Daily Films

Short reviews of the movies I watch. All points out of 100.

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES

Entry #114: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong) [34/365]

A- (88)

So happy I decided to stick this one out after stopping half an hour through the first time around—I watched about three dozen movies in the interim and finally developed the patience necessary to be awed by this magnificent piece of mind-fuckery. It does appear a little indulgent, with a near-glacial pacing that would put most to sleep, so there’s a learning curve to the narrative; but once you latch on to the deliberateness of the picture, and allow the world to immerse itself around you, Boonmee quickly transforms your perception of it into something remarkably transcendent. There’s exhaustion and weariness associated with the experience, but there’s also the distinct feeling that Apichatpong has evolved filmic language in a way that should excite any tired cinephile.

I won’t claim to be able to decipher the entire thing, at least in terms of Significant Themes (though I’m sure it’s something about memory/spectatorship/existence) but there’s just something surreal to the way the Boonmee is organized that makes cohesion a second thought—the images here take precedent. There’s a messiness to the photography in this movie, a willful distortion of the clean Asian master shot, coupled with an incredible sense for off-kilter lighting that makes the reality of the movie seem both matter-of-fact and completely out in the stratosphere. It revels in its ugliness, and through its ugliness a certain beauty; it is simultaneously striving for universal awe and contextual rationality. There’s still some roughness to the cuts, and I could feel the grasp on its symbols loosening as the mysticism wore on, but the scenes worked like a continuous loop of confusion-understanding-awe (and with some catfish anti-jokes mixed in for good measure). The only caveat would be that the only way to finish this movie requires absolutely zero distraction: it’s a world, not necessarily a story.

Ratings: (34/40, 10/10)

  • 18 February 2012
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