Let’s go to the movies – Friday 11 – 17 November,2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

In Time: US, Crime/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I quite enjoyed this film!  It has one of the most intriguing premises of recent movies: In a future where time is literally money, and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, steal, or inherit more time.  You need to stretch your beliefs a bit to swallow all this, but once you do you’re in for a fun and stylish ride with a bit of social commentary.  It’s a quietly angry picture – an extended metaphor for the way corporations suck the life from the poor and the not-quite-middle-class.

A young man (the ubiquitous and ever more excellent Justin Timberlake) lives life a minute at a time, until a windfall of time gives him access to the world of the wealthy, where he teams up with a beautiful young heiress to destroy the whole corrupt system.  Also stars Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettyfer, Amanda Seyfried, and Olivia Wilde.  An interesting style to it, and the art direction and cinematography are top notch.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English with Thai subtitles everywhere, and Big C also has a Thai-dubbed version.

Killer Elite: US/ Australia, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – The story pits two of the worlds’ most elite operatives – an ex-special ops agent (Jason Statham) and his longtime mentor (Robert De Niro) – against the cunning leader of a secret military society (Clive Owen).  Covering the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East, they are plunged into a highly dangerous game of cat and mouse – where the predators become the prey.  Rated R in the US for strong violence, language, and some sexuality/ nudity; SF cinemas have a Thai rating of 18+, but Major has it as 15+.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English everywhere except Big C, where it’s Thai-dubbed.

1911: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ History/ War – A historical drama based on the founding of the Republic of China when nationalist forces led by Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty.  Directed by and starring Jackie Chan.  A lavishly illustrated history lesson with more than a touch of Chinese government propaganda which avoids completely some currently uncomfortable topics.  Even the irrepressible Jackie Chan (this is his 100th film) seems subdued.  Rated R in the US for war violence, 15+ in Thailand.  Shown only in a Thai-dubbed version.  Generally unfavorable reviews.

Tower Heist: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime – Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and Casey Affleck lead an all-star cast in a comedy caper about ordinary working guys who seek revenge on the Wall Street swindler who stiffed them in a Ponzi scheme.  Mixed or average reviews.

Dream House: US, Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – A family unknowingly moves into a home where several grisly murders were committed, only to find themselves the killer’s next target.  Stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts.  Generally unfavorable reviews, describing it as slow and stuffy, and way too obvious to be scary.  Pattaya Beach only.

Top Secret / Wai Roon Pan Lan: Thai, Drama – Based on a true story of a teenage boy – “Top” Aitthipat Kulapongvanich – who was wasting his time with online games until a twist of fate changed him from an ordinary teenager to a young billionaire at 27 by creating his Tao Kae Noi seaweed-snack company when he was just out of his teens. “Top” is his nickname, so the title really reads “Top’s Secret (to success).”

The movie’s teen billionaire is portrayed by Patchara “Peach” Chirathivat, the young actor who made his scene-stealing debut in the rock ‘n’ roll movie SuckSeed earlier this year.  The director is Songyos Sugmakanan, one of the six directors of the legendary Thai film Fan Chan (My Girl), a film whose charm and influence on the Thai movie industry is incalculable.  It’s one of my very favorite Thai movies.  Songyos also directed another favorite, Dek Hor (The Dorm), a brilliant and spooky coming-of-age story.

30+ Single on Sale: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A woman in her 30’s faces misfortunes in love and struggles to find her soul mate, but thinks her chances are nearly over now that she’s thirty – especially now that a fortune teller tells her that if she doesn’t find a man soon, she’ll have to wait 20 years before another one comes along.  Has been a big hit in Thailand.  With popular Thai stars Arak (Pe) Amornsupsiri and Cherman Boonyasak.

30 Kam Lung Jaew: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Not to be confused with the above! Ja, a beautiful woman, has everything a woman is supposed to dream of having: a successful career, a partying lifestyle, and a handsome sweetheart.  On her 30th birthday, Ja finds her perfect life changed when her boyfriend wants to halt the relationship.  Now, at thirtysomething, she accepts a happy single life until a new guy gets in her life – and he’s seven years younger than she is.  This one is Thai-only everywhere.

Johnny English Reborn: US/ France/ UK, Comedy – Rowan Atkinson returns to the role of the most unlikely intelligence officer in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where he must stop a group of international assassins before they eliminate a world leader and cause global chaos.  He is in truth a very funny man, and you’ll likely be surprised to find out how much you’re laughing uncontrollably.  Mixed or average reviews – some people simply aren’t moved by his brand of humor. Pattaya Beach only (as of last Wednesday).

The Smurfs 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – The little blue people too cute for words, famed from a 421-episode Saturday morning television series in the US from 1981-90, have a New York City adventure in a hybrid live-action/ animated format.  Neil Patrick Harris is the main human character, Jonathan Winters and Anton Yelchin among the stellar voices for the cuddly creatures.  Generally unfavorable reviews, but though a bit mean-spirited, I thought it was nevertheless a fun riff on New York City.  Kids and fans of the characters will probably love it.  Only at Pattaya Beach, and it’s shown in 3D (as of Wednesday).

The Three Musketeers 3D: Germany/ France/ UK/ US, Action/ Adventure/ Romance – The hot-headed young D’Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down-on-their-luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.  An action-filled re-imagining of the Alexandre Dumas classic that I found thoroughly enjoyable in all respects – the photography, the location shooting, the costumes, the acting, the action, the script.  All really quite superior.  Christoph Waltz plays the villainous Cardinal Richelieu, Orlando Bloom plays a duplicitous Buckingham always full of surprises, and the delightful Logan Lerman plays D’Artagnan.  Generally unfavorable reviews, but I liked it.  At Pattaya Beach only, in 3D, as of last Wednesday.

Contagion: US, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Strange: I found this a poor film with some very good things in it. It should have been a very scary movie, playing upon and clarifying some basic terrors currently active in our society.  But despite the intensity of the individual scenes it didn’t add up to much of an impact for me, because it was too diffuse.  Too many individual stories, each only briefly told.  No single compelling point of view.  But: Generally favorable reviews.

Soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong, a woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) dies from what looks like flu or something similar.  Her young son dies a few days later.  Her husband (Matt Damon in a small but crucial role, played wonderfully) seems immune.  Thus begins the spread of a deadly infection.  For doctors and administrators at the US Center for Disease Control, several days pass before anyone realizes the extent or gravity of this new infection.  They must first identify the type of virus in question and then find a means of combating it, a process that will likely take several months.  As the contagion spreads to millions of people worldwide, societal order begins to break down as people panic.  A large and impressive cast, including Jude Law – disturbing in a strangely written part of a blogger with too many cross-currents to be believable; Laurence Fishburne – playing an ineffectual character far removed from his usual persona; and Marion Cotillard, Elliott Gould, Kate Winslet, many others.  At Major Cineplex only, as of last Wednesday, in digital (but not 3D).