Bangkok Report: Thai Round-up

Thai talent still not blazing, Catherine Deneuve still not gay

Has the ‘Kok shot its wad? In 2000’s gay-cowboy saga Tears Of A Black Tiger, Thai cinema actually saddled up the first Brokeback Mountain. The year before that, Danny and Oxide Pang unleashed one of the fizziest gangster thrillers ever in Bangkok Dangerous and the superstylist homeboys are now reduxing their ghost-horror The Eye for Sam Raimi. Last year’s Bangkok film fest also unveiled the aceness of cine-chiller Shutter (still not out in the UK) and Ong-Bak sequel Tom Yum Goong (retitled Spirit Of Kings and hitting the UK this summer). In fact, so flush were the BIFF programmers, they even snubbed one of last year’s greatest foreign language movies, cosmic gay fantasy Tropical Malady.

But is the feast over? The home product at this year’s BIFF so far has been low-cal, low-portion by comparison. Total Film prowled the BIFF film market’s in-development projects to see if we could unearth some hot Thai releases coming your way.

Tsunami: The Movie, we’re assured, is 29 percent finished and set in an entirely-alternative yet-wholly-similar time to the one which saw a huge natural disaster claim 283,000 lives. Only 71 percent to go – thank Buddha for that, eh?

Nothing at all akin to Natasha Henstridge’s sci-fi grot-thriller Species, alien body-horror Unhuman not only delivers the festival’s most frightening grammar but also the most scrotum-shrinking tagline: “A Part From It Is Inside Yours.”

But! Storming in to save the day comes period action epic King Naresuan. Making like a mud’n’blood Thai Braveheart, it looks a cracker: a chest-beating roar of blood, beauty, passion and style. And boy, are they hanging their hat on it. The fact it’s still in the editing suite hasn’t stopped them pasting gigantic promos to every wall, while the trailer unspools ahead of every... single... movie...

Tragically, we couldn’t take any pics of the festival’s other surprise mainstay: the requirement for all cine-viewers to stand before each screening while a two-minute tribute to the King of Thailand plays. Grand music swells. Laughing Thai citizens fill the screen. We see the King attending to matters of humility, benevolence, spirituality and, er, botany. Then, and only then, does the camera dolly in on a cherubic, beaming young girl – with two front teeth missing. Is this the world’s most portable shorthand for child-like innocence? Or has this girl been to Thai prison? Total Film will investigate further. God save the King.

PICK OF THE DAY

Here to Q&A a retro screening of The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, Gallic ice-queen Catherine Deneuve gracefully fielded the best question of the fest yet.

Interviewer: “Can you tell us some of your favourite female co-stars?”
Deneuve: “Well, of course, there are so many. I suppose… Susan Sarandon.”

Interviewer: “Ah! Did you ever think that you would become a lesbian icon?”
Deneuve: “Er, no, it was not really one of my projects.”