Now playing in Pattaya

Friday, 10 December 2010 From Issue Vol. XVIII No. 49 By  Mark Gernpy

Fair Game didn’t make it last week, nor did Let Me In, but these are two excellent Oscar-caliber films, and surely they have shown up by now.  Wouldn’t you think?

Now playing in Pattaya

The Social Network: (perhaps) US, Biography/ Drama/ History – By David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, Panic Room).  A stellar film in my opinion, impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, though I think the main protagonist an ugly, amoral being who I would want to have nothing to do with.  The film is about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social-networking website, Facebook, that revolution in communication.  To me, he is the lowest of the low human beings, a person nobody would want to be friends with.  Yet he founds a gigantic enterprise based on friendship – or maybe fake friendship.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.  “A riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.”

After having seen it again, a disturbing question arises for me: How can I possibly go on using a website created by such a despicable creep?  And what if the “Farmville” creators are just as bad?  I don’t want to know.

Cool Gel Attacks / Kra Deub: Thai, Comedy/ Sci-Fi – When an unidentified gel-like object falls from the sky, two neighbors who have hated each other for a long time team up to get rid of the alien one-eyed slug.  Directed by and starring Jaturong Mokjok, no doubt with the usual Thai light comedic touch.  Oh, and of course, with the ever-present Kohtee Aramboy.

Yamada: Thai, History/ Action – Oh, lord!  Such incredible violence!  Even in the previews you see the horrible breaking of bones of men in battle, with amplified crunching sounds from the soundtrack!  Continually.  Way too violent for me, and should be for you.

Unstoppable: US, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – Exciting thriller starring Denzel Washington taming a runaway train, and it might just be the most entertaining movie you will see this year.  Seems everybody is enjoying this one, I certainly did.  Denzel is a real talent.  I remember seeing him play Richard III in New York’s Shakespeare in the Park one summer.  Just think of all the films you’ve seen him in.  And he’s a very big-hearted man as well.  You catch glimpses of a kind and generous man in his performance in this film.  It’s comforting and a pleasure to see him act, and this one was just fun all the way through – if you’re in the mood for a runaway train movie, and who isn’t now and again?  Generally favorable reviews.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I: UK/ US, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery – A superbly told tale, with some of the finest British actors.  The first of the two-part conclusion to the series; Part II due in July of 2011 – both directed by David Yates, who has directed the last two Harry Potter films.  Generally favorable reviews.  Remember, they gave up on the 3D conversion a couple of weeks ago at the last moment, so what you have on display is a 2D film.  In English with Thai subtitles as usual; in addition, Big C has a Thai-dubbed version.  It’ll be around for a while.

Yes, in large part it’s a preparation for the next film and the final confrontation between good and evil, but it is a good deal more as well.  It’s necessary to remember that the filmmakers have to hew very closely to the book.  After all, fans will not accept anything that doesn’t flow from her pages.  And what would be the point?  The series is already a modern legend, a part of the lives of a huge proportion of the world’s population.  It has to be what it is.

And what it is is a fine tale, told superbly.  The adults are the top English character actors of our time, and the youngsters pretty good by now.  Best of all is the menacing and meditative mood of the film, which is full of darkness and foreboding.

Dinner for Schmucks: US, Comedy – Apparently not as bad as you would think.  A rising executive finds out that his superiors at work regularly host a dinner celebrating and mocking the idiocy of their invited guests, and he then runs into a man who would be the perfect guest:  An extraordinarily stupid man who possesses the ability to ruin the life of anyone who spends more than a few minutes in his company.  Starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

My Soul to Take (3D): US, Thriller/ Horror – Director Wes Craven’s latest horror film, about the return from death of a serial killer to slay seven children.  Probably only here to have something showing in Pattaya Beach’s 3D cinema; it’s only there, and has generally unfavorable reviews.

Fair Game: (perhaps) US, Biography/ Drama/ Thriller – 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.

Let Me In: (perhaps) UK/ US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Romance – A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence, language, and a brief sexual situation.  Generally favorable reviews.

Eat Pray Love: US, Drama/ Romance – Starring Julia Roberts as a married woman who realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction.  After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to “find herself.”  Mixed or average reviews.  Pattaya Beach only.

Skyline: US, Sci-Fi/ Thriller – The technical aspects of this film are superb, setting a new level of special-effects work.  But the dialogue and the plotting are really bad – probably the worst I’ve ever experienced.  An otherworldly force begins to kill of the entire human population.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Thai-dubbed at Big C, English elsewhere.

Water / Nam: Thai, Comedy/ Horror – The usual Thai slapstick.

Due Date: US, Comedy – A high-strung father-to-be, played by Robert Downey Jr., is forced to hitch a ride with a college slacker (and aspiring actor) on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.  Rated R in the US for language, drug use, and sexual content; 15+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  Not at Big C.

RED: US, Action/ Comedy – A delight!  I had more fun at this one than any movie in some time.  It even made you muse over a few things as you sped along, but not too much and not too deeply.  Mostly it’s just glorious nonsense, with actors that you have come to love to watch, doing their stuff.  Starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, and Mary-Louise Parker – a great cast!  They used to be the CIA’s top agents - but the secrets they knew now make them the Agency’s top targets for assassination.  Rated 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, but I loved it!  At Pattaya Beach only, if still around at all.

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