Limitless Cinema in Broken English

January 29, 2010

THE CABINET OF MADAME CALIGARI

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 8:05 am

From comment in Facebook:

I think one should make a film about an asylum of which the patients include Monica Vitti from RED DESERT, Liv Ullmann from PERSONA (1966, Ingmar Bergman), Isabelle Adjani from POSSESSION, Marina de Van from IN MY SKIN, Béatrice Dalle from BETTY BLUE (1986, Jean-Jacques Beineix), Diane Ladd from WILD AT HEART (1990, David Lynch), and Benjawan Boonyagard from MUANG NAI MORK (Permpol Choei-aroon). The film may be titled THE CABINET OF MADAME CALIGARI. The role of Madame Caligari is played by Leena Jung.

COAL MONEY (2008, Wang Bing, A+++++)

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 1:59 am

Thanks to Matthew Flanagan for telling us about this film.

Very impressed with this documentary, especially the dramatic negotiations for the right price/pay. I think what makes COAL MONEY different from other recent Chinese films I saw is that it deals with a hard life which is not connected with illegal activities, unlike FEAST OF VILLAINS (2008, Pan Jianlin), LITTLE MOTH (2008, Tao Peng), or BLIND SHAFT (2003, Li Yang), though all of these films makes me feel sad about how money rules our lives nowadays.

HARD-WORKING LIFE FILM SET

1.COAL MONEY
2.COMEDIAN STORY (1999, Pawit Mongkonprasit, Thailand, 25 min)
3.EVOLUTION OF A FILIPINO FAMILY (2004, Lav Diaz, Philippines)
4.THE HOUSEWIFE’S FLOWER (1999, Dominik Wessely, Germany, documentary)
5. IMPORT/EXPORT (Ulrich Seidl, Austria)
6.IT’S WINTER (2006, Rafi Pitts, Iran)
7.A LIFE WITH SLATE (2006, Dipesh Kharel, Nepal, documentary)
8.LITTLE MEN (2003, Nariman Turebayev, Kazakhstan)
9. WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? (1996, Sandrine Veysset, France)

January 27, 2010

WHY I WORSHIP THE THAI SHORT FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 2:08 pm

This is my comment in INDIAN AUTEURS’ website:
http://www.indianauteur.com/?p=976

There is a Thai magazine called FUSE SHOWCASE which publishes the interviews of a lot of Thai short filmmakers, and the magazine comes together with a DVD of a few Thai short films. However, this magazine is released once every six months or so. There have been only four issues of FUSE SHOWCASE so far.

There was also FUSE magazine, which belonged to same company as FUSE SHOWCASE. FUSE was devoted to Thai short filmmakers. The columns in FUSE are about the interviews of Thai short filmmakers, the reviews on Thai short films, the latest interesting clips on Youtube, how to make films, how to send films to film festivals abroad, which cameras to buy, which notebooks to buy, how to create music using digital technology, how to make fake scars on the actors, how to make sound effects, etc. Unfortunately, this monthly magazine only released 31 issues. It has now ceased to be a print magazine and become an online magazine. Its website is at http://www.fuse.in.th/ .

Both FUSE and FUSE SHOWCASE belongs to the same company as BIOSCOPE magazine, a monthly magazine which has released 98 issues so far. However, BIOSCOPE magazine focuses more on cinephile-readers than filmmaker-readers. The columns in BIOSCOPE are about arthouse films. BIOSCOPE magazine also produces some documentaries.

As a cinéphile who loves seeing Thai short films, I owe the biggest thank to Thai Film Foundation, who has organized the Thai Short Film and Video Festival each year since 1997. The greatest thing about this festival is that it shows every Thai film submitted to it, no matter whether the film is short or long, good or bad. This fact makes this festival very different from most festivals which show only “selected” films, not all submitted films.

By showing all submitted Thai films, the organizers of this festival must be very tired each year, but they still keep on doing it. Last year they showed about 526 submitted Thai films. The screening of these films took place 6 days a week, 3 hours on Tuesday-Friday, 9 hours on Saturday and Sunday. I really respect them for their enormous effort in holding this festival, which I consider a heavenly space for Thai independent filmmakers and Thai cinéphiles.

By showing all submitted Thai films, I think this festival has given a space for Thai cinéphiles who don’t like to be dictated which films they should or should not see. This festival also gives a space for Thai filmmakers who don’t care for film jury, film awarders, or film selectors. This is a space for filmmakers who don’t care for any aesthetic rules, a space for filmmakers want to be true to their vision, true to their feelings, true to what they really want to say, true to what they really want to make. If the film festival shows only selected films, many Thai filmmakers will not dare to make the films they really want to make. They will try to make only the films which will satisfy the film selectors, so that their films will be selected and will be shown. Their vision will be compromised.

This film festival is divided into two parts. The first part is called Marathon, and it’s the one which shows all submitted Thai films. The second part is the showing of the selected films for the competitions, foreign films, and some special films. Last year about 70 Thai films from 526 submitted films were selected to enter into the competitions.

I enjoy seeing the submitted films in the Marathon part very much, much more than seeing the selected films in the competition part. There are some bad films in the Marathon part, but most of these bad short films are much more tolerable than bad Thai mainstream films or bad Hollywood films.

In the age of Youtube, one can argue that short filmmakers don’t have to rely on film festivals any more. Youtube also gives them freedom to show the films which are true to their vision to the whole wide world. But in my own opinion as a cinéphile, I find that going to see 200-300 short films in the festival in a month is a much more rewarding experience than watching them in Youtube. I just don’t have the time to watch Youtube every day or to read some Thai film webboards to find out who has uploaded his/her latest films onto Youtube. This festival is a much more convenient way for me to see these films.

I don’t know if there is a film festival like this elsewhere or not, the one which shows all the submitted films, not only the selected ones. If there is a film festival like this elsewhere, I think it will help a lot in encouraging new filmmakers to dare to make films in their own styles, to dare to experiment something new, to dare to make films to please himself/herself first, instead of trying to make films to win the mass audience or the film jury first. And when their films are shown in the festivals, they might get some feedbacks from film bloggers, from commenters in film webboards, or from other directors who have a chance to see their films. They will know how to improve their filmmaking skills, instead of knowing only that their films are not selected. They will know that these or those directors like their films very much, and they will become friends and will help each other in the future.

If you love your grandmother very much, and want to make a film about your grandmother’s activities, you can do it, and it will be shown in this kind of film festivals. If you secretly love a friend, you can make a documentary about it, and it will also be shown in the festival. If you are a little bit obsessed with sex, you can also make a film to satisfy this part of yours, and it will also be shown in the festival (in case the film is not against the law). If you hate some political groups very much, you can also make a film about it, and it will be shown. If you want to make a film which pleases your subconscious, you can do it, and it will be shown in the festival. You don’t have to care at all whether other people can understand it or appreciate it or not. By having this kind of film festivals, filmmakers will be free from so-called aestheic rules and wont’ be too nervous while making films. This kind of film festivals will help them dare to make the first step and let them grow in their own ways.

32 DEC (2009, Rergchai Puongpetch, A+++++)

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 12:09 pm

I couldn’t stop laughing when I was watching Goh Tee near the end of 32 DEC. He only plays one scene in this film, and it’s the reason why I give this film A+++++. I think it is very interesting that we laugh at Goh Tee in this film because he seems to speak English “correctly”, not “incorrectly”. His seemingly-correct pronunciation seems to contrast a lot with his own image, thus it creates a hugh laughter.

I think it is also interesting that Goh Tee gives his best performances (in my point of view) in 32 DEC and in SAB SANIT SIT SAI NAR (2006, Rergchai Puongpetch), but not in Poj Arnon’s films.

I also like it very much that the characters in this film do the things I want them to do. When the hero in this film finds out who he really loves, he tells it straightforwardly to the lover of his beloved and to his beloved, instead of hiding his love for silly reasons like in other films. I also like it that the hero tells his girlfriend (Noon) straightforwardly that he may not really love her. I like this kind of frankness very much.

I also love the character Noon very much, because she really wants to have sex with the hero. Hahaha.

This is a photo of Sirut Witayathavornvongs, an actor in 32 DEC:

ROCKWAY CAFE (2010, Piengdao Jariyapun, A+/A)

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 11:58 am

I think the direction and the acting in ROCKWAY CAFÉ are great, though its story is not really my style.

I like Piengdao very much as an actress. I like her performances in CRIMES OF THE HEART (2009, Parida Nobthai, A+) and PRASADTAEK (2008, Bhanbassa Dhubtien, A+). The only reason why I don’t give ROCKWAY CAFÉ “A+” is because I don’t like its happy ending. The reconciliation between the mother and the daughter in this play is something I can’t feel involved in.

DOMBAIS & FILS (2007, Laurent Jaoui, A+++++++++++++++)

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 10:23 am
DOMBAIS & FILS (2007, Laurent Jaoui, A++++++++++++++) is not a great mini-series, if you judge it artistically or aesthetically. But it is one of my most favorite mini-series of all time, because I worship Edith de Préville (Caroline Bourg), the female character in this mini-series who does not tolerate her tyrannical husband.

Favorite quote from Edith de Préville, saying to her husband: “Too bad for you, whatever my travails, yours will always be much worse. I will play no part in your house, neither tomorrow, nor on any anniversary. I will not be seen as a rebellious slave, bought and tamed by you.”

BLACK FORESTS’ TOP TEN FILMS OF THE DECADE

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 9:41 am

BLACK FORESTS’ TOP TEN FILMS OF THE DECADE (2000-2009)

http://blackforests.blogspot.com/2010/01/top-10-favourite-films-of-dacade-2000.html

(in alphabetical order)

01. ANGEL’S FALL (2004, Semih Kaplanoglu)
02. BUNGALOW (2002, Ulrich Kohler)
03. DIVINE INTERVENTION (2002, Elia Suleiman)
04. THE FOREST FOR THE TREES (2003, Maren Ade)
05. IN MY SKIN (2002, Marina de Van)
06. LOVELY RITA (2001, Jessica Hausner)
07. MONDAY MORNING (2002, Otar Iosseliani)
08. THE POLICEWOMAN (2003, Joaquim Sapinho)
09. SCHOOL TRIP (2002, Henner Winckler)
10. THE STATE I AM IN (2000, Christian Petzold)

This is my comment in BLACK FORESTS’s blog:

I think your list is the one which is the most similar to my list, in case I have time to make my own decade list in the future. I worship ANGEL’S FALL, DIVINE INTERVENTION, IN MY SKIN, LOVELY RITA, THE POLICEWOMAN, SCHOOL TRIP, and THE STATE I AM IN. All these seven films are in my favorite film lists of the past years at Senses of Cinema.

I haven’t seen BUNGALOW, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES and MONDAY MORNING yet. I think I will love them too when I have a chance to see them.

January 25, 2010

APICHATPONG AND HIS INFLUENCES

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 10:52 pm

These are my comments in INDIAN AUTEUR’s website:
http://www.indianauteur.com/?p=976

–Thank you very much for your kind words, Kavita.

As for your questions:

1. Sadly, I think there is no real market for short filmmakers in Thailand right now. Some of these short filmmakers make films because they are film students in universities, and they have to make films as required by the film courses they are taking. But most of the short filmmakers in my list also make films just to satisfy their needs, which I think is a very good thing. I like the fact that they make films not because they want money, good grades, awards, or an entry into the mainstream film business, but they make films just because they want to make them.

It would be great if there is a market for them, but I can’t see it happen in Thailand now.

2. I guess most filmmakers in my list use their parents’ money. But what is interesting right now is that many short filmmakers in Thailand are funded by various projects, such as a no-smoking project, a promoting-good-people project, an AIDS-awareness project, a don’t-drive-drunk project, a supporting-minorities project, or something like that. In these cases, the short filmmakers have to make films to satisfy the project owners, so most of the resulting films are good, but not extremely controversial or extremely experimental.

I also like the fact that filmmaking nowadays seems to cost less and less, so Thai short filmmakers who can fund themselves are not limited to Bangkok bourgeois people any more. Nowadays we can see more and more films made by people from upcountry. I think the digital technology really help democratizing filmmaking in Thailand.

———————————————————-

–I guess Apichatpong inspire a lot of Thai independent filmmakers during the past ten years. I think there may be more than 50 Thai short filmmakers who are inspired by Apichatpong in one way or another. I guess some of them dare to make experimental films after seeing Apichatpong’s films. During the past ten years, there are also a number of Thai short films which are semi-documentary, semi-fiction, semi-experimental. I think some of them are inspired by Apichatpong’s films. I think one can even write a whole book about this topic – POST-APICHATPONG THAI FILMS, because there seem to be many Thai short films which remind us of Apichatpong.

Some trivia about this “influence” topic:

1. One of the first Thai films which are influenced by Apichatpong is BLACK-AND-WHITE FILM (2001, Montree Saelo, 6 minutes). This film is inspired by WINDOWS (1999, Apichatpong). I remember that I saw BLACK-AND-WHITE FILM and liked it a lot, but I can’t remember any details about this film now.

2.Chaiwat Wiansantia said in his interview in a Thai magazine called FUSE SHOWCASE VOL. 4 that Apichatpong is one of his favorite artists, and I think Chaiwat also make semi-documentary, semi-fiction, semi-experimental, semi-poetic films like Apichatpong. Chaiwat’s films also pay attention to nature like Apichatpong’s films.

3. Attapon Pamakho said in his interview in FUSE SHOWCASE VOL.3 that the forest scene in his gay film HASAN is inspired by TROPICAL MALADY.

4. In POLITICALLY LAWYER AND NARRATIVE CINEMA (Chaloemkiat Saeyong), the name Apichatpong is mentioned. I guess Chaloemkiat’s experimental films may partly be inspired by Apichatpong, too.

5.Sivaroj Kongsakul, an interesting Thai filmmaker, talked about what he learned from Apichatpong in Fuse Magazine vol. 26 (March, 2009). He talked that once Apichatpong told him to observe how the colors of leaves were changed according to the light reflecting on the leaves. That experience makes Sivaroj understand something about Apichatpong’s perspective and nature.

6. I guess Thai filmmakers who may be partly inspired by Apichatpong include Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Tanatchai Bandasak, Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, Nok Paksnavin, and Chaisiri Jiwarangsan. Something in SLEEPING BEAUTY (Chulayarnnon) and ENDLESS RHYME (Tanatchai) reminds me of the poetic quality of Apichatpong’s films. I’m not sure about Nawapol. Some of his films are very slow and atmospheric, such as SEE and “THERE, THERE” (2005, 28 min), but maybe Nawapol is inspired more by Tsai Ming-liang than by Apichatpong.

7.The Thai censorship on SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY caused a lot of anger for Thai filmmakers, and they made a few short films to protest them.

8. Tossapol Boonsinsukh is an interesting case. After I first saw his films in 2005, I assumed that he might be inspired by Apichatpong or Sasithorn Ariyavicha, because his films are very slow and atmospheric like the films of these two artists. After that, I had a chance to talk to him, and found that he might had never seen a film by Sasithorn. He also said that his favorite filmmakers include Prabda Yoon, Pen-ek, and Takeshi Kitano!?!?!

After knowing about this, I began to see the influence of Pen-ek on some films by Tossapol. It’s hard to describe this influence in words. It’s a kind of “cute feelings” or “cool feelings” found in the early films of Pen-ek. However, though I like most films by Pen-ek, I prefer Tossapol’s films to Pen-ek’s films, because I think the feelings in Tossapol’s films are not “forced”, but some feelings in Pen-ek’s films seem “forced”.

9.Phaisit Phanphruksachat is also an interesting case. He once worked with Apichatpong in MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON. After that, he made some films which are semi-documentary, semi-fiction, semi-experimental. One might (wrongly) assume that Phaisit may be influenced by Apichatpong. But some of my friends think that this is not the case. My friends also guess that MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON may be partly inspired by Phaisit, instead of the other way around. If Apichatpong is Thai Jean-Luc Godard, Phaisit is Thai Chris Marker.

This comparison does not mean I think Apichatpong’s films are like Godard’s films. I mean Apichatpong and Phaisit are both great Thai artists who may or may not influence each other. And Phaisit may even come into the scene a bit earlier than Apichatpong. However, I still haven’t had a chance to see Phaisit’s early films such as MADANG BO SAI (1999) and KLASS AND KIANG TALKING (year unknown), which is six-hour long.

——————————————————–

–As for my reply to Kavita above, I also want to add that most of the filmmakers in my list might use their parents’ money to make films because they are young. I arbitrarily choose only filmmakers whom I assume are not over 30 years old in this “young” director list. As for Thai independent filmmakers who are over 30 years old, there are also a few of them who are sponsored by foreign funds, the ones you often find accompanying many film festivals around the world. But there are also a group of Thai short filmmakers who use their own money to make great films, though their films are very low-budgeted. Some of these short filmmakers work as an office employee or a pharmacist by day (I have heard a rumor that one of them work as a janitor), and make films in their spare time. Manussak Dokmai, one of my most favorite Thai filmmakers, used to make four short films which cost only 2.4 US$ (80 baht) each. He just borrowed a camera from his friend to make them. He also used to live with only 0.3 US$ (13 baht) a day and suffered a lot from hunger at that time. I guess that’s one of the reasons why he won’t waste too much money making films. Weerasak Suyala, who is a policeman, made a very weird, unique, and funny film called THE PEN (2008), which is 60-minute long, but it costs only 50 US$ to make this cult film. Somehow I can’t help feeling very passionate for these low-budgeted filmmakers. 🙂

January 24, 2010

MY ARTICLE ON 20 YOUNG INDEPENDENT THAI DIRECTORS

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 1:42 am

I just wrote an article about 20 YOUNG INDEPENDENT THAI DIRECTORS. It is just published on INDIAN AUTEURS website. You can read the article here:
http://www.indianauteur.com/?p=976

You can also read the article in the e-magazine INDIAN AUTEURS: ISSUE NO.8 via the link below
http://issuu.com/nitesh/docs/final_ia8/1

My article is on the pages 45-56. I think the magazine uses a wrong photo on the page 54, though, because that photo is from A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL (2005, Raya Martin).

I hope you enjoy my article. Thanks a lot to INDIAN AUTEURS for publishing my work.

(Since this article is about “young” directors, I arbitrarily choose only directors whom I assume are not over 30 years old.)

“MAP IS A FAKE THING, BECAUSE IT TELLS YOU THAT TIME STOPS.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 12:11 am

Favorite quote from Tilda Swinton in THE INVISIBLE FRAME (2009, Cynthia Beatt, A+++++++++++++++):

“Map is a fake thing, because it tells you that time stops. But in fact it goes on and on, and thus the map is remaking itself all the time.”

(I can’t remember the exact words, but it is something like this.)

http://www.onlinefilm.info/-/film/33578

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