Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In Thai cinemas: Luang Phee Jazz 4G

It's holiday time in Thailand, with today's Chakri Memorial Day kicking off anticipatory celebrations of next week's Songkran Thai New Year, which is a three-day public holiday from next Wednesday to Friday.

In the cinemas, the big Thai tentpole is the Songkran-flavored Luang Phee Jazz 4G (หลวงพี่แจ๊ส 4G, a.k.a. Joking Jazz 4G). It's about a bespectacled, gauge-eared, tattooed hipster with a checkered past who is hiding out as a monk at an isolated mountaintop temple. He's played by hipster comedian Phadung “Jazz Chuanchuen” Songsang. He and his temple-boy friends have an adventure as they are sent to Bangkok on a mission during Songkran.

Directed by Poj Arnon, Luang Pee Jazz 4G is the first release under the prolific producer-director's rebooted Film Guru production marque, which has been relaunched in a new partnership with Major Cineplex, the Kingdom's biggest movie-theater chain.

Poj and Film Guru were formerly associated with Phranakorn Film, a film studio owned by the Thana Cineplex chain of upcountry cinemas. Phranakorn released a string of hit country comedies in the early 2000s, including the original Luang Phee (Holy Man) movie in 2005.

Originated by comedian, actor and director Note Chernyim, the first Luang Phee Teng starred ubiquitous comedian and TV host Pongsak "Theng Terdterng" Pongsuwan as a former street hood who has entered the monkhood and ministers to colorful residents in a provincial town

 Other Luang Phee Teng installments followed in 2008 and 2010, with rapper Joey Boy and actor-musician Krissada Sukosol Clapp taking respective turns as the saffron-clad lead character. As each movie stands alone, with different characters in the lead, they aren't really sequels but are part of a franchise all the same.

The Nation had more on this latest Luang Phee movie, which is the fourth in the series.

Still hanging around after being released a week ago is the anthology horror 11 12 13 Rak Kan Ja Tai (11 12 13 รักกันจะตาย a.k.a. Ghost Is All Around).

Directed by Saravuth Wichiansarn (Ghost Game), it is released by M-Thirtynine, another film-production company that is partnered with Major Cineplex.

The stories will sound familiar if you watch a lot of these Thai horror anthologies – one about a guy haunted by the spirit of his suicidal girlfriend and another about goofball pals haunted by a friend who is dead but doesn't know it. A third story follows a woman who is in for terror in her travels with her gay chum. Heartthrob actor "Weir" Sukollawat Kanarot is among the stars.

As detailed over on my other blog, other movies in Thai cinemas include the Documentary Club release of All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records, which came out last week. This week's offerings include The Huntsman: Winter's War and the South Korean adventure drama The Himalayas, which is presented in the 270-degree True Cinema X at the EmQuartier mall in Bangkok.

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