Limitless Cinema in Broken English

March 26, 2009

CUTE ACTOR: THANATHORN UTSAHAKUL

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 10:30 pm

I like MEAT GRINDER (2009, Tiwa Moeithaisong, A+/A) very much. The only reason why I don’t give it A+ is just because I don’t like the gore in this film. It is too much for me.

MEAT GRINDER stars Rattanaballang Tohssawat, who looks much more handsome in this film than in BANGKOK LOVE STORY (2007, Poj Arnon, A-). Another handsome actor in this film is Thanathorn Utsahakul, who plays a police officer in this film. He also has a small role in COMING SOON (2008, Sopon Sakdapisit, A-).

This is the HI5 of Thanathorn
http://arttnt.hi5.com

Thanathorn plays in some commercials, including this one for Leo Beer
http://www.kosanathai.com/tvcupdated/view_tvc.asp?GID=1&TVCID=28798

He also stars in the music video THE ONLY THING I CAN’T GIVE (เรื่องเดียวที่ให้ไม่ได้) for the band Hyper:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chopJwjjqlk

However, after talking with Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa (aka Filmsick), I think I may give MEAT GRINDER “A+” in the future. It depends on how much longer this film will stick in my mind.

Filmsick talked about a very convincing theory that actually MEAT GRINDER may talk about the same subject as THE MOONHUNTER (2001, Bhandit Rittakol, A). MEAT GRINDER may actually be a symbolic film. The real subject of it may be the struggle of the Thai communists and the conflict among the Thai communists in the late 1970’s. MEAT GRINDER just presents this subject by using symbols, while THE MOONHUNTER tackles this subject straightforwardly.

I don’t know what Tiwa thinks, but I like what Filmsick thinks very much. It is very suspicious that this film chooses to open with the event very similar to the Bangkok massacre in October 6, 1976. And it is very suspicious that this film emphasizes its period settings. Actually, the story of the serial killer in this film doesn’t need to be set in the past at all. But this film emphasizes all the time via its set decorations that the story happened about 30-40 years ago.

There are many details about the symbols in this film, about which thing actually stands for which thing. I think Filmsick may write about it in Thai in the future. Maybe MEAT GRINDER is like FIREBALL (2009, Thanakorn Pongsuwan, A+), WOR (2008, Banjong Sinthanamongkolgul, A+), and BUS LANE (2007, Kittikorn Leosirikul, A-). All of them are Thai political films which disguise themselves.

Here is my conversation with Filmsick in Facebook:

Filmsick: MEAT GRINDER – When communists’ fleeing to the forest = cooking food using human flesh

Celinejulie: “I didn’t think about this symbolic level when I was watching it. But after you told me about it on Saturday night, I thought about it on Sunday, and I really agree with you.”

“The keypoint is the scene in which the hero told the mother of the dead student about what he had just done. Then we see the flashback that he went to visit the heroine and he also went to visit a group of students who will flee to the forests. That student group scene is not quite connected to the main story. So there must be a reason why it is put there.”

Filmsick: “yes i thnik so. I think the scene in which he met his friends before they go out to the woods is the key point . actually he goes to the woods too but in surrealistic way”

“and more for that the first victim we’ve seen is the student before it flashbacks to the capitalist (Somlek) and yes the people eating each other , so the commie was just a hysterical woman eating student’s flesh”

Celinejulie: “I also think there is an interesting comparison between the body of the dead student which is hidden in the food stall, and the body of that character which is hidden in the earthen jar. The hero searches for the body of his friend, while the heroine is haunted by the body in the jar.”

Filmsick: “yeah yeah it was very interesting. Actually those are the only two bodies that the heroine doesn’t kill”

Celinejulie: “Maybe the ending scene is not so bad, hahaha. The ending scene says that the violence to women and children will lead to something really really bad. But if “women and children” in this film can be referred to “people who oppose fascist system”, the real message may be “the violence done to people who oppose fascist system will be repaid in the future.””

Filmsick: “i totally agree with you now haha”

After talking with Filmsick about MEAT GRINDER, I realized I have no knowledge about the communist struggle in Thailand. I searched in the internet and found a very interesting article called MURDER AND PROGRESS IN MODERN SIAM, written by Benedict Anderson. You can read this great article in Midnight University’s website:
http://www.midnightuniv.org/forum/index.php?topic=10188.0

Here are some excerpts from the article:

“The Collapse of Rural Insurgency

Now it has been plausibly argued that Siam, Thai parliamentary democracy, and/or the Thai middle class benefited from an extraordinary stroke of luck in the collapse of the cpt’s rural insurgency as a result of the triangular Cambodia–Vietnam–China war that opened in December 1978. It is true that the Party was gravely damaged by its leadership’s decision to remain wholly loyal to Peking’s positions. It thereby lost its secure retreats in Laos and Cambodia, its opportunities for training cadres in Vietnam, and even its powerful radio-transmitter in Yunnan. (Prime Minister [General] Kriangsak Chomanan was shrewd enough to see the advantages of cementing close ties with ‘Little Bottle’ and his henchmen.) [24] But it can also be argued that the damage was especially severe because the Party was already struggling with the problem of what to do with the hundreds of middle-class youthful activists who fled to its jungle protection in the wake of the bloody 6 October 1976 coup. From a much younger generation, from comfortable homes, well-read and articulate, and with some real experience in national-level legal politics, these activists found it hard to accept many cpt positions automatically; the Party’s obtuse response to the crisis of 1978–79 made it almost impossible. Prime Minister Kriangsak was shrewd enough to offer a general amnesty, enabling the activists to come safely home. It is significant that the cpt made little effort to stop them, even though the spectacle of ‘massive defections’ compounded the severe political damage it had already suffered. All in all, there can be no doubt that the cpt’s decline, caused not by the Thai military’s battlefield successes, but by international political developments and its own internal haemorrhage, redounded principally to the benefit of the new Thai bourgeoisie. After 1978–79, it faced no serious threats from the left, or from below. By then it was also no longer much alarmed by the presence of Vietnamese troops on the country’s eastern border, though the military tried hard to make it so. The bourgeoisie recognized the real limits of Vietnam’s power, and Siam’s advantages in having the us–China–Japan axis ranged firmly behind it.But the Cambodia–Vietnam–China fighting erupted well after the fall of the post-6 October 1976 right-wing regime of Justice Thanin Kraiwichian, and it is his rise and fall that are really instructive for understanding the changing dynamic of Thai politics in the bourgeois era.”

Is the heroine of MEAT GRINDER the representative of rural communists? Is the hero of MEAT GRINDER the representative of urban intellectual communists who fled to forest at that period? I don’t know.

Talking about the communist struggle in Thailand, one incident in which I’m very interested is the Red Drum Massacre. I don’t know if any films have talked about this incident or not.

From Benedict Anderson’s article:

“The appearance of a mass-media audience for which political murders needed to be staged also meant that certain other political killings had to be kept secret from that audience. A good example of this paradox is the case of the Red Drum (Tang Daeng) slayings in Patthalung province in 1971–72. [9] These murders, designed to terrorize a local peasant population suspected of Communist sympathies, were not acceptable to a national audience which even the military regime of Sarit’s successors felt somewhat constrained to respect. Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the military regime in October 1973 (see below), student activists were able to expose the locally public, nationally secret Ban Na Sai affair to undermine severely the state security apparatus’s legitimacy. [10] A conspicuous gap was opening up between the state as law and the state as apparatus.”

“[9] The victims, some dead, most still alive, were incinerated by the security forces in gasoline-filled, used oil drums. See Norman Peagam, ‘Probing the “Red Drum” Atrocities’, Far Eastern Economic Review, 14 March 1975.”

This is a Thai article about the Red Drum Massacre:
http://www.thaingo.org/story3/red_tang.htm

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