Quick-Thoughts: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendor (2015)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Marathon Part VI of VI

“Both of us are dead as well.”

Men only have two moods: Movie and popcorn with spiritual mama, then literally by the next minute, fighting out-of-body in an ancient war. 

Working seamlessly off of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), Apichatpong Weerasethakul brings back ghosts and draws the bonds made with them out in a dovetail between the conservative real and the unusually surreal — as if the near twenty minute sequence of a princess hosting the body of a psychic to show our main character through only verbal descriptions what their land is like in her timeline wasn’t enough to convince you so. Once more, the filmmaking auteur has something remedial to state by means of these paranormal occurrences: even if its by assumption, imagination, of a real spiritual guidance, you gain a whole new vision looking at and being aware of places as if they were set in a chosen past, shifting our perspective and identity at random, everything fading in on top of one another, not allowing the dominating post-war encroachments of today get in the way of seeing the remaining world for all that it truly is, bringing peace to the ghosts of people and places that surround us as they are what led to the most tangible of refurbishments for which we should equally celebrate. 

Though, Cemetery of Splendor seems to be sloshing through all of Joe’s already established past gimmicks to an overcompensating degree, as if it were acting as a tribute to his opening decade in filmmaking — from the off-duty soldiers, interactive souls, hospital shenanigans, reconstructions of time, an upbeat dance workout concluding sequence, etc. Maybe its just intentional in the name of its ethos, overlaying so much past work into the present to make his optimum project that satiates in the influences; maybe that itself is the new he offers this time around. To quote the film, “I’m happy to know that at least he’s doing some good in his sleep.”

The LED college dorm set-ups were a nice add to the Weerasethakul canon too. The fella behind Too Old to Die Young (2019) did the cinematography? Makes sense!

Verdict: B-

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Ranked

“Cemetery of Splendor” is now available to stream on Kanopy.

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