At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
July is “The Month of Body Rental”at Film Space. August,“The Month of Reality.”
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 or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, July 18: Birdcage Inn / Blue Gate / Paran daemun (1998) by Ki-duk Kim– 105 mins – South Korea, Drama.
Jina is the new call girl at the run-down Birdcage Inn in Pohang. The inn has virtually no legitimate guests and the family who owns it lives off the income provided by Jina. Daughter Hyemi despises the call girl, despite Jina's attempts at friendship. Relatives and boyfriends become entangled – leading to both dark comedy and darker exploitation – as the two women discover that they have more in common than either suspected, the issue of sex, which originally divided them, becomes the channel for their reconciliation.
IMDb viewer: One of Kim Ki-duk's earlier, lesser-seen films, Birdcage Inn portrays the hard times of a young Korean prostitute and the family that makes money off her in a Korean coastal city. As with all Kim's films, the plot is pretty ludicrous, but this one lacks much of the sensationalistic depravity that makes most of his films conversation pieces. Kim's really attracted to prostitutes and the business of prostitution - as, it seems, are many of his heroines (one character's transition at the end of the film foreshadows a similar character's change of heart in Kim's recent Samaria). He also seems to have a love/hate feeling towards women. His girls may be whores but they have good hearts, and even though they may be smacked around repeatedly they persevere.
YesAsia: An early entry from Korean auteur KimKiDuk, Birdcage Inn, like his other films of this period - and Bad Guy, takes a close, but heartfelt look at the seedy world of prostitution.
Lee Ji Eun stars as Jin Ah, a Seoul prostitute who moves out to Pohang when the red light districts in the capital are demolished. She moves in to the Birdcage Inn and takes up the position of prostitute-in-residence, giving a cut of her money to the family that run the Inn, in return for room and board.
The family's eldest daughter, HyeMi (Lee Hae Eun) takes an instant dislike to Jin Ah and they clash at every possible opportunity. Jin Ah tries hard to befriend Hye Mi, but to no avail. In fact, matters become increasingly complex when Jin Ah's former pimp appears on the scene, Hye Mi's younger brother takes a shine to Jin Ah and Hye Mi's boyfriend comes between the two women.
Available on DVD from HKFlix.
At Film Space Saturday, July 25: Midnight My Love / Cherm / เฉิ่ม (2005) by Kongdej Jaturanrasamee – 100 mins – Thai, Drama/ Romance.
เฉิ่ม or Cherm literally means "old-fashioned person."
Moon-faced Sombat, a middle-aged taxi driver, usually works the night shift in Bangkok. He is an old-fashioned "straight arrow" and the greatest enjoyment in his lonely life is to listen to old Thai songs and Thai classical music late at night on AM radio. One evening a kindred spirit, Nual, a young and very pretty massage parlour girl, enters his cab at midnight after finishing her shift. She makes a deal with him to give her regular rides to work, but their relationship soon becomes more of a friendship. He takes her to his favorite noodle shop to eat, and she takes him to McDonalds for his first-ever burger. He then takes her to his favorite dance hall where they watch older couples dance to oldies, and she takes him shopping in a glitzy mall where she reveals her dream of owning a bridal shop. Sombat has written several letters to his favorite DJ expressing his appreciation for the programming and the DJ's friendly patter with the fond wish that one will be read on the air. He muses how he and Nual perform similar services for clients, helping them reach their destinations then continuing on their way. When listening to radio soap operas during day shifts, he visualizes himself and Nual as characters in old Thai movies confronting the roadblocks to love as he daydreams through the shows. Attempting to find a way to finance the bridal shop, he loses all his money in a fraudulent marketing scheme. His own life has begun to parallel a melodrama, with troubles on a par with the exaggerated fictional plots taking over his existence.
Midnight My Lovewas the first solo directorial effort of Kongdej Jaturanrasamee,and was nominated for several Thailand National Film Association Awards, including best director and best screenplay. It won best director and best script awards from the Bangkok Critics Assembly. The romantic comedy-drama stars comedian Petchtai Wongkamlao (as Mum Jokmok) in a change-of-pace dramatic role as a melancholy taxi driver who develops a relationship with a massage parlor worker (Woranut Wongsawan). Midnight My Love was featured at several film festivals, including the Deauville Asian Film Festival (where it won the critic's prize), Cinefan, and the Chicago International Film Festival.
August is “The Month of Reality” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, August 1: The Case of the Grinning Cat / Chats perchés (2004) by Chris Marker – 59 mins – France, Documentary. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Shortly after September 11, 2001, when much of the world was showing its public support for New York City and America, a cartoonish smiling cat began appearing in Paris, stenciled on walls, buildings, trains, and the street. The yellow cat with its huge grin evoked the Cheshire Cat from LewisCarroll's classic tale Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but there was something very mysterious behind it. Eclectic documentarian ChrisMarker became so intrigued by the graffiti cats that he began searching for them throughout the city, turning his own adventures into the charming 58-minute film The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés). Octogenarian Marker, the director behind such well-regarded works as Sans Soleil, A.K., and La Jetée, is a well-known cat lover; his cartoon depiction of his own cat, Guillaume-en-Egypte, is considered his alter ego, and he has made a short film about his feline pet as well, "Cat Listening to Music." For a while, the grinning cat disappears, but it shows up again at rallies on masks and placards. Meanwhile, the political climate has changed; Parisians are now protesting the Iraq war and the U.S. government, and especially President George W. Bush, so the reappearance of the cat takes on new meaning. Marker also follows the travails of Bolero, a real cat who lives in the Paris Metro subway system. Written, directed, and photographed by Marker, The Case of the Grinning Catis an entertaining look at pop culture, political protest, the mass media, and street art.
The New York Times: Mr. Marker, whose best-known works remain his films “La Jetée” (1962) and “Sans Soleil” (1982), has a way of shooting in video that makes you think he’s probably had a camera embedded in his head. (Photographs always show him holding a camera in front of his face.) In The Case of the Grinning Cat, he fluidly moves over and under Paris, capturing images of fugitive beauty and pathos. The cat, a token of Mr. Marker’s own wryly detached, fully informed political conscience, observes this post-Sept. 11 landscape with little comment. He lets the wars and the rallies, where angry young protesters invoke Iraq in the same breath as Vietnam — but somehow forget the Kurds — largely speak for themselves. Mr. Marker doesn’t forget, but neither does he linger. He has places to be, cats to admire, a world to embrace.
DVD available from Amazon.com.