Let's go to the movies - Friday February 24 - March 1, 2012

Friday, 24 February 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 8 By  Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Pattaya

Be on the lookout for some last-minute openings of Oscar-nominated films this weekend, getting them in just prior to the Academy Award telecast next Monday morning (Thai-time).  Should be live on TrueVisions at about 8:30 am.  

Hugo: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Family – We’re lucky!  This masterpiece is being shown in only four cinemas in Thailand, and we’ve got one of them!  At least it was playing here as of Wednesday – I hope it’s still on so you can make a beeline to see it.

It’s a brilliant and magical film, nominated for eleven Oscars.  I think it’s the best use of 3D I’ve seen, which is fitting for a film which celebrates film innovation and the magic of the whole process.  It’s many things: a story of early filmmaking in France, a boy’s adventure story, a glowing homage to the wonder of ticking things and gears and automatons.  Directed by Martin Scorsese, who won the Golden Globes directing award this year for the film, and with excellent performances by Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, and Jude Law.  Whatever qualms one might have about the film, and I have a couple, the stupendous achievements in so many area – and the exquisite attention to detail – makes it really a film not under any circumstances to be missed.

Truly amazing set design and cinematography.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.  In Digital 3D, and at Pattaya Beach only. (Hopefully.)  Hurry!

Safe House: US/ South Africa, Action/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house, but when the house is attacked he finds himself on the run with his charge.  With Denzel Washington, Robert Patrick, and Ryan Reynolds.  Denzel does not play a nice guy in this film at all; be warned.  Rated R in the US for strong violence throughout and some language; 15+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying there are strong performances from Denzel and Ryan Reynolds.  Not at Big C.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Thriller – Nicolas Cage is back again as the ever-popular Ghost Rider in yet another impossible outing.  Now he’s in Eastern Europe and must stop the devil, who is trying to take human form.  Generally unfavorable reviews, saying it has a weak script and uneven CG work, with Cage giving another loony performance that’s no longer much fun.  Both 3D and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach, 3D (English) at Major, and both 2D (English) and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – The recounting of the beginning of the Star Wars story, from 1999, tinkered with by director and writer George Lucas, and recast in 3D, with questionable results.  I’d have to say you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see this classic again on the big screen, though you may be strongly reminded why you didn’t particularly like it first time around.  I was happy to get reacquainted with it, even though, of the entire series, this is generally considered to be the weakest of the lot.  Mixed or average reviews for the 1999 original and for what reviews there are for this fiddled-with version.  In converted Digital 3D and English, and at Pattaya Beach only.

It Gets Better: Thai, Drama/ Romance – Here’s a Thai film that goes its own way.  Couldn’t help it, as it’s from Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, director of last year’s banned film Insects In the Backyard.  She’s back and unbowed, with a story with three strands.  It’s only upon reflection do you begin to see that the three apparently different stories are in truth three aspects of one story.  One strand has an effeminate high school boy being sent to a monastery to get rid of his girlish manners, and instead he falls in love with a monk.  Another strand tells the tale of a Katoey who opens and stars in a cabaret bar, then bequeaths the bar to his son, who comes to close it down.  The title in Thai translates to “You Can’t Ask Someone to Love You,” which makes more sense than the English title, especially if you add a line from the final musical number, “But you can ask them to understand you.”  Not at Big C.

Man on a Ledge: US, Crime/ Thriller – As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion.  The previews play heavily on the fear of falling, making one who is afraid of heights, like me, very uncomfortable indeed.  Stars Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, and Jamie Bell.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that uninspired acting and preposterous plotlines defuse it’s mildly intriguing premise.  Pattaya Beach only, if still around.

The Melody: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Thai multi-talented pop-star and entertainment mogul  “Dan” Worrawech Danuwong plays a famous but depressed pop singer who goes into hiding in Mae Hong Son after his career goes down the tubes.  There, he meets a talented pianist and his life takes a turn for the better.  English subtitles, except Thai-only at Big C.

Valentine Sweety: Thailand, Comedy/ Romance – A continuation of Bangkok Sweety which came out the last week of last year, with stories stretching from New Year’s to Valentine’s Day.  Again, an absolute bottom of the barrel Thai RomCom, savaged by the press and hailed by the customers, with plenty of young Thai stars, and music and dancing.  Some of it is pretty gross, having to do with defecation and such.  The movie is in Thai only, and everywhere.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – This is an utterly preposterous piece of nonsense, with people who don’t act like any humans you know and certainly don’t talk like anyone who ever lived.  Think real pulp adventure, but with nifty computer graphics most of the time.  It’s follow-up and similar to the 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role from the first film, receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist.  He partners with his mom’s boyfriend on a mission to find the source of the signal, which they think was sent by his missing grandfather.  With Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach, and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C; not at Major.

Underworld 4: Awakening: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror – To gauge from the previews, it’s more of the same, so if you’ve been enthralled by the epic battle between Vampires and Lycans, as delineated so noisily and violently in the first three episodes, then this is for you.  Rated R in the US for strong violence and gore, and for some language; 15+ in Thailand.  In 2D only now, in English; not at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews.

ATM Er Rak Error: Thai, Comedy – This Thai Romantic Comedy has to do with a wayward ATM machine that gives out too much cash.  No longer number one in Thailand, but still considered a big hit.  English subtitles all locations.

Panya Raenu 2: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – The sequel to Panya Raenu, continuing the story of friendship between Panya and Raenu.  This time they’ve added the popular Petchtai Wongkamlao (Mum Jokmok), and Tukkie to the cast.  Now shown Thai-only; not at Pattaya Beach.

Contraband: US/ UK, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.  With Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale.  Rated R in the US for violence, pervasive language, and brief drug use; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that, as mindless action capers go, this is a little less mindless than some.  At Pattaya Beach only, if at all.

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