6ixtynin9(Palm Pictures, 1.11.2005)
What would you do if you found a box with 25,000 dollars in it? This question is asked by Tum when she wakes up one morning to a fateful knock at her door. After losing her job and subsequently dreaming of suicide, Tum opens her door and finds the mysterious package. She's immediately confronted by two Thai boxer thugs who attack her and break into her apartment. Just as the thugs discover the hidden parcel under her bed, Tum kills one of them and becomes engaged in combat with the second, more brutal, thug. Luckily, there's a knife by her side -- she used it to open the package -- and she kills the other baddie, too.
As the film progresses, more thugs enter the mix in search of their lost money. Several (doomed) crooked executives and clumsy police officers follow suite. Very much in the tradition of Shallow Grave, Pulp Fiction, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, writer/director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's (Last Life in the Universe) 6ixtynin9 culminates in a lot of gunfire, bloodshed, and an apartment filled with corpses.
6ixtynin9 expertly balances multiple layers of genre (gangster, suspense thriller, comedy) and tone (funny, moody, sensational, and brutal). The film has got a wealth of styles and substance and it's all very well composed. As far as directing goes, Pen-Ek is obviously cinema savvy but, fortunately, this abundant cinematic knowledge and homage doesn't weigh-down his unique style of filmmaking, it compliments it.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 (anamorphically enhanced) widescreen. Overall, the image quality is quite good, considering the film's restricted budget -- this certainly isn't a glossy Danny Boyle, QT or Guy Ritchie film. The image can, at times, appear soft and/or lacking definition but that's all part of the marginal filmmaking fun. Audio comes in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in Thai with English subtitles. The sound is nothing to write home about but it's still completely audible. There isn't much to complain about on the a/v font.
There is, unquestionably, something worth complaining about, in terms of Palm's measly extras. All we get is the film's original Thai trailer, 2 Palm previews (one is for Last Life in the Universe), and...oh, weblinks. This release would've been terrific if there were either a) feature-length commentary with the director and/or cinematographer a la Last Life, b) a modest making-of featurette or c) a few minutes of cast and crew interviews.
Still, the film looks and sounds pretty good, which is most important. 6ixtynin9 features a highly enjoyable blend of styles and it should be sought after as solid renting material. If you've purchased Last Life in the Universe, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have both of Palm's Pen-Ek titles on your shelf for keeps. -- Neil Karassik