YBCA is thrilled to welcome acclaimed Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang for this retrospective, featuring the local premiere of his newest film and five earlier works. Some of the themes he consistently revisits include the frailty of human relationships, multiple levels of consciousness, urban vs. natural landscapes, and shifting identities. His work has an elegant visual design, and often a subtle, peaceful ambience. He’s made several films in the crime genre, but these are no ordinary thrillers. Ratanaruang always twists convention in unique ways, making the familiar unfamiliar. Join us in celebrating this distinguished director’s first visit to San Francisco.
Headshot is an existential thriller, ripe with shadowy paranoia that will literally turn your world upside-down. This disorienting game of cat-and-mouse is played out in present-day Thailand, where a straight-laced cop is disillusioned and becomes a hitman. But when a devastating blow turns his vision upside-down, he finds himself engulfed by doubt. Transcending all clichés of the genre, the film is a stylishly executed Buddhist neo-noir. (2011, 105 min, digital)
This eerie, sensual film goes deep into the Thai jungle, using spare dialogue and haunting cinematography to tell a story of mythical spirits and inner ghosts. An estranged married couple barely speak to each other, but take a vacation together to a forest where two men were recently killed. No one knows exactly what happened or how the men died, but something in the forest seems to be calling to the husband. One night, he mysteriously disappears... (2009, 94 min, 35mm)
Last Life in the Universe
Last Life in the Universe pairs the director with Japanese superstar Tadanobu Asano and legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle. Together they spin the tale of Kenji, a mysterious librarian who has hidden himself away from society and seems bent on suicide. That is, until he meets Noi, a beautiful young woman who begins to seduce him back to life. A poetic tale about the strange way fate can bring people together just as their worlds are falling apart. (2003, 104 min, 35mm)
The death of a relative brings Wit and his wife, Dang, back to Bangkok from America, where they own a Thai restaurant, for the first time in many years. And so begins this dream-like tale of love and jealousy. A psychological drama with loopy rhythms, the film portrays how the appearance of a young woman triggers the couple to suddenly realize how far they have grown apart in their marriage. They are faced with the choice of going their separate ways, or embracing each other for a new beginning. (2007, 107 min, 35mm)
Invisible Waves is a gritty, witty, and atmospheric thriller, which finds the director working again with actor Tadanobu Asano and cinematographer Christopher Doyle. A tale of a desperate man on the run after killing his lover, the film intimately explores themes of guilt and regret, as the character journeys into his own heart of darkness. (2006, 115 min, 35mm)
In this unique thriller/comedy, a young woman's impulsive decision to secretly keep a parcel mistakenly left on her doorstep hurls her into a high stakes caper involving Thai boxing gangsters and the law. Wickedly black comedy blends with a whimsical, even surreal atmosphere, all set against the backdrop of the Asian economic meltdown of 1997. (1999, 114 min, 35mm)