Chuck Stephens on the Set of "Citizen Dog"

Chuck Stephens March 22, 2006

From my vantage in the cramped backseat of a Toyota minivan that’s serving the talent wagon for a deliriously over-designed new love story entitled "Citizen Dog" – the second feature film by my friend and director, Wisit Sasanatieng, one of Thailand’s most promising young cinematic mavericks – I watch as the insect dawn over Muang Thong Thani begins to leech away. A planned satellite suburb of Bangkok whose name translates as "Golden City" – nevermind that this would-be bedroom community’s developers went bust just before their "miracle mile" of modern highrise condos were completed – Muang Thong Thani is, on most days, as quiet and uninhabited as the dark side of the moon.

But on this sooty, sweat-stained March morning in 2004, the ghost-city’s sidewalks are strangely bustling with an assortment of men, women, and children all identically dressed in powder-blue maid’s uniforms; in its streets, a protest rally surges past a pair of love-struck country kids still dazed by the chaos of this make-believe modern metropolis; and in an alleyway nearby, a zealous beat-cop is readying to pursue a conspicuously Western-featured street-vendor of suspicious reading materials who’s been blocking shopper’s ways. And in these last few moments of pre-celebrity mindfulness before I step before Wisit’s camera to make my big-screen debut as the shifty-eyed farang who may or may not hold the secret to "Citizen Dog"‘s heroine’s romantic dreams, I struggle to reassure myself of two ineluctable things: 1) that everything changes, or can at least be made to appear that way, and 2), that at least I am dressed accordingly – in a billowing tie-dye shirt tinted an altogether unseemly shade of chartreuse, and a pair of slightly-too-small white Converse hightops which are definitely not my own.

- Chuck Stephens, San Francisco Bay Guardian film critic, Bangkok movie star.

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