Let's go to the movies - Fri 25 - 3 March 2011

Friday, 25 February 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 8 By  Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Pattaya

I Am Number Four: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – John is an extraordinary teen, masking his identity as an alien and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly other-worldly enemy seeking to destroy him.  Three like him have already been killed ... he is Number Four.  The whole movie industry is hoping that this movie will start a series that will sweep audiences off their feet and into their cinemas in droves.  And if not all moviegoers, they’ll settle for teen-age girls, who alone make up a very lucrative market.  Critics say the film rips off just about every other film of its ilk, from Twilight to Harry Potter, without adding much to the formula, though there are a few exciting moments here and there.

The Eagle: (Scheduled) US/ UK, Adventure – In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavors to honor his father’s memory by finding his lost legion’s golden emblem.  Along with his slave, he ventures beyond the edge of the known world on a dangerous and obsessive quest.  A pleasantly traditional action-adventure tale, well told.  With Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong.  Mixed or average reviews.

Takers: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime – What the Takers take, is money, lots of it, in various skillful robberies of banks or armored cars.  You should like the film if you enjoy exciting and noisy action pictures with plenty of chases.  Also if you like rappers, because one major star is bad-boy rapper T.I., who is in real life fresh out of jail after serving a year and a day for attempting to purchase a small arsenal of assault weapons.  Definitely a cool character.  At the other end of the spectrum is Matt Dillon as a thoroughly experienced cop determined to bring the gang down.  At Pattaya Beach only.  Mixed or average reviews.

Hereafter: US, Drama/ Fantasy – That redoubtable director and notable old man, Clint Eastwood, is still making terrific movies at age 80!  This is his latest effort, and it’s a good one.  Matt Damon is one of three people Eastwood studies, each with a different experience of an aspect of life after death.  What do these people believe, what causes them to think that way, and what is the truth?  Fascinating dramas on the topic, well done.  Mixed or average reviews, but I found it solid and fascinating.  Catch it while you can!  At Major Cineplex only.

The Green Hornet: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime – A thoughtless piece of fluff, and as such, it’s okay.  Seth Rogen as the Hornet is an unlikely and rather distasteful super-hero to my way of thinking.  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.  The whole thing is a bit of a mish-mash and slight, but if you approach it with a relaxed and uncritical frame-of-mind, you will find it entertaining enough.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  In 2D, and the Big C version is Thai-dubbed only.

Sanctum 3D: US Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Thriller – Follows a team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful, and least accessible cave system on Earth.  When a tropical storm forces them deep into the caverns, they must fight raging water, deadly terrain, and creeping panic.  Not terribly competent, I’m afraid, and James Cameron didn’t really have much to do with it, despite the ads.  Rated R in the US for language, some violence, and disturbing images.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Let the Bullets Fly: (Scheduled) China, Action/ Comedy – Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, and a deadly battle ensues.  With Chow Yun Fat and Wen Jiang, written and directed by Wen Jiang.  The film is hugely popular in China, and is on the verge of being China’s biggest box-office hit.

Panya Raenu: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – A story of friendship, and the dreams of a young boy named Panya who has a talent for singing, but is too poor to afford a local music contest.  However, with his determination and the support of his friends, he may just win.

The Rite: US, Drama/ Horror/ Thriller – Anthony Hopkins 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 (Colin O’Donoghue) 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.  Generally unfavorable reviews.

No Strings Attached: US, Comedy/ Romance – 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.  Starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, and Kevin Kline.  Rated R in the US for sexual content, language, and some drug material.  Mixed or average reviews.

Shaolin: Hong Kong/ China, Action/ Drama – A beautifully photographed, finely acted story of Shaolin monks who protect and shelter civilians during war.  Starring Andy Lau and Jackie Chan.  Shown in Thailand only in a Thai-dubbed version.  Now at Big C only.

Teng Nong Jiwon Bin: Thai, Action/ Comedy – A comedy about a pilgrim and a wealthy jeweller whose destiny has brought them together on a plane where the unexpected happens.  Standard Thai comedy fare, but it seems to be tickling all the right funny bones, because it’s number one at the box office, and not only a hit, but a smash hit.

Maybe?

Should any of the following arrive, grab the chance and see it:

The Fighter: US, Biography/ Drama/ Sport – Highly praised film up for Oscar best picture, director (David O. Russell), actor in a supporting role (Christian Bale), two actresses in a supporting role (Amy Adams and Melissa Leo), best adapted screenplay, and best editing.  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.  Mark Wahlberg’s ring sequences are the real thing, and need to be seen to be believed.  The unpleasantness comes from the family, who live more like bickering animals than humans.  Rated R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality.  Generally favorable reviews.  Apparently at Major Cineplex only, if it shows.

Fair Game: US, Biography/ Drama/ Thriller – Taut and exciting tale of dirty deeds by the White House.  Director Doug Liman’s fact-based drama of former US ambassador Joseph Wilson; his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson; and the events of 2003, when her identity as a CIA operative was leaked in retaliation by the White House after her husband wrote an op-ed piece criticizing the US invasion of Iraq.  Generally favorable reviews.

The King’s Speech: UK/ Australia, Drama/ History – One of the top contenders for best picture and 11 other Oscars, this is the story of the suddenly crowned King George VI of England, who suffers from a debilitating speech impediment.  With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.

True Grit: Drama, Western – Following the murder of her father by a hired hand, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is determined to bring him to justice.  Enlisting the help of a trigger-happy, drunken U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), she sets out with him – over his objections – to hunt down the murderer.  Her father’s blood demands that she pursue the criminal into Indian territory and find him before a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) catches him and brings him back to Texas for the murder of another man.  Generally favorable reviews.

Black Swan: US, Drama/ Romance/ Thriller – 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 (Barbara Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her.  When the artistic director decides to replace the prima ballerina 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.

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