(Cactus River, Weerasethakul. 2012.)

There’s something handy about the short film in the age of Youtube. While a feature film requires more elaborate (a few more clicks,) and (I’d imagine) guilt ridden routes to piracy, the short film can often make its way comfortably onto Youtube. Often this happens with the filmmaker’s full consent, as is the case with Cactus River.

Weerasethakul’s new short Cactus River does well there. It’s shot in gorgeous, high-contrast lo-fi, and works best if you take it as a video-snapshot. The film is a video diary of Weerasethakul’s weekend with actress Jenjira Pongpas (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Syndromes of a Century) and her husband, at their home on the Mekong River.

Watching Cactus River on Youtube seems to reinforce the subversion of the “homevideo” aesthetic that’s already foregrounded. We’re watching a spontaneously recorded series of moments from a weekend at home. But if you’re giving the film your attention, you’ll get all the politics creeping in, and a tone of quiet certainty that oscillates between spooky and spiritual. Rapidly industrializing/developing nations have a way of forgetting about their rivers.

I’m not sure what to say, however, about the skateboarder.

-Max Berwald


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