Seven years ago, while the Walker was under construction, a young Thai filmmaker named Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul was brought to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) for a surrogate Regis Dialogue and Retrospective called “New Language from Thailand.” Of Weerasethakul’s first feature film, Mysterious Object at Noon, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum writes:
The film made a strong impression on me, but I forgot many details, simply because I didn’t have an analytical context in which to place it. Perhaps if the film had been less original or striking, I and other publicists, journalists, and teachers could have started packaging it immediately. (read the full article on his blog)
In a blockbuster-injected film-going experience, it’s hard to imagine what non-conventional style might feel like, but Weeresethakul’s films seem, not only to buck conventions, but to disregard them entirely. His style feels, organic, poetic, and disparate from the status quo. And, like Jonathan Rosenbaum says, they are very hard to comprehend. They speak a new and beautiful filmic language, so that watching them we might imagine what it was like to see Godard’s Breathless in 1960 or even one of the Lumière brothers’ first screenings in 1895. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film language proposes a new frontier for the medium, and it’s one that relies on style, not technology–remarkably, Weerasethakul is changing the film landscape without using twitter.
Although when he appeared in 2004, Weeresethakul was a relative unknown, he’s been getting more recognition since. Not that the Walker is setting trends, but he was here first. This year Weeresethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best Foreign Film. And, Uncle Boonmee will have its US theatrical premiere this Friday and Saturday at 7:30. Then, the following Thursday, Weeresthakul’s notoriously censored film Syndromes and a Century will show for free. All at the Walker Cinema.