Based on the life of Luang Pradit Pairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng) the most revered traditional Thai music master who lived during the reigns of Kings Rama V to VIII, the movie traces the life ... See full summary »
Jeab hears that his childhood sweetheart Noi-Naa is to be married, so he makes the trip back home to his provincial village. As he does so, the memories come flooding back to his childhood ... See full summary »
What are you doing at his age? Age 16, TOP gained 400,000 Baht monthly from playing online games. Age 17, He was willing to fail school and instead earned money from selling chestnuts for ... See full summary »
Mak served in the war during the beginning of the Rattanakosin Dynasty. At war he became friends with Ter, Puak, Shin, and Aey, whose lives he saved. Once the war was over, Mak invited his ... See full summary »
Ped (Jirayu La-ongmanee) was a shy boy who had never listened to music until introduced to the world of Pop and Rock by would-be childhood crush Ern (Nattasha Nualjam). Ern soon left for ... See full summary »
Sua (Ter - Chantavit Dhnasevi) and Jib (Ice - Preechaya Pongthananikorn) are like any other couple in this world except for one exception: for the past 5 years they have kept their ... See full summary »
Phobia 2 is composed of five short movie segments directed by five of the best directors of Thai horror films. A teenager who committed a crime goes to a sacred place for meditation and ... See full summary »
An urban love story set in the center of Bangkok where thirty-year-old Mei Li struggling to find true love. When Mei Li accidentally meets a handsome BTS engineer whom she considers as the ... See full summary »
Competent remake of "Rashomon" but with a few WTF flaws
"At the Gate of the Ghost" (2011) is an ambitious remake of Kurosawa's incomparable classic "Rashomon" (1950) which itself is an adaptation of 2 short stories "In a Grove" and "Rashomon" published in 1922. If you haven't seen the original "Rashomon", just take my word for it: it's the Japanese equivalent of the American "Citizen Kane". Like Kane, Rashomon jump started a new breed of film exploring the fractured narrative where a story is told from different, often conflicting, points of view. The ultimate question being raised: is there such thing as absolute truth? Or is the entire universe itself a subjective experience which each individual must define?
That said, let's get back to "At the Gate of the Ghost". Deliberately, this film is presented from a very overt, biased, Buddhist perspective. The opening titles say so. That sort of shatters the objective lens through which we perceive the characters' subjective nature. And for the first 20 minutes (which I hated so much I almost ejected this DVD into the trash), we get a ton of bizarre Buddhist sermons with convoluted fortune cookie catchphrases splattered across the screen to the sounds of operatic singing. Perhaps the meaning was lost in translation to English, but I found myself getting a headache while trying to make any sense of these slogans, for example (this is a direct quote), "One should strive to act in a way that is true to the way things are, that accords with the underlying truth of things."
WTF? I've heard more logical statements from the Bush administration.
But let's say you make it past the first 20 minutes. That's when things start to get really good. Following the first 20 minutes which amount to an unnecessary subplot about our hero, a young Buddhist monk who walks around observing his family's hypocrisies with a look of extreme constipation, the real gist of the movie kicks in when he finds himself in a cave talking to 2 other lost souls who have ducked in out of the rain.
Acclaimed Thai actor Pongpat Wachirabunjong (playing the role of the unscrupulous undertaker) immediately livens up the production with his larger-than-life portrayal of a disgusting, twisted misanthrope whom you can't help but love. Mutually distrustful of each other, the 3 men begin to talk about crime & punishment, and then they begin discussing the bizarre details of a murder trial.
They recount the witness testimonies, the facts, the opinions and ultimately the judgment that had just taken place, and through these different accounts we get drawn in to the mystery of wherein lies the truth. Each testimony radically contradicts the others. We hear from the Woodcutter who found the body, the Investigator who apprehended the Suspect, the Suspect who proclaims his innocence, the Wife of the victim who has a different story yet, and finally a very cool, stylish and creepy testimony from the murdered man himself.
One area where this film outshines the original "Rashomon" (through no fault of Kurosawa) is in the extreme, glorious use of colors. The visuals are really quite stunning. So in the end I do recommend this film, even to the Rashomon curmudgeons like me who say nothing will ever touch the original. Certain scenes are absolutely magical in their hi- definition glory, much like something you might expect from the modern Chinese master director Zhang Yimou ("Hero", "House of Flying Daggers"). I definitely count "At the Gate of the Ghost" as well worth the price of admission.
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