Let’s go to the movies – Friday August 3 – August 9, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Step Up 4 / Step Up Revolution:  US, Drama/ Music/ Romance – If you like the Step Up films, there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this one.  The dance sequences are lively and spectacular, and the 3D is great.

There is something endearing about this series that separates them from other dance flicks.  Most importantly, they don’t take themselves seriously.  Their predictable and moronic story lines are simply an excuse to showcase some mad dance moves that you’ll never get to see in real life.  These films know that they aren’t high art, and simply enjoy themselves.  Mixed or average reviews, but on the low side.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Seven Something / Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Three love stories from three generations, designed to celebrate the seventh year of the film studio GTH, home of many Thai hits, starting with the 2003 childhood romance Fan Chan (My Girl), one of my most favorite of all Thai films.  In 2D with English subtitles at all locations.

The first story, directed by Paween Purijitpanya, and starring Jirayu La-ongmanee and Suthata Udomsilp, is about romance at the age of 14.  Director Paween is responsible for the well-regarded horror thriller Body #19 and contributed to the hit horror compilations Phobia and Phobia 2.  The young actor Jirayu was in last year’s hit rock ‘n’ roll romance SuckSeed while Suthata was in another big GTH hit from last year, the psychological thriller Laddaland.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, about a celebrity couple (Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang) breaking up when they are 21 and reuniting at age 28.  Adisorn is one of the six directors of Fan Chan and also directed and co-wrote the hit romance Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story.

Jira Maligool directs the third part, which features Nichkhun Horvejkul from the Korean boyband 2PM and newscaster Suquan Bulakul in a story about a woman marathon runner going through a crisis at age 42.  Director Jira is a co-founder of the studio, and this marks his return to directing for the first time since 2005’s historical drama The Tin Mine – considered a flop apparently, but a film I enjoyed greatly in two viewings.

The Dark Knight Rises: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – If you at all enjoyed the first two in this series, you will enjoy this one too.  All in all, it’s a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the series, with much to commend it.

And yet … in a way it’s altogether fitting that the shootings in Colorado took place at a midnight showing of this film, for this is without doubt one of the darkest mainstream films ever made, with an unrelieved depiction of the worst of human behavior, with motives of simple power and sadism.  Even though the film is rated “G”, the dark is so unrelieved that it really makes me question whether I can consider it entertainment – for me.  At the moment, I think it is not.

It is well made, there are fine performances, the movie craft in every department is superb.  It’s directed again by Christopher Nolan, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, and Morgan Freeman.  Christopher Nolan co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan.  It’s intended to be the conclusion of the series.  The movie was shot in 2D on film, which the director prefers for its photographic qualities which he finds superior in so many ways to digital, with about half of it shot in IMAX format for added detail, but again using film not digital capture.  Apparently, from all reports, the IMAX half is so impressive to watch that it’s worth traveling to Bangkok to see it at the one IMAX theatre showing it on film.

It’s 2 hrs 45 mins long, not a drawback as far as I’m concerned.  Generally favorable reviews.  The director strongly insists that the movie be shown using film, not digital, and it does appear to be shown this way in Pattaya.  It’s presented in English, with an additional Thai-dubbed version at Big C.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A film that I think desecrates history in its pretense to explore the supposedly secret life of one of the greatest presidents of the US.  Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and the well-known and knowledgeable vampire director Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted and the Night Watch/ Day Watch vampire studies) combine forces to wallow in the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.  Starring the extraordinarily talented Benjamin Walker (as Lincoln), Rufus Sewell, and Dominic Cooper.  Mixed or average reviews, saying generally that it has superb visual style, but that the mashup of genres don’t jell in a coherent way, and the result is not satisfying.  Rated R in the US for violence throughout and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand.  Shown only in 2D (English) in Pattaya.  No longer playing at Big C.

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – I think it’s good, with some fine work in it, an intelligible story, and excellent special effects.  And I find that Andrew Garfield makes a tremendously appealing hero.  That said, I found myself cool to it overall, and I don’t know why.  This time Peter Parker is played by the quite amazing Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).  Although he’s hilariously too old to be in high school, he pulls it off.  He’s an outcast who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field).  Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today.  Generally highly favorable reviews.  In 2D (English) at Major and Pattaya Beach; no longer at Big C.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – One of filmdom’s most beloved trios – Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the sabre-toothed cat – embark upon a great adventure after a cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift.  Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.  Meanwhile, Scrat continues to chase his elusive acorn.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that the visually inventive film has moments of charm and witty slapstick, and the 3D looks terrific. In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.  Very good family fare.

The Dictator: US, Comedy – This newest film by your favorite crazy actor/ screenwriter Sacha Baron Cohen is scripted rather than the sort-of-documentary performances of his previous Bruno and Borat, and I feel a lot more comfortable as a result.  The making of fools out of people in real interviews which was so much the style of the previous films made me feel very uncomfortable and sort of slimy.  This is much more a regular script, and is indeed very funny. Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, and Ben Kingsley.  Rated R in the US for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language, and some violent images; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  A 2D film, showing only at Pattaya Beach (as of last Wednesday).

Wong Jorn Pid / Heaven and Hell: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – An omnibus horror movie comprising three supernatural stories, all involving footage “found” in three security cameras: one in a broken-down elevator, one in a convenience store, and one in a creepy old house. Rated 18+. English subtitles; playing only at Pattaya Beach as of Wednesday.