Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Blu-ray in Hong Kong: Laddaland

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

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

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

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

(Thanks Logboy!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pen-ek's Headshot comes home

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's latest feature Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah, ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า) opens this week in Thailand after premiering on the festival circuit.

Based on a short novel by acclaimed Thai writer Win Lyovarin, it's a film-noir flavored thriller about a hitman who is shot and wakes up from a coma and sees everything upside-down. He then finds himself the target of revenge killers and has to go on the run.

Headshot was initially set for release in Thailand on November 3 but was then postponed because of the floods in suburban Bangkok. It had been penciled in for December 1, but when the Twilight movie Breaking Dawn settled on that date for its Thai release, Headshot was shifted a week earlier to avoid a clash. Apparently, those teenybopper vampires and werewolves are popular in Thailand, though I have no idea why.

This is the first feature that Pen-ek's done without the Thai studio Five Star Production. He's gone the indie route and is now with the upstart production marque Local Color, started by producer Pawas Sawatchaiyamet (formerly Saksiri Chantarangsri). The Thai release is similar to other indie Thai films in that it's limited to just the SF cinemas chain rather than being blanketed in all the multiplexes.

The press screening was last night at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, where the ceiling of eighth-floor events area was festooned with upside-down umbrellas as a way of playing on Headshot's Thai title Fon Tok Kuen Fah, literally "rain falling up to the sky".

I've got a review in the works. I liked it and will post my thoughts about it here in a few days.

Headshot had its world premiere back in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It also screened in competition at the Tokyo fest, where Pen-ek did an official interview. You can read it at the festival website.

The film also screened at the Vancouver fest, where IndieWire gave it a favorable review.

Internationally, the distribution rights are being handled by Memento, which has previously done deals with Aditya Assarat for Wonderful Town and Hi-So. Wild Side – coolest meowing cat logo since MTM Enterprises – has French rights and Kino Lorber for North America. Further support for the film has come from the Culture Ministry's Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, the Goteborg International Film Festival Fund and the Tokyo Project Gathering.

There's a Thai trailer for Headshot and it's embedded below.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roundup: Yes or No in HK, Killers in Indonesia

Notes from a couple film festivals in the region:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Watch this: Trailer for the 2011 Luang Prabang Film Festival

The folks from the Luang Prabang Film Festival have put together a trailer of highlights for this year's edition. It's embedded above.

The fest runs from December 3 to 7 in Laos' former royal capital and Unesco World Heritage site, and features movies from across Southeast Asia. The schedule is posted at Facebook.

If the trailer seems a bit heavy on Thai action and Dan Chupong, keep in mind the Thai stunt star is in two movies at the fest – Tabunfire, a.k.a. Kon Fai Bin or Dynamite Warrior, and the high-seas fantasy Queens of Langkasuka. I expect all the Thai movies – the boxing documentary Lumpinee and the Isaan childhood friendship story Panya Reanu, as well as the Lao-Thai co-production Lao Wedding, are also in the fest – will crowd-pleasers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roundup: Eternity and a flood of other Thai films around the world

Thailand is still coping with the severe flooding around Bangkok, which has disrupted the movie business, with a dozen or cinemas closed and World Film Festival of Bangkok postponed.

Movie-industry PR guy Scott Rosenberg, hit by floods himself, talked to the local multiplex chains to find out how they are doing.

Film programmer and publisher Sonthaya Subyen was flooded out and lost some 16mm films including footage of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Mysterious Object at Noon, according to the Bangkok Post, which also details how the Thai Film Archive's been surviving.

The release of some big movies like Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Headshot and Prachya Pinkaew's The Kick have been delayed until next month though some other Thai movies have gone ahead with their releases, which I've been noting on the Bangkok Cinema Scene blog, and done well in spite of the floods, according to Film Business Asia.

And there's stuff happening for Thai films elsewhere in the region and across the globe. Here's a look:

  • The Cinemanila International Film Festival started today. It's always been an important platform for Thai and other Southeast Asian films. This year's roster will really confuse audiences as there are two films from Thailand called Eternity. One goes by the Thai title Tee Rak (ที่รัก). The debut feature by indie director Sivaroj Kongsakul is in the Southeast Asian Competition. And that other Eternity is Chua Fah Din Salai (ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย), the lavish, big-budget costume drama by ML Bhandevanop Devakula and starring Ananda Everingham and Ploy Chermarn. It's in the non-competition Asian Cinema program along with Apichatpong Weerasethakul's celebrated Cannes Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Quattro Hong Kong 2, which has a segment by Apichatpong. The musical documentary Baby Arabia is playing in the documentary section. Check out the whole line-up at the festival website.
  • That other Eternity, that is the costume love-triangle drama by "Mom Noi" Bhandevanop, will also be featured at the Asean Film Festival in Bali on November 16 and 17. It's held in conjunction with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and will include seminars other functions.
  • And, to really confuse matters, the indie Eternity is playing on Sunday at the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. Just to be clear, this is Sivaroj's Tee Rak, not that other one. Twitch's Mack has a review.
  • Classic Thai films are screening in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art's "In Focus: Fortissimo Films" program, which includes Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger, Pen-ek Ratanruang's Last Life in the Universe and The Eye by the Pang brothers. The program is a tribute to the Dutch-Hong Kong film company that helped introduce Asian films to the world stage in the early part of this century. Thai films especially benefitted from the guiding hand of Fortissimo co-founder Wouter Barendrecht, who died in 2009 at the age of 43. The Hollywood Reporter has more on the MoMA film series.
  • Thai films were featured at the recent American Film Market, where a Thai Night was planned. Yuthlert Sippapak's boyband action flick Bangkok Kung Fu was screened there, represented by Golden Network Asia. Sahamongkolfilm International was promoting Prachya Pinkaew's The Kick and it picked up worldwide sales rights to 23:59, a Singaporean boot-camp horror thriller.
  • And back closer to Bangkok, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's multimedia exhibition For Tomorrow, For Tonight goes on show from November 26 to February 10 at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing.