Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Postmodern Design Complete

Postmodern Design Complete
Postmodern Design Complete, edited by Judith Gura, is the latest in Thames & Hudson's series of in-depth studies of twentieth century design movements, after Art Deco Complete and Mid-Century Modern Complete. The book, which will be published at the end of this month, includes sections on postmodern architecture, design, graphics, and interiors.

There are more than 1,000 illustrations, and profiles of designers including Ettore Sottsass ("the figurehead of postmodernism"), Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, and Frank Gehry. The book includes an essay by graphic design historian Steven Heller, who also contributed to Mid-Century Modern Complete.

The Language Of Postmodern Architecture (1977), by Charles Jencks, first popularised the concept of postmodernism, and Jencks writes a foreword to Gura's book. The Victoria & Albert Museum's Postmodernism: Style & Subversion exhibition (2011) led to a revival of interest in the movement, and Gura reprints a Jencks infographic from that exhibition catalogue.

More conventional than the V&A catalogue, Postmodern Design Complete is described by its publisher as "the definitive overview of the movement's seminal years," though its editor is more realistic: "Notwithstanding its title, this book does not presume to tell the complete story of postmodern design, which continues to evolve, but to document its most dominant years." Hal Foster's The Anti-Aesthetic (1984) remains the standard anthology of postmodern theory, though Gura's book is the most comprehensive survey of postmodern design.

Sunday, 17 September 2017


สรรพสาระสำหรับผู้แสวงหา, by Sulak Sivaraksa, was published in 2005. It includes a reprint of an interview Sulak gave to the editor of Same Sky. When the interview was first published, the journal was banned and the editor was charged with lese majeste. Sulak has also published an English translation of the interview, in Rediscovering Spiritual Value. (His most recent English-language book is the provocative Love Letters To Dictators.)

Sulak has been personally accused of lese majeste several times, and has contributed to various censored films, television programmes, and books. He published an article on the death of King Rama VIII in Seeds Of Peace. His book ค่อนศตวรรษ ประชาธิปไตยไทย was (briefly) banned. Part of his interview in Paradoxocracy was muted. He was interviewed on ตอบโจทย์ประเทศไทย. He also appeared in the once-banned film Tongpan.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

"Unprecedented in
defamation litigation..."

Woman's Day
Actress Rebel Wilson was awarded $4.5 million in damages by an Australian court yesterday. She had sued Bauer Media for defamation after one of its magazines accused her of lying about her age. In a 25 May 2015 article headlined "Just who was the REAL Rebel?", Woman's Day alleged that Wilson had changed her name to hide her true background. Setting the highest damages ever awarded in an Australian defamation case, the judge described the publication as "unprecedented in defamation litigation in this country" as the article received wide distribution online.

The case is likely to set a precedent similar to that of the PJS injunction in the UK, which established that the publication of kiss-and-tell stories could no longer be justified. Earlier this year, Melania Trump won substantial damages for defamation from the Daily Mail newspaper, and Kate Middleton was awarded damages for invasion of privacy in France. In America, however, the 'actual malice' requirement makes defamation cases against celebrities almost unheard of.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The First Artists

The First Artists
Helen Gardner began her landmark Art Through The Ages (1926) with a question: "When in the long development of human life did art first appear, and why?" Michel Lorblanchet and Paul Bahn's new book The First Artists outlines the available evidence for the origins of art: "This book aims to analyse the earliest human creative behaviour and identify the first artistic expressions, trying to distinguish apparently non-utilitarian products that were detached from the immediate needs of survival."

The First Artists: In Search Of The World's Oldest Art discusses Neanderthal tools and Palaeolithic engravings, artefacts whose status as aesthetic or symbolic objects remains unresolved. The book also examines equally ambiguous figurines that predate the famous Willendorf and Hohle Fels Venuses. By contrast, the earliest examples of beaded jewellery are more easily verifiable as decorative in nature. Lois Sherr Dubin also discusses these adornments, which are up to 100,000 years old, in The Worldwide History Of Beads (2009).

Most histories of art begin with cave paintings, particularly those of Chauvet in France. Lorblanchet and Bahn, however, dispute Chauvet's generally accepted status as the earliest example of parietal art. Both authors are experts in the field, and Bahn's Images Of The Ice Age (1988; revised as Journey Through The Ice Age) is the most comprehensive book on the subject.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

"Reminiscent of... the press and
paparazzi during the life of Diana"

La Provence
The editor and publisher of the French gossip magazine Closer have been fined €45,000 each, after a court ruled that paparazzi photographs of Kate Middleton and Prince William were an invasion of privacy. Closer printed topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge on 14th September 2012, and the couple obtained an injunction to prevent the magazine from republishing them. They have now been awarded €100,000 in damages.

A statement read in court on the couple's behalf said: "The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the Duke and Duchess for being so." In a related case, a regional French newspaper, La Provence, published a photograph of the Duchess in a bikini on 7th September 2012, and has now been fined €3,000.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

World History Of Design

World History Of Design World History Of Design
World History Of Design, by Victor Margolin, was first published in two hardback volumes in 2015, costing around £600. Last month, this unprecedented and definitive book was issued in paperback for a tenth of the original price. Both volumes include a selection of colour plates, and each chapter has an excellent annotated bibliography.

The first volume (Prehistoric Times To World War I, at more than 500 pages) is significant for its extensive treatment of pre-industrial design. In contrast, most histories of design begin with the Industrial Revolution; The Story Of Design is a notable exception, though it lacks the depth of the World History.

Volume two (World War I To World War II, at almost 1,000 pages) is remarkable for the scope of its non-Western coverage, making the World History a truly global account of design. Again, this sets the book apart from other design histories (such as The Story Of Design, and David Raizman's History Of Modern Design), which focus only on Europe, America, and Japan.

Margolin notes in his introduction: "One exception to the geographic limitations of prior design history narratives is the recently published History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture 1400-2000". That superb book remains the most comprehensive single-volume design history, though the World History's multi-volume format allows Margolin to cover not only the entire world but also the entire history of the subject.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Bad Taste Cafe

The Birth Of A Nation
What could be more tasteless than Pink Flamingos or Thriller: A Cruel Picture? How about a month-long season of films featuring offensive racial stereotypes. The Racism season begins on 6th September at Bangkok's Bad Taste Cafe, concluding on 27th September with DW Griffith's The Birth Of A Nation.

Hollywood's first epic, The Birth Of A Nation remains an incendiary film more than a century after its release. Depressingly, its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan is still relevant today, after Donald Trump's equivocation following last month's KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Power & The Story

The Power & The Story
The Power & The Story: The Global Battle For News & Information, by John Lloyd, assesses the news media of Egypt, China, Turkey, Russia, and other countries in which state censorship predominates: "Journalism is controlled and suppressed in authoritarian societies because their rulers believe they have a better grasp of the truth than journalists could ever have. Theirs is not the truth of mere facts. It is an alternative truth of what keeps social peace, promotes development, preserves necessary power and serves faith."

The book, a unique worldwide survey of the state of contemporary journalism, also covers "the problems of practising journalism that lives by one form or another of market rules, and the pressures market exerts on the creation of truthful accounts." Lloyd discusses some less reputable aspects of journalism - sensationalist tabloids, and the rise of 'fake news' - though he also stresses the vital importance of "a journalism of revelation through leaking of confidential information" and public service broadcasting.

Of course, the shadow of President Trump looms over any discussion of political journalism, and Lloyd shows how Trump has repeatedly attacked America's leading news organisations. He also assesses the increasing influence of online news companies such as Vox, Buzzfeed, and Vice (which made headlines recently with its exclusive report on the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, Virginia).

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Godfather: The Complete Epic
The Godfather: A Novel For Television

The Godfather: The Complete Epic 1901-1959
The Godfather: A Novel For Television
Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now has been released in four formats, which differ widely in their running times: 70mm (without closing credits), 35mm (with closing credits), Redux (with an hour of additional footage), and the bootleg five-hour workprint. But that's nothing compared to the myriad alternative edits of The Godfather and its sequels.

The Godfather and The Godfather II were broadcast, in chronological order, as a four-part miniseries on NBC in 1977. The Godfather: The Complete Novel For Television featured more than an hour of additional footage not included in the theatrical versions, though some of the violence was censored for network TV. Twenty years later, in 1997, the cable station USA Network broadcast an alternative two-part chronological edit, The Godfather Saga, with less additional footage than the NBC version.

Another chronological edit was created for the video market. The Godfather: The Complete Epic 1902-1959 was released on VHS in 1981. (It was rereleased on VHS and laserdisc in 1990 under the corrected title The Godfather: The Epic 1901-1959.) In 1992, The Godfather III was inserted into the edit, for the limited-edition The Godfather Trilogy 1901-1980, on VHS and laserdisc.

There have been two chronological versions of The Godfather and The Godfather II broadcast on HDTV. In 2012, the cable channel AMC screened The Godfather: A Novel For Television, which was the first chronological edit shown in widescreen. Last year, another cable station, HBO, broadcast a slightly longer version, The Godfather: The Complete Epic 1901-1959. (Confusingly, the title is very similar to the videos released previously.) Also in widescreen, this was the first chronological edit to be broadcast without commercial breaks.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Visual History Of Type

The Visual History Of Type
The Visual History Of Type, written by Paul McNeil and published next month by Laurence King, is a chronological survey of more than 300 typefaces, from the 1450s to the present day. Like The Book Of Books, it features large reproductions of book pages and type specimens, with each illustrated in a double-page spread accompanied by a few paragraphs of analysis. The Visual History of the title distinguishes it from Daniel Updike's more scholarly Printing Types, which remains the standard history.

SH Steinberg's 500 Years Of Printing also covers the same timeframe, though it's a slim pocketbook whereas The Visual History Of Type has the dimensions of a family Bible (appropriately enough, as it begins with Johannes Gutenberg). On its back cover, the book is justifiably described as "the definitive survey of the development of letterforms since the advent of printing with movable type in the mid-1400s." It's the new Bible of typography.

"She is a former prime minister and
some officials might have helped her..."

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra left Thailand this week, shortly before the Supreme Court was due to deliver its verdict in her trial for dereliction of duty. Yingluck had been due in court on 25th August, though her lawyer claimed that she was too ill to attend. The Court rejected that claim, as no medical certificate was presented, and the reading of the verdict was delayed until 27th September.

Announcing the delay, the Court released a written statement saying: "the defendant may attempt to abscond and therefore the Court duly issued an arrest warrant". It soon became clear that Yingluck had indeed absconded, crossing the border into Cambodia and then flying to Singapore. How or when she left Thailand has not yet been established, though it seems that she left at the last minute, only a day or two before the verdict was to be delivered.

The case stems from a rice subsidy scheme she spearheaded in 2011. Her government bought rice from farmers at up to 50% above the market rate, intending to withhold it from the world market and thus drive up the price. The result, however, was that other countries in the region increased their rice exports. Pheu Thai was left with vast stockpiles of rice that it could not sell, and that it was unable to pay for. Yingluck was charged with implementing the loss-making scheme and failing to investigate the corruption associated with it.

Throughout the trial, Yingluck had defended the policy in court, and had pledged to accept the verdict. On 11th July, she told the Bangkok Post: "I'll be there in court to the end." (The Bangkok Post previously interviewed her in 2014, though that interview was later retracted.) Her self-exile is all the more surprising as she seemingly avoided detection when she crossed the border. On this point, deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan initially told the media: "She is a former prime minister and some officials might have helped her if she is running away." Later, the government denied this, with one source implausibly suggesting that she had fled in a speedboat.

Her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, also left the country suspiciously easily during a Supreme Court trial. (He was given permission to visit Beijing for the Olympics, and didn't come back.) He was convicted in absentia in 2008, and his assets were seized in 2010. The coups of 2006 and 2014 were attempts by Thailand's traditional power brokers, the military, to terminate the Shinawatra family's political influence.

The eventual verdict in Yingluck's case is a foregone conclusion, given that she had already been removed from office, retroactively impeached, and fined $1 billion. Yingluck was either facing a jail sentence after a politicised trial, or a life in exile as a fugitive from justice. Her decision to leave is arguably the ideal scenario for the military, as she would have been regarded as a martyr by her red-shirt supporters if she had been convicted and jailed.


Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has been available in multiple formats since its original theatrical release in 1960. I've seen it on 35mm, DCP, laserdisc, DVD, blu-ray, VHS (open matte), as an in-flight movie, and on television (in an extended version). The film's script has been published, as part of The Film Classics Library. Hitchcock wrote a publicity booklet, The Care & Handling Of Psycho. There are plenty of books about it, including Alfred Hitchcock & The Making Of Psycho (which inspired the film Hitchcock), The Moment Of Psycho, and Psycho In The Shower.

But Psycho's soundtrack has never had an official release. There have been albums of orchestral performances of the score, some even conducted by composer Bernard Herrmann, though these were recorded many years after the film was made. There are also recordings claiming to be from the original master tapes, though these are poor-quality bootlegs. The closest to a legitimate release of the original soundtrack was Universal's Signature Collection laserdisc, which featured an isolated music track as a bonus feature.

Psycho, a new 7" single from Stylotone, is the first Psycho soundtrack released under licence from Universal. It contains only two tracks (the opening titles music, Prelude; and The Murder, from the shower sequence), though they are sourced directly from the original master tapes. The record was produced in collaboration with the Hitchcock and Herrmann estates, making it as official as they come. It is limited to 1,960 copies, and comes with a postcard featuring a still from the film.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

"The BBC stands by its journalism..."

A defamation suit against BBC journalist Jonathan Head has been dropped by the plaintiff. The case stemmed from a televised report into fraud on the island of Phuket, broadcast on BBC2's Victoria Derbyshire programme on 18th September 2015. The report alleged that a lawyer practising in Phuket had certified a forged signature, and he sued for the damage caused to his professional reputation.

In Thailand, defamation is a criminal offence, making investigative reporting a legal minefield. The BBC defended its reporting in a statement issued after the defamation suit was filed: "The BBC stands by its journalism and we will fight the allegations made against our correspondent by these proceedings." That position was vindicated today when the charges were dropped.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Echoes of French Cinema

By The Time It Gets Dark
Anocha Suwichakornpong (director of Mundane History) will introduce her latest film, By The Time It Gets Dark, at Bangkok's Alliance Francaise on 30th August, at an event called Echoes Of French Cinema. The film will be shown again on 1st, 5th, and 9th September.

Monday, 21 August 2017


By The Time It Gets Dark
Motel Mist
Homeflick, which screens independent films in Nakhon Ratchasima (in Thailand's Isan region), has organised an event this weekend: หนังควบ (a double-bill), with By The Time It Gets Dark showing on Saturday and Motel Mist on Sunday. Both screenings are at the city's Five Stars Multiplex cinema.

By The Time It Gets Dark, directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong (whose first film was the superb Mundane History), was shown last month at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai. After the Homeflick screening, it will also be shown at Bangkok's Alliance Francaise on 30th August, followed by a Q&A with Anocha.

Motel Mist, the directorial debut of writer Prabda Yoon, was dropped by its original distributor (TrueVisions) the day before its release date, and subsequently released independently. It was also shown at the Play Me cafe and bar in Chon Buri, on 6th May.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Hollywood Movie Stills

Hollywood Movie Stills
Hollywood Movie Stills: Art & Technique In The Golden Age Of The Studios, by Joel W Finler, is "the first ever attempt to explore the role of the movie stills photographer in all its different guises." It covers the history of publicity stills from the beginning of the American studio system until the early 1970s, with chapters on star portraits, film stills, and behind-the-scenes photography. The dust jacket accurately describes it as "the most detailed and perceptive study ever devoted to this neglected aspect of film-making."

The book's black-and-white photographs include some rare images, such as Marlon Brando recreating a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire with a stand-in for Kim Hunter, alongside classic stills from Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and The Seven Year Itch. The A-Z appendix is brief and superfluous, though the bibliography has been expanded from previous editions.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rebel Heart Tour

Rebel Heart Tour
Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour will be released on video and CD next month. The concert, promoting her Rebel Heart album, was broadcast on Showtime last December.

The DVD and blu-ray versions feature the following songs: Iconic, Bitch I'm Madonna, Burning Up, a medley of Holy Water and Vogue, Devil Pray, Messiah, Body Shop, True Blue, Deeper & Deeper, HeartBreakCity, Like A Virgin, S.E.X., Living For Love, La Isla Bonita, a medley of Dress You Up and Into The Groove, Rebel Heart, Illuminati, Music, Candy Shop, Material Girl, La Vie En Rose, Unapologetic Bitch, Holiday, and Like A Prayer. A CD double-album features all tracks except Messiah, S.E.X., and Illuminati.

A single-disc CD version features thirteen songs: Iconic, Bitch I'm Madonna, Burning Up, a medley of Holy Water and Vogue, Devil Pray, Deeper & Deeper, HeartBreakCity, Living For Love, La Isla Bonita, Rebel Heart, Candy Shop, Unapologetic Bitch, and Holiday. The DVD and blu-ray releases will also include extracts from the Tears Of A Clown cabaret show, though unfortunately it will be the rather shambolic Melbourne debut rather than the more polished Miami performance.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

New Horizons
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson, part of Thames & Hudson's New Horizons series of pocket-sized art books, is a short study of the master photographer, written by Clement Cheroux. The book is largely biographical, though there's also a chapter analysing Cartier-Bresson's visual style. Reproductions of ephemera such as documents and stamps add to the book's charm.

The cover shows Cartier-Bresson's most famous photograph, Derriere La Gare St Lazare: a man jumping into a puddle. The book was originally published in French, subtitled Le Tir Photographique. Cheroux (the editor of Paparazzi!) has also written several other works on Cartier-Bresson: Here & Now, Henri Cartier-Bresson, a booklet on The Decisive Moment, and Interviews & Conversations 1951-1998.

Godman To Tycoon

Godman To Tycoon
A court in Delhi has granted an injunction blocking the sale of Godman To Tycoon, a biography of Baba Ramdev. The book (subtitled The Untold Story Of Baba Ramdev), by Priyanka Pathak-Narain, was published earlier this month, though online retailers Amazon India and Flipkart have received court orders prohibiting any further sales.

Amazon India has removed the book from its website, though it remains listed as available on Flipkart's site. The book's publisher was notified of the ex parte injunction on 10th August. Ramdev, who campaigned for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 general election, is a controversial figure who claims that practicing yoga can prevent AIDS and 'cure' homosexuality.

"We got an important fact wrong..."

The New York Times
Sarah Palin is seeking $75,000 in damages from The New York Times. Her lawsuit alleges that the newspaper defamed her in an editorial by linking her to the 2011 shooting of Gabby Giffords. The editorial (headlined "America's Lethal Politics") was published online on 14th June, and appeared in the newspaper's print edition the following day. It was written by James Bennet, though as is conventional for leader columns, it was not bylined.

As originally published, the editorial stated: "In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin's political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs."

In fact, Palin's map showed Democratic districts, not politicians, in crosshairs. Also, no causal link has been found between Palin's map and the Giffords shooting. The newspaper issued a clarification via Twitter on 15th June: "We got an important fact wrong, incorrectly linking political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Giffords." It also made several revisions to the article online.

On 15th June, an extra sentence was inserted into the online version of the article, after the Palin reference: "But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established." A subsequent reference to the Giffords shooting ("Though there's no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack") was removed. Finally, Palin's map was more accurately described as "a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs."

Arguably, the reference to Palin's map should have been removed altogether, as the revised version of the editorial stresses that there was "no connection" between the crosshairs and the shooting of Giffords. However, for Palin to win her legal case, she will be required to prove that the newspaper acted with 'actual malice' by deliberately publishing false and damaging information.

Palin's lawsuit is one of several recent defamation cases against news organisations. The "pink slime" case was settled out of court last week, with Beef Products receiving $177 million from Disney, the parent company of ABC News. Melania Trump sued the Daily Mail last year, and received $3 million in damages. A documentary on the Gawker case, Nobody Speak, was released in June.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Peace TV

Peace TV, a television station operated by the red-shirt UDD movement, has had its broadcasting licence suspended for thirty days. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, the state media regulator, announced that Peace TV had broadcast material that undermined "national security, public order and good public morals." The NBTC's ruling relates to two Peace TV programmes: เข้าใจตรงกันนะ, shown on 4th July; and ห้องข่าวเล่าเรื่องสุดสัปดาห์, broadcast on 9th July.

Peace TV's licence was suspended for thirty days last year, also due to material broadcast on the เข้าใจตรงกันนะ programme; that suspension stemmed from an episode transmitted on 21st March 2016. The station's production offices were raided in 2015, when soldiers and police officers attempted to prevent it from interviewing former Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. (They were apparently unaware that the interview was a repeat rather than a live broadcast.)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


Cast: Art & Objects Made Using Humanity's Most Transformational Process, by Jen Townsend and Renee Zettle-Sterling, is the first book to explore the casting process from an artistic rather than technical perspective. At more than 400 pages, the book is a substantial survey, though it's not a comprehensive history of casting, as the authors recognise: "the breadth and depth of its history and impact are too vast to capture in a single book." There are chapters on jewellery, metal, ceramics, and glass, and more than 800 colour photographs of historic and contemporary objects.

French Classics, Thai Classics

Classic Films Screenings at AF Cinema
The Wages Of Fear
The Citizen
Muen & Rid
Bangkok's Alliance Francaise will host a season of vintage French and Thai films over the next five months. Of the five French films, the highlight is Henri-Georges Clouzot's suspense classic The Wages Of Fear, which will be shown on 4th October. (Clouzot later directed the thriller Les Diaboliques.)

The season also features five Thai films, including Chatrichalerm Yukol's The Citizen (inspired by Taxi Driver and Bicycle Thieves), screening on 15th August. (After directing social-conscience films such as The Citizen and Dr Karn, Chatrichalerm later made the epics Suriyothai and Naresuan.) The period drama Muen & Rid, by Cherd Songsri (director of The Scar) will be shown on 14th November.

Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures

Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures
Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures is the first feature-length documentary on the life and work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989. The film is an HBO production, and was first broadcast on 4th April 2016. (In the UK, it was shown on BBC2, as part of the Imagine... series, on 29th July 2017.) Its directors, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, previously collaborated on the documentary Inside Deep Throat.

The film's subtitle is taken from a speech on the Senate floor made by Jesse Helms in 1989: "I want Senators to come over here, if they have any doubt, and look at the pictures." Helms was campaigning against National Endowment for the Arts funding for exhibitions by Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, amongst others, and he showed Mapplethorpe's Man In Polyester Suit (1980) and Serrano's Piss Christ (1987) in the Senate. When the posthumous Mapplethorpe retrospective The Perfect Moment opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati later that year, the Center's director was charged with exhibiting obscene images, though he was ultimately acquitted.

The makers of Look At The Pictures were given complete access to the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation's archive. Consequently, the fascinating documentary includes hundreds of previously unseen photographs by Mapplethorpe, and audio extracts from interviews with him. He tells one interviewer: "The work dealing with sexuality is very directly related to my own experiences. It was an area that hadn't been explored in contemporary art, and so it's an area that interested me in terms of making my statement." Many of Mapplethorpe's surviving friends, lovers, and family members participated in the film, with the notable exception of Patti Smith.

Mapplethorpe's most notorious work was a series of thirteen photographs known as the X Portfolio: Scott, NYC (1978); Self-Portrait (1978); Cedric, NYC (1977); Patrice, NYC (1977); Joe, NYC (1978); Jim, Sausalito (1977); Helmut, NYC (1978); John, NYC (1978); Lou, NYC (1978); Helmut & Brooks, NYC (1978); Jim & Tom, Sausalito (1977); Ken, NYC (1978); and Dick, NYC (1978). The Cincinnati obscenity charges related to five of these pictures (Self-Portrait; Jim & Tom, Sausalito; Helmut & Brooks, NYC; Lou, NYC; and John, NYC) and two photographs of naked children (Jessie McBride and Rosie, both from 1976).

Look At The Pictures misrepresents the Cincinnati case by mistakenly claiming that Joe, NYC was included in the list of photographs being prosecuted. More contentiously, the film omits any mention of Jessie McBride or Rosie, which were presumably deemed too sensitive to include in the documentary. These two images were included in a Channel 4 documentary, Damned In The USA, broadcast on 27th September 1991. Rosie, from Mapplethorpe's book Certain People (1985), is especially controversial, and is not included in later Mapplethorpe monographs; it was removed from a Hayward Gallery exhibition in London in 1996 on police advice.

Friday, 4 August 2017

101 Movies To Watch Before You Die

101 Movies To Watch Before You Die
101 Movies To Watch Before You Die
101 Movies To Watch Before You Die, written and illustrated by Ricardo Cavolo, is a guide to cult and classic films, arranged chronologically. Each film is briefly reviewed (in handwritten capital letters), alongside a full-page illustration. These illustrations are montages of the main characters from each film, and each character has an extra set of eyes. The book includes ninety-three individual films, seven trilogies, and eight Harry Potter episodes, making a total of 122 films.


Plywood: A Material Story

Plywood: A Material Story, by Christopher Wilk, is the first history of plywood as a material for furniture, industrial design, and architecture. As Wilk notes in his introduction, "plywood has a long history that is largely unknown and has been little researched." This comprehensive book, published by Thames & Hudson, more than makes up for that.

The use of plywood in industrial manufacturing was first patented in the early Victorian era, though Wilk traces the process back to the ancient Egyptian craft of gluing layers of veneer: "this is not a story in which a brand new material was born at a particular moment. Instead, it is the adaptation and reuse of a long-understood construction technique in an increasingly broad range of applications."

Plywood and veneering were much maligned in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Charles Dickens literally personified this attitude in Our Mutual Friend (1865), with its superficial, nouveau riche characters "Mr and Mrs Veneering". Public attitudes to plywood began to shift as it became an increasingly popular material in interior design in the 1930s. By the 1940s, it was firmly established as a modern design material, thanks to moulded plywood furniture by designers such as Charles and Ray Eames.

Wilk also curated the Plywood: Material Of The Modern World exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Plywood: A Material Story includes extensive notes and a wide range of historical illustrations. It will surely be the definitive work on plywood for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


George and Amal Clooney have said that they will sue French magazine Voici for invasion of privacy, after it published paparazzi photographs of their two-month-old twins, Alexander and Ella. The Clooneys released a statement on Saturday, announcing that "the photographers, the agency and the magazine will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

The photographs appeared in Voici on 28th July. The magazine is frequently required to print front-page apologies after invasion of privacy complaints. Voici and similar magazines, including Closer, Public, and VSD, are downmarket versions of Paris Match, specialising in candid celebrity photographs and gossip.


Bangkok Screening Room

Touch Of Evil
After Citizen Kane in May and June, Bangkok Screening Room will be showing another Orson Welles masterpiece this month: Touch Of Evil. The Noir classic will be screened on 15th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 27th, 29th, 30, and 31st August; and 1st and 2nd September.

Bangkok Screening Room is Bangkok's premiere venue for classic Thai and Hollywood films. Less than a year since it opened, this superior repertory cinema has already shown Tears Of The Black Tiger, Sunset Boulevard, Uncle Boonmee, Vertigo, Casablanca, Dr Strangelove,.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Dunkirk (IMAX 70mm)

When he interviewed Quentin Tarantino for the Directors Guild of America in 2015, Christopher Nolan's first question was related to the 65mm film format: "My feeling, watching this film, is that it had an increased level of formalism, I suppose you'd say. There's a real calm and thought to where the camera is, always. Do you think that was related in any way to the choice of format?"

Nolan was referring to Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, though the question also applies to his own latest film, Dunkirk, which was filmed in 70mm IMAX and 65mm. The precise compositions of Dunkirk are a reminder of the formalism that Nolan saw in Tarantino's earlier film.

The Spitfires flying in formation, and the soldiers queuing on the pristine Dunkerque beach, add to the sense of precision in Dunkirk. This seems incongruous given the film's subject matter, though it's perhaps better to think of it as a film about a military operation rather than a war film per se. Regardless, the resulting cinematography is spectacular, especially the breathtaking shots of a gliding Spitfire.

The film is a departure for Nolan, as it's based on real historical events, though it shares some of the narrative experimentation familiar from Memento and Inception. Dunkirk's three story arcs (land, sea, and air) take place over different time periods (a week, a day, and an hour, respectively), a condensed form of the time dilation in Nolan's Interstellar.

Dunkirk also benefits from Nolan's long-standing preference for in-camera effects over CGI, with filming taking place on real ships, boats, and aeroplanes. Nolan has cited masters of suspense Alfred Hitchcock and Henri-Georges Clouzot as primary inspirations for Dunkirk, and there are obvious parallels, for example, with Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

Dunkirk is showing in IMAX 70mm in the 1.43:1 aspect ratio, and this format provides the highest possible image quality. At digital IMAX cinemas, with smaller screens, the film is cropped to 1.9:1. 70mm prints at non-IMAX cinemas are cropped to 2.2:1. 35mm, DMX, and standard DCP versions are cropped to 2.4:1. The Krungsri IMAX screen at Bangkok's Siam Paragon is the only IMAX 70mm venue in Thailand.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible

What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible
Master Lecture: Apichatpong Weerasethskul
What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible
My Mother's Garden
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's short film My Mother's Garden is included in the group exhibition What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible currently showing at BACC in Bangkok. The exhibition takes its name from the title of an ultraviolet light installation by Julien Discrit. It opened on 17th June, and runs until 26th July.

In a related event, Apichatpong will present a Master Lecture at BACC on 2nd August, discussing his artistic influences. (He has given similar presentations in 2008 and 2010.) Apichatpong's feature films include Tropical Malady, Blissfully Yours, Syndromes & A Century, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Mekong Hotel, and Cemetery Of Splendour.


Henri Cartier-Bresson:
Interviews & Conversations 1951-1998

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Interviews & Conversations 1951-1998
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Interviews & Conversations 1951-1998 is a collection of interviews with photographer Henri-Cartier Bresson, whose book The Decisive Moment is one of the most celebrated of all photography monographs. Interviews published in each decade from the 1950s to the 1990s are included - a dozen in total - and (perhaps even more significantly) a bibliography lists Cartier-Bresson's other print and broadcast interviews.

The book, edited by Clement Cheroux and Julie Jones, was originally published in French as "Voir & Un Tout": Entretiens & Conversations. Cheroux (editor of Paparazzi!) has also written Henri Cartier-Bresson and Here & Now. The Man, The Image, & The World is the most extensive collection of Cartier-Bresson's images, and his writings are collected in The Mind's Eye.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

"Good Coup" Gone Bad

"Good Coup" Gone Bad
"Good Coup" Gone Bad: Thailand's Political Developments Since Thaksin's Downfall is an anthology of essays analysing the aftermath of the 2006 coup d'etat. Editor Pavin Chachavalpongpun also co-edited a similar anthology, Bangkok, May 2010, which was notable for its (partially successful) attempt to present arguments from both sides of Thailand's political divide.

"Good Coup" Gone Bad makes no such attempt at balance, as the cover illustration makes clear. There are essays on post-coup lese majeste, the decline of the PAD, and the rise of the UDD. In his opening chapter (from which the book takes its title), Pavin argues: "The 2006 coup that was staged amid joy among many Bangkok residents - some even calling it a "good coup" - has turned out to be disastrous".

Contemporary Asian Cinema

Contemporary Asian Cinema
Contemporary Asian Cinema: Popular Culture In A Global Frame, edited by Anne Tereska Ciecko, is a collection of essays on the film industries of fourteen Asian countries, making it "the most authoritative assessment of contemporary Asian cinema available." In their essay Thailand: Revival In An Age Of Globalization, Anchalee Chaiworaporn and Adam Knee discuss the "new momentum" of Thai cinema since 1997, and the "massive scale" of the blockbuster Suriyothai. Other Asian cinema anthologies (both of which also feature essays by Anchalee) include Being & Becoming: The Cinemas Of Asia and Film In Southeast Asia: Voice From The Region.