4 Romance (Fan Waan Aai Joop)
A Christmas-time movie might be becoming something of a tradition for director Chukiat Sakweerakul. Last year around holiday time, his Love of Siam was released in cinemas, and indeed Christmas was an integral part of the film.
But 4 Romance has the solid success of the critically acclaimed Love of Siam to build on, and it features the stars of Love of Siam, among them Mario Maurer and "Pitch" Witwisit Hiranyawongkul. They are just a small part of the sprawling ensemble cast.
The influence of Korean pop culture has been evident on the streets of Bangkok for the past several years, as seen from the mashed-up, bedhead hair styles worn by boys.
Baz Luhrmann directs this super-stylized, sweeping epic, using a broad brush to paint Australian culture across several genres, including western, war movies and romance (and a little bit of Wizard of Oz thrown in).
Nicole Kidman stars as a cold aristocratic Englishwomen who arrives in the Northern Territory during the outbreak of World War II. She's hoping to help her husband get his struggling cattle ranch back in order. But the husband is dead. Nicole hires the enigmatic Drover (Hugh Jackman, always framed heroically) to drive her to the ranch. She then engages "Mr. Drover" to lead a cattle drive to Darwin.
Of course there is a rival cattle baron who seeks to make things difficult. And the the shadow of Australia's "stolen generations" looms, as the authorities seek to take away a little Aboriginal boy who is central to the plot and helps bring "the Mrs." and "Mr. Drover" together.
I saw Australia when it opened in the States last month. It's close to three hours long, but is nothing but sheer spectacle - worth seeing on the big screen.
Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith again voice zoo animals in this sequel to DreamWorks 2005 animated feature.
The scene-stealing penguins are also back, and they've fixed an airplane to fly the lion, zebra, hippo and giraffe from Madagascar to mainland Africa, where for the first time, the animals will meet their own kind in the wild.
Comedian Bernie Mac is among the celebrity voices this time around. In one of his last performances before he died earlier this year, Mac portrays Stiller's lion king father.
Other voices this time around include Alec Baldwin as another lion and Cedric the Entertainer as a ladies-man hippo.
It's in regular cinemas, but there's also a digital version at IMAX.
Generational and cultural clashes color The Band’s Visit, showing on Friday at Chulalongkorn University.
In this dry-witted Israeli comedy, an Egyptian police band is sent to Israel to perform at the opening of an Arab cultural centre, but the group – turned out in natty sky-blue uniforms – ends up in the wrong town. It’s a dusty village where a hard-bitten cafe owner declares there is “no culture at all”.
The musicians have no choice but to spend the night in the town. A conflict between the band’s austere, tradition-minded conductor and a young, hot-to-trot, Chet Baker-obsessed trumpeter develops. Meanwhile, the female cafe owner has an eye for the band leader.
It was Israel’s pick for last year’s foreign-language Oscar, but was disqualified because it has too much English.
The showtime is at 5. The movie is on DVD with English subtitles. Admission is free.
After this week, the festival goes on hiatus until January 23, and then runs until February 6. The screenings are in Room 503 on the fifth floor of the Boromrajkumaree Building.
Call (02) 218 4802 or visit ChulaFilmFest.multiply.com.
Opening next week
There are a bunch of coming attractions next week, and they are set to open a day earlier than usual, on Wednesday instead of Thursday, to take advantage of the New Year's Eve holiday. Here's the tentative list: