This Week in Repertory Film: Thai Film Week, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow
Bloody, visceral, and pulpy, recent Thai cinema is not always for the weak-stomached. Such is the case with most of the lineup for the Embassy of Thailand's upcoming Thai Film Week. Spread across this weekend and next, the embassy is presenting a selection of films from the past decade. A pair of sad, romantic dramas—The Judgement and Love of Siam—made it in the lineup. But most of the titles are blood-soaked, and that's a good thing.
Leading the pack is Tears of the Black Tiger, a gleefully cavalier gunslinger tale released in 2000 by the director Wisit Sasanatieng. If the title is familiar, it's due to a brief American release in 2007. Dressed in syrupy hues and saturated, painted backgrounds that recall the golden age of Technicolor, the western and Western references are plentiful. Sasanatieng's tale is half a melodrama, following a young man, Dum, who falls in with a violent rustler while yearning for his boyhood crush. Though set in Thailand in the 1950s, the sentiments would be just as appropriate in the romanticized American West a century earlier. Sasanatieng draws his cowboy motifs from Leone and Peckinpah, but the viscera—and it is copious—betrays him as just as much a student of Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, and a little bit of George Romero for good measure.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. at the Embassy of Thailand, 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, First Floor. (202) 298-4811. Click here for RSVP instructions and other titles in Thai Film Week.
Between 1993 to 2008 the German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer lived and worked out of an abandoned silk factory in Barjac, a sleepy village in southern France. From the dusty remnants of a textile plant, Kiefer transformed the facility into a mess of studios, corridors, and living quarters lined with his dystopian and endlessly textured works—the place itself became a living piece of art. And that was Kiefer's goal, as captured by Sophie Fiennes in Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, an almost wordless, 105-minute portrait of the artist at work. Kiefer, who in the clip above can be seen finishing a massive triptych caked in dust and grime, abandoned Barjac three years ago leaving his studio to the elements. Reviewing the film for The Guardian last year, Peter Bradshaw wrote that Kiefer "creates as if in some industrial forge – burning, smelting, winching up machinery, painting, smearing and often smashing." Fiennes, whose 2006 The Pervert's Guide to Cinema surveyed our Freudian attachement to the movies, works silently here, focusing a wide-angle lens on Kiefer. It's appropriately naturalistic for a subject who left his own masterpiece to be consumed by nature.
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. At the National Gallery of Art East Wing. 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799