19/5/2008 มติเอกฉันท์ นักวิจารณ์ส่วนใหญ่ต่างยอมรับว่า งาน Soi Cowboy ได้รับอิทธิพลเจ้ย อภิชาติพงศ์ ให้ดูสีแดงทั้งหมด
ฉายไปแล้ว 2 รอบเมื่อวานนี้ ผลปรากฎว่า แม้ตอนแรกโรงจะเต็มไปด้วยผู้คน แต่คนก็ทยอยเดินออกจากโรง จนคนอื่่น ๆ อดปล่อยก๊ากออกมาไม่ได้ เพื่อนนักวิจารณ์ชาวอินโดนีเซีย Araya Gunawan เดินออกกลางเรื่อง พร้อมมาบ่นกับผู้เขียนว่า "My day was spoiled by Soi Cowboy."
สำหรับผลตอบรับจากสื่อนั้น ปรากฎว่า วาไรตี้ชม แต่นิตยสาร Metro ของฝรั่งเศสด่า สำหรับความคิดเห็นของผู้เขียนเองนั้น ขอพูดอย่างสั้น ๆ ก่อนที่จะวิจารณ์ยาว ๆ ก็คือ หนังได้รับอิทธิพลของอภิชาติพงศ์เยอะมาก ด้วยการแบ่งวิธีการเล่าเรื่องเป็น 2 ตอน ตอนแรกยาวประมาณ 1 ชั่วโมงครึ่ง ถ่ายภาพด้วยขาวดำ เล่าเรื่องการใช้ชีวิตในเมืองไทยของคนทำหนังฝรั่งกับเมียไทย ภาพที่สวยของหนังถือได้ว่าช่วยหนังมาก เพราะหนังเหมือนไม่มีเรื่องราวอะไรเลย "The movie has no stories." ผู้เขียนได้บอกกล่าวกับ Maggie Lee ที่นั่งข้าง ๆ
ส่วนอีกตอนหนึ่งถ่ายภาพเป็นสี ซึ่งคุณจะได้เห็นจากข้างบนนี้แหล่ะ ยาวประมาณครึ่งชั่วโมง เล่าเรื่องราวน้องชายของเมียฝรั่ง ช่วงที่สองมีการวิพากษ์สังคมไทยอยู่เยอะ และเมื่อดูครบทั้งสองตอนแล้ว ผู้เขียนคิดว่า เรื่องที่มันดูเหมือนไม่มีอะไร มีการวิพากษ์วิจารณ์อะไรบางอย่างของสังคมไทย
ขอกลับไปเขียนวิจารณ์อย่างละเอียดที่เมืองไทยนะคะ ตอนนี้อ่านบทวิจารณ์ข้างล่าง 2 อันก่อนค่ะ
ฺBritish - Thai co-production Soi Cowboy by Thomas Gray came out with not so positive responses after the two screenings yesterday (16 May 2008). A number of people kept walking out after twenty-minutes - bursting into more laughs from those who insisted watching the film through the end. Indonesian critic, Araya Gunawan, came to me, saying "My day was spoiled by Soi Cowboy."
So far only negative responses have been sent out, except Variety review (see below). In my view, the film is distinctively influenced by Apichatpong Weerasethakul's bi-section storytelling module. In Soi Cowboy, the first part runs over one hour and a half in nice black-and-white images (also using the same cinematographer as Weerasetkul's Sayumphoo Mukdeeprom) to tell the everyday life of a Danish filmmaker and a pregnant Thai girl. The second part spans half an hour, immediately being twisted into the murder of the girl's older brother by her own younger one. Following are two different reviews on the films.
Metro, France, Jennifer Lesieur
There are films that make you wonder about your sanity. I mean, if Soi Cowboy was selected for Un Certain Regard, that must mean that it should be a film with many qualities, right? Well, lets see
An obese Danish director lives with a very young girl he found in Soi Cowboy, a Bangkok ghetto. She is now pregnant with his child, and they live in a small apartment. He is kind, she is docile, even if sexually it'snot the greatest. That's pretty much the idea behind this succession of empty images, filmed in a dismal black and white, so vacant it becomes unbearable. The script must be about five pages long. One barely manages to stay awake for the last half-hour which becomes increasingly incomprehensible, as we suddenly shift to color for the story of the girl's brother, who just decapitated their eldest brother in the midst of the jungle over an argument about money. Grotesque? Totally. Badly written, badly filmed, badly constructed, Soi Cowboy plunges you into an abyss of perplexity.
Screendaily.com, Jonathan Romney in Cannes
Young director Thomas Clay is one of the very few figures in current British cinema who can justifiably be described as a maverick. Clay's debut The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael - seen in Critics' Week in 2005 - won him admirers, but also saw him attacked for that film's use of extreme violence. Shot in Thailand, Soi Cowboy will similarly divide viewers but is a sure-footed, deliberately-paced feature that boldly wrong-foots us in the final stretch.
Commercially, however, Soi Cowboy is unlikely to make much of a mark, although festivals may be intrigued by this distinctive anomaly.
An opening shot in grainy black-and-white sketches the relationship of obese Scandinavian Tobias (Bro, creepy yet touchingly vulnerable) and Koi (Thampanyasan), a young Thai woman who's pregnant, although whether by him is unclear. They share a Bangkok flat ut have little to say to each other, and while Tobias is apparently besotted by her, she seems to have no interest in him except as a live-in revenue stream.
Their relationship is sexual, Tobias sustaining himself on Viagra, although Koi tells a friend she finds his attentions a nuisance.
Little happens in the opening hour - and indeed, after a painstakingly slow opening in the couple's apartment, it's a full 25 minutes before the film's sparse dialogue even kicks in. Later on, the couple visits an out-of-town tourist spot, and it becomes apparent that the awkward Tobias is unsuccessfully involved with cinema. Little happens on the trip, however: there's an extended digression involving an old lady hobbling along with a Zimmer frame, seemingly designed to amuse and infuriate the audience in equal measure. There's also a key conversation in Thai between Koi and a waitress - without subtitles, to remind us that Tobias is very much a fish out of water in this culture.
After an hour, however, the couple temporarily drops out of the picture, as the film shifts into vivid colour and a looser, more documentary-like camera style, by contrast with the long takes and largely fixed shots of the Bangkok section. A young man, Cha (Mekoh), seemingly Koi's younger brother, returns to his village. It's at this point that a startling piece of violence occurs - handled much more discreetly and effectively than in Clay's first film - and the story winds up in a sequence that may be fantasy, but is certainly indebted to David Lynch.
Some viewers may well take against Clay's unashamed cinephile tendencies: the slow takes and camera crawls of the film's first part echo Bela Tarr, while there are also nods to Reygadas's and no escaping comparisons with Thai innovator Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose Syndromes and a Century was also shot by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Indebted as he may be, though, Clay clearly thinks about cinema in a way that few British directors do.
ฺVariety By LESLIE FELPERIN
Brit helmer Thomas Clay's sophomore feature, "Soi Cowboy," demonstrates a growing maturity. This slowburning, enigmatic drama, mostly about a Danish man and a Thai woman awkwardly living together in Bangkok, is deeper and more likeable than Clay's controversial debut, "The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael." Gone are the latter film's shock tactics, allowing Clay's cinematic sophistication to sparkle all the better. Consequently, a certain highbrow contingent will eagerly pony up for "Cowboy," but others may see little more here than a preening bricolage of allusions, richer in style than substance. B.O. prospects are strictly niche.
Corpulent Tobias Christensen (Danish character actor Nicolas Bro), a filmmaker whose career seems roughly in the same place as Thomas Clay's, and his unnamed, pregnant g.f. (newcomer Pimwalee Thampanyasan) are first met during a typical morning in their small, one-bedroom apartment. Not a word is spoken between them for at least 15 minutes of real time as each breakfasts on toast and fish, respectively.
Tobias then sets off to do some shopping, purchasing DVDs from a black-market stall (he requests, without success, a copy of "The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael"), a couple of Viagra tablets at a pharmacy and a gold bracelet for his lady. In a later comic, but quietly revealing, scene that underscores the barely concealed economic underpinnings of their relationship, she expresses pleasure with her gift, but seems more interested in its resale value, "in case of trouble," than its sentimental significance.
Dialogue and later events imply that Tobias and the Thai woman met at a bar or brothel in Bangkok's seedy Soi Cowboy red-light district, and having fallen for her, offered to support her and take her away from it all, even though she avoids having sex with him these days. However, she still stays in touch with her friends from Soi Cowboy, including Cha , a gofer for a nightclub gangster. In pic's later half Cha travels to his rural hometown to track down his older brother, also an employee of the gangster, who's gone missing.
For roughly 90 minutes, pic chugs along, loping beside Toby and his g.f. as they putter around the house, and eventually decide to take a trip to Ayutthaya to stay at a hotel and see its legendary temples. A jaunt around one ruin pays particular homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Avventura" as the couple is lost from view amid slow tracking shots of near-empty spaces and grumbling soundtrack noise.
Pic then shifts into lurid color and genre territory, as action now follows Cha on his trip to find his brother, ending with an eerie scene in a Soi Cowboy nightclub that tips its hat -- and probably a scarf and few pairs of gloves -- to David Lynch.
As it happens, "Cowboy" is chock-full of allusions to Clay's pantheon of auteur heroes, including not just Antonioni and Lynch and many other Europeans, but also notable and newer Asian helmers like Hou Hsiao-hsien (the pacing, the languid atmosphere) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (the bipartite structure, the Thai setting itself).
Although Clay manages, just about, to keep these references in service of his story, it not yet clear what his own directorial voice looks like, or what exactly it is he wants to say. Sneaking suspicion remains that the meat of movie is the relatively simple story of Tobias and his woman, and the gangster stuff is just tacked on to add exotic spice.
Although made on a much smaller budget, per press notes, than "The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael," pic looks technically pro, though lensing by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is a little murky at times in the monochrome section, perhaps deliberately.
็Hollywood Reporter, By Maggie Lee
The dynamics of a mixed-race relationship based on the transaction between economic security and emotional or sexual gratification have seldom been addressed full-on, until Soi Cowboy. To screenwriter-director Thomas Clays credit, he neither sensationalizes the relationship nor glamorizes its underworld backdrop. To the films detriment, he does not dramatize them compellingly either.
Debuting in Cannes Un Certain Regard provides sufficient cachet to boost Soi Cowboys festival life elsewhere. Commercial prospects are another story. Despite the hints of raciness in the subject, Clay brings nothing new to the table. The low-key delivery and languishing pace will consign public release to small, intimate affairs in Europe, and not necessarily in Thailand at all.
The film is sharply divided into two parts. The first, which is longer, is in black-and-white. The austere beauty of monochrome and the formal compositions of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Syndromes and a Century) lend subtlety to the documentary-like representation. The incongruity of the relationship is not conveyed through conversations, but accentuated by physical differences: one being a corpulent farang, the other a petite, pregnant Thai girl. A scene in a restaurant where tensions about interracial liaisons flare up is most interesting, but annoying without English subtitles.
The second part follows the homecoming trip of two city-bound brothers, which turns out to be a mafia assignment. Shot with a handheld, in saturated colors, events may or not be the prequel to the first story, adding to the overall air of uncertainty.
There are traces of influence by Thai auteurs, most visibly Apichatpong Weerasethakul and, at a further remove, Pen-ek Ratanaruang. Only Clay has blanched the enigmatic aura of the former and the sensuous insouciance of the latter to make it more basic and transparent for Western consumption. Like Som Tum (Thai papaya salad) with chili it still tastes good but without the bite.