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Critics reviews
Mysterious Object at Noon
Apichatpong Weerasethakul Thailand, 2000
The capper for me, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s debut film, Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), is not at all perfect — it can’t be, because life and time and people are imperfect, and because the film itself tries not to be a real film at all, fiction or doc… Weerasethakul’s unique wabi-sabi sensibility, as meta as it is embraceably humane, is here in utero, and his film is a brand-new thing, porous and undefined, open to accident and whim.
August 08, 2017
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Weerasethakul’s Mysterious Object at Noon dispenses with color entirely, but that shouldn’t suggest a downward step in visual detail; the director’s 16mm black-and-white long takes linger on screen for minutes at a time before cutting to the next shot, asking us to encounter them in all of their shape and depth.
May 31, 2017
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Critics greeted its arrival on the festival circuit in 2000 as they might have a UFO sighting. Mysterious Object was disorienting equally for its out-of-nowhere inventiveness and for being rooted in a very specific place and culture. Thailand had been largely off the radar of even the most seasoned festivalgoers. But coming from anywhere, this thoroughly unpredictable shape-shifter would have qualified as sui generis: part road movie, part folk storytelling exercise, part surrealist parlor game.
May 30, 2017
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The participatory nature of Joe’s first feature is testament to the strength of his artistic vision. At once easygoing and difficult to follow, Mysterious Object’s structure employs the corps exquis technique, first advanced by André Breton and the French Surrealists: a meaning-making game by which a sentence or picture is formed from individual units, each of which is contributed by someone with minimal or partial access to what the preceding whole looks like.
January 05, 2017
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A slippery mix of documentary and drama that wends it way through the landscapes and mindscapes of rural Thailand. The daisy-chain structure of interlocking vignettes was inspired by the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, and its formal strategies are aligned with both neorealism and the avant-garde, but his boldly original debut looks and feels like nothing else.
June 28, 2005
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Mysterious Object at Noon marks an important moment in documentary filmmaking, in which the experiments of such American filmmakers as Richard Linklater, narrative-based though he may be, and Albert Maysles combine and create a third form of subjective storytelling, one that seems both outside the traditions of filmmaking and art in the West, focused on the singularity of genius and yet firmly situated in the utopian vision of surrealist art—a truly collective vision.
May 14, 2005
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Apichatpong’s two features, 2000’s Mysterious Object At Noon and 2002’s Blissfully Yours, take such a relaxed approach to formal experimentation that they feel like poetic reveries, inviting viewers to spend time in a world that isn’t chiseled by narrative. Though Mysterious Object doesn’t match the gorgeous and strangely erotic rhythms of the later film, it’s still exciting to see the embryonic traces of a potentially major artist.
February 26, 2003
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It’s the only work of Weerasethakul’s I’ve seen—he’s credited with seven preceding shorts, all made during the 1990s—but it clearly offers more ideas than the entire oeuvres of other experimental filmmakers I could name.
March 22, 2002
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Its Thai title, “Dogfar in the Devil’s Hand,” could refer to the type of overwrought, underproduced, and impossibly clichéd melodramas that have historically made up the bulk of Thai cinema, but there’s nothing archaic about the way it superimposes bits of local television dramas, pop songs, daily-life dilemmas, and improvisatory Thai theatrical conventions over the deranging pretext of André Breton’s old party game, the Exquisite Corpse.
June 18, 2001
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