Sunday, August 7, 2005

Review: Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers (2005)

A trio of short films by three up-and-coming Asian directors: Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Shinya Tsukamoto from Japan and Il-gon Song from Korea, are being shown at the Ninth Thai Short Film & Video Festival.

The films were commissioned earlier this year by the Jeonju International Film Festival and this was the first chance to see them in Thailand -- possibly anywere else in world outside of Korea.

Apichatpong's Worldly Desires started things off. It could very well be a long-lost third part to this Cannes-winning Tropical Malady, delving back into the jungle. The shortest of the shorts, a lot is packed into its 28 minutes.

First, a couple is stumbling around lost. No wait, take that back. First, there is a music video, with five women in white dancing to a sexy, breathy jazz-pop Thai vocal by Nadia (her music also was used over the open credits that roll smack dab in the middle of Joe's Blissfully Yours). Those ladies come back at least three times, dancing to the same song, like fairies in the night.

Back to that lost couple. Turns out they are making a movie. So it's a short film about a film, which is being made by fellow indie Thai director, Pimpaka Towira (One Night Husband).

There's some other random stuff as well. It's fun.

Next up is Haze by Shinya. This is one fucked up little film. I felt like it made everyone uncomfortable. Running at 40-plus minutes, this hellish vision of a guy trapped in a concrete crawlspace, looking for a way out, whizzed mercifully by, but not without leaving scars on everyone's psyche. This is one powerful film.

I had read a bit before, then forgotten that Shinya was the same guy who did the just as fucked up Snake of June. So I wasn't mentally prepared. When it was over, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Whew!

Last was Il-gon's Magician(s). It explores some relationships -- between a couple of friends reminiscing over an old tape they made while hanging out at a bar isolated in the cold, Korean countryside. A monk shows up to get his snowboard, but it's not as weird as it seems. Each guy then chats with a girlfriend, hashing over that relationship, and then the girls chat. Not really much to it, but after Haze, it was an entertaining relief.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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