Let’s go to the movies – Friday October 5 – October 11, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

End of Watch: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – I think probably the best cop-buddy film I’ve seen.  And it’s much more – could be considered a sociological study, raising questions about the shaky structure of society and the pros and cons of even having law enforcement.  It’s my upbringing for sure, but I truly felt assaulted by the language – there were stretches of dialogue in which 99% of the words were profanity – for a total of 325 uses of the “f” word, nearly 100 uses of the “s” word, and scads of other obscenities, vulgarities, profanities, and epithets, in English and Spanish.  Stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, giving outstanding performances.

Rated R in the US for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use; 18+ here.  Generally favorable reviews, saying that thanks to its energy, devotion to characters, and charismatic performances, End of Watch overcomes the familiar pitfalls of both its genre and its handheld format to become a fresh and exciting thriller.  David Ayer’s latest cop-drama is gritty, violent, and full of perfect moments of flawlessly recreated reality.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; not playing at Big C.  I recommend it.

Taken 2: (Scheduled) France, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – Liam Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent who stops at nothing to save his daughter from Albanian kidnappers.  Directed by Olivier Megaton, it’s a sequel to the 2008 film.  Early reviews: generally negative (Rotten Tomatoes), saying it’s most definitely not the great sequel that we were all hoping for.  A cynical, contemptuous film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie.

Stolen: US, Action/ Thriller – A former thief (Nicolas Cage) frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi.  Rated R in the US for some violence and brief language.  Directed by Simon West (The Expendables 2).  Early reviews: generally negative, saying that the longest stretch of logical plotting lasts about forty seconds, and the deep-rooted silliness makes it hard to take anything in the film seriously.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Savages: US, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – I found this a most unpleasant experience in almost every way possible.  Two pot growers face off against a Mexican drug cartel that kidnapped the girlfriend they share.  Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively.  Most of the secondary acting is well-done – particularly Benicio Del Toro, who gives a performance of such terrifying viciousness that he is unwatchable.  Having seen it again, I am amazed at not only the intensity of the viciousness of Del Toro’s character, but also the depth and fullness of the character.

However, the three main characters give banal pot-headed performances, most often speaking boring dialogue that grates on the nerves and never gives us any reason to care what happens to them.  It’s a vicious, vacuous, bloody story told like an adolescent out to gleefully shock by publicly splashing around in pools of blood – yes, I mean the revered Oliver Stone.  Nobody needs this trash.  Rated R in the US for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use, and language throughout; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach only.

Fighting Fish / Du Duan Dib: Thai, Action/ Drama – Ultra-violent Thai underground boxing movie, showing the kind of fighting club, here called the “Fighting Fish,” where the loser usually dies.  A French boxer and his Thai friend get mixed up in the politics and violence of the boxing underworld, and try to stay alive.  It’s the first film directed by former pin-up model and sexy video star “Ying” Julaluck Ismalone.  At Big C only; with English subtitles.

Dredd 3D: US/ UK/ India, Action/ Sci-Fi – This film portrays the future America as an irradiated waste land.  On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets.  The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury, and instant executioner.  Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug known as “Slo-Mo” which causes users to experience reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, drug use, and some sexual content; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  Shown in 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 3D (English) at Major; and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

I appreciate the different crafts that go into making a movie, and am overjoyed when done really well.  So I loved the art direction and scene design here, which I thought extraordinary.  I truly enjoyed the experiments in slow-motion photography; there were some really exceptionally beautiful sequences.  But not the ripping apart of human bodies; not the splattering of blood.  Those, I regret to say, should be censored.

Bait 3D: Australia, Action/ Horror/ Thriller – It’s your average “trapped in a supermarket with a shark” movie.  Ah, but yes, a group of people get trapped in a supermarket after a tsunami hits the coast of Queensland, Australia, and soon find out that there’s a 12 foot shark that’s been washed into the basement, and it’s hungry.

Rated R in the US for bloody violence, some grisly images, and language; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews (Rotten Tomatoes) – “a shark tale that’s poorly executed yet charmingly absurd.”  Shown in 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Resident Evil 5: Retribution: Germany/ Canada, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Still the most popular movie in town.  Having now seen it (in 2D) I can tell you that the settings are superb, and the visuals in general at the cutting edge of filmmaking.  Other than that, it’s basically just action, with a minimum of story and character.  If you enjoyed the previous films, especially Resident Evil 4, you should enjoy this, and the next one yet to come, as they are simply more of the same.  Only with ever-better graphics.

Silly and empty-headed it is indeed, and you will shake your head in disbelief at what you’re asked to swallow.  Actually, these are training films, to get you to believe more and more impossible things before breakfast.  By the end of this film you will be able to believe oh, maybe 37 impossible things with no problem.  Yet there are stretches where the movie craft lulls you into a mesmerizing half-trance which can be rather enjoyable.

Rated R in the US for sequences of strong violence throughout.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Shown in 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Chapter of Jan Dara: Thai, Drama/ Erotic – Based on the most controversial novel in all of Thai literature, Jan Dara tells the story of a young man as he moves into adulthood from a miserable childhood.  His mother died while giving birth to him, causing his father to hate him deeply.  The film certainly has immense quantities of sex – whether that is an advancement for Thai films must be left to your judgment.  Despite all the professed idealism of the director in fighting hypocrisy and prudery, I found that a great deal of the sex was done with the actors looking awkward, as though uncomfortable at what they were doing.

The story itself I found very distasteful, with several utterly worthless and unredeemable characters, and others incredibly weak.  And this is just the first film in a planned two-part series.  Rated 18+ in Thailand and an extraordinarily explicit film for this country.  In 2D, with English subtitles at Pattaya Beach and Major, Thai only at Big C.