Let’s go to the movies – Friday June 1 – June 7, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Men in Black III: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – I saw the 2D version, and I enjoyed it all.  The writers and director and actors were having a lot of fun with the story, and the fun was infectious.  There’s a truly enjoyable chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, and as things develop in the story, the same chemistry works just as well between Smith and a younger version of Jones, played by Josh Brolin.

The story has a thoroughly disgusting alien criminal killing the young Agent K in 1969, which naturally alters the timeline, changes the Agency, and places the Earth in danger.  Will Smith as Agent J must travel back in time to 1969 to before the murder and work with the young Agent K to save him, the Agency, the Earth, and humanity itself.  Some amusing comments on the year 1969 for those who can remember.

Mixed or average reviews, saying it does justice to the fun and whimsy of the original, and gives a surprisingly emotional insight into the characters; it’s a solid creature-feature filled with memorable performances and remarkable visual effects.  Converted to 3D in post-production.  In 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major; and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Snow White and the Huntsman: US, Action/ Adventure / Drama/ Fantasy – In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.  Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron.  Previews look pretty nifty.

The Cabin in the Woods: US, Horror/ Thriller – You should see this at least three times.  First time for the surprises.  Second time for the game of “spot that reference” to see how many of the eighty or so monsters you can recognize – as well as name the movie it was in.  (All right, I confess! I haven’t really been pestered by people asking me where the classroom of Japanese schoolgirls came from.  But, did you spot them?)  Third time to ponder the philosophical proposition that humanity’s love of horror films is a necessary propitiation of the beasts that lie within our own breasts, to keep them at bay.

Yes, I loved it!  I think it’s a remarkably complicated and richly-layered play on the whole of the horror film literature.  Written and produced by Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed the current The Avengers as well.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use, and some sexuality/nudity; 18+ here.  Definitely not a movie for children, nor the squeamish or faint of heart.  Generally favorable reviews, which praise it as an astonishing meta-feat, capable of being funny, strange, and scary — frequently all at the same time.  Now playing only at Pattaya Beach, in 2D and English.

Iron Sky: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – Forget the Nazi stuff.  The people who are really going to be upset at this film are the Sarah Palin supporters, because she really gets it.  She’s the US President, you see, when the Nazis attack. (It’s the year 2018.)  She’s totally comfortable with this state of affairs, because she knows that every president who had a war in the first term was reelected.  (Sarah has redecorated the Oval Office with taxidermied specimens of endangered species, and one gigantic polar bear.)

I found the film quite funny and imaginative, and the visuals – the CGI and the model-building – rather spectacular for a low-budget film.  It comes from a team of Finnish independent film makers lead by Timo Vuorensola as the director.  He built a web following with his previous culty sci-fi parody Star Wreck.  Using that following, the filmmakers allowed anyone who wanted to help with the film.  People could ask for a screening in their home town, help collaborate in the film’s creation, and invest in the movie.  In fact, 10% of the film’s budget was generated by fans, and the donors are listed in the credits.  It was featured in this year’s Berlin Film Festival in February, and turned out to be rather a hit.  Yes, for a crazy comedy, I recommend it.  Rated 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 2D, and not at Big C.

Distortion / Kon Loke Jit: Thai, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I found Nonzee Nimibutr’s seventh movie extraordinarily violent and bloody, with a number of victims getting beaten to death with a hammer at great length and in great detail.  Pretty strong stuff – repulsive, in fact.  It’s a psycho-thriller which explores the inner lives of four characters: a psychologist, a scientist, a businessman, and a student – all haunted by nightmares, repressed memories, and the darkest of pasts.

The characters are involved in a case of grisly serial murders – truly grisly.  Nimibutr has never been one to shy away from complex stories and themes and this is no different in that regard.  He is also one of the most gifted visual directors in Asia and one uncommonly willing to trust in the intelligence of his audience which makes every new Nimibutr project well worth paying attention to.

Sorry, Nonzee; you have great skill as a director, but this was too dark, bloody, and cruel for me – and panders to a person’s basest instincts.  Please try something a bit more civilized next time.  Rated 18+ in Thailand.  2D with English subtitles; not playing at Major.

Dark Shadows: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – I hated the pop music on the soundtrack – way too loud and insistent, and it grated on my nerves.  But other than that, the film was fun, and I really enjoyed myself.  It’s a gothic-horror tale centering on the life of a vampire (played by Johnny Depp) and his run-ins with various monsters, witches, werewolves, and ghosts; a reworking of the TV shows which ran from 1966 to 1971.  Mixed or average reviews, saying director Tim Burton, as usual, is great on atmosphere and comic timing (these are his weirdest moments since Ed Wood), but less so at reining in an overcomplicated plot and dimly lit action scenes.  I found it a bizarre combination of comedy, campy horror, and gothic melodrama, and the lead vampire, blood dripping from his chin, is a great role for the chameleon Johnny Depp.  Relax and enjoy its light, spoofy tone.  If you do, you might find it a ghoulish joy.  2D and English everywhere (Digital at Major).

StreetDance 2 (3D): UK/ Germany, Drama/ Music/ Romance – A follow-up to the popular StreetDance 3D of 2010 with mostly new dancers in a European-set dance contest spectacular.  It’s all about dancing, and in that it shines – you shouldn’t pay much attention to the story.

Again with the 2008 winner of Britain’s Got Talent, George Sampson.  After a top street dancer (Falk Hentschel) is humiliated and laughed off stage, beaten by an American dance crew, he sets off to gather the best dancers from around the world to take them on in a rematch.  With landmark locations, a spectacular fusion of dance styles, and an unparalleled vibrancy, this sequel sees our hero fall in love with a beautiful dancer as he discovers the magic, power, and passion of salsa.  Has all the charms a dance movie ought to have, and sensational high-energy routines to some great pop hits.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only, in 3D and English.

American Pie: Reunion: US, Comedy/ Raunch – I was really bored with this.  The script was just terrible – profoundly unfunny and uninteresting, and with attempts at treacly sentimentality on friendship and sex that sometimes reach the depths of such atrocities as Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups.  All the American Pie characters we met a little more than a decade ago are returning to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion.  In one long weekend they reminisce about  the memories of their hormonal teen selves, who once upon a time launched this disgusting comedy legend.  Have they grown up?  What do you think.

Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use, and teen drinking; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that it will provide sweetly nostalgic comfort food for fans of the franchise, but fails to do anything truly new or interesting — or even very funny — with the characters.  The movie’s message is that the way to face impeding maturity is to embrace your inner teen idiot.  It’s in 2D,  English at Pattaya Beach, Thai-dubbed at Big C; not at Major.

Marvel’s The Avengers 3D: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Marvel Comics brings its greatest superheroes together in this film, hoping they’ll be enough to smash the evil super-villain Loki (and attract you to the cinema by strength of sheer numbers).  Looks like their strategy is working, as the film is a big hit.  It’s really quite excellent for this type of film, and you may really enjoy it.

Generally favorable reviews, saying the film lives up to its hype with a script that never forgets its heroes’ humanity and that there aren’t many writer-directors around as talented as Joss Whedon.  Indeed, it’s the writing that sets this film apart from the crowd.  The film was converted to 3D during post-production, and along with most reviewers I think it’s quite well done.  Shown in 3D and 2D at Pattaya Beach, 2D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.