‘6ixtynin9’: Sex, drugs and rock and roll!
Mai-Davika Hoorne

No one is safe from mockery in the smart, funny Thai black comedy 6ixtynin9. Against the backdrop of Thailand’s energetic pro-democracy, anti-corruption, student-led demonstrations, writer-director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang has fashioned a droll lampoon of police corruption, corporate mismanagement, feckless random drug gang violence, vapid youth culture and working-class frustration.

Mine-Thanaporn Rattanasasiwimon

Ratanaruang has taken his surprise hit film of 1999 and deftly cut and stitched it into an eight-episode reprise of the eponymously named film. Miraculously, it appears, accessible to American audiences, on Netflix.

Possibly the film’s appearance is due to strained content due to the current writers’ strike. One may want to take advantage of this opportunity quickly before the streaming platform, in its incessant quest to homogenize viewing experience, replaces it with yet another tired, mediocre, lifeless, derivative, repetitive, formulaic, paint-by-the-numbers, predictably dull, over-hyped studio-funded American police drama. Viewers should be warned, however, that 6ixtynin9, as its title subtly suggests, features a rich seasoning of sexual situations, cartoon violence and spot-on depictions of youth culture.

The series is adorned by the stunning Mai-Davika Hoorne’s brilliant deadpan as Toom, a worker ingloriously laid off by her faux sympathetic boss who can’t even be bothered to face his workers who are being swindled out of their pensions and severance pay. On the very day of her termination, the despondent Toom returns to her apartment to find a mysterious non-descript box misdelivered at her door. The apartment #9 has slipped upside down to read #6.

Should Toom try to locate the true owner of the box? Should she attempt to return the money? Should she share it with friends and family? Of course, like James Brolin in No Country for Old Men, she keeps the money—and mayhem and murder ensue. A series of attempts to recover and expropriate the contents of the box uncovers further crimes. Ratanaruang seems more than a little influenced by the Coen Brothers’ work as well as French farce, benefitting culturally by transplanting it in spirit to Thailand.

Hoorne’s deft take on alienated youth is well supported by Thai veteran presences young and old, including Amornaek Micheli, Apivich Rintapoln and the hilarious Mine-Thanaporn Rattanasasiwimon. The violence appears in cartoon fashion as victims are carted off to their afterlives in an EMT vehicle and subjected to a comical afterlife processor angel. Hopefully the series itself will experience a better fate.

6ixtynin9 is available live streaming on Netflix. The trailer can be viewed here.

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Michael Berkowitz
Michael Berkowitz

Michael Berkowitz, a veteran of the civil rights and anti-war movements, has been Land Use Planning Consultant to the government of China for many years. He taught Chinese and American History at the college level, worked with Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org. with miners, and was an officer of SEIU.