Let's go to the movies - Friday January 13 - January 19, 2012

Friday, 13 January 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 2 By  Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Pattaya

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: US/ Sweden/ UK/ Germany, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – I am quite fond of the stunning Swedish original, so was skeptical of this English remake.  And the film started out terribly for me, with a short prologue scene with its dialogue muttered to such a degree that I didn’t understand a word of it.  Then the titles began – the worst titles sequence I have ever witnessed.  Visually it was appalling with images impossible to grasp, presented so contortedly that I got a headache, and the soundtrack was the most dreadful cacophony I’ve ever heard in a film.

I was in a state of anger and exhaustion when the film proper began, hardly the state you would think a director would want.  Then the film starts out like a strung-out product placement or advertisement for a certain specific brand of American cigarettes, which I didn’t appreciate.  Then it got into an unnecessarily confusing presentation of the back-story of how it is that this Swedish journalist, played by Daniel Craig, is disgraced and free to take on the particular investigation that is the core of the story – the solving of a forty-year-old murder case.

Nevertheless, as time went on, I was very slowly won over by the decidedly good aspects of this brutal and captivating film.  Quite good acting, some scenes quite gripping, others though kind of sloppy.  Rooney Mara is in general quite good as the young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, who has to be one of the most unique and vivid female protagonists ever created, first in the highly popular series of novels by Stieg Larsson, then in the trio of Swedish films made from them, and now here.  Also with Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, and Robin Wright.  The film is directed with increasing intensity by David Fincher (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Rated R in the US for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language.  Generally favorable reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only, and in Digital (not 3D).

50/50: US, Comedy/ Drama – Terrific movie, and I enthusiastically recommend it.  It’s good-hearted and without a chase in it for a change, about a difficult topic that’s funny and sad and beautifully acted.  A 27 year old writer of radio programs is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer.  With the help of his best friend, his mother, and a young therapist at the cancer center, he learns what and who the most important things in his life are.  Inspired by a true story.  Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick.  Rated R in the US for language throughout, sexual content, and some drug use; 18+ here.  Generally favorable reviews.  At Major only.  Small scale, but by far one of the best films around.

5 Days of War: (Scheduled.) US, Action/ Drama/ War – A drama centered around the war between Russia and Georgia, focused on an American journalist, his cameraman, and a Georgian native who become caught in the crossfire.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody war violence and atrocities, and for pervasive language.  Generally unfavorable reviews: “Flimsy dramatization of Russia/Georgia conflict fails both as historical re-enactment and as action-flick thrill ride.”

Contraband: (Scheduled.) 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, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kate Beckinsale.  Rated R in the US for violence, pervasive language, and brief drug use.  No reviews yet.

My Week with Marilyn: (Scheduled.) UK/ US, Drama – Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.  With Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, and Kenneth Branagh (playing Olivier - hmm).  Rated R in the US for some language.  Generally favorable reviews.

The Darkest Hour: US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Stranded in Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.  Starring Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby.  Reviews: Overwhelming dislike.  Nevertheless, shown in Digital 3D at Major, 2D at Pattaya Beach, and both 2D-English and 2D-Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate: China, Action/ Adventure – At the time of the story in the Ming Dynasty, the bad guys are the eunuchs of the Imperial Court, who have created their own unaccountable secret police, armed with bizarre weapons and utterly ruthless in their quest for power and wealth.  Starring Jet Li and directed by the innovative Tsui Hark.  Touted by China as a cutting edge 3D film, it’s shown here in 2D, and Thai-dubbed only.  Not at Major.

The Adventures of Tintin: US/ New Zealand, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Mystery – Based on the series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name of Hergé.  The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 50 languages and more than 200 million copies of the books sold. Steven Spielberg, as director and producer, has once again crafted what I think is a spirited, thrilling adventure using the latest motion-capture technology and wedding it to tried and true Spielberg story elements.  Generally favorable reviews.  In Digital 3D and English at Pattaya Beach, 2D and English at Major, and Digital 3D Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Real Steel: US/ India, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Sport – A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport.  Yes, boxing matches between robots.  And the plot: A struggling promoter – no other than Hugh Jackman – feels he’s found a champion in a discarded robot.  During his hopeful rise to the top, his barely acknowledged 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo) comes into his life.  But don’t dismiss it all quite yet, and continue reading, for despite the outlandish premise the movie proves that, yes, audiences can root for robots in boxing matches, and get emotionally involved.  I’ve seen this film, and I’m telling you it works.  I have to say that overall it is an amazingly entertaining film, with a thoroughly satisfying performance by the young boy, and the robots.  Mixed or average reviews; much better than you would think.  It’s a 2D film, in English everywhere except Big C, whose version is Thai-dubbed.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: US, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.  Once again starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.  Mixed or average reviews. Not at Big C.

The Kick / Won Don Tae: Thailand/ South Korea, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – A South Korean-Thai co-production about a Korean family in Bangkok who join with a pair of Thai friends to battle gangsters.  Mom and Pop, former Korean Taekwondo champs, settle down in Thailand and open a Korean restaurant and Taekwondo school.  Their three kids, though, are interested in different things; the teenage boy is crazy about K-pop, the girl loves football and Thai dance, and only the youngest boy shows any interest in Taekwondo.  Soon the family makes friends with Mum Jokmok – yes, him – and his niece, a talented Muay Thai boxer, played by Thailand’s favorite female fighter, Jeeja Yanin. (And the feeling is that she isn’t given enough to do.)  Everything changes when the family and their friends become involved with Korean mobsters who’ve stolen some ancient daggers.  Directed by Prachya Pinkaew.  English subtitles everywhere.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller –– I found this to be an exciting and intense action thriller, and of that kind of thing, very well-done indeed.  This, the fourth film in the popular series, again stars Tom Cruise, and he still exhibits his undeniable star-quality.  The IMF is shut down when it is implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.  It’s a 2D film, with some parts filmed in super high-definition Digital IMAX – though shown in IMAX only in Bangkok.  The high point has to be the scaling of the Burj Dubai, now the world’s tallest building at 2,723 ft.  Tom Cruise is insisting that all the height-defying stunt work on the building was done by him personally.  Even without an IMAX projector, the high definition of these scenes are impressive and spectacular.  But the whole film is a lot of fun.  Not at Big C.  Generally favorable reviews.

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