Who's In It: Thanapat Saisaymar, Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee
The Basics: Uncle Boonmee, dying of kidney failure at his home in the Thai countryside, is visited by his caretaking cousin, the spirit of his deceased wife and by his long-lost son who has transformed into an apelike creature with glowing red laser eyes. (Explanation: in his absence the son mated with a Monkey Ghost and became one himself. You know how these things happen.) After this strange housecall, Uncle Boonmee determines that his disease was caused by his disonnected relationship to nature (and possibly due to bad karma for killing "too many Communists" during a war earlier in life). And he learns to accept and understand his own existence as one in a series of lives he's lived as other people and animals, most notably as a catfish that has sex with a human princess. Has this description alone made you want you to give this one a look yet? Because if not then we could really never be friends.
What's The Deal: I've seen this thing twice now and I can't honestly say that I get every single thing what's going on from moment to moment. But that's not necessarily the point of watching a movie, especially when it's from director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose films live very comfortably within a framework of unresolved mystery and dreamlike logic (and they'd better if they're going to ask audiences to buy that this man was the Incredible Mr. Limpet in an earlier life). To visit with these characters is like watching what seems to be a slideshow of unrelated events, memories and reincarnation fantasies, but what connects them is a hypnotic quality and a serene embrace of both life and death. It's beautifully quiet, gentle, moving and original in a way like no other movie around right now. Take a chance on something very strange; even if you hate it you won't be able to say you've ever seen anything quite like it.
Starring No One You've Ever Heard Of: Weerasethakul usually employs non-professional actors, something he has in common with the late French director Robert Bresson, a guy who used to call his actors "models." They recite the words flatly, without performing them, and the point is to strip away the artificial elements that get in the way of pure cinema. Of course, that acting style is undeniably weird and kind of also makes Ed Wood an art film auteur, but when you're in the hands of a director with his own idiosyncratic agenda, part of the pleasure is just going with it.
Pedigree: This Palme d'Or winner from last year's Cannes Film Festival is going to divide audiences into "love" and "hate" camps. It already has. And, naturally, it's the haters who're the most fun to listen to because they don't just hate the movie, they also hate the people who love the movie, calling them bandwagon jumpers, Kool-Aid drinkers, pretentious and all those other insults people like to lob when they're angry about a piece of art. And that's hilarious.