Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Blissfully Thai" Movie Series, Asia Society NYC

After a quick look at the write-ups for Asia Society's present movie series, "Blissfully Thai," I am more hopeful about enjoying Thai movies than before. It's happened that I've seen too many scary movies in the theatre! The selection looks excellent, representing Thai cultures in different ways. All directed and produced by Thai people, they introduce viewers to aspects of Thai life including beliefs in superstitions and ghosts, transexualism, the dialogue about "hi-so" or high society, northeastern Thailand, Burmese immigrants, long bus trips and complex relationships. Despite the title, I wouldn't expect these films to be "blissful" like a Thai massage for a number of reasons related to Thai humor and entertainment.
However, after reading through the descriptions I see how they could be entertaining and enjoyable. The cheezy "Pad Thai" western "Tears of the Black Tiger," or story of the inspirational lady-boy volley ball team legend "The Iron Ladies" look like fun and seem even popularly American in appeal via the cowboy romance and championing the underdog themes. On the other hand both "Ploy" and "Mon-Rak Transistor" seem more Thai to me in that they are described as meditative, bittersweet, and tragic. "I-san Special," "Hi-So," and "Uncle Boonmee who can Recall His Past Relatives" seem very Thailand-specific and very good in a way I would expect higher quality films to be.
I'm on the lookout for them here now.. If I can play the devil's advocate, I wonder if I can find them cheap at Pantip Plaza (10 min walk from Ratchatewi BTS station) where bootlegged copies of everything are sold?!


  1. Do they have anything similar to "netflix", HBO, Red Box, Starz, etc.. Maybe you could catch the movies that way. If the movie series you described is a documentary, maybe a library would have them available. Another question - In Thailand do they "rate" popular movies (G, PG, PG-13, R) the way we do here? I assume the movies you're writing about are more like documentaries, but after reading your post I started thinking about movies that are shown in movie theaters. I would think advertisers would have to be pretty honest when advertising so there are no surprises when people actually sit down to watch the movie - esp. parents previewing movies for their kids.

    1. I'm not sure.. but I think that I got the wrong impression because reading the reviews wasn't an option for me at the time!! Reading Thai is a lot harder than speaking it, and my skills stayed very basic. Just like signs and ads use fonts and letter designs to make english text look different than normal, it's harder to make out thai text even when I remember the alphabet!