Limitless Cinema in Broken English

March 30, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 10:34 pm

This is about a poll in my bilingual blog at


My poll 51 is inspired by Zachary Campbell’s article in Rouge—ANNA FARIS, SERIOUS RESPECT FOR THE UNSERIOUS.
This article reminds me that my blog hasn’t paid enough attention to comedies, comedians, and comediennes, though in fact I think effective comedic performances are as extremely difficult as effective dramatic performances. I think some greatest dramatic performances require the performers to truly understand the characters they play, while some effective comedic performances require the performers to truly understand how to manipulate the audience.

Zach’s article also made me realize that there are very few sexy comediennes like Anna Faris.

This poll focuses on the comediennes, not on the films/plays/TV series listed here. So if you love Akeera Modesakul as the horny ghost in WHERE SHOULD I LAY MY SOUL? (2007, Nikorn Saetang, A+), or if you love Parnrut Kritcharnchai in THE 24 (2008, Sonthaya Sukchada, A+), you can also vote for them here.

THESE ACTRESSES GAVE ME A LOT OF LAUGHS. WHICH ACTRESSES DO YOU LIKE? (You can also consider their performances which are not listed here)

1.Akeera Modesakul (aka Dia) – BABYMIME SHOW VOL.1 (2008, Thai play)

2.Anna Faris – JUST FRIENDS (2005, Roger Kumble)

3.Bette Midler – BIG BUSINESS (1988, Jim Abrahams)

4.Carmen Maura – PEPI, LUCI, BOM (1980, Pedro Almodovar, Spain)

5.Christine Baranski – MAMMA MIA! (2008, Phyllida Lloyd)
Actually I think Baranski’s performance in MAMMA MIA! is not special, but I like her very much in CRUEL INTENTIONS (1999, Roger Kumble) and CHICAGO, and I think there’s something very funny about her, so I’d like to include her in this poll. Since this poll is about comedic performances, I decided to put MAMMA MIA! in the list here, because I’m not sure if I can call her performances in CRUEL INTENTIONS and CHICAGO as comedic performances or not.

6.Elaine May – SMALL TIME CROOKS (2000, Woody Allen)

7.Jennifer Coolidge – LEGALLY BLONDE (2001, Robert Luketic)

8.Jerrica Lai – SELL OUT (2008, Yeo Joon Han, Malaysia)

9.Kanokwan Buranon – 3 KON OLAWENG (Thai TV series in early 1990’s)

10.Lily Tomlin – ALL OF ME (1984, Carl Reiner)

11.Linda Hunt – IF LOOKS COULD KILL (1991, William Dear)

12.Naowarat Yuktanun – GHOST-IN-LAW (2008, Seree Phongnithi + Tanit Jitnukul, Thailand)

13.Nina Hagen – TICKET OF NO RETURN (1979, Ulrike Ottinger, West Germany)

14.Parnrut Kritcharnchai – MAHANAKORN 2009 (Taweewat Kamnerdpetch + Paiboon Soponsuwaparp, Thai play)

15.Roseanne – SHE-DEVIL (1989, Susan Seidelman)

16.Sabine Azema – SMOKING/NO SMOKING (1993, Alain Resnais, France)

17.Sununta Naksompop – KOON YING BAO TUNG (A SELF-APPOINTED LADY) (Thai TV series in early 1990’s)
This TV series is referred to in the film SAYEW (2003, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee + Kiat Songsanant, A+). Her performance in KOON YING BAO TUNG can be considered one of the most unnaturalistic, unconvincing performances I have ever seen in my whole life. And that’s why watching her extremely awkward performance in this TV series is one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced.

18.Selma Blair – THE SWEETEST THING (2002, Roger Kumble)

19.Valerie Lemercier – LE DERRIERE (1999, Valerie Lemercier, France)

20.Warapan Nguitrakool – LOOG KOON LUANG (2007, Pa-oon Chantornsiri, Thai play)

You can cast multiple votes.

I also love the comedic performances of these actresses very much:

21.Amanda Bynes – SHE’S THE MAN (2006, Andy Fickman)
22.Anne Ramsey – THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN (1987, Danny DeVito)
23.Charisma Carpenter – BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1997-1999, US TV series)
24.Cloris Leachman – SPANGLISH (2004, James L. Brooks)
25.Eileen Essel – DUPLEX (2003, Danny DeVito)
26.Jennifer Tilly – SEED OF CHUCKY (2004, Don Mancini)
27.Kathy Kinney – THE DREW CAREY SHOW (1995-2004, US TV series)
I only watched several episodes of this TV series, but the character Mimi is very memorable.
28.Mayura Tanaboot – SECRETARIES GOSSIP ABOUT THEIR BOSSES (1987, Suprawat Patamasoot, Thai TV series)
29.Panissara Phimpru – DEAR DAKANDA (2005, Komgrit Triwimol, Thailand)
30.Sally Field – SOAPDISH (1991, Michael Hoffman)
31.Tori Spelling – TRICK (2000, Jim Fall)

–After making this list, I noticed that the name Roger Kumble came up three times as the director of CRUEL INTENTIONS (B-), THE SWEETEST THING (B), and JUST FRIENDS (A-). I think his films are pretty bad, but there are some elements in his films that I love or think are very memorable. The performances of Anna Faris and Selma Blair in his two films are unforgettable. And there are some kind of pleasures to see Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil in CRUEL INTENTIONS and dream that I could be like this character in my next life. The scene in which Cameron Diaz complains about her breasts in THE SWEETEST THING is very memorable, too. In Zach’s article, he mentioned something about “the virtues of mass genres”. And I think his article may also inspire me to think about some mainstream films in a new way.

–Talking about Roger Kumble makes me think about three different types of directors who make films which look “bad”:

1.Directors who make really bad films: Uwe Boll

2.Directors who make generally bad films, but they have something I love very much in them.

2.1 Roger Kumble

2.2 Poj Arnon

2.3 Sununta Naksompop – She produced “bad” TV series which may have no aesthetic values at all, but I much prefer her “bad” TV series to most expensively-produced Thai TV series. There are some kinds of extreme pleasures I only get from watching her TV series, and I can’t find these pleasures anywhere else. If anybody knows where I can buy a set of DVD/VCDs of the TV series PLEARNG PAI and KOON YING BAO TUNG, please tell me. I think these two TV series are unique.

2.4 Sukit Narin, who directed SIN SISTERS (2002, B)

3.Cult film directors, and directors who can aestheticize bad tastes.

3.1 Weerasak Suyala
3.2 Peter Jackson
3.3 John Waters
3.4 Bruce La Bruce


  1. This is my reply to my friends in my bilingual blog:

    –Vespertine, talking about Parker Posey reminds me of her very funny role in SCREAM 3. I particularly like the fact that her character tries to stick to Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), because she guesses that the serial killer would prefer killing Gale to killng her. However, I didn’t add Parker to this list because I’m not sure if her role in SCREAM 3 can actually be called comedic performance or not.

    Another very funny role that I didn’t add to this list for roughly the same reason is the role Loretta Devine plays in URBAN LEGENDS (1998, Jamie Blanks). I laughed a lot when I saw her mimicking of Pam Grier and her “innie minnie miney moe” moment in this film. My friends also laughed during the scene in which we saw the heroine is going to be killed, then we saw Loretta is driving the car, then we saw the heroine is going to be killed, then we saw Loretta is still driving the car, and it keeps repeating like this for a while. My friend couldn’t help but asking out loud in the theatre, “Where are you driving to, Miss Policewoman?”

    –Konmongnang, I’m very glad you watched KOON YING BAO TUNG. I have thought about her TV series and other Thai TV series I watched when I was a child, and think that there are some interesting things about them.

    There are some Thai TV series I love when I was young, such as some well-made TV series on Channel 3. These TV series are perfect. They tell the story effectively, straight to the point, without digressions.

    But there are other Thai TV series with so many digressions, such as PLEARNG PAI and some melodramatic TV series shown on Channel 5 on Monday-Tuesday night in early 1990’s, such as SAGUL GA (FAMILY NAME: CROW) and GA GAM HONG (A CROW WITH A SHADE OF A SWAN). These TV series have something very campy about them, and that’s why my friends love them very much. I used to look down on these TV series when I was a child. I only love the main story in PLEARNG PAI, but I couldn’t bear its digressions. I found these digressions very boring at that time. But now I think these digressions have something interesting about them.

    These digressions are the parts about “the servants” of the heroes or the heroines. In PLEARNG PAI, we watched the main story for about half an hour, then we watched and listened to the servants talking, chatting, and gossiping about their bosses for half an hour. I think other Thai TV series let the servants talk not more than 1/4 of its time, but PLEARNG PAI seems to devote half of its time to let the servants talk onscreen.

    Though I can’t identify with these servants and I didn’t enjoy watching these parts at that time, now I think there are some interesting about them, such as:

    1.I wonder if TV series in other countries have this kind of thing, or if this is a unique characteristic of old Thai TV series. If I understand it correctly, some dancing scenes in Bollywood films are digressions from the main stories. This kind of dancing digression may interrupt the narrative flow, but it also makes Bollywood films unique and unlike films in other countries. Are “the servants talking” parts in Thai TV series make them unique, too?

    2.I haven’t watched any new Thai TV series for many years, so I don’t know if this kind of thing still exists in modern Thai TV series or not. But I guess they don’t exist, or they only occupy very little time onscreen. Because new Thai TV series are not as long as old Thai TV series, so they may not have as much time as before to let the servants talk. In MOON (จันทร์เอ๋ย จันทร์เจ้า), we still see the scenes in which the servants of the heroine quarrel with the servants of the villainess, but the scenes don’t last long and are not boring at all.

    3.Why did old Thai TV series have digressions like this? Is it because

    3.1 To lengthen the stories as much as possible, so that the producers can have more money

    3.2 To acknowledge the fact that many audience belong to the labor class, so having these servant characters talking onscreen may make these audience feel more connected to the story

    I’m not sure why the structure of PLEARNG PAI is like this –half of its time devoted to the main plot, half of its time devoted to the servants’ talking. Maybe the producer just wanted to lengthen the story. Maybe the producer just wanted the labor class to like this TV series. I don’t know. But I think its structure is interesting because it can be adapted to good use. Maybe it can be adapted to make an arthouse TV series.

    I think about an old Thai TV series my friend once told me about. He told me that the producer just wanted to lengthen the story, so suddenly the story digressed. The servant of the villainess suddenly had serious problems about garbage disposal. She quarreled seriously with the servants of another house because they couldn’t agree about how to use the land nearby for garbage disposal. The viewers of this TV series had to watch this funny quarreling scene for about 10-15 minutes, before this TV series returned to tell the main story.

    This kind of digression in old Thai TV series, though done with suspicious reasons, unintentionally reminds me of some arthouse films. Some arthouse films devote their time to depict the everyday life, or the problems ordinary people encounter in everyday life (such as quarreling with neighbors about garbage disposal). Some arthouse films try to focus on the labor class instead of the middle class. Some arthouse films are full of digressions.

    Maybe there will be a new kind of Thai TV series in the future, in which we watch the melodramatic lives of the middle class for half of its time, and then we watch the everyday lives, or everyday talk of ordinary people for half of its time. Maybe the lowest kind of Thai TV series (PLEARNG PAI) is not far from arthouse films, if only we know how to adapt it.

    –Teepanun, talking about Sununta Naksompop suddenly makes me think that she may be the flip side of Michael Shaowanasai.

    In FILMAX magazine, Michael Shaowanasai said that BANGKOK LOVE STORY (2007, Poj Arnon) and TROPICAL MALADY are the flip sides of each other. So if Poj Arnon is the flip side of Apichatpong, maybe Sununta is the flip side of Michael Shaowanasai. Hahaha.

    Both BUNZAI CHAIYO: THE ADVENTURE OF IRON PUSSY II and KOON YING BAO TUNG revel in the “extremely unnaturalistic performances”, though the wooden acting is done intentionally in BUNZAI CHAIYO, but unintentionally in KOON YING BAO TUNG.

    And I think the only person who can replace Michael Shaowanasai as the heroine in the feature film THE ADVENTURE OF IRON PUSSY (2003) is Sununta Naksompop. With Sununta as the heroine, the film may be aesthetically worse, but not less fun. Think about Sununta showing her fat legs to the audience and exclaiming proudly how beautiful her legs are. Think about Sununta meeting Darunee Kritboonyalai in the same scene. The screen may explode.

    Comment by celinejulie — April 2, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

  2. This is my reply to Teepanun in my bilingual blog:

    Teepanun, I haven’t heard about MY BIG FAT VALENTINA, but I think South American TV series would be very cuturally interesting, because I have heard that some of them are as extremely melodramatic as Thai TV series. It also reminds me of what Michael Shaowanasai said about the audience’s response to THE ADVENTURE OF IRON PUSSY (2003). He said that when this film was shown in some film festivals in USA, some Hispanic viewers seem to like it very much. Since this film is a mock on Thai old-style melodramatic films, any audience who grew up with melodramatic films or TV series, such as Thai or Hispanic audience, can understand it better.

    I remember that in late 1980’s Channel 5 showed a Brazilian TV series called ESCRAVA ISAURA (อีสเซาร่า เสน่ห์นางทาส) (1976). I didn’t watch it, but my mother was addicted to this TV series, and I think the reason why my mother liked it might be because this TV series must have something similar to most Thai TV series, maybe as melodramatic as Thai TV series. However, it is a shame that Channel 5 suddenly canceled the broadcast of this Brazilian TV series before it ended. Channel 5 just changed the whole broadcasting program suddenly when the new year began. I think whoever in Channel 5 who canceled the program was very bad. He should have cared more for the feelings of the viewers who had followed this program.

    I guess class differences exist in South American societies, too, but in different ways from Thai society. In LA CIENAGA (2001, Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, A+), LIVE-IN MAID (2004, Jorge Gaggero, Argentina, A+), and DON’T TELL ANYONE (1998, Francisco J. Lombardi, Peru, A), we can see the interesting relationships between the bosses and the servants, but we can also notice that there is a factor of “race” involved in the relationships, too. That makes it very interesing to be compared to the servant-boss relationships in Thai society, because the Thai servant-boss relationship in the past seems not to be involved with race, because they are all Thais, but now some Thai bosses have servants who came from Myanmar.

    Talking about licking a man reminds me of a very memorable scene in LOVE AND MONEY (2009, Adjjima Na Patalung, Thai play). There is a scene in which the handsome hero went to be interviewed for a job, and the female interviewer, who seems like a villainess, licks his arm. Yes, I think this female character reflects the viewers’ dark side. Hahaha.

    I just watched four old films directed by Dokdin Ganyamarn, and I think the roles of Dokdin and Orasa Isarangkoon Na Ayudhya in these films are sometimes like the roles of the servants in Thai TV series. Their characters may or may not be essential to the plots of the films, but most things these characters do are not essential to the plots at all. Most of what they do is just to make the audience laugh. Fortunately, I think Dokdin balances the various elements in his films very well. The comedic parts occupy a lot of time in his films, but not too much time. I think these comedic parts in his films make his films very different from foreign films. For example, I think KON GIN MIA (THE MAN WHO ATE WOMEN) (1974, Dokdin Ganyamarn, A+) feels very Thai because of these comedic parts in the film. If we excise the comedic parts from KON GIN MIA and adapt the rest of the film just a little bit, I think KON GIN MIA can be easily comparable to Italian giallo films.

    Comment by celinejulie — April 5, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

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