Let’s go to the movies – Friday November 16 – November 22, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Skyfall: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – This is a truly enjoyable film for me, and I think probably the best James Bond film of all time, offering a thought-provoking examination of why 007 endures as an on-screen legend.  Directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, and a fantastic Javier Bardem as a villain you won’t soon forget.  And, saints be praised, there is no “shaky-cam” used, but just good old-fashioned sturdy film-making.  All the more enjoyable for that. 

Reviews: Universal acclaim, saying that from the opening in Istanbul to the final siege shootout in the Scottish Highlands, the film is a fine and even sentimental spectacle, giving us an attractively human Bond.  It’s the runaway hit in Thailand since it opened last week, and an “unbelievable” overseas mega-hit according to the main industry box office tracker.  A 2D film in English; Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Argo: US, Drama/ Thriller – Take a look at this one.  It started out in third place in its first week, but due to strong word of mouth steadily increased business until it was in first place in its third week.  A rare phenomenon.  A lot of Oscar talk about the film – seems to be the best picture front-runner at the moment – and it’s well worth your consideration.

Based on true events, the film chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis — the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.  On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage.  But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador.  Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country.

Directed by Ben Affleck and staring him and Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Victor Garber.  Rated R in the US for language and some violent images; 13+ in Thailand.  Reviews: Universal acclaim, saying it’s a crackerjack political thriller told with intelligence, great period detail, and a surprising amount of nutty humor for a serious look at the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81.  A 2D film (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major only.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – This is probably swamping the theaters at the moment as fans of the series see the final act of the years-long saga.  It will be hard for them to say goodbye to one of recent history’s most record-breaking and passionately discussed series.  But . . . all things must come to an end, and in this fifth film of the franchise, the existence of Bella and Edward’s child Renesmee has attracted the attention of the volatile Volturi, who seem to want nothing more than to take down the Cullen family and end their reign of looking fabulous in the sun.  Together, the family assembles clans to help them fight, and the result is sure to be action-packed.

Frankenweenie 3D: US, Comedy/ Animation/ Horror/ Sci-Fi – I have to admit I am a fan and admirer of Tim Burton, the writer and director.  And of animation.  This is a moderately budgeted film rich in imagination: it’s in black and white, and it uses an animation format known as stop motion, which is modestly inexpensive but requires painstaking attention to detail.  Tim Burton used this format before, in The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride, and reports are this is as dark and delightful.  One correspondent tells me the 3D is excellent and mostly unobtrusive, and that the object textures as shown off by the film technique are particularly satisfying.

The story: After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor Frankenstein harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life – with just a few minor adjustments.  Generally favorable reviews, calling it an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story.  In black and white 3D (English), playing at Pattaya Beach only.

Looper: US, Action/ Sci-Fi – A highly acclaimed Sci-Fi movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman who assassinates targets that arrive blindfolded from the future.  For him it’s just a job, till a new target he receives turns out to be himself from the future.  He hesitates, resulting in the escape of his older self.  Also stars Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. Rated R in the US for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity, and drug content; 18+ here.

Reviews: Universal acclaim, calling it as thought-provoking as it is thrilling, and delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action.  While I thought it not quite worthy of all its accolades, I do recommend it as a film well worth seeing.  In 2D (English), playing now at Pattaya Beach only.

Detective Conan: The Eleventh Striker: Japan, Anime/ Animation – The 16th animated feature following the adventures of the boy detective and his pals.  Conan is a popular children’s figure in Japanese manga and anime.  Thai-dubbed only; no English subtitles; at Pattaya Beach and Big C only.

House at the End of the Street: US/ Canada, Horror/ Thriller – A mother and daughter move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents.  When the daughter befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over.  Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, and Max Thieriot.

Generally unfavorable reviews, saying it’s poorly conceived, clumsily executed, and almost completely bereft of scares.  It strands its talented star in a film as bland as its title.  In 2D (English), showing at Pattaya Beach only.

Soob Ku Gu Loke: Thai, Comedy/ Sci-Fi – Two bikers are accidentally involved in a mission to save the world from an alien invasion.  With Mum Jokmok and Nakorn “Ple” Silachai.  It’s a lot of slapstick silliness with, I’m told, a solid string of toilet gags, all of which will painlessly kill off some of your brain cells.  English subtitles everywhere, except Thai only at Big C.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D: France/ US/ Canada, Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – Heather Mason and her father have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn’t fully understand.  Now on the eve of her 18th birthday, plagued by horrific nightmares and the disappearance of her father, Heather discovers she’s not who she thinks she is.  The revelation leads her deeper into a strange and terrifying alternate reality – a demonic world that threatens to trap her forever.  Rated R in the US for violence and disturbing images, some language, and brief nudity.

Reviews: Overwhelming dislike, saying the film features weak characters, an incomprehensible plot, and a decided shortage of scares, and is a mediocre effort even by the standards of video game adaptations.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Alex Cross: US, Action/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – A homicide detective is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with a ferociously skilled serial killer who specializes in torture and pain.  The Madea actor, Tyler Perry, playing a new character type for him of a super-brilliant detective, Alex Cross, a character created by the immensely prolific writer James Patterson and previously played in two genuine Patterson-based films by Morgan Freeman – Along Came a Spider being my favorite.  This film just uses the character, with a connection to the Patterson books in name only.

Reviews: Generally unfavorable, saying it has a tasteless, lazily written screenplay, and is a mess in any traditional movie sense, though it does have its moments of preposterous fun.  A 2D film playing in English at Pattaya Beach and Major; not at Big C.

Hortaewtak 4: Thai, Comedy – The fourth installment of the ladyboy horror-comedy series Hortaewtak, directed by Poj Arnon and starring Koeti Aramboy and other Thai male comedians in drag. In Thai only at all locations.

Saranae Osekai: Thai, Comedy – Willy and Hoi, the two pranksters from the popular Thai prank show called “Saranae,” travel to Japan to seek new inspiration for their basically slapstick show. In Thai only, and at Pattaya Beach only.