Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whats On starting November 18

What are “Deathly Hallows”? And please comment on EU Film Fest!

Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, November 18, 2010    


… through Wednesday, November 24


by Thomas Ohlson

Best Bets: Harry.  Océans. 


What a shame Fair Game didn’t show. I’ll keep my hopes up.


This is Issue Number 3 of Volume 6 of these listings, the third issue of our sixth year! Back issues are available on the blog.


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


The Bangkok International Film Festival has been cancelled for this year.




European Union Film Festival


The European Union Film Festival this year was held outside, at the“140-years Old Lanna Ancient House” on Charoen Prathet Road. This was a huge departure from the usual showing indoors at a regular movie theater. I’ve heard a lot of comments about the change.


The organizers of the Festival are asking for your comments on the content and the form of the festival this year. If you have comments to make about the facilities, about the location outside rather than inside, or anything like that related to the festival, please make your thoughts, and comments, and suggestions known. You can just make your comments known in an email message, which you should address to Kobkul Ratchakitti, Cultural Assistant, Delegation of European Union to Thailand, at


I know there were many comments, pro and con, about the venue this year. Please, let them know what you think!



At the Cineplexes!


Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week


Harry Potter is saturating the cinemas this week, at least the first few days. In fact, it’s really a wonder anything else is playing!

* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I: UK/ US, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery – 2 hrs 26 mins – The first of the two-part conclusion to the series; Part II due in July of 2011 – both directed by David Yates, who has directed the last two Harry Potter films. You know you’re going to have to see it, so why fight it. And you know what you’re in for: a superbly told tale, with some of the finest British character actors. Shown in two versions at Vista at Kad Suan Kaew, both regular 2D, but one is English with Thai subtitles and the other is strictly Thai-dubbed only. Shown in three versions at Airport Plaza: a regular 2D version, a digital 2D version – but not 3D, and a Thai-dubbed non-digital 2D version. Digital is better than the usual film in most people’s opinion (though definitely not all). Whether it’s worth the added price of admission is your decision. Early reviews: Generally favorable: 71/70 out of 100.

Voldemort's power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore's work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for the trio, and the rest of the Wizarding World, so everything they do must go exactly as planned.

Originally to be released in 3D, this decision was scrapped just weeks before release, “due to the difficulty of converting the film into the format.” And therein lies a story. There’s been a growing controversy about last-minute or even some not-so-last-minute conversions from regular 2D to 3D, generally seen as a means of charging more at the box-office and cashing in on the 3D “wave.” Some of these conversions have been dreadful, such as last summer’s Clash of the Titans and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – but even the best fall far short of a film designed from the start for 3D using 3D cameras at every step. So at the very, very last minute, Warner Bros. pulled the plug on the conversion job, fearing it might result in an ignoble end to a noble series. By doing so they as much as admitted that the conversion process available for transforming 2D to 3D is simply inadequate at the present time. However, they are still saying they plan on using the conversion process for the second part next summer, hoping maybe that the process will improve enough in the meantime to be acceptable. Stay tuned for the future of 3D in the movies! 

But as to the movie itself, I’m puzzled by the reviews by those critics who have seen it. They are quite mixed reviews, some saying it’s everything you could wish for, others saying it’s curiously dark with the look and feel of a film noir thriller from the Forties or a tense wartime spy yarn. Harry is a fugitive, like an innocent man trapped in the sticky web of a Hitchcock suspense story – “a development slightly more disconcerting than it is welcome.” Well, now we can see for ourselves. 

In the meantime, let me pose a question to you. What do you think “deathly hallows” are? Do those words make sense used together? Hallow as a noun? Or do you never worry about such arcane matters? There have been deep discussions on the subject ever since the title of the book was revealed by author J.K. Rowling. However, she kept mum, probably enjoying immensely the arguing her words started. The consensus seemed to be that “hallows” are revered and holy articles of some kind. And eventually practicalities forced some clarity, when it came in the pleas of foreign translators who were at a loss on how to translate the title. At the request of a Swedish writer, Rowling gave an alternate title for translation purposes: "Harry Potter and the Relics of Death." (In French, for example, it’s “Les Reliques de la mort".) Most observers think for sure the relics are the Horcruxes. And what are Horcruxes? Well, you do have to read the books!

Océans / Oceans: France/ Switzerland/ Spain, Documentary/ Drama – 1 hr 44 mins – An ecological drama/documentary, filmed throughout the globe. Part thriller, part meditation on the vanishing wonders of the sub-aquatic world. Generally favorable reviews: 75/76 out of 100. At Vista only, in I believe an English narration by Pierce Brosnan, with Thai subtitles.

IMDb Viewer: Absolutely stunning. Simply the most beautiful underwater imagery I've ever seen. It's hard to remain not too affected when talking about ecology. Here, the off screen speech is quite subtle, not too naive and not boring, because sparingly used, which leaves long lapse of dreamy sequences, without a word. Technically, it's easily one of the best documentary ever made. The camera work and photography are incredible; the montage is very effective, alternating slow and fast paced sequences. The score is not too obtrusive. Visually stunning, subtle, very recommended.

Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman: There have, over the years, been a lot of terrific undersea documentaries, but if you want to know what distinguishes this new one, it comes down to a single word: technology. In Disney's Oceans, a new generation of digital cameras has been used to capture the spindly, slithery, downright otherworldly creatures that roam the ocean floor, and those cameras don't just bring you right up close. They capture, as never before, the literal, tactile texture of all those elegant sci-fi beings — the palpitating softness of a giant jellyfish, the mattress-like belly of a blue whale (the single largest animal in the history of the world), the crinkly body of a ray so svelte and multicolored it looks like a rippling Hermès scarf.

''Down here,'' intones the film's narrator, Pierce Brosnan, ''it's like nature has given anything a try,'' and the movie keeps astonishing you with the truth of that. Just when you're certain that you've gawked at the oddest life-form that 2 million years of evolution has ever coughed up, Oceans will dazzle you with something even stranger: a crustacean that resembles a giant surreally spiky insect, a stonefish that's literally like a rock that moves, or a good old cuttlefish, which has a lethal food-grabber that shoots out of its maw like something from Alien VII. That narration, spoken by Brosnan in the plumiest of storybook tones, takes you back to the old days of Disney anthropomorphism (''A hermit crab who has put on a little weight needs more spacious accommodations!''). That's enough to turn Oceans into a nostalgia trip for parents, even as it makes the ancient life-forms of the sea seem glisteningly new.


Skyline: US, Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 1 hr 40 mins – After a late night party, a group of friends are awakened in the dead of night by an eerie light beaming through the window. Like moths to a flame, the light source is drawing people outside where they suddenly vanish into the air. It’s soon discovered that an otherworldly force is swallowing the entire human population off the face of the earth. With a cast of relative unknowns and shot independently of any major studio, this film is very much the vision of its two creators, the Brothers Strause (Colin and Greg) whose company Hydraulx has provided visual effects for Avatar, Iron Man 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 300, and who have worked as FX designers/supervisors on seemingly every other big-budget production to be released over the past decade or so. There are over 800 VFX shots in the film, more than most of the big-budget effects-laden epics of late. And these effects are really superb, setting a new level of special-effects work. But the dialogue and the plotting are really bad. I mean, probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. Generally unfavorable reviews: 27/28 out of 100. English at Major, Thai-dubbed at Vista with no English subtitles.


Charlie St. Cloud / The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud: US/ Canada, Fantasy/ Romance/ Drama – 1 hr 39 mins – Based on an acclaimed novel, Charlie St. Cloud is a romantic drama starring Zac Efron as a young man who survives an accident that lets him see the world in a unique way. He is a young man so overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother that he takes a job as caretaker of the cemetery in which his brother is buried. Charlie has a special lasting bond with his brother though, as he can see him. Charlie meets up with his brother (Sam) each night to play catch and talk. Then, a girl comes into Charlie's life and he must choose between keeping a promise he made to Sam, or going after the girl he loves. Generally unfavorable reviews: 37/44 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Zac Efron gives it his all, but Charlie St. Cloud is too shallow and cloying to offer much more than eye candy for his fans.

San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle: A delicate film - not flimsy, but fragile - that holds together on the strength of Efron's physical presence and performance.


Paranormal Activity 2: US, Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – 1 hr 31 mins – After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem. I’ve seen this, and if you’re up for another “found amateur film” where you’re asked to believe these things actually happened to regular people who happened to tape them, then this film will offer a few really off-the-wall scary moments, when you least expect them. And you’ll be asking yourself what did you really see happen in the last few minutes. But you have to really want to suspend belief and hang in there during the nights when the camera was taping and nothing happened. Great believable acting by the family dog. Rated R in the US for some language and brief violent material; only 13+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews: 51/61 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Paranormal Activity 2 doesn't cover any new ground, but its premise is still scary -- and in some respects, it's a better film than the original.


Due Date: US, Comedy – 1 hr 40 mins – A high-strung father-to-be, played by Robert Downey Jr., is forced to hitch a ride with a college slacker (and aspiring actor) on a road trip in order to make it to his child's birth on time. Rated R in the US for language, drug use, and sexual content. Mixed or average reviews: 52/52 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Shamelessly derivative and only sporadically funny, Due Date doesn't live up to the possibilities suggested by its talented director and marvelously mismatched stars.

Austin Chronicle, Marjorie Baumgarten: In its best moments, the film's duo of Galifianakis and Downey Jr. remind us of a bickering Laurel & Hardy digging themselves out of another fine mess. And we're happy to be along for the ride.


Scheduled for November 25

Let Me In: UK/ US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Romance/ ThrillerA bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian. Chloë Grace Moretz (one of the nice things about the movie Kick-Ass; she played Hit Girl) stars as Abby, a mysterious 12-year-old who moves next door to Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a social outcast who is viciously bullied at school. In his loneliness, Owen forms a profound bond with his new neighbor, but he can't help noticing that Abby is decidedly weird! I’m really looking forward to this.

The original – Let the Right One In – is a terrific 2008 award-winning Swedish film, and just played here at Film Space. I love the original, and they’re saying the remake is terrific too! For sure, it’s got an exciting and intriguing trailer, which you can see here. Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence, language, and a brief sexual situation. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes: Similar to the original in all the right ways -- but with enough changes to stand on its own -- Let Me In is the rare Hollywood remake that doesn't add insult to inspiration.

The Social Network: US, Biography/ Drama/ History – 2 hrs – By David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, Panic Room). A terrific film in my opinion, though I think the main protagonist an ugly, amoral being who I would want to have nothing to do with. I think what comes off the worst in the film is Harvard University – including its president. Makes me feel rather happy I didn’t end up going there. Bunch of spoiled juvenile snobs! Anyway, the film is about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook, and the main instigator is the lowest of the low human beings, a person nobody would want to be friends with. Yet he founds a gigantic enterprise based on friendship! No, wait! It’s not friendship – it’s fake friendship! Well, that explains it. Reviews: Universal acclaim (based on 42 critics): 95/95 out of 100.

They thought this film was the one to beat at Academy Award time, until it opened to tepid response. Now the field seems to be wide open. But see this mesmerizing film for its portrayal of the type of person you apparently have to be to make it in the world of internet marketing. You won’t be pleased, but you will be gratified at some of the turn of events. Excellent performances, and a very unsettling one from the lead.

Studio synopsis: “On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history... but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.

What’s amusing is that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to be all that upset at the way he’s portrayed. He says that sure they had to exaggerate a bit to make it dramatic, but other than that, what’s the problem?

Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, The Social Network is a riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.

Unstoppable: US, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – Exciting thriller starring Denzel Washington taming a runaway train.

Movie City News, David Poland: It may be the most entertaining movie you will see this year.



* = Coming soon

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

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon." A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.

On Friday, November 19, 8 pm:  Travaux, on sait quand ça commence... / Housewarming (2005) by Brigitte Roüan – 95 mins – France/UK, Comedy. English subtitles.

With Carole Bouquet, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Aldo Maccione, Didier Flamand.

Chantal Letellier is a “wonderful woman.” She's a lawyer and she always wins her cases. In her professional life she's a heavyweight, but in her private life she's a pushover. She's divorced - and didn't even litigate - and is saddled with two teenage kids who are very well brought up in a bad kind of way. When it comes to love, think “desert” - she's got no time. But flesh is weak and one night she lets loose with a client. He falls madly in love with her and settles in. To get rid of him, she undertakes major renovations with the intention of making the house unlivable. To top it all, she employs a young Colombian architect, an immigrant worker whose illegal status she's just rectified. Eternally grateful, and taking advantage of the situation to spruce up his press-book, the architect gives her house an entire makeover with the help of illegal workers. She didn't request that much!

– Alliance description

Variety: Anyone who has ever had workmen over to remodel their home will instantly identify with Housewarming, a madcap, mile-a-minute French comedy starring Carole Bouquet as a liberal lawyer and single mom who hires Colombian immigrants to do the job. Good social intentions and high-spirited direction widen the appeal of this infectious, rather silly comedy. Brigitte Rouan certainly rolls out the laughs in a breezy, ironic film.

The lovely Chantal (Bouquet), who is introduced in her black counselor's robe literally dancing around the judges, is unbeatable in court. She marches in pro-immigrant demonstrations and takes on social cases, while cheerfully running a household with two teenagers. Everyone is in love with her, even her ex-husband. The only thing is, her upstairs apartment needs to be joined to a downstairs apartment with a staircase.

Choosing from her immigrant contacts, Chantal hires a motley crew of Colombians lead by a mad architect to do the work. They proceed to demolish the place. Through it all, Chantal remains optimistic -- until they accidentally set the building on fire. She fires them and rehires them and, surprisingly, all ends splendidly. Until the police come.

Rouan directs the unruly ensemble cast like a lion tamer, keeping the level of chaos high.

Original title quotes the wise old adage, "Remodeling: You know when it starts but not when it'll be over."

On Friday, November 26, 8 pm: Cause toujours! / Me and My Sister (2004) by Jeanne Labrune – 87 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles.

With Victoria Abril, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Sylvie Testud.

My first is a moth (exasperating)

My second is a mute (enigmatic)

My third is a house (worrying)

My all is a film, which takes the form of a fantasy, about mistrust and its contrary: trust.

– Alliance description

James Travers, Filmsdefrance: Summary

Whilst Jacinthe becomes obsessed with the insects which seem to be taking over her apartment, her best friend Léa takes an interest in an apparently dumb middle aged man who works in a supermarket. One day, whilst en route for a stay in the countryside, Léa sees the dumb man on a train and follows him to his home. Not having seen Léa for several days, Jacinthe becomes concerned for her safety…


Intended as the closing installment in a loose trilogy of films (the first two being Ça ira mieux demain (2000) and C'est le bouquet! (2002)) Cause toujours! is one of those gentle comedies which starts out well but just fails to take off. Part of the problem is that its writer/director Jeanne Labrune seems to have embarked on the project without a clear idea about where the story is heading, who the characters are, or indeed what kind of film it is. Consequently, the film feels listless and disjointed, a pot pourri of interesting but pretty random ideas. The numerous thriller references are clumsy and an unwelcome distraction, whilst the jokes are much too obvious to make you laugh. The film has a great cast who do what they can, but the lackluster script and aimless direction greatly diminishes its enjoyment value.


At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


November is “The Month of Mathematicsat 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, November 20, 7 pm:  Proof / {proof} (2005) by John Madden – 1 hr 40 mins – US, Drama An all-star cast consisting of Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Hope Davis. The story: The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician (recently deceased) tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father's ex-students who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs. Generally favorable reviews: 64/64 out of 100.

Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins give exceptional performances in a film that intelligently tackles the territory between madness and genius.

Roger Ebert: An extraordinary thriller about matters of scholarship and the heart, about the true authorship of a mathematical proof and the passions that coil around it. It is a rare movie that gets the tone of a university campus exactly right, and at the same time communicates so easily that you don't need to know the slightest thing about math to understand it. Take it from me. ...The film centers on two remarkable performances, by Gwyneth Paltrow and Hope Davis.

Film Threat, Phil Hall: Paltrow gives the performance of the year, and perhaps of her career, in this extraordinary and powerful dissection of genius, jealousy, madness, and serenity.

At Film Space Saturday, November 27, 7 pm:  The Professor and His Beloved Equation / Hakase no aishita sûshiki (2005) by Takashi Koizumi – 1 hr 57 mins – Japan, Drama/ Family/ Romance This is the story of a relationship between a single mother housekeeper, her ten-year-old son, and a brain-damaged mathematics professor.

A Nutshell Review, Dick Steel, Singapore: This is a very beautiful movie.

If Mathematics was never your choice subject in school, with the way the subject is presented in this movie, I'm sure it'll win some new fans over. The last time I can remember where Maths was used as a central plot device was in Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind, but here, it gains a lot more mileage than that Hollywood movie.

Borrowing a similar plot device to Memento, a Maths professor suffers from current memory loss, and can only remember events up until his accident. Everything else that is current lasts only 80 minutes, which is why he relies on little notes and his blackboards to remind himself of important current information each time he comes back to square one. A housekeeper is hired to look after him, and despite the trying times and unique circumstances, both of them manage to strike a deep friendship, through the help of mathematics - one who inspires, and the other who admires. The friendship develops further as the housekeeper's 10 year old son, nicknamed by the Professor "Root" for his square head, comes into the picture, and three of their lives become intertwined.



At the Gay Film Series


Next showing November 28, skipping the week of Loi Kratong. Showing will be Coffee Date (2006). Films with a gay theme shown generally every two weeks, with very limited seating, in a private home. Reservations a must to attend films in this series. To reserve: send email to:, mark in subject area “reserve” with the number in your party. For example, “Re: reserve 2.” A confirmation will be sent. To be placed on the mailing list for advance notice of movies just put in the subject line: “mailing list.”