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Let's Go To The Movies  by Mark Gernpy


Note: ENote: European Union Film Festival ends tomorrow (Sunday, July 31). Twenty-two recent films are being shown at Vista cinema 7 at Kad Suan Kaew. Free admission.
Now playing in Chiang Mai through Aug 3

Captain America: The First Avenger: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Really a lot of old-fashioned fun, and by old I mean a steady camera not jiggly in the current mode, and action you can follow rather than a blur of images. And solid, confident film-making, so you feel that you’re in the hands of experts. And an old time, World War II era with a terrific and detailed evocation of the time and the wartime mood. And a good, old-fashioned Hollywood musical number.

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals. Three cheers for the Red, White, and Blue!! Has fine performances by Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and several others. See if you can figure out how the moviemakers got Chris Evans so skinny to begin with. Diet maybe? A body double, with Rogers’ head superimposed? Answer next week.
Way at the end, after the seemingly endless credits, there are secret scenes from future films in the series. I’m looking forward to them.

Playing in both 2D and 3D versions in English at Airport Plaza, and an additional 2D version that’s Thai-dubbed. In 2D at Vista, in both English and Thai-dubbed versions. Generally favorable reviews.

Horrible Bosses: US, Comedy/ Crime – It’s been called a bouncy, well-built, delightfully nasty tale of resentment, desperation, and amoral revenge. Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman, and Kevin Spacey are nasty, uneven, and funny. Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug material. Mixed or average reviews. At Airport Plaza only.

The Conspirator: (not playing at the moment, but may return to Vista Monday after the EU Film Festival departs) US, Drama – In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, the Vice-President, and the Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt, 42, owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, new lawyer Frederick Aiken, a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal, where the rules state that only a majority vote is required for a guilty verdict and a two-thirds vote is needed to sentence a defendant to death. It is a court where a defendant is prohibited from testifying in their own defense. As the trial unfolds, Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son. Generally favorable reviews. At Vista only.

It’s important to acknowledge the political statement that the very existence of this film makes. Directed by Robert Redford, The Conspirator is first of all true to the historical record; it’s written by James Solomon who spent fourteen years researching the story. Beyond that, Redford, long a champion of civil liberties in the United States, implicitly reminds us that the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution expressly guarantees that "no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law" and provides no exception for war.

It is not only an important message for those unfamiliar with United States history, but is strikingly relevant to the present day in which hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo still languish in prison without trial, where a US citizen, suspected of terrorist activities, is targeted without having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime, and where the ideal of due process and the presumption of innocence is slowly being replaced by violence and the repudiation of legality.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Go see it. You know you will eventually anyway. This, the final Harry Potter, is an exciting and massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now. It’s powerfully acted and visually dazzling. The entire series of Potter books and motion pictures has been leading us to this final showdown between Harry and Voldemort. The fight here between good and evil is more than satisfying. It's thrilling – carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it.

It’s much better than the book, in my opinion, which has sections that are so preposterous that no amount of suspension of disbelief can overcome. In 2D only now, and at Vista there’s both an English and a Thai-dubbed version. Reviews: one of the rare films to be labeled by Metacritic as “Universal acclaim.”

The Moon (Pumpuang Duangjan): Thai, Drama/ Musical – The biography of Pumpuang Duangjan, considered the Queen of Thai country music. The rags-to-riches story charts her successes in the 1980’s up to her early death in 1992 at the age of 31. One of the most anticipated Thai films of the year, and with a newcomer in the starring role. Prettified as biography, with reportedly anything that shows anyone in a bad light changed or deleted. In Thai only at Vista, English subtitles at Major Cineplex.

Mary and Max: (Not playing at the moment, may return Monday) Australia, Animation/ Comedy/ Drama – This is a lovingly crafted, startlingly inventive piece of animation whose technical craft is equaled by its emotional resonance. Adam Elliot, director of the Academy-award-winning Harvey Krumpet, returns to the world of clay animation with this simple tale of the innocent correspondence between a portly eight year old girl from the suburbs of Melbourne and a morbidly obese, middle-aged Jewish New Yorker suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. On the surface it would seem that Mary (Toni Collette) and Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman) would have little in common, but over the course of twenty years, the unlikely pen pals exchange letters discussing everything from taxidermy, trust, pets, religion, obesity, autism, agoraphobia, alcoholism, and just about any other topic that comes to mind as they sit down and put pen to paper. Barry Humphries and Eric Bana provide additional voices. In English and Yiddish, with Thai subtitles. Generally favorable reviews. Vista only.

Gancore Gud: Thai, Comedy/ Horror – Usual Thai horror-comedy mix of boobs and severed limbs, this time with gangsta rap. It’s written and directed by hip-hop guru Joey Boy and stars him and his hip-hop group Gancore Club. The group is stuck on a remote island, where their paradise turns to horror as they encounter bloody islanders who love to kill people, and zombies that rise up from the sea. In Thai only at Vista, English subtitles at Airport Plaza. Rated 18+.

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Let's Go To The Movies