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

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Now playing in Pattaya

War Horse: (Scheduled.) US, Drama/ History/ War – Steven Spielberg’s ode to horses and World War I trench warfare.  Fine adventure story, beautifully handled and photographed, but way too pretty a picture for me for a setting of such horror.  Stars Emily Watson and David Thewlis.  Generally favorable reviews.

The Lady: (Scheduled.) France/ UK, Biography/ Drama – An epic love story about how an extraordinary couple and family sacrifice their happiness at great human cost for a higher cause.  This is the story of Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband, Michael Aris.  Despite distance, long separations, and a dangerously hostile regime, their love endures until the very end.  A story of devotion and human understanding set against a background of political turmoil which continues today.  It’s as well the story of the peaceful quest of the woman who is at the core of Burma’s democracy movement.  Stars Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, and Jonathan Raggett; directed by Luc Besson.  Rated R in the US for violence, including some bloody images.  Mixed or average reviews, which admit that this is a ploddingly conventional tribute to a heroic Burmese activist.  They say that Besson is on his best behavior, but he’s so out of his element that his film is dull.  Even imperfectly told, however, Aung San Suu Kyi’s story remains astonishingly powerful and moving.

Man on a Ledge: (Scheduled.) US, Crime/ Thriller – As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion.  The previews play heavily on the fear of falling, making one who is afraid of heights, like me, very uncomfortable indeed.  Stars Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, and Jamie Bell.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that uninspired acting and preposterous plotlines defuse it’s mildly intriguing premise.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: (Scheduled.) US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – A follow-up to the 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth. Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role from the first film, receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist.  He partners with his mom’s boyfriend on a mission to find the source of the signal, which they think was sent by his missing grandfather.  With Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine.  No reviews yet.

What’s Your Number?: US, Comedy/ Romance – With Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, and Blythe Danner.  Faris’ character runs into one of her exes who is now a Prince Charming, so she decides to look up all of her exes to see if any of them have changed for the better.  When she has trouble locating them all, she asks her neighbor, who sleeps with women every night and sneaks out the morning after to avoid talking to them, to help her in her search for the perfect man among her twenty ex-lovers.  Rated R in the US for sexual content and language; 13+ in Thailand.  Generally unfavorable reviews, saying in general it’s full of lively and crude sexual banter, and discussions of hookups and sex.  Reviews say the film is funnier and more accessible than you might imagine, and certainly keeps the genre headed in an ever-dirtier direction.  Pattaya Beach only.

First Kiss / Rak Sud Tai Pai Na: Thai, Drama/ Romance – In this romantic comedy, a single girl, 25, meets a grade-12 boy student on a bus.  Fate plays trick with them when, minutes after they met, they accidentally kiss as they both try to stick their heads out the same window to watch a roadside accident.  He is now determined to win her heart, despite his inexperience and the age difference.  Can a high-schooler court an office girl?  Will the boy have enough romantic tricks in his bag to win the heart of the older woman?  Will this movie give you the answer?  Thai only at Pattaya Beach, English subtitles elsewhere.

Underworld 4: Awakening: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror – To gauge from the previews, it’s more of the same, so if you’ve been enthralled by the epic battle between Vampires and Lycans, as delineated so noisily and violently in the first three episodes, why this is for you.  Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in the lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.  Rated R in the US for strong violence and gore, and for some language; 15+ in Thailand.  In 3D and 2D at Pattaya Beach, 3D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews, saying in general there’s more vapid action and less story in this installment, which makes the whole affair feel inconsequential.  And it does and gets little with the 3-D.

ATM Er Rak Error: Thai, Comedy – This Thai Romantic Comedy has to do with a wayward ATM machine that gives out too much cash.  Number one in Thailand, and a big hit.  English subtitles all locations.

Panya Raenu 2: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – The sequel to Panya Raenu, continuing the story of friendship between Panya and Raenu.  This time they’ve added the popular Petchtai Wongkamlao (Mum Jokmok), and Tukkie to the cast.  With English subtitles.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: US/ Sweden/ UK/ Germany, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – There are some decidedly good aspects to this brutal and captivating film.  Rooney Mara is in general quite good as the young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, who has to be one of the most unique and vivid female protagonists ever created, first in the highly popular series of novels by Stieg Larsson, then in the trio of Swedish films made from them, and now here.  Also with Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer.  The film is directed with impressive intensity by David Fincher (The Social Network).

Rated R in the US for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language; 18+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only (as of Wednesday), and in Digital (not 3D).

Meung Gu: Thai, Action/ Drama – A transfer student at Chiang Mai University becomes friends with another student, the leader of the Sperm Gang, and gets drawn into gang warfare, learns about the dangers of life, and thereby achieves manhood.  It’s apparently based on a true story about a fight between a gang called the Sperm Gang and another called The Night Bazaar Gang, which terrorized Chiang Mai some 40 years ago, although this film takes place in the present.  Heartthrob Mario Maurer (The Love of Siam), is the gang leader, but filled with virtue: Loyalty, love of his friends, respectful treatment of girls.  Well-known spots in Chiang Mai are photographed darkly, making a nice town look quite ominous.  Not at Pattaya Beach; English subtitles.

Contraband: US/ UK, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.  With Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kate Beckinsale.  Rated R in the US for violence, pervasive language, and brief drug use; 18+ in Thailand.  Not at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that, as mindless action capers go, this is a little less mindless than some.  Not at Big C.

Real Steel: US/ India, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Sport – A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport.  Despite the outlandish premise the movie proves that, yes, audiences can root for robots in boxing matches, and get emotionally involved.  The story about a rejected son is nicely played and will bring a tear to your eye.  And there is some truly thrilling and exciting action, done very well indeed, as you would expect from a Steven Spielberg production.  The film uses motion capture technology of actual boxers for accuracy during the robot fights, supervised by no less than Sugar Ray Leonard.  Overall it is an amazingly entertaining film, with a thoroughly satisfying performance by the young boy, and the robots.  Mixed or average reviews; much better than you would think.  It’s a 2D film, in English at Pattaya Beach and Major; Thai-dubbed at Big C.

The Adventures of Tintin: US/ New Zealand, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Mystery – Based on the series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist Hergé.  Steven Spielberg, as director and producer, has once again crafted what I think is a spirited, thrilling adventure using the latest motion-capture technology and wedding it to tried and true Spielberg story elements.  It keeps close to the original tone and intent, so those who are fond of the books will be enthralled.  Whether it will capture the imagination of those not brought up on the books is uncertain.  The film has not had a very lucrative run here in Thailand.  I enjoyed it well enough, but I think the character and his distinctive style has to be, in the main, an acquired taste.  Generally favorable reviews.  Only at Pattaya Beach, in Digital 3D, at least as of Wednesday.