Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbours (Rikrit Tiravanjia, 2012)
A treat for everyone who found Uncle Boonmee too stimulating. Where Weerasethakul’s spin on Buddhism views balance as a systematic outgrowth of the natural world, both evidence and effect of its creeping command over the processes of the rest of the globe, Tiravanjia sees that same balance as something that needs to be tended and sustained. This explains his fixation on Neaw, who lives a life of zero net damage against the earth, buying food and giving it away to monks, pulling eggplants and bananas from the forest, bathing in the river, establishing a firm cycle of restorative equilibrium. This inspirational representation could easily sag across two and a half hours, but Tirvanija thankfully lets up on the symbolic portraiture (after a few heavy-handed moments, like a long static shot of Neaw wading through radio fuzz to find the right station) and submits to the ascetic rhythms of the guy’s simple life, dominated by the titular visits. The whole thing is basically a chopped-and-screwed children’s story, with a slate of symbolic items (his handheld radio functioning as a tangential connection / distance marker for the modern world) and an entrancingly repetitive structure.