Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul

We’ve covered a Thai name here once before, and it was equally monstrous in pure syllabic sprawl as today’s subject, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Never one to shy away from a challenge (just kidding, I always shy away from challenges), I decided to finally cover this spectacular name today without resorting to copy-pasting. Helpfully, Mr. Weerasethakul is commonly known in the West as just “Joe”, because Apichatpong just doesn’t quite roll off these western tongues like “John Wayne”.

“Just call me Joe, dude”.

Like John Wayne, Joe is also in films. Unlike that segue, his films are actually pretty good. They also have awesome, oddly literal-sounding titles like “Mysterious Object at Noon” and “The Adventure of Iron Pussy” (about a transvestite secret agent). His most famous work is probably 2010’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. The Guardian called it an “episodic, non-linear, open-ended head-scratcher”. Any film that has earned that three-hyphen description has to be worth a look.

Most people will probably draw a blank when asked about Thai cinema. I can’t say I’m an expert myself, perhaps offering up a flick about a guy who kicks everyone in the face in search of his stolen pet elephant (which is awesome), and the more reflective works of Weerasethakul. His own Syndromes and a Century was in fact the first Thai film screened in the Cannes festival competition, evidence of his influence in the sphere of Thai cinema.

Before his career in filmmaking, Weerasethakul completed a bachelor’s degree in Architecture in his native Thailand, later following that up with a master’s in film in Chicago. Both his parents were doctors. In addition to taking his films around the world, Joe has also campaigned extensively against state censorship in Thailand, after a film was his was subjected to a ban from local cinemas due to his refusal to cut objectionable scenes.

Perhaps more than any other Thai filmmaker in recent history, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has made a name for himself. A real big name.

About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names. www.funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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19 Responses to Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul

  1. beatrix mana says:

    I like the blog today but I tbink the word caucasian is over rated. I was born here in USA and of Slovak nationality and I do not consider myself caucasian. Either does most of my husbands family who are heinz 57. But that is my opinion. Thanks

  2. gravitasbaby says:

    You have indeed hit upon a winner with Apichatpong Weerasethakul as you would have with any Thai name, a culture blessed with names that are not only long but entertainingly percussive. By the way, I actually had the dubious pleasure of seeing “Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives” in a theatre. If you think his name was long….

  3. amb says:

    “Like John Wayne, Joe is also in films. Unlike that segue, his films are actually pretty good.” – cracking me up here in Corporate World as usual, Arto!

  4. Bumba says:

    I happened to see Syndromes and a Century last night. It was interesting at first, but then became increasingly affected and dull. So, as I rate them, I find a negative correlation between film quality and number of vowels in director’s last name.

    • Dave says:

      What a strange coincidence! We’ve been having a lot of those lately. It might be three posts in a row that have had something occur that very same day that was somehow related to the post.

      Arto’s from Finland, which is anything but vowel-challenged, so he may have other ideas, but I like off-the-wall theories, so I’ll give your correlation a test drive.

    • Arto says:

      And unscientific look at IMDb’s best movies list would suggest your theory is correct. Of their top 25 movies, 23 of them were directed by someone with 2 or 3 vowels in their last name, and the other two (Kurosawa & Meirelles) only had four. You may be on to something.

  5. I agree it’s a funny name, but is it funny to Thai people?

  6. The last name SOUNDS like ‘Where I set that kill,” something forgetful hunters might ponder.

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