My tendency when describing a film like Lumphini 2552 is to fall back on Modernist rallying cries like that old Ezra Pound chestnut, “Make it new!” Maybe a useful way to think of Nishikawa’s film is as a beautifully defamiliarized — and uniquely cinematic — landscape.
When I spoke to Olson after the screening, she told me how overwhelming it was to visit the set, to listen to Milk’s voice, and to know that it was here — right here — that he contemplated his imminent murder. She’s translated that experience well to her film, which is ghostly and deeply moving. But, of course, it wasn’t right here that Milk made his tape. This is a meticulously dressed set.