Thursday, 20 October 2016

501 Must-See Movies

501 Must-See Movies
The fifth edition of 501 Must-See Movies contains eleven new entries, and therefore eleven deletions. The new films are Bridesmaids, Frozen, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Help, Zero Dark Thirty, Dallas Buyers Club, Twelve Years A Slave, Boyhood, The Revenant, Gravity, and American Sniper. The deleted titles are The Vikings; The Charge Of The Light Brigade; The Mission; A Cock & Bull Story; Knocked Up; Hello, Dolly!; Once; High School Musical III; Green Card; Naked Lunch; and AI: Artificial Intelligence.

There is no editor credited in this edition, though of the six authors, only one (Rob Hill) contributes to every chapter. The third and fourth editions also contained only minor changes, though the second edition was revised more extensively. The first edition was published in 2004.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

"Programming will return shortly..."

King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on Thursday after a seventy-year reign, marking the end of an era in the modern history of Thailand, and extensive tributes to him have appeared in both Thai and international media. There have also been profiles of his heir, the Crown Prince, including a 14th October article in The Guardian.

Thailand's lese majeste law has been enforced particularly strictly by the current military government, leading to increasing self-censorship by journalists within the country. TrueVisions, the cable TV monopoly, is interrupting BBC World News whenever the channel broadcasts sensitive content, replacing the signal with a euphemistic caption: "Programming will return shortly."

The Financial Times has a correspondent based in Bangkok, though his recent reports (including a 15th October profile) have not been bylined. The Economist doesn't distribute editions with sensitive content (such as its 23rd July issue) in Thailand. The New York Times (which ceased printing in Bangkok last year) has published sensitive pieces (an op-ed by Paul Handley on 15th October, and a profile yesterday) only by writers outside Thailand.

The Self-Portrait

The Self-Portrait
The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History, by James Hall, analyses the evolution of the self-portrait over the past millennium. As Hall writes in his introduction, "This is the first history of self-portraiture to celebrate - unapologetically - the Middle Ages." He cites a fascinating example of a miniature self-portrait, signed Rufillus, appearing within the initial letter 'R' of a medieval illuminated manuscript. (Christopher de Hamel describes a similar example, by Hugo Pictor, in Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts.)

It's an impressively wide-ranging survey, from canonical masterpieces like Las Meninas ("the most ambitious statement about the status of easel painting that had been made") to divisive artists such as the Viennese Actionists ("deliberately shocking and shamanistic, involving a Dionysian disembowelling of animals, immersion in blood and entrails, and self-mutilation"). The book also includes "the first ever caricatural self-portrait," a sketch by Michelangelo in which the artist depicts himself painting the Sistine Chapel fresco.

There have been surprisingly few histories of self-portraiture, and most were written in the past decade. The most comprehensive is the lavishly illustrated Artists' Self-Portraits, by Omar Calabrese, which is thematically organised in contrast to Hall's chronological structure.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Akira Yoshizawa
Japan's Greatest Origami Master

Akira Yoshizawa: Japan's Greatest Origami Master
Akira Yoshizawa: Japan's Greatest Origami Master
Origami has been documented in Japan for over 200 years, according to John Smith's booklet Notes On The History Of Origami. However, it was Akira Yoshizawa who was almost single-handedly responsible for the modern revival of origami in Japan and elsewhere. (Robert Harbin, whose book Paper Magic popularised origami in the UK, quotes a description of Yoshizawa as "far and away the greatest folder in the world".)

Akira Yoshizawa: Japan's Greatest Origami Master "is the first comprehensive survey in English of the work of Akira Yoshizawa, who is widely acknowledged as the father of modern origami." It describes Yoshizawa as "a bridge between the past and the present, between the ancient Japanese craft and the development of origami into a modern art form, both in terms of inventing new techniques and in preserving the traditional forms of origami. Above all, he elevated origami to the status of an art form around the world."

The book features more than 1,000 of Yoshizawa's drawings (reproduced from his Japanese-language books), and photographs of his origami models (in situ at the 2014 exhibition Akira Yoshizawa: The World Of Creative Origami). It includes a preface by his widow, Kiyo Yoshizawa, and was first published in French as Akira Yoshizawa: Origami d'Exception.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The New York Times

The New York Times
International New York Times
Yesterday's edition of the International New York Times was the final issue published under that title: today, it was relaunched as the International Edition of The New York Times. The rebranding (which was not announced in advance) comes almost exactly three years after the International New York Times replaced the International Herald Tribune.

The newspaper has also been redesigned, with a focus on "deep reporting and analysis", according to a letter by publisher Arthur Sulzberger. There are no news-in-brief items, the sport section has been shortened, the opinion and editorial section has been expanded (including a new front-page opinion column), and four pages have been added. In summary, the paper feels more like its weekend edition.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Book Of Books

The Book Of Books
Champ Fleury
The Book Of Books: 500 Years Of Graphic Innovation, edited by Mathieu Lommen, reproduces pages from 125 books published over the past 500 years, spanning the entire history of printing. Published by Thames & Hudson, it was translated from the Dutch edition, Het Boek Van Het Gedrukte Boek.

The featured books range from incunabula such as the Nuremberg Chronicle (Hartmann Schedel, 1493) to Modernist publications including Jan Tschichold's Foto-Auge (1929) and contemporary design monographs like Made You Look (Stefan Sagmeister, 2001). Renaissance masterpieces such as De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Andreas Vesalius, 1543) are included, as are classic works of the Enlightenment such as Denis Diderot's Encyclopedie (1751). A 1521 edition of De Architectura (Marcus Vitruvius) is followed by Geoffrey Tory's Champ Fleury (1529), which includes illustrations inspired by Leonardo's Vitruvian Man.

The book was published to accompany an exhibition at the University of Amsterdam, The Printed Book: A Visual History, and all of the featured books are from the University library's collection. (The first illustration, a page from the Gutenberg Bible, is the sole exception.) The 17th century was a golden age of Dutch printing, and the book includes examples such as a 1664 edition of Joan Blau's Atlas Maior, "the biggest and most expensive atlas internationally available at that time."

The Book Of Books includes a comprehensive bibliography. A History Of Graphic Design (Philip B Meggs), The Book: A Global History (Michael F Suarez and HR Woudhuysen), and 500 Years Of Printing (SH Steinberg) also cover the history of printed books; Printing Types (Daniel Updike; in two volumes) is the standard history of typography.

Friday, 7 October 2016


Betrayal: The Crisis In The Catholic Church was first published in 2002, after The Boston Globe's Spotlight investigations team exposed the abuse of children by Catholic priests. That case has been compared to The Washington Post's Watergate investigation, and it inspired the film Spotlight.

The updated edition, released alongside the film, has a preface by Spotlight's director and screenwriter: "We hope that our movie, along with the rerelease of this incredible documentation of the Globe Spotlight Team's reporting, might help further the argument for traditional investigative journalism". It also has a new afterword analysing the repercussions of the investigation: "The crisis seeped deep into American popular culture, transforming how Catholicism was viewed and treated."

Like All The President's Men (and No Expenses Spared), Betrayal was written by the investigative journalists themselves (namely Matt Carroll, Kevin Cullen, Thomas Farragher, Stephen Kurkjian, Michael Paulson, Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Rezendes, and Walter V Robinson). It includes copies of the documents obtained during the investigation, and detailed notes.

"We stand by our journalism"

Yesterday, Cliff Richard formally launched a legal action against South Yorkshire Police and the BBC. He filed a lawsuit at the High Court in London after the BBC broadcast coverage of a police search of his property. South Yorkshire Police gave the BBC advance notice that the search would take place on 14th August 2014, giving the broadcaster the opportunity to position a helicopter above the building in time to film the police arriving and departing.

The BBC released a statement saying: "we are very sorry that Sir Cliff has suffered distress but we have a duty to report on matters of public interest and we stand by our journalism." Richard was named by the BBC and other media organisations after an investigation into allegations of sexual assault was initiated. He was one of several public figures (including Alistair McAlpine) investigated as part of 'Operation Yewtree'.

Ultimately, no charges were brought against him, though he argues that his reputation was damaged by the BBC's coverage of the investigation. (On the other hand, media coverage after the initial police search was largely sympathetic, with the tabloids reporting the investigation as an ordeal for Richard and presupposing that he was innocent.)


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Citizen Reporters

Citizen Reporters
Thailand's public-service television station Thai PBS is facing a 50 million baht lawsuit from mining company Tungkum. The company is suing for defamation following a report broadcast on 15th September last year.

The report, part of a series titled Citizen Reporters, alleged that a recently-opened gold mine in Loei, northern Thailand, has caused water pollution and other environmental damage. The segment was presented by a local schoolgirl, Wanphen Khunna, who is being sued along with several Thai PBS journalists.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph
After PJS, NEJ, and RA, another privacy injunction was broken last month, and has been partially lifted as a result. The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Sydney, Australia, revealed that a former BBC children's television presenter and her partner were involved in a custody dispute over their young son: "Ben Alcott will appear in London's High Court on Wednesday claiming that ex partner and former CBeebies performer Katy Ashworth snatched their son, Charlie, from his Redfern home this year."

The article was published on 19th September, accompanied by a large photograph of the family in question. Based on this coverage, two UK newspapers (The Sun and The Times) applied for the removal of the injunction preventing publication of the names of those involved. The judge lifted the injunction in relation to the boy's parents, though their son's identity remains protected, and he can be identified only as D by UK media organisations.

In his judgement, the judge noted The Daily Telegraph's unusually privileged access to the details of the case: "articles appeared in this jurisdiction in The Times, Daily Mail and The Sun. In these the parties' identities were not revealed. However an article also appeared in the Daily Telegraph of Sydney, together with an accompanying photograph, in which the parties and D were named. It is difficult to understand how that newspaper obtained the details for that story".

As in the case of the National Enquirer, The Daily Telegraph's publication of D's identity provided a convenient defence for the UK newspapers, as they could argue that the injunction had already been broken elsewhere and that it would, therefore, be ineffective to maintain it in the UK. This possibility is more likely as The Daily Telegraph, The Times, and The Sun all have the same proprietor, Rupert Murdoch.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts

Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts
Book of Kells
Leiden Aratea
Harmonia Macrocosmica
Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts is a remarkable book. According to the dust jacket, "Christopher de Hamel has handled and catalogued more illuminated manuscripts and over a wider range than any person alive, and possibly more than any individual has ever done." He is, therefore, the ideal guide to the stories behind a dozen of the world's greatest manuscripts.

As de Hamel explains in his introduction, his aim is "to invite the reader to accompany the author on a private journey to see, handle and interview some of the finest illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages." The word 'interview' has an element of anthropomorphism, which de Hamel readily acknowledges: "The life of every manuscript, like that of every person, is different, and all have stories to divulge."

Twelve manuscripts are featured, each with its own chapter. The selection is diverse and representative: "I have singled out volumes which seemed to me characteristic of each century, from the sixth to the sixteenth." In each case, de Hamel provides a detailed analysis of the manuscript's text and illuminations, with photographs of sample pages. He also gives thorough commentaries on provenance, collation, and restoration.

In addition to the manuscripts themselves, de Hamel also describes the various libraries in which they're kept. The Long Room of Trinity College, Dublin, for example, is a "magnificent polished wooden cathedral of books". He sets the scene with incidental details about each institution, from the officious St Petersberg National Library ("No, she informed me firmly: no printed books were allowed in the reading room. I begged and pleaded to no avail") to the laissez-faire Leiden University ("There was no nonsense about wearing gloves. I can see why everyone likes the Dutch").

The most remarkable of the twelve Remarkable Manuscripts is undoubtedly the Book of Kells. In fact, de Hamel calls it "probably the most famous and perhaps the most emotively charged medieval book of any kind." Surprisingly, he bluntly criticises the illustrations in the Book of Kells, describing a portrait of the Virgin Mary as "dreadfully ugly." Of the Book's text pages, on the other hand, he has the highest praise: "Every sentence opens with a complex calligraphic initial filled with polychromic artistry, like enamel-encrusted jewellery."

The illustrations in the Book of Kells are not technically illuminations, as they do not include gold decoration. The Copenhagen Psalter, which does contain gold illuminations, is "one of the most beautifully illustrated books in the world." This Psalter is described in terms almost as superlative as the Book of Kells: "Every page shimmers with burnished gold and splendid ornament. The script is calligraphically magnificent." (The original owner of this Psalter, Valdemar I of Denmark, is one of several new discoveries de Hamel makes as he examines the manuscripts.)

Another highlight is the Leiden Aratea, which includes a planetarium that was duplicated in the Harmonia Macrocosmica. Incredibly, de Hamel notes that modern astronomers have used the positions of the planets as depicted in the planetarium to calculate the precise date of its composition: 18th March 816.

This is a fascinating introduction to twelve otherwise inaccessible manuscripts, written by the world's leading authority: de Hamel's earlier book A History Of Illuminated Manuscripts has become the standard text on the subject. (He also wrote a chapter of The Book: A Global History.)

Meetings With Manuscripts includes a comprehensive annotated bibliography, though there are a few other manuscript histories that are worth highlighting: Illuminated Manuscripts by JA Herbert (from the Connoisseur's Library series), Codices Illustres by Ingo F Walther and Norbert Wolf (with superb illustrations), A History Of Book Illustration by David Bland (a concise global survey), and (although de Hamel has previously dismissed it) The Illuminated Book by David Diringer.

Alex Steinweiss

Alex Steinweiss
Alex Steinweiss
Piano Concerto No. 5
The Dark Side Of The Moon
Alex Steinweiss, written by Kevin Reagan and published by Taschen, is a comprehensive monograph devoted to the man who was, as the subtitle puts it, The Inventor Of The Modern Album Cover. The book (whose cover and endpapers resemble a 78rpm record sleeve) was written with Steinweiss' full collaboration, and it was published just a few months before he died.

Steinweiss was working for Columbia Records when he designed an illustrated cover for their 1940 Richard Rogers album Smash Song Hits. In The Art Of The Album Cover, Richard Evans calls Steinweiss "the inventor of the individual album cover," and Nick de Ville's more comprehensive book on the same subject, Album, notes that the 1940 Steinweiss sleeve "resulted in the launch of illustrated covers for albums".

Taschen's book is the definitive study of Steinweiss and his work, with many full-page reproductions of his record covers and other examples of graphic design. (His 1942 Beethoven's Emperor concerto cover "may well have inspired" Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon.) It also includes a lengthy essay by Steven Heller, Visualizing Music. (An earlier book on Steinweiss, For The Record by Jennifer McKnight-Trontz, also has an introduction by Heller.)

Friday, 30 September 2016

Radio Times Guide To Films 2017

Radio Times Guide To Films 2017
The comprehensive film guide is a concept that unfortunately seems antiquated in the age of the IMDb. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide ceased publication in 2014. The Time Out Film Guide ended in 2012. Halliwell's Film Guide died an undignified death in 2008 as The Movies That Matter. The Virgin Film Guide finished in 2005. That leaves the Radio Times Guide To Films as the last remaining film guide, and its 2017 edition was published this month. (VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever is also published annually, though it's restricted to films released on video formats.)

The Radio Times Guide To Films 2017, edited by Sue Robinson, follows the same format as its recent editions, with a vintage cover photograph (in this case, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial) presumably chosen to appeal to its older target demographic. (The traditional Barry Norman endorsement on the cover is an even more clear indication that the intended audience is 'of a certain age'.) It's increasingly surprising that there remains a market for the Radio Times Guide To Films, especially as longer versions of its capsule reviews are available on the Radio Times website, though long may it continue.

This year's edition has 1,712 pages, exactly the same number as last year's edition. 24,039 film reviews are included, slightly more than last year's 24,017. There are 504 new entries (including more than 90 previews), meaning that many older titles have been deleted in order to maintain the same number of pages. The total number of reviews is creeping up each year: there were 23,068 in 2012, 23,077 in 2013, and 23,099 in 2014.

New reviews this year include The Hateful Eight ("an immoral western frontier explodes in typical Tarantino, blood-spattered fashion"), The Jungle Book ("finds magic and wonder in the CGI-enabled action"), Independence Day: Resurgence ("the story runs out of steam"), Listen To Me Marlon ("a terrific tapestry of a great star's life"), and Hitchcock/Truffaut ("too much awe and not enough insight"). The book is impressively up-to-date, with reviews of films such as Bridget Jones's Baby that are still on general release.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

100 Diagrams That Changed The World

100 Diagrams That Changed The World
De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
100 Diagrams That Changed The World, by Scott Christianson, features 100 diagrams, drawings, and charts from the Chauvet Caves to the iPod patent. Each diagram is reproduced as a full-page illustration, alongside a single-page summary of its history and significance. The book has no references or bibliography, though it's interesting because it includes examples of patent diagrams and other technical drawings that are missing from conventional histories of design.

The 100 diagrams include Renaissance icons such as Copernicus' heliocentric representation of the solar system, Leonardo's Vitruvian Man ("one of the most widely reproduced artistic images"), and an anatomical drawing from Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica ("one of the great achievements in the history of printing"). The book also includes the first examples of bar charts and line graphs (both created by William Playfair), Venn diagrams (John Venn), tree diagrams (Porphyry), flow charts (Frank and Lillian Gilbreth), pictograms (Michael George Mulhall), and emoticons (Puck magazine).

The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information, by Edward R Tufte, is the standard text on graph and chart design; Tufte praises Joseph Minard's representation of Napoleon's Russian campaign "the best statistical graphic ever drawn," though it's not included in 100 Diagrams. The Book Of Trees is a history of tree diagrams. Cartographies Of Time is a comprehensive history of timelines. Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 has the most extensive selection of Leonardo's drawings. The Story Of Emoji discusses the development of emoticons. Pictograms, Icons, & Signs traces the evolution of pictograms. Information Graphics and Understanding The World feature contemporary and historical infographics. The BBC4 series The Beauty Of Diagrams profiled six influential diagrams, all of which are included in this book.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Twentieth-Century Jewellery

Twentieth-Century Jewellery
Twentieth-Century Jewellery: From Art Nouveau To Contemporary Design In Europe & The United States, by Alba Cappellieri, surveys jewellery from the 1890s to the first decade of the 21st century. Its plates section features 300 colour photographs (with many full-page images) of jewellery from museums and private collections, including masterpieces such as Faberge's Imperial Coronation Egg and Cartier's Panthere brooch. An extensive bibliography lists jewellery books published since 1923.

The book begins with a fifty-page essay on the development of jewellery design since 1900, which focuses on Europe (especially Italy; it was published in Italian as Gioielli Del Novocento) and America, though also briefly mentions Russia and Japan. Cappellieri cites the pave secret, serti mysterieux technique of Van Cleef & Arpels as "one of the most important innovations in the history of twentieth-century jewellery".

Cappellieri also discusses "the transitions between jewellery and the arts: design, architecture and fashion". This cultural context is sometimes excessive (for example, a full-page reproduction of a Giacomo Balla painting "that beautifully sums up the period between 1929 and the end of the Second World War. On 24 October 1929, which was a Thursday, the Dow Jones index crashed...").

Nevertheless, Twentieth-Century Jewellery is a comprehensive survey of modern jewellery, featuring jewels from a wider range of sources than other books on the subject. H Clifford Smith wrote Jewellery, the first comprehensive jewellery history, in 1908. A History Of Jewellery 1100-1870 (Joan Evans, 1953) is the other standard work. Modern Jewellery: An International Survey 1890-1963 (Graham Hughes, 1963) was the first guide to modern jewellery design. 7,000 Years Of Jewellery (Hugh Tait, 1986) is the most comprehensive international history of jewellery.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Allergic Realities

Allergic Realities
Allergic Realities
Allergic Realities
Allergic Realities
Allergic Realities
An exhibition of new works by Kosit Juntaratip opened last weekend in Bangkok. Allergic Realities features sixteen untitled paintings of iconic news photographs, replicating the grainy printing process traditionally used by newspapers. Kosit has used his own blood to paint some of the halftone dots. The works are undated, though Kosit began the series last year.

One of the paintings is based on the notorious Neal Ulevich photograph of a public lynching following the 1976 Thammasat University protest. The photo has previously been appropriated by Manit Sriwanichpoom for his Horror In Pink series (shown at From Message To Media and Phenomena & Prophecies). Allergic Realities has much in common with Manit's Flashback '76 images, which were autopsy photographs soaked in blood.

Another Thai artist, Pornprasert Yamazaki, has also painted with blood; his work was shown at the Swallow, Currency Crisis, and Suicide Mind exhibitions. UDD protesters painted a mural in blood at Democracy Monument, and Kristian von Hornsleth collected Thai blood samples for his Deep Storage Art Project.

Kosit previously painted with blood during performances in the 1990s (as documented in Thailand Eye), and he has also used other bodily fluids as a medium: his painting Copulate With Love (at MAIIAM) is labelled "Ejaculation on canvas (Kosit's spermatozoa)". Allergic Realities opened at Bangkok University Gallery on 17th September, and runs until 30th October.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo is being sued by the Italian town of Amatrice, after the French newspaper published a cartoon by Felix Moureau mocking the victims of an earthquake that decimated the town. A lawsuit against the newspaper has been filed on behalf of the town council. (The newspaper has previously been sued for blasphemy, though that case was ultimately dismissed.)

230 residents of Amatrice were killed in last month's earthquake. On 31st August, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon comparing the victims to pasta dishes. The cartoon was criticised as deeply insensitive, and Charlie Hebdo faced similar criticism last year when it printed cartoons of Alan Kurdi. The newspaper first caused controversy in 2006, with its front-page cartoon of Mohammed.

A dozen Charlie Hebdo staff were killed in a terrorist attack last January, and the newspaper responded defiantly with another front-page Mohammed caricature. Its offices were firebombed in 2011, after it published a Charia Hebdo issue guest-edited by Mohammed. In 2012, it printed a cartoon of Mohammed naked. In 2013, it produced a comic-strip biography of Mohammed titled La Vie De Mahomet (parts 1 and 2), followed by an expanded edition. In 2014, it published a front-page cartoon of Mohammed being beheaded by an Islamic State terrorist.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bangkok Screening Room

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
The Third Man
A new independent cinema, Bangkok Screening Room, will open next week. The venue, in Silom, will have a 4k projector and fifty seats. Its inaugural programme includes some Thai and Hollywood classics.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives will be shown on 23rd to 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th September; and 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th to 9th October. Carol Reed's The Third Man, starring Orson Welles, will be screened on 22nd, 24th, 25th, 29th September; and 1st, 4th October. Ishiro Honda's Godzilla (which played at the 22nd Open Air Film Festival) is on 5th, 8th, 30th September; and 2nd, 5th October. Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo will be shown on 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 16th, 20th, 22nd, and 25th October.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time

The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time
The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time, by Frank Schnelle and Andreas Thiemann, is ambitiously subtitled The List To End All Lists. The authors have studied film lists from the past decade (many of which are featured on Dateline Bangkok), which they "collected, combined and, in the end, condensed... into one meta-list."

The 100 Greatest Movies are as follows:

1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. Blade Runner
5. Apocalypse Now
6. Pulp Fiction
7. Taxi Driver
8. Some Like It Hot
9. Casablanca
10. Singin' In The Rain
11. Chinatown
12. Vertigo
13. Psycho
14. Lawrence Of Arabia
15. The Godfather II
16. Seven Samurai
17. Rear Window
18. Raging Bull
19. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
20. North By Northwest
21. The Third Man
22. Jaws
23. M
24. Dr Strangelove
25. A Clockwork Orange
26. GoodFellas
27. The Searchers
28. Gone With The Wind
29. Sunset Boulevard
30. Alien
31. Tokyo Story
32. Schindler's List
33. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
34. It's A Wonderful Life
35. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
36. The Wizard Of Oz
37. Once Upon A Time In The West
38. The Apartment
39. Annie Hall
40. The Lord Of The Rings I: The Fellowship Of The Ring
41. Fight Club
42. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
43. All About Eve
44. City Lights
45. Rashomon
46. The 400 Blows
47. The Matrix
48. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
49. 8½
50. The Rules Of The Game
51. Breathless
52. Battleship Potemkin
53. The Wild Bunch
54. Bicycle Thieves
55. The Shawshank Redemption
56. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
57. Touch Of Evil
58. Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans
59. The General
60. Metropolis
61. On The Waterfront
62. The Night Of The Hunter
63. Back To The Future
64. The Big Lebowski
65. La Dolce Vita
66. Modern Times
67. The Silence Of The Lambs
68. Amelie
69. Nashville
70. Saving Private Ryan
71. The Shining
72. Double Indemnity
73. la Grande Illusion
74. Andrei Rublev
75. Blue Velvet
76. The Seventh Seal
77. Fargo
78. The Deer Hunter
79. American Beauty
80. Terminator II: Judgment Day
81. The Gold Rush
82. Forrest Gump
83. LA Confidential
84. The Dark Knight
85. Les Enfants Du paradis
86. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
87. Gladiator
88. City Of God
89. Bringing Up Baby
90. Aguirre: The Wrath Of God
91. The Maltese Falcon
92. The Leopard
93. Persona
94. Reservoir Dogs
95. Fanny & Alexander
96. L'Avventura
97. Bonnie & Clyde
98. Die Hard
99.The Usual Suspects
100. Once Upon A Time In America

[The book was first published in German, as Die 100 Besten Filme Aller Zeiten (2007). Note that Some Like It Hot is the 1959 Billy Wilder comedy, and The Maltese Falcon is the 1941 John Huston thriller.]


Candy Cigarette
Controversies: A Legal & Ethical History Of Photography is an English translation of Controverses by Daniel Girardin and Christian Pirker. Controverses was originally published in Switzerland in 2008.

In his essay Beyond Appearances, Pirker discusses "the photographs that you will not see in this book." Sally Mann "refuses to exhibit or reproduce" her portrait of her daughter, Candy Cigarette (1989). Thomas Condon was convicted of "disturbing the peace of the dead" in 2001 after photographing corpses in a Cincinnati morgue, and his photographs cannot be published. Finally, Jackie Onassis won an injunction against a Dior advertisement photographed by Richard Avedon (1983) featuring her lookalike; "This ruling still remains in force", according to Pirker, though the photo was reprinted in Contested Culture (2000; by Jane M Gaines).

Unsurprisingly, there are three photographs from the Swiss edition of Controverses that are not present in the English version. Graham Ovenden was convicted of indecent assault in 2013, and his nude photograph of Maude Hewes (1984) was removed. [It was included in the Channel 4 documentary For The Sake Of The Children (28th August 1997) and in issue sixteen of Gauntlet magazine (1998).] The nude portrait of Brooke Shields by Garry Gross (1975) was also omitted, as it was deemed illegal by UK police following the Pop Life exhibition. Irena Ionesco's full-frontal portrait of her daughter (1970) has been replaced by a topless portrait of her (1978).

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Fashion 150

Fashion 150
Christian Dior
Fashion 150: 150 Years / 150 Designers, edited by Arianna Piazza, is an encyclopedic guide to fashion designers and trends. Originally published in Italian (titled Moda: Storie & Stili) it covers 150 years of fashion design, beginning with Charles Frederick Worth, "the first couturier". The book is as physically substantial as its contents, with more than 500 pages printed on heavy stock, coloured edges, and a thick dust jacket.

Coco Chanel's 'petite robe noir' ("the little black dress that gave rise to the Chanel legend") and two-tone suit ("the magnum opus of a lifetime; it is the perfect garment") are included, as is the 'New Look' created by Christian Dior: "Dior showed his first collection and the world stopped to marvel. It was one of the most important fashion moments in history."

The Thames & Hudson Dictionary Of Fashion & Fashion Designers and The Fashion Book both profile more designers, though they have capsule-style entries whereas Fashion 150 has more depth. The three-volume Encyclopedia Of Clothing & Fashion (edited by Valerie Steele) is the most comprehensive, though Fashion 150 is more up-to-date and has better illustrations.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

All The President's Men

All The President's Men
The fortieth anniversary edition of All The President's Men includes an afterword (originally published in The Washington Post) discussing President Richard Nixon's legacy: "Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars - against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system, and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mindset and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon's: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency."

In 1972, Nixon's 'White House plumbers' broke into the Democratic National Committee's Washington headquarters in the Watergate building. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's coverage of the Watergate scandal remains arguably the most significant story in the history of journalism, as it ultimately led to Nixon's resignation.

Nixon insisted "I am not a crook" (at a press conference on 17th November 1973), though he resigned in a live broadcast on 8th August 1974: "because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation would require... Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow."

Nixon's conspiracy to obstruct the FBI's investigation into Watergate was revealed by the infamous 'smoking gun' tape released on 5th August 1974 after a Supreme Court ruling. On the tape, recorded in the Oval Office on 23rd June 1972, Nixon says: "it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further." (I first listened to it at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California, shortly after Nixon's death.)

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Essentials

The Essentials
The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies & Why They Matter, by Jeremy Arnold, is a guide to "fifty-two must-see movies from the silent era through the early 1980s." The fifty-two films, representing one per week for a year, were selected from TCM's The Essentials series.

Each director is represented by a single listed film, except Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder, who deservedly have two and three films each, respectively. Whereas most film lists include recent titles, this has no films from the last thirty years. Also unusually for a list-based book, it features an extensive bibliography.

The Must-See Movies are as follows:
  • Metropolis
  • All Quiet On The Western Front
  • City lights
  • Grand Hotel
  • King Kong
  • Duck Soup
  • It Happened One Night
  • The Thin Man
  • Bride Of Frankenstein
  • Swing Time
  • Mr Smith Goes To Washington
  • Gone With The Wind
  • The Lady Eve
  • Citizen Kane
  • Now Voyager
  • Casablanca
  • Double Indemnity
  • Meet Me In St. Louis
  • Leave Her To Heaven
  • The Best Years Of Our Lives
  • Out Of The Past
  • The Red Shoes
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • The Third Man
  • White Heat
  • Adam's Rib
  • Winchester '73
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Gun Crazy
  • All About Eve
  • Singin' In The Rain
  • Roman Holiday
  • Seven Samurai
  • On The Waterfront
  • Rear Window
  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
  • The Searchers
  • Some Like It Hot
  • North By Northwest
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
  • Breathless
  • Lawrence Of Arabia
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Dr Strangelove
  • Bonnie & Clyde
  • In The Heat Of The Night
  • The Graduate
  • Once Upon A Time In The West
  • Jaws
  • Rocky
  • Annie Hall
  • This Is Spinal Tap
[The films are listed chronologically. Note that Ben-Hur is the William Wyler version and Some Like It Hot is the Billy Wilder comedy.]

Friday, 2 September 2016

"Malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump"

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
Melania Trump, the wife of US presidential contender Donald Trump, has launched a lawsuit against the Daily Mail newspaper after it published allegations that she had worked as an escort. Her lawyer, Charles Harder, issued a statement saying that the claims were "so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150m."

The case was filed today at Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland. Donald Trump is notoriously litigious, and Harder has successfully sued the gossip website Gawker into bankruptcy on behalf of another client, Hulk Hogan.

The Mail's article about Melania Trump, written by Natalie Clarke, was published on 20th August (on pages fourteen and fifteen), and also appeared on the newspaper's sensationalist website. All traces of the online article have since been removed: it was deleted from the Mail's website, expunged from Google's search results, and replaced by the message "Content has been suppressed for editorial and/or legal reasons" in the PressReader digital archive.

The Mail's story was based on a front-page article in the Slovakian magazine Suzy, published on 5th August, though the magazine is not named in the lawsuit. The Mail reported Suzy's allegation that models at the agency where Melania Trump worked "principally earned money as elite escorts," though it described the claim as a "seemingly fantastical story" and distanced itself from the magazine: "There is no evidence to back up these startling claims made in Suzy magazine."

The newspaper published a retraction today: "To the extent that anything in our article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs Trump worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business'... or that either of the modelling agencies referenced in the article were engaged in these businesses, it is hereby retracted, and we regret any such misinterpretation."