Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I


Harry Potter didn’t saturate the cinema scene quite as much as I had thought, though it’s still got the majority of movie screens all over town.  Fair Game, unfortunately, didn’t make it.  I’m still listing it as coming, maybe too optimistically, but it and Social Network and Let Me In are the best of the new crop of Oscar-headed films, in my view.

Now playing in Pattaya

Let Me In: UK/ US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Romance/ Thriller – A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.  Chloe Grace Moretz (one of the nice things about the movie Kick-Ass; she played Hit Girl) stars as Abby, a mysterious 12-year-old who moves next door to Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a social outcast who is viciously bullied at school.  In his loneliness, Owen forms a profound bond with his new neighbor, but he can’t help noticing that Abby is decidedly weird!  I’m really looking forward to this.

The original – Let the Right One In – is a terrific 2008 award-winning Swedish film.  I love it, and they’re saying the remake is terrific too, similar to the original in all the right ways – but with enough changes to stand on its own.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence, language, and a brief sexual situation.  Generally favorable reviews.

The Social Network: US, Biography/ Drama/ History – By David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, Panic Room). A stellar film in my opinion, impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, though I think the main protagonist an ugly, amoral being who I would want to have nothing to do with.  I think what comes off the worst in the film is Harvard University – including its president.  Makes me feel rather happy I didn’t end up going there.  Bunch of spoiled juvenile snobs!  Anyway, the film is about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social-networking website, Facebook, which created a revolution in communication.  To me, he is the lowest of the low human beings, a person nobody would want to be friends with.  Yet he founds a gigantic enterprise based on friendship!  No, wait!  It’s not friendship – it’s fake friendship!  Well, that explains it.  Reviews: Universal acclaim. “A riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.”

They thought this film was the one to beat at Academy Award time next year, until it opened to tepid audience response.  Now the field seems to be wide open.  But see this mesmerizing film for its portrayal of the type of person you apparently have to be to make it in the world of internet marketing.  You won’t be pleased, but you will be gratified at some of the turn of events.

It’s a very unsettling performance from the lead.  What’s amusing is that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to be all that upset at the way he’s portrayed.  He says that sure, they had to exaggerate a bit to make it dramatic, but other than that, what’s the problem?  See it and find out for yourself what the problem is.

Unstoppable: US, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – Exciting thriller starring Denzel Washington taming a runaway train, and it might just be the most entertaining movie you will see this year.  Generally favorable reviews.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I: UK/ US, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery – A superbly told tale, with some of the finest British actors.  The first of the two-part conclusion to the series; Part II due in July of 2011 – both directed by David Yates, who has directed the last two Harry Potter films.  You know you’re going to see it, so why fight it.  Generally favorable reviews.  Remember, they gave up on the 3D conversion a couple of weeks ago at the last moment, so what you have on display is a 2D film.  In English with Thai subtitles as usual; in addition, Big C has a Thai-dubbed version.

For those who say it’s too much a preparation for the next film and the final confrontation between good and evil, I’d have to say it is that for sure, but it is a good deal more as well.  It’s necessary to remember that the filmmakers have to hew very closely to the book.  After all, author J.K. Rowling is a hugely successful author, and her fans will not accept anything that doesn’t flow from her pages.  The fans simply would not allow it.  And what would be the point at this stage?  The series is already a modern legend, a part of the lives of a huge proportion of the world’s population.  It has to be what it is.

And what it is is a fine tale, told superbly.  The adults are the top English character actors of our time, and the youngsters pretty good by now.  I’m still bothered by Emma Watson’s habit of trying to blurt out whole bunches of dialogue at once, which can’t be deciphered, but it’s much less a problem than in the previous films.  In addition, Daniel Radcliffe has achieved a considerable depth in his acting, and a certain maturity.  Rupert Grint, who rounds out the trio, is often engaging and endearing.  Best of all is the menacing and meditative mood of the film, which is full of darkness and foreboding.

Fair Game: (perhaps) US, Biography/ Drama/ Thriller – Director Doug Liman’s fact-based drama of former US ambassador Joseph Wilson; his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson; and the events of 2003, when her identity as a CIA operative was leaked in retaliation by the White House after her husband wrote an op-ed piece criticizing the US invasion of Iraq.  Dirty games by the government, surprise, surprise!  Generally favorable reviews.

Eat Pray Love: US, Drama/ Romance – Starring Julia Roberts with James Franco, based on the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert.  A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction.  After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to “find herself.”  Mixed or average reviews.  Pattaya Beach only.

Skyline: US, Sci-Fi/ Thriller – The technical aspects of this film are superb, setting a new level of special-effects work.  But the dialogue and the plotting are really bad.  I mean, probably the worst I’ve ever experienced.  A group of friends is awakened in the dead of night by an eerie light beaming through the window, drawing people outside where they suddenly vanish into the air.  It’s soon discovered that an otherworldly force is swallowing the entire human population.  With a cast of relative unknowns and shot independently of any major studio, this film is very much the vision of its two creators, the Brothers Strause (Colin and Greg) who have provided visual effects for Avatar, Iron Man 2, and seemingly every other big-budget production released over the past decade or so.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Thai-dubbed at Big C, English elsewhere.

Water / Nam: Thai, Comedy/ Horror – The usual Thai slapstick.

Due Date: US, Comedy – A high-strung father-to-be, played by Robert Downey Jr., is forced to hitch a ride with a college slacker (and aspiring actor) on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.  Rated R in the US for language, drug use, and sexual content; 15+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  Not at Big C.

RED: US, Action/ Comedy – A delight!  I had more fun at this one than any movie in some time.  It even made you muse over a few things as you sped along, but not too much and not too deeply.  Mostly it’s just glorious nonsense, with actors that you have come to love to watch, doing their stuff.  Starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, and Mary-Louise Parker – a great cast!  They used to be the CIA’s top agents – but the secrets they knew now make them the Agency’s top targets for assassination.  Rated 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, but I loved it!  Not at Big C.

Fan Mai: Thai, Action/ Thriller – Really lots of rain and blood.  A girl calls it off with her boyfriend when she finds he’s been seeing someone else – who’s dead.  Spooky.  Pattaya Beach only.