Active Ingredients: Strong sense of mood; Layered, abstract images
Side Effects: Inconsistent use of sound; Digital finale
Ashes is Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s experimental short created using the LomoKino camera, a small, hand-cranked device that creates dynamic, kinetic images. The camera is a good match for Apichatpong, a filmmaker interested in process, free-flowing creativity and natural beauty. Ideas seem to overflow in his work, unpredictable both formally and narratively. Many of his films, for example, feature sequences comprised of still photographs, and the LomoKino allows Apichatpong to experiment with this stop motion effect, shooting fragments of everyday life either at full speed or in a jumpy collage of animated stills.
Like Apichatpong’s installation artwork, Ashes juxtaposes beautiful abstract images, often in split-screen or superimposition, and it’s here that the film is at its best. Apichatpong has a strong eye for color and the play of hues explored through montage creates a new composite image out of the fragments on which it’s built.
His friends and his beloved Thailand are his subject, and the collection of life, be it human, animal or mineral, gives Ashes vibrancy and vitality. Although the film’s thematic concerns of dreams and memory are a bit opaque, Ashes, like all his films, suggests a strong sense of mood, sun-baked and meditative despite the sputtering motion. The pace of the LomoKino is at odds with the quiet stillness of much of Apichatpong’s work, but the collision is a productive experiment.
[Ashes is available to watch for free at MUBI.com here.]