Let’s go to the movies – Friday December 7 – December 13, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Cloud Atlas: Germany/ US/ Hong Kong/ Singapore, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi – Certainly you will not be bored by this film, as there are dazzling performances, solid directing, and tremendous energy and imagination.  But schedule yourself to see it twice, as it’s perhaps the most complicated film of recent years.  Critic Roger Ebert says surely this is one of the most ambitious films ever made.  “But, oh, what a film this is!  And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema.”  You will have to agree with that. 

Written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwerand, and Andy Wachowski, and starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, all playing a variety of roles.  Rated R in the US for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, and some drug use; 18+ here.

Mixed or average reviews, saying its sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals will prove too unwieldy for some, but the sheer size and scope are all but impossible to ignore.  I agree, and I think you will want to see this daring and visionary film.  As Roger Ebert predicts, “Anywhere you go where movie people gather, it will be discussed.  Deep theories will be proposed.  Someone will say, ‘I don’t know what in the hell I saw.’  The names of Freud and Jung will come up.”  You will not want to miss out.

In English, playing only at Pattaya Beach and Major.  It’s long. 172 minutes.  Like about three hours.  Prepare to either work hard, or relax and enjoy.

The Impossible: Spain, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – A husband and wife and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand in 2004, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise.  But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth.  The wife freezes in fear as a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her.  Thus starts the most harrowing disaster movie in many a moon, combining a tremendous feat of physical filmmaking with an emotional true story of family survival.

Stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor; directed by the Spanish Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage).  Early reviews: Generally favorable, saying it is wrenchingly acted, deftly manipulated, and terrifyingly well made.  “Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy.”  A 2D film (English) except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – I did go to see it, and I have to say that if you’re at all a fan of the series this will prove a very satisfactory conclusion indeed.  It rather brilliantly solves the problem of how to have a violent ending and a peaceful ending both at the same time.  The scenery is fabulous, the wolves amazing, and though I shouldn’t go so far as to say that the trees are more interesting than the actors, they are (for me, at least pretty much).  Except for Michael Sheen, who once upon a time played Tony Blair so brilliantly, and who here plays the epitome of behind-the-scenes force and – with his fabulous robe – encapsulates all such wizards from Prospero to Frank Morgan.  Acting like a grand diva, he gives an acting lesson on how to chew up scenery, how to go over the top.  Just delightful, and at one point he utters the most fantastical semi-human speech sound that I’ve ever heard in a movie!

A huge hit, after two weeks it’s already the second biggest film of the year in Thailand.  In this fifth film of the franchise, the existence of Bella and Edward’s child Renesmee has attracted the attention of the volatile Volturi, who seem to want nothing more than to take down the Cullen family and end their reign of looking fabulous in the sun.  Surely you know by now if this series is for you; trust your instincts.

Mixed or average reviews, saying though it might be the most enjoyable chapter in the series that won’t be enough to make the movie worth watching for those who don’t already count themselves fans.  One reviewer admitted, “The big action scene is so campily over the top – with one twist so unforeseeable – that it sent me out on a burst of grudging goodwill.”  A 2D film in English except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Skyfall: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – This is a truly enjoyable film for me, and I think probably the best James Bond film of all time, offering a thought-provoking examination of why 007 endures as an on-screen legend.  Still a big hit in Thailand – the seventh most popular of the year.  Directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, and a fantastic Javier Bardem as a villain you won’t soon forget.

Reviews: Universal acclaim, saying that from the opening in Istanbul to the final siege shootout in the Scottish Highlands, the film is a fine and even sentimental spectacle, giving us an attractively human Bond.  A 2D film in English; Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Rise of the Guardians: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – A magical adventure that tells the story of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost – legendary characters with previously unknown extraordinary abilities, and hang-ups.  Has an all-star voice cast including Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, and Chris Pine.  Mixed or average reviews, saying it’s wonderfully animated and briskly paced, and full of delight and action and charm and comedy, but only so-so in the storytelling department.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach, 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Argo: US, Drama/ Thriller – Now at Pattaya Beach only, I urge you to take a look at this one.  A lot of Oscar talk about the film – seems to be one of the best picture front-runners at the moment – and it’s well worth your consideration.  Based on true events, the film chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis — the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.  Directed by Ben Affleck and staring him and Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Victor Garber.  Rated R in the US for language and some violent images; 13+ in Thailand.

Reviews: Universal acclaim, saying it’s a crackerjack political thriller told with intelligence, great period detail, and a surprising amount of nutty humor for a serious look at the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81.  A 2D film (English) at Pattaya Beach only.

Premium Rush: US, Action/ Thriller – Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of my current favorites) is one of 1,500 bike couriers in Manhattan who rides on the edge – he has a bike with no brakes.  On this day, Wilee has a delivery that’s so valuable that a corrupt NYC Detective, who needs money, begins to chase him through the city to get it before the envelope is delivered.  Generally favorable reviews, saying it’s built out of familiar parts, but no matter how formulaic the storyline might seem, it’s elevated by high-octane action and enjoyable performances.  A 2D film, playing at Pattaya Beach only.

Red Dawn: US, Action – A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.  Generally unfavorable reviews, saying it lacks the topicality of the original 1984 semi-cult film, and although it features some decent action sequences, it gives a short shrift to character development and general logic.  “Could be fun, you might think.  No.  Bad acting and worse dialogue quickly put an end to that notion.”  Has bargain-bin special effects, along with bad acting and bad politics.  A 2D film (English), except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Rak Jab Jai: Thai, Musical/ Romance – A film of the popular stage musical/ romance which played in Bangkok last summer.  A story about a superstar who falls for a blind girl, starring true-life Thai superstar Sukrit Wisetkaew (better known as Bie).  In Thai only, and only at Major.