Cemetery of Splendor Screen 46 articles

Cemetery of Splendor

2015

Cemetery of Splendor Poster
  • All of this is captivating, at least sometimes. Joe’s still got it, and Cemetery Of Splendor intermittently lives up to its title with stunning sequences involving, for example... a lengthy shot of clouds in a bright blue sky that’s suddenly invaded by what looks like a paramecium. More often, though, Joe relies on fairly mundane compositions of characters talking, with a great deal of the film consisting of someone describing the glories that once existed in what’s now a drab location.

  • Playing in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, Cemetery Of Splendor might be the director’s least accessible feature—or at least the hardest to tune into. And yet it’s a film of remarkable purity and simplicity, modulated between the earthy and the otherworldy.

  • I have no idea what any of this means, at least in any literal sense, but that’s the way it is with Joe’s movies: You really just have to breathe them in... But I can tell you that Cemetery of Splendor is a lovely, beguiling picture — perhaps not as electric as Uncle Boonmee, or as sensual as Tropical Malady, but possessed of its own shimmering, sleepytime energy. It’s the chamomile tea of Cannes 2015.

  • Cemetery of Splendor is Apichatpong’s funniest, most mirthfully obscene film, and the first built almost entirely around a single performance, that of Jenjira Pongpas, an Apichatpong regular, who here gets around on a set of braces and whose face is the source of most of the comedy and eventual dismay... But by his own standards, you want more to look at, to feel.

  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul has developed a particular adeptness at concentrating his aesthetic and thematic ideas into contained set pieces, and Cemetery of Splendor foregrounds one of his most memorable: a homely rural clinic neatly lined with glowing orb sticks that fluctuate neon hues in sync with the REM patterns of the snoozing Thai war veterans situated beneath them. The film's becalming rhythm, too, seems rigged to these mysterious instruments.

  • [Certain details] feel mostly like communicating vessels for Weerasethakul’s extremely Zen approach to cinema, where the real and the intangible are regarded as one and the same. It’s a vision that can make his movies, and especially this one, seem both inscrutable and strangely gratifying, and the experience of watching it is like dreaming with your eyes wide open.

  • The most striking motif of the film is the row of glowing rods of light adjacent to the slumbering soldiers’ beds; perpetually shifting shades of blue, red, and green, directing their moods. In one scene, the pulsating primary colors cover a multiplex lobby and the streets of the town, blurring the line between dream and reality. An increasingly fragile and melancholic emotion, bound up equally with love and pain, takes over in the film’s heartbreaking and extraordinary final sequence.

  • Weerasethakul's films have always been marked by their tenderness... with Cemetery of Splendor perhaps the purest, most focused expression of these concerns. Yet, couched in perhaps the film's strongest scene, he also seems to be making a typically indirect statement as to what film itself should be: a darkened auditorium, the audience standing up as one to gaze at the screen, an unstemmable flow of beautifully unfathomable images, cinema as the stuff dreams are made of.

  • A dream–that is, reality–is a nightmare by default, and living becomes an act of staring, studying, eyes wide open, the horrors of what has come, willing the mind to wake up and return to a former utopia. The feeling isn’t quite discernible until the film is over, but there’s a sense of heartbreak here that rivals the most devastating of Joe’s features–Tropical Malady, included.

  • I came to Cemetery of Splendour assuming the director was going to follow-up on Uncle Boonmee with something as grand if not grander, and as bizarre if not even more bizarre. I should have known Apichatpong would move in mysterious ways and defy expectations. A small, humble film, in fact the most constricted of his full features, Cemetery of Splendour rather than working the surface of story, the surface of space, and the surface of drama and reality, plumbs the subterranean.

  • This film bulges with memorable images and starkly emotive compositions. Each edit brings with it a surprise. The ominous sound design transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, transporting the film to the highest of genre-bending heights. Joe locates images within images, but then has the wherewithal and vision to move the camera ever so slightly to reveal something more.

  • [It's] gorgeous, hard to watch, lovely and meditative, and brings together all of the expressive idioms we’ve seen the director use in the past, but needs a second look from me, in a screening where its extreme slowness of pace can be more easily dealt with than amidst the mad clamour of this festival.

  • It’s a tale alive with the warmth of friendship, and the serendipity of dreams and spiritual discovery, but this is not a film about untroubled slumber... As Apichatpong reckons with whether one can go back home again, the notion of home takes on ever greater poignancy and scope in a country that has experienced arduous, and deadly, change.

  • The narrative moves at a methodical pace, the director’s visual language by now an elegant, organic facet of the film’s formal infrastructure, accumulating dreams, desires, and divine insight along the way. Among other qualities, this may be Apichatpong’s purest work to date, a film of acute spiritual and personal resolve with a boundless sense of natural wonder.

  • As with his earlier work, Weerasethakul delivers an immersive, enigmatic film that imaginatively explores issues of temporality, memory, consciousness and – a little more mundanely – political history, and if his taste for the surreal is a little more curbed in this film than in prior outings, he nonetheless injects it with a dose of mesmerisingly opaque imagery.

  • Yes, Apichatpong made “another” Apichatpong film—which is probably, alongside the Hou, the most beautiful film of the year—but never before has his vision with regards to Thai politics been so unblinkingly clear.

  • In Cemetery of Splendour, the disintegration of the wall between image and life, between cinema and truth, is so complete that the ignorant “more of the same” dismissal miserably fails to see how the filmmaker has refined his aesthetics to a mature height.

  • Can sleep be an active as opposed to a passive process? As usual with Apichatpong, but more seamlessly than ever, Cemetery induces a sensation of lucid dreaming—there’s even a guided meditation exercise—and of heightened sensory awareness... There are no monkey ghosts or sexually adept catfish in Cemetery of Splendour, but this is unmistakably a haunted world: one where the past persists in the present, and memory and myth intrude on physical space.

  • Weerasethakul shows powerful humility toward characters wrapped in dialogue with supernatural beings. There’s no sense of fear in Cemetery of Splendor, but an intoxicating free will that is enveloped by the flexibility of a given moment and spoken word. Such an experience transcends the concerns of individuals, and powerfully imagines coexistence in an ever-shrinking world where the living and the dead no longer fear each other’s presence.

  • Cemetery of Splendour is so transfixing that even his attempts at bawdy humor – most memorably, a joke about a soldier’s erection that climaxes with one of the characters saying “I’ve seen way too many penises in my life” – simply feel like part of the film’s exploratory, all-embracing sensibility. The result is a film that feels like a true meditation – on life, death, past, present, religion, spirituality: essentially, the building blocks of our common humanity.

  • Earthy, serene, and magically cryptic, like many of his wondrous meditations, Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cemetery of Splendor witnesses a rural school-turned-clinic full of military soldiers traumatized by sleeping sickness, yet it's perhaps our melancholic, surprisingly bawdy dream to wake from.

  • New DP Diego Garcia shoots the interior and exterior beauty with fewer long takes than we’ve seen in Weerasethakul’s films. I don’t want to give anything away, but in spite of the morbid atmosphere, vivacity takes over.

  • Joe shows his claws. His languid Cemetery of Splendour, his first feature since Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, is a quiet scream. It’s a comment on Western society’s tainting influence on Thailand, on its history. It’s not for nothing that Weerasethakul sets Splendour in and around a hospital (and former school and, before that, a cemetery for kings) where sickness is ever present.

  • Apichatpong’s unique breed of not-quite Magical Realism, enables his politics, rather than vice-versa. Even so, those who have trouble with Apichatpong’s unusual formalism can grasp something more tangible this time around.

  • Myth and dream come together in Cemetery of Splendour as beautifully here as in the director’s previous works; this time I was reminded of Don Delillo’s White Noise by the film’s gentle ironies, the ease between its characters and the seamless shifting of past and future, buoyed by subtle political undercurrents.

  • The serenity is overwhelming: rarely is one privileged to see so many people sleeping on film, most memorably in a midfilm interlude that takes us from a movie theater to an image of a ceiling fan throbbing purple, blue, and red, to outdoor shots of homeless people slumbering on the town’s streets, an elating image of compassion. These disconnected but emotionally and visually coherent shots are so transporting it produced a sense of body levitation in this viewer.

  • In its linkage of drowsiness to governmental repression, Cemetery of Splendor reveals itself as an urgently political work underneath its characteristically languorous pacing.

  • Maybe just a footnote to Joe's spiritual project, mostly because it ends disappointingly with the rather flat, lengthy sequence of the two women (one of them channelling a man) walking and talking... The first hour is magical, the mundane - fried-banana snacks, a kitchen extension - side-by-side with the mystical.

  • In Apichatpong’s hands, the visionary experience of the trance film actually belongs to no one character – not even Jenjira. Rather, it is built into the core of the film through its crystalline imagery and somnambulistic pace.

  • Sometimes, you have to look in unexpected places. Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul is not by any means an exponent of psychedelia – there’s often a surreal quality to his films, certainly; but his is an aesthetic of leaves rustling in the breeze, of mundane architecture, of the imperfections of human skin. The spirit of Chytilová, however, lives on in two key sequences in his film at this year’s festival, Cemetery of Splendour...

  • For all the enigmas of Weerasethakul's cinema, in the context of the 2014 coup and continued military control of the country, the final five minutes of CEMETERY OF SPLENDOR feel remarkably explicit. What is political cinema? Let us hope that, as opposed to the myriad Sundance-anointed "issue films" coming soon to a theater near you, it's something like this.

  • Weerasethakul films the Thai landscape and village spaces, their tones of light and color, with a poised and painterly eye, keeping the camera still and the action quiet as if to invite elusive spirits to inhabit the image. He films the trappings of modernity with a wry aversion, capturing the paradoxes of progress while advancing a mild poetic nostalgia.

  • Apichatpong has expressed worries for the future of his native Thailand, even wondering if he will even work there again. Nonetheless, Cemetery sustains his characteristic warmth and lightheartedness—replete with boner sight gags and cum quips—even when something like an elegiac presentiment of exile is unmistakably in the air.

  • The seemingly stark divide between sleep and wakefulness serves as the main motif in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cemetery of Splendor, which allegorizes the history of Thailand as deepest REM slumber. Weerasethakul's works are sensory delights, haunted, if obliquely, by Thailand's violent political past and still fractious present. [It's] a film about the unconscious that always stirs to life.

  • A theme central to Apichatpong’s work is that of the secret world hidden behind the visible one, whether historical, political, or metaphysical. What Apichatpong gives us in Cemetery is the sense of an immediate magic that dispenses with special effects (as used in Tropical Malady and Uncle Boonmee…) to more directly address the imagination—to make us re-imagine what’s in front of our eyes.

  • Can sleep be an active as opposed to a passive process? As usual with Apichatpong, but more seamlessly than ever, Cemetery induces a sensation of lucid dreaming and of heightened sensory awareness... It’s a rare film that can so vividly take shape as a palimpsest in the mind’s eye. There are no monkey ghosts or sexually adept catfish in Cemetery of Splendour, but this is unmistakably a haunted world: one where the past persists in the present, and memory and myth intrude on physical space.

  • There’s a cultural specificity to this movie that will make it, for Western audiences, even more enigmatic than it is in its Thai context. This ought not be a stumbling block, though. “Cemetery of Splendour” has an emotional pull that’s terribly sad and that practically transcends its underpinnings in political allegory.

  • It's difficult to say what Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Cemetery of Splendor" is about, and in many respects, to discuss its meaning would be to diminish it. The film works the way a Shakespearean sonnet works in that it actually increases its impact the moment it's over. Within its structure lies multiple intersecting and contradicting arcs of meaning, none of which cancel each other out but instead create a vast pool of associations.

  • For [Apichatpong's] part, this most implicit of filmmakers never actually says anything. He makes art with a sense of time and place at once viscerally concrete and sublimely soulful, where the memory banks of our subconscious surge into the light, bringing unease, and a strange peace.

  • What non-Thai viewers will undoubtedly take away from Cemetery of Splendour is its preternatural calm, embodied by the curved light fixtures next to the patients’ beds. What does it mean? Joe’s not saying. And for his cinema that’s as it should be. How else can the inexpressible be expressed?

  • A gauzy dreamscape of life in a rural Thai hospital, Apichatpong’s camera rests calmly on comatose soldiers and the quirky women who look after them. Nestling into the nooks of Thai superstitions and playing with both natural and LED light, Apichatpong offers an enchanting interpretation of where our sleeping and waking minds wander.

  • As they meander along, Keng/Itt describes the invisible splendors of world in which he spends his sleeping life—the palaces of the undead kings... It’s an astonishing sequence, at first ridiculous and then more and more affecting, its cumulative power entirely dependent on Weerasethakul’s unique way of committing to his material without ever quite tipping his hand.

  • It rests on Apichatpong's familiar metaphor of sickness and the drive to heal it... For Apichatpong, though, what Buddhists see as spiritual sicknesses – the mental impediments to achieving nirvana – always trump purely physical maladies, tropical or otherwise. The diagnosis here, as in several of the Korean master Jang Sunwoo's explicitly Buddhist films, is situation critical, and probably inoperable.

  • A vital addition to a cogent body of work... More sedate than Uncle Boonmee, but no less radical, challenging or beguiling.

  • Weerasethakul erases the line between dream and reality using only the barest of means. This essential film followed me around for weeks after I saw it.

  • Itt’s dreams are particularly vivid and, as channeled and described by Keng, take Jen into Thailand’s deep, tumultuous past. Nevertheless, and despite a brief visit from two goddesses, “Cemetery of Splendor” is more matter-of-fact than visionary. Somewhat paradoxically, it’s also Mr. Weerasethakul’s most serene film.

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