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Let's Go To The Movies  by Mark Gernpy

 

Now playing in Chiang Mai through December 4; movies change Wednesday, Dec. 5, a holiday.

Cloud Atlas: Germany/ US/ Hong Kong/ Singapore, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi – Catch it! You’ll want to see this at least twice, as it’s one of the most complicated films of recent years. Critic Roger Ebert says this is surely one of the most ambitious films ever made. “But, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema.” Written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwerand, and Andy Wachowski, and starring a terrific cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant. Rated R in the US for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, and some drug use; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews, saying its sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals will prove too unwieldy for some, but the sheer size and scope are all but impossible to ignore. It’s long. 172 minutes. Like about three hours. In 2D (English) at both locations; Vista also has a Thai-dubbed version.
The Impossible: Spain, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – A husband and wife and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand in 2004, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. The wife freezes in fear as a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her. Thus starts the most harrowing disaster movie in many a moon, combining a tremendous feat of physical filmmaking with an emotional true story of family survival. Stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor; directed by the Spanish Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). Early reviews: Generally favorable, saying it is wrenchingly acted, deftly manipulated, and terrifyingly well made. “Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy.” Looks to be very good indeed. A 2D film (English) at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – Okay, I broke my vow and saw it, and I have to say that if you’re at all a fan of the series this will prove a very satisfactory conclusion indeed. It rather brilliantly solves the problem of how to have a violent ending and a peaceful ending both at the same time. The scenery is fabulous, the wolves amazing, and though I shouldn’t go so far as to say that the trees are more interesting than the actors, they are (for me, at least pretty much). Except for Michael Sheen, who once upon a time played Tony Blair so brilliantly, and who here plays the epitome of behind-the-scenes force and – with his fabulous robe – encapsulates all such wizards from Prospero to Frank Morgan. Acting like a grand diva, he gives an acting lesson on how to chew up scenery, how to go over the top. Just delightful, and at one point he utters the most fantastical semi-human speech sound that I’ve ever heard in a movie!
In this fifth film of the franchise, the existence of Bella and Edward's child Renesmee has attracted the attention of the volatile Volturi, who seem to want nothing more than to take down the Cullen family and end their reign of looking fabulous in the sun. Surely you know by now if this series is for you; trust your instincts. Mixed or average reviews, saying though it might be the most enjoyable chapter in the series that won't be enough to make the movie worth watching for those who don't already count themselves fans. One reviewer admitted, “The big action scene is so campily over the top - with one twist so unforeseeable - that it sent me out on a burst of grudging goodwill.” A 2D film in English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.
Rise of the Guardians 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – A very solid film for children, balanced by appealing to adults as well. Mixed or average reviews, saying the film is wonderfully animated and briskly paced, but only so-so in the storytelling department. The shaggy, whimsical characters have a primal familiarity, as though they were developed by a tag team of Maurice Sendak and Walt Disney. A 3D film (English) at Airport Plaza, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.
Premium Rush: US, Action/ Thriller – Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of 1,500 bike couriers in Manhattan who rides on the edge – he has a bike with no brakes. On this day, Wilee has a delivery that’s so valuable that a corrupt NYC Detective, who needs money, begins to chase him through the city to get it before the envelope is delivered. Generally favorable reviews, saying it's built out of familiar parts, but no matter how formulaic the storyline might seem, it's elevated by high-octane action and enjoyable performances. A 2D film in English, playing only at Airport Plaza.
Red Dawn: US, Action – A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, and Josh Hutcherson. Generally unfavorable reviews, saying it lacks the topicality of the original 1984 semi-cult film, and although it features some decent action sequences, it gives a short shrift to character development and general logic. “Could be fun, you might think. No. Bad acting and worse dialogue quickly put an end to that notion.” Has bargain-bin special effects, along with bad acting and bad politics. A 2D film in English, only at Airport Plaza.
Rak Jab Jai: Thai, Musical/ Romance – A film of the popular stage musical/ romance which played in Bangkok last summer. A story about a superstar who falls for a blind girl, starring true-life Thai superstar from Chiang Mai Sukrit Wisetkaew (better known as Bie). In Thai only, and only at Airport Plaza.
3 A.M. 3D: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – A chiller set in the middle of the night, when, the film believes, ghosts come out. Comprises three separate short stories of the spooky variety from three Thai directors. In 3D (English subtitles) at Airport Plaza, regular 2D (Thai only) at Vista.
Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.


Playing in Chiang Mai

Cloud Atlas: (Scheduled) Germany/ US/ Hong Kong/ Singapore, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi – You’ll want to see this at least twice, as it’s one of the most complicated films of recent years. Critic Roger Ebert says this is surely one of the most ambitious films ever made. “But, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema.” Written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwerand, and Andy Wachowski, and starring a terrific cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant. Rated R in the US for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, and some drug use. Mixed or average reviews, saying its sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals will prove too unwieldy for some, but the sheer size and scope are all but impossible to ignore. It’s long. 172 minutes.

The Impossible: (Scheduled) Spain, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – A husband and wife and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand in 2004, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. The wife freezes in fear as a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her. Thus starts the most harrowing disaster movie in many a moon, combining a tremendous feat of physical filmmaking with an emotional true story of family survival. Stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor; directed by the Spanish Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). Early reviews: Generally favorable, saying it is wrenchingly acted, deftly manipulated, and terrifyingly well made. “Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy.” Looks to be very good indeed.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – Okay, I broke my vow and saw it, and I have to say that if you’re at all a fan of the series this will prove a very satisfactory conclusion indeed. It rather brilliantly solves the problem of how to have a violent ending and a peaceful ending both at the same time. The scenery is fabulous, the wolves amazing, and though I shouldn’t go so far as to say that the trees are more interesting than the actors, they are (for me, at least pretty much). Except for Michael Sheen, who once upon a time played Tony Blair so brilliantly, and who here plays the epitome of behind-the-scenes force and – with his fabulous robe – encapsulates all such wizards from Prospero to Frank Morgan. Acting like a grand diva, he gives an acting lesson on how to chew up scenery, how to go over the top. Just delightful, and at one point he utters the most fantastical semi-human speech sound that I’ve ever heard in a movie!
In this fifth film of the franchise, the existence of Bella and Edward’s child Renesmee has attracted the attention of the volatile Volturi, who seem to want nothing more than to take down the Cullen family and end their reign of looking fabulous in the sun. Surely you know by now if this series is for you; trust your instincts. Mixed or average reviews, saying though it might be the most enjoyable chapter in the series that won’t be enough to make the movie worth watching for those who don’t already count themselves fans. One reviewer admitted, “The big action scene is so campily over the top - with one twist so unforeseeable - that it sent me out on a burst of grudging goodwill.” A 2D film in English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Premium Rush: US, Action/ Thriller – Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of my current favorites) is one of 1,500 bike couriers in Manhattan who rides on the edge – he has a bike with no brakes. On this day, Wilee has a delivery that’s so valuable that a corrupt NYC Detective, who needs money, begins to chase him through the city to get it before the envelope is delivered. Generally favorable reviews, saying it’s built out of familiar parts, but no matter how formulaic the storyline might seem, it’s elevated by high-octane action and enjoyable performances. A 2D film in English, playing only at Airport Plaza.

Red Dawn: US, Action – A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, and Josh Hutcherson. Generally unfavorable reviews, saying it lacks the topicality of the original 1984 semi-cult film, and although it features some decent action sequences, it gives a short shrift to character development and general logic. “Could be fun, you might think. No. Bad acting and worse dialogue quickly put an end to that notion.” Has bargain-bin special effects, along with bad acting and bad politics. A 2D film in English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Skyfall: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – This is a truly enjoyable film for me, and I think possibly the best James Bond film of all time, offering a thought-provoking examination of why 007 endures, both as an on-screen legend and as a harrowing secret agent. Directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, and a fantastic Javier Bardem as a villain you won’t soon forget. And, saints be praised, there is no “shaky-cam” used, but just good old-fashioned sturdy film-making. All the more enjoyable for that. Reviews: Universal acclaim, saying that from the opening in Istanbul to the final siege shootout in the Scottish Highlands, the film is a fine and even sentimental spectacle, giving us an attractively human Bond. A 2D film in English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.
Pleasurable as the film may be, you still should use earplugs, as the sound seems to be turned up particularly loud at Airport Plaza for this film, and is hurtful to the ears. Don’t know why Major Cineplex insists on continuing with such a demonstrable health hazard.

Rak Jab Jai: Thai, Musical/ Romance – A film of the popular stage musical/ romance which played in Bangkok last summer. A story about a superstar who falls for a blind girl, starring true-life Thai superstar from Chiang Mai Sukrit Wisetkaew (better known as Bie). In Thai only, and only at Airport Plaza.

3 A.M. 3D: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – A chiller set in the middle of the night, when, the film believes, ghosts come out. Comprises three separate short stories of the spooky variety from three Thai directors. In 3D (English subtitles) at Airport Plaza, regular 2D (Thai only) at Vista.

Life of Pi: (Scheduled for December 20) US, Adventure/ Drama – Get ready for this experience! You might want to read the book before you see it, if you haven’t already. (I found the book fascinating and irritating in equal measure.) I am really looking forward to this: a deeply religious story everyone including the author considered unfilmable. Pi is raised a Hindu, but as a fourteen-year-old he is introduced to Christianity and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions as he “just wants to love God.” The core of the story has Pi, now a beautiful young man, shipwrecked at sea for 227 days in the company of a fully-grown Bengal tiger. At the moment, seems to be a front-runner for the Oscar best picture. Directed by Ang Lee. Reviews: Now generally favorable.

Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.
For updated movie information and reviews, check the Chiang Mai Mail movie column online. It’s updated every Saturday!


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]]

through December 4; movies change Wednesday, Dec. 5, a holiday.

Playing in Chiang Mai