Thursday, December 3, 2015

In Thai cinemas: Keetarajanipon, Khun Thong Daeng, Runpee

On the occasion of His Majesty the King's 88th birthday this Saturday, there are films inspired by the monarch's deeds.

In general release is the animated feature Khun Thong Daeng: The Inspirations, which pays tribute to His Majesty's favorite pet dog with three stories about lovable pooches determined to make a difference.

And back for a special screening this weekend is Keetarajanipon (คีตราชนิพนธ์), which was first released in May. It's a compilation of four devotional stories that are in part inspired by musical compositions of His Majesty.

Since its May release, it screened last month at the Hawaii International Film Festival, and the updated poster is also sporting official selection laurels for next year's East Winds Film Festival in Coventry, England. Update: The film won the Audience Award in Hawaii, according to IndieWire and Film Business Asia.

The absolute highlight is the dramatic biographical account of the late conservationist Seub Nakhasathien. It's directed by Parkpoom Wongpoom and stars Nopachai “Peter” Jayanama. Well-known directors of other segments include Nonzee Nimibutr, who has story of elderly female singers bonding at a temple old-folks shelter, and Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, who has a tale of a bratty boy learning to do his duty.

 is screening until Monday at Major Cineplexes, where free tickets are first-come, first-serve and are handed out at special table an hour before the shows. Check Facebook for details.

His Majesty the King's pet dog Khun Thong Daeng is paid tribute in the animated omnibus Khun Thong Daeng: The Inspirations (คุณทองแดง The Inspirations).

Produced by music-festival promoter Vinij Lertratanachai, with concepts overseen by movie-marketing strategist Dr Head, The Inspirations has three stories about pooches from three animation studios.

Imagimax Studios has Mah Wad (Mid-Road), about a tough injured stray who is adopted by an elderly monk, and unites the temple's dog pack to protect the place from thieves. The Monk Studio contributes Tong Lor, which deals with the relationship between a blind girl, her grandmother and their pet dog. And Workpoint Studios is still in the world of robots, similar to the company's animated feature Yak a few years ago, with Little Copper, about a boy robot who gives new life to his robot pet.

The three tales are tied together by live-action segments involving a girl who wanted her uncle (comedian "Nong" Choosak Iamsook) to buy her a foreign pure-breed, and he instead came up with a Thai mutt, played by the talented four-legged actor Richard, who has been the canine star of many Thai movies, TV shows and commercials. There is more about the movie in an article in The Nation. Rated G

The end of the year also brings the long-awaited return of writer-director Wisit Sasanatieng. The screenwriter of the classic Nang Nak takes on a teen ghost romance for the M-Thirtynine studio.

It has the rather curious title of Runpee (รุ่นพี่), but it's not the movie-going toilet application but simply Senior, as in older "brother". Though it could also mean ghost, a different-sounding word but also pee.

It's about a Catholic boarding school student (Ploychompoo Jannine Weigel) who has a special gift for smelling out ghosts. This leads her to meet a mysterious senior ghost boy and they investigate a murder that happened at the school 50 years before.

It's the first feature in five years from Wisit, who has largely been absent after he took a break from the film industry following a studio-budgetary ordeal making the action film Red Eagle. There's more in an article in The Nation.

Two films by Lav Diaz are screening in Bangkok, thanks to Filmvirus with generous support from the Japan Foundation. They are his Locarno prize winner From What Is Before, showing on Sunday at House, and the Typhoon Yolanda documentary Storm Children on Monday at the Chinatown art space Cloud. The screenings were announced late last week by the Filmvirus crew and spaces went fast. Monday's event, which includes a talk by Diaz himself, is full, but the Sunday film screening still has a few spaces left. Check the Facebook post for details.

More new releases in cinemas are covered at the other blog.

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