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Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the David Lynch of Thailand.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the David Lynch of Thailand. (photo)

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Home fresh off his Palme D’Or triumph at Cannes, Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul is back to talking about the political mess in Thailand: “I think now we’re pretty primitive in terms of politics… No matter what colour you are, you damage the country” he said in regards to the red shirt demonstrators.

This most apolitical of filmmakers — an art school prodigy who essentially films lucid dreams — has been forced, by default, to become the most obscure activist since the late Sergei Parajanov, for whom the mere act of filming folklore in the Armenian language was enough to land him in gulag.

Weerasethakul’s work isn’t inherently political — as a gay filmmaker, he has gay characters but isn’t polemical about it. His censorship troubles, though, have made him one. He may yet turn down a grant from the Culture Ministry even though the film has yet to break even.

Along with Pedro Costa, Weerasethakul’s movies are pretty much the vanguard of arthouse filmmaking. And he has yet to be seen by very many people at all; the Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell wrote a fatuous diatribe about “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” after its win, writing that it’s “a film so resolutely uncommercial, even Thais can’t figure it out” (based on the response of a woman who was sitting next to him on the flight home).

06092010_uncle.jpgBut the trailer for “Uncle Boonmee” is something else. It makes what’s sure to be Weerasethakul’s weirdest film yet look like a menacing David Lynch feature set in the countryside. The sound design hums with ominous tension for no apparent reason; the kabuki-esque line readings (“What’s wrong with my eyes?”) are menacing. It may be misdirection, but it’s been packaged as absolute cult material for the art-school undergrads.

Could Joe have the potential to be a midnight movie guy? Like a more benevolent, less sexually anxious Lynch, he’s basically filming his subconscious, jumbled up with folklore and mythology, some a real part of Thailand’s cultural make-up and some just made up.

He’s channeled all that weird energy and turned it back around to obliquely refract Thailand’s political situation, which makes him the most exciting political filmmaker in decades. It’s quite a coup, and the Palme D’Or has given journalist the go-ahead to write about a filmmaker who might once have been deemed too obscure to demand copy space.

Anyway, watch this trailer. It’ll creep you out:

[Photos: “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Remember His Past Lives,” Kick The Machine, 2010]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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