At some point during this movie, I was like "this is okay, meh" but by the end I was riveted. I liked the first half and the second half in different ways but both left me wanting more — would they have benefited from being separate films? Or are they necessarily together? The first half didn't feel like A.W. to me until the second took over.
the moment when this film subverts cinema into a folkloric storybook is one of my favourite moments in cinema. points at the places on your geography where you hide your stitches. lights up the wound you never knew you had. no body shall ever return from these woods.
Weerasethakul's love story told halfway twice is one of cinema's recent masterpieces. The slowly emerging sexuality of the characters feels less like a rejection of falsely told tales than an attempt to render and discover his emotions onscreen. The binaries here become more complex than any other Weerasethakul film in consideration of societies current binary approach to sexuality.
The beauty of the film for me is how an enigma is created out of the everyday. The narrative offers up multiple interpretations and readings that can be equally valid. Spiritual 'undercurrents' seen in subtle gestures in the early half of the film could be translated to the later half, or visa versa. Is it cyclical? Are there two different films? The film is a real pleasure to watch and one I revisit often.
Tropical Malady is one of the best films from the past decade, and no wonder, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's film won the 2004 Cannes Jury Prize. This ghost story, unlike many Thai films, defies the genre with its late summer palette brushed with cinema verite, magical realism, mystery, and a quiet desire lingering in the afternoon heat. A soldier's seduction of a young man eerily leads him on an obsessive hunt.
I had this Malaysian friend who told me that when you journey through the jungles you will be safe as long as you don't believe in the spirits. Apparently he knew a girl who believed and was killed. There's a couple of problems. If you introduce the concept of monkey spirits, then it becomes something tangible whether it's real or not. Saying it makes you form an image or a concept in your head.
Endlessly fascinating, much like Syndromes and a Century it's a feel I don't really know (immediately after finishing) how I feel about. There's no doubt it's got a lot on its mind, a film that juggles deeply veined spirituality and Buddhist philosophy with beautifully textured ruminations on the nature of love and the damaging nature of memory. I imagine this will play on my mind a good deal, utterly hypnotic. 4/5
I think that to understand it, it requires multiple viewings. To like it, however, only one is necessary. There is something magical and yet simple in Weerasethakul's narrative. Something manufactured but natural. In this sense, I see similarities to Tarkovsky. In more contemporary terms, his work is very similar to Julian Hernandez'; both share many techniques, obsessions, and stories.