Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Rak ti Khon Kaen aka Cemetery of Splendor (2015)

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Storyline
Soldiers with a mysterious sleeping sickness are transferred to a temporary clinic in a former school. The memory-filled space becomes a revelatory world for housewife and volunteer Jenjira, as she watches over Itt, a handsome soldier with no family visitors. Jen befriends young medium Keng who uses her psychic powers to help loved ones communicate with the comatose men. Doctors explore ways, including colored light therapy, to ease the mens’ troubled dreams. Jen discovers Itt’s cryptic notebook of strange writings and blueprint sketches. There may be a connection between the soldiers’ enigmatic syndrome and the mythic ancient site that lies beneath the clinic. Magic, healing, romance and dreams are all part of Jen’s tender path to a deeper awareness of herself and the world around her. Continue reading

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit – Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy (2013)

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from Pan Asian Film Festival 2014
(page link)
Portraying a character struggling to make sense of her life as it threatens to spin out of control, Nawapol’s brilliant second film creates an inventive narrative of an uncontrollable life through a brilliantly modern artistic concept: to adapt a Twitter stream into a fictional film.

The director used 410 real Tweets from an anonymous girl as a springboard to create a fantasy world of a contemporary Asian teenager, and the results are funny and strange, a conflation of modern Thai teenage life, Wes Anderson-esque humour, and the possibilities for escape offered by the digital world. Continue reading

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

Wichanon Somunjarn – Sin maysar fon tok ma proi proi AKA In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire (2012)

Nhum is a construction foreman working in Bangkok. The political instability in Thailand has made its presence felt in all business sectors. Nhum suddenly finds himself out of jobs. He decides to head back to the northeast to attend a wedding during the Thai New Year in April — the hottest month of the year.
At the wedding in Khon Kaen, Nhum runs into Joy, a senior from his high school whom he used to have a crush on. They exchange their phone numbers.
Suddenly, we see an interview with the director’s family members, and we learn that the film itself is a semi-autobiography of the director’s life. The character of Nhum is as much a construct as it is real. From this point on, the film becomes the voyage of a young man into the labyrinths of the real and the imagined, the documentary and the fiction, the past and the present – and not only of his self but also of the Thai society writ large.
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

Nonzee Nimibutr – OK baytong AKA Baytong (2003)

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Plot:
On hearing the news of the death of his sister, a Buddhist monk leaves the temple where he has lived for childhood and struggles to adjust to life on the outside as an uncle to a young niece and as a businessman running a hair slaon in a small Thai town in a southern province. He even must learn to ride a bicycle and zip up his trousers without injuring himself. He is confronted by a flood of feelings – sexual, for a woman and family friend across the street; as well as fear and hatred for the Muslims, who he believes is repsonsible for his sisters death and other sorrows in his life. Continue reading