GO  UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES The acme of no-budget, Buddhist-animist, faux-naïve, avant-pop magic neorealism, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a movie in which conversing with the materialized spirits of the dead and watching the so-called living on TV exist on the same astral plane. Weerasethakul's sixth feature (winner of the Palme d'Or last year at Cannes) is, like many of his previous movies, set mainly in the forests of remote, poor northeast Thailand, a place where multiple times coexist and parallel lives converge. The precredit sequence of humans and water buffaloes hunkered down by smoky fire in the woodsy dawn could be a scene out of Pather Panchali until a glimpse of a humanoid “monkey ghost” signals that we have entered the filmmaker's primeval realm. Elderly Aunt Jen and her young nephew, Tong, enter this enchanted forest to visit Boonmee, Jen's brother-in-law, who's dying of kidney failure. Boonmee explains that “spirits and hungry animals” can sense his sickness and, sure enough, midevening meal, the ghost of Boonmee's long-dead wife, Huay, materializes at the table. Shortly after, another red-eyed monkey ghost, who is the manifestation of their long-lost son, Boonsang, appears. No one is particularly surprised by the apparitions, least of all Boonmee. Similarly relaxed and tolerant of ambiguity, Weerasethakul has a taste for distanced camera positions, real-time expositions, deadpan humor and blatant non sequiturs. Ending with one last, playful paradox, Uncle Boonmee seems the fullest expression yet of Weerasethakul's singular sensibility. (J. Hoberman) (Royal)

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