Thursday, May 12, 2016

In Thai cinemas: Embracing Khemarat, Keep Scala petition

Three loosely connected stories of romance take place in Embracing Khemarat (อ้อมกอดเขมราฐ, Aom-Kod-Khemarat), set in an idyllic small town in Ubon Ratchathani on the banks of the Mekong.

They involve a young female physician who is posted to the local hospital and runs into cute conflict with the owner of a local coffee shop. Other stories have a young Lao immigrant woman who falls for a photographer and a "nerdy girl" who has attracted the eye of a quiet and shy schoolboy rock musician.

Among the stars are Miss Thailand 2009 runner-up Kobkullaya Chuengprasertsri, who is an actual physician. Other stars are "Fluke" Teerapat Lohanan, "Palmy" Nantariya Namboon, "Tao" Phusin Warinrak, "Nong" Puttason Seedawan and "Golf" Anuwat Chucherdwattana.

The film is written and produced by Dr Ritt Pokkrittayahariboon, a surgeon and businessman who settled in Khemarat and wanted to make a movie to promote the town and its attractions. The Nation had a bit more about it.

Apart from a new Thai movie, there is also news about an old Bangkok cinema – the Scala.

Despite the threat of imminent closure by landlord Chulalongkorn University, the leaseholder and the theater's management remain devoted to the profession of showing films. Recently, the Scala installed a new screen because the old one was showing its age and was long past due for an upgrade. The result is a much clearer and brighter picture that makes going to movies at the Scala well worth your while. It is the best value in movie-going in Bangkok. Please support the Scala while it exists, which will hopefully be through 2017 and into 2018.

Meanwhile, general Thai public awareness of the Scala's plight is finally starting to emerge, perhaps too little, too late. There was a Nation editorial this week, and there is also a Thai-language petition that asks Chula U. to "keep Scala" open and recognize that its unique cultural and architectural values outweigh the supposed economic benefits of building yet another shopping mall in a city already saturated by shopping malls.

Along with Captain America: Civil War, which is held over at the Scala for a third week, newer movies in local cinemas include the Oscar-nominated Colombian adventure Embrace of the Serpent; which is brought in by indie distribution outfit HAL Film. There is also The Man Who Knew Infinity, The Angry Birds Movie and the great Sammo Hung in The Bodyguard. More new releases are detailed on the other blog.

The Scala marquee on opening day for Captain America: Civil War, April 27, 2016. Photo by Wise Kwai.

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