Friday, September 30, 2011

Eternity in the San Diego Asian Film Festival

Sivaroj Konsakul's Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak) is finishing up its Bangkok run as part of the Extra Virgin Director's Screen Project on October 5 and heads back out on the festival circuit.

It'll be playing at the San Diego Asia Film Festival, which runs from October 20 to 28.

The festival synopsis says some nice things about it:

Wit has just brought his schoolteacher fiancé Koi to his rural home. In this quiet, rustic setting, under the tall trees and beneath the wooden awnings of Wit’s youth, the young couple falls in love. In some sense a paean to puppy love, Eternity captures in long, patient strokes the romanticism of floating down a river or rocking in a hammock with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Eternity is achingly romantic, but it’s as calm as a summer’s afternoon. Characters don’t have to proclaim their love to each other – it’s palpable in their gentle glances, in their playful asides, even in the way they breathe in the countryside air when together.

Bookending these scenes of youthful tenderness is a ghostly presence that stretches that innocence into infinity. The puzzle of the film, as its title suggests, is how to discover, in these everyday rhythms of life, a love that knows no end – that haunts, not to frighten, but to never let go. Director Sivaroj Kongsakul has worked with other Thai masters of artful romanticism (Pen-ek Rataranuang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) and with this award-winning debut, emerges as perhaps the most romantic of all.

Eternity also recently screened at the Riga International Film Festival, a.k.a. The Arsensals, where it was reviewed by Fipresci jurist Alison Frank at The Moving Arts. Head on over and have a look.

If you're in Bangkok, it's not too late to catch Eternity at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, in nightly screenings at 7 plus Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2.45. Its run ends on October 5.

(Via Asia Pacific Arts)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thailand unmasks Kon Khon as Oscar pick

Kon Khon (คนโขน), Sarunyu Wongkrachang's melodrama about duelling masked-dance troupes in the 1960s, is Thailand's selection for the Academy Awards, according to the National News Bureau.

The committee from the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand (FNFAT), selected Kon Khon because it's unique to Thailand and promotes the Kingdom's arts and culture. Furthermore, the film, produced by Sahamongkolfilm International, had received support from the Culture Ministry, the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture and the ministry's "Strong Thailand" fund.

Starring Sorapong Chatree and Nirut Sirichanya, the drama is about khon troupes that stage competing performances of the Ramakien, Thailand's version of India's epic poem, the Ramayana. Love triangles and betrayals are thrown in to add to the story and set up a religious message about karma.

Kon Khon was a flop at the box office, opening in a wide release over the weekend of August 25-28 and earning $137,115, around 4 million baht, according to Box Office Mojo. At last count, the weekend of September 15-18, the film had earned $255,058, around 7.9 million baht.

It also fared poorly with critics. In his review, Bangkok Post film critic Kong Rithdee, while noting the movie's high-minded goals of cultural preservation, said Kon Khon was dragged down by cardboard-cliche characters and a predictable plot.

A member of FNFAT's Oscar committee, film critic Sananjit Bangsapan, wrote in a post on the Siam Dara website that the Oscar selection came down to two choices – Kon Khon or another film with a strong depiction of Thai culture – U Mong Pha Mueang, a.k.a. The Outrage by director ML Bhandevanop Devakula, which had fared better at the box office and with critics.

However, because U Mong is adapted from the tale of Rashomon, previously filmed by Akira Kurosawa, the committee worried about submitting a remake, so Kon Khon was the choice by default, Sanajit said in his article, according to the Soopsip column in tomorrow's Nation newspaper.

Furthermore, Sananjit says, it doesn’t matter what Thai film is submitted to the Oscars because no Thai studios are willing to mount the kind of promotion needed for the film to be nominated and win.

So far, none of Thailand's selections for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film have made the shortlist of nominees, not even last year's selection of the Cannes-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

(Via Veen_NT on Twitter)

The Red Eagle among superheroes at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival

Wisit Sasanatieng's The Red Eagle (Insee Dang, อินทรีเเดง) has been picked for the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, running from October 18 to November 2

Remember The Red Eagle? Here's the synopsis:

Wisit Sasanatieng (Tears of the Black Tiger) brings his unique imagination to The Red Eagle, a Thai superhero film about Rom Rittkrai (Ananda Everingham), a hardened ex-special forces agent who fights the criminal and the corrupt as masked vigilante Red Eagle. A modern update of a 1960s pulp film franchise starring Mitr Chaibancha (who famously died while performing in the series' final installment), The Red Eagle has been reinvented for a post-Dark Knight audience with gritty themes and snazzy gimmickry. Stylized violence, copious chase sequences and Sasanatieng's well-documented penchant for homage characterize this big-budget visual feast.

It's playing in the Asian Superheroes program alongside Karate-Robo Zaborgar, Invasion of Alien Bikini, Madame X and Let’s Go!

Also of note is the Midnite Craze program, which has The Yellow Sea, Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley, Yakuza Weapon and the Indonesian action sensation The Raid, which is hot off of winning the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Please note, at the HK fest, the films aren't actually playing at midnight.

It's good to see The Red Eagle getting some love on the festival circuit. It also played at the recent Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival, alongside another Thai entry, The Little Comedian.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mindfulness and Murder in L.A. and Istanbul

Director Tom Waller's monastic mystery Mindfulness and Murder (Sop Mai Ngeap, ศพไม่เงียบ) has headed back out on the festival circuit, screening this week in Los Angeles and Istanbul.

In Istanbul, it's at the International Crime and Punishment Festival.

In L.A., it's at Singafest, billed as "LA.'s newest international Asian film festival." It's showing on Saturday, October 1 at 5.30pm.

The screenings are in the Westwood neighborhood, at the classic old art-deco cinema, the Majestic Crest, a.k.a. the Bigfoot Crest.

Sadly, it appears Singafest might be the landmark Majestic Crest's last go as a movie palace before the owners, Bigfoot Entertainment, close it for reasons rather vaguely stated as "renovations".

Meanwhile, Mindfulness and Murder has been released on DVD in Thailand – no English subtitles, just in case you're wondering. Keep track of the movie on its Facebook page.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday Killer now a dangerous dog

Nearly a year after it had its world premiere, Yuthlert Sippapak's hitman comedy Friday Killer finally opens in Thai cinemas this week.

And, it has a new Thai title – Ma Kae Untarai (หมาแก่อันตราย), literally "dangerous dog".

Veteran comedian Thep Po-ngam stars in a rather downbeat role as an aging assassin. Released from prison, Pae Uzi is afflicted with failing eyesight. Nonetheless, he takes on a job, which puts him in conflict with the daughter (Ploy Jindachote) he never knew he had. Turns out she's a tough policewoman, and she's now gunning for him, without knowing he's her father. Also, she has a secret that further confuses matters.

Along with all that drama, Yuthlert mixes in stylish action, Kill Bill references and cheeky bits of comedy and satire that poke fun of Thailand's political situation.

With the original Thai title of Meu Puen Dao Prasook (มือปืน ดาวพระศุกร์), Friday Killer made its premiere as the closing film of last year's Phuket Film Festival.

It won a jury prize and cinematography honors at this year's Shanghai film fest, and also screened at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival.

Part of Yuthlert's Meu Puen 3 Pak, which pair up veteran comedians with young starlets, it was intended to be the first film in the series, but Saturday Killer (Meu Puen Dao Pra Sao, มือปืน /ดาว /พระ /เสาร์) was released first, coming out last September. It starred "Nong" Choosak Iamsuk and Cris Horwang. A third film, Sunday Killer is yet to be released. It stars Kohtee Aramboy and "May" Pitchanart Sakakorn.

Check out the trailer for Friday Killer, embedded below.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

World premiere of The Kick highlights big Thai selection in Busan

Director Prachya Pinkaew's South Korean-Thai martial-arts movie The Kick will make its world premiere at the 16th Busan International Film Festival.

It's just one of many Thai films in the Busan fest.

In addition to The Kick, there's Tongpong Chantarangkul’s I Carried You Home in the New Currents competition, the Asian premiere of Kongdej Jaturanrasamee's P-047, the international festival premiere of Sophon Sakdaphisit's thriller Laddaland, ML Bhandevanop Devakula's Chua Fah Din Salai (Eternity), veteran director Nonzee Nimibutr's short film Superstitious, Aditya Assarat's short 6 to 6 and a special screening of Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger, which celebrates 10 years this year.

The Kick (더 킥), destined for theatrical release in South Korea on November 3, is about a South Korean family of five martial artists running a taekwondo studio in Bangkok. They have to use their skills to stop some gangsters trying to steal a Thai national treasure. Jija Yanin and comedian Petthai "Mum Jokmok" Wongkamlao are in supporting roles. There's a trailer making the rounds, embedded below. It's screening in the Midnight Passion program at Busan.

Also in the midnight slot at Busan is Laddaland (ลัดดาแลน), making its international premiere. The latest thriller from studio GTH and Sophon Sakdaphisit, screenwriter of Shutter and director of Coming Soon, Laddaland is a gripping, dread-filled psychological-ghost story about a family who moves into a haunted Chiang Mai housing development.

Making its Asian premiere is Kongdej's P-047 (Tae Peang Phu Deaw), a quirk-filled drama that has a lot of positive buzz going for it after its last-minute out-of-competition addition to the Venice Film Festival. It's a story of a locksmith who strikes up a friendship with another young man, and the pair break into people's homes to "borrow" their lives while they are away. P-047 screens in the Window on Asian Cinema program.

Also in the Window on Asian Cinema is Eternity (Chua Fah Din Salai, ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย), making its international premiere. Not to be confused with indie director Sivaroj Kongsakul's Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak), which won the New Currents Award at Busan last year and is now in limited release in Bangkok, this other Eternity is Outrage director ML Bhandevop "Mom Noi" Devakula's lavish romantic drama about cheating lovers (Ananda Everingham and Ploy Chermarn) chained together. Busan is apparently screening the theatrical version from last year's commercial release in Thailand and not the three-hour director's cut that Mom Noi prepared with the intention of having it screened on the festival circuit.

I Carried You Home, the debut feature by indie filmmaker Tongpong, makes its premiere in the New Current Competition. It's the story of a pair of estranged sisters who are reunited by their mother's death. The film has been supported by Busan's Asian Cinema Fund, receiving funds for script development and post-production.

Wisit Sasanatieng's 2001 debut feature Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah Talai Jone) will be screening in the special focus program on Asian westerns, Men of the East. It's a really cool selection that spans the history of the Eastern westerns. Among the selection is Chingachgook: The Great Snake, a 1967 drama about Native Americans by East German director Richard Groschopp, and Uzbekistan'sThe Seventh Bullet (1972) by Ali Khamrayev. There's a pair from Japan, Saito Buichi's The Rambling Guitarist from 1959 and the 1960 sequel The Rambler Rides Again, and a pair from the Philippines, Fernando Poe Jr.'s San Bernardo and Gun in My Hand, both from 1966. Two recent entries are Chinese director Jiang Wen's Let the Bullets Fly and Kim Jee-woon's The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Also from South Korea is Im Kwon-taek's Eagle of the Wild Field (1969). And no Eastern western program would be complete without 1975's Bollywood classic, Sholay.

In the Wide Angle program there's two shorts from last year's films in commemoration of His Majesty the King's 83rd birthday: Superstitious by Nonzee Nimibutr and Six to Six by Aditya Assarat. Superstitious (เกษตร ...ตะกอน, Kaset Ta Korn), is a colorful comedy about a farmer who plants a genetically modified sunflower seed. Villagers believe the plant has magical powers leading to a wildly out-of-control situation. Six to Six (เพลงชาติไทย, Pleng Chat Thai) is a quietly comedic look at workers in an apartment building cleaning their master's top-floor room. It also screened at the recent Thai Short Film & Video Festival and is actually a prelude to Aditya's feature Hi-So, which screened at Busan last year and finally opens in Bangkok cinemas next month.

Apart from all those Thai movies, there's also a look at the old cinemas of Thailand and elsewhere in an exhibition of photos in Busan by the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project.

There's also the Asian Project Market, with projects by Nonzee and Aditya being pitched.

Further Thai involvement comes from filmmaker-critic Kong Rithdee as a member of the NETPAC jury, Aditya judging the short film competition's Sonje Award and Apichatpong Weerasethakul as a keynote speaker in the Busan Cinema Forum.

In all, the Busan International Film Festival will screen 307 films from 70 countries, and the fest makes it home in a brand-new main venue, the Busan Cinema Center. The fest runs from October 6 to 14 2011.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Headshot gets North American distributor, enters competition in Tokyo

Good news for Pen-ek Ratanaruang's upside-down hitman thriller Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah, ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า).

It's been picked for release in North America by Kino Lorber, which plans to give it a theatrical release, according to Film Business Asia.

Plus, Headshot is set for its Asian premiere in the competition at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival, also according to Film Biz Asia. Th

The pending North American release for Headshot is the first of Pen-ek's since Last Life in the Universe, almost 10 years ago. Although the following film Invisible Waves got English-friendly releases, Pen-ek's under-rated marriage drama Ploy and his forest thriller Nymph have so far been passed by in the English-speaking world. And that's bad for Thai film lovers outside Thailand. They are missing out.

But what's good is the buzz coming off Headshot's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Aside from one mixed industry review, the couple folks I follow on Twitter who've seen Headshot really liked it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Disabled Thai youths make a whole movie in The Missing Piece

Patana Chirawong directs The Missing Piece, a documentary about youngsters of varying disabilities who get together to learn about filmmaking.

It was shown last month in a special screening at the 15th Thai Short Film & Video Festival, and now it's in limited release in Bangkok at House on RCA.

Here's the synopsis from the festival catalog:

Sua, the head of the group, is a congenitally handicapped man of 20. He is a director and has talked his three friends into the project. They are Charan, a blind fellow with the tiny body of a 10-year-old; Wut, a boy of 13 who lives in a silent world; and Tor, an autistic teenager. Through companionship and compensation for each other's corporal insufficiencies, the four companions make a short film that recounts their own story, to tell the world they are no different than other human beings.

In a genius move, the little sight-impaired guy is the sound man, holding the boom mike. And among the filmmakers who turn up to help is Tanwarin Sukkhapisit.

There's a trailer at YouTube, and it's embedded below.

Review: Iron Pussy: A Kimchi Affair

  • Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng
  • Starring Michael Shaowanasai, Kim Min-jun
  • Released in Thai cinemas as part of Camellia on September 15, 2011; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

Camellia, a.k.a. The Busan Project, the pan-Asian trio of romance shorts shot in Busan, South Korea, and premiered at last year's Pusan International Film Festival, opened in Thai cinemas last week, and judging from the Bangkok multiplex screening I attended last night, where I was the only person in the theatre – it hasn't been doing very well at the box office.

As I see it, the Thai release has a couple problems.

First of all, it's dubbed in Thai, so audiences who went to see the Korean and Japanese segments have to endure the mismatched mouthings of the one or two veteran dubbers who dub every single foreign movie and TV series released in Thailand. I think Thai audiences of films from other countries in Asia – especially art films like Camellia – generally prefer to watch the movies with the original soundtrack.

Second, it's not subtitled, even in cinemas where it is listed as being subtitled. So that cuts out another audience segment – the crazy farangs in Thailand who like watching Asian art films.

Released by Five Star Production, Camellia would have perhaps found a more receptive audience in a limited release in one of Bangkok's more arthouse-oriented cinemas, with the original soundtrack and Thai and English subtitles.

The Thai dubbing only works on the first segment, Wisit Sasanatieng and Michael Shaowanasai's Iron Pussy: A Kimchi Affair, which is done in a retro style and is intentionally dubbed, just as Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 2005 comedy The Adventure of Iron Pussy was. And even without subtitles, Wisit's Kimchi Affair is still a lot of fun.

Starring Michael in the persona he's put on for a series of short films that goes back around 10 years or maybe more, it's the story of a Thai transvestite secret agent on a mission in Korea. As a man, Iron Pussy is in Busan working in a seafood restaurant, preparing live octopi for dinner. Secret messages are passed to him through phones embedded in the seafood, and a ringing, squirming octopus puts him on his next mission.

Transformed into the fashionable lady secret agent (with a dubbed woman's voice to match), she makes the scene at a swinging nightclub, where she catches the eye of a masked man (Kim Min-jun) and romance blossoms. Masked tommy-gun-wielding thugs are quickly dispatched with a few swift kicks by the lady spy. She then takes her Korean man on a picnic.

It's also been described as a "karaoke musical", and thanks to the dubbed soundtrack, Iron Pussy performs several songs, including the Korean folksong "Arirang", which she has to sing to gain access to her secret headquarters.

Commissioned by the city of Busan, Camellia has stories of romance in the seaside town, set in the past, present and future. The other segments are Kamome by Isao Yukisada, set in the present, about a director (Sol Kyung-Gu) making a movie in Busan and falling in love. Yuriko Yoshitaka also stars. And Love for Sale, directed by Joon-hwan Jang, is set in a future when the buying and selling memories is common. Gang Dong-Won plays a guy wanting to retrieve his memories of a lost love (Song Hye-Kyo).

Set in 1979, Wisit's stylish Iron Pussy takes place in the past. It actually feels more like 1969 when Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat were the leading man and lady of Thai cinema. It's that era of Thai cinema that Iron Pussy's character pays tribute to, and Wisit, the director of Tears of the Black Tiger and The Red Eagle, is especially adept at capturing.

But Iron Pussy also time-travels to present-day Busan, and it's a pretty riveting piece of performance art that's captured when Iron Pussy in her vintage Coco Chanel outfit struts around the busy shopping district of the beachside resort, attracting all kinds of weird stares.

Related posts:

Baan Phee Pob returns with vengeance

There have been something like two-dozen installments in the long-running Baan Phee Pob ghost-comedy series, which goes back to the 1980s.

The story, involving much running around, screaming and slapstick antics by villagers who hide in water jars, is about a gut-munching female ghost who disembowels her victims with a sharp thrust of her claw-like hands.

There have been many iterations of Baan Phee Pob over the years – 2001's Pop Weed Sayong, a.k.a. Body Jumper, comes to mind – but the original series was revived in 2008 by Golden A Entertainment. They brought back veteran actress Natthanee Sitthisaman as Pob Yib. Now comes the second installment in the rebooted series starring Natthanee, Baan Phee Pob: Reformation (บ้านผีปอบ รีฟอร์เมชั่น), which aims to bring Pob into the modern era.

You can read more about the long-running a series in a Bangkok Post story by Kong Rithdee. Rated G.

Here's a trailer to watch, if you dare.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Watch: Fall by Visra Vichit-Vadakan

The National Film Society is a new media studio co-founded by Los Angeles filmmakers Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco, who've decided to take their talents to YouTube.

They produce original content, showcase films and interview filmmakers.

This week, they are featuring Fall, a romantic short film by New York-based Thai filmmaker Visra Vichit-Vadakan.

In the 4-minute, 20-second Fall (embedded above), a woman follows a stranger through along the sidewalks of New York while creating a vivid fantasy with him in her mind.

Visra previously directed the award-winning short In Space. Another of her works is the short documentary Rise. She's at work on her debut feature, Karaoke Girl, while another feature project, Karma Police, is waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: U Mong Pa Mueang (The Outrage)

  • Directed by ML Bhandevanop Devakula
  • Starring Mario Maurer, Ananda Everingham, Chermarn Boonyasak, Dom Hetrakul, Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Petthai Wongkamlao
  • Released in Thai cinemas on September 8, 2011; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

Forget everything you remember or think you know about Akira Kurosawa's revered 1950 classic Rashomon and be swept away by the ostentatious spectacle of ML Bhandevanop "Mom Noi" Devakula's adaptation of the story in U Mong Pa Mueang (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง,), a.k.a. The Outrage.

Yes, the same plot points are there, and the opening credits to U Mong Pa Mueang acknowledge the film's debt to Kurosawa and the story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, which was adapted into a Broadway stage play that was seen by Thai writer and statesman MR Kukrit Pramoj, who then translated it. Veteran dramatist Mom Noi, who put on a version of Kukrit's play years ago, has been intending to make a movie of it for more than a decade. After his romantic epic Chua Fah Din Salai (Eternity) became a commercial and critical hit last year, his Rashomon project became possible.

Mom Noi doesn't disappoint, unfolding the story in his typical breathtakingly dramatic style that recalls old-time moviemaking, with plenty of eye candy that includes lavish historical costuming and hairdressing, killer tattoos and a stunning mountain setting.

Even better is the robust ensemble cast – perhaps the strongest that Thai cinema has seen in recent years.

Much of the focus is put on the monk, with young heartthrob actor Mario Maurer's head shaved, but his bushy eyebrows are left intact. The wide-eyed young man is having a crisis of faith as he wrestles with personal and family problems. A lengthy prologue sets him up for a soul-searching pilgrimage, during which he has an encounter with a murder victim in the forest and then attends the trial, the testimony of which further shakes his beliefs.

Consequently, Mom Noi's U Mong Pa Mueang aims to convey a message about the Buddhist faith along with the original film's themes about redemption and a restoration in belief about the human spirit.

These are dark days in 1567 Lanna, where an earthquake has devastated the city of Pa Mueang. As a storm approaches, the wayward monk is joined by a woodcutter – the well-cast taciturn comedian Petthai "Mum Jok Mok" Wongkamlao – who convinces the clergyman to take shelter with him in the ruined city's spooky old tunnel.

There they encounter a crazy old disfigured undertaker – Pongpat Wachirabunjong in a fun, over-the-top, Shakespearian performance, skulls and all – who skeptically listens as the pair recount the murder trial they attended.

From there, the movie settles into the familiar rhythms of the original, with flashbacks to the crime scene and the wildly conflicting testimonies.

Much of the cast from last year's Chua Fah Din Salai have returned, among them that movie's two main leads, Ananda Everingham and "Ploy" Chermarn Boonyasak. Other returning Eternity cast members include Sakkaraj Rerkthamrong, here playing the governor presiding over the trial, and Daraneenuch Pothipithi giving a dryly comic performance as the mother of the warlord's wife.

Ananda portrays the murdered nobleman warlord, the equivalent of the samurai in Rashomon. Spending much of the movie tied to tree, emasculated as he's bound and gagged, his eyes painfully and tearfully convey the rage and sadness he sees in each version of the story.

Ploy as his wife is electrifying as she portrays the woman – a commoner kitchen girl, elevated to the warlord's lady – in the various scenarios, subtly changing from fragile and flighty to indignant with rage and snakelike in her betrayal.

Dom Hetrakul, an actor usually seen in supporting roles in B-movie action films, is in the showy Toshiro Mifune role of the bandit, and gives perhaps the performance of his career. It could be his Travolta Pulp Fiction moment if Thailand's movie industry worked like Hollywood.

A highlight is the bandit's tale of his swordfight with the warlord. Choreographed by Panna Rittikrai, it's wonderfully framed and convincingly depicts the flashy formally trained fencing skills of the nobleman – yes, Ananda does action – versus the rough-and-tumble, muscular abilities of the bandit.

Another fun segment is the nobleman's testimony, as told through a medium. Portrayed by singer and stage actress Radklao Amartisha, with white makeup and blackened teeth, the performance becomes something of a contemporary dance interlude.

Related posts:

Monday, September 19, 2011

In memoriam: Lung Krong Gangkeng Daeng a.k.a. Uncle Krong Red Pants

On Saturday afternoon, while I and a few dozen other folks were watching the Third Class Citizen screening of a short film by "Karn" Sivaroj Kongsakul about "Red Pants" comedian Narong Rattapon, a.k.a. Lung Krong Gangkeng Daeng (ลุงโกร่ง กางเกงแดง), it would be the last time we'd see the veteran funnyman.

In a chilling coincidence, the very next day, the news came out that Uncle Krong Red Pants was dead at age 83. His body was found in his home in Ban Yai, Nonthaburi, by a passing security guard, who was helping villagers deal with the floods.

In the short documentary, Krong is interviewed and he explains that he adopted the nickname after he made a movie – I think it was one of Baan Phee Pop horror-comedies – in which he climbed a tree to escape the ghost and his sarong caught on a branch, exposing his red underpants. Thereafter, he wore red trousers as his trademark.

Krong was from the same era of Thai cinema as the master comedian Lor Tok. According to a Nation story, among his films was the classic 1952 comedy Sam Kler (Three Friends), which starred Lor Tok, Sompong Pongmitr and Dokdin Kanyamarn.

With Krong's passing, it's Dokdin, aged 87, as the lone surviving funnyman.

In the short film, Krong estimates he acted in as many as 500 films – at least 300 for sure – but laments that he's not as well known as Mitr Chaibancha and other leading men of the era.

But don't take my word for it. You can actually watch the film I watched – somebody posted it to YouTube yesterday – and hopefully Karn will not mind if it's embedded below for everyone to see.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Back from the Jungle with Ninja Dixon and Christoph Klüppel

Die-hard cult-film blogger Ninja Dixon has just posted a five-part series of interviews with Christoph Klüppel, a musclebound German bodybuilder and actor who appeared in just over a half dozen Thai action films in the late 1980s and early '90s.

He worked with director "Philip" Chalong Pakdivijit on a number of movies, including The Lost Idol and In Gold We Trust, as well as Mission Hunter and Mission Hunter II with Chokchai Maliwan and Panna Rittikrai, and a young actor he can't quite remember – Tony Jaa. He also worked with such Thai action heroes as Sorapong Chatree and Krung Srivalai as well as slumming Hollywood stars like Jan-Michael Vincent, Erik Estrada and Sam Jones.

Just go read the interviews and be taken back to a bygone era of Thai action cinema:

Review: Bangkok Kung Fu

  • Directed by Yuthlert Sippapak
  • Starring Arak Amornsupasiri, Athigit Pringprom, Wisawa Taiyanonnt, Kaew Sirimongkonsakol, Mario Maurer
  • Released in Thai cinemas on September 1, 2011; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5

Despite its title, Bangkok Kung Fu (บางกอกกังฟู) isn't a martial-arts film. Instead, it's a rather dull teenage romantic melodrama.

Director Yuthlert Sippapak throws in a few entertaining twists, but the purpose of the movie is to showcase the teen-idol singers from Kamikaze, the record label of music company RS Public, parent of studio Film R Us. They aren't stunt players, so they just stand there and make kung-fu poses while CGI waves of energy emanate from their hands, like they are The Last Airbender.

The story starts off pretty gritty, though, and echoes Slumdog Millionaire, with four boys forced by ruthless gangsters to work as beggars in Bangkok's Chinatown. When they misbehave, the four are each given different disabilities. One is slapped upside the head so hard his brain is damaged. Another's ears are boxed so severely, he's made deaf. One boy has his tongue cut off with pruning shears. And the fourth has his eyes gouged out with bamboo skewers.

They are rescued from further harm by an elderly kung-fu master, and taken in and raised by him along with a fifth kid, a little girl.

Flash-forward to years later, and the kids are all grown up but have split apart over that girl.

The speech-impaired guy ("Pe" Arak Armornsupasiri) is working as a freelance assassin, and he's given the coolest move in the movie, when he throws a chopstick and impales it into a foreigner's forehead.

The deaf guy ("Tomo" Wisawa Taiyanonnt from K-Otic) and his blind blood brother (Athigit "Bank Black Vanilla" Pringprom) are on a fruitless search for vengeance against the gangsters who harmed them.

The brain-damaged boy (Mario Maurer) is still living with the master, and despite his mental deficencies – he doesn't go full retard, but almost – is still hoping the old man will teach him kung fu.

And the girl (Faye Fan Kaew singer Kaew Sirimongkonsakol), who has the cool skill of levitation, has no interest in martial arts. She's instead entering music contests and auditioning to be a rap singer, even though hip-hop is clearly not her style.

The story becomes quite complicated, but it involves a few lame fights, that quest for vengeance, a search for a healing elixir known as "dragon's tears" and the heartthrob characters sitting around, playing with marbles and brooding.

Eventually, some somersaulting monkey-mask-clad martial artists turn up to make things somewhat exciting again. They are doing the bidding of a white dude with a scary ponytail, who wants to eat the hearts of the brain-damaged kid and the girl and gain their powers.

I would have offered my heart if it would have made the movie end a bit quicker.

Related posts:

Capsule reviews: Kon Khon, Love, Not Yet

Kon Khon (คนโขน) – A helpful cinematic primer about the traditional masked-dance performance art of khon, used to depict the Ramakien, Thailand's version of the Ramayana, is weighed down by overwrought soap-opera melodrama and heavy-handed karmic moralizing. Directed by actor and yellow-shirt political activist Sarunyu Wongkrachang, the movie stars Sorapong Chatree as the leader of a scrappy little khon troupe from the countryside. He has always struggled in the shadow of his big-city rival, played by the urbane cane-wielding Nirut Sirichanya. It's the 1960s, and khon and other live performances are still the main entertainment for ordinary Thais. A hotdog young dancer takes the lead in Sorapong's troupe, but runs into conflict with the sneering one-dimensional moustachioed star of the city troupe, who holds a grudge from way back. There's betrayal after betrayal. One labored thread involves the female teacher and wife of Sorapong's character. Another angle is the love triangle that develops between three childhood friends – the countryboy dancer, his likay (Thai folk opera) actress friend and their pal, a sensitive artist guy. There's a bit of suspense when the two khon troupes stage competing performances on the same night, and one troupe's show is sabotaged. A more interestingly staged conflict arises later, when the city troupe is rehearsing outdoors, in full glittering khon regalia, and the sneering star dancer makes his move of ultimate betrayal against the old master. Karma comes and gets them all. So let that be a lesson. Beautifully shot and costumed as it is in the period setting, Kon Khon could have done more to show the beauty of khon, and make the story about the battle for the nation's cultural soul. Instead, it's something that can be seen every night on TV, complete with drama queens, flairing nostrils, piercing screams and slaps to the face. (2/5)

Love, Not Yet (รักจัดหนัก, Rak Jad Nak) – Bioscope magazine editor Suparb Rimthepathip produces this anthology of three short stories that aim to look at the lighter side of teen pregnancies while also giving a hint of the consequences. Pas Pattanakamjorn and Pairat Khumwan direct the first segment, After Samed, in which a pre-college couple come back from a weekend on Koh Samet with a souvenir they'll never forget. It's a tension-filled drama, as the girl is one week late for her period, but can't take a pregnancy test until the second week. They blame each other for the predicament. Already under pressure over getting into the right university, the possibility of parenthood looms. The girl should be shopping for a university uniform but has to think about maternity clothes instead. Anuchit Mualprom directs the middle segment, I'm Mom, I'm Wife, which is more comedic in tone. It's about a young Muay Thai boxer who's shacked up in the home of his girlfriend's parents. Geeky-looking indie filmmaker Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke is among the members of the funny family. The girl becomes pregnant, just like her sister before her. The clumsy, slacker boxer seems ill-equipped to be a father or even run the family's restaurant stall, and the pregnant girl is simply frustrated. Somehow, it seems, through all the difficulties, the family will be there for them. Finally, there's Tom Hang, a.k.a. Happy Birthday, which actress "Sai" Inthira Charoenpura co-directed with Chakorn Chaipreecha, based on her story inspired from her student days at an all-girl school when everyone thought the full-of-attitude Sai was a tomboy. A hotshot basketball player with lesbian leanings hangs out with the guys one night, drinks too much and ends up in bed with a dude who has a funny name. Her preganancy comes as a shock (and maybe relief) to her mother (veteran actress Jintara Sukkapat). Though the endings of all the shorts are refreshingly open-ended, Happy Birthday is the most enigmatic of the three, but somehow I think basketball girl and her baby will survive, Facebook unfriending aside. (3/5)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Honorable mention for Pimpaka's My Father in Vladivostok

In a colorful closing ceremony on Friday that featured a performance by Liza Minelli, Pimpaka Towira won a special jury prize for her short My Father, which was in competition at the International Film Festival of Asian Pacific Countries “Pacific Meridian", a.k.a. the Vladivostok International Film Festival.

Here's the synopsis from the festival website:

In a Thai village, a small family’s father is forced to quit his job as a train station janitor because of his protest letter to the authorities. The family is struggling but he refuses to keep his mouth shut. He leaves for Bangkok in search of justice and joins the mass rally. He returns to his quiet neighborhood morally crushed.

The politically themed My Father previously screened at the Rotterdam fest and last year's Dubai International Film Festival in the Muhr Asia-Africa Competition for Short Films

Friday, September 16, 2011

See Sivaroj's short films on Saturday after Eternity

Sivaroj Kongsakul's award-winning debut feature Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak) has entered the second week of a monthlong limited run in Bangkok as part of the Extra Virgin Director's Screen Project.

It's been screening at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld on weeknights at 7.30 and 2.30 and 7.10pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

After this Saturday's matinee, there's a whole bunch of love of Sivaroj lined up, starting with a Q&A with the director after the movie.

Then, at 5pm, the film-activist group Third Class Citizen will show Sivaroj's short films. That'll be in the Eat@DoubleU restaurant, right outside theater 10 at SFW CentralWorld. They set up some little stools you can perch on while you watch the films for free.

The shorts include his award-winners Always and Silencio.

Most will have English subtitles.

The Nation has more about Sivaroj, as well as filmmaker Pramote Sangsorn and their residencency earlier this year in Paris as part of the Cannes Cinefondation program.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mixed reviews for Pen-ek's Headshot in Toronto

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's film-noir thriller Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah, ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า) premiered over the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival, and, sitting 8,500 miles away in Bangkok, it's been hard for me to keep tabs on this highly anticipated movie from a cult-favorite director.

Finally, word is starting to trickle in.

Screen Daily has a mixed review.

Headshot will be a tough-sell internationally: It does not fit into the art-house niche, neither will it satisfy the cops-and-robbers crowd. Even domestically, this will limit its appeal. This is a shame because Ratanaruang is interested in exposing the extent of corruption in his home country.

The review by Howard Feinstein laments a lack of coherence but praises leading "Peter" Nopachai Jayanama and the cinematography by Chankit Chamnivikaipong.

A much more positive outlook on Pen-ek's upside-down hitman tale comes from Toronto blogger Movie Moxie who has photos and links to her video log on her TIFF Day 4 review:

It's a dark look at dark ideas, but I found it fascinating to watch it unfold through an intense and graceful pace. Very well done, fascinating idea and story and huge kudos to actor Nopachai Jayanama for making the audience feel the bizarre experience of what he is going through. I loved it.

There now. That's better.

Last Exorcism director tapped for Hollywood remake of 13: Game of Death

A Hollywood remake of Chookiat Sakveerakul's 2006 thriller 13 Game Sayong (13 เกมสยอง, a.k.a. 13 Beloved and 13: Game of Death), has been in the works for years.

If I recall, it was The Weinstein Company that picked up remake rights and released the original version of the gripping psychological thriller starring Noi Sukosol on its Dimension Extreme DVD imprint in the U.S.

The story follows a troubled salesman who is manipulated into taking part in a deadly underground hidden-camera game in which he must perform 13 increasingly grim tasks to win millions in cash.

News of the remake eventually died out, until resurfacing last night that a deal had been struck for The Last Exorcism director Daniel Stamm to direct the remake.

IM Global CEO Stuart Ford made the announcement on Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival and said he hopes to go into production early next year.

According to the news reports, Stamm is adapting the screenplay with David Birke for a production by IM Global and Alliance Films' joint venture Atomatik Another producer is Kiki Miyake of Little Magic, which brought the project to IM Global. Jason Blum and Sahamongkolfilm International's Somsak Techaratanaprasert are named as executive producers.

Meanwhile, what everyone really wants to know is when Chookiat's sequel 14 Beyond will come out, and I guess that's still in the works, probably for next year.

(Via Screen Daily, Deadline Hollywood, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Praise for Kongdej's P-047 in Venice

As the Venice Film Festival winds down, there's been a pretty positive buzz generated for Kongdej Jaturanrasamee's Tae Peang Phu Deaw (P-047), the last-minute out-of-competition addition to the festival's Orizzonti (Horizons) program.

In his reports from Venice, the Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee has already tipped P-047 as "another best Thai film of the year".

Indonesian producer and film expert John Badalu tweeted earlier in the week: "If you happen to be in Venice ... go watch a Thai film called P-047 ... One of the best films I saw this year! Blew my mind!" He reiterated that statement again today.

I've heard that all three of Thailand's Venice titlesP-047, Rirkrit Tiravanija's Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbours and the short Passing Through the Night (Pu Fao Mong Rattikal) by Wattanapume Laisuwanchai, have been secured for an upcoming festival in Bangkok.

So there's something to look forward to.

Here's the synopsis for P-047 from the festival website:

Lek is a lonely locksmith who’s never had a girlfriend. Kong is an aspiring writer who lives with his mom. The two strangers work side by side at the shopping mall, one copying keys, the other selling tabloid magazines. Together, they hatch a plan that combines their talents. They break into apartments during the day when the owners have gone to work. They don’t steal anything, they only borrow. They borrow the lives, the loves, the things that belong to strangers. One day, they borrow more than they bargain for. Everyone has secrets and some cannot be revealed. Later, Lek wakes up in a hospital. To his confusion, everyone begins calling him Kong. He recuperates from his injuries. Every afternoon he walks up to the roof to have a smoke. There, he meets Oy, a young female patient who likes to sniff empty containers – bottles, cans, tins, anything that will take her back to the past. They form an odd friendship. After he leaves the hospital, Lek breaks into Kong’s home. He discovers secrets about his old friend that he never knew. He even meets the girl of his friend’s dreams. But where is his friend?

And the director's statement:

If imagination can become memory and fantasy can become truth... If facts can become fiction... if lives can be borrowed and copied like pages from a book... then what remains of who we really are?

There's more from Kongdej about P-047 in an article in The Nation.

Just don't go looking for an answer as to what the title P-047 means. Kongdej tells The Nation that viewers will find the answer in the story.

There's also more discussion in the Venice press conference (video embedded below), with the cast and crew – Kongdej, actor Apichai Tragoolpadetgrai and Soros "ThongDee" Sukhum, wearing a killer producer's hat.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prachya, Pantham lead masterclasses at Technicolor Asia

This week, Bangkok's Technicolor Asia held a masterclass that was attended by 80 students from Bangkok University as part of the Thai-U.S. Creative Partnership Project.

The details that follow are all from a press release sent yesterday by Technicolor Asia's PR division.

The classes were led by two Thai directors – Prachya Pinkaew (Ong-Bak, Chocolate and the recent Hollywood production Elephant White) on September 7 and Pantham Thongsang (Midroad Gang, Ai Fak) on September 9. They lectured on “Elements of International Filmmaking”, each from their own perspective.

Also on September 7, U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney visited Technicolor Asia, where she had a firsthand look TA’s role in the international film industry and to meet and congratulate the students on their participation in the Thai-U.S. Creative Partnership Project.

She also met managing director Sergio Bosso, who was appointed as the head of Technicolor's Bangkok facility last October. He had previously been TA's general manager. He's been with Technicolor since 2004, first as European engineering director and then as operations director of Technicolor Rome.

Technicolor Asia, which began in 1977 as CineColor and became Technicolor Thailand in 2004, is the largest post-production facility in the Asian region, making film prints for distribution (including Hollywood films). The facility also offers sound and digital services for local and regional filmmakers. Many Hollywood productions filming in Thailand use the services of Technicolor Asia – as did Warner Bros.' The Hangover Part II last year.

Recently, historical rivals Deluxe and Technicolor entered into a pact to service each other’s clients due to an overall decline in the film print business caused by the increase in digital projections.

Deluxe, which previously printed at Kantana's Oriental Post labs, now sends all its Asian film-print work through Technicolor Asia.

Another recent development by TA has been the introduction of the Technicolor 3D lens. Offering an less-costly alternative to converting to full digital projectors, the lens can be retrofitted on an ordinary 2D projector.

With India at No. 1 in Asia for deployment of the Technicolor 3D lens, Thailand is second in the region with 35 installations and fourth worldwide in deployment of the T3D lenses.

Techicolor Asia is also expected to announce shortly about a tie-up with the makers of the first 3D Thai film, Mae Nak 3D, which will be released in October.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It seems like an eternity for Eternity

It's been nearly a year since Sivaroj Kongsakul's debut feature Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak) premiered at the Pusan International Film Festival, where it won the New Currents competition and made Sivaroj another Thai name for world cinema followers to get acquainted with.

It opened the World Film Festival of Bangkok last year, giving the city's festival die-hards two screenings before heading back out on the road to win the Tiger Award in Rotterdam, the top prize at the Deauville Asian Film Festival and an award in Hong Kong as well as critical praise at LA Film Fest. In the meantime, Sivaroj went to France, where he took part in the Cannes Cinefondation Residency program.

Now, finally, Sivaroj's highly emotional, personal and spiritual ode to his late father comes home to Bangkok once again, giving the multiplex crowds a contemplative alternative to the cacophonous Hollywood and Thai-studio blockbusters as part of the Extra Virgin Director's Screen Project at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

Opening on Thursday (September 8), it'll screen until October 5, with showtimes at around 7 nightly plus 2 o'clock matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.

That'll be followed in October by another highly personal indie film in the Director's Screen Project, Hi-So, the sophomore feature by director Aditya Assarat, who just happens to also be one of the producers of Eternity.

Eternity is a quiet, tearful and homespun tale that captures a man's existence, tracing back from his lonely sadness in the afterlife, to his all-too-fleeting romance and marriage and finally to the wife and son he's left behind.

It is not to be confused with a much-bigger, much-gaudier film with the same English title released by the Thai film industry last year. But to further complicate matters, the same director that made that other Eternity last year is back this year, going head-to-head with the smaller indie film with another much-hyped Thai-film-industry tentpole release. It's an outrage, I tell you.

Calm down with me and have a look at the freshly cut trailer (embedded below).

Update: Eternity (Tee Rak) will screen in the London Film Festival, October 12 to 27.

(Via Pop Pictures)

O.B.L. to make online premiere on 9-11 anniversary

The faith-minded trio of directors Panu Aree, Kong Rithdee and Kaweenipon Ketprasit, makers of The Convert and Baby Arabia, have made their JFK.

Though rather than an epic, conspiracy-filled political thriller, their O.B.L. is a look at Thai Muslims in the 10 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The 20-minute documentary, having debuted as one of the openers of this year's Thai Short Film & Video Festival, marks the 9/11 anniversary with an online premiere.

You can watch it anytime in the 24 hours from 9pm on Sunday, September 11 to 9pm on Monday, September 12, Bangkok time.

Here's more about O.B.L. from the movie's Facebook page:

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attack in New York, the incident that has sent political, cultural and religious shockwaves and launched a bitter conflict between the Muslim world and the rest. This year also saw the death of Osama Bin Laden – terrorist/warrior/philosopher/T-shirt logo, depending on who you ask – the man who shaped the image of Islam the way nobody has done since Prophet Muhammad.

This short documentary listens to the opinion and attitude, the contentment and resentment, of Thai Muslims to investigate how their lives have been affected during the decade of confusion and chaos.

You can watch the short by searching on YouTube for "O.B.L. the documentary" or following up at the O.B.L. Facebook page.

Check out the trailer (embedded below).

U Mong Pa Meung, a.k.a. The Outrage, 'not Rashomon'

As the Thai adaption of RashomonU Mong Pa Meung (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง), a.k.a. The Outrage, is being released in much-hyped fashion this week, the movie's director ML Bhandevanop “Mom Noi” Devakula has been making sure to point out that it isn't a remake of the much-revered classic film by Akira Kurosawa.

As he told The Nation recently:

"We have to be clear that adaptation is not copying or remaking. This film is not Rashomon or The Outrage. Kurosawa's Rashomon is a good film and nobody can do it better. So do not expect to see what you see in Rashomon. They are totally different."

Nonetheless, the international English title The Outage stands, just like 1964 Paul Newman western that was a remake of the Kurosawa film.

The trailer, which was posted earlier, also aims to disassociate U Mong Pa Meung from Kurosawa's Rashomon with a banner trumpeting that it's "from Rashomon, the play by MR Kukrit Pramoj". Watch the English-subtitled version if you don't believe me.

Kukrit, the multi-faceted Thai statesman, actor and writer, translated a Broadway stage version of the story, which was in turn adapted from the Kurosawa movie.

It's all in the name of marketing, since the big "mega movie event" of U Mong Pa Meung is serving the dual purposes of celebrating this year's centennial birth anniversary of Kukrit, as well as the 40th anniversary of studio Sahamongkol Film International.

Mom Noi, who directed Kukrit's stage version back in 1992, has set his Rashomon 500 years ago in the Lanna kingdom of northern Thailand. If the lush mountain setting looks familiar, it's because it's the same location as Mom Noi's blockbuster romantic epic last year, Eternity (Chua Fah Din Salai). It also has the stagebound, breathless melodrama and lavish costuming that audiences of Mum Noi's films have come to expect.

The Thai title, U Mong Pa Meung, refers to a tunnel under a city wall (instead of a city gate, as in the Kurosawa movie), where a woodcutter (Petthai Wongkumlao), a monk (Mario Maurer) and an old man (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) have taken shelter for the evening and they discuss and argue over the news of a murder in the woods and the conflicting accounts of it in the trial that followed.

Ananda Everingham takes the "samurai" role as a nobleman warrior, murdered while travelling with his wife ("Ploy" Chermarn Boonyasak). Dom Hetrakul is in the Toshiro Mifune role as the bandit.

Mom Noi says his version will take a few more twists and turns as it's shaped to offer a moral to contemporary Thai (Buddhist) audiences. Here's more from The Nation piece:

"This film is about man and dharma. Dharma is thammachad [nature] so looking at the people in the film is like watching the murals in the temple, and at some point you might see yourself in it. Anyway, do not try too hard to see 'something'. It is best to just go with the flow of the film.

"Be with the present. Follow the film, don't think of anything else. Do not try to interpret anything while watching the film. Do not think about Kurosawa's Rashomon because once you think about that film while watching U Mong Pha Mueng, it means you are stuck in the past. Try to be 'present' and enjoy the film."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Trailer for Pen-ek's Headshot

As Pen-ek Ratanaruang prepares to fly to Canada this week for the Toronto International Film Festival and the world premiere of his new movie Headshot, there's now a trailer (embedded above), and it looks fantastic.

Based on the novel Fon Tok Kuen Fah (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า) by S.E.A. Write Award-winning writer and Silpathorn Award laureate Win Lyovarin, it's the dark film-noir tale of an ex-cop-turned-hitman who is shot and then wakes up from a coma and everything is upside down.

The thriller stars "Peter" Noppachai Jayanama (Nymph, Naresuan). Cris Horwang (Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story, Saturday Killer) also stars along with rapper Apisit "Joey Boy" Opasaimlikit and newcomer model-actress "Dream" Chanokporn Sayoung.

It's set for release in Thailand on November 3.

(Via Twitch)

Insects in the Backyard at Asian Hot Shots

Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's legally embattled comedy-drama Insects in the Backyard is going to Berlin, where it'll play in the Asian Hot Shots.

The film tells the story of a transgender father who lives with his teenage son and daughter. The father, after divorcing his wife, refuses to be called Dad; to his children, he is Big Sister Tannia. This new situation provokes conflicts and drives the kids out of their home to seek comfort elsewhere. The movie was banned in Thailand, because “The film’s content goes against public order or morality”, portraying prostitution and masturbation.

It's part of Asian Hot Shots' "Queer Asia" program. The fest runs from September 9 to 11.

Meanwhile, Tanwarin has started a new independent production company, Amfine Production, and is at work on a new film, It Gets Better. Check it out on Facebook.

(Via @asianhotshots)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Teen pregnancies right now in Love, Not Yet

Omnibus movie projects are still very much in fashion in Thailand, and the latest to hit cinemas is Love, Not Yet (รักจัดหนัก, Rak Jad Nak), a trio of romances by six directors that deals with teen pregnancies.

Bioscope film magazine editor Suphab Rimthepathip produces this comedy-drama with a social message.

Among the directors is actress Inthira Charoenpura, who co-directed the segment Tom Hang, about a tomboyish young woman at an all-girls' school who gets pregnant after a night of being "one of the guys".

It's based on her own experiences of attending a girl's school, she tells The Nation in a story today.

"When I was in school, my classmates thought I was a tomboy because of my personality. But we are still women and have to be careful when spending time with boys," she says.

She co-directed the segment with Chakorn Chaipreecha. The other directors are Pas Pattanakamjorn and Pairat Khumwan on Pai Samed, about a teen couple who go to Koh Samet and come back with a bun in the oven. Anuchit Mualprom directs Pen Mae Pen Mia, about a couple who agree to live together after the girl turns up pregnant. Methas Chaichayanon directed an intro segment.

Suparb said he tried for years to interest his many contacts in the film community in making this project but he eventually took it on himself

"I made this film because I wanted to bring this issue to the big screen," he says.

The Nation article states that Love, Not Yet had originally been intended for release last October, but was delayed by financial problems. It was at that time that a scandal broke when 2,000 fetuses from illegal abortion clinics were found in a Bangkok Buddhist temple, and within months Poj Arnon and Phranakorn Film made a gory ghost thriller about it, Sop Dek 2002.

So though Suparb wishes his movie could have been released back in October, when it would have been "perfect timing", I think things have worked out better.

Maybe folks will remember Love, Not Yet for the message, rather than the gore and ghost fetuses.

It's in cinemas this week. Check out the trailer, embedded below.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Five friends fighting in Yuthlert's Bangkok Kung Fu

Prolific director Yuthlert Sippapak had many plates spinning last year when he embarked on several projects at the same time, which included his Hit Man 3 Pak trilogy of assassin thrillers being released by Phranakorn Film and a trio of projects for entertainment conglomerate RS Public's new film marque Film R Us.

This week, it's one of Yuthlert's Film R Us movies, Bangkok Kung Fu (บางกอกกังฟู), which looks to be blend of comedy, romance and stylish action that's business as usual for the genre-bending director.

It's about five young martial artists who were taken in and trained as children by the same master. They are out for revenge against some gangsters.

Or something like that.

The cast is led by Slice star "Pe" Arak Amornsupasiri from the rock group Slur, who previously worked with Yuthlert on the romantic weeper Rak/Sam/Sao (The Last Moment).

There's also the upwardly trending heartthrob actor Mario Maurer from Love of Siam, who also stars in Sahamongkol's upcoming Rashomon adaptation, The Outrage.

The quintet of young fighters is rounded out by three young stars from RS Public's teenybopper record label – "Bank" Athigit Pringprom from Black Vanilla, "Tomo" Wisawa Taiyanonnt from K-Otic and Kaew Sirimongkonsakol, from the trio Faye Fang Kaew, a.k.a. FFK.

Originally, the scandal-plagued superstar "Film" Ratthaphoom Tokhongsab had been in the cast, but he went to England to pursue studies and star in a reality-TV series for RS Public's satellite network. So, according to a post by Lyn's Lakorn Lakorn blog, Film was replaced by Tomo.

Maybe Film's still in the movie somewhere, but I don't see him in the posters or the trailer.

Sucharat Manaying from last year's Yes or No? So, I Love You, also stars, playing a romantic interest for Pe's character.

Bangkok Kung Fu is in cinemas today. Check the trailer, embedded below. That's actually the second trailer. Another one was released back in July.

And that's not all from Yuthlert – his award-winning hitman thriller Friday Killer (มือปืน ดาวพระศุกร์, Meu Puen Dao Prasook), starring comedian Thep Po-ngam, Ploy Jindachote and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, finally makes its way into Thai cinemas on September 15.