Sakda Kaewbuadee

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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Review


OK
Stunning cinematography goes a long way to making this surreal, difficult film watchable. Although there are moments of vivid honesty and a continual stream of light comedy, the story is fairly impenetrable for Western audiences.

In his isolated farmhouse, Boonmee (Saisaymar) is dying from a kidney condition. So his sister-in-law Jen (Pongpas) and nephew Tong (Kaewbuadee) come to spend time with him as he's cared for by his Laotian farmhand Jaai (Kugasang). Then one night at dinner, they're joined by Boonmee's wife Huay (Aphaiwonk), who died 19 years earlier, as well as their son Boonsong (Kulhong) who disappeared several years later and has now become a kind of monkey-man.

And when his death gets closer, Boonmee wants to be taken back to an isolated cave.

Continue reading: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Review

Syndromes and a Century Review


Extraordinary
Amongst the most promising and enigmatic of young filmmakers, Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul (he's given us express permission to call him "Bob") has been toying with the essence of human behavior and falling in love for three films so far. Unpredictable and smitten with time alteration, Weerasethakul's films are never easily readable and are constantly adrift in thick clouds of metaphysical allure. That being said, 2005's Tropical Malady didn't seem wholly successful, its disjunctive narrative hitting rough patches in its dreamy transitions. No matter; whatever may have been rough or unreadable in Malady has been smoothed out in Weerasethakul's latest, Syndromes and a Century.

Inspired by his parents' initial meeting and slowly-built romance, the film is split in half like duel panoramas, each full-bodied and with their own array of who's-its, what's-its, and how's-thats. The first half takes place around the time of the filmmaker's birth, flourished with a more colorful, hazy pallet. Dr. Toey (Nantarat Sawadikkul) floats through hospital corridors and the surrounding terrain, only really being bothered to deal with trifles and gently-approached flapdoodles. Besides interviewing Dr. Nohng (Jaruchai Iamaram), a military medic, Toey also sustains a marriage proposal from a shy orderly, a flashback to an affair with an orchid specialist and a conversation with a monk who eats too much chicken, makes potions for menstrual flow, and tries to scam meds for his order. There's also a dentist who sings karaoke to his patients and doubles as a town-celebrated crooner with designs on a monk who once had aspirations to be a DJ.

Continue reading: Syndromes and a Century Review

Tropical Malady Review


Excellent
At first I thought that I had some difficulty decoding the many levels of Thai mythology and allegory in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's wonderfully mysterious and beautiful Tropical Malady simply because I'm a Westerner. But now I think that even Thai moviegoers may be a bit baffled by this one. In fact, the only people who may have understood it are the members of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival jury (helmed by Quentin Tarantino), who gave it the Jury Prize. But I'm not sure they quite got it either.

The literal translation of "Sud Pralad," the Thai title of Tropical Malady, is "strange animal," and it's a good choice. This movie is indeed one strange animal, and it's full of strange animals, from sick dogs and ghost cows to talking baboons. But before we see all that we meet the young farmhand Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and his friend, the soldier Keng (Banlop Lomnoi), whose friendship blossoms into a kind of effortless love that's nothing short of charming. We follow the two around Thailand on their daily rounds, from the forest to the shopping malls and pool halls and movie theaters of Bangkok. They play little games of slap and tickle. Keng gives Tong a Clash tape and later says, "When I gave you the tape I forgot to give you my heart. You can have it today." Awwww. It's a slow, documentary-like courtship.

Continue reading: Tropical Malady Review

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