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.
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
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
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
This is the uncut 110 minute version.
Imagine John Ford (The Searchers), Jean-Luc Godard (Weekend), and John Waters (Pink Flamingos) collaborating on an insane 1950s melodrama, drenched in succulent Technicolor–rose-petal reds, turquoise blues, saffron yellows, and Pepto-Bismol pinks–and you’re just barely encompassing the cinematic delirium of Tears of the Black Tiger. This fever dream of a movie features rival gunslingers, a poor farmboy and the daughter of a wealthy landowner, a murdered father, bloody revenge, a forced marriage, and a half-dozen other cliches stitched into a preposterous yet weirdly engaging story. But the story isn’t the point; director Wisit Sasanatieng takes every opportunity to dive into a different style or device, ranging from delicate shots of a lovely girl in a mint-green gazebo to spewing gore and full-on battle with machine guns and grenade-launchers. The sets are often blatantly theatrical, the lighting exaggerated, and the acting ranges from wooden to maniacal. In short, this Thai movie is like nothing you’ve ever seen, born of a deep moviemania and unbridled chutzpah, and you owe it to yourself to watch it. Continue reading
PLOT – short version
A Thai tale of the legendary Krasue (also known as the ‘P’ Graseau, or the Penanggalan in Chinese), a Southeast Asian Ghost, composed of a disembodied witch with a flying head and entrails dangling beneath. Political intrigue, black magic, unrequited love and disembowlment all fit together perfectly for an evening of family fun with the witch with the flying head. Written by J.W. Case Continue reading