Thursday, November 29, 2007

Invisible Waves

Love hurts.

Invisible Waves
Director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Stars Tadanobu Asano (Café Lumiere) / Kang Hye-Jeong (Welcome to Dongmagkol)
Ken Mitsuishi(The Vanished)

Grow up among nuns and you get real cozy with both the notion and throb of guilt, wear it like a scar that recedes but never really fades. It’s like a bitch monkey on your back, up there with regret, and often the same thing, for the vehemence of its nag and its bite - - - and man, can it bite. So you get how the blood on Tadanobu Asano's chef's hands is actually making him physically sick. You also get how his milieu's suddenly irradiated with bulletins of his sin - - -a decrepit hotel room in Phuket with graffiti that reads redrum, for instance. You get it mostly because he's your quintessential noir fall guy - - - works for a gangster, bangs the boss's wife, feeds her a spoonful of poison under orders, goes on the lam, gets shot to death, comes back to life, takes revenge - - - and we've seen remorse manifest itself as anxiety, paranoia and stomach disorder many times in many noirs. But this is only half the quintessential noir you think it is, perhaps even less, and those echoes of the noir piece it most closely hews to - - - John Boorman's great Point Blank - - - bouncing off the walls are only just echoes, and what Pen-Ek really siphons off to make weird green soup with is its ambiguous shadow instead- - - that Lee Marvin's resurrected hitman could be a ghost. Title alone's fat with metaphor- - -rebirth, purification, cleansing - - -and this isn't so much Pen-Ek headtripping on the vagaries of guilt but more on the currencies of atonement. Because guilt with no out is nihilistic and pointless. Grow up among nuns and you get real cozy with that, too. You can see the shape its arc wants to be - - - a sort of karmic coming to grace. And Christopher Doyle's palette isn't so much bleak as it is an opaque remove - - - everybody here's from someplace else, adrift and seeking anchor points, talking in a stunted English that evokes their unmooring. That entire first half on the cruise ship he escapes on with its malfunctioning cabins, bloodstained fishtank full of baby sharks, childhood friends he doesn't remember and repentant barkeep who's a ringer for his Dad going sensei on repentance has such a rich, purgatorial charge, you wish it never disembarked for the lukewarm second half that brings everything full circle back to Hong Kong, a cleavage it doesn't make it out of whole. Guilt is not a cul-de-sac and there's ecstasy in the promise of transcendence alone. But the impertinent, overlong confrontation with the double-crossing boss sucks the fatalistic conclusion of whatever measure of epiphany it might have shivered with, leaving nothing but metaphysical void. Withdrawal like that can sap you into a stupor. * * *

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Total Bangkok

Pen-Ek does shoe ads.

Home Pro

Pen-Ek does bathroom fixture ads.