Dealing with experimental filmmaking is always a tricky business for a reviewer, regarding both describing and analyzing such efforts. In that regard, Tulapop Saenjaroen did not do us any favors with “A Room With a Coconut View”, a spectacle that lingers between the movie and the video installation.
A Room With a Coconut View screens as part of Locarno Shorts Weeks
The “video” begins with Kenya, a Thai beach resort virtual tour guide, showing the hotel and the area to Alex, another virtual presence, with both of them presented as Siri/Alexa like voices in the film, with their words being presented in color-filled captions in the bottom of the screen, in distinct, 8-bit style. The first images Alex is presented are the clichéd, tourist ones and eventually he asks from Kenya to show him more of the area, before he embarks on a tour by himself, that includes its history, cinema, corruption and many other topics.
Tulapop Saenjaroen’s effort could also be perceived as an experiment of cinematic expression or even an exercise of various film techniques. In that fashion, we see frames-within-frames, images being Photoshopped, animation, people with coconuts in the place of their heads, actual footage from old movies that narrate the history of the biggest mafia boss of the area (who is also the protagonist), 3D printing, virtual tours of the area, a PowerPoint-like presentation of how waves are created, and a plethora of others.
Inside this chaotic presentation, Saenjaroen seems to present a number of comments regarding the different kinds of perception of both image and cinema in general, particularly regarding the ways framing affects subtext. At the same time, the differences between what a tourist sees and how an area is in reality are also presented, while a third voice that eventually enters the narrative focuses on some social comments. Add to all the above some footage from actual people of the area, of which the ones with the bike riders are the most impressive, and you have the backbone of the film.
To tell you the truth, after watching the film I am not even sure if I liked it. The fact remains, however, that I could not take my eyes from it for the whole of its rather unusual presentation and that is definitely saying something.