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Movie Poster of the Week: “Tropical Malady”

There are few things more thrilling than finding out that an artist you admire or revere has produced a new work that even surpasses what they have done before, and the reports coming out of Cannes, as reported here by David Hudson, seem to be saying that Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul has done just that. I have looked everywhere, without success, for a poster for his new film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, so I thought I'd celebrate instead with these superb posters from his previous masterpieces Tropical Malady (2004) and Syndromes and a Century (2006). (I know I’ve featured Tropical Malady before, in passing, in my Movie Posters of the Decade postscript, but these three posters, with their mysterious gossamer images, have only grown on me with time. Weerasethakul (I refuse to call him “Joe”) is going from strength to strength, and to say that I am looking forward to Uncle Boonmee would be the understatement of the year. If anyone spots a poster for the film in Cannes please take a photo and let me know in the comments below.


Uncle Boonmee poster:
Here you go Adrian — can’t believe I saw this before you!
Jason, thanks so much for this, though not what I was expecting. Reminds me of James Braithwaite’s artwork for The Guatemalan Handshake. Sam, your link didn’t work for me. Is it the same poster?
Sam’s poster is the one I’ve seen around Cannes, and some of the art work adorns the very beautiful press notebook that went w/ the film.
Amazing. “Syndromes” is one of my favorite films. Can’t wait to see “Uncle Boonmee.”
“Weerasethakul (I refuse to call him “Joe”) " Well, if you’re going to refuse to call him by his own name, then how about at least paying him the courtesy of referring to him as Apichatpong, and not by his family name, which something no Thai publication would ever do.
Chuck—thank you for clarifying that, people here keep calling him (out of his presence) as both Apichatpong and Weerasethakul and I wasn’t sure what was proper!
Thai names: after the first full-name reference, use the person’s first name. it’s a specifically Thai situation that in part relates back to the fact that, before about 1895, Thai’s used only one name, and no family name at all. (RAMA V was the Thai King who instituted the family name system.) as far as Joe goes, that is the English transliteration of his nickname, by which everyone, Thai and otherwise, knows him. it actually sounds a bit more like “Joei” in Thai, but “Joe” is the way to go.
Actually, I much prefer this version of the Tropical Malady poster: I like it so much in fact that I contacted AW myself on how to acquire it and was told that it didn’t exist. Evidently it was simply a promotional image put together in advance of shooting the film. Too bad. It’s extraordinarily evocative and well composed.
Chuck (can I call you Chuck?) you have schooled me and I’m grateful for it. Whenever I had read in the English-language press in the past about “Apichatpong Weerasethakul, but you can call him ‘Joe’” I thought it was both lazy and offensive. I know Apichatpong was OK with it but I thought that it was probably something that had developed from his days at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago to placate his American friends who couldn’t be bothered to pronounce or spell his real name. I had no idea it was the name that everybody knew him by, even in Thailand (nor had any article I read ever clarified that). As for calling him by his family name, obviously I wasn’t being intentionally discourteous, but now you have put me to rights and I will happily refer to him as Apichatpong. Or Joe. And obviously I couldn’t be happier about today’s news from Cannes.
Nathaniel, if you much prefer that version (clickable link here) we’ll just agree to disagree. For me that one is nice, but the French poster is extraordinary.
“Apichatpong Weerasethakul, but you can call him ‘Joe’” I may have been the first one to write something like, back about a decade ago, so I bear some responsibility, and no little regret, for its staying power. And by all means, call me Chuck. I’m sure that many at this website have called me much worse!

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