Let’s go to the movies – Friday September 9 – September 15, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Contagion: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days.  As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself.  At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.  Stars Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Matt Damon.

Eternity / Tee Rak: (Scheduled) Thai, Drama – A melancholy romance and family drama by indie Thai filmmaker Sivaroj Kongsakul.  This multi-award-winning film starts as a middle-aged man rides his motorcycle through the silent landscape of a small farming town.  He is a ghost who has returned to “walk the footsteps” of his youth.  His name is Wit and he died three days ago.  Soon, the silence gives way to the sound of a young woman’s laughter.  Her name is Koi and she is all of twenty years old.  It is now the past and this memory recalls the days when Wit fell in love with his future wife.  He has brought her home to meet his parents and though she is at first wary of rural life, she soon accepts that this will be her future with the man that she loves.  Finally, the past dissipates and we are back in the present with Koi, now a middle-aged woman.  With two young children and her husband gone, she must find the strength to continue on.  One of the finer Thai dramas.

The Outrage / U Mong Pa Meung: (Scheduled) Thai, Crime/ Mystery – Adapted from the famed Japanese film Rashomon, this Thai version takes place in a wood during Thai’s Lanna period.  There’s a mysterious murder, and the event is told through three eye-witnesses: a young monk, a woodcutter, and an undertaker.  Each swears to their story, but the three stores are different.  Stars Ananda Everingham, Chermarn Boonyasak, Mario Maurer, and Mum Jokmok.  Highly anticipated.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: (Scheduled) US/ Australia/ Mexico, Horror/ Thriller — Produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro.  The original of this was a television thriller from 1973 which so bewitched the then 9-year-old del Toro that he then and there determined on a life of making fantasy horror films – which he has done.  A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend in Rhode Island discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.  They say it starts out being quite scary indeed.  With Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes.  Rated R in the US for violence and terror.  Mixed or average reviews.

Fright Night: 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.  As of Wednesday it was in 3D at Pattaya Beach and Major, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Colombiana: 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 (from Avatar).  Full of action, sex, and violence – so much so that’s it’s rated 18+ in Thailand (but only PG-13 in the US).  In English generally, but Thai-dubbed at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews.

Love, Not Yet: (Scheduled) Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Thai Rom-Com about, what else, teenaged love and sex.  This Thai ensemble film is a package of three stories by different directors on the subject of teen pregnancy – and high-school, unplanned pregnancy, at that.

Zookeeper: (Scheduled) US, Comedy/ Family/ Romance – I’ve seen this, and some of the animal antics made me laugh, and I dare say everyone will find them amusing to watch.  But I think your overall appreciation of the film will depend purely on how interesting you find the two human leads, Kevin James and Rosario Dawson, and their rocky road to romance.  Generally unfavorable reviews.

Bangkok Kung Fu: 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.  With Love of Siam star Mario Maurer.  Thai-only at Big C; English subtitles elsewhere.

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.  I’m rather fond of Khon drama, 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.  No longer at Major.

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!.  I thought the film thoroughly entertaining, and thought-provoking.  Generally favorable reviews, but I would be more enthusiastic than that.  Not designed for 3D; not 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.  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 and Major, and in 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C. Mixed or average reviews.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Still hanging on as a special midnight showing at Pattaya Beach, at least as of last look.  It deserves it.  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 in a 2D version, if at all.  Reviews: one of the rare films to be labeled by Metacritic as “Universal acclaim.”

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, and I’m skipping it.  In 3D only at Pattaya Beach; in English generally, but Thai-dubbed at Big C.

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.