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Let's Go To The Movies  by Mark Gernpy

 
 

Now playing in Chiang Mai through August 8.

Total Recall:  US/ Canada, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – This is a remake of the 1990 science fiction film which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. This one stars Colin Farrell, with Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, directed by Len Wiseman. It’s set in 2084, and unlike the original contains no trip to Mars. The plot involves a factory worker who suffers from violent nightmares, and takes advantage of the services of a corporation that provides its clients with implanted artificial memories of the lives they would like to have. Too soon for reviews. In Digital 2D (English) at both locations, and Vista also has a regular 2D version that’s Thai-dubbed.

Echo Planet: Thai, Animation/ Family – A Thai animated feature by the studio that gave us the hit cartoon Khan Kluay six years ago. It’s about three youngsters determined to save the world from global warming, and how traditional folk wisdom can do more to tackle world-wide problems than high-tech devices. In both 3D and 2D at Airport Plaza, with English subtitles. Not playing at Vista.

Step Up 4 / Step Up Revolution:  US, Drama/ Music/ Romance – If you like the Step Up films, there's no reason you won't enjoy this one. The dance sequences are lively and spectacular, and the 3D is great. There is something endearing about this series that separates them from other dance flicks. Most importantly, they don't take themselves seriously. Their predictable and moronic story lines are simply an excuse to showcase some mad dance moves that you'll never get to see in real life. These films know that they aren't high art, and simply enjoy themselves. Mixed or average reviews, but on the low side. In 3D (English) and Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza; regular 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

Seven Something / Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Three love stories from three generations, designed to celebrate the seventh year of the film studio GTH, home of many Thai hits, starting with the 2003 childhood romance Fan Chan (My Girl), one of my most favorite of all Thai films. Thai-only at Vista; English subtitles at Major.

The first story, directed by Paween Purijitpanya, and starring Jirayu La-ongmanee and Suthata Udomsilp, is about romance at the age of 14. Director Paween is responsible for the well-regarded horror thriller Body #19 and contributed to the hit horror compilations Phobia and Phobia 2. The young actor Jirayu was in last year's hit rock 'n' roll romance SuckSeed while Suthata was in another big GTH hit from last year, the psychological thriller Laddaland.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, about a celebrity couple (Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang) breaking up when they are 21 and reuniting at age 28. Adisorn is one of the six directors of Fan Chan and also directed and co-wrote the hit romance Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story.

Jira Maligool directs the third part, which features Nichkhun Horvejkul from the Korean boyband 2PM and newscaster Suquan Bulakul in a story about a woman marathon runner going through a crisis at age 42. Director Jira is a co-founder of the studio, and this marks his return to directing for the first time since 2005's historical drama The Tin Mine – considered a flop apparently, but a film I enjoyed greatly in two viewings.

The Dark Knight Rises: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – If you at all enjoyed the first two in this series, you will enjoy this one too. All in all, it’s a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the series, with much to commend it.

And yet ... in a way it’s altogether fitting that the shootings in Colorado took place at a midnight showing of this film, for this is without doubt one of the darkest mainstream films ever made, with an unrelieved depiction of the worst of human behavior, with motives of simple power and sadism. Even though the film is rated “G”, the dark is so unrelieved that it really makes me question whether I can consider it entertainment – for me. At the moment, I think it is not.

It is well made, there are fine performances, the movie craft in every department is superb. It’s directed again by Christopher Nolan, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, and Morgan Freeman. Christopher Nolan co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan. It’s intended to be the conclusion of the series. The movie was shot in 2D on film, which the director prefers for its photographic qualities which he finds superior in so many ways to digital, with about half of it shot in IMAX format for added detail, but again using film not digital capture. Apparently, from all reports, the IMAX half is so impressive to watch that it’s worth traveling to Bangkok to see it at the one IMAX theatre showing it on film.  

It’s 2 hrs 45 mins long. Generally favorable reviews. The director strongly insists that the movie be shown using film, not digital, and it was previously shown in film format at Airport Plaza. Now, however, it seems to be shown in Digital 2D, completely contrary to the filmmakers’ wishes. Vista is showing the film version (Thai-dubbed). 


Now playing in Chiang Mai through August 1.

Step Up 4 / Step Up Revolution:  US, Drama/ Music/ Romance – If you like the Step Up films, there's no reason you won't enjoy this one. The dance sequences are lively and spectacular, and the 3D is great. There is something endearing about this series that separates them from other dance flicks. Most importantly, they don't take themselves seriously. Their predictable and moronic story lines are simply an excuse to showcase some mad dance moves that you'll never get to see in real life. These films know that they aren't high art, and simply enjoy themselves. Mixed or average reviews, but on the low side. In 3D (English) and Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza; not at Vista.

Seven Something / Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Three love stories from three generations, designed to celebrate the seventh year of the film studio GTH, home of many Thai hits, starting with the 2003 childhood romance Fan Chan (My Girl), one of my most favorite of all Thai films. Thai-only at Vista; English subtitles at Major.

The first story, directed by Paween Purijitpanya, and starring Jirayu La-ongmanee and Suthata Udomsilp, is about romance at the age of 14. Director Paween is responsible for the well-regarded horror thriller Body #19 and contributed to the hit horror compilations Phobia and Phobia 2. The young actor Jirayu was in last year's hit rock 'n' roll romance SuckSeed while Suthata was in another big GTH hit from last year, the psychological thriller Laddaland.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, about a celebrity couple (Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang) breaking up when they are 21 and reuniting at age 28. Adisorn is one of the six directors of Fan Chan and also directed and co-wrote the hit romance Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story.

Jira Maligool directs the third part, which features Nichkhun Horvejkul from the Korean boyband 2PM and newscaster Suquan Bulakul in a story about a woman marathon runner going through a crisis at age 42. Director Jira is a co-founder of the studio, and this marks his return to directing for the first time since 2005's historical drama The Tin Mine – considered a flop apparently, but a film I enjoyed greatly in two viewings.

The Dark Knight Rises: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – If you at all enjoyed the first two in this series, you will enjoy this one too. All in all, it’s a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the series, with much to commend it.

And yet ... in a way it’s altogether fitting that the shootings in Colorado took place at a midnight showing of this film, for this is without doubt one of the darkest mainstream films ever made, with an unrelieved depiction of the worst of human behavior, with motives of simple power and sadism. Even though the film is rated “G”, the dark is so unrelieved that it really makes me question whether I can consider it entertainment – for me. At the moment, I think it is not.

It is well made, there are fine performances, the movie craft in every department is superb. It’s directed again by Christopher Nolan, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, and Morgan Freeman. Christopher Nolan co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan. It’s intended to be the conclusion of the series. The movie was shot in 2D on film, which the director prefers for its photographic qualities which he finds superior in so many ways to digital, with about half of it shot in IMAX format for added detail, but again using film not digital capture. Apparently, from all reports, the IMAX half is so impressive to watch that it’s worth traveling to Bangkok to see it at the one IMAX theatre showing it on film.  

It’s 2 hrs 45 mins long. Generally favorable reviews. The director strongly insists that the movie be shown using film, not digital, and it was shown in film format last week at Airport Plaza. This week, however, it seems to be shown in Digital 2D, completely contrary to the filmmakers’ wishes. Vista is showing both versions:  the film version is Thai dubbed, but the English version comes on digital media.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift:  US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – One of filmdom's most beloved trios – Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the sabre-toothed cat – embark upon a great adventure after a cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world. Meanwhile, Scrat continues to chase his elusive acorn. Mixed or average reviews, saying that the visually inventive film has moments of charm and witty slapstick, and the 3D looks terrific. For some unaccountable reason, it is no longer being shown in 3D at Airport Plaza but only 2D (English), a real shame. In Digital 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista. Very good family fare.

The Dictator: US, Comedy – This newest film by that crazy actor/ screenwriter Sacha Baron Cohen is scripted rather than the sort-of-documentary performances of his previous Bruno and Borat, and I feel a lot more comfortable as a result. The making of fools out of people in real interviews which was so much the style of the previous films made me feel very uncomfortable and sort of slimy. This is much more a regular script, and is indeed very funny. Here a dictator goes to any lengths to prevent democracy from taking root in the country he so lovingly oppresses. Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, and Ben Kingsley. Rated R in the US for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language, and some violent images; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. In Digital 2D (English), only at Airport Plaza, and usually only once a day.

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – I think it’s good, with some fine work in it, an intelligible story, and excellent special effects. I found myself cool to it overall, and I don’t know why. This time Peter Parker is played by the quite amazing Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), who makes a tremendously appealing hero for me. Although he’s way too old to be in high school, he does manage to pull it off. Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Generally highly favorable reviews. Now shown only in regular 2D (Thai-dubbed), and only at Vista. 


Now playing in Chiang Mai through July 25

The Dark Knight Rises: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – To gauge whether this film is for you is easy: If you at all enjoyed the first two in this series, you will enjoy this one too. All in all, it’s a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the series, with much to commend it.

But ... in a way it’s altogether fitting that the shootings in Colorado took place at a midnight showing of this film, for it is without doubt one of the darkest mainstream films ever, with an unrelieved depiction of the worst of human behavior, with motives of simple power and sadism. The dark is so unrelieved that it really makes me question whether I can consider it entertainment – for me. At the moment, I think it is not.

It is well made, there are fine performances, the movie craft is superb. It’s directed again by Christopher Nolan, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, and Morgan Freeman. Christopher Nolan co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan and the story with David S. Goyer. It’s intended to be the conclusion of the series. The movie was shot in 2D on film, which the director prefers for its photographic qualities which he finds superior in so many ways to digital, with about half of it shot in IMAX format for added detail, but again using film not digital capture. Apparently, from all reports, the IMAX half is so impressive to watch that it’s worth traveling to Bangkok to see it at the one IMAX theatre showing it on film. (By the way, there’s talk of an IMAX cinema in Chiang Mai in the not too-distant future.)

It’s 2 hrs 45 mins long. Generally favorable reviews. The director strongly insists that the movie be shown using film, not digital, and it is in film format at Airport Plaza. At Vista, the film version is Thai dubbed, but the English version comes on digital media. This, assuming of course that the screenings haven’t been curtailed after the horrible events at the midnight showing in Colorado.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – One of filmdom's most beloved trios – Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the sabre-toothed cat – embark upon a great adventure after a cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world. Meanwhile, Scrat continues to chase his elusive acorn. Mixed or average reviews, saying that the visually inventive film has moments of charm and witty slapstick, and the 3D looks terrific. In 3D (English) and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Airport Plaza; Digital 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista. Very good family fare.

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – I think it’s good, with some fine work in it, an intelligible story, and excellent special effects. I found myself cool to it overall, and I don’t know why. This time Peter Parker is played by the quite amazing Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), who makes a tremendously appealing hero for me. Although he’s hilariously too old to be in high school, he pulls it off. He plays an outcast who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Generally highly favorable reviews. Now in Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza; regular 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

Magic Mike: US, Comedy/ Drama – Really more of a chick-flick rather than anything else, despite what you might think. Mike, an experienced male stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money. Relentlessly aimed for a female audience. Stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Olivia Munn; directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rated R in the US for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language, and some drug use; 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews, saying the film has excellent direction, a smart screenplay, and strong performances. In regular 2D (English), and only at Vista.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A film that desecrates history in its pretense to explore the supposedly secret life of one of the greatest presidents of the US. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and the well-known and knowledgeable vampire director Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted and the Night Watch/ Day Watch vampire studies) combine forces to wallow in the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead. Starring the extraordinarily talented Benjamin Walker (as Lincoln), Rufus Sewell, and Dominic Cooper. Mixed or average reviews, saying generally that it has superb visual style, but that the mashup of genres don’t jell in a coherent way, and the result is not satisfying. Rated R in the US for violence throughout and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand. Now only at Vista, in 2D (Thai-dubbed).

The Dictator: US, Comedy – This newest film by your favorite crazy actor/ screenwriter Sacha Baron Cohen is scripted rather than the sort-of-documentary performances of his previous Bruno and Borat, and I feel a lot more comfortable as a result. The making of fools out of people in real interviews which was so much the style of the previous films made me feel very uncomfortable and sort of slimy. This is much more a regular script, and is indeed very funny. Here a dictator goes to any lengths to prevent democracy from taking root in the country he so lovingly oppresses. Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, and Ben Kingsley. Rated R in the US for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language, and some violent images; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. In Digital 2D (English), and only at Airport Plaza.

Wong Jorn Pid / Heaven and Hell: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – An omnibus horror movie comprising three supernatural stories, all involving footage “found” in three security cameras: one in a broken-down elevator, one in a convenience store, and one in a creepy old house. Rated 18+. Thai-only at Vista; English subtitles at Major.

The Three Stooges: US, Comedy – Written and directed as a labor of love by the Farrelly brothers, the film consists of slapstick comedy based on the early to mid-20th century shorts by the comedic trio. The Farrellys said that their intention was not to do a biopic or remake, but instead create new Three Stooges episodes set in the present day. The film is divided into three stand-alone stories, each 27 minutes long. There was over a decade of casting problems before shooting actually started. Ah, times have changed: at the end of the movie the “directors” appear to explain to the kids in the audience how the slapstick (including the famous eye poke) is faked, by professionals, and urging them not to try that stuff at home. Mixed or average reviews, saying that the directors take physical comedy to levels of intricacy not seen since silent movies. In English with Thai subtitles, and only at Vista.


Now playing in Chiang Mai through July 18.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A film that desecrates history in its pretense to explore the supposedly secret life of one of the greatest presidents of the US. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and the well-known and knowledgeable vampire director Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted and the Night Watch/ Day Watch vampire studies) bring a visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead. Starring Benjamin Walker (as Lincoln), Rufus Sewell, and Dominic Cooper. Mixed or average reviews, saying generally that it has superb visual style, but that the mashup of genres don’t jell in a coherent way, and the result is not satisfying. Rated R in the US for violence throughout and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand. In 3D (English) at Airport Plaza; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

It stars the extraordinarily talented Benjamin Walker as Lincoln. His performance in the acclaimed off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was a stage sensation which seemed to prove the proposition that the American public chooses their presidents the way they choose their rock stars: on sexiness. Here he brings immense presence to the role of Lincoln.

I find it an extremely irritating, exasperating film, because at heart it is so ridiculous. “My name is Abraham. Abraham Lincoln.” “My name is Mary Todd.” “My name is Stephen A. Douglas!” (Laughter in the audience.) But instead of poking fun at itself, it takes itself seriously, and shows us some truly exceptional filmmaking, undercut by the ridiculousness of its premise. It’s marvelous in establishing time and place with historical accuracy and a sense of wonder (New Orleans, Gettysburg). There are near-epic battlefield scenes. People are engaged in earth-shattering true-life subjects: the Civil War, fights for and against slavery, the terrible wastefulness of war. There are beautifully atmospheric sets and authentic costumes, and action pieces of tremendous excitement. All undercut by the intrusion of vampires into the mix, trivializing all the great themes, making a mockery of burning issues in the history of the United States, and ultimately dishonoring the dead who fought for their beliefs.

Magic Mike: US, Comedy/ Drama – Mike, an experienced male stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money. Stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Olivia Munn; directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rated R in the US for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language, and some drug use; 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews, saying the film has excellent direction, a smart screenplay, and strong performances. In Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, regular 2D (English) at Vista.

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – I think it’s good, with some fine work in it, an intelligible story, excellent special effects, the 3D used to extraordinarily good effect. And I find that Andrew Garfield makes a tremendously appealing hero. That said, I found myself cool to it overall, and I don’t know why. I do know that was irritated by the music, but mark that down to simply my tastes; and I thought the 3D came across as way too dark. Since I haven’t read of any complaints about the film being too dark, I can only assume that it was the fault of the particular projectionist when I saw it – a common enough occurrence, unfortunately.

This time Peter Parker is played by the quite amazing Andrew Garfield (The Social Network). Although he’s hilariously too old to be in high school, he pulls it off. He’s an outcast who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Generally highly favorable reviews. Now in Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza; regular 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

The Dictator: US, Comedy – This newest film by your favorite crazy actor/ screenwriter Sacha Baron Cohen is scripted rather than the sort-of-documentary performances of his previous Bruno and Borat, and I feel a lot more comfortable as a result. The making of fools out of people in real interviews which was so much the style of the previous films made me feel very uncomfortable and sort of slimy. This is much more a regular script, and is indeed very funny. Here a dictator goes to any lengths to prevent democracy from taking root in the country he so lovingly oppresses. Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, and Ben Kingsley. Rated R in the US for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language, and some violent images; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. In Digital 2D (English), and only at Airport Plaza.

Wong Jorn Pid / Heaven and Hell: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – An omnibus horror movie comprising three supernatural stories, all involving footage “found” in three security cameras: one in a broken-down elevator, one in a convenience store, and one in a creepy old house. Rated 18+. Thai-only at Vista; English subtitles at Major.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – One of filmdom’s most beloved trios – Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the sabre-toothed cat – embark upon a great adventure after a cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world. Meanwhile, Scrat continues to chase his elusive acorn. Mixed or average reviews, saying that the visually inventive film has moments of charm and witty slapstick, and the 3D looks terrific. In 3D (English) and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Airport Plaza; Digital 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista. Very good family fare.

The Three Stooges: US, Comedy – Written and directed as a labor of love by the Farrelly brothers, the film consists of slapstick comedy based on the early to mid-20th century shorts by the comedic trio. The Farrellys said that their intention was not to do a biopic or remake, but instead new Three Stooges episodes set in the present day. The film is divided into three segments with a stand-alone story, each being 27 minutes long. There was over a decade of casting problems before shooting actually started. Times have changed: at the end of the movie the “directors” appear to explain to the kids in the audience how the slapstick (including the eye poke) is faked, by professionals, and urging them not to try that stuff at home. Mixed or average reviews, saying that the directors take physical comedy to levels of intricacy not seen since silent movies. In English with Thai subtitles, and only at Vista.


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]]

Now playing in Chiang Mai through August 8.

Now playing in Chiang Mai through August 1.

Now playing in Chiang Mai through July 25

Now playing in Chiang Mai through July 18.