This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.

DID YOU READ

“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” Reviewed

“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

Can he recall his past lives, though?

There are two non sequiturs in “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” that could be read as windows into the title character’s past lives — a prologue about a lost bull and a later digression about a princess and an overly friendly catfish — but no attempt is made, beyond that mouthful of a title, to connect to them to the narrative at large. Such are the mysterious ways of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul: he makes a movie with an insanely specific title but doesn’t specify any further than that. As with any Weerasethakul film, audience interpretation and participation is essential. Nothing is spelled out, at least not in any language that people on this plane of existence can understand.

Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar) is an aging farmer and beekeeper living in the lush jungles of Northern Thailand. He’s suffering from kidney failure so his sister-in-law Jen and nephew Tong (Weerasethakul regulars Jenjira Pongpas and Sakda Kaewbuadee) come for a visit. As the days roll along, other ghostly visitors begin to arrive, including, in one bravura sequence, Boonmee’s dead wife Huay (Natthakarn Aphaiwonk) and his dead son Boonsong (Geerasak Kulhong), who appears in the form of a “monkey ghost.” In the light, Boonsong looks like a furry ape-man. In the dark, he takes on the form of a giant walking shadow with eerie, glowing red eyes. Rather than alarm, these guests are met with curiosity. Instead of running from terror from the beast with LEDs for eyeballs, Boonmee asks his son questions. Where have you been? How did you die? Why did you disappear? And why have you returned now? With Weerasethakul, there are always more questions than answers.

The film is not so much about what happens to Boonmee in these final days, as the mood those final days evoke. Weerasethakul — Joe to his friends and American journalists who butcher his name — invites us into a world that relies less on narrative logic than dream logic, where monkey ghosts joining you for a meal seems perfectly reasonable. His story bends the rules of time and space, and the film itself bears similarly transportive qualities. It takes so deep into the Thai jungle that we feel like we’re actually there. Many scenes are so dimly lit that it took me about four pages of notes to notice my pen had ran out of ink.

With “Uncle Boonmee,” Joe returns to some many of the tropes that have driven past works like “Tropical Malady” and “Syndromes and a Century,” including the contrast between the verdant natural world and the antiseptic environs of the modern city, the symbiotic relationship between man and nature, and the simultaneity of past and present. It’s not just past and present that merge; life and death are fused as well, as Boonmee’s past lives swirl through his current one, and the end of his story gives way to a fresh start for Jen and Tong. In a way, the callbacks to the director’s earlier work show Weerasethakul recalling his own past lives. “Uncle Boonmee” itself becomes the ultimate fusion of filmmaker’s past and present.

If this all sounds a bit pretentious well, frankly, at times it is. But nobody in modern cinema is better at crafting intoxicatingly enigmatic images than Weerasethakul. The introduction of Huay and Boonsong’s ghosts showcases a director using every tool of filmmaking, from acting to lighting to sound to montage to mise en scene, with total and complete control. That scene is perfect. The stillness, the silence between the characters is almost overwhelming. It is the quietest horror movie you’ve ever seen. Or maybe the quietest fantasy comedy you’ve ever seen. Or maybe both.

The rest of the movie similarly defies description. The image of monkey ghosts, their brake light glare cutting through the murk of the jungle, staring down the barrel of the lens, is terrifying in some moments and comforting in others. Some scenes, as when Boonmee hugs his dead wife’s ghost — literally comforting himself with the memory of days past — are heartbreakingly sad. Others, like the one with the princess who regains her youth and her sexual mojo from a horny magical catfish, are hysterical. “Uncle Boonmee” is totally uncategorizable. The only genre this movie belongs to is the funky, freaky, fascinating films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

IFC_Portlandia-S8_best-of-skits_subaru-blog

Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

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 IFC.com

IFC_Portlandia-S8_pick-a-lane_subaru-blog

Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

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.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

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

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…