Let’s go to the movies – Friday September 2 – September 8, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Fright Night: (Scheduled) US/ India, Comedy/ Horror – A remake of the 1985 cult classic, a teenager (heartthrob Anton Yelchin from Leningrad) guesses that his new neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire responsible for a string of recent deaths.  When no one he knows believes him, he enlists a self proclaimed vampire killer and Las Vegas magician to help him take down the evil creature.  Rated R in the US for bloody horror violence, and language, including some sexual references.  Generally favorable reviews, believe it or not, reviewers saying it’s smart and funny, as well as stylishly gory.

Colombiana: (Scheduled) US/ France, Action/ Adventure/ Drama – A young woman, after witnessing her parents’ murder as a child in Bogota, grows up to be a stone-cold assassin.  Co-written by Luc Besson (Arthur and the Invisibles), directed by Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3), and starring Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, and Callum Blue.  Full of action, sex, and violence.  Mixed or average reviews.

Love, Not Yet: (Scheduled) Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Thai Rom-Com about, what else, teenaged love and sex.

Ceremony: (Scheduled) US, Comedy/ Romance – US Rom-Com about, what else, R-rated love and sex, this time among upper-crust New England intellectuals.  A young man crashes the wedding of the thirty-something woman he wants back.  Stars Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, and Reece Thompson.  Mixed or average reviews.

Apollo 18: (Scheduled) US, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Decades-old found footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the US has never returned to the moon.  Basically The Blair Witch in outer space, with ultra-low budget.  Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego makes his English-language feature debut.  No reviews yet.

Bangkok Kung Fu: (Scheduled) Thai, Action/ Comedy – Five kids flee from underworld figures who turned them into beggars.  Taken in and taught by a kung fu master, they are now grown up and return for revenge for their destroyed lives.

Cowboys & Aliens: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Whatever were they thinking?  This is a film in which characters with ugly personalities do unpleasant things to each other – the characters being humans, semi-humans, and aliens.  I try to point out in every movie what some people might like, so you’ll have some idea if it’s for you.  So here goes … Nope.  Can’t think of one reason why anyone should want to see this.  Very mixed styles, very mixed messages, all of it uncomfortable.  A real mess.  Also, strangely, it feels like a cheap film to me – despite the high-priced help of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.  Looks like it was shot on a studio back lot.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English everywhere, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Kon Khon: Thai, Drama/ Musical – This is one I had high hopes for.  It’s set in 1965 amongst two rival Khon troupes doing dance performances of the Ramakian.  The principal actors are all actual Khon-drama performers, meaning they’ve had years of training in this ancient and proud Thai story-telling tradition.  In the film, one splendid dancer is the choice to dance the protagonist in the Ramakian, but a brawl between his Khon master and the rival Khon group prevents him from becoming the revered actor he wants to be.  A great setup, and there are several long sequences of Khon dance drama, which the director, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, hopes will attract younger audiences into an appreciation of the art form.  And there is one inventive section where the male lead feels he can’t express his love clearly enough in words so says it though Khon dance positions – nicely done!  I’m rather fond of Khon drama, especially when refashioned into something approachable by today’s audiences (like the presentations of the renowned Joe Louis Puppet Theatre).  But overall this didn’t work, in my opinion.  The story felt ludicrous, and the acting of it over-the-top melodrama – fake emotions writ large.  The best to be said is that its heart’s in the right place.  With English subtitles everywhere.

Conan the Barbarian 3D: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – The tale of Conan the Cimmerian and his adventures across the continent of Hyboria on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.  Relentless and gory violence which they say is faithful to the original books, but also has shallow characters, dialogue, and acting.  Has a lot of unnecessary 3D effects.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, some sexuality, and nudity.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  In 3D only at Pattaya Beach; in English generally, but Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Hanna: US, Action/ Crime/ Mystery – Sort of a cross between a Euro Art Film and an ass-kicking female action flick. Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan) is a teenage girl with the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider; these come from being raised by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland.  Her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin.  Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Cate Blanchett).  An odd film with odd actions done for obscure reasons, but entertaining and intriguing.  Generally favorable reviews.  Pattaya Beach only.

One Day: US, Drama/ Romance – Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the night of their college graduation – July 15th, 1988.  After spending the night together, Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives.  They are sometimes together, sometimes not.  Critics say it’s nicely acted and has some interesting story twists.  I like the director Lone Scherfig, who did the marvelous An Education a while ago.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: US, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – This is a reboot of the original Planet of the Apes film series: Set in present day San Francisco, It starts afresh with a new continuity, and as you will note from an additional scene a short way into the credits, more in this series is on the way.

Using great advances in the performance-capturing technology pioneered in Avatar, this is the first time in which the apes are not played by costumed actors, but are something much more realistic – I mean truly; just wait till you see them!  Starring the truly amazing Andy Serkis as the chimpanzee Caesar in a very exciting and moving performance.  I thought the film thoroughly entertaining, and thought-provoking.  Also starring Freida Pinto and James Franco.  Generally favorable reviews, but I would be more enthusiastic than that.  Not designed for 3D; in English generally, but Thai-dubbed at Big C.

King Naresuan Part 4: Thai, History/ Drama/ War – The long war between Ayudhya and Burma continues in this historical spectacular with a cast of thousands, but the promised battle of the elephants has been put off till Part 5.  The Thai government has rated this film “Promote” – which means they encourage you to see it.

Final Destination 5: US, Horror/ Thriller – Death is just as omnipresent as ever in this the fifth(!) of this series (over eleven years!) about death not liking it when he’s cheated of his victims.  One man’s premonition saves a group of coworkers from a terrifying suspension bridge collapse.  But since this group of unsuspecting souls was never supposed to survive, each one is stalked by a particularly inventive death.  I did rather enjoy the death during a gymnastics competition.  The filmmakers tease you by having the camera pause on all the different things that could cause death, leaving you to wonder which one it will be.  I never imagined a gym could be so full of dangers!  Rated R in the US for strong violent/gruesome accidents, and some language – 18+ in Thailand.  As of Wednesday it was playing in 2D in English at Pattaya Beach, in 3D and English at Major, and in both 2D (English subtitles) and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – This, the final Harry Potter, is an exciting and massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now.  It’s powerfully acted and visually dazzling.  Playing now only at Pattaya Beach and only in a 2D version, at least as of Wednesday.  Reviews: one of the rare films to be labeled by Metacritic as “Universal acclaim.”