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By the Time It Gets Dark

July 18, 2017

By the Time It Gets Dark

(Dir. Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)

Sponsored by MUBI!


7:30 PM


8:00 PM


Downtown Independent
251 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg
Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg

The  delicately poetic second feature by Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong  weaves together multiple stories and characters to create a portrait of  a beautiful country haunted by the lingering trauma of the 1976  government-sanctioned massacre of student demonstrators in Bangkok.

A  shape-shifting narrative around memory, politics and cinema, the film  weaves together the stories of several characters. We meet a young  waitress serving breakfast at an idyllic country café, only to later  find her employed in the busy dining room of a river cruise ship. And we  meet a filmmaker interviewing an older woman whose life was transformed  by the political activism of her student years and the Thammasat  University massacre of 1976. With her tender, unobtrusive filmmaking  style, Suwichakornpong allows us to get to know these characters slowly  and deeply. At the same time, we see how their beautiful country and its  troubled history inform their actions and identities in ways both overt  and subtle. (KimStim)

A  swirl of startling, sensuously rendered transitions, identities sliding  among characters, fictions cracking open to reveal still more fictions  within. This film marks only Suwichakornpong’s second feature, but it  already suggests a heady iconoclast snooping out profound points of  exchange between the possibilities of narration through images and the  politics of memory.

- Dan Sullivan, Film Comment

Suwichakornpong  subtly uses fragmented images, identity slippage and ellipsis to dig  for the core of contemporary Thai experience and ask profound questions  about how memory, politics and cinema intersect. You’ll be lucky to find  a more ambitious or enthralling work of cinema.

- Kieron Corless, Sight & Sound

The  extradiegetic digital freak-out at film’s end foregrounds the  constructedness of all images, but what’s still more remarkable is  Suwichakornpong’s willingness to abdicate a certain kind of logic and  directorial control in favor of a strangely intuitive, even random  rethinking of narrative and historiography, taking up and discarding  concepts and plot threads for which, even for the filmmaker, there may  be no clear explanation.

- Leo Goldsmith, Artforum


To  call what happens in By the Time It Gets Dark a “plot” is to do it a  disservice of sorts, such is the beguilingly self-reflexive nature of  Anocha Suwichakornpong’s becalmed, trippy, historically conscious fungus  of a film. That the film strays from its central conceit is a gambit  that Suwichakornpong handles with an elastic but formally cohesive  schema of detours, longeurs, and non-sequiturs.

- Jay Keuhner, Cinema Scope

The  movie gets strange — or at least almost late-Godardian. Suwichakornpong  fractures what's already threadbare, crafting a kind of lyrical fugue  about Thai modernity and the fraught possibility of evoking it on  film... In the end, it literally dissolves and reconstitutes in a  cataract of pixels. You could be forgiven for thinking that while all  this is going on, nothing at all seems to happen — it's a film, a rather  gorgeous one, of glances and ephemera and delicate metaphors.

- Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice

(Available to download after screening date)

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