Palm Pictures presents
6ixtynin9 (Ruang talok 69) (1999)
"Yeah, I'm lucky."- Tum (Lalita Panyopas)
Stars: Lalita Panyopus
Other Stars: Lack Phomtong, Arun Wannarbodeewong, Tasanawalai Ongartittichai, Sritao, Likit Thongnak
Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some brief sexual humor
Run Time: 01h:50m:45s
Release Date: 2005-01-11
DVD ReviewWhen Tum (Lalita Panyopas) gets laid off from her secretarial job during the opening moments of Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's 6ixtynin9 (Ruang talok 69), it doesn't take long for things to go from bad to worse. A mysterious package is inadvertently left in front of the door of her Bangkok apartment containing $25,000, and in short order all manner of dead bodies start piling up, most of them in Tum's apartment.
This exciting 1999 film from Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Last Life in the Universe) is in the Quentin Tarantino/Danny Boyle vein, with copious bits of sudden violence nestled between darkly comic situations. Revealing too many details would take the fun out of this one, but the message that money most definitely does not buy happiness is the theme here, with the bloody misadventures of the quiet and serious Tum—who crosses paths with a crooked boxing promoter, murderous henchman, a handsome policeman, a nosy neighbor, and an evil crime lord—moving unpredictably as mercury. What that really means is that Pen-Ek Ratanaruang does not shy away from dispensing with secondary characters at a moment's notice, and the film moves along rapidly with carefully constructed abandon.
There is a real sense of freshness in the way Pen-Ek Ratanaruang tell the story (even if we've seen vaguely similar plots like this before) by utilizing some interesting dream and transitional sequences, and I was constantly surprised by the bouncy quickness that minimized any measurable dead spots, and that made 6ixtynin9 just fly by. Lalita Panyopas, who seems to carry the weight of the world in her expressively stoic face as the woeful Tum, spends the majority of the film looking worried, pensive, or frightened, and yet she is still able to display a deftly macabre comic timing, even as she's sawing the leg off of a dead body.
6ixtynin9 is one of those definitive sleeper titles, the type that never gets the audience it truly deserves, and being a foreign film doesn't help its marketability much, considering that subtitled films generally never achieve the same kind of broad Western appeal. That is certainly unfortunate and near-sighted thinking, because Pen-Ek Ratanaruang has made the kind of bloody tragicomedy that never takes the obvious way out, and the mix of humor and violence blends together seamlessly.
Don't let the fact that this is a subtitled Thai film stop you from discovering 6ixtynin9.
You'll thank me later.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Palm is one of those "when it's good it's good, when it's bad it's horrid" affairs that is frustrating in its inconsistency. The good does outweigh the bad, and generally the colors look resoundingly bright (check the bright blues of the company "uniforms" during the opening scene, for example), with natural, life-like fleshtones. The trouble spots are muddy black levels, excessive shimmer, and a particularly grainy sequence in the final section of the film that is simply awful.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in a Thai 2.0 surround track that offers a pleasing sense of directionality across the front speakers, giving the generally simple presentation some dimension. Dialogue is slightly tinny in spots, but remains distortion-free throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Springtime in a Small Town, Last Life in the Universe
Extras Review: Not much in the way of extras other than three trailers. The disc itself is cut into 18 chapters, with optional English subtitles.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsThe transfer has a few weak spots, but Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's grimly violent black comedy has more than enough creative bright spots to make those imperfections at the very least tolerable.
Highly recommended, especially if you enjoy the frenetic style of Quentin Tarantino or Danny Boyle.
Rich Rosell 2005-01-03