The Overture (2004) / Hom Rong

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Hom Rong, a Thai movie based on the life of Luang Pradit Pairoh (Sorn), a much revered Thai music master who played the Thai Xylophone (Ra-nad) when he was a young child and found his life calling.

The film traces his tumultuous childhood through loosing his brother and following him through to adulthood during the reign of King Rama V, exploring the near demise of Thai golden-age music while Thailand was under Japanese occupation during WWII.

At the time, Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsongkram attempted to make Thailand ‘civilised’ and banned many cultural norms in a bid to make Thailand more westernised – an ideal that at the time was seen as a positive move for the country.
In a somewhat controversial stand against the government and it’s new laws, it sees Sorn stand up for his beliefs in the name of music, and his cultural philosophy which (paraphrased) are like the roots of a tree. In a big storm, if all the roots are dead, the tree will topple, but if they are nourished it will withstand the biggest storms.

In a visually arresting way, the film switches between various parts of his life, and shows how through dedication and pure skill he manages to become the best Ra-nad player in Thailand, congratulated by the king.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the film was the discovery of the ‘accelerated modernism’ dictated by the government throughout world war two, and the impact it had upon Thai culture – something which still saddens Thai’s today.

The film enjoyed many awards, including (alL 2004) Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Adul Dulyarat), Best Cinematography (Nattawut Kittikhun), Best Editing (Ittisoontorn Vichailak), Best Screenplay (Peerasak Saksiri, Ittisoontorn Vichailak, Dolkamol Sattatip) and Best Sound.

I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in Thai history, with a rating of 7/10.
IMDB rates the film at 7.9

Bowling for Colombine – Film review

This two hour long documentary gives an important insight into the problems that plague america with it’s current gun laws. With shootings at an all time high, the documentary film maker Michael Moore gives an in-depth and shocking look at the circumstances that lead up to the tragic April 20, 1999 high school massacare at Columbine, Colorado.

Even as gun violence is escalating, there are still no serious calls from Washington to curb the problem, and indeed it is a hard issue to tackle. With pro-gun associations strong in the public eye such as the National Rifle Association, it would be a tough and potentially vote-loosing stance for any presidential candidate – even though serious reform is needed.

In Michael Moore’s characteristic style, he makes a good argument for reform of gun laws in the USA and highlights the potentially predatory timing of the National Rifle Association’s visits to counties affected by tragedies related to gun crime in the USA, by paying a visit to the then vice president Charlton Heston.

Moore asks some important questions – such as why even though Canada has seven million guns across ten million households, they don’t suffer the terrifying gun violence rates of the USA, and demonstrates how infused gun culture and the right to bear arms is still strong in the American psyche.

The majority of the footage is hand-held, shot in run and gun style, but aside from it’s lack of visual panache it’s won numerous awards such as the Independent Spirit Award for best documentary feature, Academy award for best documentary, a special 55th anniversary prize at 2002 Cannes film festival and the Cesar award for best foreign film.

You can read more about the film here:

and the IMDB link is here:

Overall, with a rating of 8.0 on IMDB and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, this is a film that is worth watching.