Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

WHO: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

WHAT: A little over two years ago, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives played a brief run in Frisco Bay cinemas, and I was interviewed by Sara Vizcarrando for an episode of her much-missed show "Look Of The Week". You can hear what I had to say by viewing this (my segment begins shortly after the five minute mark), but here's a brief transcribed excerpt:
[Apichatpong is] really exploring veils. There's the veil between life and death, of course. All these ghosts coming back. And then there's the veil, which he's always been interested in in his films, the veil between cinema and reality...  
WHERE/WHEN: Screens at Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive tonight only at 7:00 PM.

WHY: As pleased as I was that CAAMFest chose to bring Apichatpong's Mekong Hotel to the festival this year, I realize this pleasure comes as a loyal fan of the Thai director, interested in following him on any artistic journeys he decides to take. But Mekong Hotel is not a particularly good introduction to Apichatpong's oeuvre, or even as satisfying an experience for a confirmed fan; it's formally stripped-down and not nearly as aesthetically luxurious as a film like Uncle Boonmee. Watching it at the PFA Saturday was a treat, but left me wanting to see one of his more eye-popping films. Thankfully the opportunity has arrived just a few days later; it's unclear whether this is really a CAAMFest screening or not, however; the PFA site indicates it is, but it's nowhere to be found on the festival website or in its printed materials.

Both Mekong Hotel and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives deal with "hauntings"- a theme and a word that has characterized Apichatpong's filmmaking for much of his career, but find more explicit expression lately. The reason the filmmaker was unable to be present at this weekend's screenings is because he was in the United Arab Emirates, presenting films picked by himself and a number of other curators (including at least a couple familiar to San Francisco cinephiles: Tilda Swinton and Steve Anker) to screen at the eleventh Sharjah Biennial (yes, this year's iteration of the event that had a vexed interaction with Caveh Zahedi two years ago). For this event, Apichatpong asked curators to pick works that have "haunted them" and his own curatorial selections include "haunted" films by Georges Méliès and Osamu Tezuka among others I haven't myself seen; the full list is found here.

HOW: 35mm print.