Monday, July 30, 2012

Classic Thai horror-movie poster art

The exhibition of film poster art by Chawana Boonchoo just wrapped up over the weekend at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, and now there's another gallery of classic movie posters online at Monster Brains.

There are dozens of posters to gander at, all displayed in a very large size.

They are mostly posters for the Thai releases of Hollywood horror and sci-fi films of the 1970s and '80s.

The movies include Jaws, The Evil Dead, Ghoulies, Nightmare on Elm Street, An American Werewolf in London, Terminator and Robocop.

There's even one for the original Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. However, I can't believe the Thai artist missed an opportunity to paint a three-breasted woman.

There are also a few posters for Thai films, such as the Sompote Sands crocodile creature feature Krai Thong, and even a Hong Kong flick, Sammo Hung's Close Encounters of a Spooky Kind II.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

GTH says happy birthday to itself with Seven Something

Nearly 10 years have passed since production companies GMM Pictures, Tai Entertainment and Hub Ho Hin collaborated on the now-classic hit childhood romance Fan Chan. The companies formally merged in 2004, forming a movie-making machine that's churned out a solid string of hits, many of which are critically acclaimed.

Plans to mark the studio's auspicious seventh anniversary have been in the works for a long time and were due to be held last year but for one reason or another things were delayed, and it's only just now they are getting around to having the big party.

The Nation has more on that as well as other details about how GTH makes its movies.

The special film marking the seventh anniversary is Seven Something (รัก 7 ปี ดี 7 หน, Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon) a three-segment drama that looks at the stages of life at various seven-year cycles.

The first part, directed by Paween Purijitpanya, and starring Jirayu La-ongmanee and Suthata Udomsilp is about romance at the age of 14.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, which covers a celebrity couple (Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang) breaking up when they are 21 and reuniting at age 28.

Jira Maligool directs the third part, which features boyband star Nichkhun Horvejkul and newscaster Sukwan Bulakul in a story about a female marathon runner going through a crisis at age 42.

Most of the cast and crew have all been a major part of GTH's success.

Director Paween did the well-regarded horror thriller Body #19 and also had a hand in the hit horror compilations Phobia and Phobia 2. His segment in Seven Something, called 14, marks a departure for him as he makes a foray into teen romance.

Young actor Jirayu was in last year's hit rock 'n' roll romance SuckSeed while actress Suthata was in another big GTH hit from last year, the psychological thriller Laddaland.

Adisorn is one of the six directors of Fan Chan and also directed and co-wrote the hit romance Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story. His segment, 21/28 reunites him with his BT(L)S leading lady Cris Horwang, who co-stars with Sunny, the star of the big GTH hit romance Dear Dakanda.

And Jira, a co-founder of the studio, marks his return to directing for the first time since 2005's historical drama The Tin Mine.

His segment, 42.195, about marathon runners, has a pair of acting newcomers – veteran newscaster Sukwan Bulakul and singer Nichkhun Horvejkul. Despite the presence of many big stars in the movie, it's been the popular Nichkhun – a member of the South Korean boyband 2PM – who's been getting the most attention from fans, the media and promoters at the studio. However, a drunken-driving arrest will likely mean further promotional appearances by Nichkhun on behalf of the film will be curtailed.

There will also be cameos and supporting appearances by other GTH stars. Among them is Panissara "Opal" Phimpru, who's been the saucy comic-relief character in several GTH films, most notably Dear Dakanda. Show's moved on from acting in films and is now a popular TV personality and hostess of special events.

There's an international version of the trailer, embedded below.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

P-047 opens in limited Thai release

Having toured the festival circuit for the past year or so, Kongej Jaturanrasmee's trippy psychological drama P-047 (Tae Peang Phu Deaw, แต่เพียงผู้เดียว) returns to Thailand this week for a limited theatrical release.

Opening today, it's the first indie production for Kongdej, a film-industry veteran as both a writer-director (Sayew, Midnight My Love, Handle Me with Care) and hired-gun screenwriter (Me ... Myself, Tom-Yum-Goong, Happy Birthday).

In a look at the meanings of identity and personality, P-047 is the story of a lonely locksmith (musician Apichai Tragoolpadetgrai) who joins up with an aspiring writer (Parinya Ngamwongwan) to break into other people's homes – not to steal anything but just to temporarily "borrow" the lives of others. But things go off the rails when they pry too deeply into someone else's life.

P-047 premiered last year at the Venice fest, where it was a last-minute addition to the out-of-competition program. Other appearances have included Busan, Palm Springs, Singapore, Osaka, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

At last month's LA Film Fest, the Awards Circuit's Joseph Braverman had this to say about P-047:

The last movie I saw was disjunctive, confusing, yet eerily fascinating. Director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee’s P-047 really reminded me of a Wong Kar-wai film. Nothing made sense, the story was fragmented into bits, and things you may think are real actually might not be. I’ll need to take a second look at this film to really piece together everything, but right now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to decide if I liked the movie or not. I guess you’ll find out in my review, but it was difficult to turn away from this Thai-based foreign language film. The acting is incredibly strong, although the characters don’t always behave like what they initially portray themselves to be the further along the film progress, but I assume that’s intentionally so. If you thought Prometheus was confusing, then P-047 may just leave you forever stumped. If you find the thread that connects each piece or unearth the hidden meanings behind every scene and piece of dialogue, then I proclaim you a genius. P-047 both baffles and stimulates, but Kongdej Jaturanrasamee has a ways to go before he can contend with Wong Kar-wai, although this was a valiant attempt.

I too welcome a second chance to see P-047, having seen it only once so far at the 9th World Film Festival of Bangkok earlier this year.

In Bangkok, it'll be screening at the Lido in Siam Square and at the Esplanade Cineplex Ratchadaphisek and in Chiang Mai at the Major Cineplex.

The trailer is embedded below.

Traces of Southeast Asian cinema at Jim Thompson Art Center

Photos and video art from across Southeast Asia are featured in the  Traces exhibition at the Jim Thompson Art Center on Kasemsan Soi 2, near the National Stadium BTS station in Bangkok.

Of interest to cinema-buffs will be a display of photos from the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, with images of the old stand-alone cinemas across Thailand, Laos and Burma. Some are still in operation but most are closed or have been relegated to other uses, such as car parking or as a dressing room for prostitutes.

Among the video installations is Bangkok in the Evening by Sompot Chidgasornpongse, which captures Bangkokians as they pause their daily routines and stand still for the 6pm playing of the national anthem. Sompot is a former assistant director of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and is at work on his debut feature, Are We There Yet?, due out sometime soon, hopefully.

Also of note is Nguyen Trinh Thi’s Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over, a documentary on the Ho Chi Minh Trail that turns into a look at censorship when the filmmakers are detained for questioning by police and the camera kept rolling. It previously screened at this year's Bangkok Experimental Film Festival.

An entertaining video is Ho Tzu Nyen’s Utama – Every Name in History is I, which is a fantastical look at the legendary ancient history of Singapore. It reminds me of the cheesy Chinese fantasy TV series that are broadcast daily on Thai TV.

Traces runs until October 31 at the Jim Thompson Art Centre, which is open daily and has free admission.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Film poster art by Chawana Boonchoo at BACC until July 29

Film posters, especially Thai film posters, used to be more of an art than they are today in this age of Photoshop and giant floating heads.

The artistry of movie posters and billboards was at its height during the 1960s and '70s when artists would hand-paint the posters as well as billboards, featuring colorfully lavish, intricate compositions that would capture the key moments and visual elements of the films in all their explosive fury. Who needs to watch a movie trailer when you can just be blown away by the poster?

Among the artists working in this medium was Chawana Boonchoo, who's since gone on to be respected for his nature paintings.

The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, in cooperation with the Thai Film Archive, is hosting an exhibition of Chawana's movie posters. It runs until July 29 on the 2nd and 3rd floors at the BACC.

Check Facebook for a photo gallery from the exhibition opening.

Festival roundup: Headshot in Dallas, Montreal and New Delhi

Pen-ek Ratanruang's upside-down hitman thriller Headshot continues to make its way around the the festival circuit, with appearances along with many other Thai films at three festivals.

It's at 11th Asian Film Festival of Dallas, which started on Thursday and runs until July 19. In addition to Headshot, AFFD also has Davy Chou's documentary on the lost golden age of Cambodian cinema, Golden Slumbers.

Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival, running July 19 to August 9, also has Headshot. It's part of a fun line-up that also includes rapper Joey Boy's hip-hop-horror-zombie-comedy Dead Bite and Prachya Pinkaew's Korean-Thai martial-arts hybrid The Kick.

Finally, back from a two-year hiatus, is the 12th Osian's Cinefan Film Festival, running from July 27 to August 5 in New Delhi. Check Film Business Asia for the line-up. Cinefan has Headshot, making its Indian premiere in the Asian and Arab Competition alongside Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Mekong Hotel.

Another Thai entry in the Osian's fest is Wichanon Somumjarn's In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire. It's in the First Features in Competition. In April recently premiered in Bangkok as part of the MovieMov Italian Film Festival. It screened on a weeknight when I'm always busy working a job-type job and I'm hoping the producers at Electric Eel will be able to wrangle a run for it in Bangkok cinemas, otherwise I'll probably never see it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Aditya's White Buffalo grazes on Hubert Bals funds

Wonderful Town and Hi-So director Aditya Assarat's third feature project, White Buffalo, moves into another phase of funding, having been chosen for the spring round of funding from the Hubert Bals fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

It's been earmarked for script and project development.

White Buffalo has previously been shopped around at such project markets as Ties That Bind in Udine and this year's edition of Cinemart in Rotterdam.

"It'll be about you," he told me awhile back. "It's about a foreigner living in Thailand."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Security cameras reveal the horrors of Yuthlert's and Tiwa's Heaven and Hell

For his past several films, genre-hopping director Yuthlert Sippapak has been collaborating with talented cinematographer Tiwa Moeithaisong.

Now the two team up to direct  Heaven and Hell (Wong Jorn Pid, วงจรปิด), an omnibus of shorts that join the trend of fake "found footage" movies.

The project sees Yuthlert, the prolific director of the Buppa Rahtree ghost-thriller franchise, return to the horror genre. Hopefully, he and Tiwa, who himself directed the controversial-but-stylish cannibalism thriller Meat Grinder, will bring something fresh to the now tiresome "found footage" genre with the scary tales that purport to be captured from security cameras in three places: a broken-down elevator (Hell No. 8), a convenience store (the cheekily named Heaven 11) and a creepy old house (Ghost Legacy).

In Thai cinemas today, it's released by Phranakorn, and there's already a push for international sales with the release of an English-subtitled trailer, embedded below.

Meanwhile, the always-busy Yuthlert has the terrorism tale Fatherland, in the works, starring Ananda Everingham, and I'm wondering if he's finished his Meu Puen Three Pak trilogy of hitman films that team veteran comedians with pretty actresses. After the pretty good Saturday Killer and the even better Friday Killer, left hanging is Sunday Killer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Apichatpong-a-rama: A giant ghost in a German park

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, collaborating with his partner  Chaisiri Jiwarangsan, moves into the realm of sculpture with The Importance of Telepathy, a 5-meter-tall statue that's being exhibited in Karlsaue Park in Kassel, Germany, until September 16, as part of dOCUMENTA (13),  2012

A video posted by Thorsten on Vimeo is embedded above.

And there's another one on
YouTube, embedded below, though I think it would be better without the musicial accompaniment.

According to the YouTube posting, the sculpture is in memory of "the victims of political violence in Thailand".

More about the ghost statue can be found in a Bangkok Post article, in which Apichatpong is quoted as saying:

"Film is transient, an illusion. The belief of phantoms I have is very concrete, so I solidified it. It may be seen as a haunting object."

Meanwhile, the international competition jury that Apichatpong is heading at Switzerland's Locarno Film Festival is growing. South Korean director Im Sang-soo the international competition jury and Malaysia's Ho Yu Hang as part of the Filmmakers of the Present jury. The jury will also include Pulp Fiction producer Roger Avary, and film critic Dennis Lim is part of panel picking the best film from a new director. the Locarno fest runs August 1 to 11.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the five indie Thai films in Bangkok's Italian Film Festival

Now in its second year, the MovieMov Italian Film Festival in Bangkok will again feature a selection of Thai films.

This year it's five indie movies, most of which have been critically acclaimed hits on the world's festival circuit.

They include 2009's Mundane History (Jao Nok Krajok, เจ้านกกระจอก) by Anocha Suwichakornpong; Tanwarin Sukkhapisit’s transsexual romance It Gets Better (ไม่ได้ขอให้มารั, Mai Dai Kor Hai Ma Rak); Tongpong Chantarangkul’s I Carried You Home (Padang Besar, ปาดังเบซา); and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s lengthy documentary Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbours (from last year's Venice festival).

And, from this year's Rotterdam fest there will be the Bangkok premiere of In April the Following Year There Was a Fire (Sin Mesa Fon Tok Ma Proy Proy, สิ้นเมษาฝนตกมาปรอยปรอย, a.k.a. Like Raining at the End of April), the debut feature by award-winning Four Boys, White Whisky and Grilled Mouse director Wichanon Somumjarn. It was recently featured in the new cinema competition at the 48th Pesaro Film Festival in Italy.

Opening Wednesday, the highlight of this year's Italian film fest is the retrospective of all of Sergio Leone's features, from The Collossus of Rhodes, to his spaghetti westerns, including The Man with No Name trilogy with Clint Eastwood, as well as Duck, You Sucker (a.k.a. A Fistful of Dynamite), Once Upon a Time in the West and the gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America. They'll apparently screen with an Italian soundtrack with English and Thai subtitles.

There's also newer Italian films, including the closing film, Dracula 3D, the latest film by horror master Dario Argento.

Held at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, admission is free, with tickets being handed out 30 minutes beforehand. As with the other free film fests in Bangkok, movie-goers should anticipate standing in line an hour or two before show time to get these precious freebies. And with the rare chance to see the classic Leone films on the big screen, I think lot of thrifty punters will be turning out, so plan accordingly if you want to get a good seat.