Let's go to the movies - Friday March 2 - March 8, 2012

Friday, 02 March 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 9 By  Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Pattaya

Hugo: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Family – I hope it’s still on so you can make a beeline to see it, if you haven’t already.  It’s a brilliant and magical film, which was nominated for eleven Oscars and won five.  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, for which it won Oscars.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.  In Digital 3D, and at Pattaya Beach only. (Hopefully.) See it!

Haywire: US/ Ireland, Action/ Thriller – A beautiful freelance covert operative is hired out to perform jobs which governments can’t authorize and heads of state would rather not know about.  When an operation in Dublin goes awry and she finds herself victim of a double cross, she needs all of her skills, tricks, and abilities to escape an international manhunt, make it back to the United States, protect her family, and exact revenge on those who betrayed her.

Newcomer Gina Carano in the starring role is one tough cookie.  She is an American actress, television personality, fitness model, and retired mixed martial arts fighter, and has appeared on American Gladiators.  Carano started her career in Muay Thai, and eventually became the Number 3-ranked 145-pound female fighter in the world in Mixed Martial Arts.  Here she does her own stunts, and it must be said that she has tremendous presence as an intriguing mix of muscular power and eye-catching femininity.  Also starring Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender, but all the males in the film are merely fodder for her kicks.  Directed by Steven Soderbergh.  Rated R in the US for some violence; 18+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews.  Not at Big C.

Act of Valor: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation.  It’s an impressive film about professional warriors in the age of global terrorism.  Directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh collaborated with the US Navy and actual Navy SEALs to give the film an accurate sense of battle tactics and environment.  Though the SEALs’ lack something in the way of acting skills, this is more than made up for by honest performances from men who actually do this stuff for a living.  Rated R in the US for strong violence, including some torture, and for language.  Mixed or average reviews.

Ghost Day: Thai, Comedy/ Horror – After watching a clip of two supposed exorcists performing an exorcism on YouTube, an unprincipled TV producer invites them on his program hoping to raise the show’s ratings.  Though assumed to be tricksters, the two put on a show that turns out to be more real than anyone expected.  Starring Joey Boy, directed by Thanit Jintanukul.  With English subtitles everywhere.

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.  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.

Jack and Jill: US, Comedy/ Junk – Adam Sandler is back again in yet another stupid flick which will probably again make an obscene amount of money.  Please don’t encourage films like this.  Supposedly a comedy, it’s about a successful advertising executive in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife and kids, who dreads one event each year: the Thanksgiving visit of his identical twin sister (also Adam Sandler).  Not at Big C.  Reviews: Utter disgust.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Thriller – Nicolas Cage is back again as the 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.”  English subtitles all locations.

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 at Major, Thai-only at Big C; not at Pattaya Beach (as of this last Wednesday).

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, as of last Wednesday.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – I find this to be 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 a 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, maybe from his missing grandfather.  With Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine.  Mixed or average reviews.  Now in 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach, and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C; not at Major (as of Wednesday).

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