BLISSFULLY YOURS (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2001)

From Thailand, the lovely, brimming Sud sanaeha takes us into the mountains, forest and water at the Thai-Burmese border; but it opens abruptly in Khon Kaen, in a forest-green draped clinic that in fact had been where writer-director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s parents, both medical doctors, practiced. Min, a patient, was there once before; the rash for […]

UP AND DOWN (Jan Hrebějk, 2004)

Eventually both story-lines of Horem pádem, from the Czech Republic, intersect. One is fine; the other, terrible.      The film begins with two truck drivers unloading their delivery of illegal Indian immigrants in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night. They discover that a baby has been (accidentally) left behind. “Got any formula?” one […]

FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)

Seven-year-old Simon’s communion with it, and his attempt to get a tiny grip on it, precede a red balloon’s ascension to the Paris skies. Thereafter, at liberty, it becomes a floating cherry moon possibly safeguarding the child, passing by windows and punctuating his childhood with its gracious presence. Simon does not see it, although his […]

ELITE SQUAD (José Padhila, 2007)

José Padilha’s lacerating Tropa de Elite, which took the top prize at Berlin, studies the mind of BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) officer Nascimento. We hear his recollective voiceover. Nascimento (meaning, in Portuguese, birth), an officially sanctioned torturer and terrorist, possesses a flat, affectless voice that claims moral purity; superior, Nascimento equates “thugs”—drug lords and […]