Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cannes 2013: Mixed reviews for Only God Forgives, Chompoo on red carpet

Vithaya Pansringarm, Kristin Scott Thomas, Nicolas Winding Refn and Ratha Po-ngam at the daytime photocall for Only God Forgives in Cannes.

The blood-spattered Bangkok-set crime drama Only God Forgives premiered to boos and mixed reviews in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. The violence in the film has been turn-off for the squeamish critics, even though some of them liked the movie.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Only God Forgives features his Drive star Ryan Gosling in the lead role.

However, Gosling didn't turn up at the premiere, and sent his regrets to festival director Terry Fremaux. He is in Detroit shooting his directorial debut How to Catch a Monster.

The Guardian rounds up some of the reactions, including a five-star review from The Guardian's own Peter Bradshaw in which he says "The first scenes made me think that Wong Kar-wai had made a new film called In the Mood for Fear or In the Mood for Hate."

Other round-ups are at The Wrap and Metro. Reviews include Variety, Screen Daily, AV Club and the Vulture.

Liv Corfixen and her husband Nicholas Winding Refn hits the red carpet at Cannes with Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm and Ratha Po-ngam.

Some of the critical loathing is directed at Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays Gosling's venom-spewing mother. She forcefully calls on her gangster son to take revenge for the death of his brother. But others are praising her bold turn, which the actress herself has said left her unsettled by the time filming was over.

But it's Vithaya Pansringarm (profiled recently by The Nation) who plays the main antagonist, a sword-wielding former cop nicknamed the Angel of Vengeance who metes out his own form of justice. It's a breakout role for "Pooh" Vithaya, 50, who's only been acting for four years. He previously starred as the sleuthing monk in Tom Waller's Mindfulness and Murder and had bit parts in various foreign productions in Thailand, including The Hangover Part II. In real life, Vithaya is a kind, soft-spoken soul who runs a ballet school in Bangkok with his American wife. However, in the movie he pins a man to an armchair with knives and stabs him through the eye. Not unsurprisingly, he's earned the "badass" title and admiration from various quarters, including Twitch and First Showing. Hopefully, his appearance in Only God Forgives will be a shot in the arm for his and Waller's next project, The Last Executioner.

Singer-actress Ratha "Yaya Ying" Po-ngam, among the stars in the recent Jan Dara remake, also appears in Only God Forgives, playing Gosling's girlfriend Mai. She, Vithaya and Scott Thomas joined the director on the Cannes red carpet and at a daytime photocall. Vithaya, as promised, waved the Thai cultural flag, turning up on the red carpet in a Siamese cut jacket and traditional black silk "jong kraben" trousers.

Also in Cannes is Madame Ho actress "Chompoo" Araya A. Hargate. However, she isn't there as part of any movie, she's representing l'Oreal Thailand. Wearing a frilly green gown, she hit Tuesday's red carpet premiere for Behind the Candelabra, the Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and directed for HBO by Steven Soderbergh. And on Wednesday, she turned up in a slinky black number for All Is Lost.

Chompoo is at Cannes representing l'Oreal. She attended premieres for Behind the Candelabra, left, and All Is Lost.

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