Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Sonthaya Subyen wrote in Thai about Apichatpong Weerasethakul. You can read the whole article at Onopen website:

These are some excerpts from Sonthaya's article. I apologize if I translate anything wrongly:

"The professors at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago encourage their students to think differently, to think oppositely, to know the rules in order to break them. This will greatly surprises most people who think that cinema is about the recording of reality or cinema is about storytelling, because true artists don't believe that when you make an image out of the real thing in nature, that image is always a representation of that real thing. So when a table is not a table, a chair is not only a chair, and there is neither absolute right nor absolute wrong in art, no principle lasts forever."

"Joe makes films with the spirit of a researcher all through the process of his filmmaking. He enjoys the search more than the discovery. His cast, villagers, crews, locations, and ever-changing stories are ready to influence his films all the time, and they also help him to see himself and people around him more clearly. He likes to record the details of emotions and observe simple kinds of humor found in ordinary lives. He prefers this flexibility to fixed plans or fixed ideas, because holding on to fixed plans will make you lose the chance to open your eyes to see the world with wonder and alertness, the chance to be ready to observe, the chance to be nonjudgmental. Because to be "a student of life", which involves listening to nature, the way of living, and beliefs of people, is the most important thing. Joe is not the kind of person who likes to look down on, to ridicule, to expose the silliness of, or to judge the viciousness of other people or groups"

"Joe's films do not focus on storytelling. Many scenes are just reveries or unconnected flow of thoughts which express themselves gracefully like great poetry. Many viewers may feel uncomfortable with this, because they cannot evaluate Joe's films by using the same measure as literature. Some viewers may say that a good and appropriate film must have the development of characters (with such a plot about a selfish man becoming a generous man who devotes himself to the world), must have conflicts (the characters must fight injustice or fight to realize their dreams), or must have three-act structure (act 1 is for telling the background of characters, act 2 is for the facing with obstacles, act 3 is for the victory). Some viewers may say that a good film must have a conclusion and a moral lesson."

"It would be wonderful for us to open our minds and accept that cinema can be as free as the tip of a brush. We should be open-minded and accept that a good film doesn't have to have a conclusion, doesn't have to debate on philosophy, doesn't have to expose the characters' personalities deeply. Because sometimes walking alongside characters who flirt with each other tenderly for a moment is sufficient for the film. A good film doesn't have to answer any important questions, doesn't have to be knowledgable, or doesn't have to overly express its concern for humanity. Because every character, including doctors, nurses, soldiers, monks, gays, singers, teachers, or middle-aged women, are various kinds of lives who can meet, greet, exchange opinions and joke with each other."

"The unique characteristic of Joe's films is to increase our awareness for the wonder of the world, and our abilities to use our eyes and our ears to experience the beauty of the world, to feel the mysteries, secrets, dangers, and spells of imagination and nature, by using the medium of cinema (or moving images), because this medium is appropriate for recording the images of contemporary lives. It's hard for other kinds of medium to do better than this."

"Now the poetic films TROPICAL MALADY, SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY, and UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES can stand beside other great poetically charged films such as THE MIRROR by Andrei Tarkovsky, PERSONA by Ingmar Bergman, KALYI by Fred Kelemen, SOMBRE by Philippe Grandrieux, and OF TIME AND THE CITY by Terence Davies."

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