Friday, May 16, 2008

Cannes Film Festival roundup: Jury meets, Soi Cowboy, Ong-Bak 2

The Cannes Film Festival jury, led by Sean Penn and including Thai indie director Apichatpong Weerasethakul had its photo call and then checked out the opening film, Blindness, by City of God director Fernando Meirelles.

Before he jetted off to southern France, Apichatpong, a two-time prize winner at Cannes (Un Certain Regard in 2002 for Blissfully Yours, jury prize in 2004 for Tropical Malady), was interviewed at his Bangkok studio by France24. He heads to Cannes as a director celebrated everywhere in the world except his home country, where blinkered cultural authorities have censored him and humiliated him. A choice quote from the video interview:

Film is not a poison. That's what they have been treating us like, we're creating something bad. For me, it's an opportunity to challenge the old system.

Hollywood Reporter has a roundup of the buzzworthy films at Cannes, and it mentions Soi Cowboy, the only Thai film officially selected for the festival. Screening in the Un Certain Regard program, it is directed by British filmmaker Thomas Clay for Thailand-based DeWarrenne Productions.

Thomas Clay's Bangkok-set Soi Cowboy -- about a fat, white Viagra-popping man embroiled in a sexual relationship with a young Thai prostitute looking for a way out of the red light district -- will likely set chins wagging.

Most of the action from Thailand will be at the Cannes Film Market, where several films are premiering, including Nonzee Nimibutr's Queen of Langkasuka, Ekachai Uekrongtham's The Coffin and Som Tum, a martial-arts comedy starring Nathan Jones and two little Thai girls.

But, as in past years, all eyes are on Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa, with people wondering what incredible stunts he's going to do next. Tony is making his directorial debut with Ong-Bak 2, due out later this year, and there was some trepidation among industry-watchers about this. But Twitch's Todd Brown has seen a show reel for Ong-Bak 2, and here's his verdict:

Production values are fantastic, both in terms of set design and cinematography, and Jaa has obviously been paying attention when it comes to where the camera needs to be to shoot action. Heck, I’ll go as far as to say that the footage from this looks better by far than the latest efforts from original Ong-Bak director Prachya Pinkaew.

This one’s a period piece featuring a long haired Jaa scrapping it out in a remote village and the attention to detail is excellent. Also excellent? The martial arts, which are surprisingly bloody and feature a HUGE range of styles.

If Tom Yum Goong was all about Jaa preaching the value of Thai culture -- which it was -- then this one is all about Jaa beating the crap out of all comers and proving that he can take you down in any style there is and not just Muay Thai. The weapons work -- there are spears, poles, a three part staff, ball and chain, and swords in the promo -- is particularly good. Yum.

Good stuff, though it will probably add fuel to the rumors of a feud between Tony and his former director, even though Sahamongkol Film International head honcho Somsak Techaratanaprasert sought to downplay those rumors months ago.

(Photo, via Dekang, but likely AFP: From left, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, Italian actor and director Sergio Castellitto, Romanian actress Alexandra Maria Lara, American actor-director and jury president Sean Penn, French actress Jeanne Balibar, Iranian author-director Marjane Satrapi, Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman, French director Rachid Bouchareb and Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul during a photocall at the 61st edition of the Cannes Film Festival.)

1 comment:

  1. Kung Fu Cinema has a poor quality clip of an earlier promo reel from Ong-Bak 2 that was leaked onto YouTube.


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