Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 preview: More Mae Nak, Pen-ek on politics, Adam Yukol's debut and Film Bangkok from the ashes

The first still from Banjong Pisanthankun's Pee Mak Phra Khanong.

The Nation yesterday detailed 2013's coming attractions from the Thai film industry, with highlights including a new take on the "Mae Nak Phra Khanong" ghost story, the resurrection of the old Film Bangkok studio, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's political documentary Paradoxcracy and the debut feature from Chalermchatri "Adam" Yukol, son of MC Chatrichalerm Yukol.

Banjong Pisanthanakun, half of the Shutter/Alone director duo, is making Phee Mak Phra Khanong, which will offer a fresh take on the ghost story that's been made into dozens of movies before. This time, it'll be from the perspective of the husband Mak and his buddies. Mario Maurer stars, marking his first feature with the GTH studio. The rest of the cast includes the hilarious quartet of actors from Banjong's entertaining comedy segments in GTH's Phobia horror compilations.

Adam Yukol makes his debut with the action-drama Tamruad Peun Hode starring Somchai Khemklad and Piyathida Worramusik. I spoke with Adam about this project months ago and he said he aimed to get back to gritty social-realism of his father's films of the 1970s and '80s.

Meanwhile, the elder Yukol is still at work on the fifth and final installment of the King Naresuan historical saga. It was penciled in on the calendar for December 5, but never materialized. Look for it on the next auspicious date on the calendar and then the next and so on until it actually appears. Chatrichalerm then hopes to move on to another epic, an adaptation of Phet Phra Uma, a beloved series of genre-jumping sci-fi jungle adventure novels from the 1960s that spanned 48 installments. The possibilities with that are limitless.

Following his 2011 hitman thriller Headshot, Pen-ek said he wanted to do a documentary on Thailand's messed-up politics, and he's done just that. Prachathipatai, a.k.a. Paradoxcracy, is expected to have a limited release on February 7, most likely at the Apex cinemas in Siam Square.

Taweewat Wantha returns to the scene on January 31 with Thongsuk 13 (ทองสุก 13), an island horror tale. It doesn't look to be reaching the same insane heights of his stylish and funny zombie comedy SARS Wars or the sci-fi weirdness of The Sperm, but it's a welcome return nonetheless and it's the first project from a new studio, Wave Pictures, run by the Maleenont family of BEC-Tero fame.

The roots of Wave Pictures go back to the old Film Bangkok marque that was run in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Adirek "Uncle" Watleela and Sa-nga Chatchairungraung. They produced such now-classic films as Tears of the Black Tiger, Bang Rajan, Bangkok Dangerous and SARS Wars. Word is that Tears of the Black Tiger director Wisit Sasanatieng has found a home at Wave Pictures, which is also developing projects by Yuthlert Sippapak and Kongkiat Komsiri.

Kongkiat, meanwhile, is also at work for Sahamongkol on a follow-up to last year's gangster drama Antapal. It's a historical action drama called Khun Phan, featuring a pistol-toting hero on horseback. It looks like a western.

Sahamongkol's other big tentpoles this year include part two of ML Bhandevenop Devakula's erotic epic Jan Dara, due out on February 7, and Tom-Yum-Goong 2 (more on that in a minute).

With Mario pasting on a moustache as he continues in the lead role in Jan Dara, part two of the 1930s-set family sex drama will likely be rated 20-, signalling that it will be even more explicit than last year's Rated 18+ Jan Dara: The Beginning.

Also at Sahamongkol, fans who have been waiting and waiting for the 13: Game of Death sequel 14 Beyond will have to wait and wait even longer. According to The Nation, director Chookiat Sakveerakul has again sidelined the big-budget thriller in favor of a smaller, more personal project, Krian Fiction, about high-school life.

Yuthlert's long-awaited Southern Thailand action drama Pitupoom, a.k.a. Fatherland, seems likely to be released this year. The handsome-looking film marks yet another genre shift for the prolific director, and it features Ananda Everingham among the stars.

Another big project is the new adaptation of Koo Kam by director "Leo" Kittikorn Liawsirikul. It looks to be the most ambitious effort yet by the newish studio M-Thirtynine. The tale of star-crossed romance takes place during World War II, with a Japanese officer falling in love with a fiercely independent young Thai woman. Small-screen heartthrob Nadech Kugimiya stars as the Japanese soldier.

And venerable studio Five Star Production will continue its exclusively 3D horror direction with The Second Sight, plus another installment of 3 A.M. shorts in 3 A.M.: The Second Night. I can hardly wait for Twitch's Asian honcho James Marsh to feast his eyes on those.

Finally, regarding the film festival scene, a much-rumored fest for Pattaya apparently won't materialize this year. However, there will likely be a second edition of the Hua Hin International Film Festival, possibly around mid-year. Attention organizers: The sooner you announce, the sooner everyone can make plans to be there and, you know, actually watch some films. However, you can count on the 11th World Film Festival of Bangkok taking place in November.

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