Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nonzee, Aditya projects selected for Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum

Projects by Thai New Wave godfather Nonzee Nimibutr and indie director Aditya Assarat are among 25 proposals selected for the Kong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), which creates a marketplace for filmmakers to meet with international backers.

Nonzee's project is called Secret of the Butterfly, and, according to Kaiju Shakedown's Grady Hendrix, it is "the craziest project of the bunch." Written by none other than Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, the story has has all the weird, wonderful hallmarks of his works, with a plot about "a beautiful young woman who is accused of being a black widow", and is suspected of causing the deaths of three husbands.

Here's more from the plot synopsis:

Chatri, a police captain, and his forensic specialist, Korn, are assigned to investigate, but Chatri almost instantly falls for the seemingly lost, alluring young woman. Before they make love for the first time, he sees a distinctive red mark on her back and it reminds him of her supposed curse but, strangely, it just arouses him even more.

After their lovemaking he begins to suffer from dreams about a ghost branded with the same red mark as Natra and his relationship with his wife sours. He goes to Natra’s second husband’s home and discovers a room full of books about witches and curses, and dozens of paintings of a woman with the same red mark on her back. He decides to look into the deaths of her parents in an attempt to unravel the mystery of her curse.

But things go wildly out of control, as Grady notes:

It [ends] with a lesson in evolutionary biology and the complete eradication of all men on earth, as women discover how to give birth asexually. Imaging Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse except with ooky biology and gore at its heart instead of bloodless ghosts and you have an idea of what he's trying to accomplish here.

It's good to see Nonzee lining up his next projects as his long-awaited Queen of Langkasuka is in post-production, being readied for release sometime in May. He has also been working on a Japanese co-production, Just as Chao Phraya River Flows, about two generations of Thai-Japanese couples. Jintara Sukapat stars, along with young Apinya Sakuljaroensuk (Ploy from Ploy). Another Nonzee project, a Pan-Asian ghost story called Toyol was shopped at HAF in 2006 (PDF), and it is still in development, he told back in December.

As for indie director Aditya, he wants to make a romantic drama called High Society, about a young actor and his changing relationships, first with his college sweetheart, whom he breaks up with at the beginning of a movie shoot, and then with assistant director he was dating during during the film shoot, but is drifting away from.

The story is partly inspired by the director's own life. Aditya explains:

I have wanted to make High Society ever since I started making films. It is taken from memories of my college years, bits and pieces of my own life and also stolen moments from my friends’ lives in those days. Even though several years have passed and the script has changed many times, the original intention has always been the same: the desire to capture the essence of contemporary youth in Bangkok, caught between two influences, that of the West which we always run towards, and that of the East, which we can never completely run from.

Aditya's debut feature film, Wonderful Town, is in competition at Rotterdam and is showing at the Berling International Film Festival, where the director is jury member for the Forum section. Wonderful Town will hopefully be released in Thailand at some point this year.

More information:

(Via Kaiju Shakedown; photo credit: Nonzee Nimibutr on the set of Queen of Langkasuka)

Love of Siam leads Subhanahongsa nominees

The Subhanahongsa Awards nominees have been announced, and the top film is The Love of Siam, which has 17 nominations. The action-packed 1970s-set boxing drama Muay Thai Chaiya has 12. The slasher-horror thriller Body #19 has nine, while the homosexual romantic crime thriller Bangkok Love Story has eight nominations.

The Love of Siam, a gay teenage romantic family drama written and directed by Chukiat Sakweerakul has already won awards from Bioscope magazine, Kom Chad Luek and Starpics. It was heavily tipped to be the top nominee for the Subhanahongsas, which are given by the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand and are characterized as Thailand's Oscars.

The Love of Siam is named in the top categories for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. It has also been nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Director, Best Sound, Best Song (two entries) and Best Score.

Notably, Chukiat doubles up on Best Screenplay nods, not only being nominated for The Love of Siam but also for Body #19, which he co-wrote with comic-book writer Ekasit Thairat. The same pair had collaborated on 2006's acclaimed psychological thriller, 13 Beloved.

Aside from The Love of Siam, Muay Thai Chaiya and Body #19, the Best Picture category is rounded out by the schoolboy documentary Final Score and the amnesiac transvestite comedy drama Me ... Myself.

For Best Director honors Chukiat faces competition from Pen-ek Ratanaruang who directed the marital drama Ploy. Pen-ek has always been overlooked for these awards. Newcomer nominees are Kongkiat Komsiri, who made his solo directorial debut with Muay Thai Chaiya and veteran actor Pongpat Wachirabanjong who made his directorial debut with Me ... Myself. Soraya Nakhasuwan made her feature film bow with Final Score.

Possibly the heaviest competition is seen in the Best Actress category, which this year boasts a number of veteran leading ladies: Sinjai Plengpanich for The Love of Siam, Lalita Panyopas Sasiprapha for Ploy, Marsha Wattanapanich for Alone, Woranuch Wongsawan for Perng Mang the Haunted Drum and Suwajanee Chaimusik for Seven Days to Leave My Wife.

Among the surprises was six nominations for Perng Mang the Haunted Drum, which was in and out of cinemas while I was out of Thailand in April. It's a horror film produced by Phranakorn, and has actually been released on English-subtitled DVD in Singapore.

Other films nominated that I didn't see are the romantic comedies Seven Days to Leave My Wife and Seven Days 24 Hours, the tranvestite slapstick fest Kung Fu Tootsie and the ghost story, The House.

One disappointment for me was no nominations for The Sperm, which I thought deserved a mention for Special Effects, or something. Gore hounds will want to check out the Special Effects nominees. They are all horror or action thrillers, including Sick Nurses, which I despised so much I actually have respect for now. I'm also a surprised that the King Naresuan films weren't nominated, not even for best costumes. I guess that Naresuan II was submitted for the Oscars was good enough for the Federation.

The winners will be announced on February 17 at the Siam Niramit Theatre in Bangkok. Hopefully this year the presenters will be tastefully dressed.

Here is the complete list of nominees:

Best Picture
  • The Love of Siam (Rak Hang Siam)
  • Final Score (365 Wan Tam Tid Cheewit Dek Ent)
  • Me...Myself (Khor Hai Rak Jong Jaroen)
  • Muay Thai Chaiya
  • Body #19 (Sop #19)

Best Director
  • Chukiat Sakweerakul (The Love of Siam)
  • Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Ploy)
  • Kongkiat Komsiri (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Pongpat Wachirabanjong (Me ... Myself)
  • Soraya Nakhasuwan (Final Score)

Best Screenplay
  • Chukiat Sakweerakul (Love of Siam)
  • Umpira Wongthamma (The Life of Buddha)
  • Poj Anon (Phuean Koo Rak Mueng Wa or Bangkok Love Story)
  • Kongkiat Komsiri (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Chukiat Sakweerakul and Ekasit Thairat (Body #19)

Best Actor
  • Arak Amornsupasiri (Body #19)
  • Ananda Everingham (Me ... Myself)
  • Rattanaballang Tohsawat (Bangkok Love Story)
  • Witwisit Hirunwongkul (Love of Siam)
  • Akara Amarttayakul (Muay Thai Chaiya)

Best Actress
  • Sinjai Plengpanich (The Love of Siam)
  • Marsha Wattanapanich (Faed or Alone)
  • Lalita Sasiprapha (Ploy)
  • Worranuch Wongsawan (Perng Mang the Haunted Drum)
  • Suwajanee Chaimusik (Seven Days to Leave My Wife)

Best Supporting Actor
  • Songsit Rungnopakunsri (The Love of Siam)
  • Chetwut Watcharakun (Rak Na 24 Chuamong or Seven Days 24 Hours)
  • Komsan Nanthajit (Baan Pheesing or The House)
  • Chaiwat Tongsaeng (Bangkok Love Story)
  • Sonthaya Chitmanee (Muay Thai Chaiya)

Best Supporting Actress
  • Uthumporn Silaphan (Bangkok Love Story)
  • Chermarn Boonyasak (The Love of Siam)
  • Sangthong Kate-Uthong (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Kanya Rattanapetch (The Love of Siam)
  • Apinya Sakuljaroensuk (Ploy)

Best Cinematography
  • Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Chankit Chamnivikaipong (Ploy)
  • Tiwa Methaisong (Bangkok Love Story)
  • Somboon Phopitakkul (Body #19)
  • Jitti Ueanorakarnkij (The Love of Siam)

Best Editing
  • Sunit Asawanikul (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Chatchai Katenut and Saranee Wongphan (Final Score)
  • Vijja Kojew and Thammarat Sumethasupphachocke (Alone)
  • Paween Phurijitpanya, Boonsak Wattanawisit and Surawut Tungkharak (Body #19)
  • Chookiat Sakweerakul and Lee Chatametikool (The Love of Siam)

Best Sound
  • Ram Indra Sound Recording Studio (Muay Thai Chaiya, The Love of Siam and Ploy - three nominations)
  • Kantana Laboratory (Bangkok Love Story and Body #19 - two nominations)

Best Song
  • "Parinippan" (The Life of Buddha)
  • "Sin Siang Perng Mang" (Perng Mang the Haunted Drum)
  • "Suan Nueng Khong Chan" (Alone)
  • "Kan Lae Kan" (The Love of Siam)
  • "Kuen Un Pen Nirund" (The Love of Siam)

Best Score
  • Giant Wave (Perng Mang the Haunted Drum and Bangkok Love Story - two nominations)
  • Chatchai Pongpraphaphan (Alone)
  • Kaiwal Kulwattanothai (The Life of Buddha)
  • Kitti Krueamanee (The Love of Siam)

Best Art Director
  • Natsiri Setthakarnvijit (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Guru Team (Bangkok Love Story)
  • Komkrit Chaknum (Body #19)
  • Witaya Chaimongkol (Alone)
  • Phisute Pariwattanakij (The Love of Siam)

Best Costume Designer
  • Chatchai Chaiyon (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Nirachara Wannalai (Tud Soo Fud or Kung Fu Tootsie)
  • Phra Nakorn Team (Perng Mang the Haunted Drum)
  • Visa Kongka (Ploy)
  • Ekasit Meprasertkul (The Love of Siam)

Best Make-up
  • Rarin Soongsood-iam (Me ... Myself)
  • Amarit Chokepreecha (Muay Thai Chaiya)
  • Siwakorn Sookalangkarn (Body #19)
  • Chawalit Siridejmongkolkul (Perng Mang the Haunted Drum)
  • Witaya Deerattrakul (Opapatika)

Best Special Effects
  • Sura-ek Thongpetch, Weera Sae-ueng, Julien Van Soenacker and Joaquin Nontserrat (Body #19)
  • Sawate Eknarong (Perng Mang the Haunted Drum)
  • Oriental Post (Alone)
  • Triple X CG (Sick Nurses and Opapatika - two nominations)

(Via The Nation and Deknang)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thai censors blot out blood in Sweeney Todd

Amidst the washed-out, black and grey Gothic production design of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, there is a lot of red - blood red that is.

And it has proven to be too much blood for the Thai censors, who have asked distributor Warner Bros. to tone it down for the film's release in Thailand.

In this adaptation of a stage musical by Tim Burton, Johnny Depp portrays a murderous barber who uses his razors to slit the throats of dozens of his customers who come to his tonsorial parlour. They get a much closer shave than they bargained for. Some of the graphic scenes of throats being cut and spraying, spurting blood have been pixellated out through the same "foggy blurring" process that is used to obscure nudity, smoking, drug use and guns on Thai television and home-video releases.

While pixellation has been used to blot out sexual acts and naked body parts in films, violence in cinematic releases has traditionally received a pass by censors, but with the release of Sweeney Todd, which opens in Thailand cinemas on Thursday, it appears that blood-letting, no matter how stylised and cartoonish, is a no-no.

Is there any point in going to see a film in Thai cinemas? I'm beginning to think not. If the new ratings system is enacted, will the Thai censors continue their defacing of films? More than likely so.

Look at all the Thai films at Rotterdam

News from the International Film Festival Rotterdam got me to finally look at the full schedule, and I was amazed at the depth of the programming there, and at the sheer number of films from Thailand.

In competition in the short films was The Rocket by Uruphong Raksasad. It missed being named a winner, though. Congratulations to the three winners: As I Lay Dying by Ho Yuhang (Malaysia), Ah, Liberty! by Ben Rivers (United Kingdom) and Observando el cielo by Jeanne Liotta (United States). Twitch has more observations on Ho's win.

Still to come is news of the Tiger Awards feature competition, which features Wonderful Town by Aditya Assarat.

Just looking at the competition entries isn't enough, though. For a full picture of the Thai films that are being shown in Rotterdam, I have to take a look at the schedules by country, and then break it down further by section.

Exploding Cinema: New Dragon Inns is where the gold mine is. I knew that Pimpaka Towira's documentary The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong was screening in that section, but I wasn't prepared for the many Thai shorts in there as well.

Among the works is Black Air, an interactive art installation, with Apichatpong Weerasethekul credited as adviser. Directors are Pimpaka Towira, Jakrawal Nilthamrong, Akrichalerm Kalayanamitr and Koichi Shimizu (who did the music on Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy).

Then there is another category within New Dragon Inns called Thai Dragons, featuring seven films:

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy was playing in the Sturm und Drang section, which IFC's R. Emmet Sweeney thinks is an odd placement for a film by an established director like Pen-ek, who's been on the festival scene for 10 years now. (Note to R. Emmet: Lucky 7 is a work by seven Singaporean directors, not Thai.)

More logically placed is The Unseeable by Wisit Sasanatieng, in the Rotterdämmerung program, which is for "monsters, blood and sex". I think The Unseeable has all those things.

(Photo credit: A still from Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Meteorites (Nimit), via IFFR press center)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Thai cinemas: First Flight, Siyama

Two Thai films open on Thursday in Thailand cinemas: The historical drama First Flight and the supernatural historical fantasy, Siyama: Village of Warriors. Both are effects-heavy films that have been in production for a long time.

From RS Film's Avant production house, First Flight has been in the works for five years. A tale of daring young Thai men and their flying machines, it is set in the early 1900s and is based on the formation of the flying corps that would become the Royal Thai Air Force. The special effects involving flight proved to be a challenge for the production company. Meanwhile, show reels for First Flight have been shown at film markets since 2003, and in the intervening years some of the film's thunder was stolen by Flyboys, a Hollywoodized drama set in World War I France.

The trailer for First Flight plays up the comedic aspects of brave pilots puking and being chased by water buffalo, but I suspect it will be more melodramatic than it lets on, and overall it will be nationalistically nostalgic.

More nationalistic homeland defense is on tap from Mono Film with Siyama: Village of Warriors, about some modern-day teens who travel back to 1764 Siam to take up ancient arms in a desperate battle to save Ayutthaya from an invasion. Though it was in post-production in 2006, months before Naresuan came out, Siyama looks like it is riding in the same column as that royal pic, as well as themes also hit upon in 2001's Bangrajan.

Both of these are just fodder that will likely be forgotten
come February 6. This is opening day for the highly anticipated and heavily promoted juggernaut that is Chocolate, starring Panna Rittikrai's and Prachya Pinkaew's new star action Nitcharee Wismitanant as gifted young autistic woman who goes on a Muay Thai-inspired warpath.

Review: Busaba Bold & Beautiful (Suay Sing Krating Sab)

  • Directed by Pisuth Praesaeng-iam
  • Starring Suvanant Kongying, Weeraphap Suphappaibul,
  • Supakorn Kitsuwan, Charutpong Surasawadee, Kirk Schiller, Achita Sikamana
  • Released in Thailand cinemas on January 24, 2008
  • Rating: 2/5

Two guys, a girl, and a large, stolen sapphire could make for a decent screwball comedy or crime thriller.

But in Busaba Bold & Beautiful (Suay Sing Krating Sab), amidst jokes about explosive diarrhea, a smelly corpse in an ambulance, transvestite hookers and an endless parade of comedians and funny-looking folk, somehow the fact that there were two guys and a girl, with the makings of the typical love triangle, was forgotten.

Too many characters, an overly confusing story and frayed plot threads involve the large blue gemstone and multiple double-crosses as it is stolen from thieves by another thief by another thief and another.

Tears of the Black Tiger and Monrak Transistor star Supakorn Kitsuwan gets third billing in this crime comedy that stars soaps actress Suvanant Kongying and TV star Weeraphap Suphappaibul.

Charutpong Surasawadee plays Banharn, the leader of a bumbling crew of gangsters that includes Ampon Rattanawong (who acted opposite Supakorn in Monrak). They are trying to track down Heng (Kirk Schiller), a participant in a heist of gemstones from some Westerners. Heng slinked away from the daring daylight robbery and switched the gems with some fakes. Achita Sikamana is a (fashionable) plainclothes police captain trying to solve the heist.

Supakorn and Weeraphap portray Pod and Ad, a pair of small-time crooks. They are introduced running through alleyways as they are being chased by some other gangsters. The scene could be referencing a similiar chase scene from Monrak Transistor. It ends with a joke, as Pod and Ad ask a couple of men in police uniforms to stop the gangsters from beating them up. But the police say they are powerless. It is then revealed that they have stumbled onto a movie set, with director Thanit Jitnukul playing an assistant director.

Not sure what this set-up was for, but it was easily the best and funniest scene in the film.

Pod and Ad are former thieves who run a restaurant in Bangkok where they take in stolen goods to fence. They are visited one day by a man (Black Phomtong, the sugar cane overseer from Monrak Transistor) from their village who wants them to find Dao, a girl from the village who is the marry the village chief's son.

Ad and Pod catch up with the girl Dao in Siam Square, where she is working a scam as a pickpocket. They keep her at their house for the night, and then take her the next day to Hualumphong Station to be put on a train back to the village. Here is where they encounter Heng, who is fleeing from Banharn and his men. Ad and Pod know Heng from their days as thieves. In much confusion, Ad and Pod end up in a car with Heng, while Dao is the driver of another car with Banharn's men. Shooting is involved, and Dao is understandably upset that Pod and Ad fired upon the car she was driving, even if there were bad guys in it. She gets rid of the bad buys in a clever move by stopping at a police checkpoint to ask for directions.

Chases and double-crosses ensue amidst much forced hilarity, and trying to think about it all is not worth the effort right now. The climax takes place at the Dreamworld theme park in Bangkok, where Dao dresses up in a cow costume and the boys confront the crooks in the snow.

The ironically named Banharn gets the last laugh with a joke that he will use his influence to escape justice, and he'll move to England and buy Manchester United.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Two Thai shorts win jury prizes at 2nd Bangkok International Children's Film Festival

A 17-minute documentary about HIV-positive teens and a 3D animated short were the Thai winners in the short-films competition at the 2nd Bangkok International Children's Film Festival, which ran over the past two weekends at Major Cineplex Pinklao, and at TK Park at CentralWorld in Bangkok.

The winners, as chosen by the seven-member, teenaged jury, were named on Saturday. They are:
  • Best live action: The Crystal Palace by Tove Cecilie Severdrup and Sunniva Nervik (Norway) - A boy who has recently lost his grandmother befriends an old woman i a retirement home and discovers she has a secret.
  • Best animation: The Goat That Ate Time by Lucinda Schreiber (Australia) - Goats will eat anything, including watches, grandfather clocks, the Big Ben, and the concept of time itself.
  • Jury prize, live action: The Thief by Irina Boiko (Greece) - A little boy learns there are rewards for being honest after he and a neighborhood girl break into a veterinary office and steal a bunch of stuff.
  • Jury prize, live action: Posi+ive by Youth Volunteers of the AIDS Access Foundation (Thailand) - This is a very moving documentary about four HIV-positive teens living in northern Thailand.
  • Jury prize, animation: Holly Gets Even by Marika Heideback (Sweden) - This stop-motion claymation work set in an innercity involves a girl basketball player who breaks down and cries after her trousers are pulled down by a neighborhood boy while she is shooting hoops.
  • Jury prize, animation: Pla Mee Kon (A Little Piece of Memory) by Sittisak Jiampotjaman (Thailand) - A boy opens a book about ocean life and finds that sea critters are swimming all around him. He nurtures an interest in marine life into adulthood, but it only takes him as far as being a security guard at an aquarium, which has made him bored and jaded. It takes silly questions from some pint-sized, trouble-making visitors to the aquarium for him to recapture his enjoyment.
After the awards ceremony, all the winning shorts were shown. In attendance was young star Charlie “Nat” Trairat of Fan Chan and Dorm. Aged 15 now, he's taller than I am and is starting to grow a moustache. He stayed to watch Once Upon a Time ... This Morning, a 1995 drama in which he made his screen debut. Perhaps 1 or 2 years old at the time, he played a toddler, and the youngest of three siblings from a broken home who hit the road looking for their father (Santisuk Promsiri) because they don't want to live with their mother (Jintara Sukapat). Also present for that screening was Ronnaroo "Fiat" Buranute, who played the charismatic leader of a gang of homeless boys who come to the aid of the sister and her two younger brothers.

In all, 21 short films and 10 feature films were shown, including Hula Girls and Helen the Baby Fox from Japan, Ice Bar and Little Brother from South Korea, and Akeelah and the Bee from the US. Some of the films featured live dubbing in Thai, to aid the younger viewers who were unable to read the subtitles. The festival was organized by the Thai Film Foundation and the Office of Knowledge Management and Development.

More information:

Review: Once Upon a Time ... This Morning

  • Directed by Bhandit Rittakol
  • Starring Santisuk Promsiri, Jintara Sukapat, Ronnaroo Buranute
  • Released in 1995 in Thailand; was Thailand's submission for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, won Best Film at the Thailand National Film Association Awards; screened during the 2nd Bangkok International Children's Film Festival on January 26, 2008 at Major Cineplex Pinklao
  • Rating: 5/5

Once Upon a Time ... This Morning (Kalla khrung nueng... muea chao nee), a 1995 drama by Bhandit Rittakol, made me cry, at least twice. Who knew that paper dolls could have such an effect?

I can think of a couple other films that have brought on the waterworks - Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle is one. It's the ending scene where Chow and his love interest change back into children and then go into the candy store. The end of Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi does it, too, when the brother-and-sister geishas revert back to when they were young, before they lost their innocence. This recapturing of a childhood, to go back in time before everything got so damn complicated, I guess, is the emotional trigger, and it doesn't matter how many times I've watched the DVDs.

Once Upon a Time is about three kids, pre-teen sister Ohh, her 5- or 6-year-old little brother Onn and a toddler in a stroller, Umm (Charlie Trairat). The parents, played by the classic '90s Thai cinema pair of Santisuk Promsiri and Jintara Sukapat, are splitting up. The children are closer to their father, Damrong, who is devoted and patient. He tells them bedtime fairy tales, using paper dolls to make shadows on the wall. The kids sit enraptured and are eventually lulled into sleep.

The mother, Pha, is moving away from their cozy little suburban home to a flash three-bedroom hi-rise condo in the city, where she'll be able to devote more time to running her magazine.

Ohh pouts about the situation, and Onn becomes difficult when he's told he can't bring his pet turtle, Ninja, along. Even the baby won't stop crying. Mum's cooking isn't as good as dad's. After a couple of nights, Ohh decides she is going to find her father. Onn goes with her. They plan to slip out while Mum is away from work. But in retrieving the squawling baby from the day-care center (run by a two-faced nightmare of a woman), the plan goes all squiffy, as some young neighborhood hoodlums are being chased by some gangsters. The pint-sized delinquents were trying to deliver some drugs to one of the building's tenants, but the deal goes south, and the package is hidden in Umm's basket. In the confusion, Ohh grabs the basket and takes off.

The missing drugs means that Naklae (Ronnaroo), the charismatic leader of the homeless gang of boys, will be beaten by his boss. By chance, Ohh, Onn and Umm are boarding a train at Bangkok's Hualumphong Terminal, and Naklae spots the basket. He boards the train and tells his friends to inform their adult boss to meet him up the line.

Meanwhile, Pha comes home to find the kids missing. And, here's a 1995 touch, Ohh has sent a pager message to her dad, now coaching soccer up in Chiang Mai, that she's coming to find him. Dad then gets on a train heading south, while Mum pursues the northbound train in her old Volkswagen. The gangsters, who also trade in prostitution, child labor and baby brokering, are also in hot pursuit.

On the train, Naklae sits with the kids and tries to keep a watch on the basket. All the time he is being watched by an old man in the seat across the aisle. Likely a street urchin himself when he was young, the old man sees right through Naklae's sweet talk. Ohh pulls out the paper dolls and tells her father's fairy tale. It works its magic on Onn and Umm, and Naklae and the old man across the aisle, too!

There's confusion when the train stops in Lampang, as the gangsters grab the kids, while Damrong and Pha meet and try to pursue the abductors. Finding that the drugs have been soiled by the baby, the gangster boss decides to cut his losses, and arranges to sell the girl as a virgin prostitute and broker the baby. The boy, Onn - too old to sell as a baby, but too young for anything else - is left by the side of the road, along with the smart-mouthed Naklae.

At the heart of this film is the meaning of family. Naklae leads a gang of homeless boys who were thrown away by their parents. They know they must stick together to survive. Damrong and Pha, the parents of Ohh, Onn and Umm, are just now figuring that out. And now, to get their children back, they must put aside the problems that have caused them to divorce.

There is plenty of excitement, as the homeless kids teach little Onn to swear, and they mount a daring rescue to save Ohh and Umm. There is some gunplay, some crashing utlity pylons, plenty of sparks and a runaway baby stroller. The paper dolls are trotted out for the homeless boys one night, in a shadow play put on by Ohh that leaves them all spellbound. Then there is a fiery climax in a burning brothel, which had been foreshadowed by the paper-doll fairy tales. This where the young actress who played Ohh really shines - I wish I knew her name, but apparently she only acted in a few films and disappeared from the scene.

The ending is pretty powerful, too, with Naklae making an escape to a hopefully better life on a city bus, bidding farewell to the reunited family, by holding up a string of paper dolls as he looks forelornly out the back window of a city bus.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Links roundup: Apichatpong-a-rama

A few recent items having to do with everyone's favourite Thai independent director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

(Photo credit: A screenshot from Luminous People, via O Estado Do Mundo at LX Filmes)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kongdej Jaturanrasamee: Thailand's 'king of romance'

Ahead of next month's opening of his new romantic drama Kod (Handle Me With Care), writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee talked with the Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee, for an interview in yesterday's Real Time section.

Kongdej is a sought-after "script doctor", one of the few in the Thai film industry. He did the screenplay for Tony Jaa's Tom Yum Goong ("without him the film would have been even worse," says Kong), last year's amnesiac transgender drama Me ... Myself and the adaptation of the hit comic book Noo Hin: The Movie. But it was his work on 2004's The Letter, the smash-hit Thai remake of the Korean weeper Pyeon ji, that sealed his reputation.

He tells Kong:

I wouldn't call myself a romantic person. Some of the romantic films I wrote happened to become successful with the audience - it started with The Letter - and people got this perception of me as someone who's an expert in love stories. But actually, I always see something else in the scripts I write. I see, for example, our search for security in life or the struggle to find our place on earth.

Aside from Handle Me With Care, Kongdej's other projects include the screenplay for Nonzee Nimibutr's upcoming seaborne fantasy, Queen of Langkasuka, and he's writing the sophomore directorial effort by Me ... Myself's Pongpat Wajirabunjong, a story of a dying woman called Happy Birthday.

It's been his own films where his central theme - the human struggle - really comes through. These are Sayew and the woefully underseen Midnight My Love.

Handle Me With Care is about a man (Kiatkamol Latha) with two left arms who's tired of trying to figure out what to do with the extra appendage and the misery it brings. So he hits the road, looking for a place to cut that third arm off.

Along the way, he meets Na, a woman who attracts a lot of unwanted attention because of her large breasts. She is played by curvy actress Supaksorn Chaimongkol, who's been cast in plenty of cheesecake roles, such as Chai Lai's Angels, Navy Boys and Andaman Girl. I last saw her in Mike B.'s stuntfest, Brave, and somewhere beneath the skin wig she wore when she was playing a Buddhist nun, well, I thought there was more there than meets the eye.

Back to Kong's story. In talking to the scriptwriter, Kong hits on themes he covered in a story elsewhere in Friday's Real Time, about the Thailand Script Project, and what it's like being a screenwriter in the Thai film industry. It ain't what it's cracked up to be. Kong explains:

To become a professional screenplay writer in Thailand is something of a feat in itself given the peculiar fact that a screenplay is probably the most undervalued element in the Thai filmmaking process. The lack of trusted and inspired writers means most filmmakers take on the dual role of writer/director, and while some of them carry their projects to success, the majority of poor-quality Thai films are the result of bad scripts. Film studios, meanwhile, decide to invest in movies based on genre (horror and comedy are priorities) and marketability (stars and hype factor) rather than quality or the originality of the scripts.

In others, writers are not properly respected. Written words are not as revered as visuals, or the ability to create visuals. This is a symptom of an immature film industry. As the ongoing Hollywood writers' strike show that scribes hold certain negotiating power with big studios, Thai screenwriters are often seen as dispensable.

Handle Me With Care opens in Thailand cinemas on February 21.

More information:

(Photo credit: Via Deknang forum; Kongdej Jaturanrasamee with his Best Screenplay Award from the 2006 Deauville Asian Film Festival.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Berlin is Wonderful Town

In competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Aditya Assarat's Wonderful Town will also be shown in a special screening at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival in the Forum experimental program.

Aditya has been chosen to sit on the NETPAC jury, which awards a prize to the best Asian film in the Forum. Jurymates are Opera Jawa director Garin Nugroho from Indonesia and Indian journalist Meenakshi Shedde.

Aside from Wonderful Town, which is a romantic drama set in post-tsunami Phuket, there's the strange-sounding Filipino film, The Muzzled Horse of an Engineer in Search of Mechanical Saddles by Khavn De La Cruz. A Variety story says Invisible City by Singaporean director Tan Pin Pin is in the Forum lineup as well, though the festival press release doesn't mention it.

The full Berlinale program will be released on January 29, so more will be revealed then. The Berlin International Film Festival runs from February 7 to 17.

(Via, Variety, Berlin International Film Festival website)

More love for the Love of Siam

I finally was able to reserve a ticket to Chukiat Sakweerakul's The Love of Siam Director's Cut screening at House cinema on Royal City Avenue in Bangkok, only to be told that it does not include English subtitles. This news is disappointing, heartbreaking even, because I don't speak Thai, and though I am familiar with the film, I fear that much will be lost in the non-translation.

At the same time of hearing this bad news, I received an e-mail from Chiang Mai Mail movie correspondent Mark Gernpy, who has seen the Director's Cut. He knows the film better than I do. He has these things to say:

First off, it is only three hours long, not four. In talking with the manager [of House] she told me that when the subject of the Director’s Cut first came up, they were told it would be four hours long, but when it actually arrived it was only three. I have to say that for me the additional 30 minutes (approximately) contains absolutely essential material that needs to be seen. In addition, after the film has finished, House now screens another 20 minutes of Love of Siam material: a compilation of additional deleted scenes and what looks to me like outtakes. Of this material, only one segment do I think cries out to be in the movie, a short sequence where Music [or Mew] as a young boy is playing the piano as his grandmother dies, propped up in her bed, listening to him play. A nice touch.

Second, there are no English subtitles; it’s all in Thai, so be forewarned. I missed a lot of details because of this, but I know the movie pretty well, and almost always knew what was going on. The one big exception was a sequence that brought a roar of laughter from the audience, in a crucial scene that the commercial version needs badly. In the released version, Music’s return to the band at the last minute has always seemed unprepared and unmotivated. This short scene eases a bit his abrupt change of heart. As he makes his entrance to the rehearsal room on his return, he is greeted by the guitarist with what a Thai friend tells me is a slang phrase welcoming him back, which is not easy to translate to English without sounding too offensive, but would mean something to the effect of "SHE IS BACK!” Then apparently the big joke is that in explaining his prolonged absence from the band, his friend “X” says that Music was needed in recording an album, “Gay Power 4.” Music looked abashed, but it was done in a good-natured way, and anyway the audience erupted in laughter. It’s referred to in the list of cuts below as Cut Number 5.

Third, if you go, wear a parka. I am now used to the fact that Thai movie theaters can be very cold; I always bring a jacket along, as well as earplugs. But this was the coldest theater I have ever been in, in my entire life. My teeth were chattering at the end; all of my farang friends with me, and even a few of the Thai, were astounded at the cold, and in pain. I know it’s a hot movie, but this is no way to compensate.

Yes, this version is better than the commercially released one. There’s a lot of additional material on the younger boys’ relationship, showing they really had a close bond, helping each other out considerably over the rough times of growing up. A couple of plot points are cleared up. Things are sharper. It’s more fun. Makes more sense. The three-hour version should become the standard version, no doubt about it.

Want to know more? Bangkok of the Mind has a two-part posting (Part 1 and Part 2) that details all the missing scenes.

Still can't get enough? Well, the young stars of The Love of Siam will appear in a charity Special Greeting Concert at 1pm and 6pm on February 9 at CentralWorld in Bangkok. The show will feature Mario Maurer (Tong), Witwisit Hirunwongkul (Mew), Aticha Pongsilpipat (Donut) and some surprise guests. The "commercial" version of the film will be revived at SF World Cinema as part of the event, and there will be a collection of souvenirs on offer. Tickets are Bt350, available at SF Cinema ticket counters.

Still not enough? Well, how about a Love of Siam Special Edition DVD? Deknang has been posting what I guess are unofficial mock-ups on its Popcornmag forum, featuring a package that would include four discs and the wooden Christmas doll that is featured in the film. It'll be interesting to see if Deknang's dream vision makes it to store shelves. Even without English subtitles, a special edition DVD with that wooden toy - the nose included - would be worth having.

The success and staying power of the film has been phenomenal. Marketed as a (straight) teenage romance when it was first released, the multi-faceted exploration of teenage sexuality and family dysfunction was only scheduled in cinemas for about a month after its release in November. But it has since gone on to build up its own grassroots base of fans, who have bought the soundtrack, packed into the Director's Cut screenings, followed the stars around as they make appearances and cheered the film as it wins awards.

Recently, it swept the top five categories at the Starpics Awards, and more accolades are sure to come when the Bangkok Critics' Assembly and the Supannahong Awards are announced.

More information:

First Thailand Script Project awards cash to two

The first Thailand Script Project has awarded 100,000 baht prizes to two writers who represent a glimmer of hope for Thai cinema, reports Kong Rithdee in today's Bangkok Post Real Time section.

The winners are Sumit Tiangtrongchit, who wrote an "oddball social-comedy" called White Buffalo, about women in a northeastern Thailand village who are obsessed with finding Westerner husbands. Watanachon Kongton won for Mitrapap Khong Rao (Our Friendship), which tells the story of a dying Bangkok doctor who goes to work in a hospital in insurgency-torn southern Thailand.

The hopefully annual project was initiated last August by Thai New Wave directors Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Nonzee Nimibutr, in a bid to bring out Thailand's "hidden talent." They modelled the project after Rotterdam's Cinemart and the Pusan Promotion Plan.

More than 800 scripts were submitted, and from these, 40 writers were selected to take part in a screenwriting workshop with Pen-ek, Nonzee and other Thai film industry figures. Out of the 40, 15 scriptwriters were given a chance to meet one-on-one with producers, in an effort to pitch their scripts. The prizewinners were chosen from this top 15, and the awards were handed out last Sunday at the Thailand Creative and Design Center.

One of the judges of the prize committee was Kong Rithdee himself. He has this to say about the experience:

I was surprised by the generally impressive quality of the scripts. Most of them are 'commercial' scripts - meaning they're written more with the hope of getting made by investors than with artsy pretensions - and many of them display striking intelligence and dimensions. In short, a number of them were better than the scripts of most Thai movies released over the past few years.

The two winning screenplays, for example, represent what's missing in current Thai cinema: contemporary relevance.

Of the two, White Buffalo, which probes attitudes towards interracial marriage with a fair-minded comedic approach, sounds the most commercially viable, says Kong. Mitraphap Khong Rao, with themes that strike at the heart of the Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand, would require a far more adventurous soul to bring to the big screen under the stifling political and cultural climate in the Kingdom. The hope, though, is that if there are writers who are brave enough to tackle the issue, perhaps a producer and director might be inspired?

(via Bangkok Post Real Time, photo credit: Thailand Script Project's site, Prachya Pinkaew and Pen-ek Ratanaruang at workshop in October 2007)

Chocolate star on the talk show circuit

Chocolate star Nicharee "Jeeja" Vismistananda appeared on Channel 5 Thailand's Joh Jai talk-variety show last night, performing live with some stuntmen and introducing an extended 2-minute clip of a scene from the film.

The clip, which appeared to be an entire scene, has her character taking on a group of guys in a boxing gym/warehouse, dispatching them with acrobatic techniques involving lots of Muay Thai kicks to heads and spinning like a dervish. It's pretty exciting, and I think it offers a taste of the bravura camera work that director Prachya Pinkaew employed with Tony Jaa on Tom Yum Goong.

I wasn't able to capture the scene, and I looked around in vain for a video from both the Channel 5 website and from Joh Jai. Hopefully, somebody did capture it and the segment will soon start popping up on video-sharing sites and torrent networks, if it hasn't already, to add to the already popular promo reels that have already flooded the 'Net.

For me, seeing the segment builds the anticipation about seeing this film, and feeling the excitement of watching the promotional efforts build and build, with such things as Chocolate comic books and a string of 10-story-high Chocolate billboards along the expressway.

Chocolate opens in Thailand cinemas on February 6.

(Via Deknang)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fan Chan star urges children to see Once Upon a Time

Young actor Charlie “Nat” Trairat of Fan Chan and Dorm is asking children and their families to see Bhandit Rittakol’s classic 1995 drama, Once Upon a Time … This Morning, which is screening at the 2nd International Children’s Film Festival at 4.30pm on Saturday, January 26, at Major Cineplex Pinklao.

It was his first film, and he played a toddler.

Once Upon a Time was my first film,” says Charlie, 15, who was around two years old at the time. “I played a baby in a pram.”

In the film, Santisuk Promsiri and Jintara Sukapat portray the baby’s parents. In 2006, a more grown up Charlie shared the screen with Jintara again, in Dorm.

“This is a good film,” says Charlie of Once Upon a Time. “I feel so glad when I watch this film with my family and share our impressions of it together.”

Charlie's statements were reported on the website of The Nation. Here's what the story has to say about the film:

Once Upon a Time is a drama about a group of children from a broken home. After their parents are divorced, the children are forced to live with the mother even though they have a much closer and better relationship with their father.

After an argument with their mother, they decide to run away from their mother's care to search for their father. An adventure begins as the children set out by train to follow their father up North, where they get accidentally tangled up with a drug dealer and a gang of homeless youngsters.

Once Upon a Time ... This Morning (Kalla khrung nueng... muea chao nee) was Thailand’s submission for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 1995. It won Best Picture at the Thailand National Film Association Awards.

Organised by the Thai Film Foundation and the Knowledge Management and Development Office, the 2nd International Children’s Film Festival continues until Sunday at Major Cineplex Pinklao and TK Park in CentralWorld.

(Via The Nation)

Tata Young may act in Bollywood film

"Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy" Thai-American pop star Tata Young will reportedly return to acting in a Bollywood film, according to the India Times.

As a squeaky-clean teen star, Tata acted in some Thai films, including Red Bike Story and O-Negative. She's also no stranger to Bollywood, having covered the title track to 2004's Dhoom. The resulting song and "sizzling" music video, Dhoom Dhoom, were huge hits in India.

Here's more from the India Times report:

If all goes well the item girl Tata Young might make her acting debut in Bollywood very soon. According to sources Tata Young has been approached for a film which will also star Emraan Hashmi and Pakistani actress Meera.

Not much else is known about the film, the India Times says. They can only speculate on whom Emraan will be kissing, which, I guess, is of vital importance in the great scheme of things. The film will reportedly be directed by screenwriter Shyam Gupta in his directorial debut.

If Tata does end up in the film, her turn will come after Thai-Danish actress-model Lena Christensen, recently seen in Bombay to Bangkok, which has gotten mixed reviews in India.

(Photo credit: Creative Commons licensed photo by Sry85 via Wikimedia Commons)

Producer, wife plead not guilty in Bangkok International Film Festival bribery scandal

Indicted for violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Hollywood producer Gerald Green, 75, and his wife, Patricia Green, 52, have pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom.

The Greens are accused of paying more than US$900,000 in bribes to a Thai government official in exchange for allowing the Greens' company, Festival Management, to run the Bangkok International Film Festival.

They were arrested on December 17, at Los Angeles International Airport, after arriving on a flight from Thailand, according to the Associated Press.

The ensuing scandal has tainted the Thai government official, who has been identified as Juthamas Siriwan, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand from 2002 to 2006, and president of the Bangkok International Film Festival from 2003 to 2006. The arrest of the Greens came just days before the December 23 general election in Thailand, with Juthamas as a deputy leader of one of the parties. She resigned from the Puea Pandin (For the Motherland) party, which has since become a partner in a new coalition government.

Festival Management had been slated to run the festival through last year, but after the 2006 military coup in Thailand, the budget for the fest was slashed, and newly appointed officials in the Tourism Authority broke the contract with the Greens.

More information:
(Via Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Google News)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The war over Air Hostess War

I find Thai TV soap operas upsetting. Period. So I don't watch them.

But a group of Thai Airways International flight attendants can't change the channel, pop in a DVD or turn off the set and read a book. They find one particular program upsetting: Songkhram Nang Fah (The Air Hostess War or Battle of the Angels), which has just just started airing on Thai TV Channel 5. And they are making a national issue out of it.

The female lead is a charming flight attendant, the envy of her co-workers, and a married pilot takes a fancy to her. As with all Thai soaps, there is the usual overacting, screaming, hissy fits and unrealistic, overwraught melodrama. At one point, a girlfight breaks out over the saucy flight attendant and the lusty captain.

Thai Airways' in-flight manager Pichitra Taveerat told the Bangkok Post yesterday that she found the uniforms worn by female flight attendants in the show were inappropriate. The skirts were too short and the attendants showed too much cleavage, she said.

The Thai Airways flight attendants' union is calling for the show to be toned down. They have petitioned the Ministry of Culture, and will go to the the National Human Rights Commission and the Royal Thai Air Force, asking them to weigh in on their side, according to the Bangkok Post today.

"Exact, which produces this show, must be responsible to society and suspend the airing until the content is adjusted so that it is not so exaggerated," union chairman Somsak Srinuan was quoted as saying by The Nation.

The story has been picked up in the international press, with The New York Times, Reuters, The Guardian and The Independent among the hundred or so outlets covering it.

Says Noppadol Thaungthong, a flight attendant leading the cause:

This soap opera is insulting and damaging to the reputation of flight attendants. It’s all about sex and air hostesses beating each other up in the cabin because of love and jealousy. This kind of thing never happens. We are demanding that the station and the producers immediately stop airing this ugly soap opera.

In the show's defense, one of the actresses, Panwad Hemmanee, said it's not all about catfights, short skirts, cleavage and marital infidelity. She was quoted in The Nation:

We've got no intention to offend, it's a reflection of human reality that is full of love, greed, anger and obsession - be they in any kind of profession.

Oh wait, it is about catfights, short skirts, cleavage and marital infidelity. But Panwad added there were also many good characters among the flight attendants in the show.

More information:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Birth of the Seanama at Bangkok Fringe

The Bangkok Fringe Festival 2008 is on at Patravadi Theatre, being held on weekends for the next four weeks, and in addition to many fine performances of contemporary dance and theatre, there is a sidebar for film, which is put together by the Thai Film Foundation. The films will be shown over the weekends of February 2-3 and February 16-17.

One of the more important works to be shown, according to Limitless Cinema, is Birth of the Seanama by Sasithorn Ariyavicha. Here is what Limitless Cinema's Jit has to say to me about it:

I hope you will have a chance to go to see Birth of the Seanama in this Fringe Festival. I think this film is rarely screened. I’m not surprised many people haven’t seen it. It was shown in the Thai Short Film Festival in 2004, then it was shown at Thammasat University Library in 2004, then it was shown in the Bangkok International Film Festival in 2005. That means it may have been shown only three times in Bangkok in the past. So don’t miss this upcoming chance. The brochure says it will be shown at Patravadi Theatre on February 16 at 17.00 hrs.

The Bangkok Fringe Festival film program offers a mix of Thai and Southeast Asian short films and independent features. From Malaysia, there's Love Conquers All by Tan Cui Mui, which won the New Currents Award at the 2006 Pusan International Film Festival; James Lee's Before We Fall in Love Again, the Best Asean Film of the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival, and the controversial The Last Communist by Amir Muhammad. There will also be a chance to see Stories from the North, the 2005 feature by Uruphong Raksasad.

For more on the schedule, please see Limitless Cinema in Broken English.

More information:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pen-ek: "I'm going into the jungle"

David Cronenberg's excellent Eastern Promises is showing at the Lido in Siam Square, and I caught the 6:30 show there last night.

Blown away by the film, I wandered out of the theater in a daze and somehow stumbled onto the Skytrain. I was standing in the carriage, when I looked across and noticed Pen-ek Ratanaruang standing right across from me.

I'd only briefly met him before, so I had to go over, get in his face and introduce myself. I then said I'd just come from Eastern Promises, hoping that would explain why I was acting kinda freaked out. Well, he understood, because he'd been in the same show!

"It's the first film I've been to in three months," he said. "I've been taking a break from film."

After noting that he'd picked a great film to break his film fast with, and chatting enjoyably about the film we'd just seen, I had to ask him what his plans are, and he says he's been writing.

"I want to make a film this year," he said. "I'm going into the jungle."

He said he hopes to start production on the project sometime in October, for possible release in 2009. In terms of the scale and scheme of the production, it will likely be similar to Ploy, though maybe a bit bigger.

At that point, for reasons I still can't explain, I got off the train, stumbling away into the night, reeling with the double-whammy of being wowed by David Cronenberg, and then meeting another great filmmaker in the flesh.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Love of Siam Director's Cut sold out, show extended - UPDATE

As evidenced by the five-hour lineup for tickets to the screenings of The Love of Siam Director's Cut, this arthouse revival of Chukiat Sakweerakul's romantic drama has proven popular. Indeed, the show has been sold out since tickets went on sale on Monday.

The show opened Thursday night, and it was supposed to run until January 23, with the plan to add more screenings if there was the demand. Well, the demand is there, beyond anyone's expectations, I think.

On a visit to House cinema, I found out that the shows are sold out until February 6. On January 22, the cinema will start accepting bookings again.

Perhaps the best Valentine's Day gift anyone could give would be a ticket to The Love of Siam Director's Cut.

More information:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trailers for Handle Me With Care, Soul's Code

Since I last wrote about Kod (Handle Me With Care), I hadn't seen the trailer. Well, now there is one. The website is live, too. A romantic comedy for Grammy Tai Hub by screenwriter-director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, the story has been described as being about the relationship between a three-armed man and a big-bosomed woman.

The trailer is amazing, with some real, I can't help myself, sleight of hand being used to give the illusion of the man having a third arm.

Handle Me With Care opens in Thailand cinemas on February 21, the same day another Thai film, something called Soul's Code, opens. It appears to be a ghostly crime thriller. From Alangkarn Studio, there's a trailer for it at YouTube, and a big gallery of posters.

More information:

(Via 24 Frames per Second, Deknang)

Supakorn Kitsuwan in Busaba Bold and Beautiful

Supakorn Kitsuwan, a talented stage and screen actor, is in at least three of my favorite films: Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Monrak Transistor and the insane zombie comedy, SARS Wars.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I flipped on the television to watch a DVD, but before I could hit the auxiliary button, I caught this versatile talent appearing on a variety show, and he was impersonating Elvis and Suraphol Sombatcharoen.

But now it has come to this. Supakorn is co-starring in a Phranakorn studio film, Busaba Bold and Beautiful (Suay Sing Krating Sab).

The story has been translated thusly by a co-worker:

Pod (Supakorn) and Ad (TV star Weeraphap Suphappaibul) are crooks living in Bangkok. The father of Pod's childhood girlfriend Dao (TV actress Suwanan Kingying) comes to plead with Pod to find his runaway daughter and bring her back home.

Dao was to be married to a local official whom she despised. Quite a con and a thief herself, she got Po and Ad involved in a big diamond heist. Diamonds in their hands, the three decided to keep the diamonds. On the run from the rest of the gang they keep on falling into hilarious situations.

Pod and Ad fall in love with Dao and she uses her charms to swindle them for diamonds, too.

Veteran comedian Jaraspong "Too" Surasawadee also stars.

Somehow, through the love triangle and all the diamond-heist shenanigans, there will be room for the usual fart jokes, racist slurs and annoying sound effects that find their way into all Thai comedy films, especially those from Phranakorn.

But hey, at least Supakorn is getting work. And for that, I'm happy.

Busaba Bold and Beautiful opens in Thailand cinemas on January 24.