The best things to do in Bangkok this weekend

Make the most out of Bangkok with our guide to the weekend's best events and activities

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There are a lot going on in Bangkok, from an art exhibition to edgy gigs and parties, and here are cool ideas to enjoy your weekend in the city to the fullest.

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Photograph: Jaap Buitendijk/Walt Disney Studios
Movies, Action and adventure

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

An overstuffed follow-up to 2014’s Maleficent (a skillful Sleeping Beauty spin-off), Joachim Rønning’s sequel finds one worthy reason to exist in Michelle Pfeiffer’s wicked Queen Ingrith. As the nemesis to Angelina Jolie’s red-lipped siren, Pfeiffer gives us exactly what we want—the same hissing Catwoman attitude she heated up for Mother! Intimidating in Ellen Mirojnick’s pearl-encrusted costumes, Pfeiffer strides into character: Her Ingrith plots to overtake the realm, poisoning the familial bond between its young queen, Aurora (a graceful Elle Fanning), and her misunderstood godmother, Maleficent (Jolie, glamorous and imposing). Will Ingrith’s villainy destroy the duo’s love, which the first film so thoughtfully built? Even if you have an idea how that question gets answered, Pfeiffer’s deceitful empress (with flower allergies) keeps things entertaining. The rest of the package isn’t as inspired, despite Patrick Tatopoulos’s fanciful production design, which recalls a lesser Avatar, and all the cute, flickering things hovering around. A smitten Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), engaged to Aurora, sometimes downgrades the otherwise central Maleficent from feared potentate to anxious empty-nester. There’s also an underground clan of creatures that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor’s horned Conall, living in hiding from human threat. It all leads to a noisy finale that wears out its welcome. (You’ll crave for more of the quieter battle from an earlier dinner scene, when Pfeiffer an

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Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Movies, Action and adventure

Joker

It's the laugh that gets you: Joaquin Phoenix’s half cackle, half rasp has all the soothing music of a vulture in a blender. It’ll be ratting around in your head long after the old-school “The End” card flashes up on this unrelenting, grimly funny and brilliantly visceral reinvention of the DC supervillain. Joker is a truly nightmarish vision of late-era capitalism—arguably the best “social horror” film since Get Out—and Phoenix is magnetic in it. He runs Heath Ledger cigarette paper-close as the finest screen Joker. Like everything in this drum-tight movie, the title’s lack of a definite article is no accident: It’s not the fully formed Joker being introduced here, but Arthur Fleck, a man whose ambition to tell jokes professionally is at odds with the living he scraps as a clown for hire on Gotham’s grimy streets. Judging by posters of the movies playing—Excalibur and Blow Out—it’s 1981, but it feels more like the ’70s of Death Wish. He lives with his frail mom (Frances Conroy) in a broken-down tenement, eking out a little joy watching a TV chat show hosted with oily relish by Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Arthur’s on seven types of medication and has a neurological condition that causes him to laugh—okay, cackle—uncontrollably. In these domestic early scenes, Phoenix establishes Arthur as a man who sees himself less as an underdog than a mutt waiting to be put down. “I just don’t want to feel so bad anymore,” he says. And no wonder: It’s a seriously bleak world he inh

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Movies, Comedy

The Dead Don't Die

A languid, undercooked affair, writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s playful stab at the zombie movie returns the genre to the backwoods America of George Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead and gives it a half-meta reworking. It sprinkles in an ensemble cast to die for, bursts of OTT flesh-chomping gore, nods to zombie classics (look out for Living Dead’s 1967 Pontiac LeMans) and a few big laughs, but its zeitgeist-y concerns and self-conscious final-act twists don’t quite land. It’s a love letter to zombie movies typed in Comic Sans, and it reminds you that Jarmusch’s best work has an invisible rigor, even at its loosest. Sadly, that’s missing here. In the spirit of Romero, the undead apocalypse arrives in the Midwestern town of Centerville via interrupted radio signals, daylight that lasts too long and, most alarmingly for this rural spot, a missing chicken. Is the cranky hermit outside of town to blame? (He’s played by Jarmusch lucky charm Tom Waits, 50 percent gravel-voiced omniscience, 50 percent beard.) Disturbing news bulletins about fracking knocking the Earth off its axis point to a bigger story. But at the urging of an obnoxious MAGA type (Steve Buscemi), cops Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) investigate, with the latter oddly certain that it all points to an invasion of the undead. Sure enough, said invasion arrives, presaged by a zombie Iggy Pop and a particularly chewy scene at the town’s diner. The shuf

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Segredos Oficiais (2019)
©DR
Movies, Drama

Official Secrets

She risked everything to stop an unjust war. Her government called her a traitor. Based on world-shaking true events, Official Secrets tells the gripping story of Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist whose job involves routine handling of classified information. One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, Gun receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain's help in collecting compromising information on United Nations Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into an illegal war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press. So begins an explosive chain of events that will ignite an international firestorm, expose a vast political conspiracy, and put Gun and her family directly in harm's way.

Movies

Ad Astra

If you like your space odysseys brimming with formula-filled blackboards and quantum mechanics, consider this a trigger warning: Ad Astra is not that kind of sci-fi. Unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey or Interstellar, two obvious points of parallel, there’s no Arthur C Clarke or Kip Thorne behind the scenes to bring Nobel-worthy science to the fiction. This is a movie where a man travels to Neptune, a distance of 2.7 billion miles, without aging a day—a reach even when that man is Brad Pitt. It features killer baboons in zero gravity. At one point, Pitt jacks a spaceship—while it’s taking off. On paper, at least, it’s just Moonraker with a PhD. Leave any disbelief at the door, though, and you’ll be rewarded with an often gorgeous, soulful sci-fi that’s charged with emotion and bursting with spectacle. It has meaningful things to say about letting go, dads and their sons, and the challenges of reconciling with the past. Sure, it’s set in “the near future” and mostly against the endless solitude of space – captured by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema with lunar greys and Martian ochres – and it boasts possibly cinema’s first moon-buggy chase (as awesome as it sounds), but director James Grey and his co-writer Ethan Gross never lose sight of its intimate heart. They’re aided in that by a terrific, nuanced performance from Pitt. For the most part, Ad Astra wears its near-future-ness with a light touch. Exactly what’s happening on Earth is kept deliberately murky, beyond

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Jennifer Lopez stars in Hustlers
Barbara Nitke/STXFilms
Movies, Drama

Hustlers

Think Ocean’s Eleven with strippers and you’ve got the premise of Lorene Scafaria’s surprising, gripping Hustlers. Constance Wu stars as Dorothy, a.k.a. Destiny, the new girl at a hot Manhattan gentlemen’s club. The wildly successful Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) takes Dorothy under her wing and shows her how to get ahead in exotic dancing. But after the 2008 financial crash, the pair and their friends resort to criminal means to keep the cash coming in. This is a deeply feminist film, one where men are given less screen time than the cameoing Cardi B and Lizzo. These women are objectified by the world, though rarely by Scafaria’s camera. They use that fact to scam money and take revenge on Wall Streeters. Scafaria treats the women as flawed, fractious characters and folk heroes, not sex dolls. She packs in some visual flourishes too, like a shaky-cam shot of one of the crew’s walk of shame to her daughter’s school. It’s a reminder that there’s more at stake for these women than the ability to buy designer clothes. If Wu is compelling as Destiny, Lopez is magnetic as her savvy mentor. It’s her most authoritative role since Out of Sight. The plot, in contrast to the stars, sags in the middle and there are a few more celebratory hang-out scenes than we need, but the gang is so charismatic, it’s no great chore to spend extra time with them. Some people would pay thousands for just a few minutes.

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Movies, Animation

Abominable

Himalayan yetis have, for a while now, come around the bend from fierce and mysterious to soft and cuddly, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Abominable plays like the intensely sweet, kid-safe movie it is. After a discordant, John Carpenter–esque POV intro shot that brings us vividly into the plight of a creature escaping a high-tech lab, this otherwise toothless animated feature eases into a predictable groove (one that Chinese co-producer Pearl Studio no doubt insisted on). It’s basically E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial beat for beat, with scrappy Chinese tomboy Yi (voiced by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Chloe Bennet) as the fatherless loner who makes a secret new friend, and steamed pork buns subbing in for Reese’s Pieces. She and her soon-to-be besties must transport the monster, nicknamed Everest, back to his distant homeland, all while evading paramilitary types and some evil scientists (including a purring Sarah Paulson). There’s comfort to be had in executing on such a durable formula, and—life lessons accompanied by Coldplay’s treacly “Fix You” aside—Abominable usually resembles the swift adventure it wants to be. Occasionally the animation transcends the typical: You can see every pillowy hair on Everest’s wide belly (all the better for Totoro–like naps). Sometimes the movie bursts into psychedelic passages, like when the yeti is revealed to have nature-altering powers, transforming fields of flowers into crashing waves. Particularly young viewers will be delighted by the

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Photo: Yana Blajeva/Lionsgate
Movies, Action and adventure

Rambo: Last Blood

Review by Joshua Rothkopf Sometime while watching Rambo: Last Blood—maybe it’s when our hero uses his bare hands to tear the still-beating heart out of a Mexican rapist’s chest—you’ll think that it didn’t have to end this way. Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo, first an unappreciated Vietnam vet, then a one-man army, always fought on his own terms. Even when he rolled with the “gallant people of Afghanistan” (as 1988’s Rambo III was dedicated), he was never anyone’s mouthpiece. Now, Stallone might as well be wearing a MAGA cap. The new film’s script, partly credited to its star, is a breathtakingly racist compendium of Trumpian talking points: Rambo, these days a humble Arizona rancher with an extensive weapon collection, does battle with an invading horde of drug dealers who make the thugs from Sicario look like a mild nuisance. Oh, right­—they’re also sex slavers, responsible for abducting Rambo’s college-bound niece, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), hooking her on smack and pimping her out. Just when the movie’s symbology couldn’t get more obvious, the camera lingers on that border wall: a porous defense, all the better for Rambo to lure his enemies onto his home turf for a Doors-scored climax of ridiculously over-the-top gore. Is there any satisfaction to seeing the icon back in action? Director Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo) stages the violence clumsily, often botching the kill moments with frenetic cutaways. None of the care that Stallone imparted to his recent Rocky reboo

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Photo: Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros.
Movies, Horror

It: Chapter Two

Even in our Stranger Things–dominated popscape, no one was expecting 2017’s It—a second attempt at a ponderous 30-year-old novel—to become such a huge phenomenon. A monster hit? Sure. No one likes a clown, evil or otherwise. But the highest-grossing horror movie of all time? To understand that outcome, one would have to consult the dark forces trapped in Stephen King’s typewriter. Finally, though, the hype is justified: It: Chapter Two improves on its predecessor in nearly every way. King’s book was bifurcated into halves, one hefty chunk going to its 1950s preteens living in a fictional Maine town, and the other to these tiny warriors grown up into equally haunted ’80s adults. It: Chapter Two follows suit, but the movie doubles down on the deeper, metaphorical nature of losing one’s innocence and discovering a world full of real-life pain. Disturbingly (and boldly), the film opens with a scene of vicious gay bashing, as modern-day Derry has become a place similar to so much of today’s hate-brimming America. Like autumn leaves, those menacing red balloons reappear—the movie does a beautiful job of bridging its natural and supernatural elements—and it’s up to an older, lonely Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), now the town’s librarian, to call his buds. They include Bev (Jessica Chastain, a persuasive sufferer), trapped in an abusive marriage; Bill (James McAvoy, a little stiff), now a Hollywood screenwriter and crafter of “bad endings”; a slimmed-down Ben (Jay Ryan); the hypochondriac

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Good Boys
Universal Pictures
Movies, Comedy

Good Boys

Review by Joshua Rothkopf At this point, after Superbad and Booksmart, we’ve hit upon a formula: dorky, essentially sweet-natured kids getting into R-rated trouble scored to DJ Shadow’s “Nobody Speak.” Good Boys drops the age range to tween—though it’s certainly not meant to be watched by them, only by nostalgic adults—and makes the most of its disparity between life inexperience and oddly poised dialogue. (The biggest laugh comes when our sixth-grade hero drops the random slam: “Everyone knows your mom plagiarized her cookbook.”) It’s a one-joke premise, which might be best summarized as Kids Say the Fucking Darndest Things. (Hey, that child just swore!) Regardless, this movie is blessed with a cast of young actors who all seem to be in on the gag. Max (Room’s gifted Jacob Tremblay) and Thor (Brady Noon) are both on the verge of discovering girls; Max’s father (Will Forte, supportive to a degree that’s wince-inducing) is thrilled to learn that his son his masturbating. But their gang’s third member, Lucas (Keith L. Williams, who deserves his own spin-off), is still trapped in that squeaky, shrieky zone of easy tears, bruised emotions and instantaneous guilt. Good Boys saddles Lucas with divorcing parents, a wobbling speed walk and the keenest awareness of his being left behind in the sexual sweepstakes, and Williams plays it as expertly as Will Ferrell did in Step Brothers. The screenplay (cowritten by The Office vets Gene Stupnitsky, who directs, and Lee Eisenberg) isn’t

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