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Apichatpong Ranked

by filmcapsule
Apichatpong Weerasethakul has been my most recent cinematic obsession. His style defies easy categorization. His films are “experimental” and “avant garde,” maybe even “intellectual,” but for me they’re never dry, austere or boring: quite the contrary. Even at their most baffling and challenging, his films are inviting: warm, compassionate and beautiful. Apichatpong, at a relatively young age, has created a body of work that is at once varied and of a single, unified cinematic vision. He deals with nature, memory, love, existence, spirituality and cinema itself. However these themes appear, they are not discrete ideas, but all part of… Read more

Apichatpong Weerasethakul has been my most recent cinematic obsession. His style defies easy categorization. His films are “experimental” and “avant garde,” maybe even “intellectual,” but for me they’re never dry, austere or boring: quite the contrary. Even at their most baffling and challenging, his films are inviting: warm, compassionate and beautiful.

Apichatpong, at a relatively young age, has created a body of work that is at once varied and of a single, unified cinematic vision. He deals with nature, memory, love, existence, spirituality and cinema itself. However these themes appear, they are not discrete ideas, but all part of Apichatpong’s unique worldview.

These films are also remarkable visually. Moving or static, Apichatpong’s camera is always poised and graceful. He has a knack for finding beauty in detail, however mundane. Particularly when dealing with nature, he is a keen observer and a faithful reporter.

Please comment if you find any of Apichatpong’s other shorts on YouTube or elsewhere online!

Tropical Malady: The second half is breathtaking and riveting cinema. Shooting in the jungle (often in the dark), Apichatpong has documented an intense spiritual connection I couldn’t begin to describe.

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee: A ghost film. Nabua’s past is palpable, melding with the present in every visual and aural detail: the pictures on the walls, the rotating fan, windows, nature. The physical spaces, which feel incredibly real, are laden with memories and ghosts. Like Uncle Boonmee, they return with each reincarnation, and are inseparable with the place. / Read my full review.

Syndromes and a Century: Perhaps Apichatpong’s most beautiful, touching work, and a great synthesis of his cinema. It’s clear that he feels such love for these characters and locations. Many of his films feature bifurcations or divisions, but in Syndromes the two halves are rife with riffs on each other’s images and themes.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: Beyond exhuming political ghosts, Apichatpong, informed by Buddhist philosophy, is interested in depicting all of life contained in the film’s setting: plant, animal, insect, human and spirit. This goal of blending all forms of life may provide a clue to the film’s many unexplained narrative diversions. / Read my full review.

Worldly Desires: Three films are being shot in Worldly Desires, and at every turn more and more is said about how these levels of cinema relate. One dominates sonically, one dominates visually, but in the end it’s Apichatpong who takes over with a litany of nature scenes. The film looks fantastic.

Anthem: Joyous and somehow empowering. Another of Apichatpong’s cinematic bifurcations: a peaceful static shot followed by one of his most active mobile shots, as the camera joins in the exercise. Love it!

Mysterious Object at Noon: This is a celebration of everyday people, their homes, stories, and imaginations. It’s also a creative look into the creative process which seeks to demystify filmmaking, but which does so while advancing singular visual and narrative styles. Basically, it’s auterism at its most humble. / Read my full review.

Cactus River

Venice 70 – Future Reloaded: A phantom ride in two senses, where sound and image takes us in two different directions.

Blissfully Yours: While not Apichatong’s most fully-realized film, this is an admirable effort, tranquilly observing the quiet moments of life, even amid raging hormones. It’s graceful and gentle, content to simply watch its well-drawn characters relax. At times, it seems the characters are being judged for their inability to connect in meaningful ways or for empty sexual impulses, but the “drama” of the film is so slight and fragile that it resists this narrow interpretation. / Read my full review.

Empire

Ashes: Ashes juxtaposes beautiful abstract images, often in split-screen or superimposition, and it’s here that the film is at its best. Apichatpong has a strong eye for color and the play of hues explored through montage creates a new composite image out of the fragments on which it’s built. / Read my full review.

Phantoms of Nabua: Again superimposing different visual planes and realities, Apichatpong has created a dramatic, striking metaphor for cinema.

Thirdworld

Vampire: Strange and creepy. Apichatpong realizes the importance of light in horror filmmaking, making great use of headlamps, whose beams cut through the darkness like film projectors.

The Adventure of Iron Pussy: It’s good to see that Apichatpong acquits himself well in this “mainstream” musical-action-comedy fare. The silent scene where Iron Pussy meets Pew is particularly interesting. Joe is clearly having fun here.

Haiku

[Also: Dilbar, For Monkeys Only, Prosperity for 2008, Fan Dog]

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