Limitless Cinema in Broken English

July 10, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 11:02 pm

This is about a poll in my bilingual blog at



My poll 26 is inspired by two new Thai short films I love—DANGER NEARBY (DIRECTOR’S CUT) (2008, Chulyanon Siriphol) and OM (INDIRECT) (2008, Somchai Wachirajongkol).

DANGER NEARBY and INDIRECT are unofficial English titles of these two films. I don’t know the official English titles of these films, so I translate the titles of these films from Thai. The Thai title of DANGER NEARBY is “PAI GLAI TUA”, while the Thai title of INDIRECT is “OM”.

DANGER NEARBY (DIRECTOR’S CUT) is about a horror film made by a university student. What I love about this film is that Chulyanon superimposes “the written script” and “the film professors’ harsh comments on the film” onto the horror film. This gives me a new kind of experience, because while I was watching this film, I experienced the three interesting conflicts at the same time. They are:

1.The conflicts between the characters in the horror film

2.The conflicts between the film professors and the horror film

3.The conflicts between my own opinions and the film professors’ opinions

Most films give me just the first level of conflict. I can’t recall if I have ever experienced these three simultaneous conflicts at the same time from any other films or not. It is like watching a DVD with an extremely unfair commentary on the film.

The written script superimposed on the horror film in DANGER NEARBY (DIRECTOR’S CUT) reminds me of a building—THE CENTRE POMPIDOU in Paris, because this film lays bare its own structure while the story progresses, like this building which lays bare its own structure.

Another thing that I love very much in DANGER NEARBY (DIRECTOR’S CUT) is the fact that it seems to show the problems of some film teaching in Thailand. Depending on each viewer’s opinion, the comments on the horror film in DANGER NEARBY may seem either fair or unfair. In my own opinion, the comments seem unfair. It seems as if someone says that Eric Rohmer’s films are bad because they rely on dialogue. However, I have to say that I have never studied film and I have never taken a film course in my entire life. Maybe what the professors said is good and correct, and my opinions are wrong because I know nothing about films and film theories, but I’d rather see all the bad films that violate these professors’ good rules of filmmaking than see good films which conform to the rules of these professors.

Fortunately, every film professor is different from one another. I know that some Thai film professors are great and very open-minded, though several professors seem to regard films as if they are mere industrial products and must conform to some formulas.

OM (INDIRECT) is a mockumentary. It is about a male university student who secretly has a crush on his female friend. He tries to use a video camera to secretly record the activities of this girl. There are at least three scenes which I love in OM:

1.The scene when the guy tries to confess his love. He tells his friend to hold the camera and record this confessing moment while he approaches the girl, but his friend doesn’t know how to use the camera, so we can see only extremely blurred images in this important moment.

2.The scene when the guy tries to confess his love again. He tells his friend to do that again, but his friend uses the camera to record other pretty girls who keep walking by instead of recording the love confessing moment.

3.The guy decides that he will confess his love in an indirect way by compiling all these footages which we just saw and making a documentary which we just saw. He shows this documentary to the girl and records the reaction of the girl while the documentary shows her the truth that he secretly loves her. I love the reaction of the girl in this scene very much. It made me believe for a while that what I was seeing is a real documentary.

Because of DANGER NEARBY (DIRECTOR’S CUT) and OM (INDIRECT), I decided to make a list of my favorite films, stage play, music video, and TV series which I think should be compared to one another. Some of these films may be self-reflexive. Some of them may present interesting levels of storytelling. Some of them may not fall into these two categories, but I just include them in the list, because I think they should be compared to one another.


1.ADAPTATION (2002, Spike Jonze, USA)

2.BACHELORETTE (Michel Gondry, a music video of Bjork)

3.CLOSE-UP (1989, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran)

4.CONTEMPT (1963, Jean-Luc Godard, France)

I like what Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote about this film in the book ESSENTIAL CINEMA very much. He wrote, “Indeed, it might be argued that Godard fails as a storyteller, as an entertainer, as an essayist, and as a film critic in the very process of succeeding as an artist.”

I also knew from Rosenbaum’s writing that Susan Sontag is one of very few American critics who liked CONTEMPT when it was first shown. Rosenbaum wrote, “I was shocked to hear (Susan Sontag) say that she’d been to see CONTEMPT four or five times already. It was the first time I’d heard someone refer to the film as anything but a mess and an embarrassment, and I decided that maybe it deserved another look.”

5.DANGER NEARBY (DIRECTOR’S CUT) (2008, Chulyanon Siriphol, Thailand)

6.DRAMA, STRINGS AND HORNS (1998, Gunter Krueger, Germany)

7.EDEN AND AFTER (1970, Alain Robbe-Grillet, France)

8.HAUNTED HOUSES (2001, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand)

9.I MOVE, SO I AM (1997, Gerrit Van Dijk, Netherlands)

Synopsis of this film from a website:
”In the beginning there was a hand, and this hand drew other hands, then shoulders, heads, legs and finally, the animator himself. Inspired by a wide range of works of art and styles of illustration, this is a film which is constantly reinventing itself in one continual motion – after all, to draw a “still life” would be like creating an image without life.”

10.MAI PEN RUENG (2006, Pachruja Kanjanakosol, Thai play)

11.MURDER BY DEATH (1976, Robert Moore, USA)

12.OM (INDIRECT) (2008, Somchai Wachirajongkol, Thailand)

13.OPEN REEL (1976, Dalibor Martinis, Croatia, black and white, 4 min)

This is the description of the film in the brochure of the Third Bangkok Experimental Film Festival:

“A self-referencing video in which the artist wraps his face in the videotape as it emerges from the camera, which is recording him doing this. A camera on a tripod is connected with a video recorder. The artist is sitting in front of the camera. After starting the recorder, he gathers up the videotape uncoiling from the first reel and passing through the magnetic head, and instead of coiling in on the second reel he winds it around his head, turning around in his chair. In the end his face is completely swathed in video-tape on which his face is recorded over which is coiled the video tape. ”

14.THE OPPOSITE OF SEX (1998, Don Roos, USA)

15.A PLACE AMONG THE LIVING (2003, Raoul Ruiz, France)


17.SOMETHING HAPPENED (2007, Keren Cytter, Germany)

18.STORYTELLING (2001, Todd Solondz, USA)

19.TRISTAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY (2005, Michael Winterbottom, UK)


This episode is about Rock S. O’Bannon, a writer who is haunted by some demons. He can get rid of these demons only by writing about them. This episode is written by the real Rock S. O’Bannon.

You can cast multiple votes.

I exclude these films from the list, partly because they are famous:

1.ANGUISH (1987, Bigas Luna, Spain)


3.FUNNY GAMES (1997, Michael Haneke, Austria)

4.MARLENE (1984, Maximilian Schell, West Germany)

5.THE PLAYER (1992, Robert Altman)




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