Monday, 21 June 2010

Uncle Boonmee comes home . . .

to Thailand that is . . . not yet to Esarn but for now to SFX cinema at The Emporium to satisfy the thirst of those living in the Kingdom to have a taste of the Palme D'or, or specifically a chance to watch Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives at a movie theatre near them.
I had a chance to watch it at the premiere on Friday where two theatres simultaneously screened the movie. A little intro was made by P'Joei to the effect that, "this is the magic of the Palme d'Or that Thailand is the 3rd country in the world to have the movie screened" and "there was once a lady, called Lada, at the Ministry of Culture, she said that NOBODY wants to watch my films . . . well, the fact that tonight there are 2 packed theatres with my friends and supporters, perhaps she is wrong and I am so happy that there is SOMEBODY out there that wants to watch an Apichatpong film" . . ."please don't think too much and let yourself be hypnotised and taken on a journey".

To take us on a journey he certainly did, into a world where spirits and Monkey Ghosts are perfectly normal, where fish talk and can make love to a princess. It was surreal, beautiful and at once, totally normal that caves glisten with diamonds and spirits come to dinner . . . To over analyse and think too much about how it all relates choronogically and on what plane is the movie functioning would require a PhD thesis. What is evident though is that P'Joei does disrupt the plane in which time is assumed to function, yet,ironically, time is linear in real life as the movie runs its 2 hour course but these 2 hours are spent immersed in a world where the past, the present and the future blur, mingle and interact, creating a 4th dimension. And he was able to do this with humour, the funny moments were charming and the nostalgic ones evoked memories of my own childhood of Star Wars, old TV sitcoms and that princess in pink in a carriage that every little girl wants to be. A suspension of time and space, making us dig deep into our pool of memories and beliefs, yet is also his own personal homage to cinema. My father was perplexed and intrigued and I think it reminded him of elements of his childhood growing up in the North East. The guy on my right probably thought I was something of a drama queen as he had to listen to me gasp, cry and laugh (I am probably a rather annoying person to watch a film with) as I was totally carried away by this rather strange magical journey.

Dad, myself, Boonmee cupcakes and P'Joei
From the packed theatres where the Thai cultural pack (for lack of a better description) emerged after being spellbound there was then a reception in the foyer with green bottled beer and Uncle Boonmee shirts sold. Jelly Jan made me a dozen sticky date cupcakes that spelt perfectly UNCLE BOONMEE which Lee's assistant had to guard with her life. I then went along with Lee for a late night supper to an establishment called 55 Pochana (I was informed by former that there is a song written about this place), to the longest table ever.

long table
A rather long table on the street with a backdrop of the glistening Sukhumvit Road after the rain, with the cast and crew of Uncle Boonmee, how surreal it was to sit across from Boonsong, the Monkey Ghost as a human . . . especially now that they are real in the movie too.
For three days thereafter, I have dreamt of having a pet Monkey Ghost with red eyes, sitting at dinner with spirits and lastly that catfish.

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