items). I keep the receipts in case I get questioned due to the indecent volume of movies that I buy.
Way way back, during my several visits in Bangkok, I would steal some time off any itinerary and head to the notorious Patpong area from 10PM onwards. Famous for their naughty kinky shows, this is also a haven for foreign dvd titles – the likes you hardly see in legitimate stores anywhere in Asia, even in Singapore or Hong Kong! You would find them near KFC along Silom Road, just a hop away from Patpong 1 area. They will offer you 7 albums worth of dvd covers from where you pick your titles. Once everything is settled, this vendor will phone these titles from somewhere – some bodega – while you wait! And it could go from 10 to 30 minutes! This is the very same practice that one will find even in big malls like the Pantip Plaza – the electronics hub! However, as I got a little wiser – and more knowledgeable about my dvd fix – I realized that Bangkok is actually the most expensive place to buy these pirated junks, usually selling 100 baht a piece ($2.93) or PhP136.40 each! In Manila, each disc will only cost you PhP50, 45 even – if you’re a lucky chap! That is almost 3-fold the Manila price!
Here's a few of my DVD stash from Bangkok:
Handle Me with Care (Thai)
Director: Kongdej Jaturunrutasamee
Actor: Kerttikamol Lata, Supaksorn Chaimongkol
Capsule: A sweet, surprising road movie about - get this - a guy born with three arms! The filmmaker employs a Tim Burton-style storytelling on alienation and instead deliver a character-driven road movie about two people who have a little extra where they perhaps would prefer not to. A charming and unexpected sleeper.
My take: I saw this movie last June when I was in Bangkok. In fact I saw it twice when I thought a Thai film called noa is a different film altogether (It has thai characters that read like noa... silly me). It has Tim Burton elements of fantasy and a very tender romantic story about a depressed young man who travels from Lampang up north to Bangkok to finally have his extra arm removed. I loved it!
Director: Pongpat Wachirabunjong
Actor: Ananda Everingham (Thailand's Piolo Pascual)
Capsule: A man is robbed while making a call at a phone booth. Staggering in the middle of the road after getting mugged by a band of thieves, he gets hit by a car driven by a woman named Oom. Feeling sorry for him, Oom takes the man home and nurses him back to health. The man, it turns out, has developed amnesia. Based on the name written on his pendant, Oom calls him Tan. Where does this take our protagonists?
Actor: Amarin Nitipon, Watcharaboon LeesuwanCapsule: A young monk catches a train to a temple on the hill. On the way, he meets Pon and Tangmo, two people who are trying to escape from their past. Later, the threesome sfast friends, but they have to go their separate ways to find their respective dreams. I got this original at a cheap 99 baht.
Season's Change is a tender pubescent love story - the genre is not very popular in Thailand which is awash with horror and action films. I was made aware of this movie when I was in the capital 2 years ago. I saw the trailer while watching another Thai film. Unfortunately for me, I was set to fly back to Manila 3 days before the movie would open. My brother finally saw it when he also flew to Bangkok 2 weeks after my arrival in Manila. It took me forever to find this one. It's always out of stock - and there's not a lot of inquiries or back orders.
New York WaitingDirector: Joachim Hedem
Actor: Christopher Stuart and Annie WoodsCapsule: Hoping to re-connect with the one big lost love of his life, Sid sends Coreen an airline ticket and asks her to meet him in New York. To make things more romantic, he proposes a meeting at the view deck of the Empire State Building. Sounds familiar? Passing time, waiting for Coreen to arrive, Sid meets Amy who is leaving New York to start over after a failed relationship. The two of them spend a day together. It’s a story of first meeting and second chances. The capsule intrigues me; it's one of those understated romantic films that we've never heard of. I loved the film.
What My Eyes Have Seen (France)
Director: Laurent de Bartillat
Capsule: Lucie Audibert, a student of Art History, does research work on Watteau. She is persuaded that a hidden sense that nobody has ever deciphered can be found in a few of his paintings. The further she proceeds the more professor Jean Dussart - for unclear reasons - tries to discourage her. But Lucie is persistent, even stubborn, and, aided by Vincent, a mute street mime, she manages to attain her goal in spite of everything.
Director: Carlos Reygadas (Mexico)
Capsule: A father’s faith in God is put to test when he falls in love with another woman. This is Mexican maverick film director Carlos Reygadas' latest masterpiece which won so many awards in 10 international film festivals including Cannes Jury Prize of 2007. It will be screened at the 7th Fiesta - Spanish Film Festival at the Greenbelt which opens on September 30.
Happy End (Amelie star Audrey Tautou in a New York story.)
Director: Amos Kollek; Actor: Audrey Tautou and Justin Theroux
Half Moon (Iran)
Director Bahman Ghobadi
Capsule: An old and legendary Kurdish musician living in Iran plans to hold his very last concert in Iraq. This is a great addition to Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly and A Time for Drunken Horses which we bought from London at 5x the price.
Sappho - a Ukrainean movie lyrically shot and telling the story of the famous poet.
Murk (Darkness) from Denmark – a psychological thriller about a man who’s investigating the circumstances behind his sister’s death on her wedding night.
The Floating Landscape (director: Miu-suet Lai) a Taiwanese art film staple that we encountered in a specialty Manila shop some 6 years ago. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't for sale then. We got this from MBK's 5th floor DVD shop (where the cinemaplex is). See? It's original at just 169 baht!
A Year in My Life - a French film which follows the life of an orphan. I've seen this title in the very same shelf at an MBK store last year. I finally decided to buy it this time.
Bombay to Bangkok - travelogue meets love struck couple.
Black is a cinematographic masterpiece, a true-to-life story of a blind, deaf and mute girl who has overcome the odds of her handicap by going to a foreign university in Switzerland. A 10-hanky melodramatic film that I have seen at one of the film festivals in Manila. Not a favorite, but really spectacular images.
Devdas - a sprawling saga of love and devotion against all odds; an Indian masterpiece! It also boasts of eye-popping visuals. This has a lush and glorious India as you've never seen before! I finally own a copy! Yeay!
The Cup - Football and the exiled Buddhist monks in Bhutan come together in this Bhutan-Australian co-production!
This is the Eye in the Sky!