Blissfully His

Apichatpong's rarely screened short films, and the man himself, come to Anthology

Thank Dior—j'adore!— for My Mother's Garden (2007), a curious little bewitchment commissioned to celebrate a collection of the house's extravagantly whimsical jewelry. Adept, as ever, with neatly proportioned space and unusual effects of scale, Apichatpong contemplates the gems in severe close-up, encircling them with shadow as if specimens under microscope. "The pieces in the collection are inspired," he writes on kickthe machine.com, "by various types of dangerous flowers and carnivorous plants." Enter an image of his mother sliding open a window onto a broad-leafed garden. Abruptly arrested in freeze-frame, animated tendrils sprout from her head. Au courant for winter 2008: dewdrops, grasshoppers, hypothetical cellular formations, turquoise, octagons, sketchpad doodles.

I'm digging Anthem (2006), too—and pledge allegiance to Apichatpong's dream of screening it before every movie begins. In Thailand, that honor goes to a royal anthem, the lyrics of which ("no one shall rob them of freedom!") sound a mite hypocritical given the Ministry of Culture's recent absurdly restrictive censorship of its native cinematic genius. See Freedom Against Thai Censorship (FACT) at facthai.word press.com to learn more, though you'll search in vain for what could possibly have merited suppression in the exceedingly sweet and gentle Syndromes.

Tropical Malady's jungle boy
Strand Releasing
Tropical Malady's jungle boy

Details

Mysterious Objects: The Films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Anthology Film Archives, January 17-19

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Reprising his trademark two-part format, Apichatpong proposes a sly and joyful "Cinema Anthem" that opens with a pair of women at a table overlooking a muddy waterway. They chitchat over a pop-song "anthem" playing on their tiny boombox and wonder if its "power" can reach the gym across the canal. It sure can. The volume leaps as we switch to a massive warehouse and start to orbit a variety of group activities: climbing, dancing, badminton, aerobics, and the efforts of a film crew, setting up lights, checking lenses, ensuring that all goes as planned in the production of their "Audio-Visual Purification Service," so that it earns the right to be "Certified for All Theaters."

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