Flashback: Monrak Transistor

Det er ikke bare filmene til regissør Apichatpong Weerasethakul (nå kinoaktuell med Onkel Boonmee som kan erindre sine tidligere liv) som har satt thailandsk film på verdenskartet det siste tiåret. Særlig er det filmskaperen Pen-Ek Ratanaruang ved siden av Weerasethakul som har nådd ut til et internasjonalt publikum med sine filmer, eksempelvis har både Last Life in the Universe (2003) og Ploy (2007) av hans filmer vært distribuert på kino her i Norge. I dag har vi hentet frem et klipp fra hans nydelige romantiske fabel Monrak Transistor («Transistor Love Story») fra 2001. Dette skrev Chuck Stephens om Ratanaruang i The Guardian i 2003:

Pen-ek Ratanaruang, modern Thai cinema’s foremost satirist and a hilariously cynical romantic -- borrowed part of the title of his new film, Monrak Transistor, from the most famous Thai musical of all time, Monrak Look Thoong (Love of Country Songs). But if you ask him whether the title is meant to carry on a cinematic tradition, the New York-educated Pen-ek is likely to remind you that he originally thought about calling it Radio Days. When I met the thoroughly cinephilic Pen-ek, who is quick to admit his admiration for old-school American indies like Woody Allen and Robert Altman, he was busy hurling a stream of profanities at Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia -- cursing it out of awed admiration.

Watching the scene late in Monrak Transistor where all the characters come together, the living, the dying and the dead, to sing Thai «look thoong» legend Surapon Sombatcharoen’s haunting classic, Mai Leum (Don’t Forget), it was clear where all that venomed admiration had gone. Not that Monrak Transistor -- a deceptively simple country love song of the sort Thailand often sings for itself -- slightly corny, slightly silly, but always tender and heartbreaking in the end -- is merely some sort of Golden Triangle Magnolia. Pen-ek may occasionally wear his influences on his sleeve, but then Thai film history -- a place from which little light today escapes -- has something of a legacy of genre-borrowings from abroad, as fans of the recent international hit Tears of the Black Tiger, Wisit Sasanatieng’s eye-searing «Pad Thai western» , will gladly affirm. Even Thailand’s greatest epic tale, the Ramakien -- a retooling of the Ramayana -- is imported from abroad.