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Let's Go To The Movies  by Mark Gernpy

 
 

Now playing in Chiang Mai through September 12.

Chapter of Jan Dara: Thai, Drama/ Erotic – Based on the most controversial novel in all of Thai literature (written in 1966), Jan Dara tells the story of a young man who moves into adulthood with terrible burdens thrown upon him in his youth. His mother died while giving birth to him, causing his father to resent him deeply. By the time he was 13, he was kicked out of his house, accused of a rape he did not commit. Cut to years later, and Jan Dara returns home bent on seeking revenge against his father. But although he has always hated his father’s riotous ways, hateful demeanor, and his treatment of women – he has memories of his father in compromising positions with his nanny – it seems he might be destined to repeat the past in order to conquer it. The film unfolds as he fights his demons amidst an environment of obsession, and comes to grips with three women in his life, each exerting control over him in their own unique ways. Just the first film in a planned two-part franchise. Rated 18+ in Thailand. A 2D film, with English subtitles at Airport Plaza, Thai only at Vista.

The director is furious that people accuse him of base impulses in filming this highly erotic move. "I am almost 60! Do you really think someone of my age wants to do an erotic movie for pleasure?" asks an exasperated Mom Noi.

Well . . . yes!

Shambhala: Thai, Drama – I am bitterly disappointed by this film. Starring two Thai actors of considerable note – Lao-Australian superstar Ananda Everingham, and Thai-French heart-throb Sunny Suwanmetanon – this had all the potential of being a significant Thai film. The two actors play brothers on a pilgrimage to Tibet in search of Shambhala, a fabled kingdom that most consider to be located in Tibet, and is thought of as a sort of heaven on Earth in Tibetan and Indian Buddhist traditions. Written and directed by Panchapong Kongkanoi, he may have started out with good intentions, but something went terribly wrong in the three years the film took to complete, and what began as a strong religious story turned into a sappy romance with much mockery of all religion in general and disrespect of Tibetan customs in particular. Sure Ananda reforms a bit at the end, but the greater part of the movie shows him disrespectful of religion, and that’s what Ananda’s fans will take away and want to ape, because it looks so cool when Ananda does it. All involved have much to atone for. A 2D film, with English subtitles at Airport Plaza, Thai only at Vista.

Hmoob (Hmong) Blood for Freedom: Thai, Action/ Drama – A film about the Hmong people who lived in the Kaokor Mountains in Thailand during the period 1968 to 1982, when conflicts between the Thai government and the communist-backed Hmong led to bloody battles that raged on for 14 years. This story is told through the eyes of Kaeng, a Hmong-born, Thai-raised young man, who is caught in the middle of this thorny conflict, which reverberates to the present day. Director Jimmy Vanglee is a Minneapolis-based Hmong filmmaker, and his film won Best Picture award at the 2012 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. A 2D film, in Thai only, at Vista only.

Ted: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – Currently the most popular film in Thailand, this is truly a lot of fun, and I surprised myself by enjoying it immensely. It’s co-written, produced, and directed by Seth MacFarlane, who stars in it along with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. The story: John Bennett was a lonely child, who dearly wished for his new Christmas gift, a large teddy bear he names Teddy, to come to life to be his friend. The wish succeeds with a falling star and Ted became a fully mobile sentient being. John's parents got over the shock, word of the miracle spread, and Ted was briefly a celebrity. Now an adult, John has a problem with the bear: he refuses to leave his side. Very funny, and Mark Wahlberg, who plays this nonsense straight and with utter conviction, is a hoot! Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use. Generally favorable reviews. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza and Digital 2D (English) at Vista. Warning: It’s utter raunch, so don’t bring the kiddies, however much they might want to see a talking teddy bear.

The Possession: US, Horror/ Thriller – A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father eventually has to team up with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child. The catch: here the possession and the exorcism are not in the usual Christian framework, but a Jewish, and the “devil” is a “dybbuk.” Supposedly based on a true story. Mixed or average reviews, saying that it’s full of ghost-movie clichés, but is inspired by some degree of religious scholarship, and manages to create believable characters in a real world. In 2D (English), and at Airport Plaza only.

The Expendables 2: US, Action/ Thriller – I enjoyed most of this, and if you like this sort of imaginative mayhem, you will too. The Expendables are reunited for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge gets them deep in enemy territory and up against unexpected threats. Stars Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, and Sylvester Stallone; directed by Simon West. Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that it’s a fun roundup of action stars who simultaneously celebrate and send up their former glories. I say it’s redundant, bombastic, and cheekily self-aware. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Brave: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – I found this a funny and exciting fantasy-adventure, with a surprisingly strong female protagonist. Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, it’s about an impetuous daughter of royalty. The film is produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney, and is Pixar's first fairy tale, and I certainly consider it somewhat darker and more mature in tone than its previous films. Generally favorable reviews, saying it offers young audiences a rousing fairy tale with surprising depth. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, no longer playing at Vista.

Virgin Am I: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – I quote from the official studio synopsis: “A sex comedy about a group of teenagers who want to lose their virginity for the first time.” Seems to me this says a lot about the confused Thai world-view . . . Apparently, one of the threads has to do with a boy’s private “right-hand session” going viral on YouTube; another about how starring in an erotic film can cause your friends to drift away. Only at Airport Plaza, and they seem to be ashamed of it: They only display the title in Thai, and they claim at the box office that it has no English subtitles, though the website says it does. Can’t be too sexy – it’s rated 15+.

Sat2Mon / Kuen Won Sao: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A love-stricken young man is seeking help to date his dream girl from the girl's best friend. Said to have some cute and endearing moments along the way to a predictable ending. At Major only, and with English subtitles.

Yes or No 2: Thai, Drama/ Romance – The sequel to Yes or No, the romance between Pie and Kim, two girls who fall in love with each other. Now, Pie and Kim have been in a relationship for three years, but an internship during their fourth year forces them to stay in different places for a while. However, their long distance love only strengthens their devotion. 2D with English subtitles at Major, Thai-only at Vista.

The Dinosaur Project: UK, Adventure – Explorers go in search of a lost world with high-tech video cameras. Their target: a Loch Ness monster-like creature lurking in the depths of the Congo. This is an eccentrically British attempt to paste together two very different genres: stupendous dinosaur epic, like Jurassic Park, and found-footage fake documentary, like The Blair Witch Project. Mixed or average reviews. Now only at Vista, and Thai-dubbed.

Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.


Now playing in Chiang Mai through September 5

Shambhala: Thai, Drama – I am bitterly disappointed by this film. Starring two Thai actors of considerable note – Lao-Australian superstar Ananda Everingham, and Thai-French heart-throb Sunny Suwanmetanon – this had all the potential of being a significant Thai film. The two actors play brothers on a pilgrimage to Tibet in search of Shambhala, a fabled kingdom that most consider to be located in Tibet, and is thought of as a sort of heaven on Earth in Tibetan and Indian Buddhist traditions. Written and directed by Panchapong Kongkanoi, he may have started out with good intentions, but something went terribly wrong in the three years the film took to complete, and what began as a strong religious story turned into a sappy romance with much mockery of all religion in general and disrespect of Tibetan customs in particular. Sure Ananda reforms a bit at the end, but the greater part of the movie is disrespectful of religion, and that’s what Ananda’s fans will take away and want to ape, because it looks so cool when Ananda does it. All involved have much to atone for. A 2D film, with English subtitles at Airport Plaza, Thai only at Vista.

Hmoob (Hmong) Blood for Freedom: Thai, Action/ Drama – A film about the Hmong people who lived in the Kaokor Mountains in Thailand during the period 1968 to 1982, when conflicts between the Thai government and the communist-backed Hmong led to bloody battles that raged on for 14 years. This story is told through the eyes of Kaeng, a Hmong-born, Thai-raised young man, who is caught in the middle of this thorny conflict, which reverberates to the present day. Director Jimmy Vanglee is a Minneapolis-based Hmong filmmaker, and his film won Best Picture award at the 2012 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. A 2D film, in Thai only, at Vista only.

Ted: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – This is truly a lot of fun, and I surprised myself by enjoying it immensely. It’s co-written, produced, and directed by Seth MacFarlane, who stars in it along with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. The story: in 1985, in the city of Swampscott, Massachusetts, John Bennett was a lonely child, who dearly wished for his new Christmas gift, a large teddy bear he names Teddy, to come to life to be his friend. The wish succeeds with a falling star and Ted became a fully mobile sentient being. John's parents got over the shock, word of the miracle spread, and Ted was briefly a celebrity. Now an adult, John has a problem with the bear: he refuses to leave his side. Very funny, and Mark Wahlberg, who plays this nonsense straight and with utter conviction, is a hoot! Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use. Generally favorable reviews, saying that even though Ted's "romance versus bromance" plot is familiar, the film is held aloft by the high-concept central premise and a very funny (albeit inconsistent) script. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza and Digital 2D (English) at Vista. Warning: It’s utter raunch, so don’t bring the kiddies, however much they might want to see a talking teddy bear.

Moonrise Kingdom: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Not to be missed! The year is 1965 and a remote North Eastern US coastal community is plunged into confusion when it discovers that two kids have run away. Sam, a discontented Khaki Scout, and Suzy, a put-upon older sister and forgotten daughter, abscond into the forest to escape their dissatisfying existences. The responsible adults – Sam's Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy's parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) – and the entire town set out on a frenzied search, which gets wild when the largest storm in recorded history touches down and puts everyone's life into question. What ensues is a battle between youth and age, hope and disillusionment, faith and cynicism. Warm, whimsical, and poignant, the immaculately framed and beautifully acted Moonrise Kingdom presents writer/director Wes Anderson at his idiosyncratic best. Special showing once a day at 8 pm at Airport Plaza. Reviews: Universal acclaim. See it.

The Possession: US, Horror/ Thriller – A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father eventually has to team up with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child. The catch: here the possession and the exorcism are not in the usual Christian framework, but a Jewish, and the “devil” is a “dybbuk.” Supposedly based on a true story. Mixed or average reviews, saying that it’s full of ghost-movie clichés, but is inspired by some degree of religious scholarship, and manages to create believable characters in a real world. In 2D (English), and at Airport Plaza only.

The Expendables 2: US, Action/ Thriller – I enjoyed most of this, and if you like this sort of imaginative mayhem, you will too. The Expendables are reunited for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge gets them deep in enemy territory and up against unexpected threats. Stars Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, and Sylvester Stallone; directed by Simon West. Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that there’s plenty to enjoy on a non-cerebral level: a fun roundup of action stars who simultaneously celebrate and send up their former glories. I say it’s redundant, bombastic, and cheekily self-aware. Currently the most popular film in Thailand. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

The Bourne Legacy: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – Jason Bourne (played in the three previous films by Matt Damon), the cause of all the mayhem, is not in fact in this film. According to the studio, it retains the name Bourne to identify it as a continuation of the franchise. The protagonist here is played by Jeremy Renner, in yet another CIA black ops program that the CIA decides to terminate after the disastrous events depicted in the first three films. It’s directed by Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter for the previous films. Generally favorable reviews, saying in general that It isn't quite as compelling as the earlier trilogy, but nevertheless proves the franchise has stories left to tell -- and benefits from Jeremy Renner's magnetic work in the starring role. In 2D (English), and only at Airport Plaza.

Brave: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – I found this a funny and exciting fantasy-adventure, with a surprisingly strong female protagonist. Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, it’s about an impetuous daughter of royalty. The film is produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney, and is Pixar's first fairy tale, and I certainly consider it somewhat darker and more mature in tone than its previous films. Generally favorable reviews, saying it offers young audiences a rousing fairy tale with surprising depth. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Virgin Am I: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – I quote from the official studio synopsis: “A sex comedy about a group of teenagers who want to lose their virginity for the first time.” Seems to me this says a lot about the confused Thai world-view . . . Apparently, one of the threads has to do with a boy’s private “right-hand session” going viral on YouTube; another about how starring in an erotic film can cause your friends to drift away. Only at Airport Plaza, and they seem to be ashamed of it: They only display the title in Thai, and they claim at the box office that it has no English subtitles, though the website says it does.

Sat2Mon / Kuen Won Sao: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A love-stricken young man is seeking help to date his dream girl from the girl's best friend. It’s said to have some cute and endearing moments along the way to a predictable ending. Thai-only at Vista; English subtitles at Major.

Yes or No 2: Thai, Drama/ Romance – The sequel to Yes or No, the romance between Pie and Kim, two girls who fall in love with each other. Now, Pie and Kim have been in a relationship for three years, but an internship during their fourth year forces them to stay in different places for a while. However, their long distance love only strengthens their devotion. 2D with English subtitles at Major, Thai-only at Vista.

The Dinosaur Project: UK, Adventure – Explorers go in search of a lost world with high-tech video cameras. Their target: a Loch Ness monster-like creature lurking in the depths of the Congo. This is an eccentrically British attempt to paste together two very different genres: stupendous dinosaur epic, like Jurassic Park, and found-footage fake documentary, like The Blair Witch Project. Mixed or average reviews. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.


Playing in Chiang Mai

Shambhala: Thai, Drama – An interesting and unusual Thai film starring two Thai actors of considerable note: Lao-Australian superstar Ananda Everingham, and Thai-French heart-throb Sunny Suwanmetanon. They play brothers on a pilgrimage to Tibet in search of Shambhala, a fabled kingdom that most consider to be located in Tibet, and is thought of as a sort of heaven on Earth in Tibetan and Indian Buddhist traditions. Actually shot in the expansive scenery of that country, and the project, written and directed by Panchapong Kongkanoi, took three years to complete. A 2D film, with English subtitles at Airport Plaza, Thai only at Vista.

Echo Planet: Thai, Animation/ Family – A rather brilliant Thai animated feature by the studio that gave us the hit film 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. I like this film very much and wish I could induce more people to see it. It has much to offer. The animation is quite superb, and the Thai-ness of the film is delightful. I found it a quite entertaining tale with an environmental message, and a historic triumph for Thai animation. Also a personal triumph, I’d say, for the force behind it all, Kompin Kemkumnird, a Thai who has worked for both Disney (on the team for Tarzan) and Blue Sky Studios (creators of the Ice Age series). May no longer be showing, but if it is, see it!

Ted: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – This American comedy film is co-written, produced, and directed by Seth MacFarlane, who stars in it along with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. In 1985, in the city of Swampscott, Massachusetts, John Bennett was a lonely child, who dearly wished for his new Christmas gift, a large teddy bear he names Teddy to come to life to be his friend. The wish succeeds with a falling star and Ted became a fully mobile sentient being. John’s parents (Alex Borstein and Ralph Garman) got over the shock, word of the miracle spread, and Ted was briefly a celebrity. Now an adult, John has a problem with the bear: he refuses to leave his side. Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use. Generally favorable reviews, saying that even though Ted’s “romance versus bromance” plot is familiar, the film is held aloft by the high-concept central premise and a very funny (albeit inconsistent) script. In Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza. Warning: It’s utter raunchiness, so don’t bring the kiddies, however much they might want to see a talking teddy bear.

The Expendables 2: US, Action/ Thriller – The Expendables are reunited for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat. Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, and Sylvester Stallone; directed by Simon West. Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that there’s plenty to enjoy on a non-cerebral level: a fun roundup of action stars who simultaneously celebrate and send up their former glories. Redundant, bombastic and cheekily self-aware. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout. In Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, regular 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

The Dinosaur Project: UK, Adventure – Explorers go in search of a lost world with high-tech video cameras. Their target: a Loch Ness monster-like creature lurking in the depths of the Congo. This is an eccentrically British attempt to paste together two very different genres: stupendous dinosaur epic, like Jurassic Park, and found-footage fake documentary, like The Blair Witch Project. Mixed or average reviews. In Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, regular 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

Yes or No 2: Thai, Drama/ Romance – The sequel to Yes or No, the romance between Pie and Kim, two girls who fall in love with each other. Now, Pie and Kim have been in a relationship for three years, but an internship during their fourth year forces them to stay in different places for a while. However, their long distance love only strengthens their devotion. 2D with English subtitles at Major, Thai-only at Vista.

The Bourne Legacy: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – Jason Bourne (played in the three previous films by Matt Damon), the cause of all the mayhem, is not in fact in this film. It retains the name Bourne to identify it as a continuation of the franchise. The protagonist here is played by Jeremy Renner, in yet another CIA black ops program that the CIA decides to terminate after the disastrous events depicted in the first three films. It’s directed by Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter for the previous films. Generally favorable reviews, saying in general that It isn’t quite as compelling as the earlier trilogy, but nevertheless proves the franchise has stories left to tell — and benefits from Jeremy Renner’s magnetic work in the starring role. In Digital 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, regular 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

Brave: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, it’s about an impetuous daughter of royalty. The film is produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney, and is Pixar’s first fairy tale, and somewhat darker and more mature in tone than its previous films. Generally favorable reviews, saying it offers young audiences and fairy tale fans a rousing, funny fantasy-adventure with a strong female protagonist, and surprising depth. In 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

Sat2Mon / Kuen Won Sao: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A love-stricken young man is seeking help to date his dream girl from the girl’s best friend. It’s said to have some cute and endearing moments along the way to a predictable ending. Thai-only at Vista; English subtitles at Major.

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 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. Mixed or average reviews, saying that it has some impressive action sequences but lacks the intricate plotting, wry humor, and fleshed out characters that made the original a sci-fi classic. Only at Vista, regular 2D (Thai-dubbed).

Note: For updated movie information and reviews, check the Chiang Mai Mail online. It’s updated every Saturday!


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]]

Now playing in Chiang Mai through September 12.

Now playing in Chiang Mai through September 5

Playing in Chiang Mai