At Film Space: on Saturdays at 7 pm
During August, a month of animation. September, a month of Asian films.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school, on the 2nd floor. Or maybe the roof. A small but nice place to view movies. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space on August 30, 7 pm: The Simpsons Movie (2007) by David Silverman – US Animation – 87 mins. This played on the major screens here in Chiang Mai one year ago, and at the time I had this to say about it:
A strange movie. I can’t really claim an extensive acquaintanceship with the Simpsons, nor an affinity with them. I never really watched them on TV, and I can’t say I’m particularly fond of them. I’m afraid I’m confused by the mass appeal of the series. I did laugh watching this movie, quite a number of times, and for the rest, I found it generally amusing overall and the writing quite clever. I enjoyed its irreverent satire. But it left me rather cold and unmoved. Many say it is an accurate reflection of the American family; if so, I think America is facing even greater problems than I thought. The gentle, good-natured acceptance of the cruelties the father and son of this family inflict upon each other is, to me, outrageous. In this representative family, supposedly happy and functioning, I find many amazingly ugly undercurrents, all of which seem celebrated by the movie. An abusive father and an abusive son, played for laughs. Some have said that the Simpsons are a definitive portrait of the dysfunctional American family - stuck with each other and, deep down, OK with it. I don’t like that point of view.
Also, the animation is crude and primitive, to my way of thinking. However, I can see that if you’re one of the millions who have watched a sizable percentage of the 400 TV episodes over the18 years the Simpsons have been on television, then this would be a fully enjoyable experience for you. For you, a tip: you will want to sit all the way through the ending credits for the additional fun along the way. Generally favorable reviews: 80/75 out of 100.
At Film Space on September 6, 7 pm: The Scent of Green Papaya / Mùi đu đủ xanh (1993) by Trần Anh Hùng – France/Vietnam Drama – 104 mins. In Vietnamese, with English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81 out of 100.
An award-winning film, nominated for Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1994. This placid but visually intoxicating tone poem explores the interior life of a Vietnamese household in the 1950s, as seen through the eyes of a young servant girl. Although set in Vietnam, the film was shot entirely on a soundstage in Boulogne, France. This is Trần Anh Hùng's first feature film and stars his wife, Trần Nữ Yên Khê. He later went on to direct Cyclo and Vertical Ray of the Sun, also starring his wife, and these three films comprise what many consider now to be his "Vietnam trilogy."
Although Trần Anh Hùng was born in 1962 in Đà Nẵng, Central Vietnam, he emigrated to France when he was 12 following the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Trần has long been considered at the forefront of the wave of acclaimed overseas Vietnamese cinema in the past two decades. His films have received international notoriety and acclaim, and until recently have all been varied meditations on life in Vietnam.
Trần Anh Hùng has said about his film,
"The scent of green papaya is a personal childhood memory. Everyone [in Vietnam] knew the gestures associated with the preparation of the papaya and, since the houses weren't soundproofed, you often heard it being prepared in the house next door. You knew the sound because the papaya is hollow and when you hit it (with a knife), it makes a very characteristic noise. The papaya was really a part of everyday Vietnamese life. Since the green papaya was a vegetable prepared by women, it immediately becomes a symbol of women's work."
James Berardinelli writes,
“What The Scent of Green Papaya does so well is to show the everyday life of a culture that has been bombed into history. This is the kind of motion picture that could easily become repetitive and boring, because so little happens. But, by involving the audience in the everyday minutiae of Vietnamese life, Trần Anh Hùng holds the viewers' interest. The Scent of Green Papaya is made all the more enchanting by its simplicity.”
Roger Ebert writes,
“Here is a film so placid and filled with sweetness that watching it is like listening to soothing music. . . . I have seen The Scent of Green Papaya three times now - the first time in May 1993 at Cannes, where it was named the best film by a first-time director. It is a placid, interior, contemplative film - not plot-driven, but centered on the growth of the young woman. As such, you might think it would seem "slower" on later viewings, but I found that the opposite was true: As I understood better what the movie was, I appreciated it more, because like a piece of music it was made of subtleties that only grew deeper through familiarity. This is a film to cherish.”