Showing posts with label subtitles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label subtitles. Show all posts

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hi-Jaa! Where is he now? Plus Protector 2 in U.S, TYG2 in China

Better not let your elephant see you tinkling those ivories. Via Tony Jaa Official Facebook page

This is another installment of the occasional feature of this blog that catches up on news of Tony Jaa.

Tony Jaa recently wrapped a globetrot that took him to Hollywood, where he schmoozed with celebrities, and to Switzerland, where he performed handstands in a ritzy hotel lobby.

After a brief stop back home in Thailand, he jetted off again to start production on his Hong Kong action debut, SPL II, which will see him clashing with Wu Jing. Pou-Soi Cheang directs this sequel-in-name-only to 2005's SPL, which was directed by Wilson Yip, who's now producing. Original SPL leading man Simon Yam also stars.

You can follow all of Jaa's moves on his official Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Tom-Yum-Goong 2 opened over the weekend in select U.S. cinemas as The Protector 2. Reviews aren't pretty. They include the New York Times, Village Voice, New York Daily News, the AV Club and The Hollywood Reporter. A number of them say it's his "comeback" following his controversial "meltdown" during filming of Ong-Bak 2 and Ong-Bak 3, but really it's his swansong with studio Sahamongkol, which he left in the midst of making TYG2 during a contract dispute.

Now he's on to the next phase of his career, as an international action star and man of mystery.

Still, Sahamongkol is wringing Tom-Yum-Goong 2 for all it's worth, with a "wide release" recently in China – some 2,500 screens, the biggest yet for a Thai film. The Nation's Soopsip had more details about that, including a red-carpet appearance by Jaa's co-stars, Jeeja Yanin and Rhatha Pho-ngam.

A Blu-ray release for The Protector 2 is set for July 29.

Finally, it's the early 2000s again as Tony Jaa gets a mention in the newly reconstituted Kaiju Shakedown, the blog by Asian film raconteur Grady Hendrix. Now at home at Film Comment, Hendrix looks back at all the main figures of Thai cinema's boom days of the late '90s and early aughts, wondering "where are they now?"

Jaa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Ekachai Uekrongtham, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Chookiat Sakveerakul and Nonzee Nimibutr – they've all been right here, steadily working. Just one of the stalwarts of the New Thai Cinema Movement mentioned – Wisit Sasanatieng – has faded from view. Perhaps Wisit could get his long-gestating Muay Thai biopic Suriya out of development hell with help from Jaa and a host of international backers?

Rhatha Pho-ngam and Jeeja Yanin on the Beijing film fest red carpet for the Chinese premiere of Tom-Yum-Goong 2.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Last Executioner and Heaven shopped in Hong Kong, streaming release for Mindfulness


Wrapping up production as it aims for a release in June, director Tom Waller's The Last Executioner was shopped at the Hong Kong International Film Festival's FilMart by the new Thai outfit Handmade Distribution.

“We’re not going to say we are arthouse. Our films are a little more commercial, but with an angle. We are quite new here, so just try to do what we believe in,” Handmade's marketing consultant Watson Homsangpradit tells Screen Daily.

Handmade made its bow last year, bringing Lee Daniels' The Butler to Thai multiplexes. Other releases include the Donnie Yen 3D Chinese fantasy The Monkey King and the Shia LaBeouf-led Charlie Countryman.

According to Screen Daily, The Last Executioner (เพชฌฆาต, Petchakat) is among a pair of indie Thai features being prepped for release by Handmade.

The other is Heaven or Hell, a vehicle for rapper May Myo "Day" Thant of the hip-hop group Thaitanium. Day has previously had supporting roles in such films as Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady, which was filmed in Thailand, and the Thai Town, Los Angeles-set drama Province 77. In Heaven or Hell, he'll play a gangster in Thailand's Sin City of Pattaya. Set for release next year, the director will be "Book" Alongod Uabhaibool, who previously did the 2010 drama Best Supporting Actor but is perhaps better known for directing music videos, including ones by Thaitanium.

The Last Executioner is a fact-based biopic about Chavoret Jaruboon, the one-man firing squad who was the last to carry out executions by rifle in Thailand's prison system. Vithaya Pansringarm (Chang from Only God Forgives) stars as Chavoret. The cast also includes Penpak Sirikul from It Gets Better and David Asavanond from Countdown.

Apart from Handmade's dealings in Hong Kong, another of Waller's films, his 2011 Buddhist mystery thriller Mindfulness and Murder (Sop Mai Ngeap, ศพไม่เงียบ), has received a video-on-demand rental release through Distrify. Also starring Vithaya, it's about an ex-cop-turned-monk investigating a murder at his temple. It's the first time the film has been made available for home viewing with English subtitles, another indication that in the near future foreigner Thai film fans will get their fix not from DVDs but through streaming platforms.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Streaming: Catch Ploy on Netflix

Following his bigger-budget international co-productions Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves, Pen-ek Ratanaruang wanted to make a smaller movie. So in 2007, he came up with Ploy (พลอย), about a jet-lagged Thai-American couple whose bickering comes to a boil when the husband brings a curly headed teenage girl back to their Bangkok hotel room.

The tense thriller made its mark when it premiered at the Cannes Directors Fortnight but was censored for its Thai theatrical release. It then dropped off the map for much of the English-speaking world.

Ploy never got an English-subtitled DVD release, but for the past year or so it has been available for streaming on Netflix.

That's where the AV Club's A.A. Dowd caught it recently. He watched it as part of a series of hotel-themed films for the AV Club, ahead of the U.S. release of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Here's a snip:

Those seeking a representative introduction to [Pen-ek's] work could do no better than the 2007 relationship drama Ploy, about a married couple whose domestic discontent comes to a head during a sleepless trip abroad. Back in Bangkok for a funeral after several years in the States, restaurateur Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) and his ex-actress wife, Daeng (Lalita Panyopas), retreat to a hotel in the wee hours of the morning. The unspoken tension between them explodes into outright hostility when Wit meets a teenage waif (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, sporting an afro and a black eye) and invites her to crash in their rented room. From here, the lines separating fantasy and reality begin to blur, as flashes of an erotic, unrelated subplot—and hints of real danger lurking elsewhere in the building – transform the film into more than just another war of the roses.

Ploy is among nearly two dozen Thai-language films available on Netflix. Others include Magnet Releasing's slate of Sahamongkol action films, such as Ong-Bak 2 and Ong-Bak 3. There's also the children's boxing documentary Buffalo Girls, Aditya Assarat's indie drama Wonderful Town, the 2005 historical-musical drama The Overture and GTH's 2003 hit Fan Chan (My Girl). And, there's a weird film that's worth a look, 2002's post-apocalyptic action-comedy Goodman Town.

The roster changes from time to time as licensing agreements expire on older titles. For example, Tears of the Black Tiger, supposedly the Miramax version, used to be available.

Others by Pen-ek that are currently available include Headshot, the under-appreciated Invisible Waves and my favorite of his, Monrak Transistor.

So perhaps there's life beyond Thai cable television after all for Pen-ek's latest effort, the made-for-TrueVisions movie The Life of Gravity (แรงดึงดูด, Raeng Dueng Dood). Maybe subscribers could tip Netflix off to this new film by Pen-ek?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

On DVD in Thailand: Paradoxocracy

Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย, Prachatiptai), Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Pasakorn Pramoolwong's documentary on the paradoxes of Thai democracy, has been released on DVD in Thailand.

It's a limited-release two-disc set, with the package adding deleted scenes, a music video and a poster. Oh, and it has English subtitles, which hardly ever happens with DVD releases in Thailand. It's available at Boomerang, B2S and other retailers.

The film, which interviews around a dozen academics and activists, surveys Thai contemporary politics since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, was back in cinemas last month during the 40th anniversary of the October 14, 1973 student uprising.

It was originally released on a limited run in Bangkok in June and July, but was poorly handled by a cinema that apparently didn't want people to see it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Region 1 DVD: The Gangster

Following its appearance at the New York Asian Film Festival, one of the best Thai films of 2012Antapal (อันธพาล) – has made a bow on English-friendly Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray as The Gangster, thanks to Magnet Releasing
.
Starring Krissada Sukosol Clapp, it's a fact-based tale of a hoodlum named Jod in 1950s and '60s Thailand, and spins another thread from the story told by Nonzee Nimibutr in Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters.

After serving time in prison, the late Dang's former lieutenant Jod finds things have drastically changed, with knives replaced by guns. He comes into conflict with a new crew of ambitious idealistic younger gangsters as well as the brutal functionaries of the military dictatorship who are the new power on the streets.

Directed by Kongkiat Khomsiri, it's stylishly bloody affair, with the violent scenes interspersed with sometimes hilarious documentary-style interviews with purported old-timers who recall those bad old days.

A couple of reviews have surfaced since the DVD/Blu-ray release last month.

Here's Patrick Galloway at Asia Shock:

Violence doesn't just explode in The Gangster, it erupts! And, of course there are the usual turf wars and rivalries within gangs leading to treachery. The ending is a bloody barn-burner. I don't want to be Mr. Spoiler, so I'll just say it plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy, if you get my meaning. OK, so I spoiled it for the English majors, but the rest of you nudnicks are in for a shock.

And, of course, Thai film fan Peter Nellhaus at Coffee Coffee and More Coffee:

The ending is some kind of tour-de-force which reminded me of the climatic shoot out in The Wild Bunch. That's probably deliberate. Jod's code of honor reminded me of Ernest Borgnine's great line, "At least we don't hang people". Rival gangs give it everything they've got, on the streets and even a rooftop chase. Peckinpah's film is also recalled with the use of slow motion. On a thematic level, one can also see parallels in that both films explore the limits of male camaraderie. Knives are brought back when a bulletless Jod faces off against his sworn enemy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On Region 1 DVD: This Girl Is Badass

Continuing to mine Sahamongkolfilm's back catalog for anything that's Thai and has a bit of action, Magnet Releasing has put the comedy Jakkalan (จั๊กกะแหล๋น), a.k.a. This Girl Is Badass, on English-friendly DVD and Blu-ray in North America.

Folks overseas might be forgiven if they think this is a new film from Chocolate star Jeeja Yanin, but it's actually from 2011, and I didn't like it much back then.

Though there are cool scenes of Jeeja using a bicycle as a weapon, the action and stunts are too few and far between lame gags by the director Petthai "Mum Jokmok" Wongkumlao. Subsequent reviews have been even less kind.

Still, if you're a fan of Jeeja and not sure you can wait for Tom-Yum-Goong 2 to come out (who knows if she's actually in it?), This Girl Is Badass may help tide you over.

The Region A/1 release includes the original soundtrack, English subtitles, an English dub and a making-of as an extra.

Jeeja, meanwhile has been settling into motherhood, with a little boy that arrived around nine months after she met assistant director Andrient Bowden on the set of Tom-Yum-Goong 2. They're now married and Jeeja is getting back in fighting shape with an aim to start work on the long-delayed Chocolate 2 in the next couple of years.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mom Noi's Rashomon remake lands on DVD as At the Gate of the Ghost

Director ML Bhandevanov Devakula's Northern Thailand take on Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon has been picked up by Magnet Releasing, given the new title At the Gate of the Ghost and put out on English-friendly Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray.

Peter Nellhaus has a review at Coffee Coffee and More Coffee.

Headlined by a cast that includes Ananda Everingham as the warlord, Cherman Boonyasak as his wife and Mario Maurer as the monk, the film was released in 2011 as U Mong Pa Mueang (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง) with the provisional international English title of The Outrage, which was the same as the 1960s Hollywood western Rashomon remake that starred Paul Newman and was directed by Martin Ritt (check out Hombre instead).

The release of U Mong Pa Mueang in Thailand was heavily promoted, thanks to the star power of Ananda and Ploy Chermarn, who had previously starred in "Mom Noi" Bhandevanov's hit erotic drama Chua Fah Din Salai (Eternity). It was also a tie-in with the centennial birth anniversary of Thai statesman, author and artist MR Kukrit Pramoj, who had translated a stage version of Rashomon, which Mom Noi had a one time directed. He then used the stage version as the basis for his film adaptation.

The DVD package, featuring Ananda and the bandit (Dom Hetrakul) swordfighting against a backdrop of a Thai-style structure, touts the awards and nominations of U Mong Pa MueangAsian Film Awards noms for Mario and costumes, Bangkok Critics Assembly Awards for art director and supporting actress for Radklao Amaradit as the medium, and Subhanahongsa Awards for costumes and visual effects.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On DVD: Headshot, Mundane History, Dark Flight, The Kick, I Miss U

There have been several recent English-friendly releases of Thai films in various parts of the world.

Probably the most prominent is Headshot, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's unique and acclaimed hitman thriller. Thailand's submission to the Oscars, Headshot has been a fixture on the festival circuit this year and won a bunch of awards in Thailand. Released on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S. by Kino Lorber (which includes an English dub in addition to the original soundtrack), it's the first time in years Pen-ek's had a Stateside release of one of his films.

Indie director Anocha Suwichakornpong's debut feature Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก, Jao Nok Krajok) has been released in the U.K. by Second Run. The drama is about a paralyzed young man from a wealthy family forming a friendship with his nurse, a young man from the rural northeast. A story of Thailand's great class divide that eventually goes back to the very forming of the cosmos, it's taken awhile for this acclaimed 2009 film to find its way to English-friendly DVD. Now, reviews are comparing it to newer movies, like Terrence Malick's Tree of Life or the French blockbuster Intouchables.

Anocha has self-released Mundane History on DVD in Thailand, but, of course, there are no English subtitles. There's an English-friendly Region 2 Dutch release, but it looks like the U.K. version is the one to get thanks to such extras as a booklet featuring a long essay by critic Carmen Gray. There’s also Anocha's 2006 graduate-thesis short film Graceland, which was the first Thai film to be selected for the Cannes Cinefondation competition. And there's an interview with her.

Meanwhile, there are a bunch of Thai genre films, mainly horror titles, out in Hong Kong.

Five Star's bumpy airplane thriller Dark Flight, the first Thai film actually filmed in 3D, is offered on Blu-ray in both 2D and 3D. There's also a 2D DVD release. Directed by Isara Nadee, who was part of the Ronin Team that did the Art of the Devil movies, and scripted in part by Ronin Team member Kongkiat Khomsiri, the haunted airliner tale stars Marsha Wattanapanich as a veteran flight attendant who's troubled past causes problems for passengers and fellow crew on a short, stormy hop from Bangkok to Phuket.

The Kick is a fairly entertaining mix of Korean and Thai martial arts, with a family of taekwando experts clashing with gangsters who've stolen a treasured ancient Siamese dagger. Along with the South Korean cast, the film directed by Ong-Bak and Chocolate helmer Prachya Pinkaew also features Jeeja Yanin and funnyman Mum Jokmok and action choreography by Panna Rittikrai. It's on DVD and Blu-ray.

And there's I Miss U  (รักฉันอย่าคิดถึงฉัน, Rak Chan Yaa Khid Tueng Chang), director Monthon Arayangkoon's horror romance tale about a widowed, guilt-ridden chief surgeon (Jessadaporn Pholdee) who just won't let go of the memories of his dead wife (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee), and a plucky first-year resident doctor (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) who finds herself haunted as she gets closer to the grieving guy. Inthira Charoenpura also stars. Controversially, studio M-Thirtynine released I Miss U in Thai cinemas with three different endings, which screened on different weeks during the movie's run. However, it appears there's only one ending available on the Hong Kong home-video release, even though the "alternate endings" gimmick seems tailor-made to be a bonus feature. It's on DVD and Blu-ray.

(Thanks Logboy!)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On DVD in Taiwan: Yes or No? So, I Love You

You might notice in the sidebar on the right that a "popular posts" feature has been added to this blog, and one of the most popular entries is the review for the lesbian college romance Yes or No? So, I Love You. It continually gets comments from viewers who think it is so darn cute.

I'd imagine many of those viewers have been watching the English-subtitled DVD of that movie. It's available at YesAsia.com. Here's the synopsis:


Billed as Thailand's first lesbian romance movie, Yes or No breaks taboos with lighthearted steps. Directed by Sarasawadee Wongsompetch, the cute youth romance about first love and opposites attract follows the popular romcom genre formula, but this time the budding, feuding couple are both girls.

On the first day Pai (Sucharat Manaying) moves into her dorm room, she almost mistakes her new roommate Kim (Supanat Jittaleela) for a guy. Turned off by Kim's androgynous looks, Pai divides the room in half and warns Kim to stay out of her life. Over time, the girls get over their differences and become good friends. But when friendship turns into something more, Pai and Kim must face themselves and their feelings for each other.


It's another DVD that was released a few months ago, but I only just now discovered it when I was rummaging around at the YesAsia site looking for other recent English-friendly DVDs of Thai movies.

The Taiwanese release has the Thai soundtrack and English and Chinese subtitles. It's NTSC format, Region 3.

SuckSeed on DVD in Taiwan, donates prize money to charity

The cast and crew of SuckSeed donate 150,000 baht to the MIirror Foundation. Photo via Thai Rath.

The teen rock 'n' roll romance SuckSeed is out on English-subtitled Region 3 DVD in Taiwan. It's listed at YesAsia. In fact, it's been out since January, but I'm pretty slow when it comes to English-friendly releases of Thai films on DVD, which are a rarity these days, but occasionally they do happen.

SuckSeed has been reviewed at Coffee Coffee and More Coffee, which notes that "while SuckSeed is not the Thai equivalent to A Hard Day's Night, it is, by turns both funny and charming."

In related news, the film's cast and crew have donated some of the prize money they won in Japan to a Thai charity, according to news reports.

SuckSeed was voted winner of the audience's Laughter Award at the recent Okinawa International Movie Festival, a prize that came with a 2.5 million yen purse, or about 900,000 baht.

Chayanop Boonprakob, his lead actors Patchara Chirathiwat and Jirayu La-ongmanee and other cast members turned right around and gave a portion of that money, 150,000 baht in the form of a big check, to the Mirror Foundation in support of its charitable efforts to support a children's hospital. "Moo" Chayanop was once a volunteer teacher at the Mirror Foundation.

They're open to suggestions about other worthy causes to support.

Previous award-winning GTH films have also donated to charity. The romantic comedy Guan Muen Ho (Hello Stranger) picked up two prizes at last year's Osaka Asian Film Festival, which occurred right around the same time as Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster. They donated 100,000 baht to the Osaka Consul for victims' relief.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Top Secret gets deluxe treatment on DVD


I don't ordinarily get too excited by the release of Thai films on DVD in Thailand. After all, most don't have English subtitles and therefore hold little interest for most folks outside of Thailand. They might as well not exist.

But the recent release of GTH's teenage billionaire comedy Top Secret Wairoon Pun Lan caught my eye as I was passing a Mangpong outlet the other day.

The deluxe box set features special artwork by none other than Somboonsuk Niyomsiri, a man better known as Piak Poster, who made his name back in the 1960s as a movie-poster artist. Back then, artists would painstakingly encapsulate all the movie's highlights into the sweeping canvas of the posters and billboards. It's a trade little practised these days, though there are still some around. Piak later turned to directing, making a string of popular teen-oriented films in the 1970s. Now in his 80s, he made his acting debut in Top Secret, portraying the kindly "uncle" of the teenage entrepreneur who created a popular seaweed snack brand. Anyway, I like how out of all the big floating heads in the design, Piak's is the biggest.

And as if that illustration weren't enough, inside the box is a Monopoly-like board game with young star Patchara Chirathivat's face on the money. There's also a calendar with more artwork.

GTH has always done elaborate box sets for its DVDs, but this one is probably one of their best. It's in shops for around 600 baht. But of course, there's no English subtitles.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Blu-ray in Hong Kong: Laddaland


One of the year's best Thai films, Laddaland, has hit English-subtitled Blu-ray and DVD in Hong Kong.

Directed by Sophon Sakdaphisit, the screenwriter of Shutter who made his directorial debut with Coming Soon, Laddaland is a dread-filled family psychological drama dressed up as a ghost story.

It's about a young father, struggling to keep his family together, who seeks a fresh start in Chiang Mai, and moves his wife and two children to a housing estate called Laddaland. It's all lawn sprinklers and golden retrievers until a Burmese maid is found murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator in the house down the street. Dad's dream home becomes a nightmare and his chance at a new life with his family comes unravelled.

YesAsia has the goods, either on Region A Blu-ray or Region 3 DVD.

(Thanks Logboy!)

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.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

On DVD in Hong Kong: Spiritual World and Scared


A couple more Thai horror films from a few years back have recently turned up on English-friendly DVD in Hong Kong: 2007's The Spiritual World (วิญญาณ โลก คนตาย) and 2005's Scared (รับน้องสยองขวัญ), both originally released by Sahamongkolfilm International.

The synopsis for Spiritual World from YesAsia:

Sometimes, the truth is scarier than ghosts ...

Directed by Tharatap Thewsomboon, the moody Thai horror Spiritual World slowly gets under the skin with the story of a troubled young woman being haunted by the ghosts of the past. Ever since she was a little girl, Ming (Nuttamonkan Srinikornchot) has been able to see ghosts. Wandering between the living and the dead, she encounters beckoning spirits and mysterious spectres no matter where she goes. For the past 15 years, Ming has constantly moved from one place to another in order to escape a ghost that has been following her. One day, childhood friend Buud (Anuchit Sapanpong) suddenly shows up, and asks for her help to find out the truth behind his father's death. Buud's appearance awakens Ming's buried memories, including vague recollections of the ghost that has been chasing after her.

YesAsia also has Scared:

Battle Royale meets Thai horror in the slasher-thriller Scared. Directed by Pakphum Wonjinda, Scared follows a group of teenagers on a retreat who get lost in a forest when their bus falls down a wooden bridge. Just when things can't seem to get any worse, a brutal serial killer begins to kill the teens off one by one. In line with classic slasher films like Friday the 13th and Halloween, Wonjinda comes up with plenty of inventive ways for the killer to dispatch the innocent teens, making Scared perverse fun for fans of the genre.

(Thanks Logboy)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Apichatpong-a-rama: Boonmee Blu-ray, Irish exhibition, out of Venice, monkey ghost sighting

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cannes prize-winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives made its highly anticipated debut on Blu-ray in the U.S. last month, after a bit of an apparent delay.

The redoubtable DVD Beaver gives it a look, and includes a set of stunning screenshots. Reviewer Gary Tooze says the film "doesn't appear visually overwhelming ... but knowing the director's other features – I'd be more inclined to feel this is authentic rather than a fault of the respectable dual-layered transfer from Strand Releasing."

The only real technical nitpick seems to be a lossy soundtrack, which is a shame, because great care was taken with the sound design of Uncle Boonmee, and with Blu-ray, there's really no reason to have a compressed soundtrack.

Tooze goes on to praise the film as one of the best he's seen this year. "The director effortlessly produces a harmony within his films that becomes ... addictive. It floats with gentle grace and lands innocently in your cinematic lap."

There is also a review at Blu-ray.com, which is full of technical information, saying the transfer "is practically identical to the one used by British distributors New Wave Films for their local Blu-ray release."

Both reviews note that the Strand Releasing disc is region-free. According to the Blu-ray.com forum, the British release is locked to Region B.

Also, the subtitles are imposed – they can't be turned off – but the text size seems to not be as intrusive as the hard-burned subs on the Strand DVD release of Syndromes and a Century.

Extras on the Boonmee Blu-ray include "Interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul", which he discusses the message of his film, its success and Thai culture, deleted scenes, the trailer, trailers for other Apichatpong films and the 17-minute short A Letter to Uncle Boonmee.

If you have a Blu-ray player, it sounds like the Blu-ray is the way to go for Uncle Boonmee – maybe even a good reason to get a Blu-ray player. It's also on DVD, but that doesn't have the Letter short.

Meanwhile, Apichatpong has been in Ireland with a season at the Irish Film Institute, in which he screened his short films, engaged in a conversation and showed his features, Uncle Boonmee, The Adventure of Iron Pussy, Blissfully Yours and Tropical Malady.

There's coverage of these activities at the Focuspullr blog. Here's a snip:

The director filled us in on his background in Thailand, and spoke of his time in Chicago studying experimental film. He was an amiable, intelligent and humourous interviewee; when asked if his films contained “a message”, he laughed saying this lack of any overt meaning was one of the problems he himself has with his films, and which also caused problems when he went looking for funding. He spoke about his belief in the “shared authorship” of his films – seeing the process of filmmaking as collaborative and open, though admitting that he is something of a “dictator” when it comes to putting the final film together.


The films were presented in collaboration with Dublin's Irish Museum of Modern Art on the occasion of Apichatpong's new multimedia exhibition For Tomorrow For Tonight, which opened on July 27 and is running until October 31.

It's a new work that explores the theme of night through video, photographs and installation. "Night and darkness are recurring motifs in Weerasethakul’s films ... and the themes are examined even further here," says the IMMA. It was created following the Primitive project and Uncle Boonmee.

Activities at the IMMA continue into next month. On September 7, film expert Tony Rayns will present a keynote lecture, Touching the Voidness in which he'll present an illustrated introduction to the art of Apichatpong.

Apichatpong continues to travel around the globe and is much in demand. But one place he won't be will be at the Venice Film Festival, where he was previously named as the head of the jury for the Orizzonti section. That program is set to premiere the debut documentary feature by another Thai artist, Rirkrit Tiravanija, about another Thai uncle, Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbours. Apichatpong has since bowed out of the jury – Variety cited a festival rep saying it was because of "personal reasons" – and has been replaced by Chinese director Jia Zhangke.

Apichatpong did make a stop at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya recently, giving a masterclass that was the first in a planned series of academic and technical workshops and seminars. He also dropped off some props from Uncle Boonmee: The veiled palanquin of the princess, a pair of mechanical catfish and a band of monkey ghosts, one of which is perched on ledge in the Thai Film Museum. They're good reasons to visit the place and see actual pieces of Thai cinema history.


(Thanks Logboy!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

On DVD in the U.S.: Bangkok Knockout

While Stateside English-friendly DVD releases of Thai movies seem to be pretty rare, Magnet Releasing continues with its practice of acquiring any action or fantasy title put out by Sahamongkol Film International, seemingly to the exclusion of any horror other-genre titles from other Thai studios.

Following last month's North American bow of the first two Naresuan movies as Kingdom of War, Magnet's upcoming release is B.K.O.: Bangkok Knockout, which is due out on August 30 on Blu-ray and DVD.

Since its release late last year Panna Rittikrai's stunt-spectacular Bangkok Knockout has enjoyed a run of the festivals, including the New York Asian Film Festival, North Carolina's ActionFest
and the Udine Far East Film Festival. It also screened earlier this year at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and recently at Philadelphia's Danger After Dark.

Several reviews have turned up, including Maggie Lee at the Hollywood Reporter, Twitch, The Jaded Viewer, Unseen Films, Chud and Movie Buzzers. Consensus seems to be mixed, with raves for the insane action and thumbs down for everything else about it.

(Thanks Logboy!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On DVD in Hong Kong: Colic

Colic (โคลิค เด็กเห็นผี, Colic: Dek Hen Pee), the infant horror thriller that came out a few years back, is due out soon on DVD in Hong Kong.

Directed by Patchanon Thammajira and released by Sahamongkol Film International in 2006, Colic gained a lot of notice just for its gory posters, especially the one of the one-armed baby looking at the blender that's apparently just turned his missing limb into jelly.

The all-region Hong Kong disc is English subtitled, according to the specs. It's due out on July 21.

(Thanks Logboy!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On DVD in the U.S.: Naresuan, Somtum, Vanquisher

Magnolia's Magnet Releasing continues to mine Sahamongkolfilm International's back catalog for action titles to release on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.

Due out on June 7 is MC Chatrichalerm Yukol's The Legend of King Naresuan Part I and Part II. They have been retitled by Magnet as Kingdom of War, which I guess is an okay title. And for film buffs who've been waiting for an English-friendly release of these movies, this is actually a pretty good deal, since it's the first two parts of Chatrichalerm's historical action drama in their entirety. Remember, his previous royal epic, Suriyothai, was edited way down for U.S. release by Than Mui's friend Francis Ford Coppola, though a five-hour version with English subtitles is available from Mangpong in Thailand. Meanwhile, The Legend of King Naresuan Part III: Naval Battle is still playing in Thai cinemas after nearly two months, and I would expect Magnet to pick it up along with the still-in-production Part IV, after whenever that ends up being released. Kingdom of War Parts I and II will be on Blu-ray and DVD.

A recent release by Magnet is Sahamongkol's fun action comedy Somtum, which gets a rather dumbed-down new title, Muay Thai Giant. Nathan Jones, who fought Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong, gets to play the good guy in this one – a hapless tourist who is drugged and robbed during a visit to Pattaya. He's then taken in by a pair of little girls, one of whom is Power Kid Kat Sasisa, who tries to teach him muay Thai boxing. But they instead discover the gentle giant's superpower when they feed him spicy papaya pok-pok salad, and he turns into a red, raging hulk. Meanwhile, the even bigger and meaner Conan Stevens is smuggling jewels, and somehow these two big men meet for a WWE-style throwdown that tears apart an airplane. Watch for guest appearances by Dan Chupong and his Born to Fight sister Nui Kessarin. Panna Rittikrai and his team provide the stuntwork. I liked Somtum a lot and am glad to see it get a U.S. release, even if it does have a dumb title. It's on both Blu-ray and DVD.

Finally, Magnet has put out Manop Udomdej's convoluted swords-and-spies thriller Suay ... Samurai, a.k.a. Vanquisher. And they just call it ... Vanquisher. Not Legend of the Vanquisher or Vanquishing Samurai or Sword of the Vanquisher or Vengeance of the Vanquisher or anything like that. Just Vanquisher. The story has pony-tailed catsuit-clad sword-toting female spy Sophita Sriban left for dead and betrayed while on a mission for the CIA. She then goes back to work for the police in Bangkok and nothing happens until stuff starts happening again. It's a mess, involving a duplicitous lady CIA agent (Jacqueline Apithananont), terrorists from southern Thailand and samurais and I don't know what else. But at least Born to Fight's Nui Kessarin in this one too, so there's at least one decent action scene. It's on Blu-ray and DVD.

Apichatpong-a-rama: Residence in New York, Boonmee on Blu-ray


With the Cannes Film Festival going on now, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's name has been in the news again, just because he won the Palme d'Or last year for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past LIves.

The Cannes win launched Apichatpong on a global journey, touring the world with Uncle Boonmee to talk about it at film festivals and special screenings – too many for me to keep track of (though the unofficial Nashville Film Festival poster by Sam's Myth obviously caught my eye).

It's a trip Apichatpong's still on, and most recently it's taken him back to New York City, where he's begun a monthlong residency at SoHo's New Museum, where his Primitive video-art installation is being exhibited from May 19 to July 3. The Wall Street Journal online has more on Primitive.

He's also taking part in the Blissfully Thai film series at the Asia Society, which started yesterday with Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy, and today he and Pen-ek will sit in the same room together in front of a live audience for a "conversation". Who knows what might happen? Should be interesting.

At the New Museum on Sunday, he'll present Around the World of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a four-hour show-and-tell in which he'll discuss excerpts from all his features. On May 19 and May 22, he'll present selections of his short films. And on May 26 he'll present Quick Billy, a 1960s “horse opera" by Bruce Baillie, an experimental filmmaker that Joei cites as a major influence. IndieWire has more about these programs.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives comes to Region A Blu-ray and Region 1 DVD in July.

This is the U.S. edition by Strand Releasing, which looks to be stepping up its game with the Blu-ray – a first I believe for both Strand and Apichatpong. Bonus features on the Blu-ray include the companion Primitive short A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, deleted scenes, an interview with Apichatpong and trailers of his other films. The Strand DVD does not list the Letter short as an extra.

And curiously, the cover art that's shown at Amazon is not the Chris Ware poster design. Rather, it's the red-eyed monkey ghost that's been used a lot already.

Anyway, if you're into Blu-ray, then by all means get the Blu-ray of Boonmee, I guess. But for viewers still stuck with just plain-old DVDs, maybe the Region 2 British release would be better if you have a player that can handle it. Maybe wait for the comparison.

A few other odds and ends I've been accumulating over the past couple months or so:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Apichatpong-a-rama: Uncle Boonmee coming to DVD, but see it in the cinema


Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives has gotten its first English-friendly DVD release in South Korea. It's out of stock now, but check back later. The UK release is set for March 28, 2011. There's a page on Amazon.com too, for the U.S. DVD due out sometime next year.

But don't wait for it to come out on DVD. Uncle Boonmee is one of those films that should be experienced in the cinema, in the dark, immersive environment, on the big screen.

As Apichatpong himself would say, "film is magic".

If you don't believe me, read what critic Peter Nellhaus has to say. He caught Boonmee at the Starz Denver Film Fest:

I had made a point of seeing Uncle Boonmee theatrically while I had the opportunity. I would recommend the same to others. There are too many shots in the film that need to be seen on the big screen, the bigger, the better, to be understood.

One of the first shots is of a water buffalo, barely visible in the distance. A later shot in this first sequence of the loose water buffalo is of the animal barely visible, walking through the foliage. Throughout the film, Apichatpong uses extreme long shots so that the characters are in a sense, lost within nature. The themes of man, nature and animism are continuations explored in Tropical Malady, although it is more explicit in this film.

I love that scene.

Trouble is, despite the countless film-festival appearances and limited theatrical runs around the world, Uncle Boonmee remains relatively difficult for the average movie-goer to find. In a world where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows remains supreme, Uncle Boonmee is but a glimmer in the eyes of the multiplex crowds.

The Guardian Film Blog had a look at Boonmee's box-office performance in its U.K. release, in which it debuted in 14 cinemas earning £27,500. "It's not an exciting number. On the other hand, given the challenging nature of the film, it's not bad at all."

That tiny number of screens had the BBC's Mark Kermode wondering whether anybody besides critics would be able to see Uncle Boonmee, or would they just wait for the DVD?

There are lots of reviews, meaning it's been showing somewhere, and hopefully some people have gone to the actual cinema to see it:


Unsurprisingly, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is already being tipped as one of the best films of the year, coming in at No. 2 behind The Social Network on the Sight & Sound list.

Interviews? Want interviews with Joei?

Well, there's one in The Guardian, in which he says the answer to everything is: "You don't have to understand everything."

There's also talks with Little White Lies, The Financial Times, and with Metro, in which he breaks the news to us gently:

So, we are going to die right, you and I? One day we are all going to turn to dust. But we will not disappear.

"We just integrate and transform into other things. In classical reincarnation you are reborn into another animal but I believe it’s more like an energy, what Buddhists call a transmigration of souls. The idea we connect with everything: with the sunlight, the Earth, the animals – we are all recycled. That’s what I’m interested in."

There's also a nice picture of Joei at Out.

Recent film festival appearances have included opening the Tokyo FILMex, where Apichatpong served on the fest's first-ever competition jury. It also played at the St. Louis International Film Festival, and is in the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, alongside Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History.

It was in competition at the International Film Festival of India. In fact, the print's being in Goa delayed the screening of Boonmee at the Jakarta International Film Festival, where it's now set for one screening on December 3.

Uncle Boonmee is in Honolulu in the Southeast Asia on Screen series, alongside Who Killed Chea Vichea?, Dear Galileo, Sawasdee Bangkok, Agrarian Utopia, Woman on Fire Looks for Water, Rainbow Troops, In the House of Straw, 15 Malaysia, Talentime, The Forbidden Door and Same Same But Different.

It's in Montreal.

And it's opening in Spain, hence the gorgeous poster of the Catfish Princess at the top of this post. Cineasia has an interview.

(Thanks Logboy!)