Nattawut Poonpiriya's Bad Genius is a success story when it donned heist elements in exam-cheating drama, making it an effective, nerve-racking thriller. Not only did it orchestrated the rise of newcomer, Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying (Happy Old Year), it also sparks waves of remake (Erik Feig and Patrick Wachsberger have been keen to produce a Hollywood remake with Eva Anderson's writings; meanwhile, Neeraj Pandey's currently supervising a Bollywood rendition). This also includes an expansion by the production house, GDH, to what eventually becomes Bad Genius: The Series a.k.a. ฉลาดเกมส์โกง—with total of 12 50-minute episodes.
Back in 2013, director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit (Happy Old Year, Die Tomorrow) experimented with a unique narrative quest—a slice-of-life drama of an unusual source. Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy is the product, based on 410 consecutive tweets from a Thai teenager known as Mary Malony a.k.a. @marylony (still active tweeting from 2009 until today, with total followers around 554K). Every single tweet, mostly in the Thai language, appears on-screen via title-card every minute or so guiding us through the daily life of Mary (Patcha Poonpiriya), which might turn bizarre in one moment and banal at another.
Thai director, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, offers an opposite view to Japanese organizing guru, Marie Kondo's tidying-up game with a sentimental drama, Happy Old Year. When Kondo encourages people to declutter and organize their houses by throwing out stuff that no longer sparks joy, Nawapol argues that Kondo's method is not always the case. Some people hold some memories dearer than some other people; and, sometimes, memories are knotted to specific things that belong to the past, even when they do not spark joy anymore.
Happy Old Year observes 'old stuff' — reminiscents of the past — as a container of memories. Oftentimes, people forget people or moment because there's barely physical totem to hold on. This view makes Kondo's credo looks too pragmatic; and, at the same times, gives t...
What Prueksa Amaruji's Bikeman offers is a familiar reflection of third-world country's problem, where employment issues create the urban dream. University graduates have to wander off the hometown to compete with each other and find jobs in the country's capital (or the financial capital). Bikeman attempts to underline such an issue with lightweight exposition and a heightened sense of comedy—overdosed with slapstick and farce.
At the center of this Thai blockbuster, Sakkarin (Pachara Chirathivat) will wake up early morning to boat across the lake of his provincial town before catching a train to Bangkok, where he claims to work in a high-profile bank. The truth is, he never works in a bank; he attempted a few times indeed to apply for a job in banks, but he never made it. Refusing to...
A couple is foolishly trapped in an abandoned 6-meter-deep pool... without water, without ladder, without any visible way out. From the premise, Ping Lumpraploeng's The Pool seems to offer a frustrating, claustrophobic thriller assembling the force of bad luck and the consequence of ignorance. It immediately reminds me to Open Water series (especially the second installment) where sheer stupidity and malaise jeopardize people's life. While it sounds nonsensical and exaggerating, some of its suspense might work even better if the movie does not give away most of the thrills so easily.
Friend Zone adopts an idea that has been too familiar that we almost take it for granted. A story of a guy who falls hard to a girl (vice versa) but ends up as friends, instead of lovers, is a tragedy since forever. Before the term was popularized by Joey Tribbiani in sitcom Friends, Edgar Linton has been friend-zoned by Catherine Earnshaw in Bronte's Wuthering Heights and, since then, we've heard a lot of similar stories or even get ourselves tangled in such stories. That does not refrain this new GDH romance from reminding us on how beautiful and sentimental this state can be.
In Friend Zone, we meet Palm (Naphat Siangsomboon) and Gink (Pimchanok ‘Baifern’ Luevisadpaibul) at the center of the story. Since high school, Palm has got himself tangled in a complicated friend zone with Gin...
Review Brother of the Year: In Vitthaya Thongyuyong’s GDH-produced blockbuster, what started out as a family dramedy about sibling rivalry quickly escalates into a full-fledged sentimental drama in an unexpected (but effectively presented) turn.
GDH darling, Sunny Suwanmethanont, stars as Chut—a less-motivated slacker, whose perfectly filthy bachelorhood life breaks after his multitalented sister, Jane (Urassaya Sperbund) returns home from her university time in Japan. As a blockbuster filled with sharp comedy materials upfront, it’s surprising that Brother of the Year takes a bold (but not strange) move to bit-by-bit leave its non-serious material (which powered most of its first half) and focus on a serious material, which might, at least, get lumps in your throat.
Similar to othe...
Review: Made by one of Thailand’s horror powerhouses, Sophon Sakdaphisit, The Promise tells a fictional ghost story about the country’s famous Ghost Tower —an abandoned 47-floor skyscraper, a reminder to the country’s downfall during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Similarly to Sophon’s other films, The Promise builds the horror on a dramatic foundation. Sophon has experimented on family tropes in Ladda Land and friendship tropes in The Swimmer; in his latest work, he combines them both along with some urban legend and national history.
With the financial crisis in the not too distant background, The Promise begins with a BFF trope of two girls—young Ib (Panisura Rikulsurakan) and Boum (Thunyaphat Pattarateerachaicharoen)—whose lives were deeply affected by the crisis. Fell from gr...
Review: In Bad Genius, director Nattawut Poonpiriya (who previously helmed Countdown, a peculiar New York-set home invasion thriller) crafts an extraordinary story about cheaters in standardized tests presented like a heist thriller. Additionally, it either criticizes or mocks or even actually makes fun of academic exams in a most exhilarating way.
With clever straightforward script and cinematic aptitude to treat classroom multiple-choice tests like Ocean’s Eleven, this film successfully delivers a scandalous guilty pleasure the size of The Talented Mr. Ripley. The result is a super entertaining heist-formulated classroom thriller, which scores high and graduate a cum laude.
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The film centers on a socially awkward, math p...