21 December 2022

500 Best Movies of All Time

In 2018, Us Weekly magazine published a special 500 Best Movies of All Time issue (vol. 18, no. 47). The top twenty-five titles are listed first, and the others are classified by genre. The films are organised alphabetically within these categories, and are not ranked. The list features more than 500 titles, as some series—the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises; The Naked Gun and Kill Bill and their sequels—are counted as single entries.

Us Weekly is a mainstream entertainment magazine, so the selection is weighted in favour of popular Hollywood movies; as the editors wrote in their introduction: “we tried to pay attention not just to what critics like, but to what audiences like as well.” There are a handful of foreign-language titles, including Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette, classified rather literally as a crime film), and just one silent film (Metropolis, listed under drama rather than science-fiction).

Us Weekly’s top twenty-five films are as follows:
  • Avatar
  • Black Panther
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Casablanca
  • Chinatown
  • Citizen Kane
  • E.T. the Extra-terrestrial
  • Get Out
  • The Godfather
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Harry Potter
  • Inception
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • National Lampoon’s Animal House
  • Psycho
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Raging Bull
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Rocky
  • Scarface
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Titanic
  • Toy Story
  • The Wizard of Oz
(Titanic is the 1997 blockbuster, Psycho is the 1960 masterpiece, and Scarface is the 1983 remake. Harry Potter refers to all eight films in the series.)

Empire and Total Film magazines have also published top-500 film lists, as did the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers. Empire later revised its list for its Australian edition, and also published a collection of 500 five-star reviews. Not to be outdone, Dateline Bangkok has its own list of 500 classic films.

19 December 2022

Fear Eats the Soul

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf), arguably Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s greatest film, is showing at Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok from this week. Alongside Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog, Fassbinder was one of the leading figures of the 1970s German new wave (das neue Kino), and his death from a drug overdose effectively marked the end of the movement.

Ali was heavily influenced by Douglas Sirk’s Hollywood melodrama All That Heaven Allows (which also inspired the Todd Haynes film Far from Heaven). It will be screened at Doc Club on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th December this year; and 2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 23rd, 24th and 30th January, and 1st February next year. It will also be shown at Bookhemian in Phuket on 14th January 2022. (It was previously shown at the Thai Film Archive earlier this year.) Doc Club is also currently showing two other classics: The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’Arc) and Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d’un été).

13 December 2022

Arcadia Rooftop Cinema

Arcadia Rooftop Cinema

Bangkok’s new Arcadia bar, run by journalist Todd Ruiz, is launching a weekly Rooftop Cinema programme of open-air film screenings. One of the first films will be Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, showing on 18th December, followed by the classic action movie Die Hard on Christmas Day.

2001 has previously been shown at the Scala cinema in 2017 and at the Thai Film Archive in 2013. Die Hard was screened at Cinema Winehouse in 2019 and at Bangkok Screening Room in 2019. Both titles are included in Dateline Bangkok’s list of 100 greatest films.

12 December 2022

On Going / Going On

On Going / Going On

Director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, documentarian and producer Santi Taepanich, and theatrical troupe Theatre to Go have collaborated on On Going / Going On, which opened on 9th December. The group exhibition runs until 28th February next year.

The exhibition is being held at Noble Play, which is appropriate as the show is a tactile experience that encourages participation: while many exhibitions place lines on the floor, preventing visitors from approaching the artworks, in On Going / Going On the lines are marked “PLEASE CROSS”. There’s also a table with eccletic objects to rummage through, from preserved animals (a frog and cockroach) to vintage gadgets.

Pleasure and Pain On Going / Going On

Pen-ek’s graphic novel Trouble in Paradise is on display, as are plenty of his drawings (collectively titled Pleasure and Pain) and the entire text of his new script, Storm (ครัวแม่สะอิ้ง). Another series of his drawings was previously shown at the Bangkok Art Biennale (บางกอก อาร์ต เบียนนาเล่) in 2020. Pen-ek’s most recent film was Samui Song (ไม่มีสมุยสำหรับเธอ); I interviewed him about his earlier work, such as Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย), Headshot (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า), and Nymph (นางไม้), for Thai Cinema Uncensored.

In addition to his table of objets trouvés, Santi has created a collage that resembles a mood board, including a poster of the classic film A Man Called Tone (โทน). Santi is the brother of comedian Udom Taephanich, and he produced many of Udom’s stand-up shows. He has also directed several documentaries—including เนื้อกับหนัง (‘flesh and skin’)—about the making of Pen-ek’s films, and a segment of the portmanteau film Sawasdee Bangkok (สวัสดีบางกอก).

15th World Film Festival of Bangkok

15th World Film Festival of Bangkok

The 15th World Film Festival of Bangkok (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์โลกแห่งกรุงเทพฯ ครั้งที่ 15) opened on 2nd December, and closed yesterday with an award for veteran Thai New Wave director Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the Thai premiere of Sorayos Prapapan’s Arnold Is a Model Student (อานนเป็นนักเรียนตัวอย่าง). There had been a five-year hiatus since the 14th festival, which was held in 2017.

In his acceptance speech, Apichatpong recalled the Ministry of Culture’s dismissal of his work, and told young directors, in both Thai and English, “don’t give a damn” about such attitudes. Phantoms of Nabua (ผีนาบัว), perhaps Apichatpong’s greatest short film, will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya on 23rd December as part of the 26th Thai Short Film and Video Festival (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์สั้นครั้งที่ 26).

Kriengsak Silakong, the World Film Festival’s founder and organiser, sadly died earlier this year, and the Lotus award for lifetime achievement has been renamed in his honour. (Kriengsak’s final public appearance was in February this year, when he interviewed Apichatpong at the Thai premiere of Memoria.) Like the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th festivals, this year’s event was held at CentralWorld’s SF World cinema. (The 6th, 7th, and 8th festivals were held at Paragon Cineplex; the 5th, 9th, and 10th took place at Esplanade Cineplex.)

Arnold Is a Model Student

Over the past decade, Sorayos has made witty, satirical short films such as Dossier of the Dossier (เอกสารประกอบการตัดสินใจ), Auntie Maam Has Never Had a Passport (ดาวอินดี้), and New Abnormal (ผิดปกติใหม่). He has also dabbled in documentary filmmaking, with Prelude of the Moving Zoo and Yellow Duck Against Dictatorship. His debut feature Arnold Is a Model Student combines both of these elements, sharp satire mixed with found footage. The film was conceived in the aftermath of the 2014 coup, when the military’s authority was accepted unquestioningly by large swathes of the population. Eight years later, the film is complete and the junta leader remains in power.

The eponymous Arnold coasts through his final school year, while his classmates rebel against institutional authoritarianism, personified by the matronly teacher Ms Wanee, who tells them: “Know your place and you will be successful.” This somewhat feudalistic attitude persists in wider Thai society, and is inculcated by an education system that encourages conformity. The film’s parody of a traditional instructional video—“How to Behave Elegantly Like a Thai”, in which Ms Wanee teaches students to prostrate before their elders—seems absurd, though it’s based on a real video made by the Ministry of Culture (as seen in the documentary Censor Must Die/เซ็นเซอร์ต้องตาย).

The film’s high school is a microcosm of Thailand—as in the recent music videos อีกไม่นาน นานแค่ไหน (‘how long is ‘soon’?’) and อนาคตคือ (‘the future is...’)—and the connection to contemporary politics is clear. Arnold attends a REDEM rally, and symbols of state authority are visible throughout the school, from a large portrait of Rama X in the headmaster’s office to the number 112 on a table in the computer lab. (The lèse-majesté law is article 112 of the criminal code.) When the fictional high school students organise a protest, their headmaster orders them back to class. Cut to: documentary footage of water cannon being deployed against anti-government protesters, with riot police shouting “Disperse now!”

08 December 2022

Lawrence of Arabia


Bangkok’s Prince Theatre hotel will screen the classic Hollywood epic Lawrence of Arabia on 10th December. It was previously shown at the Prince Theatre in 2020, and has played at various other Bangkok cinemas over the last decade: at Cinema Winehouse in 2015 and 2018, the Scala cinema in 2016, and Bangkok Screening Room in 2017

The Prince Theatre was established as a cinema in 1917, and was converted into a film-themed hotel a year after its centenary, in 2018. The cinema screen has been retained, though the auditorium is now the hotel bar.

06 December 2022

The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’Arc) will be shown at Doc Club and Pub this month. The boutique Bangkok cinema will be screening Carl Dreyer’s silent classic on 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 20th, 23rd December, and Christmas Day this year; and 2nd, 12th, 18th, 24th and 30th January next year. (Jean Rouch’s documentary Chronicle of a Summer/Chronique d’un été is also showing this month at the same venue.)

The Passion of Joan of Arc has been shown numerous times in Bangkok over the past decade: an open-air screening in 2018 at Bangkok Underground Cinema, a gala Silent Film Festival screening at the Scala cinema, at Jam Ciné Club, and a 2012 Design Nation open-air screening. It was also shown at Bangkok Screening Room (which established the cinema space now occupied by Doc Club) in 2020.

02 December 2022

The Greatest Films of All Time

Sight and Sound

Sight and Sound magazine has announced the results of its 2022 critics’ and directors’ polls, The Greatest Films of All Time. There have been dozens of similar polls, based on votes by either critics or the public—Dateline Bangkok has featured every greatest-film list published since 2005—though Sight and Sound’s list is the first and most authoritative of them all. The magazine compiled its original list in 1952, with Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) being the inaugural winner. For fifty years, starting in 1962, Citizen Kane was in first place, until it was overtaken by Vertigo in 2012.

This year’s result is much more surprising, with Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the top of the new list. As Laura Mulvey writes in the magazine’s latest issue (vol. 33, no. 1), “Vertigo had been gradually closing in on Citizen Kane for decades; Jeanne Dielman has appeared from nowhere.” 2001: A Space Odyssey came first in the directors’ poll, replacing Tokyo Story (東京物語), and the full results of both polls are included in the new issue of the magazine.

Sight and Sound

The Sight and Sound critics’ top ten is as follows:

1. Jeanne Dielman
2. Vertigo
3. Citizen Kane
4. Tokyo Story
5. In the Mood for Love
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Beau travail
8. Mulholland Drive
9. Man with a Movie Camera
10. Singin’ in the Rain

25 November 2022

Chronicle of a Summer

Chronicle of a Summer

Doc Club and Pub, the boutique Bangkok cinema, will be screening the classic Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d’un été) every day from today until 7th December, and on 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th December, and Boxing Day; and 9th January 2022. This self-reflexive documentary is an experiment in cinematic truth, which director Jean Rouch readily acknowledged was a contradiction in terms. It was the first example of cinéma vérité, a French movement that developed in parallel with the non-participatory ‘direct cinema’ approach pioneered in the US. Chronicle of a Summer, one of Dateline Bangkok’s 100 greatest films, was previously shown by Doc Club at Warehouse 30 in 2018.

19 November 2022

Democracy after Death:
The Tragedy of Uncle Nuamthong Praiwan

The Power of Doc

There will be a rare screening of Neti Wichiansaen’s film Democracy after Death: The Tragedy of Uncle Nuamthong Praiwan (ประชาธิปไตยหลังความตาย เรื่องเศร้าของลุงนวมทอง) tomorrow in Chiang Mai. The documentary covers almost a decade of divisive Thai politics, a period bookended by the coups of 2006 and 2014. It describes the 2010 military crackdown as “the most brutal political massacre in Thai history” and—like Thunska Pansittivorakul’s The Terrorists (ผู้ก่อการร้าย)—it blames former prime minister Abhisit personally for the incident: “Directly responsible, Abhisit Vejjajiva holds Thailand’s new record of the number of people shot by the military.”

The film is significant for its inclusion of sensitive political events excluded from Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย). It also serves as a counterpoint to Ing Kanjanavanit’s Bangkok Joyride (บางกอกจอยไรด์): whereas Bangkok Joyride is pro-PDRC, Democracy after Death is equally biased in favour of deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra, noting sympathetically that he “was forced to leave and has had to remain outside Thailand” though ignoring his corruption conviction. These events are all narrated in a voiceover addressed to Nuamthong Praiwan, a pro-democracy protester who committed suicide in 2006. Nuamthong was also the subject of Prap Boonpan’s short film Letter from the Silence (จดหมายจากความเงียบ) and Rap Against Dictatorship’s recent music video 16 ปีแล้วไอ้สัส (‘it’s been 16 years, ai sat’).

Democracy after Death’s director is living in exile, due to an outstanding lèse-majesté prosecution. As in Narayana’s Arrow Spaceship (ยานศรนารายณ์), the film’s credits have been self-censored to avoid potentially incriminating any of the cast or crew. It will be shown in an open-air screening at Suan Anya tomorrow evening, as part of The Power of Doc, a weekend of political documentaries showing at various venues around Chiang Mai University.

10 November 2022

26th Thai Short Film and Video Festival

26th Thai Short Film and Video Festival

The 26th Short Film and Video Festival (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์สั้นครั้งที่ 26) runs from 17th December until Christmas Day at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya. This year’s Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน)—screenings of all films submitted, in alphabetical order—will take place online via Zoom from 8th November to 2nd December. There are more than 400 titles in the Short Film Marathon, only a fraction of which will be selected for the main event in Salaya.


4+2563 หลักฐานเล่าสมัย (‘4+2020: contemporary evidence’), by the Filmocracy group, was shown online on 8th November, and features an interview with the founder of the Museum of Popular History. He discusses some of the political ephemera from his collection, including a Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra calendar.

Coup d'etat

Natthapol Kitwarasai’s Coup d’état was shown online this evening. A soldier rummages through an old man’s meagre possessions in this dialogue-free, black-and-white film. The man watches impassively, apparently oblivious to the trespassing soldier, and spends his time sleeping and swimming, which symbolise freedom for the director. Although the drama is allegorical, the film opens with photographs of the military leaders who instigated Thailand’s many coups.


Weerapat Sakolvaree’s Nostalgia, first shown at Wildtype 2022 last month, will be screened online on 16th November. In a series of still images, a young man discovers that, whenever he fires a shooting-star toy into the sky, he becomes receptive to sounds that regress progressively further into Bangkok’s violent past. The toy is a conduit for these sonic echoes of historical violence, which form an audio collage in Weerapat’s film. (It will also be shown at the Film Archive on 17th December.)

On 22nd November there will be online screenings of two documentaries from the Resurgent Truth (คืนความจริง) series produced by Pheu Thai to mark the 11th anniversary of the 2010 massacre: เสธ.แดง ทหารของประชาชน (‘the people’s soldier’) on the death of Khattiya Sawasdipol, and เสื้อแดง ความจริงที่ถูกบิดเบือน (‘red-shirts: the distorted truth’) on the demonisation of red-shirt protesters as terrorists. Similarly, Sumeth Suwanneth’s documentary Lost, and Life Goes On (เลือนแต่ไม่ลืม), commemorating the 1992 ‘Black May’ massacre, will be shown online on 30th November. (It will also be screened at the Film Archive on 18th December.)

26 October 2022

Thai Film Archive

L'Atalante Ugetsu

Two classics of world cinema will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya later this year. L’Atalante is playing on 2nd and 20th November. Ugetsu (雨月物語) will be screened in 16mm on 6th and 11th December. (Ugetsu was previously shown at the Japan Foundation in 2013 and 2014.)

Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, his only feature-length film, was an influential early example of French poetic realism, and was originally released only a few weeks before the director died of tuberculosis. Ugetsu, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, is a key example of the Japanese kaidan-eiga (‘ghost story’) genre. (Mizoguchi also made one of the first kaidan-eiga films, in 1926; like his contemporary, Yasujiro Ozu, his career spanned Japanese cinema’s two golden ages, the 1920s and 1950s.)

11 October 2022



In Weerapat Sakolvaree’s new short film Nostalgia, a young man discovers that, whenever he fires a shooting-star toy into the sky, he becomes receptive to sounds that regress progressively further into Bangkok’s violent past. Like Chris Marker’s La jetée (‘the jetty’), the ironically-titled Nostalgia is comprised of a series of still photographs, though it also includes archive newsreel footage of the 6th October 1976 massacre.

Standing at the roadside in Din Daeng, the protagonist hears “fireworks and a lot of motorcycles.” These are sounds of the clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police that took place there last August. (Police fired rubber bullets at protesters on 10th, 11th, 13th, and 15th August 2021.) At Siam Square, he hears the sound of riot police deploying water cannon against protesters on 16th October 2020. At Lumpini Park, the sound of the 19th May 2010 military crackdown fills his ears, followed by the ‘Black May’ 1992 massacre at Democracy Monument, and the 6th October 1976 massacre at Thammasat University.

These locations are, to use the Dutch artist Armando’s term, ‘guilty landscapes’: silent witnesses to past traumas. Like the origami bird in Panya Zhu’s White Bird (นกตัวนั้นยังสบายดีไหม), the toy in Nostalgia is a conduit for sonic echoes of historical violence, which form an audio collage in Weerapat’s film. Nostalgia is also similar to Chai Chaiyachit and Chisanucha Kongwailap’s Re-presentation (ผีมะขาม ไพร่ฟ้า ประชาธิปไตย ในคืนที่ลมพัดหวน), which likewise revisits Bangkok’s ‘guilty landscapes’. Nostalgia and Re-presentation both end with shots of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, hinting at the established hierarchies underlying Thai politics. In Nostalgia, the Throne Hall is seen from behind iron railings, a reminder that the building was closed to the public by royal decree.

Nostalgia was one of the standout films from this month’s Wildtype 2022 screening programme, shown as part of the Angry Young Citizen strand. It was screened at four venues on 1st October: Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok, Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration, Lorem Ipsum in Hat Yai, and the Khon Kaen branch of TCDC. It was also shown at Bookhemian in Phuket on 8th October.

Movie Night at One Nimman

Movie Night at One Nimman Movie Night at One Nimman

A season of outdoor film screenings is being held at One Nimman in Chiang Mai, with classic Thai films projected in 35mm every Wednesday evening. Movie Night at One Nimman (เชียงใหม่ กลางแปลง) began on 21st September with Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์). Of the films already scheduled, the highlight is Wisit Sasanatieng’s Tears of the Black Tiger (ฟ้าทะลายโจร), screening on 26th October.

Wisit’s Citizen Dog (หมานคร) and Nonzee Nimibutr’s Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters [sic] (2499 อันธพาลครองเมือง) will also be shown, when the season continues next month. Monrak Transistor and Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters were both also included in the recent กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง (‘Bangkok open air’) season.

06 October 2022

6th October 1976 Filmography

By the Time It Gets Dark / Sun Rises When Day Breaks / Salang Bunnag
46 Years, 46 Films

Today is the 46th anniversary of the 6th October 1976 Thammasat University massacre. Coincidentally, the tragedy has since been referenced in forty-six films, documentaries, and music videos, which are all listed in this filmography. Many of these titles are discussed in Thai Cinema Uncensored, which features a comprehensive survey of Thai political cinema.

02 October 2022

Wildtype 2022

Wildtype 2022
Develop Viriyaporn Who Dared in Three Worlds

Wildtype, a two-day programme of new short films, began yesterday. Like last year’s event, Wildtype 2022 includes a strand dedicated to political documentaries, which is this year titled Politicx. Wildtype, curated by Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, is an offshoot of Sonthaya Subyen’s Filmvirus group.

Politicx begins with Kanyarat Theerakrittayakorn’s Develop Viriyaporn Who Dared in Three Worlds (เจริญวิริญาพรมาหาทำใน 3 โลก), a quest to reveal the true identity of the mysterious Viriyaporn Boonprasert, the pseudonymous director whose satirical films have perplexed Thailand’s close-knit cinephile community. There’s no Scooby Doo-style unmasking moment, though plausible suspicions are raised, followed by bemused denials.

Red Poetry: Verse 1
Red's Scar

The most directly political films in Politicx are both named after the pro-democracy red-shirt movement. Supamok Silarak’s Red Poetry: Verse 1 (เราไป ไหน ได้) documents the activities (or, in art terms, happenings) of Vitthaya Klangnil and Yotsunthon Ruttapradit, who formed the group Artn’t. The film shows the Thai flag they exhibited, with transparent material in place of the central blue stripe. Vitthaya is also shown carving “112” into his chest, in protest at the lèse-majesté (article 112) charges they faced. In the heartbreaking Red’s Scar (บาดแผลสีแดง), Nutcha Tantivitayapitak interviews a protester falsely accused of arson following the 2010 massacre. Tragically, his mother and son both died while he was in jail.

Wildtype 2022 runs until 9th October. Politicx was shown yesterday at Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok and Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration. It will be shown again on 8th October at Mueang Thong Rama in Phayao and Bookhemian in Phuket.

31 August 2022

Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin

The classic Battleship Potemkin (Бронено́сец «Потёмкин») will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya on 7th September. The film is an agitprop dramatisation of the 1905 Russian Revolution, though it also demonstrates director Sergei Eisenstein’s revolutionary montage editing technique, and the ‘Odessa steps’ massacre is arguably the most famous sequence in silent cinema.

The archive’s 16mm print was donated by the embassy of the Soviet Union and first shown as part of the หนังดีที่สุดในโลก (‘greatest films in the world’) programme, one of the inaugural events of the Thailand Cultural Centre in 1987. The print is an unrestored, edited version (just under an hour long), with an English-language voice-over that fills in the gaps in the narrative.

Battleship Potemkin was previously screened at the archive in 2011, with live music by Nipat Chaisap. It was shown twice at Bangkok Screening Room, in 2018 (with a soundtrack by the Pet Shop Boys) and 2020 (with live music by Viveka).

06 August 2022

Kenduri Seni Nusantara

Kenduri Seni Nusantara

Kenduri Seni Nusantara (‘Nusantara arts festival’), featuring more than fifty artists exhibiting at various venues in Pattani, opens on 13th August and runs until 30th November. The festival’s title refers to the Malay archipelago incorporating Indonesia, Malaysia, and the surrounding region, including Thailand’s southernmost provinces.

Thunska Pansittivorakul will be showing three video works at the ETAM Gallery: his short film Middle-earth (มัชฌิมโลก), an extract from his feature film Supernatural (เหนือธรรมชาติ), and a preview of his forthcoming collaboration with Nontawat Machai. Middle-earth premiered at the 11th Thai Short Film and Video Festival (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์สั้นครั้งที่ 11) in 2007, and has also been shown at the 5th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (หนังทดลองครั้งที่ 5) in 2008 and at the Jim Thompson Art Center in 2010.

16 July 2022

Come Here

Come Here

A group of four young friends, on vacation in Kanchanaburi, arrive at the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, only to discover that it’s closed for renovation. After their initial disappointment, they decide to explore the woodlands surrounding the museum instead, and their interest in the World War II ‘death railway’ soon wanes. Their (improvised) dialogue is deliberately inconsequential, highlighting the contrast between the area’s dark historical past and the oblivious group’s contemporary preoccupations.

Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Come Here (ใจจำลอง) is one of a handful of recent Thai films that explore what the Dutch artist Armando called ‘guilty landscapes’: tranquil spaces that bore silent witness to past violence. (Anocha’s black-and-white cinematography is a reminder of the area’s historical significance, and another contrast to the film’s youthful protagonists.) Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (จดหมายถงลงบญม) and Thunska Pansittivorakul’s Santikhiri Sonata (สันติคีรี โซนาตา) also examine Thailand’s ‘guilty landscapes’ (as discussed in Thai Cinema Uncensored), though Come Here has a closer connection to Taiki Sakpisit’s Seeing in the Dark, which also begins at the site of a state memorial.

Come Here also includes archive footage of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and Dusit Zoo, two Bangkok landmarks that were closed to the public by royal decree. (Taiki’s Shadow and Act and Sorayos Prapapan’s Prelude of the Moving Zoo were also filmed at Dusit Zoo and, like Sorayos, Anocha captures the zoo’s final day of operation.) The zoo footage in Come Here seems unrelated to the film’s main narrative, though there is much that remains unexplained. Most puzzling is a subplot in which a young woman wanders around in distress, before morphing into a man, in a sequence inspired by An American Werewolf in London (and perhaps Michael Jackson’s Black or White music video).

Anocha is one of the most original voices in independent Thai cinema; her films Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก) and By the Time It Gets Dark (ดาวคะนอง)—and Krabi, 2562 (กระบี่ ๒๕๖๒), codirected by Ben Rivers—are truly unique. Like Come Here, Mundane History and By the Time It Gets Dark also draw on Thailand’s political history and feature repetition as a narrative device. Come Here feels less profound by comparison, though perhaps that’s inevitable, as its subtext of historical amnesia remains hidden beneath the surface.

10 July 2022



Indian filmmaker Leena Manimekalai is facing potential blasphemy charges after public outrage over the poster for her film Kaali. Manimekalai, who is based in Canada, portrays the Hindu goddess Kali in the short film, which was shown at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto on 2nd July. In the film’s poster, Kali is depicted smoking a cigarette and waving an LGBTQ rainbow flag. Complaints have been lodged with police in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.