Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Sud pralad AKA Tropical Malady (2004)

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Plot

The story of a blossoming romance between a soldier and a country boy, crossed with a Thai folk legend about a shaman with shapeshifting abilities.

Review

Love is the drug, a game for two and, in the otherworldly new Thai film ”Tropical Malady,” unabashedly strange. A fractured love story about the mystery and impossibility of desire, the film was directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose earlier feature ”Blissfully Yours” opened recently in New York. Perched between two worlds, two consciousnesses and two radically different storytelling traditions, this new feature, which will be screened today as part of the New York Film Festival, shows a young filmmaker pushing at the limits of cinematic narrative with grace and a certain amount of puckish willfulness. Continue reading

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Cactus River (2012)

SYNOPSIS
Since she appeared in my film in 2009, Jenjira Pongpas has changed her name. Like many Thais, she is convinced that the new name will bring her good luck. So Jenjira has become Nach, which means water. Not long after, she was drifting online and encountered a retired soldier, Frank, from Cuba, New Mexico, USA. A few months later they got married and she has officially become Mrs. Nach Widner.

The newlyweds found a house near the Mekong River where Nach had grown up. She spends most of her day crocheting baby socks for sale, while he enjoys gardening and watching television (sometimes without the sound because most of the programs are in Thai).

Cactus River is a diary of the time I visited the couple—of the various temperaments of the water and the wind. The flow of the two rivers—Nach and the Mekong, activates my memories of the place where I shot several films. Over many years, this woman whose name was once Jenjira has introduced me to this river, her life, its history, and to her belief about its imminent future. She is certain that soon there will be no water in the river due to the upstream constructions of dams in China and Laos. I noticed too, that Jenjira was no more. –Apichatpong Weerasethakul Continue reading

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Sang sattawat aka Syndromes and a Century (2006)

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A film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Syndromes and a Century, the fifth feature from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is a spellbinding Buddhist meditation on the mysteries of love and attraction, the workings of memory, and the ways in which happiness is triggered. Mesmerisingly beautiful to look at, it is also laced with wonderful absurd humour.

Commissioned by Vienna’s New Crowned Hope festival in 2006, the film established Weerasethakul as one of the most exciting talents in world cinema today.

Dubbed ‘a hospital comedy of a somewhat metaphysical bent’, Syndromes and a Century is inspired by the Weerasethakul’s memories of his parents, both doctors, and of growing up in a hospital environment. The two central characters interact with a bizarre array of professional colleagues and patients with their various strange maladies, including an elderly haematologist who hides her whisky supplies in a prosthetic limb, a Buddhist monk suffering from bad dreams about chickens, and a young monk who once dreamed of being a DJ and now forms an intense bond with a singing dentist, whom he believes to be the reincarnation of his dead brother. Continue reading

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Sud sanaeha aka blissfully yours (2002)

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From Time Out Film Guide

Apichatpong’s ’emotional disaster movie’ opens wittily with the longest pre-credits scene ever: a leisurely introduction to the three main characters and the binds that tie them. Min (Oo) is a Burmese illegal immigrant, a strapping lad with a nagging skin problem, in need of a fake ID. His Thai girlfriend Roong (Kanokporn), a factory worker, has hired Orn and her husband to help get it. Orn wants to have another child before she’s too old, but her husband isn’t keen. The credits show up some 45 minutes in, as Min guides Roong to a secluded spot near the Thai-Burmese border where they’ll eat, laze, bathe and eventually make love. By chance Orn has chosen a spot nearby for illicit sex with her lover… Continue reading

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Worldly Desires (2005)

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From link
This digital featurette, not quite a companion piece to Tropical Malady but certainly related to it, shows Joe operating at the height of his formalist powers. One of the things I’ve valued about Weerasethakul’s work since Mysterious Object at Noon is his commitment to exploring the traditions of avant-garde cinema while taking those idioms into uncharted territory. While some works by Joe have displayed an interest in bending the strategies of Andy Warhol and Bruce Baillie to the needs of Thai folklore and narrative gamesmanship, Worldly Desires takes a more structural approach. However this piece bears little resemblance to structural film as we usually think of it; if there are specific touchstones for Worldly Desires in film history, they would be those “other” structuralists, so wonky and off the beaten track as to thwart easy categorization. Like Morgan Fisher’s early film projects, Worldly Desires is a documentation of the filmmaking process. Within a single expansive jungle location, portions of a Thai soap opera are being filmed by day, and a music video is being made by night. Continue reading