At the CMU Open-air Cinema this Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25
In cooperation with the terrific and cutting-edge House Cinema in Bangkok, the Chiang Mai University Film Space group is presenting four films this coming weekend, outdoors, in an area between the Clock Tower and the Canteen on the university campus. Times are 7 pm and 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
They have dubbed the showings หนังกลางมอ. We’ll translate that as “Open-air Cinema.”
The schedule is as follows:
7 pm Saturday, April 24: Persepolis (2007) by Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud-- France/ US, Animation/ Biography/ Drama/ War – 96 mins – A famous and notorious animation about the poignant coming-of-age of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl during the Islamic Revolution. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 90/82 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Persepolis is an emotionally powerful, dramatically enthralling autobiographical gem, and the film's simple black-and-white images are effective and bold.
9 pm Saturday, April 24: Hana & Alice (2004) written and directed by Shunji Iwai – Japan, Drama/ Comedy -- 135 mins -- Shunji Iwai's lovely and dreamy film about two Japanese high-school girls. Best friends Hana and Alice are both smitten with the same boy, Miyamoto, whom they glimpse at a train station. Things get bizarre when Miyamoto hits his head, and Hana convinces him he has... Best friends Hana and Alice are both smitten with the same boy, Miyamoto, whom they glimpse at a train station. Things get bizarre when Miyamoto hits his head, and Hana convinces him he has amnesia--and that she is his girlfriend. As a confused Miyamoto struggles to regain his memory, the two girls' friendship nears a breaking point. Shunji is also the writer and director of All About Lily Chou-Chou being shown at Film Space tonight (April 24).
7 pm Sunday, April 25: Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) by Miranda July –US/ UK, Comedy/ Drama – 91 mins -- A lonely shoe salesman and an eccentric performance artist struggle to connect in this unique take on contemporary life. Rated R in the US for disturbing sexual content involving children, and for language. Generally favorable reviews: 76/76 out of 100.
Roger Ebert: A film that with quiet confidence creates a fragile magic.
9 pm Sunday, April 25: Taxidermia (2006) by György Pálfi – Hungary/ Austria/ France, Comedy/ Drama/ Horror – 91 mins -- Grotesque tale of three generations of men, including an obese speed eater, an embalmer of gigantic cats, and a man who shoots fire out of his penis. By the director of the inimitable Hukkle, one of my favorite of all films shown at our own EU Film Festival, in 2006. In Magyar and Russian, with English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83/78 out of 100.
IMDb message board: Do NOT eat before watching this film!!!!!
Film Threat, Matthew Sorrento: Taxidermia is only for fans of the bizarre and certainly not for those with even a faintly weak stomach. But for those meeting both qualifications: Welcome to a devious little nightmare.
Los Angeles Times, Kevin Thomas: György Pálfi's Taxidermia is a brilliant, often grotesquely bizarre allegory on life in Hungary from World War II to the present, a surrealist fantasy exploring the limits of the body and its desires and altogether a darkly funny comedy on the human condition in extremis. It is permeated with that highly developed Eastern European sense of absurd but is not for the faint of heart: There's much that is exuberantly gross, including some sexual imagery, but there are also images of startling beauty -- and horror. (In the film's most poignant sequence, Pálfi evokes the eternal cycle of life with only an old wooden bathtub as a prop -- a place for lovemaking, baptism, the laying out of a corpse, etc.)
Pálfi focuses on three generations. A grandfather, an orderly at a remote World War II military outpost, is consumed with sexual frustration and a longing for love. The orderly's son -- the product of the orderly's tryst with his nitpicking lieutenant's fat wife -- grows up to be a bulky speed-eating contestant at the height of the Communist era. The grandson is a scrawny, unhandsome taxidermist who cares for his now immobile father who has proudly become surely the fattest man in the world.
With a horrific power that goes beyond Italian horrormeister Dario Argento at his most inspired -- and perhaps even David Cronenberg -- Pálfi gradually reveals the grandson's inexorable passion to create the most perfect work of art ever, an act that is as grotesque as it is oddly redemptive. Indeed, Pálfi leaves us with the sense that he strikes the right note in regard to Hungary's past decades of hardship and oppression, yet he also suggests that the artist's essence is ultimately elusive, literally buried deep within himself.
The New York Times, Stephen Holden: Among the grotesque images paraded through Gyorgy Palfi’s film Taxidermia, the most indelible are neither the graphic depiction of an obsessive voyeur masturbating with fire nor the shearing of a pig’s tail attached to a newborn baby. They are found in its extended scenes of sport-eating competitions by a Hungarian team of gourmands during the Communist era. Seated in a row of troughs, the contestants, who have the pillowy bodies of sumo wrestlers, shovel slop down their throats as fast as they can swallow it in a race against the clock. During the breaks between rounds they regurgitate torrents of vomit, while comparing techniques of “cross-swallowing.” If Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia is an irresistible invitation to dine, Taxidermia is an equally compelling one to fast.
A meditation on the bestial appetites of humanity by the Hungarian director who made his 2002 debut with the much-admired, nearly silent Hukkle, Taxidermia relentlessly focuses on sex, food and innards. It might also be an allegory about repression and Hungarian national identity over the last 70 years. Beautifully lighted, with elegant, fluid cinematography, it includes some stunning, magic-realist flourishes.
The revolving image of a wooden bathtub finds its function changing with each revolution. A stuffed human body with the head removed and a stitched torso, exhibited in a museum, suggests a Dadaist parody of Michelangelo’s David.
Taxidermia belongs to a school of Central European surrealism that marries nightmarish horror with formal beauty. Two masters of a style that is visually spellbinding but that can be physically nauseating to behold are the Czech animator Jan Svankmajer and the Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew.
Directors who borrow from the aesthetic include David Cronenberg and Terry Gilliam, and, in its cruder expressions, the practitioners of torture porn. But Mr. Palfi’s film aspires to high art. In his director’s note he states, “My aim was to create not just an auteur film but an enduring, personal auteur film.” He might have added “in the European tradition.” The message is a brutal reminder that beneath a thin veneer of civilization we are animals who kill and torture one another and who devour other animals.
Free for all film admirers. And a mini-market starts at 5pm. See you around :)
Map to the mid-summer night open-air cinema at CMU.