Irish" Micky Ward's unlikely road to the world light welterweight title. His Rocky-like rise was shepherded by half-brother Dicky, a boxer-turned-trainer who rebounded in life after nearly being KO'd by drugs and crime. With Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. Rated R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality. Generally favorable reviews: 78/79 out of 100.
* = Coming soon (hopefully)
AF = Alliance Française FS = Film Space
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, December 24: No film showing – Christmas Eve!
On Friday, December 31: No film showing – New Year’s Eve!
At Alliance Française on Friday, January 7, 2011: La Grande illusion / The Grand Illusion (1937) by Jean Renoir – 114 mins – France Drama/ War. Black and white. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 92 out of 100.
With Jean Gabin, Erich von Stroheim, Pierre Fresnay.
During 1st WW, two French officers are captured. Captain de Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Maréchal was a mechanic in civilian life. They meet other prisoners from various backgrounds, as Rosenthal, son of wealthy Jewish bankers. They are separated from Rosenthal before managing to escape. A few months later, they meet again in a fortress commanded by the aristocrat Van Rauffenstein. De Boeldieu strikes up a friendship with him but Maréchal and Rosenthal still want to escape.
– Alliance description
Calling on his own experiences as an aviator in WWI as well as those of his comrades, this is Jean Renoir's antiwar masterpiece.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
December is “The Month of Animation” at Film Space. January, “The Month of Coming of Age.”
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the Chiang Mai University (CMU) Art Museum (at 239 Nimmanhemin Road, corner of Suthep Road), 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, December 25, 7 pm: Paprika / Papurika (2006) by Satoshi Kon – 1 hr 30 mins – Japan, Animation/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi – A machine allows therapists to enter patients' dreams. When it's stolen, all hell breaks loose, and only a woman therapist (nicknamed "Paprika") seems able to stop it. Following its own brand of logic, Paprika is an eye-opening mind trip that rarely makes sense but never fails to dazzle. The film weaves in and out of dream worlds seamlessly and presents an offbeat puzzle of a fantasy. Rated R in the US for violent and sexual images. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81/73 out of 100.
Creator Satoshi Kon died on August 24, 2010 at the age of 46. "Christopher Nolan cites Paprika as one of the principal influences of his film Inception, and was inspired by its main character to flesh out his character played by Ellen Page, a 'spirit architect' named Ariadne."
San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle: A highly sophisticated work of the imagination, a journey into a labyrinth of dreams and an exploration of the line between dreams and reality. It's not a film for children, and it's not even something children would like. It's challenging and disturbing and uncanny in the ways it captures the nature of dreams -- their odd logic, mutability and capacity to hint at deepest terrors.
The story surrounds the invention of a device meant to be used therapeutically. A dreamer is hooked up to a machine, making it possible for doctors to see a dream on a screen, record it and understand its unconscious meaning. As the film begins, the device -- known as the DC Mini -- has not yet been approved, but young Dr. Chiba is using it already to help her patients. Moreover, she is entering her patient's dreams, in the guise of an alter ego known as Paprika.
But then several of the DC minis are stolen from the office, and this becomes a problem, as the scientists find out that it's possible for people, using the DC mini, to enter the dreams of other people. And if they have malicious intent, they could easily trap victims inside these tortured dreams, so that they never can escape. If that doesn't sound like a description of psychosis or hell, what does?
Over the course of the film, we become acquainted with the running dream motifs of several characters, including a police detective who harps on that he doesn't like movies and yet keeps dreaming of being inside an elevator, in which each floor represents a different movie genre: suspense, romance, etc.
As Paprika, Dr. Chiba is forced to go inside the dreams of powerful adversaries in order to pry her patients loose from their invaded dreams. And so the film grows and becomes more layered, more frightening and more fascinating. At a certain point, characters escape from dreams only to realize that they haven't escaped at all, that they've only dreamed of escaping. Thus, the line between the two states begins to blur.
Meanwhile -- this touch is downright astonishing -- a collective dream begins to form, one that's gaining in strength and that's so powerful that it threatens to obliterate reality altogether. The collective dream is depicted as a parade of toys, which at one point goes over a red bridge that looks very much like the Golden Gate Bridge. But it's not quite the Golden Gate Bridge; it's more like a dream about it. Individually, the toys look innocent, haunting and menacing, in the way that dreams can often be. A recurring dream figure is that of a gigantic baby girl, a monstrous child going around like King Kong, laying waste to a city.
This is easily one of the most insightful and enjoyable films about the unconscious that you're likely to find, full of images that echo through the mind in eerie ways. Paprika maximizes the virtues of anime, and although anime's limitations can be frustrating -- the jerky body movements, the limited detailing of faces -- this is without question a unique and superior achievement.
January is “The Month of Coming of Age” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, January 1, 2011, 7 pm: No Showing! New Year’s Day Celebration.
At Film Space Saturday, January 8, 2011, 7 pm: Fish Tank (2009) by Andrea Arnold – 2 hrs 3 mins – UK/ Netherlands, Drama. Mia, a foul-mouthed, stroppy fifteen-year-old, lives on an Essex estate with her tarty mother, Joanne, and precocious little sister Tyler. She has been excluded from school and is awaiting admission to a referrals unit and spends her days aimlessly. She begins an uneasy friendship with Joanne's handsome, extrovert Irish boyfriend, Connor, who encourages her one interest, dancing. What could go wrong? Winner of the BAFTA award for Outstanding British Film, 2010. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81/79 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Cannes Jury Prize-winner Fish Tank is gritty British realism at its very best with flawless performances from newcomer Kate Jarvis, and Michael Fassbender.
Film Space Schedule for all of 2011
The Month of Coming of Age
New Year celebration
Fish Tank – 2009, Andrea Arnold
Empire Records – 1995, Allan Moyle
The Virgin Suicides - 1999, Sofia Coppola
Lord of Dogtown - 2005, Catherine Hardwicke
The Month of Musical
The Wizard of Oz – 1939, Victor Fleming
Across the Universe - 2007, Julie Taymor
Purple Rain – 1984, Albert Magnoli
Once – 2006, John Carney
The Month of True Story
Before Night Falls – 2000, Julian Schnabel
The Last King of Scotland – 2006, Kevin Macdonald
The Motorcycle Diaries – 2004, Walter Salles
The Sea Inside – 2004, Alejandro Amenabar
The Month of Tremble with Terror
The Shining - 1980, Stanley Kubrick
Funny Games - 1997, Michael Haneke
Old Boy - 2003, Chan-Wook Park
The Page Turner – 2006, Denis Dercourt
Shutter Island - 2010, Martin Scorsese
The Month of Black Comedy
Dr. Strangelove – 1964, Stanley Kubrick
Fargo – 1996, Joel and Ethan Coen
Being John Malkovich – 1999, Spike Jonze
Choke – 2008, Clark Gregg
The Month of Cool Cult films
Repoman – 1984, Alex Cox
Taxi Driver – 1976, Martin Scorsese
Trainspotting - 1996, Danny Boyle
Donnie Darko – 2001, Alex Rivera
The Month of Subconscious Fantasy
The Taste of Tea - 2004, Katsuhito Ishii
Where the Wild Things Are - 2009, Spike Jonze
Holiday in Thailand
Memories of Matsuko - 2006, Tetsuya Nakashima
Pan’s Labyrinth - 2006, Guillermo del Toro
The Month of Drifter
3-Iron - 2004, Ki-duk Kim
The Edukators - 2004, Hans Weingartner
Chunging Express - 1994, Wong Kar-Wai
Visitor Q - 2001, Takashi Miike
The Month of Futurism Trouble
12 Monkeys – 1995, Terry Gilliam
Blade Runner – 1982, Ridley Scott
Sleep Dealer – 2008, Alex Rivera
Moon - 2009, Duncan Jones
The Month of Fragile people
Still Walking – 2008, Hirokazu Koreeda
Dead Poets Society - 1989, Peter Weir
Wonderful Town - 2007, Aditya Assarat
Nostalghia - 1983, Andrey Tarkovskiy
The Departures - 2009, Yojiro Takita
The Month of Gradually Recall
Walz with Bashir- 2008, Ari Folman
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind – 2004, Michel Gondry
March comes In Like A Lion (Sangatsu no raion) - 1991, Hitoshi Yazaki
Monday - 2000, SABU
The Month of Monochromatism
Sunset Boulevard – 1950, Billy Wilder
Holiday in Thailand
Cleo from 5 to 7 – 1962, Agnes Varda
The Man Who wasn’t There – 2001, Joel and Ethan Coen
New Year celebration
At the Gay Film Series
Next showing December 26: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). 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.”