The prognosis is good for Crazy Medicine, an award-winning short film written by Matt Carrell, well-known on the Bangkok literary ‘noir’ scene as the author of the short story collection Thai Lottery, and the full length novels Thai Kiss, and Blood Brothers: Thai Style. Over the 21-minute course of the film the various characters encounter thrills, chills, and pills in the ‘Land of Smiles’.
The genesis of the project dates back to a night in November 2016, in a Bangkok bar where Matt was sharing a bottle (or two?) of the red grape with local noir author James Newman (creator of ‘Joe Dylan’ a dysfunctional private detective and protagonist in the novels Bangkok Express and Fun City Punch). The pair discovered they shared a desire to see one of their own stories up on the big screen, so James—possibly emboldened by the Pinot and the Noir—revealed to Matt that he knew some local movie makers and shakers.
Fast forward to April 2017 and James, now wearing his movie producer’s hat, is a frazzled mess as he attempts to deliver the film version of Matt’s short story on time and within budget. With the expert help of up-and-coming Hollywood director Richie Moore and a gaggle of local Thai and farang actors and crew, he’s spent days rushing around various Bangkok (and Ayutthaya) locations, including The Royal Oak pub (on Sukhumvit Soi 31/1) and The Black Pagoda on Patpong Soi 2. During the course of the filming they’ve been assaulted by irate ladyboys while trying to shoot at Nana Plaza at midnight, and had to convince a landlord that the scene they were shooting in his building was NOT for a “naughty movie” and that there was definitely no need for him to call the local police.
The impressive cast includes local actors Chris Wegoda (the funnyman behind the long-running Bangkok Comedy Club), the luscious Libby Jennings, and the marvelously malicious and malevolent Maythavee Weiss. The finished film is a veritable visual treat and, in true thriller style, was delivered just in the nick of time for the Independent Film Festival season. Subsequently it’s gone on to win several awards, including: Best Narrative Short, Supporting Actress, and Trailer (LA Film Awards); Best Narrative, Original Story, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress (Top Shorts); Best Ensemble (New York Film Awards); and Best Ensemble, Original Story, Supporting Actress, and Trailer (Festigious Film Awards).
So… what’s it all about Alfie?
The film begins by introducing us to 22-year-old Emily (Jennings), a first-class honours degree graduate who is sick and tired of being denigrated as part of the “snowflake generation”, young adults accused of having unrealistic expectations along with an over-inflated sense of their own importance. With no easy route into political journalism she decides she needs to make a splash and heads to Southeast Asia, where poverty and the drug trade are endemic—and in turn will hopefully provide her the with the sort of juicy story she needs. She heads to Bangkok where the darkest side of Asian and Western capitalism collide in spectacular fashion. Daeng (Wegoda) is the street-wise local who agrees to guide her through the seedy underbelly of Thai society and deliver a perfect climax for her exposé. It’s a journey that delivers a terrifying lesson as Emily discovers that to get that close to a big story there’s a big price to pay.
This month, local film fans can join Matt, James, and some cast and crew members at the LiveLounge (10/47, Trendy Building, Sukumvit Soi 13) at 7pm on Saturday October 7th for a special screening of Crazy Medicine. Following the film there will be a panel discussion, and a free copy of the paperback edition of the original short story will be given to the first 20 people who show up brandishing a copy of this Bangkok 101 article. And who knows, maybe there’ll be some Pinot and Noir to help the “Medicine” go down.
Watch the trailer here: www.crazymedicine.net
By Gary Anthony Rutland