Sunday, June 1, 2008
3x3 from Pen-ek in Transilvania
Romania's Transilvania International Film Festival has a program each year called 3x3, in which they spotlight three directors and choose three films each from them.
This year, among the directors is Pen-ek Ratanaruang. The three films they have chosen by him are Ruang Talok 69, Monrak Transistor and Ploy.
From 1999, Ruang Talok 69 (6ixtynin9) is his second film. The black comedy stars Lalita Panyopas as a young laid-off office worker who finds a box of cash outside her apartment door. This leads to a hilarious succession of bodies stacking up inside her apartment and a tight, twisting web of connections and coincidences. It's a great film, and lucky for the world, it's been released on DVD with English subs by Palm Pictures.
Monrak Transistor remains one of my all-time favorite films. This sprawling, epic musical romantic comedy came out in 2001, and though I missed it in theaters, I managed to track it down on DVD. The version I have is the Thai release with hard-burned subtitles that makes me think it's a transfer from VCD or VHS. There is a Hong Kong release, with English subs, available from Yesasia. But it's a film that deserves to be watched in the cinema, so it's good that it still makes appearances at film festivals like Transilvania.
Ploy is Pen-ek's most recent film. It came out last year, and was one of my favorites. A sparse, tense and erotic drama about a jet-lagged, cranky couple reviewing their seven years of marriage, it reunited Pen-ek with Lalita Panyopas. It also marked a return of sorts for the director after his Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves sojourn with cinematographer Christopher Doyle and Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. Ploy premiered in the Director's Fortnight at Cannes but was then re-edited by Pen-ek for its commercial run in Thailand after censors objected to some sex scenes. While the Thai version, without subs of course, has been released, the original version has yet to be issued on DVD. Hopefully after a few more festival appearances, someone will finally release it.
The Seventh Transilvania International Film Festival started on May 30 and runs until June 8 in Cluj-Napoca and from June 11 to 15 in Sibiu.
The other two directors in the 3x3 program are Spanish director Victor Erice (Spirit of the Beehive, El Sur, Qince Tree of the Sun) and Romanian director Alexandru Tatos (Red Apples, The House in the Fields, Sequences).
(Via Variety; screenshot from Monrak Transistor DVD by Mongol VDO & CD)