Jan Dara (2001) is a Thai coming of age story based on a first novel by Utsana Phleungtham. Jan's mother died at his birth, and we learn that the man who raises him is a step father, who blames him for his mother's death, and abuses him often. For years, his only friend in the house is his Aunt Waad (Wipawee Charoenpura), who bares a daughter to his step father. The father spoils the daughter rotten, providing yet one more person to abuse and berate Jan. When the cook's son, a few years older than Jan, moves into the house, Jan is introduced to the joy of sex with Sugunya Kongkawong, another servant girl. He also falls madly in love with a young woman he first sees on the streets, but has a platonic relationship with her.
Life gets better when Khun Boonlueang (Christy Chung) moves into a house built for her on the property as the stepfather's latest mistress. Jan becomes friends with her, and eventually lovers. Then his step sister is caught playing sex games with the cooks son and blames Jan, so Jan is sent away. When she turns up pregnant, he is brought back to marry her. Finally, we learn the real circumstances of his birth.
Phleungtham, Kongkawong and Chung all show breasts. The film is liberally peppered with sex scenes. IMDb readers have it at 7.2. It is beautifully photographed. It is in Thai with optional English subtitles that are enough to follow the story. I am sure there are cultural nuances that I missed, but it was an engrossing enough story to fill the 120 minutes. With very little to compare it to, it is a C+. It is a beautifully photographed and sensitive coming of age story with clear breast exposure from Christy Chung.
Great news in the Mailbox:
Some good news from the Norwegian/American (!) movie "Factotum"
which opened here last week. It's based on several short stories by
Charles Bukowski, and stars Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor and Marisa
Tomei. And for the good news: Marisa Tomei gets topless! That should
be a first time ever. The movie will be appearing in Cannes - so
hopefully it'll be distributed so that an able capper can get a hold
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004):
I have formed an hypothesis: technique is a
substitute for content.
There may have been a time when experimental
techniques served to punctuate content, but that time seems to have
passed. In our era, when you see the fourth wall start to disappear,
you know the movie is running out of things to say and is trying to
distract you by employing the obvious misdirection techniques used
by amateur magicians.
Let me illustrate. You have decided to write a biopic
of Peter Sellers. You've done your homework, and discovered that he
was a very, very troubled man, neurotically insecure, not very
likeable, and none too bright. Sellers believed in psychic
humbuggery, terrorized his children, beat his second wife, and left
his first wife because of his totally unrequited love for Sophia
Loren. As the scriptwriter, you've realized that telling the truth
about this man will lead to an unpleasant viewing experience for
many who love his work, and will cause people unfamiliar with his
work to avoid it. Let's face it, Peter could be a very unpleasant
guy, given to childish temper tantrums, delusions, and fits of sheer
You're a writer, so you know how to soften the blow a
bit. You will show some of the great comedy bits that made Sellers
so beloved by film fans. You will get the director to hire a
brilliant character actor who can not only capture Sellers the man,
but can completely replicate all of the characters Seller ever
played. Ultimately you have to ask yourself, "What is the purpose of
this film? And what is the hook that keeps people interested?" You
come up short. You just don't really have any point other than that
Sellers was a deeply troubled guy. You don't really have a tight
little script - like Immortal Beloved, and you are not making a
comment on the nature of genius - like Amadeus. It's just a rambling
chronological recounting of events. You got nothin'.
So you decide to fill it with technique. You have
your brilliant character actor assume not only all of Sellers's
movie roles, but also become Sellers as all of the other characters
in the Sellers saga, by having the lead actor impersonate all of the
other actors playing major roles. In the course of doing that, you
have "Sellers as his mom" or "Sellers as his wife" or "Sellers as
his psychic" address the camera directly, explaining some element of
the exposition, or providing some psychological insight. Throw in
some dream sequences, break down the fourth wall, add some crazy
psychedelic musical montages to recreate the cheesy side of 60s
culture, and voila! Instant genius in a can.
I blame Eugene O'Neill for this. Yup, the great
playwright. It's all his damned fault. He just couldn't stop
tinkering with the classic theatrical format, and he tacitly gave
everyone permission to do this kind of thing. O'Neill's Strange
Interlude covers a long stretch of one woman's life with four
lovers. It is a two part play in nine acts which was performed both
as a matinee and an evening show, with a dinner break in between. It
is filled with asides and long stream-of-consciousness soliloquies.
We hear the actors deliver their lines, and then we also hear what
they were really thinking. Sometimes it is staged with multiple
actors delivering the spoken dialogue and the thoughts. At other
times a single set of actors tries to deliver the natural dialogue
and the subsequent hidden thought process by conveying the
changeover to the audience through acting technique.
O'Neill could get away with this kind of
experimentation for three reasons: (1) because he was original; (2)
because he was using his technique to supplement his content, not to
supplant it; (3) because he was Eugene O'Neill, dammit. The authors
of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers are not doing anything new,
can deliver no great point by using this technique, and are not
Eugene O'Neill, but they have nonetheless tried to create a kind of
lower grade Strange Interlude that moves through Sellers's
consciousness as his mind wanders from the real to the surreal, from
his life to the life of his characters, from "playing himself" to
playing the other people in his life.
This could have been an utter disaster, but it is
not. One thing holds it together. Geoffrey Rush is a fooking genius. I am
hesitant to say that he is the greatest character actor in history,
because he is up against the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey,
Sir Alec Guinness, and Sellers himself, but Rush has proved that he
is in the same league as those guys. There are times when you simply
forget he is actually some lanky Australian guy with a craggy face,
and see Peter Sellers on screen. It is uncanny. This film was aired
on BBC and HBO, and was therefore not eligible for Oscar
consideration, but in most years Rush would have been the sure Oscar
winner for a performance like this. As it turns out, 2004 was not a
routine year, and he would undoubtedly have lost anyway. Rush's
performance is similar to Jamie Foxx's in that they were both
re-creating the lives of great stars, and Rush's performance of
comparable quality, but Foxx would have won because Ray is a better
movie, because Ray Charles died during the year that the film came
out, and because Ray Charles is more universally known and loved
than Peter Sellers. At any rate, I think you can see my point -
Geoffrey Rush's evocation of Sellers is a tour de force. It
is one of the greatest performances in the history of filmed
entertainment, generally in the same league as Jamie's performance
In addition to the excessively experimental narrative
technique, the film has some nice production values, but simply
needs to be either much longer or much shorter. If it is to cover
this much of Peter's life, it would have been better off as a 12
part mini-series, in which it could have shown a more balanced and
nuanced picture of the man. If it is to stay within the confines of
a two hour film, it would have been better off to find a specific
focus within his life and to create a structure supporting that
On the separate subject of the DVD - it is excellent,
as you might expect from HBO and BBC. There is a good 16x9
widescreen transfer, two separate commentary tracks, a "making of"
featurette, and eight deleted scenes which include the complete
storyline with Lynne Frederick, Peter's fourth wife.
Overall, a standing, shouted "bravissimo" is in order
for Mr. Rush, and hearty applause for HBO's usual first-class job on
the DVD, but only a polite golf clap for the movie itself. It is
absolutely worth seeing because of Rush, but is less than the sum of
Vampires: The Turning (2005):
A young couple is on vacation in
Thailand. They are watching a Muy Thai competition when the woman
gets soaked with blood and sweat from a particularly effective blow.
She tells her boyfriend, "we have to talk." It turns out that they
want different things in life. He wants to be splattered in blood
while watching fights from ringside, and she wants ... well, pretty
much anything else. Certainly anything that involves staying dry of
the bodily fluids of strangers.
She walks away. In reply to his question, she states that she is
Unfortunately, the walk home from
Thailand to Piscataway, New Jersey is fraught with many perils: sore
feet, long swims, and of course vampires. She is abducted by the
local vampire motorcycle chopsocky gang, and her boyfriend resolves
to get her back. He is one tough Muy Thai mofo but, unfortunately
for him, vampires have super strength to go with their own martial
arts skills, not to mention sharp teeth and cool bikes in a rainbow
of colors to match their glowing eyes. There is only one thing he
can do - become transformed into a vampire so he can equal their
strength and hope to outperform their fighting skills.
He therefore seeks out the chief
vampire chick who is kind of Vampire Zero - she originally created
all the other vampires, but now fights against them because they
have used their vampire powers to kill and taunt people with ninja
skills instead of just hanging around and whining about being
immortal and never getting to wear her wedding dress. Fortunately,
there is a little known proviso in the Vampire Code which stipulates
that vampirism can be undone if the reversal occurs during a certain
eclipse. She's been waiting for that moment for eight
hundred years, hoping to undo all the vampires she created. Since it
just so happens that the eight hundred years is up the next day, she
can turn our hero into a temporary vampire, although she warns him
against the dark forces that will struggle to keep his soul in
Vampireland. She further advises him that the biting process also
includes some really hot sex, so he shrugs off the perils and
proceeds to have some steamy bat love with another woman in order to
work on his relationship with his abducted girlfriend.
Blah, blah, yadda, yadda, good vampires, bad
vampires, bad actors, worse actors, vampire hunters, confusion,
overlong fight scenes, etc. This is supposed to be a sequel to John
Carpenter's Vampires. I don't see much connection, except that some
vampire hunters show up for a couple of minutes.
There is one good point to the film -
it has a nice rich look. The set designer and cinematographer did
their jobs well, and it has some of the best lighting ever seen in
nighttime action. Unfortunately, their output was not employed
properly in the sex scene, which was killed in the editing room by
dissolves and excessive snipping.
- Remember the story about a school for hookers? Well,
Whore College is now a reality. These ivy-covered
vaginal walls harbor the collected sexual wisdom of the world.
And classes only cost twenty bucks! Plus, scholarships are
available for those who can't pony up the full double sawbuck.
I'm just hoping UT can get them on our football schedule next
year instead of Oklahoma.
- The Daily Show:
"American Idol judge Paula Abdul's alleged affairs with Corey
Clark and, of course, MC Skat Kat."
- URL says it all
Russell Crowe in Interview Magazine. What makes the
interview unique is that the questioner is his Cinderella Man
co-star, that marvelous professional Sad Sack, the live action
Eeyore himself, Paul Giamatti
Variety.com - 'Chappelle' yuks yanked for now:
"Comedy CentralComedy Central has yanked this month's
third-season premiere of its marquee series 'Chappelle's Show'
and halted production"
'SIX FEET UNDER' insiders swear that former President Bill
Clinton was offered a guest role in the final episode of the
series. The last season begins shooting in June.
Clinton was said to have been flattered and eager to do it.
But when negotiations began with HBO, Clinton priced himself
out. The producers implored, 'But we're only cable!' Clinton
stayed firm. Now they are looking for another high-profile
The trailer for George Romero's Land of The Dead
Denise Coke arrested on cocaine charges. And that's
the real thing.
Comedies kick ass in the DVD rental market. Meet
the Fockers is #1 for the week. The top renter for the year is
(you ain't gonna believe this) ... Without a Paddle. Napoleon
Dynamite is not far behind.
President Bush will weigh the impact of Labour's narrow
victory, as soon as he figures out that Labour and Labor are
really the same thing. He's still tryin' to figure
out if it's all related to a Labordor Retriever. He likes them
4th Circuit ruled a county board may restrict invocation
leaders to "those within the Judeo-Christian faith."
I'm curious. How do the right wingnuts feel about judicial
activism when it is in their favor?
A look at Shrek 3
CNN - The real Paris Hilton
- .Q: So how would you describe your occupation?
- PARIS HILTON: I don't know. I'm an actress, a brand, a
businesswoman. I'm all kinds of stuff.
- Q: If you had to pick just one...
- HILTON: An actress.
- Q: So all of this -- the partying, the modeling, the
reality show -- was just your journey to an acting career?
- HILTON: Yeah, I guess.
The original script from John Carpenter's Dark Star
TeenPeople.com - The 25 Hottest Stars Under 25
- Urban Legend of the day:
"Claim: photograph shows a hybrid human/pig sow and her
piglets" Verdict: gimme a break. I guess you can
say it is total "hogwash." Of course if you do, you might get
your ass kicked.
Construction Comparison of the World's Most Booming Cities
Norm Crosby remembers Elvis Presley. Of course
nobody remembers Norm, but I remember him with great
- URL says it all:
"The most comprehensive used panty directory in the world."
Their parents must be proud to know there's a new number one
in used panties. I'm pretty sure there is also some number two
in used panties.
Man builds a life-sized Viking ship entirely from popsicle
sticks. Man is that guy's tongue going to be
orange! Fifteen million popsicle sticks! That's only half the
story. He's then planning to take this thing out on the
Atlantic to sail from The Netherlands to Key West.
Pulp fiction covers from stories about women in prison.
The answer is Sugar Bush. The question is one of
- What do male porn stars call a really tasty coochie?
- What is the Secret Service code name for presidential
- What is the nickname for the world's most photographed
- What is the nickname for the world's most photographed
Watch episodes of Strange Paradise online for free.
It is an obscure Dark Shadows rip-off from the 60s
How I Shrunk My Husband's Crotch
No Pants Day was Friday, May 6th.
- This thing was centered in Austin, so I was able to go
down to Barton Springs Mini-Golf at 7 P.M. to see a bunch of
people putting without their pants on. I was watching from a
distance, so although I could see their putters, I was not
be able to see their balls.
- WTF? for the day:
Elvis asks "Who Would Jesus Bomb?
Other Crap archives. May also include newer material than the
since it's sorta in real time.
to submit a URL for Other Crap
are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.
- The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the
review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
- If there is a white asterisk, it means that
there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined
there might be something else of interest.
- A blue asterisk indicates the review is written
by Tuna (or Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
- If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too
ashamed to admit it.