Friday, January 6, 2006

The other top Thai films of 2005

As a counterpoint to my own Top 5 Thai Films of 2005, I offer a look at Kong Rithdee's article in the Bangkok Post Real Time section today, in which he runs down the entire year in Thai film:

Thirty-nine Thai movies opened in the theatres last year, but not a single one of them turned out to be a gem - either as an aesthetic specimen or prize entertainment. To put it bluntly, there was no "best Thai film of 2005", not in the theatres at least.

Here's his take on the movies I picked as the Top 5:

  1. Yam Yasothon - "Television buffoon Mum Jokmok ... took a provincial farce called Yam Yasothon to join the century club despite its shabby quality." [It earned 100 million baht at the box office, one of two comedies to do so. The other was The Holy Man, which Kong also didn't like.]
  2. Midnight, My Love - "If there was a movie worth remembering, though we'd be hard pushed to proclaim it the best film of the year, it was Kongdej Jaturanrasamee's poignant, contemporary, overlong and quite unoriginal Midnight, My Love."
  3. Dear Dakanda - "A cute, saccharine-coated teen romance."
  4. The Tiger Blade - Didn't even warrant a comment.
  5. The Tin Mine - "Insipid to say the least, whereas its box office performance was even more depressing."
He praised the documentaries - Santi Taepanich's Crying Tigers and Areeya "Pop" Sirisoda's Innocence (which I missed due to my travel back to the States) for supplying "meaty stuff to the multiplexes usually swamped with feature films.

"Both of them ... at least helped pry open the door for the release of alternative cinema and refreshed the audience's perception that documentaries do deserve a space on the big screen."

His own "best film" picks went to independent short films: Pramote Sangsorn's powerful Tsu, which was part of the Tsunami Digital Short Films, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Worldly Desires, which was part of the Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers commissioned by the Jeonju International Film Festival and also featured works by Shinya Tsukamoto from Japan (Haze) and Il-gon Song from Korea (Magician(s)).

There was also Vous Vous Souviens de Moi?, by Thunska Pansittiworakul, "an enfant terrible who admits his obsession with penises.

His prolific video works sometimes have the rash quality of a movie made after a scandalously drunken night in somebody's garage, but in he manages to structure a melancholic tale of a robot boy who wants to feel love inside a hallucinatory shell of his fragmented storytelling. The seven-minute movie (which of course contains a shot of an erect penis) was shown at First Frame Festival in January 2005, and recently at the 4th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival."

Vous Vous Souviens de Moi? also has been chosen to compete for a Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam, January 25 to February 5.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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