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Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 1:00PM / Members only
While views of Nicolas Winding Refn's Bangkok crime flick Only God Forgives have been wildly polarized (though The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw really liked it) most folks will agree that the highlight of the movie was Vithaya Pansringarm's superpowered avenging angel, the sword-wielding former police office Chang.
And the soundtrack by Winding Refn's frequent collaborator Cliff Martinez also gets high marks.
Here then are the two best parts of the movie together – Chang singing karaoke (embedded above).
It's actually a song by the '90s Thai pop group Proud, "Tur Kue Kwan Fun" ("You Are My Dream").
But Vithaya himself pops up on another track from the film, "Can't Forget" ("Mai Luem"), a chestnut popularized by luk thung superstar Suraphol Sombatcharoen and featured in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Monrak Transistor.
Vithaya will next be seen in Tom Waller's Chavoret: The Last Executioner, which is in production right now.
Only God Forgives hit Blu-ray in the U.K. this past week. It's also out in the States.
(Via Deknang)ATTENTION: This is a post from Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. The url for the source blog is http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com. If you're seeing this post anywhere besides your personal feed reader or a couple of social-networking sites, then it might be being misused against the spirit in which it is made freely available.
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Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 12:59PM / Members only
- Directed by Puttipong Promsakha Na Sakon Nakhon
- Starring Sudarat Butrprom, Cris Horwang, Anusorn Maneeted
- Released in Thai cinemas on November 28, 2013; rated 15+
- Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5
A case of haunted hair extensions is played up for laughs in Oh! My Ghost Khun Phee Chuay (โอ้! มายโกสต์ คุณผีช่วย a.k.a. OMG!), a comedy that is lifted by the considerable talent of Sudarat "Tukky" Butrprom, her easy chemistry with co-star Cris Horwang and slick production under the direction of Puttipong Promsakha Na Sakon Nakhon (First Love, 30+ Singles on Sale).
Tukky is Kitty, a young Northeasterner in Bangkok who is struggling to break into showbiz. She auditions for all the TV talent shows, only to be turned down at every turn. To earn a living, she wears a lizard costume as a mascot to a trio of campily catty "pretties" – presentation models in the bathtub section of a home-improvement store. Kitty desperately wants to show she is every bit as glamorous and talented as the plastic, botoxed models and so she decides to get hair extensions.
But soon after, she has the feeling that she is being followed, and it turns out she's right – it's a pale-faced ghost of a woman with bright red lips, played by none other than Cris Horwang.
Kitty, desperate to find out why she's being haunted, seeks help from a bar owner (Kom Chaunchuan) who dabbles as a spirit medium. Turns out the ghost is Bee, a model, actress and dancer whose soul is somehow been left to wander, but she's become attached to Kitty because the hair extensions are from her head.
After Kitty's initial shock wears off, she lays down a few ground rules, such as not appearing scarily pale and generally refraining from being frightening. Which is a genius move, because it would be insane to have cute Cris Horwang in your movie and have her be in scary ghost makeup the whole time.
Bee wants Kitty to contact her fashion-photographer boyfriend (Anusorn "Yong Armchair" Maneeted) and somehow patch things up with him because the last time they were together they fought because he wanted her to cut her hair.
So, while trying to devise ways to get close to the man, the gals bond, and dancer Bee, whose speciality is bungee-assisted ballet, helps Kitty come up with an act for her next talent show audition.
This is fun stuff, with Bee "inhabiting" Kitty's body. Here's where Tukky's gift for physical comedy really comes through, with the diminuitive round-figured actress somehow able to telegraph the graceful moves of the lithe, long-limbed Chinese-Thai Bangkokian Cris.
Eventually there's a plot twist that leads to shenanigans in a hospital. Charoenporn "Kotee" Onlanmai is brought aboard as an undertaker who is part of the solution, but he gets sidetracked during an unplanned detour to the cosmetic surgery department and comes back with breast implants (they're actually his real man boobs). Also, Tukky dresses as a nurse, which is more fun.
There's probably a message in Oh! My Ghost about how folks shouldn't feel limited because of their body type, etc., but perhaps I'm overthinking it. Quite simply, it's an enjoyable, smartly scrīpted comedy that clicks right along and lets Tukky shine.ATTENTION: This is a post from Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. The url for the source blog is http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com. If you're seeing this post anywhere besides your personal feed reader or a couple of social-networking sites, then it might be being misused against the spirit in which it is made freely available.
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Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 12:58PM / Members only
- Directed by Pornchai "Gun" Hongrattaporn
- Starring Paowalee Pornpimon, Pai Pongsathorn, Sunaree Ratchasima, Apaporn Nakhon Sawan, Ekachai Sriwichai
- Released in Thai cinemas on November 28, 2013; rated 15+
- Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5
The outfits of the young stars are skimpier and the waistlines of the older stars have expanded, but the music of luk thung has stayed more or less the same since the last all-star luk thung movie, 2002's Mon Pleng Luk Thung FM (มนต์เพลงลูกทุ่งเอฟเอ็ม, a.k.a. Hoedown Showdown).
Unfortunately there isn't actually much music in this sort-of sequel, Ruam Phol Khon Luk Thung Ngern Laan (รวมพลคนลูกทุ่งเงินล้าน). The earlier movie, about folks from various walks of life coming together for a luk thung singing contest, turned into a virtual concert film, with song after song. This new offering skimps on songs, with just one proper musical number during the film. If you want more, you have to wait for the end credits.
So without songs, we're left mainly with the lame comic antics of rotund luk thung diva Apaporn Nakhon Sawan, whose screaming matches with rival diva Sunaree Ratchasima chew up a lot of screen time.
The premise is that singers from the first film, now all big stars, are brought together by the first film's singing monk for a merit-making trip at his down-at-the-heels forest temple. It literally takes forever to get going, as the singers' tour bus moves in fits and starts as it struggles to leave Bangkok.
And, like the first film, the "masked bandit" (Ekachai Sriwichai) with the treble clef tattoo on his wrist has returned to make trouble. The budget for this new effort by M Pictures was apparently not enough to license popular songs or give the bandit actual Mission: Impossible-style rubber masks like the first film. Here, director Gun Hongrattaporn makes due with a quick cut when the bandit assumes a new identity. He's wired the bus up with a bomb like in Speed.
The ghosts of Mae Nak and doomed Japanese officer Kobori from Koo Kam show up, as does Dracula (Swedish luk thung singer Jonas Anderson), though I'm not sure why. And the comic cops from the first film emerge from the bus' toilet, and their appearance was sickening.
Somehow they make it to temple, put on a temple fair and perform that one song. There's muay Thai from a girl fighter, just to get a bit of action in. Then they end up in Buddhist hell, which is appropriate because this stinker of a musical comedy is hell.
If there's one redeeming thing about Ruam Phol Khon Luk Thung Ngern Laan it's young singer Paowalee Pornpimon, the perky performer who made her film debut playing doomed superstar Pumpuang Duanchan in last year's biopic The Moon. Appealing as ever, she's given the one musical number, a duet with young heartthrob male singer Pai Pongsathorn. And there's a bit of romantic wrangling as a triangle forms between Paowalee, Pai and short-skirted star Yinglee.ATTENTION: This is a post from Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. The url for the source blog is http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com. If you're seeing this post anywhere besides your personal feed reader or a couple of social-networking sites, then it might be being misused against the spirit in which it is made freely available.
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Saturday, Nov 30, 2013 10:31AM / Members only
- Written and directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
- Produced by Aditya Assarat
- Starring Patcha Poonpiriya, Chonnikan Netjui, Krissada Sukosol Clapp
- Released in Thai cinemas on November 28, 2013
- Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5
It's the world's first Twitter movie – Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy – a fancifully weird comedy about teenage angst by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit.
The inventive writer-director took 410 consecutive messages from the Twitter feed of a Thai schoolgirl named Mary Malony (@marylony) and created a story around them.
The result is a dense narrative that is repetitive and sometimes hard to follow. Mary’s tweets are displayed as intertitles, accompanied by the click of a computer keyboard’s return key. Sometimes they will quickly be followed by Mary pretty much repeating the message. Other times, what’s happening will be completely different.
And if you’re stuck reading the subtitles, good luck at keeping up.
But Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy is the kind of movie you might want to see two or three times, just to get feel of it.
And it’s fun to watch, for Nawapol has succeeded in creating an intriguingly bizarre world, a place that doesn’t seem to exist anywhere.
Mary (Patcha Poonpiriya) is an often-depressed, accident-prone high-school senior. She’s constantly in need of encouragement from her more-level-headed friend Suri (Chonnikan Netjui). They are assigned to work on the school’s yearbook.
Their boarding school seems to be in a warehouse, which is stacked up with old computers and dusty school desks. They walk to school along a railroad track, often stopping along the way to hang out by a pancake vendor, whose cart is right by the tracks.
It’s the same kind of insular universe Wes Anderson creates for his movies, and of those, Mary is most like the schoolboy comedy Rushmore. And the comic-strip nature of a film formed by 140-word snippets also reminds me of Charles Schulz’ Peanuts and by extension the Charlie Brown animated TV specials.
The cartoon-character feel is enhanced by the girl’s uniforms – they wear the same 1983 school sport day T-shirts and red shorts everyday, just like Charlie Brown has his zigzag shirt.
The school’s faculty are a bunch of oddballs, especially their first yearbook sponsor, played by SEA Write Award-winning author Prabda Yoon. His nose is bandaged for some reason. And then he abruptly announces he’s quitting to become a movie stuntman.
His replacement is the quietly intimidating singer-actor Krissada “Noi” Sukosol Clapp, whose awkward intensity is harnessed for laughs. He’s always invoking the name of the school’s headmaster, a man who never actually appears, but is filling the classrooms with the canned coffee and soup his factory makes and forms the basis of the student body’s diet. His picture is on the cans. Turns out it’s Noi’s brother, musician Sukie.
Several Thai indie film figures make cameo appearances, including director Kongdej Jatruranrasmee as a drama coach. Veteran filmmakers Pimpaka Towira and Boonsong Nakphoo are Mary’s mother and father. Musician, photographer and actor Apichai “Lek” Tragoolpadetgrai has a crucial role as head of the audio-visual department. And there’s a chuckle to be had when producer Soros Sukhum’s name comes up in the credits – he plays “Uncle Boonmee”.
Seems relevant at this point to mention the teachers’ uniforms look like something a prison guard or security guard might wear.
Mary’s tweets are often a launchpad for fantasy sequences, including a whirlwind trip to Paris, which mopey Mary sleeps through because she is so jetlagged.
Other moments are repeated, such as Mary’s insistence at taking photographs only during the “magic hour” when the light is just right at the end of the day at a certain location of the school’s roof.
It seems that the yearbook will never be finished.
There’s Mary’s fleeting romance with a boy who hangs around the pancake cart.
But mostly the stories are about the friendship between Mary and Suri. Until one day Suri is no longer there. Her absence leaves Mary rudderless, and the story also suffers a bit because Suri isn’t there to propel things along.
Nawapol made his feature directorial debut last year with 36, an experimental effort that constructed a story out of 36 static camera setups with a story that involved a movie location scout losing her digital images when a hard-drive fails. She then tries to reconstruct the memories of those photos. It shared Busan’s Currents Prize in 2012, and won praise for creating a new cinematic language.
Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy continues that experiment in creating new ways to tell cinematic stories out of our fleeting, digital consciousness. It’s much more complex than the stripped down 36, and also almost twice as long, running 127 minutes.
But, as it turns out, that’s exactly the time needed to make a story out of 410 tweets.
(Cross-published in The Nation)
- Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy rides acclaim into Thai cinemas
- Mary is sweary, Mary is sweary
- Nawapol happy twice over with Venice premiere
- Nawapol's Year of June selected from Venice Biennale College
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Saturday, Nov 30, 2013 10:30AM / Members onlyLuang Prabang Film Festival, which has completed its schedule.
With all the other Asean countries involved in filmmaking – Laos stepped up production in just the past few years – only Brunei has been left out of the spotlight.
But now the sultanate on the island of Borneo has produced its first feature film since 1968 – Ada Apa Dengan Rina, aka What’s So Special About Rina?
“This is the first time we have ever been able to showcase films from all of the Asean countries, as Brunei never had anything to submit,” festival director Gabriel Kuperman says.
Rina, the first feature in the Brunei Malay dialect, is a romantic comedy about a 30-year-old man named Faisal who is still searching for his true love. Turns out the perfect girl is a work colleague, but winning Rina’s heart won’t be easy.
Featuring an all-Brunei cast and crew, Ada Apa Dengan Rina was shown Brunei cinemas in February. It also screened at this year’s Asean International Film Festival and Awards in Kuching, Malaysia, and won a special jury prize.
Directed by Harlif Haji Mohamad and Farid Azlan Ghani, it’s among the highlights of the Luang Prabang Film Festival’s screenings at the Amantaka, a five-star hotel that is back as the festival’s daytime venue.
There were persistant technical problems with the daytime screenings last year, but Kuperman says it’ll be better this year with the movies projected from a file on a hard drive that will be looked after by the festival staff. It should be a vast improvement over the previous unreliable method, which involved a balky DVD player attached to a TV and no one around to fix things when it broke, which was often.
What Kuperman is really excited about is the number of filmmakers and celebrities who will be coming to the festival.
“More than half of our feature-length films will have filmmakers in attendance, more than we have ever had,” he says.
Among them will be Thailand’s Chookiat Sakveerakul, who has two films in the fest, the teen comedy Grean Fictions, which is showing in the home of the festival’s now-iconic blue plastic chairs – the big outdoor screen in the 1,000-person-capacity Handicraft Market. It’s where the popular crowd-pleasing films are shown. Meanwhile, Chookiat’s three-segment family drama Home, which covers several thorny topics, will be featured indoors, where the audience is smaller, with around 40 seats.
Joining Chookiat on his Lao sojourn will be his Love of Siam star Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, who also appears in Home, and Kittisak Phatomburana from Home and Grean Fictions.
Chookiat will take part in “Distribution Methods in Southeast Asia”, talking about getting his films out there with Indonesian director Dwi Sujanti Nugraheni, whose documentary Denok and Gareng is featured this year. Others panellists will be Lao director Anysay Keola, Hong Kong film critic Clarence Tsui and Vietnamese producer Tran Thi Bich Ngoc.
Another panel talk will cover a subject that's near and dear to the hearts of Southeast Asian film folk, “Fund-raising for Low-Budget Filmmaking”, with Thailand’s Nontawat Numbenchapol taking part. His Thai-Cambodian border documentary Boundary is another “indoor” movie. Others joining the talk will be Filipino critic Oggs Cruz, Vietnamese director Siu Pham, whose Here ... or There? is showing, Cambodian producer Fatily Sa and Lao filmmaker Vannapone Sittirath.
And Phil Jablon, the American scholar behind the Southeast Asia Movie Theatre Project, will show his photos and give a talk about the cultural significance of saving what remains of the region’s landmark single-screen cinemas, such as the Scala in Bangkok.
The world premieres of two Lao movies take centerstage at this year’s fest. The boxing drama Big Heart directed by Mattiphob Douangmyxay is the opening film. The other is I Love Savanh by Bounthong Nhotmanhkong, about a Japanese expat falling for a traditional cloth weaver.
Another intriguing title is 13.00 Sunday, a Thai-Lao mystery by Bis Srikasem and Pume Peerabun, about a hospital where deaths occur at exactly an hour after noon on Sundays. Not taking any chances, the festival is screening it outdoors at 9pm on a Tuesday.
Thai films are always a big hit with the Luang Prabang crowd. Among them will be the lively comedy-drama Tang Wong, which will give folks in the Handicraft Market a chance to laugh at how Bangkok schoolboys can’t master a traditional dance. Director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee will be on hand for that, and he’ll take questions after an indoor screening of another of his films, the weird and subversive pyscho-drama P-047.
Another Thai pick for the outdoor screen is Karaoke Girl, with director Visra Vichet-Vadakan on hand to see the response to her hybrid documentary-drama about a young woman caught up in the seedy (but beautifully filmed) world of Bangkok’s hostess bar scene.
In all, there’s 28 features, screening from 10am indoors and then two outdoor shows each night from 7, along with live performances.
If that’s not enough, the festival’s centre offers dozens upon dozens more films, including a “best of” programme from the Vientianale shorts fest and documentaries from Indonesia’s Chopshots. And nearly a dozen more venues around town are also showing films as a sidebar to the fest.
The Luang Prabang Film Festival runs from December 7 to 11. All screenings and activities are free and open to the public. For more details, see www.LPFilmFest.org or Facebook.com/lpfilmfest.
Also, check out the festival teaser, embedded below.
(Cross-published in The Nation)
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