Thursday, July 1, 2021

Socio-politi-cultural Layers and Beyond

Krabi, 2562 (2019) - Rivers, Suwichakornpong Screen Shot 2021-07-01 at 10.55.43 AM Screen Shot 2021-07-01 at 10.59.18 AM Screen Shot 2021-07-01 at 11.01.17 AM Screen Shot 2021-07-01 at 11.02.08 AM Screen Shot 2021-07-01 at 11.03.36 AM The filmmakers Ben Rivers and Anocha Suwichakornpong met at the Thailand Bienniale and decided to work together on a project: specifically on Krabi, a touristy Southwestern town. And no Doubt, the collaboration between two of the most adventurous contemporary filmmakers produces a multi-layered and intoxicating work that is a part travelogue, part ethnological study, part Antonioni-esque mystery, part contemplation on artificiality of cinema and part Spatial-temporal musing on human existence.

Krabi concerns a nameless woman (Siraphan Wattanajinda), tall and slender with the central Thai dialect who comes in to the touristy beach town. She looks like she is in 'pictures'. She is location scouting for a movie, or she is doing market research, or she is tracing steps to her parents honeymoon where she is conceived.(?) She hires a local tour guide who also dubs as a film crew for a commercial shoot. The mystery woman visits the famous fertility shrine located on the beach, takes a kayak ride into one of the numerous dark water caves along the shoreline, then visits a shuttered movie theater, now a home of hundreds of flying starlings and warn out B-movie posters. Then she disappears. The interviews with the tour guide and the movie theater manager and various others confirm this incident.

Collision and blurred line between the artificial and the real - the actors playing their parts mixed in with the locals, cinema as both business and nostalgia, neanderthals both reanacted and parodied, first world and third world, the symbiotic relationship of tourists and locals in popular tourist destination are all presented, in layers upon layers and they are delicious. Rivers and Suwichakornpong are less interested who is exploiting who, but the delicate dance that is human existence between real and imagined world both in physical and spiritual sense. Injected are the hint of Thailand's militant history, as the woman rides with gaggle of school children in the back of the truck in city proper with the sound of military marching, reminiscent of her masterpiece By the Time It Gets Dark, grounding the film from more surreal elements usually associated with Rivers work. Krabi, 2562 is one of the most exciting cinematic endeavor I've encountered in recent memory.