Monday, March 10, 2014

Streaming: Catch Ploy on Netflix

Following his bigger-budget international co-productions Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves, Pen-ek Ratanaruang wanted to make a smaller movie. So in 2007, he came up with Ploy (พลอย), about a jet-lagged Thai-American couple whose bickering comes to a boil when the husband brings a curly headed teenage girl back to their Bangkok hotel room.

The tense thriller made its mark when it premiered at the Cannes Directors Fortnight but was censored for its Thai theatrical release. It then dropped off the map for much of the English-speaking world.

Ploy never got an English-subtitled DVD release, but for the past year or so it has been available for streaming on Netflix.

That's where the AV Club's A.A. Dowd caught it recently. He watched it as part of a series of hotel-themed films for the AV Club, ahead of the U.S. release of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Here's a snip:

Those seeking a representative introduction to [Pen-ek's] work could do no better than the 2007 relationship drama Ploy, about a married couple whose domestic discontent comes to a head during a sleepless trip abroad. Back in Bangkok for a funeral after several years in the States, restaurateur Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) and his ex-actress wife, Daeng (Lalita Panyopas), retreat to a hotel in the wee hours of the morning. The unspoken tension between them explodes into outright hostility when Wit meets a teenage waif (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, sporting an afro and a black eye) and invites her to crash in their rented room. From here, the lines separating fantasy and reality begin to blur, as flashes of an erotic, unrelated subplot—and hints of real danger lurking elsewhere in the building – transform the film into more than just another war of the roses.

Ploy is among nearly two dozen Thai-language films available on Netflix. Others include Magnet Releasing's slate of Sahamongkol action films, such as Ong-Bak 2 and Ong-Bak 3. There's also the children's boxing documentary Buffalo Girls, Aditya Assarat's indie drama Wonderful Town, the 2005 historical-musical drama The Overture and GTH's 2003 hit Fan Chan (My Girl). And, there's a weird film that's worth a look, 2002's post-apocalyptic action-comedy Goodman Town.

The roster changes from time to time as licensing agreements expire on older titles. For example, Tears of the Black Tiger, supposedly the Miramax version, used to be available.

Others by Pen-ek that are currently available include Headshot, the under-appreciated Invisible Waves and my favorite of his, Monrak Transistor.

So perhaps there's life beyond Thai cable television after all for Pen-ek's latest effort, the made-for-TrueVisions movie The Life of Gravity (แรงดึงดูด, Raeng Dueng Dood). Maybe subscribers could tip Netflix off to this new film by Pen-ek?

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