Thursday, March 31, 2005

Worldly Desires in Korea

Apichatpong Weerasethkul has been busy making a short film, which will premier at the Jeonju International Film Festival in Korea.

It's back to the jungle once more for the Tropical Malady director. According to his website, Kick the Machine, it's a "once upon a time" story, about "a group of people who went into the jungle with a truck full of lights." Here's more:

Their activities fascinated the unidentified creatures. They cherished the human's process long after the actual humans had left. The energy of desire lingered. This desire was so strong that the creatures transformed their appearance to resemble the humans, long after the human race became extinct. The creatures, trees, and the earth released their memories and recreated the world they did not possess.

It's part of anthology project that also involved Shinya Tsukamoto (Haze) and Song Il-Gon's (The Magicians). Twitch praises the project by "three fantastic directors with very different styles that ... will work very well together."

Song's effort looks very theatrical and I'm intrigued by it being a one take film, Worldly Desires reminds me a lot of the fantastic Tropical Malady and just what is that in shot number five from Haze!?! Tsukamoto's got something odd up his sleeve ...

The festival list is bit laborious to navigate, but experimental seems to be the watchword, judging from the one other Thai entry I uncovered, Birth of the Seanama by Sasithorn Ariyavicha.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

The Overture in San Francisco

There's only one Thai film at the 48th San Francisco International Film Festival. It's The Overture, by Itthi-sunthorn Wichailak, and much lauded by Thailand's awards bestowers.

Malaysia has a bigger presence. In addition to the epic Princess of Mount Ledang, there are several other Malaysian films and presentations on the state of cinema in that Southeast Asian country.

Takeshi Miike's Izo will be shown. It is "another cavalcade of carnage ... [the] story of an immortal samurai who cannot stop killing. Careening through time and space, this violent spectacle will leave viewers reeling."

More Miike is one the way in Three . . . Extremes, a horror trilogy that Miike shares with Park Chan-Wook and Fruit Chan.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Chatrichalerm, Nonzee busy this year

Suriyothai director MC Chatrichalerm Yukol is working on a followup to that royal epic, Naresuan, covering the life of King Naresuan the Great, a 16th centuary monarch and a nephew of Queen Suriyothai. The movie is scheduled for completion this year and should be released in time for His Majesty the King’s Birthday on December 5. has more.

Meanwhile, director Nonzee Nimibutr will be kept busy throughout 2005, according to the Bangkok Post. He will produce a live-action feature, Nuu Hin: The Movie, based on a Thai comic series about a house maid's adventures. It will be directed by Komkrit Treewimonl.

Nonzee also is working on an epic, Pue Yai Jom Salat or the Queen of Pattani, a big-budget sea adventure set in the 16th century. He's hoping to make it a trilogy. It could even be controversial, given its subject matter concerning Pattani, which used to be an independent sultanate in southern Thailand, which is now a center of much unrest among the predominantly Muslim population. The south seems to be a subject near and dear to Nonzee. His last film, OK Baytong, touched on Buddhist vs Muslim themes.

The Nation's Parinyaporn Pajee recently did a roundup of other Thai film projects for 2005. In addition to Jira Malikool's Tin Mine and Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Invisible Waves, here's a few others I'm looking out for:

  • Midnight My Love (Cherm) -- a comedy by Kongdet Jaturunrasmi, who co-directed the hilarious and frank sexual comedy, Sayew with Kiat Songsanan, is about a relationship between a taxi driver and a massage parlour girl. Phetchai Wongkamlao, better known as Mum Jok Mok (or Dirty Balls from Ong Bak) stars as the driver opposite TV soap actress Woranuch Wongsawan, who’s debuting on the big screen with this film.
  • Yam Yasothorn -- A busy guy, Mum Jok Mok directs this one, a followup to his The Bodyguard. It's a look thung (Thai country music) love story.
  • Mah Khang Thanon (Street Dogs) -- By Somkiet Murathathit, the screenwriter for Ai-Fak (The Judgement). It's his directorial debut and is about street dogs.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Thai films at Udine

The lineup for the Udine Far East Film Festival from April 22 to 29 in Italy has been announced. Twitch has the list and has a bit more about the four Thai entries.

The four films are:
  • Art of the Devil - Bang Rajan director Thanit Jitnukul's first stab at horror, it is about one family's disaster after the father's mistress uses superstition to get revenge against him.
  • Pattaya Maniac - Yuthlert Sippapak's fourth film is a crazy comedy involving karaoke singing, gangsters, a bungled kidnapping, Buddhist amulet mysticism and a beautiful girl. Bald comedian Nong Cha Cha Cha starred, proving his dramatic chops.
  • Zee-oui - By veteran commercial directors Nida Suthat na Ayutthaya and Buranee Rachaibun who are also sisters. It's based on a true story of a Chinese immigrant in Thailand during the 1940s who was a cannibalistic serial killer who preyed on children.
  • Born to Fight - From Ong-Bak action choregrapher Panna Ritthikrai, the gritty action is hot and heavy. It stars Dan Chupong, hailed as Thailand's second Tony Jaa, and features a cast of national athletes who use their various skills -- football kicking, gymnastics, rugby, tawkraw, muay Thai, tae kwon do -- to defeat a Burmese druglord's army. Stay for the stunts, ignore the melodramatically overwrought performances.
( Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Shutter clicks for remake

Just as I suspected when I first saw it, the slick Shutter is up for a remake, according to

New Regency has purchased the remake rights for Shutter. Gmm Tai Hub, the local company who owns the rights, has not disclosed a figure but it is believed to be the highest ever in Thai cinema for remake rights.

Shutter took almost US$2,750,000 in the local market and became a hit in several territories including Malaysia and Singapore. Penned by two first-time filmmakers, Pakpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakul, the story follows a photographer who regularly notices strange shadows and light reflections in his pictures. This phenomenon is widely known in the country and has often been reported in Thai newspapers, especially in the last decade and even in the aftermath of the recent Tsunami disaster.

Meanwhile, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's 6ixtynin9 is being given the remake treatment as well. Before this happens, I beseech you, watch the original. also notes that up until now, the only Thai film for which the remake rights had been confirmed as sold was Saving Private Tootsie, which attracted Distant Horizon with its humorous story about a troop of military soldiers trying to rescue a group of transvestites from the battlefront. No word on what happened to that project.

And the Pang Brothers' The Eye was picked up for remake by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner after the Pusan International Film Festival in 2002. According to Twitch, the director of the Hollywood version is none other than Hideo Nakata, the guy who got this whole wave of Asian horror started with Ringu, which was remade into The Ring for Hollywood and he directed the sequel, The Ring 2.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Looking for The Tin Mine

2005 has gotten off to a less-than-promising start, with the output from the Thai industry consisting of slapstick comedies, shrill action and shit-your-pants horror, stuff that so far hasn't really flipped my switch.

But coming soon is The Tin Mine, from director Jira Maligool (Mekhong Full Moon Party). A drama, Mueang Rae (The Tin Mine) is based on a true story of writer and former engineering student, Ajin Panjaphan, who worked in a tin mine around 60 years ago in Phuket -- long before it became an island paradise (and now a struggling resort following the December 26, 2004 tsunami).

Twitch has more.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Catch Waves in Iowa City

The University of Iowa's fifth annual Waves Asian American Film Festival has been highlights films from South Asia as a tribute to the tsunami-affected region.

From Thailand comes two transgendered flicks, the campily melodramatic Adventure of Iron Pussy and the straight-on melodramatic Beautiful Boxer.

Other highlights include The Beautiful Washing Machine from Malaysia, Travellers and Magicians from Bhutan and Takeshi Miike's gut-wrencher, Audition.

The screenings are free and open to the public and will be held from March 31 until April 3 in Iowa City.

Here's the rest of the films on the schedule:
  • After the Apocalypse
  • Bampinay
  • Final Solution
  • Ju-On
  • The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam
  • Sangam
  • Sky Blue
  • Warriors of Heaven and Earth
  • When I Turned Nine

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Singaporean director loses leg

A director not showing up to claim his award at the Bangkok International Film Festival. It's not really news. Happens all the time.

Except Singapore director Bertrand Lee had a good excuse for missing the January 21 ceremonies -- he had lost a leg.

Lee, 27, won the award for best Asean Short Film (the Jameson's Best Asian Short Film Award) for Birthday, about a young teenage couple facing the last day of their relationship -- on their son's birthday.

Just a week before the ceremony, Lee was in India making another film. According to the Scotsman report, dated March 22, he was "peering into his camera lens in India when a truck reversed into him, crushing his legs and pelvis".
The leg had to be amputated and he couldn't travel to Thailand to attend the festival. Since then, an appeal has been launched to support Lee in his recovery.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Friday, March 18, 2005

Storm of Thai horror

Three horror films are out or are upcoming in Thai cinemas:

  • The Necromancer - an occult thriller about feuding wizards.
  • Rahtree Returns - a sequel to the comedy horror, Buppha Rahtree.
  • The Eye 10 - Another in the Eye series by the Pang Bros, looking at 10 different ways people can see ghosts.

The Necromancer is out now. I wasn't too intrigued by the previews, so I haven't seen it. The Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee has seen it, however, and he writes that it is "nothing more than blood-soaked bedlam, a schlock horro tableau that picthes two warlocks against each other in a senseless battle cheered on by other warlocks." Chatchai Plenpanich stars as an escaped convict with a tatoo that renders him invulernable to knives, bullets, missles, etc. Puttichai Amatyakul is a cop who hopes to remove the tattoo. Here's more about Necromancer at The Nation.

Next up is Rahtree Returns, Yuthlert Sippapak's sequel his Buppha Rahtree or Rahtree: Flower of the Night. Apartment 609 is still haunted by the ghost of a spurned young woman (Chermarn "Ploy" Boonyasak). And this causes problems for a bumbling gang of bank robbers whose loot has somehow found its way to that room. Yuthert, who did Sai Lor Fah (Pattaya Maniac) and Killer Tattoo is up to his usual tricks of putting a cast of comedians, including Somchai Saktikul (who apparently as agreed to star in every single Thai comedy film made in 2004 and 2005), Supakon Srisawat, Phan Rojanarungsri and Bunpoj Weerarat, through their paces, combining elements from the action, horror and crime genres with slapstick. Thai hearthrob Kris Srepoomseth returns as the college boy Ake. For seducing Ratree, he had both his legs amputated. He’s in for more disfigurement in this episode. Pitchanart "May" Sakhakorn (Butterfly in Grey, Sai Lor Fah) also stars.

The Eye 10, directed by Danny and Oxide Pang, is a pan-Asian venture, set in Hong Kong and Thailand. The emphasis is more on comedy than scary shivers and centers on four Hong Kong teenagers on a visit to Thailand. While staying at a friend’s house, they learn the basics of ghost watching through a book called "The 10 Encounters". Then one of them disappears and the others start seeing spooks everywhere. Stars Isabella Leong, Chen Polin, Ray MacDonald, Bongkote Kongmalai and Chen Po Lin.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

The Holy Man is the holiest

One of the biggest homegrown hits at the Thai box office this year is The Holy Man, which last week celebrated earnings of 80 million baht (about US$2 million) and has kept rolling, with the Bangkok Post now reporting earnings of 100 million baht. The film has done better in the provinces and suburbs, rather than central Bangkok.

Kong Rithdee has more on the funny phenomenon:

Directed by comedian Note Chernyim, The Holy Man is a low-brow, folksy flick ... starring TV funnyman Teng Terd-teung as an ex-thug turned eccentric monk with a stock of hilarious one-liners. [T]he film presents both cultural and marketing case studies that our social structure, as reflected in the movie-going habit, has become ever more complicated. And as major Thai film studios step up their campaigns of exporting local movies and going global, the jackpot scored by The Holy Man shows the glaring reality that Thai viewers may still crave the simple fun that does nothing more than tickle.

The film, which is basically a series of gags about the misadventures of Monk Teng, also prove that the Thai movie market, notoriously unpredictable, still has a place for cornball titles whose rustic appeal seems to have been inherited from the sentiments of the era of village-dwelling and outdoor cinema.

"As long as Thai people still like to eat nam phrik [shrimp paste], we believe they will continue to like this kind of low-brow comedy," says Tawatchai Panbhakdi, general manager of Phranakorn Film, which financed and distributed The Holy Man. "Some of us may develop a taste for spaghetti, but at the end of the day it's the shrimp paste we always come back to."

As it happens, taste is a great divider -- and money is a great leveler. At the rate the film's raking in revenue, The Holy Man is likely to move past the 110 million baht made by last year's box-office champion, the smart, international-flavoured ghost flick, Shutter.

Holy Man is the latest from Phranakorn Film, a small studio that started up three years ago. It had a big hit with its first film, Pee Hua Khad, or Headless Hero, barnyard slapstick about a buffalo-riding ghost looking for his severed head. It was the biggest box-office earner in 2002. Last year, Headless Hero spawned a sequel even as the first film continues to gain a cult following on the international DVD circuit. Other titles from the studio are Duk Dum Dui (about Thai comedians in Africa), Khon Pee Mah, and Pee Chong Air. Owned by Thanapol Thanarungroj, the studio is an extension of the Thana Cineplex, a theatre chain that mainly operates in Thailand's northern provinces.

Some of the company's films were flops, others generated a decent return, and it didn't bother anyone at the company that no film festivals abroad extended an invitation to these homespun pictures.

"This is a time when we cannot predict which Thai movie will make money," says Kraiwut Julaponsathorn, noted film critic and editor of the much-read Bioscope magazine. "In the case of The Holy Man, I think it's the influence of Teng, the lead actor, that successfully draws people in. And this further confirms the fact that comedians are the real stars of Thai cinema today."

Chalida Eubumrungjit, film scholar at the Thai Film Foundation, says that the film presents a strong case that Thai cinema needs middle-of-the-road movies like this one in order to iron the audience's confidence. "What we must make clear is that The Holy Man is of acceptable quality, though it doesn't come from a major studio," she says.

"The film doesn't resort to the usual hit-and-run approach -- tricking the audience to fill up the theatre in the first weekend by using heavy promotion -- and even though it didn't set any high ambitions, it does its job fairly okay. It's difficult, however, to pinpoint why this particular film has made such a lot of money while other titles in a similar vein -- low-brow, simple entertainment -- didn't perform as well. Perhaps it's the timing, but then, well, there might be many things else too."

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Tadanobu Asano typecast in Invisible Waves

Tadanobu Asano wants to portray a regular guy but says he just keeps getting cast as a killer, the Associated Press reported.

"I never picked the roles that have to do with killing,'' the AP quoted him as saying, citing a South China Morning Post story. "I have no idea why they picked me. Maybe I do look like those types.''

Asano played a suicidal Japanese gangster on the run in Last Life in the Universe by Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang.

Asano was in Hong Kong filming Invisible Waves, the upcoming film by Pen-Ek, which he co-wrote with Last Life writer Prabda Yoon. As with Last Life, Pen-ek is collaborating with cinematographer Christopher Doyle.

According to the Bangkok Post, Asano plays a chef who flees Macau to Phuket on a cruise ship after killing his mafia boss's wife. On board he's stalked by a hitman (Eric Tsang from Infernal Affairs) and hooks up with a Korean-Thai woman (Gang Hye Yang from Old Boy).

Invisible Waves is co-financed by Dutch, Thai, Korean, Hong Kong and Italian investors and has already been pre-sold to many countries including the US, France and Russia as well as the Scandinavian nations. In Thailand, the film's distribution rights will go to Five Star Entertainment. Locations also include Macau and Bangkok. The film is expected to premiere in early 2006.

In the AP article, the 31-year-old Asano was quoted as saying he just wants to play "ordinary people who have peaceful and uncomplicated lives.''

He is perhaps better known for his role in Ichii the Killer as a sadistic killer with a pain and disfigurement fetish. More recently, he portrayed an assassin for hire in Takeshi Kitano's historical martial arts comedy-drama Zatoichi.

He also stars in the 2003 romantic drama, Cafe Lumiere. The homage to Ozu is playing soon at Bangkok's Lido cinema. Not sure if he kills anyone in that movie, though from the previews he does appear slightly unhinged.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Play It Again, Siam

The Village Voice's Dennis Lim follows up on the 2005 Bangkok International Film Festival:
As hospitable and confounding as the city itself, the Bangkok Film Festival is, like so much else in Thailand, inseparable from tourism. Run by the country's tourism authority and programmed by a Los Angeles-based firm, this ever morphing event—which unspooled in a scaled-back, post-tsunami edition in January—seeks out a middle ground between domestic showcase and glamour importer. Hence the need to balance a retro of late local pioneer Vichit Kounavudhi with a career achievement award for Joel Schumacher ("known to some as 'the God of filmmaking'," the catalog proclaimed, without attribution).

Even to a casual observer, the festival seemed to operate at a suspicious remove from Bangkok's film community. Kong Rithdee, a critic at the English-language Bangkok Post, kicked off his coverage with a scathing editorial that called the festival "oblivious to its context," taking issue with the absence of Thai subtitles and the exclusion of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady, the first Thai film to compete—and win—at Cannes.

Still, Thai cinema was more generously represented than in previous editions, and those hoping to sample the local wares had the option of shuttling between the multiplexes in the Siam Square mall nexus or heading to the DVD stores in those very malls, where most of the same titles could be snapped up for as little as $3 apiece. From the flashy eroticism of The Sin to the relentless tear-jerking of The Letter to the slick scare tactics of The Shutter, the big picture that emerged was one of an industry looking to measure global ascendancy not by festival prizes but by international deal making. As Thanit Jitnukul, director of Bang Rajan, put it at a panel of local filmmakers: "Our movies must talk to non-Thai audiences."

Ironically, the homegrown auteurs best known to non-Thai audiences were barely in evidence—one exception being Tears of the Black Tiger director Wisit Sasanatieng, whose Citizen Dog is a crazy-chroma love story about happenstance, karma, and the urban-rural dichotomy; Bangkok-based critic and Voice contributor Chuck Stephens has a pivotal role as a tie-dyed hippie.

As for Apichatpong, who was off to the jungles to shoot a new short the week of the festival, he did turn up as the star of the most revealing movie here: the making-of doc Malady Diary, in which he oversees meetings in a Cahiers du Cinéma T-shirt, directs his actors to "act as if you're in a movie," participates in a pre-shoot prayer ceremony (presumably not to that God of filmmaking), and triumphs over mysterious financing woes. All in a year's work for a world-class artist who remains an outsider at home.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Born to Fight, Overture, Baytong at Deauville

The Overture and Born to Fight are in competition at the French Asian Film Festival in Deauville.

The festival is featuring around 40 films during its four-day run.

The Overture, a historical musical melodrama, is in the general competition while Born to Fight, a gritty, nationalistic actioner from Ong-Bak stunt coordinator Panna Rittakai is competing in a special Action Asia category.

Also from Thailand will be Nonzee Nimibutr's sometimes humorous tale of Buddhist-Muslim conflict, Baytong, showing in a non-competing "Panorama" screening.

The horror trilogy, Three Extremes, featuring works by Takeshi Miike, Park Chan Wook and Fruit Chan, will also be screened.

Other films in competition include the drama Charon directed by Gen Takahashi, Lakeside Murder Case by Shinji Aoyama and a low-budget controversial horror Marebito by Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On, The Grudge).

From China there's Electric Shadows, "a heart-warming tale" by first-time female director Xiao Jiang and The World by Jia Zahngke, the Taiwanese romantic comedy Holiday Dreaming from Fun-chun Hsu and This Charming Girl, shot entirely by hand-held camera by Korean newcomer Lee Yoon-ki.

From India comes the "visually poetic" Chased by Dreams by Bengali director Buddhadeb Dasgupta.

The festival will also pay homage to Takeshi Miike, screening his films including Audition and Dead or Alive.

Takeshi Kitano also will be present with his grim historical drama, Blood and Bones.

Violence -- and laughs -- will be dispensed in screenings of Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle.

Tribute will also be paid to the Indonesian actress and producer Christine Hakim.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Volunteer censors?

Membership of the Film Censorship Board will be open to volunteers and the public under a proposed amendment to the Thai Film Act, according to the Bangkok Post.

The draft law was being scrutinised by the Council of the State and was expected to be approved by parliament this year. The amendment provides for setting up a screening committee to select the 19-member Film Censorship Board, which until now has been appointed by the police chief. Many of the board's members have normally been senior police officers, especially the top positions.

The new committee would be able to recruit ''suitable outsiders'' such as scholars and volunteers to the board.

Film censorship, overseen for many decades by police, was transferred to the Culture Ministry last year. The ministry has been waiting for decisions by about 200 police working at the Film Censorship Department whether they want to transfer to the new agency.

''We hope they will join us as I have heard many of them developed a passion for the job,'' Culture Ministry permanent secretary Thipawadee Meksawan told the Post.

Instead of chopping out or putting Vaseline on sexually explicit scenes, the new censorship criteria would focus on rating films, VCDs and DVDs shown or sold in the country to ensure the content was viewed by an appropriate audience.

( Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Monday, March 7, 2005

Review: Ruang Talok 69 (6ixtynin9)

  • Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
  • Starring Lalita Panyopas
  • Released in 1999, Region 1 DVD released January 11, 2005 by Palm Pictures
  • Rating: 5/5

The title refers to the main character's apartment number. She lives in apartment six, but the number is missing a nail and often flips over making it look like she's in number nine.

Set in Bangkok, with the fallout from the Asian economic crash still coming, the main character, Tum, has just lost her job, determined by drawing straws with numbers on them. Ironically, number 9 was her number. In Chinese culture, 9 is a very strong, auspicious and lucky number.

But not for Tum. And like the number on her apartment door, her life is about to go topsy turvy.

She walks home, box of office supplies in hand. She is met by a neighbor, who reminds her she is lucky to have a job. She doesn't want to get into it. "Yeah, I'm lucky," she says simply.

Waiting for the elevator, a guy tells her she's going to have to wait for a few days. The elevator is out of order. He offers to carry her box. And he knows where she lives. She's weirded out by this, but eventually allows him to carry her box.

Finally alone, Tum contemplates what to do. Fantasy sequences show her drinking household chemicals, red fluid dripping down her cheeks as she downs a bottle of toilet cleaner. Or, maybe she could blow her head off with a gunshot. Splat goes the blood against the wall.

Then there's a knock at the door. She answers it but only finds a Mama instant noodles box. She opens it. It's filled with cash, about 1 million baht.

Later, a couple of guys come to collect the box. They end up dead. From there, the movie goes on an enjoyable enough crime-thriller ride with bits of comedy to lighten things up. Thai boxing, Mafia, bumbling cops, sentimental melodrama all find their way in.

Though neither the title nor the main character have anything to do with sex, people all around Tum are obsessed with it, particularly a nosey neighbor and her friends, who talk about cutting off a guy's penis, chopping it up and making it into a spicy minced-meat dish. Also, there's Tum's friend, Jin, who is obsessed with her long-haired boyfriend.

The actress Lalita is quite striking. She is at turns androgynous or feminine, sexy or scrawny, meek or a determined survivor.

Made in 1999, this was Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's second film. In style and themes, it is more similar to his meditative Last Life in the Universe than the racous musical Monrak Transistor.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Tom Yum Goong trailer

The trailer for the Ong-Bak followup, Tom Yum Goong, is now posted at Ultimate DVD.

Meanwhile, the Ong-Bak onslaught continues in the US. Tony Jaa was recently in Philadelphia, demonstrating his martial-arts prowess. He and director Prachya Pinkaew were interviewed. Here's an excerpt:

Triangle: Do you want to eventually cross over into American films or do you want continue making Thai films with a universal appeal?

PP: We want to keep the essence of Thai when making films. We want to make films in Thailand, but have foreign investors so we can have a bigger production.

TJ: I feel the same way. I want viewers to be able to watch movies that are of quality.

Triangle: Could you tell us a little about your upcoming collaboration Tom Yum Goong?

PP: Well it's our second film with the same crew. We're almost done filming and it might be out by the end of this year. Of course you'll see Muay Thai again, but in a different light.

It speaks in terms of culture and how eloquence plays an important part in Thai culture and way of life. A lot of times foreigners see eloquence and think of Thailand and we wanted to portray that. You'll see how these things get related with other cultures as this film will be based in Australia.

You'll see a variety of different martial arts as Muay Thai will be executed with different opponents. You'll have to wait and see how different it will be.

Another Thai film is on Ultimate DVD. They have the trailer for Beautiful Boxer.

(Cross-published on Rotten Tomatoes)

Bang Rajan: The DVD

Bang Rajan is now out on DVD in the UK. It's reviewed at Monsters and Critics.

The two-disc set is heavy with extras and these are mainly on the second disc. Apart from the above mentioned audio commentary there is almost two hours of interviews come from the director (Tanit Jitnukul), producer (Adirek Wattaleela) and three of the main principles (Winai Kraibutr, Jaran Ngamdee and Bongkot Kongmalai). Most of these are in Thai with English subtitles. They are refreshing and tell of how this movie has touched them and their celebrity status back home, their humble and gracious nature is wonderful to see and it's a shame Hollywood generally does not follow this novel all too human example. A short making of which plays like an extended trailer, two trailers, a short and weird documentary on the legend itself (reincarnated water buffalo I hear you say) and the strangest of all is 'Bang Rajan Re-scored'. This short little feature is not as you may expect but it is actually Premiere Asia scoring the music for the glorious DVD menus and the UK promotional Trailer and not anything to do with the movie itself. Twelve more trailers for more of Hong Kong Legends and Premiere Asia compete this disc.

On the downside the movie footage used throughout the extras is very much the same so you do get a little tired of seeing the same clips over and over again. Perhaps if not viewing all in the one go this will seem less bothersome. The other down-note is that during the interview session with Director Tanit he mentions time and time again about how the movie had to be trimmed down to get it in under the two hour mark, it's such a shame that none of that deleted footage makes its way here. These are small quibbles on a mighty show.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

Tropical Malady in London: 'Never show the monster'

Tropical Malady is opening the UK, and there is a retrospective of all of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's films playing in London. He talked to the Guardian.

"It's about suffocation by happiness," explains the soft-spoken 34-year-old director. "The first part is utopian, like a memory that comes in fragments, part fabricated. Blissfully Yours is also about entering a state where you're so happy that you suffer, because later you have the burden of these happy memories that you can't get back."

Memory as a debilitating infection is the tropical malady of the title. Weerasethakul translates the film's Thai title, Sud Pralad, as "strange animal" - a jungle monster with transformative powers. The film was inspired by the adventure tales of Thai author Noi Intanon ("they're Indiana Jones kinds of stories - a hunter goes into the jungle trying to find a white buffalo or hidden treasure") and by Jacques Tourneur, director of I Walked With a Zombie and the original Cat People.

"I wanted a real old-fashioned mood of a horror film. But Tourneur never used a real monster; he would just use a shadow and a sound, and I wanted more monster. In the end, we agreed that Tourneur was right - never show the monster!"

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)