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Phuket cinema: ‘Friends with Benefits’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket cinema: ‘Friends with Benefits’ | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Friends with Benefits will appeal especially to those who have lived or would like to live under the circumstances implied by its title.

You can almost hear the echoes of Harry Burns from 1989’s When Harry Met Sally cautioning, “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”

Thankfully for showbiz, the young crowd doesn’t heed the wisdom of their elders, so superstar hotties like Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis get to star in a film in which their characters try to have sex without any emotional attachment.

Never mind that the story itself is almost perfectly predictable from its title alone – it ends up being one of the better romantic comedies offered this year. It starts off fast, builds its characters with surprising insight, has a great soundtrack, and showcases two extremely attractive actors for 90 minutes of raunchy comedy and near-nude sex scenes.

It’s a film about the “emotionally unavailable”, a term that the characters themselves use within the first two minutes and keep as the thematic core throughout. To keep the film light and entertaining, the characters are otherwise satisfied with their lives – both have very lucrative jobs (considering the time and setting) and bubbly personalities.

Those two qualities alone make the movie an appealing form of escape – Friends with Benefits is stress-free entertainment that makes no effort to make any social or political commentary. Sometimes, that’s exactly what people need when they go to the movies.

Intellectuals might be upset, but hey, they aren’t breaking down the door to see JT and the hot girl from That 70s Show discover they have what it takes to be sex fiends.

Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) are both twenty-somethings who get dumped so frequently that it has become somewhat of a ritual. They aren’t down on their luck with the opposite sex – as they’re both too good looking to ever have trouble picking someone up – but they swear off the emotional side of relationships. This leaves room for emotionless sex – so long as they can each find someone who shares the same sentiment.

The film starts off as a romantic comedy for those with attention deficit hyperactivity issues. Both Dylan and Jamie talk a mile a minute and have a tendency to speak first and ask questions later. To this end, director Will Gluck made a clever move – he shot and edited the film to almost perfectly parallel the characters’ personalities. The scenes roll in at just a couple minutes apiece and never let any single moment last more than a few seconds – that is, until the central relationship becomes a bit more serious and a conflict starts to develop.

Under the guise of two people who “just want to work and [fornicate] – like George Clooney,” the film slowly sneaks in an emotional undercurrent that makes it worthwhile. Like most romantic comedies, the playful vices that initially attract the characters to each other end up causing a conflict that forces them to expose their insecurities.

Yes, it’s been done in a thousand romantic comedies before it – but though formulaic it may be, its characters are still witty and sincere enough to keep things entertaining.

Justin Timberlake has come a long way since he was plastered on 12-year-old girls’ bedroom doors with his heels up in the air alongside the rest of his NSync buddies. Now he’s the guy who brought “sexy back” just before launching a film career that is surprisingly solid. He has yet to branch out to very diverse roles, but more importantly he’s only had one or two bad movies, which is appalling for a star making the music-to-movies transition.

Mila Kunis has taken her career from supporting sitcom star to a leading Hollywood actress, thanks to a mix of smart decisions that keep her in the mainstream limelight as well as in critical favor. Her most recent performance in Black Swan earned her a Golden Globe nomination and was her first significant dramatic role that proved she’s got talent to go with beauty.

The third act of the film is when the story and the characters set themselves apart from average “rom-coms”. The film makes no effort to avoid romantic comedy clichés, but instead chooses to unapologetically embrace them. This self-awareness permits a completely over-the-top final act that is so shameless that it ends up being far more unique than one would expect.

If you’re in need of a solid date movie, go see this flick.

Director: Will Gluck

Starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Gazette Rating: 3.5/5

Opens: September 22

— Scott Phillips

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Thailand

21% of Thai teenagers are gambling

Greeley Pulitzer

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21% of Thai teenagers are gambling | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest

Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.

The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.

The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.

According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.

“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”

In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.

The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.

“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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Bangkok

Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare

Greeley Pulitzer

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Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare | The Thaiger

A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.

She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.

She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.

Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.

“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”

This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.

The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.

The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.

SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum

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