Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the humbly named Donald Clarke

The mighty Apichatpong Weerasethakul was at the Irish Film Institute tonight for a screening of his extraordinary new film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Afterwards, he ambled on stage for a chat with this writer. Happily, the …

Wed, Oct 20, 2010, 22:07

   

The mighty Apichatpong Weerasethakul was at the Irish Film Institute tonight for a screening of his extraordinary new film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Afterwards, he ambled on stage for a chat with this writer. Happily, the audience were in sparky form and, by asking their own acute questions, managed to make Screenwriter’s job considerably easier.

Known to his Anglophone pals as Joe, the director was very interesting about his experiences at Cannes, where Uncle Boonmee won the Palme d’Or. As you may be aware, triumphant film-makers are telephoned by the Cannes authorities and informed that they may wish to hang on for the closing event. The hitch is you don’t know what prize you’ve won. So if, as the final gong beckons, you still haven’t got your hands on any silverware it’s understandable that you might get a little jumpy.

“You begin to think they might have made a mistake,” Joe said. They hadn’t. And this strange, contemplative film got what it dearly deserved. It is not unreasonable to rate Weerasethakul, now 40, as one of the key young(ish) auteurs of the age. The films are funny, difficult, scary, but ultimately rather optimistic about life. Have a glance at Syndromes and a Century, Tropical Malady or Blissfully Yours and ask yourself if any other art-house director features so many shots of his characters smiling. You don’t get much grinning in Tarkovsky, Dreyer or Kiarostami.¬†¬†Judge for yourself when Uncle Boonmee opens on November 19th. It emerges on the same day as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now that’s what I call counter-programming.

On an unrelated issue, I have tried to avoid mentioning The Guardian’s series, emerging in supplements each day this week, on the greatest films of all time. We all know these things are silly and to complain is to play into the enemy’s hands. But comment must be made on today’s list of the best “arthouse” films of all time. What’s this at number 16? The Graduate? Pardon. On what planet is The Graduate an arthouse movie? Why not include Remo Unarmed and Dangerous?

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