Friday, July 9, 2010

Apichatpong-a-rama: Monkey ghosts haunt, Boonmee busts moves at box office, Joei hangs up

The red-eyed monkey ghosts of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives make an appearance on the index page of Cinema Scope's online magazine. The drawing by Vanesa Mazza declares "Apichatpalme" and points to plenty of Cannes coverage of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and his Palme d'Or-winning movie.

Some of the Canada-based film journal's coverage has been covered here earlier, such as the Cannes interview with Apichatpong by Mark Peranson and Kong Rithdee.

Peranson offers more thoughts in "Cannes 2010: The Year We Made Contact":

That Apichatpong Weerasethakul got his passport and visa and showed up in time for his technical check is, by now, public knowledge, and soon became the stuff of history. On May 23, 2010, when, to great applause and eye-blinking befuddlement, he got on stage in borrowed shoes and a splendid white smoking jacket to raise Thailand’s first Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives — the score, for those who are counting, would be Thailand 1, Canada 0 — it was Joe who had beaten the Volcano, and “we” were all with him. You could say it was our Independence Day.

Read the rest. It's ripping.

In Bangkok, Uncle Boonmee is in its third week of a limited run at SFX the Emporium, and crowds are continuing to pack in.

The travel website CNNGo Bangkok has a review of Uncle Boonmee. Writer Nick Satraroj wedged his way into a recent show:

On Monday evening, the only seats left for the single nightly screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives are in the neck-cramping first row. The audience is a mix you don’t normally see at a film here in Bangkok; students still in school uniforms, young couples, loners, professionals and expatriates pack the Emporium shopping mall's SFX Cinema. When the credits roll, few leave their seats. Are they mesmerized by what they have just seen? Savoring the final moments of the rather sudden and unexpectedly uncensored local release? Or just asleep?

Box Office Mojo has the figures, with Boonmee earning $6,529 (about 211,000 baht) in its first weekend of release on June 24-27, when it debuted in 11th place. The top three that week were Knight & Day, The Karate Kid and Rao Song Sam Khon (That Sounds Good). From July 1-4, Uncle Boonmee moved up to eighth place, with total earnings of $15,000 (about 485,000 baht), with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse taking over the No. 1 spot.

Meanwhile, there are certain media outlets that can't just let things ago, and like the red-baiting of the McCarthy era in the U.S., painting entertainers with a red brush is a favorite activity of Thailand's yellow press.

Bangkok Pundit has a rundown of some of the entertainment figures being branded as sympathetic to the red-shirt anti-government cause. They include actress-singer "Mint AF4" Mintita Wattanakul and her father, veteran actor Kowit Wattanakul, as well as singer Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre and a current Academy Fantasia contestant, Mark Thawkumlue, whose outspoken remarks on the reality-TV talent search have driven up ratings.

And Apichatpong has come under attack by the yellow media, in reaction to his comments in Cannes.

The Nation's Soopsip column had an account of Joei being interviewed in Manager Media's radio show “Beautyful Music”.

Host Suchat Chawangkul, the singer, suggested that Joei was being too frank with foreigners, and thus perhaps damaging Thailand’s reputation.

“Why should we feel embarrassed – I just told the truth!” Joei retorted. “I just can’t accept it when everyone twists things and says there is no class conflict when they talk about the red-shirt protesters!”

Joei insisted he wears no color, and yet people try to paint him red.

Suchat tried to get the conversation back to Boonmee, but Joei was too far gone.

“I don’t want to say anything, because once again I feel I’ve been given a shirt to wear. That’s so bad!”

And he hung up.

Being frank is not welcome in Thailand, and now, at least in certain quarters, neither is Joe.

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