Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A Tale of Thai Films

I saw the film Audition recently. A visual terror that Takashi Miike is famous for. I highly recommend this strange, violent, Lynch-like shocker. I also saw Blissfully Yours, a Thai film directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (he of the recent surprise “hit” at Cannes, the “surreal jungle allegory” Tropical Malady—the first Thai film to be honored with an Official Selection at Cannes). Plenty of jungle sex, plenty of quasi-hallucinatory summer’s day images. The story of three self-obsessed people having a pit stop along the path of life. It can be rather tedious to watch at times. It’s perplexing—how can one enjoy a film that is, on the surface, so mundane? In a way it’s the perfect representation of Thai life, where the “background” is pushed to the fore. No one steps onto center stage and people rarely ever expect there to be more to life other than the basics. Eating, sex, sensuality, caring, heartbreak, uncertainty. Check out the Kick the Machine website. I think it's absolutely fantastic that these types of films are being made in Thailand. Considering that most Thai movie fare centers on ghosts, transvestities, and soap opera histrionics, it's refreshing to see the risks are being taken and that these risks are being recognized world-wide. Of course the majority of Thai moviegoers do not want to see "art films"--but then again, none have ever been made here in the past so how could people learn to abandon the ridiculousness of The Matrix for the beauty of a Pen-Ek Ratanaruang film like Last Life in the Universe or the fabulous technicolor Western that is Tears of the Black Tiger?


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