Friday, November 27, 2009

Syndromes and a Century makes TONY's top 50 for the 2000s

The end of 2009 not only means there will be an onslaught of year-end lists to pore over, but also lists of the best films of the first decade of the 21st century.

We've already had the best of the decade list from the TIFF Cinematheque, that was topped by Syndromes and a Century by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and had his Tropical Malady and Blissfully Yours ranked as well.

Now comes the Time Out New York top 50 movies of the decade, which has Syndromes and a Century at No. 44. Says TONY's Kevin B. Lee

Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul turns the memories of his doctor parents into a narrative seed, planting it in both a jungle and a city hospital to see what will grow from each. Few recent films seem as driven by pure, organic intuition—and are as consistently sublime.

Thai censors disagreed with such praise. They said Apichatpong's parents should be ashamed for what he'd done to them in his film, said the film was without artistic merit and ordered six scenes censored before it could be shown in Thailand. Who are you going to agree with? Thailand's esteemed cultural minders or dozens upon dozens of film critics the world over?

Spirited discussion about the TIFF Cinematheque list and who should be the best directors of the decade is taking place at Wildgrounds.

(Via Wildgrounds)


  1. From what I gather from reading your film journal, it looks like "Syndromes and a Century" is one of the movies you enthusiastically endorse. I didn't have a whole lot of spending power this last month to be watching a whole lot of movies (just one Chinese movie called "If You Are the One), but maybe I'll make "Syndromes and a Century" the next one I watch.

    Another thing you talk about a lot is censorship in Thai cinema. I don't suppose censorship of culturally sensitive material is one of the hot button issues in Thailand?

  2. If you can, check your local public library for Syndromes. They might be able to get it through an interlibrary loan.

    Or if you can buy it, try to get the BFI version from the UK. The American release by Strand has huge, hard-burned subtitles that kind of get in the way of things.

    Censorship remains a hot-button issue in these days of sensitive politics in Thailand. Most filmmakers will self-censor, I think, but a few, like Apichatpong and Thunska Pansittivorakul, just to name a couple, will push the envelope.

    But instead of giving viewers the responsibility of deciding and discussing what is inappropriate and why, the government decides for them through censoring and banning films.

    There is a ratings system now, but it is unevenly applied, with foreign films being leniently classified while Thai films come under more scrutiny. The ratings system is meant to be a guideline for the audience, but is inaccurate the way it is being applied. Hollywood PG-13 movies are rated as G while Thai films that would probably be okay for 13-year-olds to watch are rated 18+.

    Also, on top of the ratings system, there is still the provision for cutting and banning films if they are deemed inappropriate by the cultural minders.


Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.