Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Unlikely Pair

Watched Beautiful Boxer (2004) with GH Friday night. Based on the true life story of Parinya Charoenphol, a Muay Thai boxer who underwent a sex change to become a woman, the movie was a sweet and sensitive call to be true to oneself. In the case of Nong Toom (Asanee Suwan), the call does not only mean to become the woman that she has always felt herself to be, but it also means not to allow oneself to be commodified in the arena of Thai kickboxing.

There was a touching last scene in which Nong Toom, transformed into beautiful Parinya Charoenphol, watched a little boy fighter imitating her make-up and gestures. He looked so miserable that it was obvious to her that his father had put him up to it, so as to attract publicity. She wiped off his lipstick and told him to be himself. Another moving scene took place when Parinya saw in the mirror Nong Toom bidding her farewell. She bade her past person farewell somewhat sadly. We may be happy to get what we want, but that does not mean that we are not sad to lose what we had.

Sorapong Chatree was excellent as Nong Toom's coach, Pi Chart. Somsak Tuangmkuda puts up a gutsy performance as Pi Chart's wife, Pi Moo. The movie was directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham, and scripted by him and Singapore writer, Desmond Dim.

Last night we watched the documentary on Bill Cunninghan, the veteren New York Times fashion photographer. It was directed by Richard Press. Cunningham is a man obsessed with photographing what New York City is wearing, not just in high society but also, and especially, on the streets. His memory for fashion is remarkable. He can spot in a fashion show the theft of an idea from another show more than ten years ago. Other photographers at a show position themselves at the end of the catwalk so as to shoot the front profile of the model. Bill Cunnigham sits by the side of the catwalk instead. He wants to capture quickly what he sees coming towards him and away from him. That quickness produces the spontaneous charm of his shots.

I also admired very much his strong desire to be independent. To be free to do what one wants is very difficult. It is even more difficult if one is paid. For years and years, Bill Cunningham lived in a tiny room in the artists' lofts above Carnegie Hall. He does not need much, and so preserves his independence. One must be contented to have very little, if one is to have complete freedom. In their quest to be free to do what they want, Parinya Charoenphol and Bill Cunningham are unlikely, but true, bed-mates.

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