French Cinema Week finishes up in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, February 10, 2011
… through Wednesday, February 16
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: The Fighter. The Next Three Days.
Extraordinary performances from
boxer Mark Wahlberg and trainer Christian Bale
This is Issue Number 15 of Volume 6 of these listings, in our sixth year!
The current festivals lineup:
French Cinema Week, Alliance Française: Running now, finishes tomorrow, Friday, Feb 11.
(Use slider on the right of the site to view film information.)
9th World Film Festival of Bangkok: Nov 4 to 13, 2011.
2nd Luang Prabang Film Festival in Luang Prabang: Dec 3 to 10, 2011.
[No Doi Saket Film Festival this year, but planned for 2012.]
Last week’s issue of this newsletter was the largest ever! Fully 22 pages in its written incarnation (which is available for reading at the two Bake & Bite locations). It’s too much. I was exhausted. And would you believe how long it took me to run down that rare picture of Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz? I’m thinking of running it again, just to stretch its utility a bit.
Last week’s South East Asian Film Festival was a rousing success, and had a couple of world-class films. For my money, the opening night’s film, Agrarian Utopia, was just about everything you could expect from a serious Thai film, showing all the strengths (and weakness) of Thai filmmaking. It’s doubtful if you could ever find a film that matches it in showing the strength and resilience as well as the lives of quiet desperation of the average rural Thai farm family. And it brings into focus the basic problems of Thailand with startling and heartbreaking clarity. A true classic and a true example of the power of film. And how the Thai penchant for slow takes, which is a weakness to some, is also the source of its uncommon strength. The surprisingly sold-out final film, Uncle Boonmee, was controversial, as to be expected, dividing audiences into those who thought “beautiful” and those who couldn’t wait to leave, and made an early exit.
Here is a list of the ten films nominated for best picture of the year for the Academy Award ceremony coming up on February 27, with notes as to whether we might see each here in Chiang Mai. We’ve already seen three. [The Oscar show is Feb 27 in the US, but Feb 28 early morning here in Thailand.]
“Black Swan” – now scheduled for Thailand on 24 Feb at Major Cineplex; don’t know about here.
“The Fighter” – opening in Chiang Mai today.
“Inception” – already played here.
“The Kids Are All Right” – not scheduled for Thailand yet.
“The King’s Speech” – Feb 3 only at APEX, Siam Square and SF World Cinema.
“127 Hours” – Now Mar 10 for Thailand.
“The Social Network” – already played here.
“Toy Story” – already played here.
“True Grit” – Feb 24 for Thailand.
“Winter’s Bone” – not scheduled for Thailand yet.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* The Rite: (Opened Monday, Feb 7) US, Drama/ Horror/ Thriller – 1 hr 52 mins – Anthony Hopkins is at his spooky best again as the filmmakers trot out the well-worn possessed/ exorcism/ priest scenario. If one can believe such things, this is “inspired by true events.” We follow a skeptical seminary student as he reluctantly attends exorcism school at the Vatican, and while in Rome, he meets an unorthodox priest (Hopkins) who introduces him to the darker side of his faith. The studio says: “A supernatural thriller that uncovers the Devil's reach to even one of the holiest places on Earth. Inspired by true events, the film follows seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Wearing his deep skepticism like armor, Michael challenges his superiors to look to psychiatry, rather than demons, in treating the possessed. Only when he's sent to apprentice with the unorthodox Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins)--a legendary priest who has performed thousands of exorcisms--does Michael's armor begin to fall. As he is drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas's skill, he begins to glimpse a phenomenon science can't explain or control...and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.” Directed by Mikael Håfström (1408). Generally unfavorable reviews: 38/41 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.)
* The Fighter: US, Biography/ Drama/ Sport – 1 hr 55 mins – Highly praised film nominated for a best-picture Oscar, best director, best supporting actor (Christian Bale), 2 best supporting actresses (Amy Adams and Melissa Leo), best original screenplay, best editing. 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, giving two outstanding performances. I found it riveting and rousing, and somewhat unpleasant. The boxing matches are the real thing. Rated R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100.
Mark Wahlberg’s ring sequences are the real thing, and need to be seen to be believed. This film is close to Wahlberg’s heart (he is one of the producers, waived his own salary, and took no upfront fee) and he began training for the role in 2005. Throughout the various production delays, Wahlberg continued to train every day so that he could be ready for filming. Filming finally began in July 2009, and what he does in the ring is very believable.
The unpleasantness comes from the family and to a lesser degree the members of the neighborhood, who are hardly admirable characters, living more like bickering animals than humans. I would have to take away from this film the lesson that devotion to one’s family can very often be the worst possible path one could take.
Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern: While the film handles itself well in the ring, it's brilliant in the arena of a blue-collar family that brutalizes its younger son and best hope for worldly success in the name of sustaining him.
New York Observer, Rex Reed: These are characters so repulsive that it's hard to care what happens to them, but it's to the credit of a superb cast that you do end up caring.
Roger Ebert: His family is spectacularly dysfunctional. Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), his half-brother, is the failed version of what Micky hopes to become: a poor kid from Lowell, Mass., who wins because of his ability to outlast savage punishment and finally land a winning blow.
Micky grew up hero-worshipping Dicky, who lost a lot of fights but allegedly knocked over Sugar Ray Leonard once upon a time. Then Dicky got hooked on crack, and now we see him as a goofy, scrawny guy with a Skeezix haircut, a cigarette behind his ear and an arm around his brother's shoulders. They're being filmed for an HBO documentary, which Dicky thinks is about his own unlikely comeback and everybody else knows is about his decline and fall. Crackheads sometimes get the two confused.
As the movie opens, Micky doggedly begins a series of defeats in bad matchups. Then his life changes when he meets a sweet-faced, tough-talking barmaid named Charlene (Amy Adams). She knows the neighborhood, knows the story and knows that Micky's problem is his family. His mother, Alice (Melissa Leo in a teeth-gratingly brilliant performance), sees both boys as performers in a long-running tribute to herself. She presides in a living room filled with her seven daughters, who smoke so much and use so much hairspray, they must be considered fire hazards.
When Micky gets a chance to train seriously in Vegas, Charlene more or less forces him to take it. When Dicky and Alice follow him out there, it's showdown time, and Charlene threatens to leave. But the movie is imprecise about how this plays out, and they're all at ringside at the end.
The weakness of the film is the weakness of the leading role. That's not a criticism of Mark Wahlberg, who has a quite capable range, but of how he and Russell see the character. Micky comes across as a proud, not very bright, very determined man who has apparently never given his family much constructive thought. To say of your family, “they're my family!” is true enough, but may not be sufficiently analytical. His love for Charlene is real, but he never quite realizes he really must choose between her vision and his mother's. His character remains strangely unfocused.
That's not the case with Dicky, Alice, and Charlene, and those characters are where the life is. Christian Bale, who has played Batman and John Connor in Terminator, and for Werner Herzog played a man who survived in the jungles of Laos, so successfully transforms himself that you foresee a career as a cutup in the “Jackass” movies. Melissa Leo (Frozen River) is merciless in her depiction of Alice; steering her son to failure is more rewarding than having him succeed on his own. She's one of those women, you know the type, who likes the way she looks posing with a freshly lit cigarette. And look at Amy Adams, our beloved Junebug and the nun in Doubt, who is clear-headed and has a strong will and tries to lend those qualities to the man she loves.
There are a lot of fight scenes, not as visceral as those in Raging Bull, Rocky or The Wrestler, but designed more to represent the POV of a sportswriter or fan. Because we aren't deeply invested in Micky, we don't care as much as we should, and the film ends on a note that should be triumph but feels more like simple conclusion.
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
* No Strings Attached: US, Comedy/ Romance – 1 hr 48 mins – To gauge from the previews, this film is likely to get the blatant smut award of the year, but at least the raunch is clever and cheerful. A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more.The studio puts it this way: “In this comedy, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. In order... In this comedy, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. In order to protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly "no strings attached." "No strings" means no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, no baby voices. It means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever public place they want, as long as they don't fall in love. The questions become - Can you have sex without love getting in the way? And can their friendship survive?” Rated R in the US for sexual content, language, and some drug material – but only rated 15+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews: 51/53 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: It benefits from the presence of Natalie Portman and director Ivan Reitman's steady hand, but No Strings Attached doesn't have the courage or conviction to follow through on its ribald premise.
The Green Hornet 3D: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime – 1 hr 59 mins – A strange piece, designed to be nothing but a thoughtless piece of fluff. As
such, it’s okay. Seth Rogen as the Hornet is an unlikely and uncomfortable super-hero, and almost unlikeable. Cameron Diaz is the romantic interest, but the unrestrained pleasure is the arch-villain played by Christoph Waltz, the Austrian actor who took the film world by storm by his marvelous portrayal of a Nazi officer in Inglourious Basterds. Of special interest to Asians is the role of the hero’s sidekick Cato, played by Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou. He acquits himself well in this – his slight acting skills and his shaky use of English is underplayed, and to cover we are served a number of funny sight gags and some impressive martial arts. If you approach it with a relaxed frame-of-mind, you should find it entertaining enough. Generally unfavorable reviews: 39/45 out of 100. Shown in 3D and in 2D at Major Cineplex, Airport Plaza; 2D only at Vista.
Miami Herald, Rene Rodriguez: The Green Hornet — the saga of Britt Reid, a newspaper publisher by day and masked hero by night who battles baddies with his Asian sidekick Kato — has been around for almost a century: radio show in the 1930s, film serial in the 1940s and TV series in the 1960s. All of those incarnations played the crime fighter straight, but director Michel Gondry’s big-screen revival takes the material in a radically different direction. This Hornet is a big, boisterous action-comedy — a funny, exciting, and intentionally goofy summer movie that just happens to arrive in the middle of January.
Rotund funnyman Seth Rogen, who wrote the screenplay with his frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg (they also wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express), initially seemed odd casting for the role of the Bruce Wayne-ish Britt, a wealthy playboy who uses his fortune to build impossible gadgets and cars. But Rogen knows how to write parts for himself that make the best use of his talents — he’s perfect as the unlikely, mostly hapless hero — and Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind), an equally unexpected choice to direct such pulpy material, latches onto Rogen’s sense of humor. Beginning with the opening scene, The Green Hornet strikes a deft balance of comedy and comic-book shenanigans that never wavers. The characters take what is happening seriously, but the movie doesn’t. Gondry doesn’t strive for camp or spoof, either of which would have instantly killed the movie’s buzz. But the picture always keeps the funny coming, even when people are being killed in nasty ways. The tone is strongly reminiscent of the satirical kick in Kick-Ass, minus the R-rated gore and language (this is an exceptionally kid-friendly movie).
The key to its success isn’t Rogen, who has played this sort of likable doofus before, but Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou, who makes his English-language debut as Kato, a martial-arts expert, mechanical whiz, and barista extraordinaire. Chou recites his dialogue phonetically, the way Bruce Lee (who is paid clever homage here) did on the TV show, and his athletic prowess and unaffected performance — he acts as if he were unaware he is starring in a comedy — keep The Green Hornet from tipping over into complete idiocy. He’s a perfect foil for Rogen — the movie is at its best when the two are on their own — and Gondry gives Chou almost all of the film’s big action set pieces and special effects, for good reason: Without Kato, the Green Hornet would just be a guy with an outrageously souped-up car (specifically, a tricked-out Chrysler Imperial, which makes the Batmobile look like a Yugo).
Washington Post, Dan Kois: Rogen and Jay Chou, the charismatic Taiwanese pop star who plays Britt's partner, Kato, have real chemistry. The movie somehow manages not to marginalize or insult Kato, a character who in the early "Hornet" radio serials was something of an offensive Asian caricature. In fact, Kato's often the best part of the movie. Britt calls him a "human Swiss army knife," and he's right; Kato is not a sidekick, but a fully formed hero who's full of surprises. And the gadgets he develops for the Hornet's sweet ride (a souped-up '65 Chrysler Imperial) are pretty sweet.
Teng Nong Jiwon Bin / เท่งโหน่งจีวรบิน: Thai, Action/ Comedy – 1 hr 45 mins – Standard Thai comedy fare, but it seems to be tickling all the right funnybones, because it’s number one at the box office, and a smash hit. It’s the third entry in the Teng Nong/ Nong Teng franchise and this one is about a pilgrim and a wealthy jeweller whose destiny has brought them to meet on a plane, where they encounter some very unexpected events. The formula for your run-of-the-mill Thai comedy – of which this looks to be a prime example – seems to be: Assemble a cast of popular TV and cafe comics, have a grain of an idea for a plot or a genre (horror, romance, or farcical action, or all three), and then say "action!”
Wise Kwai: The movies all look about the same, with the usual cast of comedians who seem to appear in every comedy film.
The Next Three Days: US/ France, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 2 hrs 2 mins – I enjoyed this; it was a nice puzzler. A woman is arrested for murdering her boss with whom she had a public argument. She was seen leaving the scene of the crime and her fingerprints were on the murder weapon. Her husband spends the next few years trying to get her released but there's no evidence that negates the evidence against her. When the strain of being separated from her family – especially her son – gets too much for her, John decides to break her out. Directed by Paul Haggis (Crash), and starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, and Liam Neeson. Mixed or average reviews: 52/58 out of 100.
Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwarzbaum: The Next Three Days follows an ordinary guy named John (Russell Crowe) as he executes a wildly complicated plan to spring his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), from prison, where she has been locked up for a murder she says she didn't commit. Jailbreaking is not John's forte — he's a community-college professor in Pittsburgh and he drives a Prius. But all judicial appeals have failed, and the couple's young son is so very sad. So, spurred by love, despair, and belief in his wife's innocence, John turns to desperate measures. First, however, he does some Internet homework that leads him to Damon (Liam Neeson), an ex-con-turned-author who provides expert advice on the art of escape.
Damon's how-to-break-the-law lesson — as ludicrous as anything else in this enjoyably zigzaggy exercise in accumulating peril — grants Neeson the fun of experimenting with an American ex-con accent for his one scene. It also sets up the movie's real strength, which is generating escalating waves of plot tension and misdirection as John, heeding advice, makes his jail-busting moves. Writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash), who adapted The Next Three Days from a 2008 French thriller, Pour Elle, clearly has Alfred Hitchcock's wrong-man-in-wrong-place psychological archetype in mind as John weaves all over Pittsburgh. Lara, for her part, has no idea of her husband's plan — the usually sunnier Banks is an interesting, counterintuitive casting choice — and when she finds out, she adds her own complications. Soon the chase becomes its own perpetual-motion machine, one that ticks down to the last second.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie: A wakening of the Trailblazer / Gekijouban Kidou senshi Gandamu 00: A wakening of the trailblazer / 劇場版 機動戦士ガンダム00: Japan, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi – 2 hrs 1 min – An animated movie continuing events chronicled in a two-year TV series, 50 episodes, shown on Japanese television 2007-2009. But the amazingly complicated and detailed Gundam world goes back to an original 1979 series, and the overarching story has been told in TV, movies, music, manga, novels, and video games, and products that can be purchased related to the franchise are seemingly endless, including immensely popular plastic figurines of the characters. It is a more than 50 billion yen a year franchise. “Gundam” refers to a sort of mechanized, heavily armed robot called a “Mobile Suit.” Only at Vista, in Japanese, and with Thai (not English) subtitles.
Shaolin / New Shaolin Temple / เส้าหลิน 2 ใหญ่ / 新少林寺: Hong Kong/ China, Action/ Drama/ Comedy – 2 hrs 11 mins – A story of Shaolin monks who protect and shelter civilians during war, this is a beautifully photographed, finely acted big budget spectacle that doesn't rely on star power and action to deliver the goods, but actually is a thinking man's film on the philosophical aspects of Buddhism. Unfortunately, it’s shown in Thailand only in a Thai-dubbed version. Starring Jackie Chan and Andy Lau. Now at Vista only.
Meet the Parents: Little Fockers: US, Comedy – 1 hr 38 mins – No, just joking! It’s gone now, and you can breathe a sigh of relief! I do hope you didn’t meet the parents, just like I didn’t.
... and looking forward
Feb 24: Black Swan: (Feb 24 is now advertised as the release date for Thailand, but for Chiang Mai? Very uncertain) US, Drama/ Romance/ Thriller – 1 hr 48 mins – Follows the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Nominated for best picture of the year, best direction, best actress (Natalie Portman), best cinematography (Matthew Libatique), and editing. Rated R in the US for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language, and some drug use. Generally favorable reviews: 79/82 out of 100.
* = Coming soon (hopefully)
AF = Alliance Française FS = Film Space
French Cinema Week
The Alliance Française of Chiang Mai is sponsoring a French Cinema Week to be held at their location from February 7 to 11 presenting a program of five French films: "Welcome" directed by Philippe Lioret, "Trouble at Timpeltill" directed by Nicolas Bary, "The Princess of the Sun" directed by Philippe Leclerc, "Baby Love" directed by Vincent Garenq, "The Secret of the grain" directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. All films will be screened in their original version with English subtitles. The Alliance Française is located at 138 Charoen Prathet Road, directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel.
Admission is free to the series.
Thursday February 10th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M.
by Vincent Garenq
With Lambert Wilson, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Pascal Elbé, Anne Brochet, Andrée Damant, Florence Darel, Marc Duret
Romantic comedy / 2008 / 1h33 mn
Manu, a gay pediatrician in his forties, would be perfectly happy if he could adopt a child and bring him or her up with his partner, Philippe, a lawyer. Where the shoe pinches is that Philippe is pleased with his present life and will not have it spoiled by the invading presence of a baby. Manu is however single-minded about finding a surrogate mother, willing to give him the child he craves. Fina, an Argentine beauty trying to get a job, but held back because of her lack of immigrant papers, might do the job for him in exchange for a marriage of convenience.
Friday February 11th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:40 P.M.
The Secret of the Grain / La graine et le mulet / Couscous (2007) By Abdellatif Kechiche – 2 hrs 31 mins – France, Drama. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83/77 out of 100.
With Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Faridah Benkhetache, Abdelhamid Aktouche, Bouraouïa Marzouk, Cyril Favre.
At the port of Sète, Mr. Beiji, a tired 60-year-old, drags himself toward a shipyard job that has become more and more difficult to cope with as the years go by. He is a divorced father who forces himself to stay close to his family despite the tensions that are easily sparked off and that financial difficulties make even more intense. He wants to escape from it all and set up his own restaurant. Thanks to its ingeniousness and hard work, this dream soon becomes a reality...or almost....
- Festival Description
The New York Times, A. O. Scott: Director Abdellatif Kechiche started out as an actor and has established himself, after directing three features (La Faute à Voltaire and L’Esquive before this one), as one of the most vital and interesting filmmakers working in France today. In The Secret of the Grain he immerses us in the hectic, tender, sometimes painful details of work and domesticity. The camera bobs and fidgets in crowded rooms full of noisy people, so that your senses are flooded with the warmth and stickiness of Slimane and Souad’s family circle. The scenes, though they feel improvised, at times almost accidentally recorded, have a syncopated authenticity for which the sturdy old word realism seems inadequate.
Not many directors would linger so long, for example, over a toilet-training-related battle of wills between a mother and her 2-year-old, and then pause later to observe a discussion of the same subject among a group of adults at a party. But when Mr. Kechiche does just that, you may wonder why so few have bothered before. After all, the messy particulars of child rearing preoccupy every family in every culture and provide an inexhaustible vein of humor, anxiety and contention.
And the richness of The Secret of the Grain — the secret, as it were, of its deep and complex flavor — lies in the close, tireless, enthusiastic attention it pays to the most mundane daily tasks, especially those involving food.
The depth of Mr. Kechiche’s humanism and his subtle insights into the political dimensions of ordinary experience link his film to the great works of late-period Neo-Realism, even if his anarchic methods have more in common with those of a post-’60s skeptical realist like Mike Leigh than with the old Italian masters. “The Secret of the Grain” is in some ways the descendant of a movie like “Rocco and His Brothers,” Luchino Visconti’s long, gloriously novelistic 1960 melodrama about a family of migrants that travels from southern Italy to work in the factories of the north.
In the background of The Secret of the Grain is a similar migration that began in the 1960s, when men and women like Slimane and Souad left the newly liberated North African French colonies to seek their fortunes in metropolitan France, a country they regarded as both benefactor and oppressor. In the decades since, France has reluctantly claimed them and their children as citizens, even as it has stigmatized and marginalized them, and this mutual ambivalence is the implicit subject of this movie and its unstated context. (Mr. Kechiche was born in Tunis in 1960.)
But as he did in L’Esquive, in which the exalted idiom of Classical French literature collided and commingled with the polyglot vernacular of the modern French suburbs, Mr. Kechiche declines to dole out obvious, easily assimilated lessons.
Life is just too complicated, too unpredictable, too hard, and too fascinating. Even as Slimane’s story is one of frustration and unfulfilled ambition — after his hours at the shipyard are cut back, he pursues the quixotic dream of converting an abandoned boat into a dockside couscous restaurant — The Secret of the Grain bursts with exuberance and irrepressible sensuality. This is mostly thanks to the women in the movie, who through charm, guile and sheer force of will turn the austere fable of their melancholy paterfamilias into a party. It is not that they are naturally carefree but rather that their cares are so tightly woven into their lives that the only practical alternative to despair is an unruly, militant joy. ...
An entire family chronicle, along with four decades of French social and economic history, is recapitulated as a lavish, hectic dinner, complete with music and belly dancing. It will leave you stunned and sated, having savored an intimate and sumptuous epic of elation and defeat, jealousy and tenderness, life and death, grain and fish.
Boston Globe, Wesley Morris: Takes one man, his children, their spouses and babies, his ex-wife, his girlfriend, her daughter, and his friends and turns it all into a masterpiece about the strange power of food - to heal, unite, exasperate.
Roger Ebert: A life-filled portrait of a big family of first-generation immigrants in a shabby French port city, a family that nourishes love, jealousy, discouragement, ambition, and a whole lot of dining and talking..
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.
Next regular showing will be on Friday, February 25: 13 m² / 13m2 (2007) by Barthélémy Grossmann – 84 mins – France Crime/ Drama/ Thriller. Black and white. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 82 out of 100.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
February is “The Month of Musical” 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, February 12, 7 pm: Across the Universe (2007) by Julie Taymor – 2 hrs 13 mins – US, Adventure/ Drama/ Musical. A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. It’s a love story set against the backdrop of the 1960s amid the turbulent years of antiwar protest, mind exploration, and rock and roll. The film moves from the dockyards of Liverpool and the creative psychedelia of Greenwich Village to the riot-torn streets of Detroit and the killing fields of Vietnam. The star-crossed lovers, Jude and Lucy are swept up into the emerging antiwar-counterculture movements. They are also joined by a small group of friends and musicians, with "Dr. Robert" and "Mr. Kite" as their guides. Tumultuous forces outside their control ultimately tear the young lovers apart, forcing Jude and Lucy--against all odds--to find their own way back to each other. Directed by Julie Taymor, and it’s a bold, beautiful, visually enchanting musical. Mixed or average reviews: 56/58 out of 100.
At Film Space Saturday, February 19, 7 pm: Purple Rain (1984) by Albert Magnoli – 1 hr 51 mins – US, Drama/ Musical/ Romance. Prince stars as 'the Kid' in this semi-autobiographical film of a talented but narcissistic young musician who has a less then stellar home life. He meets an aspiring singer, Apollonia, and finds that talent alone isn't all that he needs. A complicated tale then ensues of his repeating his father's self destructive behavior, his losing Apollonia to another singer, and his coming to grips with his own connection to other people – especially his parents. Rated R in the US for[See Full Rating] adult situations, language, nudity, and violence. Mixed or average reviews: 56/58 out of 100.
Variety, Cynthia Kirk: Playing a character rooted in his own background, and surrounded by the real-life members of his Minneapolis-based musical 'family,' rock star Prince makes an impressive feature film debut in Purple Rain, a rousing contemporary addition to the classic backstage musical genre.
At American Corner at 12 noon
At CMU Library most Mon, Wed, and Thu at noon
A series of mostly recent films of interest to Americans is presented at the “American Corner” in the Mini-Theatre Room, CMU Library, New Building, Floor 3 (open 12:00 noon to 2:30 pm). Shown some weekdays at noon – mostly Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Below is their announcement for the February events.
American Corners are one-stop centers for information and culture from the United States. They are partnerships between the U.S. Embassy in Thailand and host institutions, in this case Chiang Mai University.