Thursday, July 14, 2011
Uncle boonme & certified copy
Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Uncle Boonme is a beautiful film. It’s very slow moving and tranquil, but I was never bored by it. I think because it is immediately gripping, in terms of reaching out to my own sensibilities. Before the film even starts, we hear sounds of nature and the forest played over the credits (it was at this point that I knew I’d love the film). We then open with a sequence of a water buffalo wandering about, and the cinematography here is immediately dark and otherworldy. From here we cut to bright day and a car driving through a town. This is such a jarring transition that I was instantly intrigued. Shortly there after we arrive at the farm and that night we are greeted by the ghost of Boonme’s wife and his ghost monkey son (I agree Brandon, the creature design up close is almost laughable in that it looks like something from Land of the Lost. I was glad at this point that I was watching it alone because if I were with friends, I have a feeling they would have ruined it with ridicule). The fact that Boonme and the others aren’t too taken aback by the appearance of these two furthered my interest. They are surprised to see them both, but it doesn’t seem that out of place for them to be there. It’s just a part of this very spiritual world the film is presenting and placing the characters within.
From there on, the film had me completely. It just seemed mysterious, magical, surprising, and weird. I couldn’t wait for the next image to appear. I was hooked.
I even really enjoyed the slower, less magical moments of people sitting around the farm talking. It just seemed realistic and perfect. I can image that this is what really went on most of the time. The same thing with the ending in the apartment. Just people sitting around watching tv.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the final images. I don’t think I’m ready to come up with a proper analysis of the ending. Are we watching an alternate timeline, a sort of quantum physics branching of time? Or after Boonme’s death are the characters just more aware of the idea of parting with themselves? Are they looking at themselves as if spirits departing from their bodies? I have no idea. But I appreciate how challenging these final images are. And I appreciate how unabashedly spiritual this film is.
“But Joe as we know him seems to understand the sentiments I hold in regards to creation. He may not always make sense (at least not to me) but he doesn't seem to be reveling in his obscurity.
“Some directors like to make you feel inferior, I don't think this is Joe's intention. I think he'd rather you feel than understand. Well I felt a lot when watching this film.”
Well said, Brandon. I agree. There is a lot to think about with this film, but it is also interested in making you feel many things. It’s very beautiful and very effective. I loved it.
I gave up trying to wait for this one on dvd and just searched for it online. I found a pretty good quality link and never looked back.
I didn’t read your post on this Brandon because I was waiting until I saw it. I’m glad I finally got to read it (and glad I didn't read it then for its spoilers!). It’s a great post.
You were right about this one too. It’s a wonderful film. I loved it as well.
In the first half of the film, the Before Sunrise/Sunset comparison is very apt. My obvious brain thought of this too, just because we are very closely following this first meeting and introductory conversation between two people as it unfolds. Once the twist occurs, I thought more of Blow-up, L’eclisse, and even the ultra-hip Last Year at Marienbad. These are probably all obvious too, but oh well (It’s interesting that you liked this film but aren’t a fan of Antonioni–I think this one is a lot like his films).
“The car ride to a village nearby is awkward, but James seems unfazed by it. Why? Just when I found myself starting to wonder why his alarms weren’t going off Kiarostami switches POV to show the beautiful cypresses on either side of the road. James somehow fit’s the trees into their debate. He talks about how they all come from the same molecular structure and yet you will find no two alike. At this point I couldn’t care less about his point, if I want to hear an interesting argument about the validity of fakes I will listen to Orson Welles.”
I agree with all of this. Their initial exchanges are very awkward and unusual. This adds an immediate level of mystery to the film. Juliette (I’ll give her this name too, she’s terrific by the way) seems aggressive, capricious, and oddly emotional when talking to James (who we assume is a complete stranger). James does take it well, and I was wondering why myself. I knew that something was going to be revealed eventually between them from this opening awkwardness; I didn’t know exactly what though. James’ ideas on art are pretty stuffy and almost satirically postmodern, and you immediately understand that Juliette is out to get him for this. She’s putting a real world test to his arm chair philosophy (His ideas of fakes and validity had me thinking of Walter Benjamin, and yes, Welles too).
When they go the restaurant, and Juliette begins pretending that they are husband and wife with the owner, I hoped that the film would go where it eventually does. The idea of switching their relationship in the middle of the film seemed ingenious to me. I wished I had thought of it instantly. It kind of reminded me of Bunuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire too at this point (loved that Carriere cameo!). When they do start speaking to each other differently, the film just had me completely from there on. I think because at that point you are embroiled in the mystery and want to learn more about their relationship and possibly get clues as to what the real situation is. I agree Brandon that any reading of this film could work because it leaves just enough ambiguity for multiple interpretations.
“Is it a game? Have they transformed into another couple? What the hell just happened?”
Absolutely. I won’t come down on any answer because I just don’t know. I loved the ambiguity.
Also, “This film isn’t a certified copy however, it’s a true original.” I’m totally with you. Despite it evoking several other films, I did find it to be a true original and a fascinating film. More viewings of it are in order for sure.
Well, in conclusion, these are two terrific films. I wish I had seem them earlier so that I could have interacted with you back in April, Brando. Whether I decide to include them in 2011’s list or revise 2010’s, they will still be quite high on either list, I’m sure (maybe the rest of this year will surprise me though).