Another terrific Christopher Nolan dreamscape!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, July 15, 2010
… through Wednesday, July 21
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets:Inception. Despicable Me.
This is Issue Number 37 of Volume 5 of these listings.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Inception: US/ UK, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 2 hrs 28 mins – Has garnered a raft of ecstatic reviews just prior to its opening tomorrow in the US and the UK, and sounds at the very least like it is a not-to-be-missed event. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio in what has been lauded as another outstanding state-of-the-art acting job, and with Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard; Written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan, so it’s his baby entirely, with total control over all aspects, and it’s claimed to be a worthy successor to his memorable Memento.“In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a single idea within one's mind can be the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset.”Early reviews: Generally favorable: 73/70 out of 100.(Bold scores are from Metacritic / light scores from Rotten Tomatoes.)
A sci-fi/thriller set within the "architecture of the mind," and centered on a group of business people who can construct a dream world for an individual and then infiltrate that world to steal their subconscious.
“Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in an original sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.”
Empire Magazine, Nev Pierce: With physics-defying, thunderous action, heart-wringing emotion and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country.
Eye for Film, Anton Bitel: You will no doubt need to see Inception more than once to appreciate every nuance of Nolan's carefully balanced ambiguities - but, more importantly, you will also want to.
Christopher Nolan directing Leonardo DiCaprio
Metromix.com, Geoff Berkshire: The next step in [Christopher] Nolan's evolution as one of the master filmmakers of our time ... combines the jaw-dropping action of The Dark Knight with the ingenious plotting of Memento.
Fan the Fire, Martin Roberts: It is hugely impressive that, given what was at stake, Nolan has managed to not only pull this out of the bag, but to absolutely nail it. The film is as all-encompassing as the concept of its title: grand, epic, smart and unforgettable.
CHUD, Devin Faraci: Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miracle.
Cinematical, Todd Gilchrist: A stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I've seen in years.
* Despicable Me (3D): US, Animation/ Family – 1 hr 35 mins – Studio synopsis: “In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. (Yes, the moon!) Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world's greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith, and Agnes.”Generally favorable reviews: 72/72 out of 100. Shown in 3D only, at Airport Plaza.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: Borrowing heavily (and intelligently) from Pixar and Looney Tunes, Despicable Me is a surprisingly thoughtful, family-friendly treat with a few surprises of its own.
IMDB Viewer: It is amazing! It is charming without being corny; hilarious without resorting to stupid pop-culture references; exciting without being overly loud... and the best thing: it plays like a fable.
It is absurd! ... but in a good way. The whole plan is to steal the moon, for crying out loud! How ridiculous could that be? And yet, we are led to root for the evil genius to be able to do just that. The whole thing is so tongue in cheek that you will pee in your pants laughing at the effects of having no moon for a few minutes (it is a quick flash of things, for they are so funny).
The movie is incredibly intelligent. The jokes are dead on and VERY imaginative (for example - and this is not a spoiler - pay attention to how they manage to produce light when Dr. Gru and two of his minions are in a ventilation duct at Vector's fortress - just delightful).
You will fall in love with his minions, and if you have a soft heart, with the three orphan girls.
OH, I almost forgot!! The 3D... this is the best usage of 3D I've seen (excepting "Avatar", of course) in a movie. There is a roller coaster ride scene that will literally "tickle your tummy" (like my kids said). For the first three seconds it easily compares to the effects found in "The Simpsons Ride" at Universal Studios.
The action sequences are thrillingly enhanced by the right amount of 3D, and make sure you STAY while the credits roll on. There is some OBVIOUS usage of 3D on those scenes with very funny results. Actually, here's a hint: sit down and enjoy these scenes while the people in the rows in front of you try to exit the theatre; the point of reference they offer will enhance the 3D in such a cool way that it will seem that they will bump into the staircase and the minions protruding from the screen (I suppose that was the intention of these bonus scenes, and boy they nailed it!) All in all, do yourself a favor and go WATCH it... I am sure I will do it again!
Killer Movie Reviews, Andrea Chase: a smart, funny, and perceptive animated film that dresses up its unabashed sentimentality with a droll mix of dry humor, deadpan slapstick, and clever writing that is slick, wicked, but never snooty.
Creative Loafing, Matt Brunson: Lets loose with a volley of inspired sight gags, a smattering of adult-oriented humor, and some screen-pushing innovations to justify the 3-D expense.
* Pop Star / Duang Antarai / ดวงอันตราย: Thai,Drama – 1hr 30mins – An ordinary girl becomesinvolved in the life of a Thai superstar with unexpected results. Rated 18+ in Thailand. At Major Cineplex only.
* 8E88 / Fan Lala / แฟนลั้ลลา: Thai,Comedy – 1hr 40mins – On the eve of his wedding, the groomis arrested as the assassin of a politician. He claims to be innocent, but is taken tothe dreaded“Zone 8E88” where he will be induced to tell the truth.
Predators: US,Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller –1 hr 47 mins – I enjoyed this! Of its type, I thought it quite superior. I was impressed by the fun the actors seemed to be having with their characters (Lawrence Fishburne especially giving a deliciously-chewed performance!). I thought the photography was striking, and the music fascinating! Good moods established, tense and forbidding. Not that I’m a particular fan of this sort of adventure and action film, but of its ilk I thought it quite entertaining. If you like this sort of thing, you should like this quite well. In other words: Good show! Mixed or average reviews: 51/55 out of 100.
It’s about a group of elite warriors who discover that they were brought to another planet by a race of bloodthirsty alien creaturesknown as Predators to be hunted like prey in a human game reserve. Starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, and Topher Grace. Directed by Hungarian filmmaker Nimród Antal (Kontroll), and produced by the maverick film director Robert Rodriguez. Here we have a revamp of the Predator film series focusing on human survival on the Predator's home planet. It’s not a rewriting of the original Predator but is intended as a sequel to both Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990), the two Arnold Schwarzenegger films, ignoring completely what happened in the two Alien vs. Predator films.
Urban Cinefile, Louise Keller: Delivering on its promise, Predators is a moody, unrelenting and attention-grabbing sci-fi thriller, filled with action, splendid visual effects, and packed with undulating tension. Beyond its spectacular effects and mega-budget, it's good old fashioned entertainment of the B-movie kind, with a strong premise, nicely drawn characters and ace performances from a team of actors spearheaded by Adrien Brody, that make us give more than a damn.
Film Ink, Jack Sargeant: Like his 2003 cult movie Control, Nimrod Antal's tight direction and attention to visual detail enables characters to emerge naturally, and wisely the brief scenes in which the protagonists discuss (god forbid) their ethics and their histories are kept to a bare minimum. The emphasis here is on following their attempts to survive.
Sorry Saranghaeyo / Kao Rak Ti Korea / เการักที่เกาหลี Sorry ซารังเฮโย / ซารังเฮโย เการักที่เกาหลี: Thai/ South Korea, Comedy/ Romance – 130 mins –A Thai woman is obsessed with Korean styles and one Korean heartthrob and convinces her sister to travel to South Korea to saturate herself with all things Korean. Directed by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story (2007)), who says that this is his first film about a man and woman in love. He’s known for his Katoey comedies and gay love stories.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:US, Fantasy/ Romance/ Thriller – 124 mins – The pack is back again! In this episode, which I know you’ve been waiting for breathlessly, Bella (Kristen Stewart) once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings. In the midst of this, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward (heartthrob Robert Pattinson, a vampire) and her friendship with Jacob (heartthrob Taylor Lautner, member of a Quileute Wolfpack) – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the struggle between vampire and wolfpack, and a tissy fit between fans of each. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life – and the film’s fans.Mixed or average reviews: 58/56 out of 100. The Vista version is Thai-dubbed only.
Rotten Tomatoes:Hey, Twihards -- you're probably going to see Eclipse anyway, so feel free to ignore the reviews. However, for the uninitiated who find themselves dragged to the theater, the critics say Eclipse is a big step up from New Moon -- even if it still suffers from slack pacing and portentous dialogue. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner are all back as the principals in every tween's favorite supernatural love triangle; this time, all three are threatened by an army of newborn vampires assembled for the purpose of killing Bella to indirectly enact revenge upon the Cullens. The pundits say new director David Slade does well with the material, underscoring the emotional developments with some reasonably stirring action. However, they also note Eclipse is still too often a slog, with so-so acting, middling special effects, and lots of dead passages.
The New York Times, A.O. Scott:Eclipse, directed by David Slade ... is a more robustly entertaining film than either of its predecessors. The previous entry, New Moon, was a sustained (and to some viewers, tedious) exercise in delayed gratification. You had to wait a long time to see Mr. Lautner unveil his pectoral muscles or morph into a wolf, and Mr. Pattinson vanished altogether. This time we are treated to nicely costumed flashbacks to vaguely defined earlier eras, album-cover tableaus of the Cullen clan and the Volturi (including Dakota Fanning but minus Michael Sheen, for now) and some moderately thrilling if visually muddy fight sequences.
If there is a bit more humor on display here — some of it evidence that an element of self-conscious self-mockery is sneaking into the franchise — there is also more violence, and, true to the film’s title, a deeper intimation of darkness. What there isn’t, as usual, is much in the way of good acting, with the decisive and impressive exception of Ms. Stewart, who can carry a close-up about as well as anyone in movies today.
Mr. Lautner still seems to have recently escaped from a high school cheerleading squad somewhere, and Mr. Pattinson’s pout conveys not the existential angst of a lovelorn immortal, but rather the peevishness of a guy who just lost a Greta Garbo lookalike contest — for the third time in a row! — to his own girlfriend.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned). It has blood, death, and either nothing but sex or no sex at all.
The Karate Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/ Sport – 2 hrs 20 mins (yes, it’s a long bugger!) – God, what an awful movie! Truly dreadful, incredibly bad! What a talentless kid who’s pushed on us by his doting Father.He’s enough to give dreadlocks a bad name!I did root for the bullies to win. And the kid’s blandness even infects Jackie Chan, encouraging him to give his most wooden performance ever. It has some touristy scenes of Beijing, no doubt required by the Chinese government as a part of the co-production deal, and as it turns out that‘s the best part of the picture. Stay away!Generally favorable reviews: 61/64 out of 100, and it’s a mystery to me how it got such high scores.At Vista only, Thai-dubbed.
Petulant, rude, and entitled...
Toronto Star, Peter Howell:The Karate Kid is now played by Jaden Smith, the 11-year-old son of doting Hollywood parents Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.So desperate are the Smiths to have Jaden join the family firm, they’ve shoe-horned him into a role requiring dramatic, comedic and romantic chops that are beyond his slim abilities. Young Jaden was fine as his dad’s son in The Pursuit of Happyness, which required no feat of credulity or serious screen time.
He’s woefully out of his league here — especially as The Karate Kid indulgently runs 2 hours, 20 minutes, at least a half hour more than it needs, while delivering less fun and inspiration than before.
Knight and Day: US, Action/ Comedy/ Thriller – 110 mins – The film where Tom Cruise gets to show his chops again, after some absence. And he is charming, no doubt about it. It’s more of a rom-com than an action flick. I was mildly amused by it. Cruise and Cameron Diaz play a fugitive couple on a glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure where nothing and no one - even themselves - are what they seem. Mixed or average reviews: 46/57 out of 100. At Vista only.
Scheduled for July22
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Directed by Jon Turteltaub(National Treasure 1 & 2). You remember the plot: A sorcerer leaves his workshop in the hands of his apprentice, who gets into trouble when the broomstick he's tasked to do his chores for him somehow develops a mind of its own.
Alfred Molina as a delightfully evil magician
Well, anyway that’s the plot of the segment in Walt Disney’s Fantasia which is supposedly the origin of this movie. Which in turn is based on the late 1890s symphonic poem by Paul Dukas and the 1797 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ballad. It is said that the idea was mostly Nicolas Cage's, who wanted to make a feature length movie based upon the Fantasia segment. The cast is made up of Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer and computer simulation expert, based on the magician Yen Sid portrayed in Fantasia; newcomer Jay Baruchel as Dave Stutler, an average college student who becomes Blake's apprentice – he is based on the character played by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia; and Alfred Molina as Maxim Horvath, an evil magician. Generally unfavorable reviews: 47/52 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Disney has decided to completely reimagine the poemof once again, this time in a live-action film starring Nicolas Cage as the sorcerer and Jay Baruchel as his titular apprentice.2010's Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set in contemporary New York, where a college kid (Baruchel) is recruited by a wizard named Balthazar (Cage) to undergo training for an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. In other words, you probably won’t see Baruchel chasing down any dancing brooms with an axe. What the film does promise, however, is a bit of Cage’s trademark loopiness, some grand action sequences (the movie’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, after all), and plenty of jokes that take advantage of the "everyman in over his head" premise.
Emmanuel Levy: With many cooks in the writing, this CGI adventure is structurally disjointed and dramatically uninvolving, and the chemistry between reliable star Cage and charming Baruchel is not strong, which explains why the producers stress the literary pedigree.
JoBlo’s Movie Emporium, Chris Bumbray: Fairly fun, and occasionally exciting, but so bombastic that you'll feel more like you're being bombarded, than actually watching a film.
And looking forward
Jul29: The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy– 1 hr 43 mins – Generally unfavorable reviews: 20/28 out of 100.
What a disappointment!! Here I was so looking forward to this, because A) It sounded like it could be a really interesting and cool fantasy film (It certainly has grand progenitors); and B) because I really want M. Knight Shyamalan to have another success again, and not be just a one shot director. With this story and this young boy, I was hoping for something as truly good as his first film, which also starred a young boy,The Sixth Sense.
Alas, it seems not to be. The reviews have been some of the worst reviews in recent memory. With that kind of a reception, maybe it won’t even get here to Chiang Mai.
Rotten Tomatoes:Goodness, what happened to M. Night Shyamalan? In the decade since The Sixth Sense, his reputation as a wunderkind has taken a steep dive, one that won't be revived with The Last Airbender, which critics are calling an incomprehensible, ugly mess. Based upon the popular Nickelodeon cartoon, Airbender tells the story of Aang (Noah Ringer), who utilizes his rare element-manipulation skills to bring peace to a war-torn fantasy world. The pundits say Airbender's baffling exposition and retrofitted 3-D effects make for a viewing experience that's hopelessly muddled in both plot and visuals.
Consensus:Despite flashy special effects, The Last Airbender squanders the potential of its popular source material on an incomprehensible plot, laughable dialogue, and a joyless sense of detachment.
io9: A lavish parody of big-budget fantasy epics. It's got everything: the personality-free hero, the nonsensical plot twists, the CG clutter, the bland romance, the new-age pablum. It's an absurdist masterpiece, in which a million things happen but nothing takes place. (In completely flat 3-D.) Stuff happens, and then more stuff happens, and what does it mean? We never know, because it's time for more stuff to happen. You start out laughing at how random and mindless everything in this movie is, but about an hour into it, you realize that the movie is actually laughing at you, for watching it in the first place.
Jul 29: Splice: Canada/ France/ US, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 1 hr 44 mins – Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac; Directed by: Vincenzo Natali.Elsa and Clive, two young rebellious and mostly repulsive scientists, defy legal and ethical boundaries to forge ahead with a dangerous experiment: splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new organism. Named "Dren,” the creature rapidly develops from a deformed female infant into a beautiful but dangerous winged human-chimera, who forges a bond with both of her creators - only to have that bond turn deadly. If you have sex with an underage creature that’s only 50% human, does that count? And when your wife has sex with a creature that’s 50% her daughter, is that incest or bestiality? These are the ridiculous moral questions raised by this film. If this subject keeps you awake nights, the movie is for you. I found the two leads disgusting human beings and their relationship with each other dismaying demonstration of the worst in human behavior. An unpleasant movie. Rated R in the US for disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence, and language. Generally favorable reviews: 66/66 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes:Consensus: It doesn't take its terrific premise quite as far as it should, but Splice is a smart, well-acted treat for horror fans.
Rotten Tomatoes: Another Sundance premiere hits the big time with the sci-fi/thriller Splice, directed by Vicenzo Natali (Paris je t’aime, Cube).Splice tells the story of two genetic engineers who combine the DNA of animals to create hybrids; when they decide to ignore protocol and, without permission, fuse human DNA into a new hybrid, well, it's safe to say the creation goes mildly bonkers.
Joel Silver said that "Splice is like nothing you’ve ever seen before" upon acquiring the Sundance film, and the CGI used to create "Dren," the hybrid creature, is said to be particularly impressive in a summer filled with plenty of special effects.
Will Splice end up being another sleeper hit? The genetically modified thriller has generated a fair amount of buzz, and Dren will have a lot to prove to audiences that have been anticipating the film since January.
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, July 16, 8 pm: Jeux d'enfants / Love Me If You Dare (2003) by Yann Samuell – 93 mins – France/ Belgium Comedy/ Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Rated R in the US for language and some sexuality. Mixed or average reviews: 45 out of 100.
With Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard, Thibault Verhaeghe, Joséphine Lebas-Joly, Emmanuelle Grönvold, Gérard Watkins, Gilles Lellouche.
As adults, best friends Julien and Sophie continue the odd game they started as children -- a fearless competition to outdo one another with daring and outrageous stunts. While they often act out to relieve one another's pain, their game might be a way to avoid the fact that they are truly meant for one another...
A movie with wildly divergent reactions in those who see it. One view:
Carlo Cavagna, About Film: It seems Amélie, the biggest international hit in the history of French cinema, is going to be responsible for some damage to the French film industry as other filmmakers make transparent attempts to ride the coattails of its winsome success. Exhibit A is Love Me If You Dare, aka Jeux d'enfants, which means not “love me if you dare,” but “children's games,” a much more appropriate title for this film about two nitwits who stubbornly refuse to grow up. Vibrant colors, stylized scenes, childlike fantasy sequences, an exaggerated style of quick cuts and camera swoops—the influence of Amélie is obvious, which begs the question, “Why do we need another Amélie when we already have Amélie ?” Director Yann Samuell tries to push the envelope further than Amélieby increasing the exaggeration, which only succeeds in making this film unbelievably annoying.
Julien and Sophie are troubled kids—Julien because his mother is terminally ill, Sophie because her family is poor and she's teased for being a “dirty pole-ack” at school. On a dare from Sophie, Julien disengages the parking brake on the school bus, causing it to roll down the street. So the game of dares begins. Julien dares Sophie to curse at the teacher. Sophie dares Julien to take a piss in the principal's office—in front of the principal. Whatever one dares, the other must do. The school separates Sophie and Julien, but their discipline problems continue to escalate, amid various Garden of Eden flights of fancy and Alice in Wonderland references. At her sister's wedding, Sophie dares Julien to say no at the altar if he ever decides to get married. (Gee, wonder if that will ever come up again.) Then they destroy the wedding cake, jettisoning any remaining sympathy the audience might feel for these incorrigible delinquents. (Poverty and terminally ill mothers can only excuse so much.)
It doesn't help doesn't help that the two kids (Thibault Verhaeghe and Joséphine Lebas-Joly) are terrible actors whose facial contortions are painful to watch. Moreover, it's obvious the children's roles have been written by adults—especially in such dead giveaways as Sophie's comment during a game of “I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours”—“That's why men earn more than women?” And again, when Julien goes to kiss Sophie, she says, “It's easier to just be friends.” Oh, how blasé and worldly French children are!
Julien's mother (Emmanuelle Grönvold) dies. Though Julien's dad (Gérard Watkins) hates Sophie, he swallows his pride and asks her to sleep over for the boy's sake that night. They sleep in Julien's bed—platonically, of course, lying with their feet in opposite directions. The bizarre transition that follows is emblematic of everything that's wrong with this excruciating film.
They sleep for ten years—or so Julien says—and wake up in the same bed as adults (now played by Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard) in the exact same positions. Samuell has given no thought to what this scene means narratively. Are they now lovers? No. Are they sharing an apartment? No, Julien is still living with his father, who has apparently permitted Sophie to stay the night, even though we later learn that he despises Sophie intensely. So, are they in the habit of having friendly sleepovers? No, it doesn't happen again. What the hell does Julien and Sophie waking up in the same bed ten years later mean? It means nothing. Samuell obviously just thought it was a clever transition, ignoring all possible cinematic implications of putting such a scene in his story.
Anyway, Julien and Sophie are physically adults, but they haven't changed one bit, except that now their game of dares can do a lot more damage than when they were children. For example, Julien has sex with another girl in a bathroom, and persuades her to give up her earrings so he can give them to Sophie. After fooling around with a Dangerous Liaisons -type of story, Samuell moves briefly into My Best Friend's Wedding territory, and then skips ahead several more years, when Julien and Sophie's behavior with their respective spouses becomes so appalling that you will be immediately cured of any empathy you might somehow still have felt for these characters.
The deeper into Love Me If You Dare we get, the less sense it makes. Julien and Sophie are totally obsessed with each other from the time they are children, and the sexual tension between them as adults palpable. Yet Samuell expects us to believe that, even though they have known each other forever, a series of miscommunications and petty resentments prevents them from consummating their relationship. Sophie and Julien fight for unclear reasons and create obstacles for themselves out of thin air.
There's exactly one cool moment in the film: Julien describes the dreariness of his life at 35, concluding that being an adult is like having “a speedometer up to 210 and never going over 60.” However, this colorful monologue is the flimsy basis for all the inexcusable behavior that follows, for which the only possible explanation can be clinical insanity.
The ending, consisting of “the dare of dares,” makes no sense unless you pay close attention to the opening monologue. If you do, you will be rewarded with an ending that… well… still makes no sense. Julien and Sophie's relationship is a concoction that contains nothing recognizable from the lives of real people and no recognizable truth. The emotions are false. The melodrama is hollow. The movie is bullshit.
On Friday, July 23, 8 pm: Hors de prix / Priceless (2006) by Pierre Salvadori – 103 mins – France Comedy. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews 72/70 out of 100.
With Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Marie-Christine Adam, Vernon Dobtchef, Jacques Spiesser.
Irène, a conniving adventuress, is under the impression that Jean, a timid waiter at a chic hotel, is a millionaire.When she discovers what he really is, she immediately ditches him. But Jean, in love, sets out in pursuit of her and finds her on the Côte d'Azur.He quickly goes broke, ends up adopting the lifestyle of the woman he loves and becomes an escort in a magnificent palace.This new situation brings him closer to Irène, who finally deigns to acknowledge his existence. She then starts giving him advice and, without realizing it, becomes more and more attached to him...
– Alliance Description
Directed by Pierre Salvadori, this delightful French comedy features Amelie star Audrey Tautou and the charming Gad Elmaleh (The Valet). Jean (Elmaleh) is a hardworking employee at one of southern France's elite resort hotels. He is known for his excellent work ethic, but that changes after a chance encounter with sexy hotel guest Irene (Tautou). Bored with her wealthy and much older boyfriend/benefactor, Irene is looking for some excitement. She finds it with Jean, whom she believes to be another guest at the hotel. When she discovers that he is merely an employee there, she is furious, and wants nothing more to do with him. Jean tries to rekindle their affair, but Irene lets him know that she is only interested in men with money--lots and lots of money. Jean is broke and brokenhearted, until he crosses paths with another hotel guest--this one an older woman of considerable means. He soon finds himself living the high life alongside Irene and her own rich patron. But Jean is far more interested in romance than in riches, and the glitzy fun and games quickly come to a head. The film makes the most of its dazzling location, luxuriating in the wealth and beauty of the French Riviera. The story obviously owes a firm tip of the hat to Breakfast at Tiffany's, and indeed Tautou's effortless grace and style do bring to mind Ms. Hepburn. In the hands of less skilled actors, the plot could have felt a bit flimsy, but Tautou and Elmaleh are so engaging, one can't help but root for them and their romantic hijinks.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
July is “The Month of Consequences” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave at least 20 baht. Well worth supporting. All films not in English are shown with English subtitles.
At Film Space Saturday, July 17, 7 pm: Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl / Tiān Yù/天浴(1998)written and directed by JoanChen– 99 mins – Hong Kong/ US/Taiwan, Drama. – English subtitles – Rated R in the US for strong sexual content.
Young teen girl Xiu Xiu is sent away to a remote corner of the Sichuan steppes for manual labor in 1975 (sending young people to the country side was a part of Cultural Revolution in China). A year later she's sent even further to the more remote spot with a Tibetan saddle tramp Lao Jin to learn horse herding. There Xiu Xiu falls in love with a man who promises to talk to an official and get her back home. He brings an apple which Xiu Xiu treasures and he takes her virginity. While waiting for him to return another man comes claiming to be his friend and brings another apple. After him another man comes and by that point she is reduced to a hooker. She becomes pregnant Lao Jin takes her to the civilization to get an abortion. Right after the surgery some guards have their way with her. Lao Jin tries to protect her but in vain.
Rotten Tomatoes: Between 1967 and 1976, nearly eight million Chinese youths were "sent down" for specialized training to the remotest corners of the country in order to rid them of any revolutionary thoughts. In 1975, a beautiful city girl of 15, Xiu Xiu, is taken from her family by the government and sent to the high steppes near Tibet to live with a horse trainer. This, the directorial debut from actress Joan Chen, was filmed surreptitiously in communist China and subsequently banned in that country.
All Movie: Actress Joan Chen makes her directorial debut with this bleak tale, adapted from the award-winning novella "Tian Yu" by Shanghai writer Yan Geling, about the loss of innocence during Mao Zedong's brutal Cultural Revolution. Precocious Wen Xiu (16-year-old Lu Lu), playfully called Xiu Xiu by her friends, finds herself one of millions of Chinese teenagers sent to the hinterlands to receive specialized training during the early 1970s. She is taken from her loving family in Chengdu to the Tibetan steppes, where she is apprenticed to Lao Jin (Lopsang), a solitary master horseman whose legendary status stems partly from his prowess on the range and partly from an embarrassing secret resulting from a battle injury. Though life is hard on the high grasslands, the sheer physical beauty of the landscape, coupled with Xiu Xiu's youthful vibrancy, reinvigorate the quiet horseman. He soon falls for the young girl, although, thanks to his wound, he will never be able to consummate his love. Meanwhile, Xiu Xiu longs to return to her family in Sichuan. Her growing desperation, coupled with her own naiveté, leave her vulnerable to the opportunistic scheming of a traveling peddler, who takes her virginity while promising her quick passage back home. Soon lecherous bureaucrats and others venture out to Xiu Xiu's remote yurt with the promise of free sex. The young girl willingly prostitutes herself, believing that it is the only way to see her beloved family again, while Lao Jin suffers silently, watching his love defile herself. Only after a medical emergency does Xiu Xiu realize how callously she has been used and cast aside. Joan Chen's dark work fits in a subgenre of Chinese art and cinema that explores the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, whose most famous examples include Tian Zhuangzhuang's Blue Kite (1993) and Zhang Yimou's To Live (1993). Though this film was screened in the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, it was banned in China for sexual and political content.
At Film Space Saturday, July 24, 7 pm: The Pianist (2002) directed by Roman Polanski – 150 mins– France/ Poland/ Germany/ UK,Biography/ Drama/ War– In English, German, and Russian. A Polish Jewish musician played by Adrien Brody struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. Rated R in the US for violence and brief strong language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 85/87 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes synopsis:An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and... An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and narrowly escaped a roundup that sent his family to a death camp. A composer and pianist, Szpilman played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit. There, in Poland, Szpilman struggled to stay alive--even when cast away from those he loved. He spent the duration of the war hiding in the ruins of Warsaw and scavenging for food and shelter. Szpilman eventually reclaimed his artistic gifts, and confronted his fears--with aid from the unlikeliest of sources.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: Well-acted and dramatically moving.
Baltimore Sun, Michael Sragow: Roman Polanski's new movie may be the greatest historical film centered on an enigmatic character since Lawrence of Arabia.
Chicago Tribune, Michael Wilmington:A great movie on a powerful, essential subject -- the Holocaust years in Poland -- directed with such artistry and skill that, as we watch, the barriers of the screen seem to melt away.