Friday, July 24, 2015

In Thai cinemas: Red Wine in the Dark Night, Latitude 6, Mon Love Sib Muen

(Here is another recurring feature I will attempt, supported by my other blog, Bangkok Cinema Scene, in which I will repost entries about the new Thai movies opening each week in Thai cinemas.)

Along with How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), released here last week, and next month's release of The Blue Hour, fans of Thai queer arthouse cinema have been anticipating Red Wine in the Dark Night, the latest from writer-director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, who previously surveyed transgender culture in the award-winning It Gets Better (ไม่ได้ขอให้มารั, Mai Dai Kor Hai Ma Rak).

Following the successful string of indie gay romances that have been getting limited releases in Bangkok cinemas, Khuen Nan Red Wine in the Dark Night (คืนนั้น Red Wine in the Dark Night), is getting a wide release from Thanadbuntueng Production, Artfo Production and Tanwarin's own Am Fine Production.

There's an intriguing vampire vibe with the plot about an innocent soul named Wine (Pongsatorn "Fluke" Sripinta from My Bromance) who encounters a blood-sucking amnesiac he names Night. He's played by Steven Isarapong Fuller, who previously appeared in Tanwarin's mainstream ghost romance Threesome.

Other stars include Krittachapon Thananara, (It Gets Better, Hug Na Sarakham, Teacher and Student), Nontapat Intarasuan (Feel Good) and Sutthinat Uengtrakul (Love’s Coming).

"I would like to make this film simply to remind all of us that love can really make us blind. Love is definitely a beautiful thing, on the other side, love creates obsession and makes us do whatever it takes to make a person love us and be with us as long as possible. I believe love requires lots of thoughts to make it really work," says Tanwarin in a director's statement issued ahead the movie's release.

Restive southern Thailand is the backdrop for Latitude 6 (ละติจูดที่ 6), a propaganda film produced by the Internal Security Operations Command and UCI Media, the provider of Motorola two-way radios and other products in Thailand.

A romantic drama, its aim is to "promote better understanding", as the military spokesmen are always saying. There are various stories of cultural and religious conflict, mainly having to do with actor-musician Peter Corp Dyrendal, who portrays a Bangkok banker assigned to Pattani. There, he is charmed by the laid-back southern lifestyle. He falls for a young Muslim woman and hopes to prove he is worthy to the girl's strict father.

Though the Army means well (and doesn't it always?) the film's release is poorly timed, with the motorcycle-enthusiast actor embroiled in social-media-fueled controversies over his private affairs and failures to turn up to work on TV shows.

However, The Nation today has a bit more on the actual film, including details on making it from Thanadol Nualsuth, who wrote and directed Latitude 6. A former assistant under Poj Arnon, he previously co-directed the snakes-in-an-apartment thriller Kheaw Aa-Kaard (เขี้ยว อาฆาต), had a hand in the first Die a Violent Death anthology and the 2011 flood romance, Rak Ao Yoo (รักเอาอยู่, a.k.a. Love at First Flood), which was actually filmed during the floods.

Just like Hollywood, the mainstream Thai movie industry isn't terribly inventive, and when one studio has a big box-office hit, the others follow it with something that looks similar, in hopes it will also catch on.

The latest attempt is Mon Love Sib Muen (มนต์เลิฟสิบหมื่น), a reworking of the 1970 classic Monrak Luk Thung, which starred the legendary screen duo of Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat, and was a massive hit in its day, remaining in theaters for something like six months. There were (and still are) tons of other rural Thai musical romantic comedy-dramas, but none caught on like Monrak Luk Thung.

Pariphan “Toh Phantamitr” Vachiranon, a member of the Phantamitr film-dubbing team, directs this new version, which is tarted up with CGI fighting roosters and hipster comedians. Chaiyapol Julien Poupart (Threesome, Jan Dara, The Scar) stars as a country boy who is hopelessly in love with a local lass, but can't marry her until he raises a lavish dowry.

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