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Pen-Ek Ratanaruang

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – Invisible Waves (2006)




Bad karma does a slow fade, but gives the occasional wink, in “Invisible Waves,” Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s highly anticipated followup to “Last Life in the Universe.” Thai helmer, Japanese heartthrob Asano Tadanobu and Oz lenser Christopher Doyle form a pleasing combination of malevolence supported by dry wit. English-lingo limitations of the thesps will hamper sales in some territories, but the pic should go gangbusters throughout Asia and on the festival circuit.

In film noir tradition, the pic opens with Macau-residing Japanese assassin-cum-chef Kyoji (Asano Tadanobu) holding a man at gunpoint. Seiko (Tomono Kuga), the Japanese wife of Kyoji’s boss, arrives at Kyoji’s apartment to continue their steamy affair. Instead, Kyoji poisons her dinner. The next day, the newly widowed Wiwat (Toon Hiranyasup) has closed the up-market Hong Kong restaurant in which Kyoji works his day job. Read More »

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – Ruang rak noi nid mahasan AKA Last Life in the Universe (2003)


An introspective, obsessive-compulsive Japanese expatriate named Kenji (Tadanobu Asano) reflects in voice-over the overt absence of motivation for his desire to end his life as he meticulously arranges the requisite accoutrements for his latest suicide attempt: a hangman’s noose strategically rigged towards the center of the hallway so that his lifeless body is visible upon entering the front door, a neat pile of books to stand on and eventually kick out beneath his feet, an obligatory note cradled on the palm of his hand – facing forward – that enigmatically reads “This is bliss”. It is a carefully orchestrated scenario staged for dramatic effect that would soon be abruptly – and rudely – interrupted by the incessant ringing of the doorbell after which he is greeted by his animated and presumptuous brother, a volatile and ill-mannered yakuza named Yukio (Yutaka Matsushige) lying low from his mob boss after having an affair with his daughter, who then hands him a six-pack of beer, a pair of shoes, and a gift-wrapped box that, as he immediately clarifies, is not intended to be a present for him. Read More »

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – Samui Song (2017)


Interracial love, religious cults, hi-so culture (Thai high society) and an appetite for raw offal enrich and distract Thai auteur Pen-ek Rataranuang’s classic noir about a marriage turned murderous. Mystery and danger percolate in “Samui Song” all the way till the elliptical ending, which leaves audiences with a sense of lingering disquiet. However, there’s a certain spark missing both from the characters and the overall muffled tone. Heading to Toronto after opening the Venice Days section, the film should pique buyer interest based on the enduring popularity of the writer-director’s mid-career work, “Last Life in the Universe” and “Invisible Waves.” Read More »

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – Headshot (2011)


Plot / Synopsis

Tul is about to see his world turned upside down. When we first meet him, he’s been sent a package of photos and data, which he examines and then promptly puts through the shredder. He shaves his head, dons a monk’s robes, and walks onto the gated estate belonging to the man in the photos. Tul then takes a pistol and fires a bullet into the man’s neck. More shots are fired, one of them hitting Tul in the head. Everything turns black. When Tul wakes up three months later, all that he sees is inverted. Is it some bizarre brain injury, or some form of karmic retribution? In the disorienting world of Headshot, such questions linger, and draw us closer to its violence and mystery. Read More »