Thailand (1997, 103 min)
Thai w/English subtitles
Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Screenplay: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Cinematography: Chankit Chamnivikaipong
Music: Amornbhong Methakunavudh, Phaisan Chamnong
Cast: Ray MacDonald, Champagne X, Phaibunkiat Khiaogao, Fay Atsawet
Fun Bar Karaoke is a show-reel for Pen-ek’s roots as a director of TV commercials and music videos. It’s a mish-mosh of styles and influences: the masculine flash of Scorsese, the sensuality of Wong Kar-wai, the deadpan wit of Jarmusch, the madcap folksy whimsy of the Coen Brothers, and even the the rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities of Tarantino are all apparent.
The central theme is dreams, and the main character, a young woman named Pu (Fay Atsawet), keeps having ominous dreams involving her dead mother building a model house, which when completed will mean the death of her widower father. Dad (Phaibunkiat Khiaogao) is a fun-loving sort, who loves to hang out at a certain pub, sing karaoke and drink until he can no longer stand, but as fate will have it, he gets involved with a mobster’s mistress…and that always spells trouble.
The whole soundtrack is cool, by the way, with Thai rock songs from Yokee Playboy and some moody musical cues played on the ranad-ek (Thai xylophone).
In 1997, this film ushered in a new fresh period in Thai film that has jumpstarted the film industry, helped foster an environment of cinematic creativity and brought Thai films much attention on the global stage. Fun Bar Karaoke is a classic. -Wise Kwai thaifilmjournal.com