At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
June is “The Month of Cuisine” at Film Space. July, “The Month of Body Rental.”
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. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, June 27: Salmer fra kjøkkenet [Norway] / Kitchen Stories / Psalmer från köket [Sweden] / Psalms from the Kitchen (2003) by Bent Hamer – 99 mins – Norway/ Sweden, Comedy/ Drama. In Norwegian and Swedish with English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 73 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: By turns touching and funny, this Norwegian import offers quietly absorbing commentary on modern life and friendship. A quaint story about the friendship between two aging men, Kitchen Stories is packaged as a comedy with a very strange premise. It is based on research conducted in Sweden in the 1950s when women were observed in the kitchen for a study to determine the best housework techniques. In the film, a fictional plotline concerns a team of Swedish scientists--all men--hired to observe bachelors living alone in Norway. Their methods are absurd. The observers live in funny little trailers outside their subjects' houses. They sit in high, intimidating chairs placed in the corner of their subjects' kitchens where they take notes on a clipboard. Finally, there is a strict rule that the observer and the subject must not speak to each other or make contact of any kind. This last rule is impossible to follow, and in the case of observer Folke (Tomas Norstrom) and subject Isak (Joachim Calmeyer) it is ignored. The two aging men become fast friends, passing wintry afternoons in the rural countryside sipping coffee, smoking pipes, and telling each other fantastic stories. Writer-director Bent Hamer has created a sweet and pleasing comedy with Kitchen Stories, using excellent photography, interesting colors, and great performances to make a success of an uncomplicated plot.
Wikipedia: Swedish efficiency researchers come to Norway for a study of Norwegian men, to optimize their use of their kitchen. Folke Nilsson (Tomas Norström) is assigned to study the habits of Isak Bjørvik (Joachim Calmeyer). By the rules of the research institute, Folke has to sit on an umpire's chair in Isak's kitchen and observe him from there, but never talk to him. Isak stops using his kitchen and observes Folke through a hole in the ceiling instead. However, the two lonely men slowly overcome the initial post-war Norwegian-Swede distrust and become friends.
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.
July is“The Month of Body Rental”at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, July 4: Platonic Sex / Puratonikku sekusu / プラトニック・セックス(2001) by Masako Matsûra – 104 mins – Japan, Drama.
DVDactive: The film starts atop a tall building where seventeen-year-old Aoi, on her birthday, after being gang-raped and subsequently rejected by her parents, decides to end her life. She reaches out into the wind to let go and jump, only to be brought back to reality one last time when a text message appears on her phone. Although seemingly sent to a wrong number, the message gives her hope and she decides to live. Soon she falls into the world of prostitution and eventually, the adult video industry, where she makes a name for herself as the hottest young newcomer, going under the name of Ai.
Based on the international best-selling biography by Ai Iijima, Platonic Sex is the story of one girl’s harrowing fight to live. It captures both the sense of her desperation and the feeling of her being desensitized to the world after all of the horrors that it throws at her, charting her fall to rock bottom and seeming rise to fame. By the time she realizes that her ascent in the adult video industry is actually more of a descent from the rock bottom that she thought she had hit before, it is too late. Amidst all this she thinks that she finds love with an apparent stranger but only finds her complicated life to be a horrible place for a relationship.
The story was intriguing and captivating – the interest rests in the performance of the lead, Saki Kagami, who does a brilliant job at capturing the essence of this desperate, lonely soul. With a cute-ness that lies on the cusp of being beautiful, she draws your attention and carries you through the narrative, allowing you to see the emotion and lack thereafter of this young innocent who does not remain so. Joe Odagiri does a good job as the love interest, a barman at a club that she frequents, who also happens to be her guardian angel.
Overall, and although watching it seldom gives you a good feeling inside, the movie is well worth your time. Consistently depressing—even the romance is tainted by the state her life is in, you can clearly see how the material is largely non-fictional. Right from the start it is difficult to see the central protagonist as anything other than a victim and although that makes it hard to appreciate her as a sex star, it does show you just how real this drama feels. The female director Masako Matsurra has a keen eye for showing the horror in the subject—never allowing the movie to become a sexy, voyeuristic affair. Platonic Sex may not be a pleasant film, but it is a compelling one.
Eigapedia: When Aoi is gang-raped by her classmates and kicked out of her home by her own parents she sees no reason to continue living. Before she commits suicide, however, she receives an email on her cellphone from a man named Toshi addressed to a girl named Ai. The message simply thanks the girl for being alive, but this specific message has an effect on Aoi and she decides to keep on living. Without many options, Aoi resorts to everything from paid dating to porn to earn money and meets a lot of less than reputable characters. Throughout it all though she looks toward Toshi as her hope for happiness and the two form a relationship.
This film is rated IIB in Hong Kong, meaning: "Adult Material; Parental Guidance Recommended – Not Suitable for Young Persons and Children." This is roughly equal to an MPPA rating of "R" in the US. Films rated Category IIB contain large amounts of violence and/or nudity and sexual situations, in addition to possible explicit language and adult situations.
Available on DVD from HKFlix.
At Film Space Saturday, July 11: Boogie Nights (1997) by Paul Thomas Anderson – 155 mins – US, Drama.
Rated R in the US for strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language, and violence. It was originally rated NC-17 – 40 seconds of film were cut to reduce it to an R. The 40 seconds are included in a widely distributed pirated copy of a work print. The pirated work includes many scenes not in the movie or the DVD deleted scenes — some are very explicit. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 85/84 out of 100.
ReelViews: There was a time during the long history of the adult entertainment industry that porn films showed signs of artistic ambition. During the late '70s, a small cadre of directors believed that they could combine the raunch of real sex with an involving plot. It was a lofty goal, and one that ultimately proved impossible to realize, especially with the advent of video forcing movies to be made cheaper and faster. In his new film, Boogie Nights, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson takes us back to the disco era, and, by following a small group of characters, recreates the rise and fall of "artistic porn" and those who participated in it.
The really burning question about this film always has been: Was that really Mark Wahlberg's penis? The definitive answer given here next week!
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.