Foreign Film Festival
Directed by Ittisoontorn Vichailak
Starring Anuchit Saphanpong, Adul Dulyarat, and Arratee Tanmahapran
is a fictional account of legendary Thai musician Luang Pradit, a much revered music master who played the ranard-ek, a wooden xylophone. The film opens with a small boy, Sorn, who lives in a remote village in Thailand, standing alone in a grass and bamboo hut, in front of a ranard-ek. He begins to play, to the surprise of his family, who are drawn to the hut by the music. How did he learn? Who taught him? No one knows. As he grows into late adolescence, he demonstrates a remarkable gift for drawing forth from the instrument new and compelling music, music which is woven throughout the film.
Clearly, what sounds harmonic and pleasing to the people of Thailand can sound jarring and discordant to the western ear. But perhaps there is no better way to sum up the wonder of watching good foreign films: they can transcend the reflexive ethnocentric impulses that we all carry and reveal worlds that are heretofore unknown. And what may at first seem jarring, or strange &
language, customs, dress, culture &
gradually becomes illuminating, as does the music played on the ranard-ek.
Even thought the character transitions are a bit fuzzy (it is never really clear that we are seeing Sorn as both a young man and as an elder music master), and the narrative grows a bit convoluted, the overall sense of &
is that it has an interesting, exotic story to tell, one that ponders the importance of art in the lives of people, no matter the political realities or their exigent circumstances.
Written and directed by Michael Haneke
Starring Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Maurice Benichou and Annie Giradot
The static shot in film is often a long view wherein the camera doesn&
t move, rather lingers and holds as the moments pass. Michael Haneke, director of &
opens the film with a static shot of an urban residential area. In the center of the screen is an unremarkable two-story building wedged tightly between two other buildings. Cars pass, people walk by. Gradually, the creepy feeling that we are watching along with someone else begins to take hold.
Suddenly the image speeds up, lines appear on the screen, and it&
s clear that we are watching a tape. The film cuts to an interior shot where we see a man and a woman, Georges and Anne Laurent (Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil), sitting in a living room, the walls lined with books, the decor upscale. They are looking at the television and the image of their house is on the screen. Georges takes the tape out and holds it, then picks up a crude, violent drawing that accompanied the tape, which, he explains, was left in front of their door. Who could have sent it and why? he asks. Anne is at a loss.
And so begins what proves to be a taut, psychological thriller. Other tapes arrive with other drawings, and gradually the family &
they have a young adolescent son &
begins to disintegrate. Who is stalking them is hidden, as is a secret that Georges insists is not connected and of no consequence. This is a superbly constructed film with Hitchcockian overtones, taut and restrained and emotionally engaging and should not be missed. A note: pay close attention to the final static shot in the film; it is the key to all that has come before.