Monday, February 27, 2006

Sold out at the Bangkok International Film Festival

Attendance was up over the closing weekend at the Bangkok International Film Festival, and in looking over some shoulders, it seems there are stories coming out about record attendance this year. No numbers yet, but I'll be looking for the reports and will doubtlessly regurgitate them here.

A number of films were marked "sold out" on the schedule. There were some big international entries -- The World's Fastest Indian and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

A bit of a surprise to see marked sold out was Rithy Panh's damning portrait of how Cambodia's contemporary and traditional arts are faring in The Burnt Theater. Good to see people checking that one out.

But then I was puzzled by a couple of others people were packing in to see -- The Kingmaker and the Ghost of Mae Nak -- two Anglo-Thai hybrids. I guess it shouldn't be surprising -- these are the kinds of "Thai" films that seem tailor-made for the crowds at this festival.

I actually saw The Kingmaker last year and thought it was atrocious, with bad acting, horrible dialogue and poor special effects. Yet I ran into a guy in line -- an expat teacher at a Thai school -- who was bumming because he couldn't see it. Seems one of his co-workers offered to loan him the DVD, but he said he thought it was the kind of movie he'd like to see on the big screen. I tried to explain that I thought it was the kind of movie that shouldn't be seen at all. Oh well. Everyone has the freedom to have their own opinion. Or watch crappy movies.

The attention given to Ghost of Mae Nak -- a contemporary Asian horror reboot of Nonzee Nimibutr's Nang Nak by British director Mark Duffield -- was equally puzzling. I gave it a pass when it played last year, but folks who did see it say it didn't have much going for it.

So I wonder, who are all these people who are going to see these films in a festival setting, and how are they getting it into their heads that they must see these films?

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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