City Paper is not for tourists
Thailand and Malaysia are two of today’s lushest cinematic wellsprings, although American moviegoers would have to follow the international film-festival circuit to know that. But now the Freer is helpfully offering a glimpse at new movies from that region. This weekend’s attractions are two very different films from Thailand, one a slapstick musical comedy and the other an elusive meditation. In Petchthai Wongkamlao’s Hello Yasothorn (at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21), two men lose their lovers when an upscale beauty and her longtime maid are dispatched to Bangkok by the younger one’s meddling aunt. The basic plot recalls Tears of the Black Tiger, minus the latter’s cowboy action, as do the vaguely ’60s vibe and bright, brazenly artificial colors. Much more subtle and mysterious is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23), a two-part tale of romance loosely inspired by the relationship of the director’s parents. The stories are set in and around hospitals but owe nothing to the ER-school of medical drama; they’re more concerned with memory and cycles, in part reflecting Weerasethakul’s belief in reincarnation. Also included are Tan Chui-mui’s ironically titled Love Conquers All, the tale of a young woman who passively submits to a most disreputable suitor; James Lee’s Before We Fall in Love Again, in which a husband joins his wife’s lover to search for his vanished spouse; and Village People Radio Show, Amir Muhammad’s poetic documentary about retired Malaysian anti-government guerrillas. The series runs to Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th St. & Jefferson Drive SW; see Showtimes for this week’s films; see asia.si.edu/events/films.asp for a complete schedule. Free. (202) 633-4880.