I have been a big fan of Pen-Ek’s “Last Life in the Universe” for a few years but I recently realized that I have never seen any of his other film’s. What other films by Pen-Ek would you recommend checking out? Any? None? What thoughts do you have about the director? Thanks
At minimum, see 6ixtynin9 (more of a conventional genre film) and Invisible Waves.
I also liked 6ixtynin9 although it is not as good as Last Life. I’ve been impatiently awaiting for more of his films to be released on disk. Invisible Waves is certainly one I hope to see.
It was an amazing experience to watch LLITU.BTW…don’t give the full credits to Director,save some for the outstanding cinematographer Christopher Doyle.:)
For me LLITU was a more satisfying experience than Invisible Waves. The latter felt like a film that at some point early on in its conception imagined exploring several challenging metaphysical topics, along the way becomes over concerned with its own stylistic features, begins to rely too heavily on the anchor of a mystery plot which lacks sufficient intrigue and takes its eye off the macro for too long. LLITU sets out to do something much simpler; and does it comparatively well. For me, the difference in quality between the two films is most apparent in the area of tone. Invisible Waves suffers from a non-committal exploration of its themes and issues and drifts, eluded by the very tone it so wants with all its technical finesse to establish. LLITU, by contrast, seems much more in touch with its own signification and has a very distinctive tone throughout.
The interviews on the PAL edition of Invisible Waves are revealing. Christopher Doyle talks enduringly about the importance of creative freedom and openness. When Pen-Ek Ratanaruang hints at some point during one of his own segments that on occasion he had to reign his DoP in, behind the normality of the statement I sensed an awkwardness. The strength of Invisible Waves is in isolated moments of sublime stylistic synthesis. But overall I felt a lack of creative cohesion and direction. A director has to direct, not be led by the abundant visual flare and legendary reputation of his DoP. Or what we end up with is a lot of fine creative ideas explored about how things can be made to look and sound. Nice pictures for nice pictures’ sake.
Thanks for all the info. Of course credit should be given to Christopher Doyle, I’m glad to hear he is still working with him. I watch movies by directors. I watch all types of film,but once I come across something I like I watch as much as I can from that director. Thanks so much for your opinions. Pen-Ek seems pretty underground so information and opinions on his films are hard to come by. Thanks again and I think I will check out “6ixtynin9” and “Invisible Waves” ASAP and leave my opinions posted here if you are interested.
For anyone who has just stumbled across this page, please watch “Last Life in the Universe.” It’s a beautiful film.
For someone who enjoyed The Last Life in the Universe, I would think 6ixtynine9 would be a disappointment as it is a fairly conventional genre tale. I personally enjoyed both Invisible Waves and Ploy and would recommend those instead.
Pen-Ek Ratanaruang is something special, without question. (As a side note, see my fake Criterion covers for Last Life in the Universe and Ploy on my profile.) As Pen-Ek is still very much on the rise as an artist, having not even realized his full potential or audience, he is still quite misunderstood, more often than not.. so, you get reviewers following extant reviews, regurgitating nonsense because they don’t know what else to write (or not quite knowing how to interpret his unconventional, angular films); I’m particularly referring to the fact that LLITU receives exponentially more attention than Ratanaruang’s other films (which often receive next to no attention), but also that some films (Invisible Waves and Ploy come to mind) get written off far too quickly, when, in truth, they are very compelling, and often quite profound.
I’ve seen five Ratanaruang films (6ixtynin9, Last Life in the Universe, Invisible Waves, Ploy, and Nymph), and I would recommend all five of them. I aim to watch his other two films, Fun Bar Karaoke and Monrak Transistor, soon enough. While all five I’ve seen are very worth watching, Last Life in the Universe, Invisible Waves, and Ploy are likely his finest three films yet.
Ratanaruang is a sort of Asian Antonioni, and the same sorts of critics who would write him off as too stylized and abstract or abstruse are the same sorts of critics who wrote off Antonioni for the same reasons, lazily failing to look at the films’ sincere substance, existential depths, and, well, detailed perfectionism. As <a href= “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thOr8CuGoRo”>Ratanaruang said of LLITU, he wanted to make a film in which “every shot.. every single shot.. [was] important to the film.” (Reminds one of, say, Antonioni’s L’avventura.) Ratanaruang (also a powerful late-bloomer, opposite Apichatpong Weerasethakul) is making poetic, passionate, beautiful, existential films, and he’s coming into full form now more than ever.
Weerasethakul is an impressive director, I’m happy to admit, particularly seeing as he’s still in his thirties. But, IMHO, his films don’t quite hit home on the same personal, poetic level as Ratanaruang’s; I don’t wish to tear down Weerasethakul, who I quite enjoy, but one moment of sheer beauty in a Weerasethakul film, for instance (say, when a character is expressing a profound sentiment) is tainted by another moment of goofiness (say, a mass exercise dance synced to god-awful pop music). It’s almost as easy for a large audience to appreciate a Weerasethakul film as it is for a large audience to give two thumbs up to “profound” movies like American Beauty; it’s all fine and good, yes, but Ratanaruang is striving toward Cinema as High Art, as an expression of Beauty.
May he find his due appreciation and audience in right time.
Take my cinema test: <a href= “http://helloquizzy.okcupid.com/tests/the-cinema-test-1”>The Cinema Test.
Hopefully some more of his work after Last Life is forthcoming on R1 DVD.
Everyone that watched LLITU would watch Nymph also… and Ploy.
More than the others movies from this director, these three are the best of. I mean, the work of Doyle in LLITU is awesome, but Ratanaruang itself is a really great director…
Nymph and 6ixtynin9 were alright. I liked Last Life In the Universe more than both though. I still Want to see Ploy and Invisible Waves.
I was able to watch 6ixtynin9 a few day’s ago. I thought it was very good, except a few minor problems, then the end came. I thought the end was terrible. I saw a post on imdb where someone was arguing that the end was perfect cause she SPOILER was throwing away the “cursed” money. I don’t buy it cause there is nothing in the film that say’s she is superstitious. It felt like a huge letdown but I still liked it. I have a few more films by him and will post my impressions as I watch them.
Also what other Directors would you compare him with. I have seen several people compare him to Kar Wai Wong. I have only tried to watch 2046 once and fell asleep. Is he really like Pen-ek, and if so(or not) what film of his should I start with?
I don’t see much connection between Ratanaruang and Wong.
Thanks. That’s the imdb crowd for ya I guess.
Hey D., I just noticed you’re in Greenville. I’m in Durham.
Spoiler about 6ixtyNine9 *****************************************************
I guess, D., that when she throws off the money, there’s nothing about superstition. In my opinion, it’s just related to Lady Di and the destruction of her cup. I loved the end just because of that. She throw off the money not because of any superstition and moral questions, just one superficial and (pointless?) moment made she get rid of it.
end of Spoiler ***************************************************
Anyway, I should say that I really recommend all of pen-ek’s movies, unless monrak transistor. I’m still needing to watch fun bar karaoke, though….
Kinda surprised to find a thread for this film.Usually no one bothers to get past the emotional effectiveness to bother.
I was interested in the tropes used in the film and the detailed character development (not acting) and the use of dualism to produce a whole.
I liked the scene where he was cleaning his brother’s killer’s blood off the wall and he peeled the label instead of just washing it. That seemed consistent with what the label represented in terms of order vs the wall which could just be washed. The order of the label was personal.