Invisible Waves (Pen-ek Ratanaruang, 2006)

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#1 Post by Grimfarrow » Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:07 pm

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's INVISIBLE WAVES has had its US rights presold to Palm Pictures. It stars Tadanobu Asano, Gang Hye-Jung (from Old Boy), and Eric Tsang as a monk. It's in pre-production right now, due to be released in 2006.

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#2 Post by Grimfarrow » Fri Mar 04, 2005 3:12 pm

A recap on this highly anticipated film from LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. It has had its US rights presold to Palm Pictures. It stars Tadanobu Asano and Gang Hye-Jung (from Old Boy). Due to be released in 2006. Shooting has already begun in Bangkok, with the production slated to move to Hong Kong and Macau in late March.

Those expecting another LAST LIFE will this new film very surprising. Pen-Ek is going back to his neo-thriller days, but this time with "atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere". Of course, with Chris Doyle back at the camera, this should be a snap. And with a cast with Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and Phillippines, this is as pan-Asian as it gets.

Lastly, if you haven't seen them, try with all your might to see Pen-Ek's Thai commercials. They are utter gems - whip-smart, hilarious and full of charm...just like the director himself.

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#3 Post by Grimfarrow » Sun Apr 10, 2005 6:01 pm

Great article by Kong on the currently-in-progress INVISIBLE WAVES. After seeing a rough trailer that Chris Doyle cut, I'm definitely very much looking forward to the film! ... real62.php


Leading Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang teams up once more with Japanese cult actor Asano Tadanobu on another bizarre movie-making mission


Asano Tadanobu sports a red circle over his left eye. It looks kinda nutty, even on this maverick Japanese actor usually known among cult-flick fans for his enigmatic elegance. Playing a loser on the run, he's being hounded by two Thai thugs, who've inflicted that bruise and chased him into an elevator in the dingy lobby of a Phuket hotel.

Here, everything acquires a double meaning, identities shift, time freezes and bizarre misadventures suck him down the spiral of guilt and redemption.

Amid all this confusion, what Asano worries about the most is the performance of his tongue. "I have so much English dialogue," says the actor in grumbled English. "That's the difficult part. More difficult than acting!"

What's difficult, too, is any attempt to classify Invisible Waves, the new movie by Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang starring a pan-Asian cast. For a start, it has nothing to do with the tsunami, despite 60 percent of the story taking place in the city of Phuket (and despite the fact that the crew were jolted to prepare a midnight evacuation after a quake threatened to send more invisible waves ashore last week). The movie, instead, represents a liberal attitude towards the way a film can be made, where the nationality of the director is not its sole cultural influence, while the marketing effort is engineered to catch the attention not of any particular nation but perhaps of the world.

Invisible Waves is scripted by Thai writer Prabda Yoon for Pen-ek to direct. Again, they enlist the eyes of Aussie cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who collaborated with Pen-ek and Asano in their previous outing Last Life in the Universe. The offbeat thriller stars Japanese, Hong Kong, Korean and Thai actors in the lead roles. The locations include Macau, Hong Kong, Phuket, Bangkok, plus sequences of surreal mishaps on a cruise ship. Sponsoring this whirlwind roster are producers from Hong Kong (Fortissimo Films and Focus Films), Korea (CJ Entertainment), Thailand (Dedicate), and an Italian investor Faruk Alatan.

Even as the shooting continues in Phuket at this minute, Invisible Waves has already secured distribution agreements in the US, France, Russia, Portugal, Greece, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries. In Thailand, Five Star Production will release the film early next year.

Pen-ek Ratanaruang: "Each location we've shot in seems to have a visible impact on the way the story progresses."

Parallel universe: "I nicknamed the cruise `The Invisible Cruise', because there's no cruise ship!"

Such a united-nations of a project, on the surface, mirrors the need of daring Thai filmmakers to pursue international funding _ and international viewers. But deeper than that, it's a natural step of cultural evolution in this heyday of global trafficking in moving images. Influences, styles and stories from disparate sources seem to have entered a communual stream of cosmic vision tapped into by artists. Lubricating this stream is the money pooled from as equally disparate pockets, and the finished work will feed the thirst of fans in the two hemispheres. At the set of Invisible Waves in Phuket, even the groupies camping out at the hotel are both local and foreign.

"Movies shouldn't always be catalogued by the passports of the filmmakers," says Pen-ek, whose previous pictures like 6ixtynin9, Monrak Transistor and Last Life in the Universe were more popular abroad than at home. "There are more important things to discuss than whether this is qualified as 'Thai cinema' or not.

"See, I'm a Thai, but I have Thai, Japanese and European and Australian friends. So it's not unusual to make a movie with Japanese or European or whichever people in it; what matters is that we're trying to create something out of these ingredients. Consider, say, the English the characters speak in Invisible Waves. A lot of people will comment that it's bad English _ with bad accents and all that. For me, however, I don't even consider it the English language, but a new language spoken by the people in the world created by the film. It would seem so wrong to have Asano speaking perfect English eh?"

So, well, Asano shouldn't be too concerned, even though the Invisible Waves's climactic verbal blitz prescribes him to a 13-page-long dialogue, in which he exchanges oral wit in English with Thai actor Toon Hiranyasap. What's led the two men to that fateful run-in is the setup of the movie. Asano plays Kyoji, a Japanese chef in a Hong Kong restaurant run by a Thai bigwig. In the opening scene, Kyoji is duped to kill his boss's wife, but once finding blood on his hands, the chef's forced to escape on board a cruise ship heading towards Phuket.

On the cruise, strange things start to happen. You'd say it's a Kafka-esque scenario, though Pen-ek prefers to describe it as something from a David Lynch film. Kyoji gets lost in the bowels of the vessel, runs into somebody who could be his long lost father, meets a witchy matron (Maria Cordero) and a Korean girl (Kang Hye-joeng from Oldboy), then strikes up a bizarre friendship with a hitman called Lizard who's sent to zap him. Once he lands in Phuket, Kyoji, drugged by his own guilt, shares more campy, hallucinatory trips with Lizard, as other characters disappear and reappear before the mafia boss comes down to look for his runaway chef himself.

"A lot in the story may happen in Phuket, but it's not the Phuket for tourists we're familiar with. It's more like the weird corners of Phuket we've fished out to the screen," says Pen-ek. Looking at the hotel they're shooting at _ premises stuck in the 1970s dusty flamboyance, with leopard-skin sofas and a midget pool complete with a fake waterfall _ the director's statement is not so off the mark.

"What I find is that each location we've shot in _ Hong Kong, Macau, Phuket _ seems to have a visible impact on the way the story progresses," the director adds. "When we put down the camera, it seems the surroundings alone can tell what's happening in the scene. Really, locations are one big force in this movie."

Another force, characteristically, is the presence of the charming, mysterious Asano Tadanobu. This is the second time the actor, the hottest thespian currently at work in Japanese cinema, gets to play a Japanese man lost on Thai turf. In Pen-ek's previous pic he played Kenji, a librarian who hooked up with a sad-eyed Thai girl after he killed a yakuza. In the new film, his character once again flees the past to find his purgatory in Thailand.

"I think Kyoji in Invisible Waves is a normal person, while Kenji in Last Life in the Universe is not so normal from the beginning," says Asano. "But in all, it's interesting that this new movie shows how myself and Pen-ek have grown up. I may be playing a Japanese man in Thailand again, but it's a totally different movie."

Invisible Waves will try to confirm the intimation that the Pen-ek-Doyle-Asano conspiracy, pioneered in Last Life, is indeed a winning combination _ if not for the Thai market, then the international one. With a budget of nearly US$2 million, the film's makers hope it will make a premiere at a major film festival, either Venice this August or Berlin next February. One only hopes that in the meantime no mean, invisible waves come out of the Andaman Sea to sweep the global dreams of everyone on the set away.

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#4 Post by Grimfarrow » Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:35 pm

No idea where my old INVISIBLE WAVES thread went. But the website's now up at The film's in competition at the Berlin Film Festival.

For those catching up, it's the latest film by Pen-ek Ratanaruang (LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE) shot by Christopher Doyle and starring Tadanobu Asano (ICHI THE KILLER) and Gang Hye Jung (OLD BOY).

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#5 Post by Zumpano » Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:48 am

This review has got me really interested in this film, especially the part that says:
If Jacques Tati, the French comic absurdist, had ever made a gangster thriller, it probably would have looked like Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's "Invisible Waves."
It also sounds like Doyle has done some exceptional work here (as always?).

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#6 Post by Len » Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:47 pm

Can't wait for this, definitely one of the films I want to see the most this year. Loved Last Life, and the idea of a gangster thriller by Ratanaruang seems almost too good to be true. Last Life hinted in the direction that he could do a truly great thriller, so I'm eager to see how he's approached the genre.

And ofcourse, looking forward to seeing Doyle's work. Compared to the stuff he's done for WKW or his photography, Last Life seemed quite a bit more down to earth (with few scenes being notable exceptions), but it still looked spectacular.


#7 Post by marty » Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:34 pm

I saw Invisible Waves at Berlin last week and this is so un-like his previous film, Last Life in the Universe. Apart from the opening murder scene which has glorious camara pans by Doyle, the rest of the film has very muted colours - lots of static shots and dark colours and overcast exteriors. None of the traditional Doyle cinematography but this is not a bad thing. I found the film strangely compelling and I understand the Tati reference as there were some humourous moments at the most unexpected times. This will be a tough sell beyond the cineastes, I would think. My only gripe with the film was the insistent Enligh-language spoken at times by the characters as some are Japanese and others Taiwanese and Chinese (I think) so they can only communicate via broken English. Maybe there is a purpose to this, I don't know yet. Will need to see again.

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#8 Post by Grimfarrow » Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:47 am

For a response on the language issue, Pen-ek and Prabda Yoon talks about it at length during the Berlinale's press conference. I view it in some ways as the anti-A TALKING PICTURE, where the sum of the pan-Asian (instead of pan-European) communication ends up in a bittersweet ending instead of the end of civilization. Either that or 2046's concept of everyone speaking their best language, which in reality would never happen, of course!

And to rectify, the cast consist of: Japanese, Korean, Thai, Hong Konger and Filipino/Hong Konger.

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#9 Post by pianocrash » Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:49 pm

Has anyone found a dvd w/English subs of this film yet?

eThaiCD has an unsubbed edition which looks pretty strong, and I would bite since Palm seems to be dragging its feet on this one so far. I usually watch pen-ek's other films w/o subtitles anyway, and that price is oh-so-tempting.

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