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Syndromes and a Century
Syndromes and a Century
Actors: Sakda Kaewbuadee, Nantarat Sawaddikul, Jaruchai Iamaram, Sophon Pukanok, Jenjira Pongpas
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
UR     2008     1hr 45min

From the director of BLISSFULLY YOURS and TROPICAL MALADY. — A film in two parts which sometimes echo each other. The two central characters are inspired by the filmmaker's parents, in the years before they became lovers. T...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Sakda Kaewbuadee, Nantarat Sawaddikul, Jaruchai Iamaram, Sophon Pukanok, Jenjira Pongpas
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/15/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Subtle and unusual but gripping exploration of memory and lo
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 01/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Although he studied filmmaking in the United States, Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul seems almost to reinvent cinema with each new film. There is something very refreshing about the contemplative style of camera work and the associative approach to editing, an approach that feels like it doesn't belong to the standard lineages of cinematic technique, but doesn't feel like incompetence either -- it just feels like something very different from what one is used to. His approach in this film is not so much to tell a story as to evoke a memory (if you saw this film without knowing that it is based loosely on his recollection of what his parents told him about how they got together, it would still feel more like layers of memory than a present day unfolding). Loosely, you could say that the story is about (1) two people (the director's parents) who met in a hospital and got together, a few decades ago; and (2) how their connection is difficult to reconcile with modern day practices, that these two would not be likely to connect now. But there is much more to the film than this outline suggests -- it is also a meditation on the place of religion and religious practice in Thailand a few decades ago versus today (dialogue that made sense a few decades ago feels like a joke today; practices once believed in and revered are now, at best, thought of as techniques; aerobics replaces yoga; shrines to the Buddha are replaced by statues of military leaders, etc.); it is also an exploration of sound and how sound reveals places and the emptiness of the sound that occupies modernized buildings; it is also a reflection on filmmaking itself, that has non-actors who make clear that they are non-actors, and even refer offscreen to their awkwardness on screen. It is a densely layered film, with a lot going on that is not easily summarizable in terms of an overarching theme or narrative -- a fascinating film, that nevertheless requires a good deal of patience and reflection, not for those with short attention spans."
Serene Magic
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 12/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Syndromes and a Century"

Serene Magic

Amos Lassen

Blurring past and present, "Syndromes and a Century" (Strand Releasing) by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a visually beautiful movie that carefully explores the subjectivity of memory. The director recollects his parents, both of whom were doctors and he looks at their lives before they fell in love. He looks at their emotions and examines their feelings.
The movie is made up of two parts. In the first part, Dr. Toey, a woman, interviews Dr. Nohng, who wants to work in the rural hospital where the scene is set. The questioning is amusing and playful and the entire film is presented as a fragmented dream--things start suddenly and there is no resolution making the movie a bit difficult to understand. It constantly shifts between the surreal and the real. It is impressionistic and disorienting and composed of scenes which center on different hospitals and focuses on couples, job interviews, romance and patients. This may seem annoying but everything is gentle, serene, evocative and subtle. The director welds image and sound together and the movie, while cryptic at times, numbs the senses. It jars gently and narrative is left on the side of imagery and gives us cinematic deconstruction that is sublime to watch. Here is cinema elevated to art and the impact of the film makes one shudder. The movie is dazzling to the eye and awakens the viewer with its lush cinema photography. There is a sense of unease which is gorgeous and the story has no beginning and no end--it is a series of snippets which convey memory and feeling. The camera seems to remember what we have forgotten and the language of film is used completely. It is human as it recognizes that which cannot be explained.
Impressionistic art film
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/19/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It's important to point out that the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul are clearly an acquired taste. This Thai director makes movies that bear only a passing resemblance to the kind of narrative-laced dramas with which audiences in the West are most comfortable and familiar. His works reflect a Buddhist philosophy of deep inner reflection and unhurried contemplation of the moment - and, thus, they demand patience and an open mind from the viewer. But those willing to sample the strange exotic brew that is "Syndromes and a Century" (the title itself is enigmatic) will find ample rewards in the consumption.

There's little point in trying to explain what "Syndromes and a Century" is "about," since it serves no purpose to think of a Weerasethakul film in such terms. As a largely impressionistic work, the movie is more concerned with mood, feeling and setting than it is with conventional drama. Watching a Weerasethakul film is a bit like trying to solve a puzzle for which very few clues are provided. The "story," such as it is, involves two doctors - a woman working in a rural clinic and a man working in a big-city hospital - and their various encounters with patients, lovers and colleagues. We're told that the story was inspired by the romance of Weerasethakul's parents, though the obscurity of its presentation renders that explanation virtually meaningless. Often, an earlier scene is enacted a second time, though in an entirely different setting and from an opposing angle. This leads to even more confusion on the part of the viewer.

But it is style, rather than plot, that is of primary importance here. "Syndromes and a Century" is comprised almost entirely of beautifully composed and rigorously sustained medium and long shots, with few close-ups, very little camera movement and only minimal editing within scenes. Thus, even though we may not always understand fully what is going on, we are lulled into the movie by the seductive, hypnotic rhythms and style of the filmmaking.

"Syndromes and a Century" is not as compelling as Weerasethakul's previous film, the lushly transcendent and utterly spellbinding "Tropical Malady," but it should definitely appeal to anyone with a taste for the enigmatic, the exotic and the abstract."
The Gentle Waft of Carbon Monoxide
Jeff Dunn | Alameda, California United States | 01/19/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)

"If you're a philosophy major working a night shift monitoring security cameras while solving sudoku puzzles, this is the film for you. The gentle humanism and painstakingly recreated contrasts of the two halves may be worth two viewings for such individuals. For myself, while I found it mesmerizing enough to watch it clear through, I felt that most of what it was saying could have been accomplished in a 30-minute short film of similarly slow pacing. Life is too short. I think it was significant that one patient was suffering carbon monoxide poisoning prior to a room being shown puffed up with gas. That patient symbolized the viewer, on the way to a big sleep.

If you survive the experience and want more of the same highly regarded interminability with less gentleness and meaning, move on to Abbas Kiarostami's "Taste of Cherry." On the other hand, if you want a far more ironic and trenchant critique of the modern hospital, with similar pacing, check out Lars Van Trier's "The Kingdom."