Thursday, March 25, 2010

Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


March isThe Month of Disastrous Lifeat Film Space.  April, The Month of Feel Out of Place.


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 at least 20 baht. Well worth supporting.


At Film Space Saturday, March 27, 7 pm:  Transistor Love Story / Monrak Transistor / มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์ (1999) by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – 90mins – Thai, Comedy/ Drama/ Musical/ Romance. Phaen is a suburban young man with a great love for music. He never misses a chance to show off his voice at temple fairs in his village. It is at one of the fairs that he meets and falls in love with Sadao. On their wedding day, Phaen gives Sadao a transistor radio that the new family loves, and it also gives Phaen many a daydream of becoming a famous singer himself. Soon, Sadao is pregnant and it is hard for Phaen to leave home, but he has to enter military service. While there, he enters a singing contest, and winds up first runner-up. So he decides to leave the service and heads for Bangkok to follow his dream. He spends two years in a band that never goes anywhere, and eventually is forced to work in a sugarcane plantation. But a fight causes him to lose his job. As things go from bad to worse, he recalls his transistor radio with fondness, for it evokes in his mind much better and more peaceful times, when dreams were still possible.



IMDb viewer: The acting, cinematography, and sound would be enough to make any movie stand out, but it's the story that really puts Monrak Transistor at the top of the pile. It takes the characters (and the viewer) in quite unexpected directions, creating a unique and original movie. Nothing outlandish or bizarre happens - in fact the whole movie feels very realistic. That's what makes it unexpected - things don't turn out like they do in the movies. This film has more mood changes than the life story of Elizabeth Taylor. It is almost as if each chapter of the protagonist’s life is played out in a different genre – musical, comedy, crime, prison, romance, and melodrama. It can take a bit of time to adjust to these swiftly changing moods, but the ultimate picture that emerges is one of how life so rarely follows the dreams of your youth and how sad and painful it can become. In a very loose and much less heroic manner, the film is a poor man’s tale of Ulysses. A young man leaves his pregnant wife for the army and then has a series of misadventures before finally finding his way back to her. All the way it seems as if the Gods are laughing at this fellow and playing games with him.


Phaen is a simple country boy who has a talent for singing and he is in a small band that plays fairs and events. One evening he sees the lovely Sadao in the crowd and the two begin a sweet courtship that leads eventually to marriage. This entire section is candy-flossed romance – it feels as if the world is just one big glazed apple. Then though he is drafted into the army and things begin going wrong (even with an amusing musical number thrown in). He enters a talent contest and unfortunately wins – without thinking too deeply he deserts the army to make it big in a singing career so that he can give Sadao everything she deserves. Instead though he finds himself cleaning floors in Bangkok for a few years – while Sadao pines for him back in the country. The film begins taking on a fatalistic sadness in which bad luck just seems to have its eyes set on Phaen and we witness this genial singer’s life slowly fall apart. All he wants to do is get back to Sadao, but instead he seems to get further and further away from her.

monrak 01It’s an odd film to watch – at times you feel impatient with Phaen – other times you really sympathize with him and eventually you feel broken up inside at how life has treated this sweet couple with such whimsy. But by the end, its simplicity also says something about the endurance of the human spirit and true love. Reacting to this film while watching it is difficult - but it is the type of the film that has stayed with me ever since and one that I think about often - Phaen and Sadao were lovers; Oh, how they could love; Swore to be true to each other; Just as true as the stars above; He was her man; But he done her wrong.


Online Film Critics Society: Like most Thai films, this has a terrific visual sense, with lush colors, almost unbearably charming actors, and gorgeous settings. It also combines a lively, sunny story with much more grim shadings, as well as veins of deeply felt emotion and gleefully wicked wit. The combination of these last two elements is what makes this film thoroughly engaging, undercutting the creeping schmaltz with knowing worldliness. And there are a few serious undertones as well, including jabs at the music business, homelessness and most significantly Western cultural imperialism (the title comes reflects how Sadaw listens to pop music on her transistor radio, and thus stays connected to Pan in his absence). That said, the film does have a contrived fairy tale plot--an epic love story in which we basically know exactly what will happen from the beginning, even though we're not prepared for all of the various turns in the tale.


April is The Month of Feel Out of Place at Film Space.  


At Film Space Saturday, April 3, 7 pm:  Into the Wild (2007) by Sean Penn – 148 mins – US, Adventure/ Biography/ Drama. Starring: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Catherine Keener. Freshly graduated from college and with a promising future ahead, 22-year-old Christopher McCandless chose instead to walk out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naïve idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker, or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature?Rated R in the US for language and some nudity. Generally favorable reviews: 73/73 out of 100.


Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: With his sturdy cast and confident direction, Sean Penn has turned a complex work of non-fiction like Into the Wild into an accessible and poignant character study.


Jon Krakauer's bestselling nonfiction book about the life of Chris McCandless is finally brought to the big screen in Into the Wild. Directed by Sean Penn, the film opens in 1992, when Chris (Emile Hirsh) is a promising college graduate. Shortly after graduation, Chris gives his life savings to charity, burns all of his identification, and begins hitchhiking across America, his ultimate goal being Alaska. Citing passages from his heroes, Thoreau and Jack London, he is determined to escape society and get back to nature. He blows from town to town like a tumbleweed, hopping trains, camping with aging hippies (Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker), working briefly with a farmer (Vince Vaughan), and befriending a widowed leather worker (Hal Holbrook). He revels in his newfound freedom, but meanwhile, his parents (Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt) have no idea where he is, and are sick with worry. While their relationship with Chris was already troubled, they are nonetheless devastated by his disappearance. Chris's sister, Carine (Jane Malone), narrates much of the film, offering her reflections on the effect Chris's absence has on his family. Chris finally makes it to Alaska, where he hikes out to a remote campsite and discovers an abandoned bus. He manages to survive there for a few months living off the land, but he eventually runs out of supplies and becomes trapped, leading to his tragic end. Into the Wild bounces around chronologically, jumping back and forth from the start of Chris's journey to his final few weeks living aboard the bus. This works to great effect as the storylines begin to merge and the tension and dread mount, and we see the fate that will eventually befall Chris. Penn obviously had great admiration for his subject, and while the film appears to differ from the book in places, it nevertheless paints a heartbreaking portrait of this young man's short but fascinating life.

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