October 21, 2009

Old Thai Movie DVD Roundup, Part 3: The Legend Collection from Five Star Productions

More than a year after I first read about it on Wise Kwai's blog, Five Star Productions has finally begun releasing the promised films from its vault. At the end of August it was announced that Five Star had signed a deal with media distribution company BKP to release more than 100 titles from its film vault on DVD.

The set has been dubbed The Legend Collection, or in Thai ตำนานหนังกลางใจ. This will be a re-release on DVD for some titles, but it will be the first DVD treatment for the vast majority of these films. Some 70 specific titles have been announced, and will be released in "volumes" of seven titles each. Fourteen titles, comprising the first two volumes of The Legend Collection, were released in September. The retail price is set at 199, but they are easily found for 139 baht. Unfortunately, none will have English subtitles.

This weekend I bought Vol. 1 No. 1, อนึ่งคิดถึงพอสังเขป, directed by Bhandit Rittakol. The quality of the transfer appears very good, as far as these things go. I'll write more about that soon.

For now, some more highlights from this impressive collection:

* 12 films by director Piak Poster -- almost every film he made between 1978 and 1996. (Two of his first films, โทน / Tone (1970) and ชู้ / Adulterer (1972) were released on DVD in 2007 by Triple X films.)

* 8 films from the Charuchinda entertainment dynasty -- 4 directed by Sakka Charuchinda (สักกะ จารุจินดา), and 4 directed by his son, Narong Charuchinda (ณรงค์ จารุจินดา).

* 7 films by director Euthana Mukdasanit, more than half of his directorial efforts. (His 1997 film จักรยานสีแดง / Red Bike Story was released by GMM this year as part of its Memory Collection.

* 6 films by Bhandit Rittakol. (A limited edition box set of all 6 films in Bhandit's original Boonchu series was also released last year.)

* 3 of the most well-known films of National Artist Vichit Kounavudhi: Mountain People, Son of the Northeast, and Her Name is Boonrawd.

Many of the films are adapted from well-known Thai books:

* นำพุ้ / The Story of Nam Phu (1984) and เขาชื่อกานต์ His Name is Kan (1988) are both based on books by Suwanni Sukhontha (สุวรรณี สุคนธา).

* คนทรงเจ้า / The Medium (1989) is based on the 1988 book of the same name by S.E.A. Write Award-winning author Wimon Sainimnuam (วิมล ไทรนิ่มนวล)

* ผีเสื้อและดอกไม้ / Butterfly and Flowers (1985), based on the 1978 book of the same name by Makut Oraruedi (under the pen name นิพพานฯ).

* ครูไหวใจร้าย / Mean Ms. Wai (1989), from the 1966 book by Phakawadi Uttamot (ผกาวดี อุตตโมทย์).

* ปริศนา / Enigma (1982), from the novel by HRH Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit (under her pen name ว.ณ ประมวลมารค).

* ข้างหลังภาพ / Behind the Painting (1985), from the 1936 novel by Siburapha (ศรีบูรพา).

* ไผ่แดง / Red Bamboo (1979), from the book by Kukrit Pramoj (คึกฤทธิ์ ปราโมช), a former Prime Minister and founder of Siam Rath newspaper.

* ลูกอีสาน / Son of the Northeast (1982), from the S.E.A. Write Award-winning novel by Kampoon Boonthavee (คำพูน บุญทวี).

* ผู้หญิงคนนั้นชื่อบุญรอด / Her Name is Boorawd (1985), from the pen of the prolific Botan (โบตั๋น).

[Update: Here is the spreadsheet I made of the 70 titles announced so far. Each DVD includes a booklet listing the titles from the first 10 volumes. Since the Thai film industry does so many remakes, sometimes it's ambiguous exactly which version of the film they will be releasing.]

October 8, 2009

One week until Book Expo Thailand 2009

Where has the time gone? Thailand's semiannual book fair is upon us again. As regular readers will recall, the October incarnation is known as Book Expo Thailand (งานมหกรรมหนังสือ).

Book Expo Thailand 2009 will run from Thursday, October 15 through Sunday, October 25, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. As usual, this massive book fair will be held at Queen Sirikit Convention Centre. I recommend traveling by subway -- the Convention Centre has its own stop. The book fair is always packed every single day, so parking is a nightmare.

If you've never been, I absolutely recommend it. There's really something for everyone. In a past year at the book fair I met Win Lyovarin, a Thai author I enjoy, and last time I even ran into the enviably prolific and all-around smart Sarinee Achavanuntakul of Fringer.org.

Further details on Book Expo Thailand here (in Thai).

The dates for the 38th National Book Fair have also been announced as March 26 - April 6, 2010.

[See also: The state of the Thai publishing industry.]

October 3, 2009

Nigerian scam in Thailand

Advance-fee fraud is also commonly called a "Nigerian scam", because the African country is home to large numbers of people employing this scam technique.

People get hooked by their own greed, when some kind stranger emails them out of the blue to ask them to serve as the next of kin for some heirless millionaire, or lets them know they've won some valuable prize. Most of these never make it to my inbox, thanks to email spam filters.

This one didn't make it to my inbox either, but I spotted it in my spam directory while looking for spam false positives. It's absolutely 100% classic Nigerian scam, but the story is based on Thai soil this time:

From The Desk Of Barrister Kane Chan,
Kane Chan & Associate Chambers
37 Sathorn Tai Road, Bangkok Thailand.
Tel: [redacted]
Email: [redacted]

PRIVATE AND HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL.

Dear Friend,

Please kindly accept my apology for sending unsolicited mail to you I believe you are a highly respected personality considering the fact that I sourced your profile from a human resource profile database on your country. Though, I do not know to what extent you are familiar with events.

Well, I am Barrister Kane Chan, a Solicitor. I am the Personal Attorney to Mr.Steve Anderson, who used to work with SIAMRAK Company Limited in Bangkok Thailand. On the 21st of April 2004, My late client and his wife with their three children were involved in a car accident along Sukhumvit Express Road. Unfortunately, they all lost their lives in the event of the accident. Since then I have made several inquiries to your Embassy to locate any of my client's relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful.

After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the Internet to locate any member of his family but to no avail, hence, I contacted you to assist in repatriating the money left behind by my client in a Finance Company.Particularly, the Finance House where the deceased deposited the US$35 Million (Thirty Five Million United States Dollars only).

Consequently, this Finance House issued me a notice to provide the Next of Kin to claim the US$35 Million (Thirty Five Million United States Dollars only) in their custody within the next ten official working days. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 5 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased to claim the fund as the Next of Kin to him so that the fund will be transferred to your account by the Finance House.

Upon receipt of the fund, I will come over to your country to meet with you for the disbursement of the fund and then you and I will share the money in this order: 55% will be for me, 45% will be for you. I have all the necessary legal documents that can back our claim we will make with the Finance House.

All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us seeing this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Once you are interested to work with me,your urgent response is needed please kindly get back to me as soon possible for more info as we cannot afford delays and also send me your full name and your direct telephone number for easy communication.

You are needed as a next of kin to inherit your brother left fund.

Best regards .

Barrister Kane Chan (Esq).
BARRISTER AT LAW (ESQ)

The email address was from a Hong Kong Yahoo account (ending in @yahoo.com.hk), but the phone number provided had a Thai country code, and the right number of digits to be a real cell phone number. I've removed the number because (a) if it's a real scammer's number, I don't want somebody to come along and read this and end up getting scammed because they're gullible, and (b) if it's just a randomly chosen number, I don't want poor Joe to get gullible morons pestering him either.

Anyway, this is the first time I've seen Thailand used a the purported source of funds in a Nigerian scam. There's no reason to assume the scammers are actually Thai, but you never know. One of the variations of the Nigerian scam is to lure the mark to one's own country, at which point the scammer holds his mark for ransom.

I Googled around and found variations on this email reported on scam watchdog sites, using at least four different barrister names and email addresses. Sadly, these scams will continue to work so long as there are still people who live at intersection of greedy and gullible in the Venn diagram of humanity.