Thursday, May 8, 2014

Village of Hope, By the River, 13 Sins in Thai cinemas

There are two interesting limited releases of indie films in Bangkok cinemas today, plus a pair of wider releases, including a Hollywood remake of a Thai film.

The indie efforts are the black-and-white rural drama Village of Hope and the documentary By the River. The remake is 13 Sins – Hollywood's long-in-the-works treatment of 2006's 13 Game Sayong. And there's a special-effects-laden fantasy, Spirits War.

At the Lido in Siam Square, Boonsong "Sueb" Nakphoo has another hardscrabble story of contemporary rural life in his native rural Sukhothai Province – Village of Hope (วังพิกุล, Wangphikul) – a sequel to his 2010 effort Poor People the Great.

In between those two films, Boonsong did the ambitious Four Stations, a 2012 compilation of four short stories by noted Thai authors. It won a jury prize at last year's Deauville Asian Film Festival.

With Village of Hope, which premiered at last year's Mumbai Film Festival, Boonsong further hones his craft, presenting the succinct tale in black and white. The story follows Sorn, a somber young soldier on leave who returns home to Wangphikul. He feels ill-at-ease as he reaquaints himself to the village’s slow pace and the struggles of his impoverished relatives, who all live in a tight-knit collection of rustic wooden houses. Boyhood has slipped away and the reality of adulthood is looming for young Sorn.

Village of Hope screens at 6.30 nightly until May 14 at the Lido in Siam Square, with post-screening talks by the director and his crew.

Check out the trailer, embedded below.

By the River (สายน้ำติดเชื้อ, Sai Nam Tid Shoer) is screening at the SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at the SFX Maya Chiang Mai, with shows at around 4 and 8 daily.

Directed by Nontawat Numbenchapol, who follows up his Thai-Cambodian border doc Boundary, By the River looks at the hardships in a Karen village in Kanchanaburi where lead mining has contaminated the creek that used to be the community's lifeblood.

Concentrating mainly on the villagers, the film only briefly refers to the legal wrangling over the Klity Creek case, which stretched on for more than a decade. Though a verdict last year ordered a clean-up, it's going to be a massive effort, covering some 19 kilometers of waterway. It doesn't seem like the damage will ever be truly undone.

Nontawat recently returned to the village to stage a special outdoor screening for the residents.

Worth mentioning at this point is an effort to bring clean water to the village being undertaken by the Enlawthai Foundation.

By the River won a special mention at last year’s Locarno Film Festival and also screened at the 11th World Film Festival of Bangkok. It's been picked up by the new Thai indie outfit Mosquito Films Distribution and was part of the recent ChopShots festival in Jakarta.

Shows are at 4 and 8 daily at SFW CentralWorld and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Check out the trailer, embedded below.

13 Sins comes eight years after there was first word of a Hollywood remake of 2006's 13 Beloved. The slick, tension-filled drama had Terrence Sukosol Clapp as a down-on-his luck band-instrument salesman receiving a series of mysterious phone calls promising him increasing rewards for completing 13 increasingly sinister and dangerous tasks. Also called 13 Game Sayong and 13: Game of Death, the original film was directed by Chookiat Sakveerakul and was based on a comic by Eakasit Thairatana.

Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) directs this new version, which at one time bore the title Angry Little God. Mark Webber stars as the salesman, with Devon Graye, Tom Bower, Rutina Wesley, Pruit Taylor Vince and Ron Perlman. Critical reception is surprisingly even, with some critics actually liking it. I wonder if they ever saw the original? Meanwhile, I wonder if Chookiat's stuck-in-development-hell sequel 14 Beyond will ever materialize?

Finally, there's a new mainstream-industry Thai film this week, Spirits War (ไพรดิบ, Prai Dib). It's a special-effects-laden fantasy starring Akara Amarttayakul as a spirit hunter contending with demons and evil priests. Pisut Praesangeam, who earlier this year did She Devil (รักเราเขย่าขวัญ, Rak Rao Khayao Khwan) and the 2008 comedy Super Hap, directs.

Oh what the heck. Here's the trailer.

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