Author Topic: Hitchcock Is Alive and Well and Living in Thailand  (Read 1776 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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Hitchcock Is Alive and Well and Living in Thailand
« on: April 27, 2012, 06:23:25 PM »
Hitchcock Is Alive and Well and Living in Thailand

In the opening scenes of “Headshot,” a man sporting a shaved head and clad in the orange robes of a Buddhist monk enters a courtyard, turns toward a group of thugs, pulls a gun from a small bowl and fires at them. The imposter is a hitman, not a holy man, and in the subsequent chaos he’s shot in the head.

Three months later he wakes from a coma and sees the world — literally — upside down.

Divine retribution, cosmic justice or ironic cruelty?

The Thai noir film, screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, leaves that question for the audience to consider.

But director Pen-ek Ratanaruang had other issues to manage. The sight of monks carrying bowls to collect food offerings, called alms, in the early mornings is an everyday scene in Thailand. The image of monk with a gun is not.

“It’s sensitive to Thai people,” Mr. Pen-ek says in an interview. “The food bowl of the monk is a sacred object.”

Thailand’s censors took notice and forced him to alter the scene when the film was released there in October.

“We [digitally] had to erase the gun from the bowl,” he says.

And he perhaps found further inspiration in the grand tradition of Hitchcock, who famously edited the shower sequence in “Psycho” without ever actually showing the knife touching the skin of Janet Leigh.

“We never show the monk shooting the gun,” Mr. Pen-ek says.

The link with Hitchcock wasn’t unintentional, but more on that in a moment.

The Bangkok-born director, who lived in the U.S. from age 15 to 25 and studied art history at the Pratt Institute in New York, began his film career in the 1990s with a pair of black-humor gangster tales, “Fun Bar Karaoke” and “6ixtynin9.” He then embarked on a decade-long exploration of troubled and complex relationships in a series of very personal films, earning him a reputation as one of Thailand’s leading art-house auteurs.

He became a frequent presence on the international film-festival circuit — Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto. His films include the critically praised “Last Life in the Universe,” an odd-couple story about a Japanese man and young Thai woman (and in which he worked with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the longtime collaborator of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai).

“I am preoccupied with bad relationships and lonely people,” he told the Journal in a 2009 interview, and hinted then that he’d next like to make a Hitchcockian film.

And he did.

“Now I understand why Hitchcock is so enjoyable,” says the director, whose youthful appearance mask his 50 years. “‘Headshot’ is my least personal film — personal films are torturous to make.” Speakeasy has more.

See a trailer for “Headshot” below. (Warning: some nudity and violence.)

Headshot (2011) Trailer - HD Movie

Wall Street Journal