Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Citizen Dog barks

I caught my first glimpse of stills for Wisit Sasanatieng's upcoming Citizen Dog awhile back and now I'm finally sharing a bit.

Starring Mahasamuth Boonyarak and Sangthong Keathuthong, the film is scheduled for a December 9 release. The long-awaited followup to his Tears of the Black Tiger, Wisit switches from the Wild West to a hip, urban scene. But it promises to be just as colorful as Black Tiger.

Here's a synopsis, courtesy of the Thai Film Directors website:

When we are too busy searching for something; often it eludes us. But the moment we stop; it reveals itself to us. This is a surreal and comical love story about Bangkok’s little people: their struggle in search of happiness amidst a rapidly changing world. A world over-flowing with dreams, but void of love and understanding. Pod is a migrant worker from up-country. Before his grandma died she told him that he would grow a tail the next morning if he ever went to work in Bangkok. He has a job in a Tuna-canning factory in Bangkok where, one day, he has an accident and severs his forefinger which falls into a can. Day by day he scours supermarkets looking for the can that contains his forefinger until he finds it. In fear of losing his finger again he quits his job and finds work as a company security guard. There he meets Jin, an office maid. Pod likes Jin. He noticed that she is passionate about cleaning floors and she likes to carry a little white foreign book but she cannot read it. She dreams of being able to read it one day, and she thinks that when that day arrives her life will have been changed. Pod tries to woo her. He quits his job to drive a taxi, so that he could pick her up everyday. One day he confesses his love to her but she turns him down. He wants to kill himself but his grandma (who has now been re-incarnated as a newt), stops him just in time. Meanwhile, Jin meets Peter, a foreign environmentalist; she believes that he is the key to her new life because he also carries a similar little white book. Curious about the book she sets out to find Peter. She quits her job to become an environmentalist. She marches and protests everyday; each day she returns home with discarded plastic. Soon she has a “ mountain” full of them in her backyard. Pod still loves Jin; he waits for her at the “ mountain”, but she never comes back to him. Finally Jin finds Peter again. Her dreams are shattered when she realizes that he isn’t really an environmentalist; he is just a gay westerner who distributes pornographic leaflets. And that little white book is just an obscene Italian book. Her disappointment transforms her. She decides to stay away from Pod for a little longer before seeing him again. Sadly Pod has returned, broken-hearted, to his up-country home. However, Pod cannot forget Jin; he returns to Bangkok again just to be near her, accepting the fact that she may never love him. The two meet again and Jin realizes then that Pod’s true love is what she has been searching for all this time. It has been there all along from the moment they met; but she was too preoccupied to notice it.

In searching for more material about Citizen Dog, I ran across a somewhat dated interview in the San Francisco Bay Guardian with producer Uncle Adirak Watleela, whose has thrown his weight behind Citizen Dog. The interview regarded the US release of Bang Rajan, so it has some cool stuff about that film as well. Here's some Citizen Dog and some Tears of the Black Tiger scuttlebutt:

BG: You also produced the lavish and fantastic cowboy melodrama Tears of the Black Tiger, which is still being held in limbo by its American distributor. Do you know how lard-assed Miramax is in terms of bulk-buying and then never – or barely or badly – releasing foreign films?

UW: You need to ask Miramax about that. The Japanese movie Shall We Dance was substantially recut, and the director felt really shitty because of it, and it's the same with Tears of the Black Tiger. In both cases, the international version actually was re-edited to [have] a happy ending.

BG: What's [Tears of the Black Tiger director] Wisit Sasanatieng doing now?

UW: I'm producing his new movie, Citizen Dog. It's also somewhat postmodern and promises to be even more colorful than Tears of the Black Tiger.

BG: That sounds impossible.

It also sounds impossible that Miramax would so horribly butcher a film as to totally alter the story and the intent of the director. I guess I'm pretty naive to believe they weren't that bad. So maybe it's best that Miramax never release the film. Even better, I'd hold out better hope for the film to be purchased from an independent outfit. In the meantime, get Tears of the Black Tiger on DVD.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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