With his bifurcated story of the relationship between a soldier and a rural naif, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul established himself as a singular, elusive talent.
The only Weerasethakul film I've seen is Memoria, which fortunately I was able to see in a theater about a year into the roadshow. I loved that movie, especially that extended final sequence, but it did indeed require surrendering to the mystery. On that basis, I'm very much looking forward to trying to watch Tropical Malady (and also Uncle Boonmee, which has been on my to-watch list for way too long).
As the piece suggests, this isn’t the easiest film to see these days. It’s not streaming and to the best of my knowledge has never been on Blu-ray. I found a YouTube upload but there are no subtitles. Good luck!
It is currently streaming on Kanopy, where I watched it when the new BFI list was released. A wonderful film, and my first exposure to Weerasethakul.
My background with Weerasethakul - I saw Uncle Boonmee on DVD probably a couple of years after its release, I can't remember if I saw Cemetery of Splendor in theaters or in the home viewing catch-ups of the previous year, missed Memorial in the theaters because I didn't feel safe with the pandemic, and then tracked down a DVD of Tropical Malady this year in response to the list and watched it a little over a month ago.
I find his films elusive - A feeling that there is something definitely there that creeps into the sublime, but also at the same time, that I'm missing something that's keeping it from completely connecting with me, to the degree I don't feel capable of critical analysis. i.e. every one left me with the sense of, "I really need to watch this again at some point." But then I never do - kind of like Tarkovsky's Mirror, so I guess I'll need to make a point of rewatching that one when you two get to it.
I think Cemetery of Splendor connected the best for me on first viewing, but off of pop-reputation, I too would have guessed Boonmee would have been the film voting critics would have circled around.
I suspect if I sat down and just worked my way through his films in chronological order, it benefit my viewing of them, in terms of just getting me into the flow of his films.
I enjoyed this movie and Uncle Boonmee. My personal pick of Weerasethakul's among the films I've seen is Syndromes and a century. It just drips charm I find it very funny. Whatever I'm missing seems not to matter much at all in that film since the vibe is so well-sustained. I'd recommend it to anyone who's struggled with other films of his.