Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Apichatpong-a-rama: Dilbar, For Monkeys, Cactus River stream online

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is "this week's visionary" at the arts-and-culture website Dazed, which is streaming three of his short films – Dilbar, For Monkeys and Cactus River.

Dilbar is a work by Apichatpong and Chai Siri, commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation. Dilbar, which means beloved, is a black-and-white portrait of a migrant laborer of the same name. One of the million of Bangladeshi workers who currently live and work in the United Arab Emirates, Dilbar is a voiceless soul who moves between construction site and labour camp. Ghostly images grace the screen amid the hypnotic rhythms of a machine and the buzzing of high-tension electric wires.

For Monkeys is an outgrowth of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. "The terrifying ghost monkeys rear their heads again in this hypnotic short film, which overlays chattering automation and an all-seeing neon eye on top of stone statuary to disquieting effect."

Cactus River, which I had trouble viewing, tells the story of Kick the Machine company player Jenjira Pongpas. "Her life unfolds along the Mekong River as she changes her name for good luck and marries Frank, a retired U.S. soldier from New Mexico. Weerasethkul documents their domestic lives alongside the ebbs and flows of one of Asia's largest rivers."

If you are also having trouble viewing Cactus River, fear not, it might turn up at a film festival near you. As noted by Mosquito Films Distribution, Cactus River recently flowed at the Next International Film Festival in Bucharest. It's among many Mosquito films buzzing their way around the world.

Also at Dazed, there's the Da-zed Guide to Southeast Asian Cinema, an A-to-Z primer on notable films and filmmakers. Although A is not for Apichatpong (it's for Vietnam's Ahn Hung Tran), it's still a very Apichatpong-centric list, with notes about Tropical Malady, Syndromes and a Century and Uncle Boonmee. Others on the list include Bangkok and Only God Forgives, the Luang Prabang Film Festival, Gareth Evans and The Raid 2, Tony Jaa and Ong-Bak, Filipino auteur Lav Diaz and the Pang Brothers. However, for the letter P, I would have picked Pen-ek.

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