Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: Valentine's Day 2012

It Gets Better

Thai cinemas and movie distributors think they are being clever and cute by releasing romantic films on the Valentine's Day greeting-card holiday, even if that day falls in the middle of the week, like this year's, which is on a Tuesday.

So there are two Thai films being released on this special day of love.

One of them is It Gets Better (ไม่ได้ขอให้มารั, Mai Dai Kor Hai Ma Rak), directed by controversial filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkahpisit.

The ensemble romance has three intertwining stories about transsexual love. Veteran actress Penpak Sirikul stars in one, playing a retired post-op transsexual who travels to northern Thailand and falls in love with a local man who works in a garage. Another has a young man returning to Thailand from the U.S. to find that he's inherited a transsexual cabaret from his father. He then falls in love with a bar employee. She's played by "Bell" Nuntita Khampiranon, whose singing talents surprised a nation on the "Thailand's Got Talent" reality-TV series. A third thread involves an effeminate boy sent away by his disgusted father to the monkhood, where the novice falls in love with a senior monk.

Tanwarin, a popular industry figure and independent maker of short films, was in the news last year when her critically acclaimed debut feature Insects in the Backyard was banned by the National Culture Commission for its daring portrayal of a transvestite widower father and his dysfunctional relationship with his troubled teenage son and daughter.

It Gets Better aims to take a more mainstream approach to the issues Insects explored, and it was rewarded at the recent Hua Hin International Film Festival with the Audience Award. It's rated 15+.

Also opening

The Melody รักทำนองนี้ – "Dan" Worrawech Danuwong is a famous pop singer who goes into hiding in Mae Hong Son after his career goes down the tubes. There, he meets talented pianist Mork (Pariyachat Limthammahisorn) and life takes a turn for the better. The movie was initially slated for release sometime last year, but was postponed because of the floods. Now it's a Valentine's Day release. How sweet. Rated G.

Also showing

Each year on Valentine's Day, the La Fête French-Thai cultural festival puts on the romantic Cinema Picnic by Moonlight, an outdoor screening at the Museum Siam.

This year's show is pretty special, with the screening of the restored hand-colored version of the 1902 proto-science-fiction film, A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) by pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès (who's featured as a character in the upcoming Hugo by Martin Scorsese). Based loosely on Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon, it's about a group of astronomers who board a bullet-shaped space capsule that's fired out of a huge cannon and hits the Man in the Moon in the eye. They then have all sorts of adventures. The restored version is accompanied by a soundtrack by the French band Air. After that, there's the 2011 feature romance, The Art of Love, directed by Emmanuel Mouret and featuring and ensemble cast that cinldues François Cluzet, Julie Depardieu and Gaspard Ulliel. The show time is at 7.30.

Also, the Geothe-Institut's German Open Air Cinema Season continues on Tuesday at 7.30 with The City Below, a romance that screened in last year's Un Certain Regard competiton at the Cannes Film Festival.

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