Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Critics I Like: Jit Phokaew

Unfortunately the (English-language) material available by Jit Phokaew of Bangkok is limited: from what I can find, it consists entirely of one short piece on Bulle Ogier and a bunch of lists (usually with commentary) for Senses of Cinema. So go there, do a search on him, and find what thou wilt.

What I have found is a cinephile with a truly devotional relationship to the cinema in all its forms. He celebrates Rivette, Duras, and a number of independent films I've often never heard of from all corners of the globe (and his favorite director is registered in his all-time list as Derek Jarman) and yet mentions his favorite developments in some recent subgenre or national cinema (Argentine films; or: "Genre films that I liked very much this year include So Close (Corey Yuen, 2002) and Naked Weapon (Ching Siu-tung, 2002) in the female-action genre...").

Thus he's made something of an art of list-making, concocting "20 favorites" or so with pithy commentary that shows he keeps his fingers on many pulses. One of the most tantalizing titles he mentions: Birth of the Seanema (Sasithorn Ariyavicha, 2004): "This is my favorite Thai film ever. I think Sasithorn deserves to be ranked alongside Maya Deren, Marguerite Duras, Chantal Akerman, and Su Friedrich as one of the most talented and uncompromising female filmmakers."

(By the way, I'm only erring on the side of caution, due to the preponderance among websurfing cinephiles, by referring to Jit Phokaew as a male--I don't know anything about Thai names and perhaps this Critic I Like is a woman?)

7 comments:

Brian said...

What little I know about Thai names makes me think your assumption was correct; I know Jit is a name used by men, and I've never encountered any names used by both genders. But that's just anecdotal; I have no clue if there's any rule against unisex names, and then there's the issue of transliteration; two clearly different names in Thai could both potentially be spelled as "Jit" in Roman letters.

I also have taken note of his top tens for Senses over the years, and have wished festival and cinematheque programmers in my town would do the same; unfortunately it seems that after bringing a large number of Thai films to Frisco audiences in 2003, there's been a severe slowdown. This year only four Thai films played such venues by my count, (though it was nice that two of them, and three others, had week-long commercial releases as well). This despite the fact that the SF Bay Guardian tends to print positive reviews (by either Chuck Stephens or Johnny Ray Huston) of any Thai film that plays even for a single day in the smallest venue. Perhaps experience has taught programmers that such reviews don't always lead to satisfied audiences.

Sorry I got off track a bit there. What I'm trying to say is that I always feel a bit jealous of the films (and not only the Thai films) he's able to see in Bangkok. I rarely found anything quite as interesting as what he uncovers when I was there (perhaps having to do with the fact that I don't know how to say much less read the Thai words for "cinematheque" or "film society".)

celinejulie said...

Hi

I’m Jit Phokaew, and first I want to thank you very very much for your kind words. I just discovered your blog today by accident, and I can’t tell you how glad I am after reading your writing about me. This must be one of the happiest days of my life. I found it hard to concentrate on my work after reading your blog. I was overwhelmed with joy, though I felt a little bit sad that I just discovered it after you had written it for more than a year.

Yes, I’m a Thai man. I also found it difficult to deal with gender-identifying pronouns sometimes, too. In my latest poll in Senses of Cinema, I had used the pronoun “he” to substitute for the noun “each viewer”, but the editor of Senses of Cinema kindly corrected it as “he or she”. Hahaha. I have to admit that I’m not good at writing in English, though I intend to try to write in English more and more if I have time.

If you are curious about what I wrote in English, you can read it in imdb.com at this address:

http://www.imdb.com/user/ur0426898/comments

Unfortunately, I stopped writing in imdb.com in May 2004, because around that time, I started devoting most of my free time to write in some Thai movie webboards.

I also have a Thai blog to collect everything I write in other Thai websites. My blog is very messy and mostly about nonsensical things. It’s at this address:
http://celinejulie.blogspot.com

I also had written something about my favorite actresses many years ago and later I posted it at this address:
http://celinejulie.blogspot.com/2005/04/alternative-goddesses.html

If you read anything I wrote and disagree with me, you should know that I also disagree with many things that I wrote in the past, too. Because I seem to change my mind many times. For example, I seemed to dislike Diane Lane in the article above, but that’s because I had written it before I saw her in Unfaithful.

I just discovered Mubarak Ali’s blog today, too, and see that you commented a lot in his wonderful blog.

Thank you again for what you wrote. You make my life meaningful.

Boat said...

I just want to add that Jit Phokaew is my all time favorite movie critic . His broad knowledge of film and his love in cinema are exceptional. Not to mention his generousity for Thai movie goers who each day learn more about cinema from his long and detailed posts. I can't tell you how much I've learned from him just by reading what he wrote. Kudos to Jin Phokaew. I love you.

Clenbuterol said...

He is a cinema fan even more than you!

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cialis said...

Sorry I got off track a bit there. What I'm trying to say is that I always feel a bit jealous of the films