Thursday, February 19, 2009

Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm

During February, Film Space presents “The Month of Iron Hoofter.” March is “The Month of Bad Luck Money.”

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. Now that the weather is cool, they are resuming their rooftop showings, weather permitting. You might want to bring something to sit on or lie on. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.

Saturday, February 21: The Love of Siam (2007) by Chukiat Sakveerakul – 150 mins – Thai Drama/ Romance.

Third in the Hoofter series: gay love in Thailand. The granddaddy of Thai gay films, immensely popular. It swept the best picture prizes from all of Thailand's major film awards last year, and was this year’s Thailand submission for Oscar best foreign picture, but did not get nominated. With heartthrobs Mario Maurer and Witwisit “Pitch” Hiranyawongkul. The widely acclaimed film is a gentle drama that encompasses family dysfunction and homosexual teen puppy love.

Oggs' Movie Thoughts: To label Chukiat Sakveerakul's The Love of Siam as simply a gay teen romance is to misjudge its power and intention. Within the two and a half hour running time of the film, Sakveerakul essays not only the two young leads' reunion and inevitable attraction but also a family's slow and painful road to accepting a long-delayed reality. I would like to think that The Love of Siam, above everything else, seeks to reaffirm the life-affirming values of loving and being loved without sacrificing the portrayal of the very palpable pain that usually accompanies the emotion.

The twenty-minute prologue tracks the histories of young Mew and Tong, who are both schoolmates and neighbors. They form a very close friendship which was abruptly ended when Tong's family had to move out when Tang (Laila Boonyasuk), Tong's elder sister, went missing during a trip in Chiang Mai, causing the family tremendous and irreparable sorrow. Years later, Mew (Witwisit Hirunwongkul), lead singer and composer for an up and coming boy band, again crosses path with Tong (Mario Maurer), who is struggling at home with his domineering mother (Sinjai Plengpanich) and alcoholic father (Songsit Rungnopakunsri). The two reconnect and inevitably fall for each other, disrupting whatever peace they have grown accustomed to.

To make matters more complicated, Mew's Chinese neighbor Ying is hopelessly in love with Mew, not knowing of his homosexual tendencies. On the other hand, Tong is currently dating Donut, presumably not knowing of his own homosexual tendencies too. Tong's family, more specifically the father who's been spending days and nights drinking, is still suffering from the loss of Tang. June (also played by Boonyasuk), Mew's band manager who looks a lot like Tang, is then recruited to pose as the long lost daughter, momentarily easing the father of his staggering pains.

The Siam in the title refers to Siam Square, a shopping district in Bangkok where most teens hang out to shop, dine, meet, and have fun. Siam Square, in the eyes of the Bangkok youth, has become both the place for welcomes and farewells, of declarations of love and hurtful break-ups, of chance encounters and scheduled meetings. In the film, the popular venue is not only the setting for Mew and Tong's reunion and the numerous other events in the story but it also represents the unpredictability of the many facets of love which the film so intricately paints. While Siam Square or any other shopping mecca are ordinarily thought of as accessories to the bastardization of love and romance because it commonly equates blatant commercialism with the love's outward depictions like dating, gift-giving, and hanging out, The Love of Siam uses that very element to depict love's many wanderings and permutations. Underneath the glow of the traditionally amiable romance, The Love of Siam strives to say something more about the act of loving, whether romantically or familial: that it is more a nebulous network-like journey to maintain hope than a straight path to the assumed happy ending.

In fact, The Love of Siam ends without any of its characters fulfilling the traditional conclusions of a love story. There are no happily-ever-afters or expected closures. Instead, the film ends with a mere spark of hope. That hope that closes the film actually opens up million of possibilities for its characters, as numerous as the countless fortuitous encounters in Siam Square that initiate relationships between strangers or abruptly conclude long-standing affairs all within the fateful movement of time. Sakveerakul drafts a bittersweet ode to the complexities of loving, which commercial cinema has tended to avoid throughout the years.

Portrait of a dysfunctional Siam family

Saturday, February 28: Sommersturm / Summer Storm (2004) by Marco Kreuzpaintner – 98 mins – Germany Comedy/ Drama/ Romance.

Fourth in the Hoofter series: gay love in Germany. Tobi and Achim have been best friends for years. As cox and oarsman, they have helped their team win several rowing cups in the past and are now looking forward to the big regatta in the countryside. But this trip is no summer camp anymore and the first problems soon arise. As Achim’s relationship with his girlfriend grows more serious, Tobi starts to realize that his feelings for Achim run deeper than he’s willing to admit to himself. He feels confused, unsure of himself and increasingly left out. When the much-anticipated Berlin girls’ team is replaced by a team of athletic, cliché-busting young gay men, Tobi and his teammates are suddenly forced to grapple with their prejudices, their fears, and, perhaps, their hidden longings. As the tension grows, Tobi, Achim and the others head towards a confrontation as fierce and ultimately as liberating as the summer storm gathering over the lake… Summer Storm highlights the emotional confusion of a young man at the threshold of adulthood. Bolstering the film’s authenticity is the dazzling characterization of Tobi by award-winning young Robert Stadlober (Best Leading Actor at the Montreal Film Festival, 2001). Rated R in the US for sexuality, language, and drug content. Mixed or average reviews: 51/55 out of 100.

Don Willmott, It's a wet hot German summer when a co-ed high-school rowing team hops on its bus and heads off a regional meet/campout in Summer Storm. Issues of burgeoning sexuality abound, and one boy's struggle with his nascent homosexuality comes to the fore.

The center of attention is Tobi (Robert Stadlober), a somewhat dorky but popular team captain who has a dangerously serious crush on his life-long buddy and teammate Achim (Kostja Ullmann). Backslapping best friends, the two are totally comfortable indulging in, um, onanism contests and playing a little slap and tickle in the locker room, but when Tobi plants an impulsive little kiss on Achim's cheek, the freaked-out Achim draws a firm line. After all, he has a girlfriend, and so does Tobi for that matter.

Once the kids make it to the rowing meet campsite, they're amazed to find that one of the competing teams is comprised completely of dewy young gay men who have traveled from Berlin (oh, that explains it). The Queerstrokes, as they're called, are a friendly lot, but they suffer a bit of low-grade homophobia at the hands of Tobi's less worldly teammates.

As Achim and his girlfriend keep sneaking off into the woods for grope sessions, Tobi burns with jealousy. When he finally has his own erotic encounter with one of the Queerstrokes, he's more, rather than less, confused, and as word spreads of his orientation, minor chaos ensues, and the coach worries that they may not win the trophy.

March is “The Month of Bad Luck Money”

Saturday, March 7: 6ixtynin9 / Ruang talok 69 (1999) by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – 118 mins – Thailand Comedy/ Crime/ Thriller.

In this critically-acclaimed Thai comedy, a young woman named Tum finds a mysterious noodle box full of money on her doorstep, shortly after losing her job. The clever beauty attempts to hold on to the loot and soon finds herself at the center of a thrilling, high-stakes caper between Thai Boxing gangsters, corrupt executives, and the bungling authorities. Rated R in the US for violence, language, and brief sexual humor. Generally favorable reviews: 65/66 out of 100.

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