Saturday, May 26, 2007


Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to someone:

Talking about the phonograph record reminds me of the film DIVA (1981, Jean-Jacques Beineix), in which the Diva doesn’t want to be recorded while singing. I find it an odd idea that someone should think like that, though I think I understand the character’s reason.

About the pros and cons of digital film viewing revolution, I think it would be great if films are available to be viewed in any which way the audience likes. I think it would be great if the audience can choose to view it in theatre, TV, computer, or portable device. I think it would be great if someone who wants to watch DESTROY, SHE SAID (Marguerite Duras), can just push a button on the keyboard to pay his money, and then the film is ready to be watched on his computer screen, no matter where he lives in this planet. Will this dream come true in the near future? Maybe in the next five years? I hope so.

If I have a chance, I still prefer to watch films in a big theatre. But as I grow older, and as the greenhouse effect makes the world hotter and hotter, I have to confess that I go to cinema less and less. Five to ten years ago, I tried to watch as many films as I could if they were shown in theatres in Bangkok. I went to Goethe Institute on Wednesday, Thammasat University on Thursday, Japan Foundation on Friday, Alliance Francaise on Saturday, Thammasat University again on Sunday, to watch films. Those days are gone. Some institutions stopped showing films because there is no audience. Now I sometimes go to cinema only on Friday and Saturday, to watch mainstream films in multiplex. Why do I become like this?

As for the dwindling number of audience in arthouse cinema in Bangkok, I think it is very sad. I think it is sad because the DVD might not be the real cause of it, but the real cause may be that Bangkokians nowadays are not really interested in non-mainstream films. When this kind of bad phenomenon started happening about five years ago, we used to think that the availability of DVDs was the cause. We used to think that Bangkokians turned to watch DVDs at home instead of going to Alliance Francaise or Goethe Institute, but we were wrong. One of my friends, FILMSICK, just wrote a comment on AU HASARD BALTHAZAR in his popular blog, but it seems as if no one ever heard or saw this DVD. AU HASARD BALTHAZAR has been available as DVD in Bangkok for many years. If FILMSICK wrote about this film in 1999, and there was hardly a response, then it is understandable, because AU HASARD BALTHAZAR was shown in a Bangkok theatre only once during 1995-1999, if I don’t remember it wrongly. But FILMSICK wrote about this film in 2007. Why does the number of Thai people who want to talk about this film increase so little? I came to a conclusion that the availability of DVDs is not to be blamed for the dwindling number of Bangkok arthouse audience, because if it is the real cause, the number of Bangkokians who have watched the DVD of such films as AU HASARD BALTHAZAR should have increased. Most people who used to frequent Goethe Institute and Alliance Francaise don’t turn to watch DVDs as a substitute. It seems as if this group of people just vanished into thin air. I hope this kind of thing is not a global phenomenon. I hope it happens only in Bangkok.

Below is a photo from THE SLEEP OF REASON (1984, Ula Stoeckl, A+), one of the best films ever shown at Goethe Institute in Bangkok.

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