Pen-ek Ratanaruang

writer / director

Voted for

Manhattan1979Woody Allen
Trois couleurs rouge1994Krzysztof Kieslowski
Persona1966Ingmar Bergman
Strangers on a Train1951Alfred Hitchcock
A Clockwork Orange1971Stanley Kubrick
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
L' EMPIRE DES SENS1976Nagisa Oshima
ZIR-E DARAKHTAN-E ZEYTON1994Abbas Kiarostami



1979 USA

I don't know if this is the film that launched the romantic-comedy genre. but apart from being incredibly romantic and incredibly funny, it is packed with great visual poetry (thanks to the late great Gordon Willis) and pitch-perfect performances. It still is the greatest love letter to the Big Apple. This must be the film that I've re-watched the most. Whenever I have a bad day, I come home and watch Manhattan and happiness is restored.

Trois couleurs rouge


This is a film that treads on a strange paradox. Kieslowski showed you a very sinister character, burdened with hatred, doing a really terrible thing, but the effect the film had on you after it is finished is strangely one of life-affirming and love. And this is due to the pure magic of Kieslowski's cinema. The film seems to be floating a few inches above the ground throughout its running time, and in the end it manages to lift you up as well. Kieslowski's death has left a huge hole in cinema that is yet to be filled. This film is the greatest good-bye to one of cinema's greats.


1966 Sweden

I'm going to keep voting until this film gets the number one spot it deserves. This is European arthouse at its absolute best. A simple idea that digs deep into our soul, thanks to the brilliant performances from the two leads. Sublime cinematography, pitch-perfect performances, inventive editing with one of the most memorable opening sequences in cinema history.

Strangers on a Train

1951 USA

Hitchcock made a number of good films, but for me this is the best of them all. Not Vertigo, with its really forced climax sequence. Strangers grips you every minute with the combination of great mise-en-scène and sharp dialogue. When Guy sneaks into Bruno's house to tell his father what a psycho his son was but finds, in his father's bed, Bruno instead of the father is done so precisely that my heart jumps every time I watch it. The somewhat wooden performance of Farley Granger is well compensate by that of the great Robert Walker. Beautiful cinematography. Oh, and the opening sequence of the two pairs of feet cross cutting with the railway tracks too.

A Clockwork Orange

1971 USA, United Kingdom

Strange, sleazy, stylish, sad and shocking in equal measure. I'm not an English-speaking person but the sound of that narration in the strange nadsat dialect is so mesmerisingly soothing and frightening.

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

The film was released in 1968, but until today, with all the advances in production and post-production technology, there is not yet a space film that surpasses it. This is a film that is so committed to deliver its message that for the first hour it seems to be going nowhere but lets you marvel at the precisely-tailored costumes, beautiful furniture and the strangely complicated rotation of the interior of the spaceship, only to pin you to your seat with its final message in the last reel. It's like spending three hours in the gym. It's exhausting and repetitive but when you finish, it feels really great. you feel stunned and invigorated.

With the progress of AI making news regularly these days, this film is becoming more and more relevant. A recent conversation between an ex-employee of google and an AI claimed to be sentient sounded just like HAL. This Kubrick masterpiece is definitely way ahead of its time.


1976 France, Japan

OK, it is so well-known for its explicit and audacious depiction of the sexual act and violence that it actually got banned for years. But take away all that and we see the film's greatness lies in the fact that it shows you how two strangers are actually falling in love (and lust) and makes you really believe it. It pulls you in slowly and before you know it you become a witness to this forbidden affair. And you stay there. In spite of its sexual frankness and violence on its surface, the film is so tender and moving. This is a film that no matter how many times I revisit it, it still left me floored. It is as powerful as it it tender.


1996 Finland, Germany, France

Kaurismäki kind of makes the same film over and over (he even uses the same actors over and over), but this one has got everything that is top Kaurismäki. Self-contained, deadpan, extremely funny, stylish, tender and moving with a huge heart. The same story in a lesser hand could easily turn into a cynical comedy, but in Kaurismäki's hands it becomes a dignified love story. It restores your faith in the goodness in people. A tender and quietly powerful film from a very unique and recognisable voice in cinema history.


1933 France

Charm. Charm. Charm. I fell in love with this film like I fell for a French woman. She's not pretty, not clever, too small and has a gap between her two front teeth, but I fell totally head-over-heels for her. and I don't understand why. By the way, I went to a boarding school in my country for six years.


1994 Iran

The scene where the tea boy and the young lady he loves are taking a break waiting for the film crew to set up the next shot. They are sitting side by side but not very close to each other. The young lady has a book in her hands, since she is studying for her exam. She would not talk to him or respond to his advances. He whispers to her that if she loves him she didn't have to say anything but just turn the page in her book - that would mean "yes". We watch, waiting and waiting, to see if she would turn the page or not. You root for the girl to turn the page. But before anything could happen (or not happen), the crew is ready to shoot the next shot and both, the tea boy and the young lady, have to get in their characters. This little and seemingly ordinary scene grips like a thriller.