What’s the best movie of the year?
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, December 30, 2010
… through Wednesday, January 5, 2011
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Millennium 3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. TRON.
The Tron visuals remind me
a bit of 2001.
This is Issue Number 9 of Volume 6 of these listings, in our sixth year! This works out to be the 269th weekly newsletter! Whew! And that’s not counting the daily newsletters during film festival times.
2010 Top Ten
“Tunwa” – a correspondent on this blog – has written some more on the subject of the Top Films of the Year. Next week we’ll go into some of the “best” in various categories. For now, here again is the main category of best overall film. Let me know what you think.
BEST FILMS 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
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* 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. (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.)
* Yogi Bear: US/ New Zealand, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – 1 hr 20 mins – A live-action film but with its two main characters animated, Yogi Bear voiced by Dan Aykroyd and Boo Boo voiced by Justin Timberlake. Strangely, the park rangers don’t think it’s at all odd that two of their park’s bears talk. The film is also shown in a 3D version. The outdoor sequences were filmed in New Zealand’s Woodhill State Forest – and they make up the movie’s most stunning 3-D moments. Generally unfavorable reviews: 35/33 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Yogi Bear's 3D effects and all-star voice cast are cold comfort for its aggressively mediocre screenplay.
San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle: A story about uncaring politicians and ravenous developers out to wreck Yogi and Boo Boo's habitat. They don't care about trees or animals, just profit and power.
This is a cute movie, a kid's movie, and a rather good one. The computer-generated bears are adorable - it's come to this: Computer creations can be adorable - and the movie packs a lot of amusing incidents into a nice, trim 79-minute package. But don't be surprised if in a few days right-wing bloggers start denouncing the movie as a feature-length propaganda piece to indoctrinate children with liberal values.
Likewise, don't be surprised if parents start bringing their kids to Yogi Bear for the precise purpose of introducing a dose of liberal social philosophy along with the Milk Duds and popcorn.
* Sud Khet Sa Let Pet / Sud Kate Salade Ped / สุดเขตเสลดเป็ด: [started Monday Dec 27] Thai, Comedy – 1 hr 30 mins – Kohtee Aramboy and Tukkie are among the ever-present Thai comedians in this film, which will probably not handle sexual matters with very much delicacy, to gauge from 1,412 past examples.
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. Mixed or average reviews: 49/56 out of 100.
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: 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.)
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.
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.
From Sweden, the third in the Millennium series.
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.
Yes or No / อยากรัก ก็รักเลย: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A sweet girl off to college finds her roommate to be somewhat of a guy-acting tomboy. As they get to be very close friends, the question becomes whether it’s friendship or something more fun. Probably not, because the film is only rated 15+, but the filmmakers play around with the idea.
Scheduled for January 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.
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.
... and looking forward
Jan 13: Burlesque: US, Drama/ Musical/ Romance – 2 hrs – A small-town girl ventures to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer. With Cher, Christina Aguilera, and Stanley Tucci. Rated R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality. Mixed or average reviews: 48/48 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes, Consensus: Campy and clichéd, Burlesque wastes its talented cast (including a better-than-expected Christina Aguilera) on a movie that wavers uncertainly between "bad" and "so bad it's good."
The Onion A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin: Burlesque is a terrible film that will delight nearly everyone who sees it, whether they're 12-year-old Christina Aguilera fans or bad-movie buffs angling for a guilty pleasure.
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.
Jan 27: Meet the Parents - Little Fockers: US, Comedy – 1 hr 38 mins – I’m including this just for the sake of completeness, and to prevent accusations that I have no love for comedies. That’s not completely true. Nevertheless, I can’t image any one actually “looking forward” to this. Starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro. Generally unfavorable reviews: 27/35 out of 100.
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Watching Little Fockers is a depressing experience. Rarely does a comedy bring such an overpowering sense of sadness.
* = 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 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
January is “The Month of Coming of Age” at Film Space.
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, 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 January 9, at 7 pm: Happy Endings (2005), an American film directed by Don Roos and starring Lisa Kudrow, Tom Arnold, Steve Coogan, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. 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.email@example.com, 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.”