Feb 23, 2012|
This biopic released last year explores the life of young entrepreneur Top Aithipat Kulapongvanich, founder of the Tao Kae Noi seaweed brand. Starring Peach Pachara, what really won our hearts was its authenticity, that and the enderaringly contagious energy which Peach brought to the role.
Actor-turned-volunteer-turned-director, Bin Bunluerit’s debut film was an Isaan-language piece following the lives of Panya and Renu, two teenagers entering a singing competition. The music, love story and focus on Isaan culture generated deserved buzz for the small film. Too bad it also attracted the interest of Sahamongkol, which just released the very disappointing follow-up Panya Renu 2.
Paowalee (Poom Puang)
The resemblance between Suphanburi-born Paowalee and Poom Puang Duangchan is eerie. But what really landed her the top prize is the sheer quality of her overall performance. In fact, her singing and acting is so stunning that it just about makes us ignore (and forgive) the irrational script and the factual errors.
We’re left a bit underwhelmed, as nothing really got us all that hot and bothered at the movies this year except the super hot sex scene between Noppachai Chaiyanam and Dream Chanok—finally, a Thai movie that doesn’t treat us like children.
When Poo Blackhead pops up in the background of one scene in Suckseed, we couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Kao Jirayu starts listening to Blackhead’s Ying Toh Ying Suay and Poo Blackhead starts singing behind him without him noticing. Simple, yes, but effective.
Rashomon is a 1950 Kurosawa movie based on two stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. It was remade with Paul Newman into a movie titled The Outrage in 1964. But supposedly, this The Outrage was based on a Thai adaptation of the story by MR Kukrit Pramoj, which was based on a 1959 Broadway version the writer saw. In turn, director Mom Noi first adapted this back into a stage version, before shooting it on film. Aspirin, please.
Saharat Sankapreecha (Ladda Land)
Kong plays the stressed head of a family that’s spiraling into crisis, and convincingly made us feel the pressure and empathize with his character. And while he has a long-standing reputation as a great actor, he took it to new heights here by allowing us to empathize for what is ultimately a pretty stubborn and irrational individual.
Far more than just a ghost story, Ladda Land impresses as a serious drama that is accessible to everyone. It also proves that sometimes less is more. Even though the past year was full of fun and complex films, Ladda Land’s tight script successfully blended serious family drama and chilling horror—no mean feat.
Eternity (Tee Rak)
If Apichatpong’s films recently shown at the Jim Thompson house weren’t enough to quench your thirst for rural Thai art house films, Tee Rak, a debut movie by Sivaroj Kongsakul should do the trick. As with Apichatpong, some may have difficulty staying awake, others will drift into contemplative bliss.
Maybe you studied abroad, maybe you come from abroad, maybe you wish you had or did. In any case, you’re now stuck in Bangkok, surrounded by profoundly Thai customs and culture, and prey to your angsty global citizen yearnings. Aditya Assarat made this movie for you.
Peach Pachara Chirathivat (Suckseed)
Peach Pachara wins this on for his big-screen debut as a loveable high school boy, Kung, who aims to have his own band. Hands down, the fresh-faced actor stole our hearts.
Teng-Nong Jee Won Bin
Apart from a deserved buzz around the orginial song (“Kin Tab”), Teng-NongJee Won Bin represents a side of Thai cinema we could easily live without.
The trailer rocked, and our expectations were great. But like a firework that starts with a bang only to fizzle out, Love Julinsee was the biggest disappointment of the year.
Pen-Eak Ratanarueng (Headshot)
Using a Tarantino-esque timeline that constantly zigzags through the character’s past, the unusual cop thriller packs a twist-a-minute—but it also ends up losing many of its specators in the process. What did keep us riveted is Pen-Eak’s careful use of his actors, and camera-work. It all came together to create a lasting—and very, very noir—mood.
Saipan Apinya (playing Fon.) wins the heart of schoolmate Boat, two years her junior. Cougar alert! The scene where they eat a string of taro together in the car takes us back to our teenage years, when sexual tension is as high as it is awkward, but also when (some) innocence still remained.
Ratklao Amaradit (The Outrage)
Ratklao Amaradit plays a female exorcist invited to be a host body for a dead warrior. That means she ends up playing Ananda Everingham. Creepy? You bet. And who knew she had such a masculine side to her. Although the voice is still Ananda’s, Ratklao’s butch body language made for a stunning performance.
Peach Pachara Chirathivat (Suck Seed)
He first started stealing the show in Suckseed and quickly continued his success in Top Secret. Mark our words: Keep an eye on this one.
Hak NA SARAKAM
Last year, we saw a bunch of Isaan-related film, and most of them were funny and upbeat. But Hak Na Sarakam was the leader of the pack. It makes you realize how good it is to respect and be proud of your roots. And if you’re originally from upcountry, you’ll probably want to call your parents and take a trip home after this one.
Desktop Error (Hiso)
This 100% instrumental soundtrack from romantic post-rock band Desktop Error manages to give texture to Ananda Everingham’s every silence. Take note budding directors: music speaks louder than dialogue.
Ananda really learns to let us miss him a bit more before popping up again on our silver screens again (and billboards, and magazine covers and TVs). To be fair, Mum Jokmok was another serious contender this time around.
The film, directed by Panu Aree, Kaweenipon Ketprasit and Bangkok Post film critic Kong Rithdee, sees the trio continue their efforts to give a voice to moderate muslims in Thailand. It follows the band Baby Arabia, as they play, tour and go about their daily lives.
Insects in the Backyard
Although technically a 2010 movie, director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit’s movie about a cross-dressing father created a stir that continued well into 2011, with a Facebook group and even legal challenges to its ban by the Ministry of Culture. It just got screened in New York and continues its festival circuit career abroad.
Tukky Sudarat Butrprom
Tukky Sudarat Butprom’s acting is naturally hilarious and all, but the fact that we had to see her four times last year—in Teng Nong Geeworn Bin, Hak Na Sarakam, Jak Ka Ran and 30+ Sode on Sale—was “too much, so much, very much.”