Archive for the ‘TITLE H’ Category



THAILAND 2011  Directed by: Chayanop Boonprakob Written by: Chayanob Boonprakob, Tossapol Tiptinnakorn  Produced by: Jira Maligool, Chenchonnanee Sppnthonsaratul, Suwimol Techasupinan, Wanruedee Pongsittisak  Cinematography by: Naruphol Chokkhanaphitak  Music by: Genie Records  Cast: Jirayu Laongmanee, Pachara Chirathivat, Thawat Pornrattanaprasert, Natcha Nualjam (Nattasha Morrison)

It doesn’t happen very often that a Thai comedy is more than a random potpourri of tasteless, one-hundred-year-old jokes and failed 1910’s/1920’s slapstick references, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see SUCKSEED succeed not only in the comedy department, but in many more ways.

SUCKSEED tells the story of two childhood friends from Chiang Mai, Koong and Ped, who both somehow fancy the same girl, their classmate Ern. Ern leaves for Bangkok after primary school, but a few years later their paths cross again and they accidentally reunite in high school after Ern returns to Chiang Mai in 2006.

To impress the girls (especially Ern) and to challenge his twin brother Kay, a star guitarist, Koong decides to form a band, Koong And Friends, assigning Ped to play bass and basketball player Ex as drummer. At first it all looks like just another one of Koong’s short-lived ideas, but after finding out that Ern is an ace guitarist herself and his brother is entering a nationwide music award with his band The Arena, Koong becomes dead serious about Koong And Friends.

Together they decide to enter the talent competition as well to leave their mark – this way or another. But the odds are against them and things turn for the worse when Koong’s and Ped’s battle over Ern intensifies and Ern switches sides and decides to perform with The Arena at the music awards. Friendship, love and musical success – all seems impossible the closer the competition comes.

SUCKSEED works as good as a comedy as it does as a drama, love story and film about music, thanks to a wonderful script, the perfect cast and an array of participating Thai bands and singers (thanks to Grammy’s stable of some of the best rock/pop bands in the country – a well-calculated cross-marketing measure for Grammy / GTH, but also admittedly a great benefit for the audience). So there’s something in for everyone and, amazingly, I found mostly older people watching the film in local cinemas than teenagers who supposedly are the core audience. That speaks for the quality and maturity of SUCKSEED as a film, and it also proves that it was a good idea to pull in some bands that were most popular a long while ago, like Blackhead.

Still, SUCKSEED is a genuinely charming and smart film that is much more a coming-of-age drama than just a loose collection of motifs and genre quotes: it is very convincing in various departments, yet it is also mostly original, featuring fantastic timing, pace and sense for subtleties, mastering noise and silence equally well, throwing in a lot of pretty creative ideas (like the imaginary appearance of bands whenever the characters lose themselves in the music), twists and intelligent dialogue without ever overshadowing the story or the characters.

One of the film’s biggest achievements is that it always feels natural and organic, no matter what (and no matter what flaws show here and there). I should especially mention that the direction and cinematography are unobtrusive, only taking centre stage when necessary (SUCKSEED features some hilarious and exceptionally creative sequences, first and foremost the stellar scene with Blackhead joining Ped at the market), but otherwise let the story and actors drive the film – something you don’t find too often in Thai cinema.

As for the cast I wouldn’t say that all of them are great actors (and how could they – most of them are newcomers), however, they are the ideal cast for their roles nevertheless and display great enthusiasm, talent and partly also versatility, all of which makes me look forward to their next projects. Here are some promising new actors at work that we will most probably see a lot more often in the future.

SUCKSEED, despite some of its goofy looking poster artwork, teenage ensemble and motifs that generally concern a younger audience manages to transcend its story and make it universally relevant for everybody – SUCKSEED turns out to be heartfelt, fresh and authentic, with far above-average IQ, humor and artistic craftsmanship, let alone a brilliant soundtrack that even those who are not familiar with Thai music will most certainly appreciate.

The film is as funny as it is fun to watch – maybe I am getting senile, but I consider SUCKSEED an accomplished work that I have enjoyed more than most Thai movies in recent years. SUCKSEED is the 2011 surprise hit so far – and the Thai movie to beat in the months to come.







JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Yusuke Narita  Written by: Masayoshi Azuma  Novel by: Oniroku Dan  Cast: Minako Komukai, Shohei Hino, Mari Komatsuzaki, Kotono, Shunsaku Kudo, Kei Mizutani, Yasukaze Motomiya, Ayumu Saito

You should think that the Pinku Eiga is coming of age by now. FLOWER & SNAKE 3 leaves it kind of open however if it has, or hasn’t. It may simply be a matter of definition though, or maybe a matter if time.

FLOWER & SNAKE 3 has little in common with the likes of ANGEL GUTS or other Nikkatsu productions of the late 70’s or 80’s. Transgressions that once defined the genre – or creativity, as you may prefer to call it and were once a hallmark of the Japanese pink film – have made room for convention. Disregard the question if we have to attribute that creativity to censorship or not it must be noted that the Japanese pink film has always been more inventive than its western counterparts.

To be precise, the key difference is that the pinku eiga is imaginative while the western sex film is mostly solely descriptive. Like, say, the difference between Internet Explorer and Safari. This stronghold is genuinely made in Nippon, and few filmmakers outside the country have come close to the specific vision of pinku eiga directors or their literary sources.

Now how about the coming of age of the pink film? FLOWER & SNAKE 3 has come of age in the sense that it has evolved far away from the origins of the genre and represents a glossy interpretation of European soft core, a fantasy that could have come from the ever-playful mind of Tinto Brass, a film that turns transgression into fashion, lauding S&M as the new standard of the mainstream. Indeed, many ideas have moved from the periphery of society into its center, however, that doesn’t mean that the auteur has to follow that example and start depicting what is instead of what could or will be.

Losing that specific edge means losing a good part of the pinku eiga identity: there are more similarities than differences to western productions, even though FLOWER & SNAKE 3 still seems more story-driven and tries to define pleasure and pain as an expression, or result, of the relationships between the characters. But it’s a far cry from what made the pinku eiga a genuine category and that is also why I cannot think of many reasons why you need watch it.





KOREA 2010  Directed & Written by: Im Sang-Soo  Original story by: Kim Ki-Young Produced by: Jason Chae  Cinematography by: Lee Hyung-Deok  Editing by: Lee Eun-Soo  Music by: Kim Hong-Jip  Cast: Jeon Do-Yeon, Lee Jung-Jae, Seo Woo, Yoon Yeo-Jeong, Ahn Seo-Hyeon, Park Ji-Young

A young woman, Euny, takes up a job as nanny / housemaid in a wealthy family. The wife is pregnant with twins (they already have one child), while the husband is hardly ever at home. It happens however that one night he approaches Euny and for reasons only she knows she willingly begins an affair with him. Soon after, she becomes pregnant and the love triangle is starting to spiral out of control.

Im Sang-Soo’s remake of Kim Ki-Young’s film introduces a few changes over the original screenplay, but not necessarily for the better. Of course, THE HOUSEMAID has become a contemporary interpretation of the 1960 movie which reflected on the state of society back then, and tries to make references to the 21st century South Korean reality as it looks like today, but essentially the movie never manages to transcend its subtexts.

While some may see THE HOUSEMAID as a comment on Korea’s working class vs. the Chaebol, I believe that the movie is relating to reality only as far as any other movie does, that is, in being created by people whose accumulated experiences and perspectives, whose understanding of their lives and times, necessarily shows in their work. In this sense all works of art are shaped by the conditions that bore them. Other than that, it would be farfetched to claim that the film has a political agenda.

THE HOUSEMAID’s qualities lie more in the dramaturgic department after all. It’s a fine, elaborate movie, driven by subtle gestures and dialogue, making it a formidable, and at times erotic, thriller. Its visuals are well composed, the scenes carefully crafted, its pace graceful and the acting sophisticated. But the more the film relies on driving its story through interpersonal conflict, the more it exposes the loopholes and lack of character development of its script.

The biggest problem is Euny’s motivation or the lack thereof: Mr. Im has deliberately changed the way she intended to interfere with the family in the original, now depicting her as vulnerable, lost person with no goals in life who unintentionally is drawn into the love affair, a victim of coincidence and circumstance. Her weakness makes her easy prey for the husband, and things start off without her playing an active role – which later leads to the question why she turns into an increasingly manipulative person consumed by her own feelings. It also doesn’t explain why she doesn’t just walk away from the obviously hostile household, but instead endures pains that could have been easily avoided.

The reasons of the other characters are equally vague most of the time, and as a result THE HOUSEMAID never establishes logical group dynamics that would shed light on the mechanisms of violence, betrayal, revenge, or submission and domination, at some point. THE HOUSEMAID is as far away from winning the Palm d’Or (it tried) as it is from looking into the abyss of human existence, as STRAW DOGS did for example. The climax, a traumatic, Argentoesque moment presented with an out-of-place twinkle in the eye, adds little, if nothing, to a movie that has no real point or comprehensible conclusion.

THE HOUSEMAID has the appearance of a highly stylized blend of film noir and domestic farce, but never really excels beyond a superfluous melodrama or overly long soap opera episode with a lot of loose ends and sloppy storytelling. When the credits start rolling our dissatisfaction easily matches that of the characters whose longing ends in misery, without any of their questions truly answered.