Since 2007's acclaimed drama Love of Siam, Chookiat Sakveerakul has mainly contributed to short-film projects such as 4 Romances, Lud 4 Lud and Sawasdee Bangkok, and he's still in short-film mode of sorts as he directs his first feature film in five years, Home (Home ความรัก ความสุข ความทรงจำ, Home Khwam Rak Khwam Sook Khwam Songjam). Dedicated to his recently departed father, it's a heartfelt and sentimental collection of three stories, all set in his hometown of Chiang Mai, which ponders endings and beginnings.
The first story is set at night under the luminous glow of a Catholic high school, where a soon-to-graduate senior (Juthawut Wattanakampon) has set up his camera and is taking photos of the empty campus. He encounters an underclassmen acquaintance (Kittisak Pathomburana) and the two boys form a bond of friendship and perhaps something more over the course of the evening. But the morning brings a painfully awkward goodbye.
The middle section stars Penpak Sirikul, who solidly anchors the film as the widowed wife of a farmer who's still trying to solve the puzzle left to her by her husband, who died of throat cancer. In his last stages, after he could no longer speak, he was leaving notes for his wife, which she continues to find as she goes through his papers or looks in other nooks and crannies of their belongings. This dramatic section is lightened by Penpak's character's farmhand nephew and his dingbat girlfriend, who live with her. At the dinner table one evening, at Penpak's urging, the girl starts to talk about her sexual frustration due to her man being tired from farm work all day, and she reels off a endless stream of metaphors – her cobwebbed cave, her closed shop, etc.
The closing section is a wedding, with "Noon" Siriphan Wattanajinda as a northern bride who's marrying a wealthy factory owner (Ruangsak Loychoosak) from Phuket in the south. With her bubbly personality, she seems to be a poor fit for the rather stiff, close-mouthed guy. And after reuniting with her friends, she starts to have second thoughts. Classic romantic-comedy misunderstandings lead to tears and ritual public humiliation amid shooting gold confetti.
A longer review and links to other stories about Home are over at the other blog. Notably, most of the dialogue is in the northern Thai dialect, and presumably most cinemas will have dual English/central Thai subtitles. Rated 18+.
Always: Sunset on Third Street 3 – The meticulously detailed, unabashedly sentimental family drama series, based on a popular manga, continues with this third installment that unfolds the continuing stories of the tight-knit san-chome neighborhood near Tokyo Tower. Here, drama plays out against the backdrop of Tokyo's continuing post-war modernization as it prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. Takashi Yamazaki again directs. Check the review by the Japan Times' Mark Schilling for more details. If you're a fan of the series, you might have already known that House cinema on RCA had a revival run of the first two films in recent weeks, and now they are playing all three. A 3D version screened in Japan, but it's only 2D here in Thailand. It's at Apex Siam Square and House.
The Raven – John Cusack portrays author Edgar Allan Poe as he's called upon to solve a mystery involving a madman committing horrific murders inspired by Poe's darkest works. Poe joins with a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans) in a quest to get inside the killer's mind and stop him from making every one of Poe's brutal stories a reality. Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson-Cohen also star. James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) directs. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. Rated 18+.
360 – Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) offers a roundelay of stories that examine how sexual relationships can transgress social boundaries. Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Foster star. Critical reception is mixed. At Apex Siam Square and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 15+.