Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two By Pen-Ek

Last Life In The Universe (Ruang Rak Noi Nid Mahasan )

Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Ploy, Invisible Waves)
Starring: Tadanobu Asano (Ichi The Killer, Cafe Lumiere), Sinitta Boonyasak (Bite of Love)

Boiled down, this is about opposites attracting - - - chaos and order, scatterbrained and anal, free spirit and suicide fetishist. The arcane physics of desire. Also, the milk of every other hackneyed formula love story. It pushes the same buttons: the soft electricity of attraction, the sweet endorphin of emotional rescue, the wistful possibilities of happiness. But the (mis)matching of Tadanobu Asano’s bookish nerd and Sinitta Boonyasak's flighty hostess is bonded more by ghosts of shared regret than anything sexual (but we get there eventually) or romantic, stranding them in a hermetic world of their own design , speaking in fractured tongues as they fumble to master that inarticulate speech of the heart, the last lives in an impossible universe that isn't forever but, for a brief shining moment ,is magic. * * * * *

Mon-rak Transistor
Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Fun Bar Karaoke, 6ixtynin9)
Starring: Supakorn Kitsuwon
(Tears of the Black Tiger, Suriyothai), Siriyakorn Pukkavesh (Adventures of Iron Pussy)

Village kid meets village girl, they fall in love, she gets pregnant, he gets drafted, she gives birth, he deserts the army and becomes a pop star. Then their troubles begin. Screwball for the way it crams surfeits of melodramatic incident that could bloat two telenovela seasons then plays them for absurdist pleasure. Satiric for the way it harbors a nostalgic fondness for such overwrought soap opera tropes at the same time appearing to take affectionate digs at them. But there are genuine emotions fueling these soap opera tropes we malign. It's what makes them persist. Those flitty-tatty feelings we're all oh-so ironic ,or probably just too chickenshit, to express. And later, all artifice and agenda is dropped. A picture on the wall speaks volumes of regret. A damburst of tears and a tentative hug speak of a love that's too scared to come out of hiding. And the climactic ,inevitable reunion disarms then stabs me with the flitty and the tatty, full-on, guard down, right through the heart. Pow. And I'm a mass of blubber. Nice trick, Pen-Ek. Crafty bastard.
* * * *

No comments: