Is “Uncle Boonmee” the New Standard?
In this first episode of “The New Canon” we take a deep dive into Weerasethakul's Palm d'Or-winning film.
If we wish to develop a new cinematic canon for the 21st century, we need to look honestly at the films deemed the standard-bearers for the medium. Even if the film industry, at least in mainstream terms, seems increasingly conservative, and cinemas themselves are ever more under threat, the ability to see a wide range of films has arguably never been greater. There’s never been a better time to satisfy your curiosity about work from countries or filmmakers that don’t necessarily get the most attention, or the genres that often don’t attract awards.We start this new series with a film that won perhaps the most prestigious international film prize – the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or – yet still remains largely underseen. Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul (aka ‘Joe’) makes singular, experimental work, that is leisurely paced and nonchalantly mixes magic and myth with surreal humor, watchful realism, and a quietly insistent critique of his country’s political turmoil. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is exactly the sort of feature that rewards audiences willing to embrace an expanded idea of what a film can be.