Let’s go to the movies – Friday November 18 – November 24, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Thing (2011): (Scheduled) US/ Canada, Horror/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A prelude to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film of the same name: A paleontologist has traveled to a desolate region of Antarctica for the expedition of her lifetime.  Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago.  When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, she must join the crew’s pilot to keep it from killing them off one at a time.  Rated R in the US for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.  Mixed or average reviews.

Vampire Strawberry: (Scheduled) Thai, Comedy – Another one of those Thai combinations of horror and low comedy.  This time the story involves two kids who unwittingly release a vampire from its confinement.  Naturally the vampire is now hungry, and immediately starts hunting down young women, to drink their blood.

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.

Paranormal Activity 3: US, Horror/ Mystery – Much like its immensely popular predecessors, this is a slow-building, stealthily creepy supernatural thriller that takes a teasing and indirect approach to generating suspense and dread, but surpasses the previous ones in terms of tension and scares.  In fact, they say it’s so spine-tingling you might just freak out.  Rated R in the US for some violence, language, brief sexuality, and drug use; 18+ in Thailand.  Digital but not 3D, and at Pattaya Beach only.  Generally favorable reviews.

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.

Racing Love / Mid Mile: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Racing-car drivers competing for love and glory in this pretty standard mix of slapstick and gross jokes.  Well-known Thai comedian Kohtee Aramboy stars as a tuk-tuk driver who joins the race.  Only Pattaya Beach has English subtitles.

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: 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, but receiving much praise from those who appreciate Eddie Murphy’s brand of comedy.  Not at Big C.

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.  Now at Major only, as of last Wednesday.

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).”

30 Kam Lung Jaew: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – 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.

30+ Single on Sale: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Not to be confused with the above!  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.  At Pattaya Beach only, 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.  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).