07/22/2014  
Toy Story of Terror! On Blu-ray + Digital Copy, DVD, and More Aug 19The Railway Man on Early Digital Aug 1 on DVD/Blu-ray Aug 12Gangster on DVD & VOD Jul 22Spartacus: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray, Digital HD, DVD Sep 16Awkward: Season 3 on DVD Aug 5Worm on DVD Aug 12Breathe In on Blu-ray and DVD Aug 12

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

'Fargo' will return to FX next season but with new ca...
Toy Story of Terror! On Blu-ray + Digital Copy, DVD, an...
The Railway Man on Early Digital Aug 1 on DVD/Blu-ray A...
Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't want "trust fund kids" ...
True Detective Has Solid TCA Awards Show Off The Back o...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

CORRUPTION (BLU-RAY)...
THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)...
HORROR STORIES...
THE UNINVITED (BLU-RAY)...

RR Rich Rosell

THE GIRL...
THE HORDE...
LIFE IS SWEET (BLU-RAY)...
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO)...
THE BLUE ANGEL (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...
STORAGE WARS: VOLUME THREE...
Take Part in a Film Restoration...
THE 39 STEPS (BLU-RAY)...
DARK SHADOWS: THE BEST OF BARNABAS...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
DOWNTON ABBEY SEASONS ONE & TWO LIMITED EDITION...
FLORENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RENAISSANCE...
NAZI COLLABORATORS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (BLU-RAY)...
PURPLE NOON (BLU-RAY)...
WEEKEND (BLU-RAY)...
JUAN OF THE DEAD...
THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...

JC Joel Cunningham

YOJIMBO/SANJURO...
SUMMER HOURS (L'heure d't)...
WIZARD OF OZ...
WINGS OF DESIRE...
HORTON HEARS A WHO!...

DH Dan Heaton

REVANCHE...
LAST DAYS OF DISCO...
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
STARGATE SG-1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS...
STARGATE ATLANTIS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

KC Kevin Clemons

Freddy Got Fingered...

JU Jeff Ulmer

Secure The Second Season of The Border on DVD August 25...
THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...
Dance Me Outside kicks onto DVD May 6, 2008...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Palm Pictures presents
Last Life in the Universe (Ruang rak noi nid mahasan) (2003)

"Staring at the sunset, he thinks: 'What is the point in living if I don't have anyone to talk to?' But even that thought doesn't mean anything when you're the last lizard."
- Kenji (Asano Tadanobu)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: February 17, 2005

Stars: Asano Tadanobu, Sinitta Boonyasak
Other Stars: Laila Boonyasak, Matsushigeyutaka, Takeuchi Riki, Miike Takashi
Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, sexual content, language and drug use)
Run Time: 01h:43m:38s
Release Date: February 15, 2005
UPC: 660200310325
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B-BB B+

DVD Review

Loneliness is part of being human. There are moments throughout our lives when we are faced with an inescapable sense of isolation. Sometimes it's a welcome respite from the demands of daily life, but other periods of solitude are entirely unwelcome; we find ourselves wanting nothing more than the company of another. In these critical moments, would it feel any different if you were the last person on the face of the planet? Director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang explores this universal feeling—the sense of being the only beacon of existence—in the appropriately titled Last Life in the Universe.

Kenji (Asano Tadanobu) has had his fill of this world. A quiet, reserved, almost feminine librarian with a meticulously maintained apartment, he is on a suicidal bent. To him, death is comparable to a brief, refreshing nap—one that serves as a gateway to a better life beyond the mundane isolation of his current routine in Bangkok. Kenji, a native of Osaka, Japan, works at the local Japanese cultural library, filing books and looking for some kind of positive human contact. He is treated with kindness by his employer, but this is merely a professional relationship, not one that implies longevity. Like the condition of his apartment, his attempts at suicide are orderly and planned, but each time the moment of death approaches, he is interrupted.

The first accidental rescue is made by Kenji's yakuza brother, a typical loudmouth gangster who sees his sibling as quite the nut job. Kenji seems to have fled a life of seedy criminality, but his intricate back tattoo does not let him forget his past. Later, on a highway overpass, an accident prevents Kenji's death jump into a local river. The struck pedestrian? Nid, beloved sister of Noi (Sinitta Boonyasak), a young, exuberant Thai girl who is beginning to pay for the mistakes and recklessness of her youth. Through a tragic death and broken english, the two begin to communicate. Noi too is a loner, living alone in a huge beach house that is appalling in its disorder. Language barriers provide a slight obstacle between the silent Kenji and his all-too-talkative friend, but the two share some fine conversations, and become fast friends.

In a welcome, unpredictable fashion, Last Life in the Universe unfolds in its own languid way, filling the running time with scenes of delicate conversation, and moments of wordless understanding. This is a barren, austere film that relies on the juxtaposition of two loners and their polar-opposite lifestyles. In some ways, this is a textbook case of opposites attracting, but Kenji and Noi share a common sense of isolation—the true reason for their deep connection. The story here is really a throwaway, devoid of a concrete plot. Characters come and go, and there are some sources of danger and offbeat comedy that intrude from time to time, but these moments are meant to fill the gaps and keep the audience interested. Unfortunately, they serve more as distractions from the primary relationship. More attention should have been placed on the pair's interactions than on characters peripheral to their lives.

Still, the connection between Kenji and Noi is undeniable and quite successful on screen. Asano Tadanobu's performance as the reserved, silent and decidedly human Kenji is amazing in its range and subtly. Asano is a true talent. Noi, played by Sinitta Boonyasak, is appropriately chipper and passionate when called for, but displays a genuine range that serves as a fine counterpoint to the subdued tones of Kenji.

Space, and an excess thereof, is a focus here; it is essentially another character. These expanses are captured brilliantly by the keen eye of cinematographer Christopher Doyle—in my opinion, one of the best DP's working today. A veteran of films directed by Philip Noyce, Zhang Yimou and most notably Wong Kar-Wai, Doyle's touch makes this film work. Utilizing an austere, spacious frame, and subdued, desaturated colors, Doyle captures solitude through images. I have enjoyed his work immensely over the years, and this is no exception. Some obvious CGI shots pop up now and then, but they're meant to be fantastical and otherworldly. At they very least, these images keep things fresh and make up for what the sparse story lacks.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Palm's transfer captures Chris Doyle's effective imagery quite well. Detail is decent, but the image is pretty soft throughout, showing some film grain. This softness helps avoid any kind of harsh digital edginess. Colors are rightly subdued, and contrast is solid.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Thai/Japaneseyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Thai/Japaneseyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 track can be subtly atmospheric, but is pretty lifeless. The majority of the audio is centered in the front, and I detected only occasional surround activity. The audio is clear and serviceable, but nothing more. A stereo track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Reconstruction, DIG!, Director's Label Series Boxed Set: The Works of Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Michel Gondry
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by cinematographer Christopher Doyle
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Scanavo Clear Keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. A collection of original artwork by Christopher Doyle
Extras Review: The extras begin with an interview with Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (19m:42s), recorded in Paris on April 3rd, 2004. The director is quite forthcoming about the details of the project, covering topics such as the writing of the script, working with Chris Doyle, Thai aesthetics, directing actors, Woody Allen, and more. The interview is broken up into segments preceded by title cards.

Now, for the cream of the crop. If you're at all familiar with Christopher Doyle from interviews, you know that he's quite the unique personality. An Aussie who has seen the world through a variety of jobs (such as a sailor), Doyle's journey to film is nothing short of amazing. Though more subdued in this track than some other interviews I've read, his comments here are a revealing look at his filmmaking philosophy not only on this project, but on his past films, as well. Other works are mentioned, including Chungking Express and Hero, tracing the idea that each film he makes is a product of who he is at the time of production. He could not possibly have made Hero without his desert experience on films like Ashes of Time, and so on. He is an articulate, colorful conversationalist, and has a penchant for women and liquor (who doesn't?). Early on, he declares this film is not his best because it wasn't sponsored by a beer company (though there was a lot of Heineken on set). This is an invaluable track for Doyle fans everywhere.

In addition, the disc includes a gallery of Doyle's photography and artwork inspired by the film. His contributions to the extra material and the film itself are what merit my full recommendation.

A theatrical trailer, trailers for other Palm titles, and a page of weblinks rounds out the extras. The disc is housed in a clear keepcase, through which you can view the back of the dual-sided cover art. The inside contains film credits, plus biographies and filmographies for Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and Chris Doyle.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's study of solitude is dangerously close to arty nonsense, but is vindicated by Christopher Doyle's austere, stylish imagery and some strong performances. Doyle's contributions to the film and the extras push this into recommended territory. Now, where's my Heineken?

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, fx, fargo, martin freeman, billy bob thornton, allison tolman, animation, drama, tca awards, breaking bad, true detective, matther mcconaughey, hbo, music, itunes festival 2014, september, pharrell williams, kylie minogue, maroon 5, david guetta, sam smith, blondie, beck, kasabian, movie, philip seymour hoffman, february death, cooper, tallulah, willa, mimi odonnell, james cahill jr., david friedman, box office, movies, action, app, james garner, maverick, the rockford files, devine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood, 8 simple rules, the children's hour, doris day, reality, marvel comics, thor, femail, god of thunder, mjolmir, super hero, horror, johnny winter, blues guitar player, zurich switzerland, johnny winter album, willie dixon, walter horton, sex tape, the purge: anarchy, planes: fire & rescue, dawn of the planet of the apes, documentary, soccer, world cup, germany, argentina, mario goetze, dancing with the stars, abc, cheryl burke, botox, no eating disorder, no plastic surgery, simian flu, matt reeves, rick jaffa, amada silver, mark bomback, andy serkis, jason clark, keri russell, kodi smit-mcphee and gary oldman, daytime talk, the view, rosie o'donnell. whoopi goldberg, elisabeth hasselbeck, emmy nominations, game of thrones, house of cards, celebrity, good morning america, ellen degeneres, women's wear daily, e.d., portia di rossi, on-line retail, mystery

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too
Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact