Monthly Archives: August 2011

In Frame: The Staircase Scene from ‘Faces’

In Frame: Anne Parillaud in ‘La Femme Nikita’

This isn’t a particularly informative post or anything like that. I took this screenshot a while ago and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. But look at that hat! And that face!

French directors (here Luc Besson) are experts at framing female faces.

You can watch La Femme Nikita now on Netflix Instant.

Why I Love Movies: The Ghost Monkey from “Uncle Boonmee”

The nightmarish image above is from the end of the first scene in Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The creature is a Ghost Monkey, and yes it is terrifying, but not in the context of the film. As I understand it, those things (yup, there are more of them) aren’t malicious. You would never guess that from the following screenshots, though.

[SPOILERS AHEAD: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, watch it on Netflix]

We next see the Ghost Monkey slowly ascending the stairs into Boonmee’s dining room. Boonmee, Jen, and their aid Thong have just barely gotten over the shock of seeing Boonmee’s long-dead wife’s ghost appear at the dinner table when they hear footsteps on the stairs. They turn, silent, and see the Ghost Monkey’s glowing red eyes as he approaches.

Creepy.

It speaks to them from the darkness. Jen recognizes its human voice as that of Boonmee’s son, Boonsong, who disappeared into the forest 6 months after his mother’s death. They invite Boongsong to the table, where we get our first good look  at the thing.

Hi dad.

Ghost Monkey Boonsong explains what happened to him all those years ago. It seems he had an affinity for photography when he was still human. One day, while developing photos he had taken in the forest, he spotted something unusual in one of his prints.

Boonsong destroyed the image, but became obsessed with the creature in it. He decided then and there that he would go out into the forest to find one in person. This was his goal when he ran away.

The search consumed Boonsong’s every waking moment. His obsession made his hair grow long and thick and gave him excellent night vision and poor light vision. He transformed into a Ghost Monkey. Eventually, he took a Ghost Monkey bride.

Together they stalk the forests. And the caves. And wait outside Boonmee’s house, sensing his disease. The last we see of them, they’re peering at a dying Boonmee from the shadows.

So they look like the stuff of cavemen’s nightmares, and every scene they’re in is creepier than the entirety of most modern Hollywood horror films, but they really aren’t so bad, in context. I haven’t really provided any context though, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Even without the Ghost Monkeys, Uncle Boonmee is an excellent, totally unconventional film that leaves much of the heavy thinking to the viewer. You won’t find answers here, just fables. Stories about transformations. What it means is ultimately up to the audience. I can’t very well explain that in pictures, but I can include a few gorgeous screenshots and the psychedelic poster art. Click for higher resolution images.

And We’re Back!

I know this blog doesn’t have any regular readers yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write up a celebratory “We’re Back!” post after a few days away, does it?

In those few days I’ve been away, I saw Special, a heady superhero drama from 2006 that reminded me a lot of the upcoming Griff the Invisible. Griff is quirky where Special is dark, and Special comes out on top for it. Watch it now on Netflix, and check back here later for an in-depth comparison after Griff‘s release later this month.

I also watched a (totally not bootlegged) copy of The Trip, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. I’ll agree with Roger Ebert’s review (how bold, I know) in that the film is definitely at its best when the comedians are doing impressions. It’s got plenty of funny moments, and occasionally explored celebrity and the subjective nature of success, but those impressions scenes had me laughing out loud in a train station lobby.

And yesterday at a drive-in I caught an excellent Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens double feature. Now THAT was a perfect pair of summer blockbusters for a warm starry night. Captain America is an exemplary comic book film, and Cowboys and Aliens is entirely unsurprising in that if you think you’ll like it, you’ll definitely like it. Fans of both will be able to identify themselves as such before seeing the movies.

And that’s my weekend. I leave on another image of Blood from A Boy and His Dog. Cue link to Netflix.