Sunday, May 23, 2004

In the Mood for Movies

In the Mood for Movies

I haven't been to a movie for ages, and last night I decided to give my tired legs a rest after a whole day of loitering around the Sukhomvit area by watching a movie at the SFX cinema located at the Emporium shopping mall. The mall is connected to the Phrom Phong skytrain station, so it was a convenient last stop for me before I headed home.

For a while I couldn't decide to watch Kill Bill Volume 2 or Troy. I was a bit wary of picking Troy because I had grown a bit tired of those huge cut-and-paste battle scenes after Lord of the Rings. There have been an overdose of CGI on the silver screen lately and I was in no mood for more.

I finally decided to go for Troy because I haven't watched Volume 1 of Kill Bill yet and I didn't want to ruin the pleasure of watching the two Tarantino flicks back-to-back at some future date. Furthermore the showtime for Troy was just right for me--I didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes.

There was also another reason why I was keen to go for a movie here: I had read somewhere before that the Thai national anthem is played before the start of every movie and everyone in the audience is required to be on their feet. Well, we used to have to do that in Malaysia too after Merdeka, but it was later scrapped because no one bothered to pay our Negaraku its due respect.

But here, the Thais' love for their King and country is well-known, so I wasn't surprised when everyone duly stood up the moment the national anthem clip appeared on the screen. The entire audience--all on their feet--was treated to a two minute sequence which showed images of the peaceful Thai countryside interspersed with stills of King Bhumihol and His Majesty's adoring subjects in various philanthrophic poses. Although it's a routine thing for cinema-going Thais, that few minutes of patriotic display in the plush darkness of that ultra-modern cineplex surprisingly had a genuine air of respect and solemnity in it.

The movie that followed however showed a different breed of kings--bloodthirsty and warring ones--rulers who fought for land, power, glory and love. Despite appearing trite in certain aspects, there were some good moments in Troy and I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy it. Come to think of it, it is very rarely that do I not enjoy a movie. If you set your expectations right, very few movies would disappoint.

But the movie that I'm dying to watch--and I've waited three years for it-- just managed to make it to the Cannes. However my favourite director didn't win anything this time; it was Michael Moore who grabbed the headlines by winning the coveted Palm d'Or award with his blatantly anti-war, anti-Bush Fahrenheit 9/11. It is also encouraging to see a Thai director winning the Jury Prize: Apichatpong Weerasethakul with Tropical Malady. Would love to catch all these movies someday!

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