Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

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Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#1 Post by Matt » Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:29 am

Good news! Uncle Boonmee finally has US distriubtion. Bad news! It's Strand, and they have no plans to release it until Spring 2011.

To be fair, they've done a decent job with DVDs of Joe's films, but there's little chance any of us in the US outside of NY and LA will get to see this in 35mm. Even if it does roll around to my part of the country, I'm sure I'll have already had a DVD of it from some other country for months. I'll be shocked if anyone puts out a Blu-ray of this film.

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Brian C
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#2 Post by Brian C » Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:57 am

Matt wrote:...they have no plans to release it until Spring 2011.
Strike the iron while it's hot!

I know this is a common release pattern - among recent Palme winners, IFC did it for Wind That Shakes the Barley and 4 Months..., and Sony Classics did it with L'enfant and The Class - but at least those films had a good chance at a Foreign Film nomination at the Oscars (Wind excepted, being mostly English language), so pushing back the release was defensible. But that's never going to happen with this film, and the only people who will be interested in seeing this are also pretty much the only people who know or care about Cannes prizes. Why not get it out there fast, while there's still some residual publicity from the Cannes award?

That said, hopefully it's "prestigious" enough to warrant a 35mm print here in Chicago. Then all will be forgiven.

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perkizitore
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#3 Post by perkizitore » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:35 pm

Probably it will get a French blu-ray release with no english subs :x

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#4 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:57 am

Matt wrote:To be fair, they've done a decent job with DVDs of Joe's films, but there's little chance any of us in the US outside of NY and LA will get to see this in 35mm.
Syndromes and a Century played in St. Louis so I still have hope. We got Mysterious Object at Noon too :o

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Matt
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#5 Post by Matt » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:55 am

It looks like Strand has had films in as many as 20 theaters at one time, so there may indeed be hope for those of you in the top markets that also aren't one-company (Landmark) towns.

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zedz
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#6 Post by zedz » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:14 pm

I can’t really give too much away about this film, not for the sake of spoiling anything – except the constant state of WTF surprise the unprepared can savour – but because explaining what goes on in the film without experiencing how it happens is sure to give a completely misleading impression. Suffice it to say that, as far as on-the-page weirdness goes, it has Tropical Malady, the previous Weerasethakul film it most closely resembles, up a tree.

But it doesn’t play out as gratuitously weird, as an essential part of the film is always grounded in the banal details of everyday life, and a large part of the film’s humour and grace comes from how various exceedingly strange manifestations are quietly accepted into that life.

Although it’s always clear just what’s happening on screen, I don’t pretend to know What It’s All About, and the significance of what’s going on is as deliberately elusive as that of the connection between the two halves of Tropical Malady. But there’s such a rich correspondence and intricate relationship between the ideas represented by the film’s many different aspects that it seems to me that Weerasethakul is less concerned with delivering a specific Buddhist allegory with neatly decipherable symbols than he is with putting his audience in a state of mind where they will be susceptible to pondering the notions of transience, transition, transference and transformation in which the film traffics. But if seeing a film where you can’t find the ‘solution’ printed upside-down at the bottom of the page makes you squirm, stay far, far away.

The film is preoccupied with crossing borders, be they political / geographic (Laos / Thailand), social (princess / subject), biological (human / animal), or existential (freedom / captivity; ugliness / beauty; self / other), and the biggie, lying within and behind all of those, is the border between life and death, upon which the film dwells for much of its running time. In fact, not knowing on which side of that particular border we are from time to time is part of the film’s strategy.

It’s an utterly gorgeous film, so see it in a cinema if you can, as it’s the kind of beauty that will be extremely hard to capture on domestic formats, since many of the compositions are extremely low contrast and Weerasethakul requires a large screen to deliver certain effects (in the sense that ‘dead’ sectors of the screen can be alive with possibilities, such as subtle movement in the undergrowth or the slow materialization – or not – of something).

This film, like de Oliveira’s The Strange Case of Angelica, demonstrates just how effective very old movie tricks can still be. Both of those films sport visual effects that could be traced back to the time of Méliès, if not before, but which have more poetic impact than just about any so-called state-of-the-art CGI, mainly because the context for them is much more subdued and they’re carefully incorporated into a sympathetic and appropriate mood. Great sound work too. The odd Lynchian vibe I got towards the end of Syndromes and a Century was no accident, it seems, as there is very effective use of electronic drones to enhance the mood in key sequences here.

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Finch
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#7 Post by Finch » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:26 pm

Well, here's a post I'd never thought I'd link to: Uncle Boonmee getting panned by (most) French critics

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zedz
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#8 Post by zedz » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:26 pm

What? Somebody from Belgian radio didn't like it?! Stop the presses! That particular inclusion (and the massive exception they slyly make for Le Monde and Liberation) suggests that this is just your standard puffed-up 'art film outrage' ("how dare somebody make a film I don't understand!") with a side of "Mike Leigh wuz robbed!" xenophobia.

EDIT: Actually, looking back at that piece, I reckon the way in which that poor radio reviewer gets magically transformed into the entire city of Brussels (they're taking to the streets to protest this art film outrage!) ought to receive some sort of 'crimes against rhetoric' Palme d'Or.

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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#9 Post by Grand Illusion » Fri Sep 03, 2010 6:19 am

Finch wrote:Well, here's a post I'd never thought I'd link to: Uncle Boonmee getting panned by (most) French critics
I don't quite understand the point of a news article where the news is that a film is getting negative reviews. This link isn't even a review. It's just an article about other reviews. It's like an arbitrary sampling pool of Rotten Tomatoes. I'm not one to throw around "xenophobia," but this is an absolutely bizarre piece with an axe to grind.

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tenia
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#10 Post by tenia » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:41 am

And here comes the day when people outside France discovers that our movies critics are, in fact, as pointless as theirs. \:D/

But don't worry, Positif liked it.

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colinr0380
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:42 pm

At least Nothing had an interesting argument for why he disliked the film, rather than just finding it boring!

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zedz
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#12 Post by zedz » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:43 pm

colinr0380 wrote:At least Nothing had an interesting argument for why he disliked the film, rather than just finding it boring!
Perhaps, but unsurprisingly for Nothing, he was making his argument without having seen the film (which at any rate doesn't bear out his presumptions).

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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#13 Post by lady wakasa » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:36 pm

...aaaaaaand I've confirmed I'm going to miss this at the NYFF because I have to be several hundred miles away at the same time. And they don't have that traveling at the speed of light thing down yet.

So much for seeing it in 2010.

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Finch
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#14 Post by Finch » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:56 am

Joe interviewed by the Guardian; he talks a little about his next project as well as Boonmee.

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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#15 Post by MichaelB » Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:09 pm

Matt wrote:I'll be shocked if anyone puts out a Blu-ray of this film.
Brace yourself...

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Finch
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#16 Post by Finch » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:41 pm

never mind
Last edited by Finch on Fri Jul 22, 2011 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#17 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:35 am

Korean DVD out this week

I suspect New Wave will offer a better package (and of course a BD), but maybe some of you can't wait.

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Finch
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#18 Post by Finch » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:24 am

I quite like the artwork for the Korean DVD. Every Korean release I've bought has been very good to excellent at least, so I wouldn't necessarily expect the A/V of the New Wave DVD to be better. Curious how their first Blu will turn out.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#19 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:31 am

I can't find detailed specs for this particular title, but Korean releases of smaller-scale foreign films often don't include much if anything in the way of extras, and if they do you can usually bet they won't have English subs. I expect New Wave will step up with at least some added-value material not on the Korean version.

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Le Feu Follet
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#20 Post by Le Feu Follet » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:52 am

I saw Uncle Boonme a couple of days ago and I must align myself with those who find it boring and incomprehensible. I didn't understand why most of the acting is marked by listlessness and slowness, as though the actors were trying to induce boredom in viewer. Some scenes are held for a long time and then lead nowhere. For instance, the guy (Tong?) who wore saffron robes and then had a shower. We followed him into the shower room and watched him showering for quite a long time, but nothing happened. The guy was just having shower, so what was the point of showing so much of it? Just one of the things I didn't understand. :?

I think that what is as important as the story that is told, is the way that it is told. I have no problem with the magical elements of the narrative, but why was it made to be so slow and unmodulated in pace?

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Finch
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#21 Post by Finch » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:13 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:I can't find detailed specs for this particular title, but Korean releases of smaller-scale foreign films often don't include much if anything in the way of extras, and if they do you can usually bet they won't have English subs. I expect New Wave will step up with at least some added-value material not on the Korean version.
I was only referring to the A/V, mind. It goes without saying that the New Wave DVD is going to be the default choice for many for the subs on the feature and extras alone. I only wanted to point out that it shouldn't be taken for granted that the UK disc is going to have a superior transfer to the Korean disc. Someone who only cares about the film, and has no Blu-Ray hardware at the moment, may be very well served by the Korean DVD especially if the film has English subs. And for what it's worth, even smaller/independent films have received very good to excellent treatment on Korean home video.

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Guido
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#22 Post by Guido » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:28 pm

Le Feu Follet wrote:I saw Uncle Boonme a couple of days ago and I must align myself with those who find it boring and incomprehensible. I didn't understand why most of the acting is marked by listlessness and slowness, as though the actors were trying to induce boredom in viewer. Some scenes are held for a long time and then lead nowhere. For instance, the guy (Tong?) who wore saffron robes and then had a shower. We followed him into the shower room and watched him showering for quite a long time, but nothing happened. The guy was just having shower, so what was the point of showing so much of it? Just one of the things I didn't understand.

I think that what is as important as the story that is told, is the way that it is told. I have no problem with the magical elements of the narrative, but why was it made to be so slow and unmodulated in pace?
I think you need to answer this for yourself. Many people I know have been indifferent to the film, but they have arguments that can match their response. All I see here are a bunch of similar terms - "listlessness, slowness, unmodulated" - that aren't exactly elucidating. I don't mean to be antagonistic, nor am I implying that you aren't entitled to your opinion, but you might find more responses here if your thoughts are articulated with a bit more depth. A word like 'boring' is a sure-fire way to immediately halt any kind of constructive discussion.

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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#23 Post by Gropius » Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:39 pm

Le Feu Follet wrote:We followed him into the shower room and watched him showering for quite a long time, but nothing happened.
Why is a man having a shower any less of a 'happening' than, say, an exploding car? The entire history of 'art cinema' is predicated on the assumption that the former can be at least as, if not more, interesting.

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Jeff
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#24 Post by Jeff » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:21 am

Gropius wrote:
Le Feu Follet wrote:We followed him into the shower room and watched him showering for quite a long time, but nothing happened.
Why is a man having a shower any less of a 'happening' than, say, an exploding car? The entire history of 'art cinema' is predicated on the assumption that the former can be at least as, if not more, interesting.
And a woman
SpoilerShow
getting screwed by a talking catfish
is at least as interesting as an exploding car. To say nothing of the ghost monkey(s). I don't know what the fuck it was about, and I'm not entirely sure I that liked it, but I was certainly never bored. "How can you expect me to live here, with all the ghosts and migrant workers?" might be my new favorite movie quote.

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knives
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Re: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

#25 Post by knives » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:49 am

I have to give AW some credit, he is improving a great deal. This is easily better than his past two efforts, the only ones I've ever seen, but it still has it's flaws and AW's staunch refusal to play his own game makes his films all the more annoying. He seems to be playing a comedic fairy tale, but he is unable to convince primarily through his inability to make human characters. This is especially telling in the one good on it's own scene in the movie. There's an interlude that I can only assume is one of the past lives of the title involving an ugly princess(more on that later) and a catfish. It plays the comedy and fairy tale nature perfectly and it was only toward the end I realized why I separated this scene from the others. These character's reactions and behavior's work because there is no human element to them and it's pure fairy tale 'nonsense'. He managed to find that sweet note that makes other adult fairy tales like Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast work. The problem with the main story is that he tries to add human weight to the characters and almost feels embarrassed by the fairy tale element which makes the dinner table scene not work. If the other characters had reacted much like the Laotian immigrant or had been fairy tale people like the princess this and later scenes with the ghost would work on some level, but they don't. Even stripped of these fairy tale elements though I find the main story unsatisfactory because the attempts at making humans fails and all we're really left with is grotesque shapes. Much like Chomet, but without the benefit of the distance of animation AW just loves to wallow in ugliness and tends to create caricatures to fit. There's something hateful or at least massively ignorant that I sense in these portrayals. Going back to that horrible dinner, which is in some way the centerpiece of the film, there's a disgust with the way AW shows the Laotian to lack spirituality by being the only one who doesn't accept a ghost and sasquatch thing at first glance. Also this isn't a critique so much as a nitpick, but why was the aunt so accepting of these magical creatures, but considers Boonmee crazy for accepting the his death is near? That's a strange set of priorities. I have a few more complaints in that direction, but it points more to how unconvinced of the situation I was rather than a straight up flaw in the film.
All that aside I could have accepted this as a valiant effort at something new for AW if his typical laziness didn't get the better of him. Near the very end after what is a very nicely done cave sequence the film for no reason at all becomes a sequel to Tropical Malady with this section comprised entirely of stills and on set photos set to a voiceover. I've already forgotten who and what about this mumbling was for, something having to do with the future and past, so I won't give my left over feelings on that. The stills though are crap and the worst piece of laziness I've ever seen. This is Ed Wood and (more closely) Ray Steckler territory. A number of the shots are plainly on set with the monkey ghost acting out of character (I believe it supposed to be the same monkey ghost from earlier). What's worst is that the on set photos clearly show a different species of creature and the plastic making up his face is plain. There is no attempt to make this fairy tale real or at least involving. While I can see someone getting enjoyment out of the other sections I can't understand what this interlude could provide to anybody. AW makes Noe look competent.

I do hope to eat my words some day, but today that is not going to happen.
Last edited by knives on Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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