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 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.
Eye for Film, Susanna Krawczyk: I have never seen another film quite like this one. It radiates a wealth of understated and complex emotion, and manages to combine a strong sense of nostalgia for a better world long gone with the sense of a different world entirely, where a McDonalds burger is exotic and luxurious and a five-year-old Nokia mobile phone is seen as a top-notch status symbol.
Petchtai Wongkamlao is wonderful as the sweet, shy, endearing taxi driver Bati, a man living in a world dominated by the golden oldies show he listens to on his night shifts driving around Bangkok. His shy, uncertain smile alone tells you everything you need to know about his character, and he endears himself more with every stilted, unsure mannerism and expression. His relationship with the young novice prostitute he drives home every night is a joy, their feelings expressed through looks and smiles and never with words. Her attempts to bring him into the wider world are met equally with his revelations to her of the joys to be found by looking into the past. The film is also peppered with hilarious asides filmed in the style of the melodramatic sixties-era soaps that Bati loves so much. It is a neat way for Bati, so unemotional and inscrutable on the outside, can show us viewers his closely-guarded finer feelings.
Midnight My Love was 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).
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 Chris Marker 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 Cat is 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.
At Film Space Saturday, August 8: McLibel (2005) by Franny Armstrong, Ken Loach – 85 mins – UK, Documentary. Universal acclaim: 81/80 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: McLibel is the true story of a postman and a gardener who took on McDonald's and wouldn't say "McSorry," in a legal battle since described as "the biggest corporate PR disaster in history." McDonald's loved using the UK's libel laws to suppress criticism. Major media organizations like the BBC and The Sun had crumbled and apologized. But then McDonald's sued penniless activists' Helen Steel and Dave Morris. In what became the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel 2" represented themselves against McDonald's USD$19 million legal team. Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage, and the company's advertising to children. Outside the courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them. Legal maneuvers. A visit from Ronald McDonald. Top U.S. executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations. Even spies. Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded in the European Court of Human Rights. And the result took everyone by surprise - especially the British Government. Filmed over ten years by no-budget DirectorFrannyArmstrong (Drowned Out), McLibel features reenactments of key courtroom scenes directed by KenLoach. McLibel is not about hamburgers. It is about the power multinational corporations wield over our everyday lives and two unlikely heroes who are changing McWorld.
DVD available from Amazon.com.