Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Chang

Chang
Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness, the silent film made "in the Jungles of Northern Siam" by the directors of King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack), was an early feature-length documentary released in 1927. Like Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, and other documentaries of the period, it combines real locations with staged events. (It also shows the autobiographical nature of the Carl Denham character in King Kong who, like Cooper, made melodramatic documentaries in exotic locations.)

Chang was last shown here as part of Bangkok Bananas in 2009, with music performed by a live orchestra. It will be shown again on 25th February at the National Film Archive in Salaya, also with a live orchestral soundtrack, and the screening is free.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

"Talk shows play a formative role
in shaping public debate in Egypt..."

Tapes Reveal Tacit Acceptance By Arabs of Jerusalem Decision
Egypt's state prosecutor is set to press criminal charges against The New York Times, after it reported that the Egyptian intelligence service had attempted to influence television coverage of America's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In an article published on 7th January, headlined "Tapes Reveal Tacit Acceptance By Arabs of Jerusalem Decision", David D. Kirkpatrick wrote that an intelligence officer, Ashraf al-Kholi, had telephoned four TV presenters asking them to play down any negative reaction to the US policy. (The article also appeared in the international edition, on 8th January.)

The article quoted one of the TV hosts, Azmi Megahed, who confirmed that the recordings were genuine. Kirkpatrick also explained the significance of the calls: "Television talk shows play a formative role in shaping public debate in Egypt, and Egyptian intelligence services often brief the presenters of the programs about messages to convey to the public. The hosts typically prefer to characterize the conversations as journalists talking to sources."

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Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Pen-ek Retrospective

Pen-ek Retrospective
Monrak Transistor
Fun Bar Karaoke
6ixtynin9
Nymph
Paradoxocracy
Ploy
Headshot
You wait twenty years for a Pen-ek Ratanaruang retrospective, and then two come along at once. Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก, a complete retrospective of Pen-ek's films, is being held at various venues in Bangkok this month. At the same time, Bangkok's Alliance Française is hosting Pen-ek Retrospective, its own season of his films.

Alliance Française will be showing seven films. Pen-ek will introduce Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์) on 19th January. There will be a double bill of Fun Bar Karaoke (ฝันบ้าคาราโอเกะ) and 6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69) on 20th January. Nymph (นางไม้) is showing on 23rd January, Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย) on 25th January, and Ploy (พลอย) on 26th January. Finally, Pen-ek will introduce Headshot (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า) on 27th January, as part of the Echoes of French Cinema season.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Fall Out

Fall Out
Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem is Tim Shipman's sequel to All Out War, his definitive account of the Brexit referendum. Fall Out covers the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the first stage of the European Union negotiations, and the disastrous 2017 general election. Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, is arguably the most well-connected political correspondent in the UK: his coverage of the Conservative government is as gripping as Andrew Rawnsley's accounts of the New Labour era (Servants of the People and The End of the Party). His off-the-record sources include thirteen cabinet ministers.

Chapter titles such as "Brexit Means Brexit" and "Strong and Stable" reveal how much Prime Minister Theresa May has relied on repeating brief, vague soundbites instead of fully explaining her policies. Shipman portrays her as a PM driven by personal conviction though out of her depth. May is the book's central figure, though Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, her joint chiefs of staff, are another major element of the drama: "This is a play with many actors, but overwhelmingly it is the story of those three people and how they took charge of the most complex political conundrum since the Second World War".

After the Tories lost their parliamentary majority, it was only the resignations of Timothy and Hill that prevented a party coup against May's leadership. Shipman's book reveals in some detail why the two chiefs were so disliked; their nickname for Chancellor Philip Hammond, for example, was "The Cunt". One source tells Shipman: "they would say things like, "You're a posh cunt," and "No, you're a posher cunt." "Who is the poshest cunt of the lot?" This is a conversation between Nick and Fi, and I looked across at the prime minister, thinking, "Do you think this is all right?" There was not a glimmer."

In the immediate aftermath of the election, everything was up in the air: "May's future as prime minister hung in the balance as cabinet ministers contacted each other". Cabinet members were all mutually suspicious, May most of all: "She called Boris Johnson and formally asked, 'Do you intend to stand against me?'" The Chancellor was equally paranoid: "Hammond put her on the spot: 'You were going to sack me, weren't you?'" Shipman writes that Grant Shapps' attempted coup was aborted, though it had gathered steam following May's 2017 party conference speech: "One day after May's meltdown, three members of her cabinet decided her time was up."

Fall Out was published last November, and in that same month two cabinet ministers (Priti Patel and Michael Fallon) were forced to resign. Another, May's closest political ally (Damian Green), quit a month later. The fallout continues.

Friday, 5 January 2018

World Class Cinema

World Class Cinema
Cleopatra
The Godfather
The Godfather II
The World Class Cinema season will return this year with a new lineup of Hollywood classics. The first screening of the new season will be Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor, on 14th January. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, starring Marlon Brando, will be screened on 11th February; its sequel, The Godfather II, starring Robert de Niro, is on 18th February. All screenings will be at Bangkok's Scala cinema.

The Governance of China II

The Governance of China II
The Governance of China II (谈治国理政 第二卷), published last November, is the second volume of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speeches, featuring transcripts of his public statements delivered between August 2014 and September last year. (Thus, his major speech at the Communist party congress last October is not included.)

It follows the same format as the first volume, published in 2014; even the cover is identical. The only difference is that the 'cult of personality' aspect of the first volume (a hagiographic biography of Xi) is not repeated in the sequel. The first volume was published simultaneously in nine languages, though the new edition is available only in Chinese and English.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Fire and Fury

Fire and Fury
President Donald Trump has attempted to prevent the publication of Michael Wolff's forthcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The book was due to be released on 9th January, though it will be published four days early in defiance of Trump's legal threat. The publicity has already made it a bestseller.

According to Wolff's book, Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, predicted that Trump's eldest son would be one of the casualties of the Special Counsel investigation into collusion with Russia: "They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV." In response, Trump issued a White House statement attacking Bannon: "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."

Wolff also quotes Rupert Murdoch describing Trump as a "fucking idiot," echoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's earlier comment that Trump is a "fucking moron". (Wolff wrote an authorised biography of Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News.) His writing has been the subject of a previous legal dispute: GQ magazine was fined £10 thousand after one of his articles was found to be in contempt of court.

A cease-and-desist letter, addressed to Wolff and his publisher, was issued by Trump's lawyers today. It claims: "Your publication of the false/baseless statements about Mr. Trump gives rise to, among other claims, defamation by libel". (Trump lies every day, in his tweets and interviews, making his legal action deeply ironic.) The letter also states: "Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the Book".

Following a 1964 Supreme Court decision, libel against public figures requires proof of 'actual malice', and Trump's lawyer attempts to argue that Wolff's book constitutes this: "Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements." This is a reference to Wolff's explanation for the book's contradictory accounts of some events: "I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them."

A libel case is inconceivable, though Wolff's characteristically gossipy book does include plenty of uncorroborated claims. At times, it also misleads the reader: Wolff describes a "dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village town house", though the house in question was Wolff's own home. Later, he quotes from one of Trump's "unsolicited phone calls without presumption of confidentiality to a passing New York media acquaintance"; the unnamed acquaintance was Wolff himself, and his definition of "confidentiality" is somewhat malleable. He also overstates and obfuscates the extent of his on-the-record access to Trump, which was mostly confined to before the inauguration.

Trump's lawyer is Charles Harder, who also represented Melania Trump in her libel action against the Daily Mail. (She won $3 million in damages.) Previously, Harder represented Hulk Hogan when he successfully sued Gawker for invasion of privacy, winning $140 million in damages and bankrupting the website.

Words into Shapes

Words into Shapes
Calligrammes
Words into Shapes: The Graphic Art of Calligram, by Daniele Tozzi, profiles fourteen contemporary illustrators (including Tozzi himself) who create calligrams. The book begins with a brief historical introduction, which includes the famous mouse's tail from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and several examples from Guillaume Apollinaire's book Calligrammes.

Words into Shapes was written in Italian, and translated into English and Spanish. Translation is sometimes an inexact art, as Umberto Eco noted in his book Mouse or Rat?, and Words into Shapes illustrates Eco's point precisely by mistranslating Carroll's "Mouse's tail" as "rat's tail".

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก

Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก
Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก
Monrak Transistor
Fun Bar Karaoke
6ixtynin9
Nymph
Paradoxocracy
Ploy
Headshot
Last Life in the Universe
Invisible Waves
Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก, celebrating Pen-ek Ratanaruang's twenty-year career as a director, will take place later this month at three venues in Bangkok. The season begins at Warehouse 30 with Doc Theater Club's B-Side of Pen-ek, a weekend of music videos, commercials, short films, and the political documentary Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย) introduced by Pen-ek.

Pen-ek discussed the censorship of Paradoxocracy with me in 2014: "half of the footage that we have, you can't show to people. You'll just have to bury it in the ground somewhere." It will be screened on 13th January, and B-Side of Pen-ek continues on 14th January at the same venue. There will be further screenings at the Jam Factory on 21st and 22nd January, and House Rama will host a complete retrospective on 27th and 28th January. (Alliance Française is hosting its own Pen-ek retrospective this month, too.)

6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69) and Ploy (พลอย) will be shown at the Jam Factory on 20th January. Monrak Transistor
(มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์) will be screened there on 21st January. Both screenings are free, and posters signed by Pen-ek will be on sale.

House RCA will be screening Invisible Waves
(คำพิพากษาของมหาสมุทร), Nymph (นางไม้), and Fun Bar Karaoke (ฝันบ้าคาราโอเกะ) on 27th January; and Ploy, 6ixtynin9, and Headshot (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า) on 28th January. Monrak Transistor and Last Life in the Universe (เรื่องรัก น้อยนิด มหาศาล) will be shown on both days. Monrak Transistor, Nymph, Funbar Karaoke, 6ixtynin9, and Headshot will be screened in 35mm.

Bangkok Screening Room

Ploy
After showing two of Pen-ek Ratanaruang's films last year, 6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69) and Fun Bar Karaoke (ฝันบ้าคาราโอเกะ), Bangkok Screening Room is now showing a third, Ploy (พลอย). Ploy opened on Boxing day, and will be shown on 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 12, and 14th January. The screenings coincide with Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก, a retrospective celebrating Pen-ek's twenty-year career as a director. His other films include Nymph (นางไม้), Headshot (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า), and Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย).

I interviewed Pen-ek in 2014, and he discussed the censorship of Ploy ("the cinemas were crawling with police!"), though he also said that he regarded it as his best film: "It's one of the rare films that I can actually achieve something closer to what I aimed at. Normally, you aim here [holds hand up high] but you achieve here [holds hand down low], but nobody knows. I think Ploy was actually the film that I liked the most."

Sunday, 31 December 2017

"Not suitable for general reading..."

The Malaysian government has recently banned twenty-one publications. The Kementerian Dalam Negeri issued a list of the prohibited titles on 19th December, describing them as "detrimental and misleading to readers, especially the young, and these are not suitable for general reading".

The banned works are: Assalamualaikum: Observations on the Islamisation Of Malaysia, Qun Jiao Wang Shi, 36F Da Bo Mei De You Huo, Gou Nan Nv 2, Antithesis, 100 Keajaiban di Dunia, Amalan Mustajab dan Murah Rezeki, Senjata dan Pendinding Mukmin, Asma Ul-Husna: Rahsia Dan Amalan 99, Nama Allah, Rahsia dan Kelebihan Kayu Kokka: Jenis Kayu Bahtera Nabi Nuh AS - Tongkat Nabi Musa AS, Perjalanan Yang Cemerlang 1930-1980: Mempromosi Fahaman Komunisme, Intense Pleasure, Warisan Ilmu Tok Kenali Kelantan: Hampir Tidak Kesampaian Berakhir Tiada Kesudahan, Warisan Ilmu Tok Kenali Kelantan: Dimanakan Ku Cari Ganti, Warisan Ilmu Tok Kenali Kelantan: Jangan Sampai Terlihat Adanya Diri, Warisan Ilmu Tok Kenali Kelantan: Pencarian Ilmu Dipenghujung Rasa, Agama Masa Depan: Perspektif Filsafat Perennial, 25 Kisah Mukjizat Rasulullah, and Meneladani Rasulullah dan Cerita Lain. The list also includes the June 2014 issue of the UK magazine Loaded.

A similar list was issued on 27th July, announcing that the following publications were banned: Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy, Humanisme Islam: Kajian terhadap Pemikiran Filosofis Muhammad Arkoun, Kisah Para Nabi, Kasyaf Al-Haq, Kisah-kisah Ghaib Dalam Hadis Sahih, Agama Allah Rahmat dan Penyelamat Bagi Seluruh Alam, At-Thariq Ilallah Thariqat Al-Hassaniyyah, Berdialog Dengan Jin Islam, Piramid: Rahsia Purba Yang Dapat Anda Manfaatkan Menyingkap Misteri Pulau Besar, Fatimah Az-Zahara Wanita Solehah Sinaran Zaman, Misteri Merong Maha Kuasa dan Penyebaran Islam di Timur 1, Kisah Khalifah Sharif Yang Di-Pertuan Kedah dan Legasinya, 28 Hari: Jurnal Rock n Roll dan Anarki di Kuala Lumpur, Habibi, and Drive Me Wild.

Another list was issued on 30th March, banning Revenge of the Sarong Party Girl, Fifty Shades of Bliss, The Ultimate Guide to Spicing Up Your Sex Life, Pop Psychedelic, Only Two Can Play, Black Men Special Edition, The Loving Touch, The Book of Loving Sex, Nikmatnya Melayari Bahtera Malam Pertama, Pelacur Kelas Pertama dan Nazi Goreng, Kamasutra dan Kecerdasan Seks Modern, When Children Ask About Islam and The Unknown's Answer, Tafsir Al-Usyr: End of Al-Quran Al-Karim Juz, The Gospel of Ali, Live Like a River Flows, and Al-Fatihin. Also included on that list were the June 2014 and November 2014 issues of the US magazine Maxim; and Manifesto Komunis, a translation of The Communist Manifesto.

Previous Malaysian bans have included a 2012 issue of Newsweek magazine, the novel Perempuan Nan Bercinta, and various cartoon books by Zunar. Zunar's Sapuman was banned in October.

Bangkok Screening Room

The Wizard of Oz
Next month, Bangkok Screening Room will be showing the classic Technicolor musical The Wizard of Oz. It will be screened on 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, and 30th January 2018; and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th February 2018.

My Life, Our Times

My Life, Our Times
Soon after Gordon Brown lost the 2010 UK general election, he wrote Beyond the Crash, his analysis of the causes of the global financial crisis. (A side note: in Thailand, the financial crash is called the 'hamburger crisis', as payback for the 1997 'tom yum goong crisis'.) My Life, Our Times, published last month, is Brown's personal memoir of his time as Chancellor and Prime Minister, though he also devotes plenty of space to the crisis and recovery: "In this book, I write of the greatest test that I faced as prime minister: the gravest financial crisis of our lifetime, and one which could have rapidly gone critical in the form of a sweeping global depression."

Tellingly, there was only a single reference to Tony Blair in Beyond the Crash. In My Life, Our Times, Brown is more forthcoming about their longstanding rivalry, accusing Blair of breaking a promise to resign during his second term as Prime Minister. In his own memoir, A Journey, Blair argued that Brown's Scottishness would be an obstacle to public acceptance, which was odd given that Blair was also a Scot. Brown highlights the double standard: "We could not, he said, have two leaders in a row from Scotland. I reminded him that he too was Scottish... The only difference seemed to me that people knew I was Scottish and assumed he was not."

Brown concedes that he and Blair had disagreements: "Inevitably there were heated words exchanged between us privately." But My Life, Our Times focuses more on policies (tax, the NHS, the euro, Iraq, Afghanistan) than personalities. The 'TB/GB' rows described by Andrew Rawnsley in Servants of the People and The End of the Party are omitted.

78/52 (DVD)

78/52
78/52
The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's documentary 78/52 refers to the (supposed) seventy-eight camera setups and fifty-two shots in the shower scene of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. (It could have been called A Long Hard Look at Psycho, but that title was already taken by Raymond Durgnat's book.) After an introduction to Psycho's cultural significance, the documentary analyses the shower scene shot-by-shot: the painting covering the peephole, the "calm before the storm", the three jump-cuts as Marion screams (echoing the monster's first appearance in Frankenstein), and the montage as she is attacked.

Talking heads, all filmed in black-and-white, include Hitchcock scholars Stephen Rebello (author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho), Bill Krohn (author of Hitchcock at Work and Masters of Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock), and David Thomson (author of The Moment of Psycho). Philippe's greatest coup is his interview with Marli Renfro, Janet Leigh's body double, who has rarely spoken about her role before. The most revealing contribution comes from Walter Murch (editor of Apocalypse Now), who meticulously deconstructs Hitchcock's editing and camera placement.

This is not the first study of Psycho's shower scene: Philip J. Skerry's book Psycho in the Shower also includes a detailed analysis of the sequence. Surprisingly, Skerry isn't interviewed in 78/52, though his book (like Rebello's) is essential, especially if read alongside Richard J. Anobile's book of Psycho stills. (Leigh has written her own memoir on the film, Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller; and Hitchcock is a lightly fictionalised account of Psycho's production.)

78/52 includes plenty of clips from Psycho, though it clearly couldn't secure the rights to the original Bernard Herrmann score. It also features short extracts from Laurent Bouzereau's documentary The Making of Psycho. The DVD includes a fascinating extended interview with Philippe, and a booklet with a short written statement by him.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

เทศกาลของขวัญประเทศไทย 2017

เทศกาลของขวัญประเทศไทย 2017
เทศกาลของขวัญประเทศไทย 2017
Tongpan
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre will be hosting an end-of-year event from today until 30th December. เทศกาลของขวัญประเทศไทย 2017 will feature screenings of classic Thai films, including Tongpan (ทองปาน) which is being shown this afternoon.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The Art of Horror Movies

The Art of Horror Movies
The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History, edited by Stephen Jones, is a decade-by-decade survey of horror films, illustrated with vintage film posters and original artwork. There are hundreds of posters, including rare foreign-language versions, though the larger original illustrations are less interesting. The back cover claims that "The Art of Horror is the definitive guide for any fan of horror films" though Phil Hardy's Horror: The Aurum Film Encyclopedia is more comprehensive. There is no bibliography.

The book includes essays by an impressive group of leading horror critics, most notably Christopher Frayling and Kim Newman. Frayling (author of Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years) writes about silent horror, such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, "one of the most influential horror films of all time, if not the most influential." Newman (author of Nightmare Movies) covers the 1960s: "Like Psycho, Night of the Living Dead changed not only the way horror films looked and their subject matter, but how they were financed, marketed, and franchised". (Newman wrote similar essays about each decade in Horror: The Definitive Guide to the Cinema of Fear.)

Friday, 22 December 2017

Google Me

Google Me
Lottery winner Gareth Bull has obtained an injunction blocking the sale of a book written by his mistress. Donna Desporté's Google Me: No Lies was published last month, though it can no longer be sold in the UK. A legal precedent was set last year when the UK's Supreme Court ruled that there is "no public interest, however much it may be of interest to some members of the public, in publishing kiss-and-tell stories".

Desporté describes "that faithful day [sic.], the day I met Gareth Bull" and their "many nights of champagne and passion". Her self-published book has clearly not been edited or even proof-read: the cover is a typographer's worst nightmare, and there are multiple errors in every single paragraph.

PDF

Bangkok Screening Room

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Some Like It Hot
Tomorrow and on Christmas Eve, Bangkok Screening Room will be showing a double bill of Marilyn Monroe classics: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, directed by Howard Hawks, includes Monroe's iconic performance of Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend; it was also shown earlier this year during Scala's World Class Cinema season. Some Like It Hot, directed by Billy Wilder, is one of the greatest comedies ever made.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The President's Keepers

The President's Keepers
The South African Revenue Service, South Africa's state tax agency, confirmed on 19th December that it is taking legal action against investigative journalist Jacques Pauw. SARS has accused Pauw of publishing confidential tax information in his book The President's Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison. The State Security Agency has sent 'cease and desist' orders to Pauw and his publisher, though the book has not been withdrawn from sale. In fact, it's sales have increased dramatically since the controversy, selling more than 200,000 copies.

There have been numerous graft allegations against Zuma (including 783 cases filed against him before he became President). Pauw's book is the first to meticulously expose the network of corruption surrounding his government, and the legal action by SARS would seem to validate the book's claims. As Pauw writes: "Under his rule, South Africa has become a two-government country. There is an elected government, and there is a shadow government - a state within the state."

PDF

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Apichatpong Weekend

Apichatpong Weekend
Apichatpong Weekend
Tropical Malady
Bangkok's Alliance Française is currently hosting a three-day season of films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Apichatpong Weekend began yesterday, when Apichatpong introduced eight of his short films: The Anthem (เพลงสรรเสริญ), Trailer for Cindi, Empire, Luminous People (คนเรืองแสง), Monsoon, Cactus River (โขงแล้งน้ำ), Footprints, and Worldly Desires (ความทรงจำในป่า). (There was a brief technical glitch when the projector shut off during Empire.)

Today, at a free event, he will discuss his use of ghosts as characters in his films. After the discussion, he will introduce six more short films: The Anthem, La Punta, Mobile Men, Ablaze, Vampire, and Haunted Houses (บ้านผีสิง). The final event, on 17th December, is arguably the main attraction: a free outdoor screening of Apichatpong's feature film Tropical Malady (สัตว์ประหลาด), in 35mm (part of the Echoes of French Cinema season).

Apichatpong has taken part in several similar events in Bangkok over the years, including Metaphors, What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible, Indy Spirit Project, and Apichatpong on Video Works. A decade ago, he introduced a screening of Syndromes and a Century (แสงศตวรรษ) at Alliance Française.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Cinema Winehouse

Die Hard
It's a Wonderful Life
Cinema Winehouse in Bangkok will be screening some festive films this month. The classic action movie Die Hard (which takes place on Christmas Eve) will be shown on 21st December. It's a Wonderful Life, arguably the ultimate Christmas film, will be screened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Die Hard has influenced most action movies of the past three decades, to the extent that they're pitched as 'Die Hard on a...' (Speed, for example, is Die Hard on a bus.) It's a Wonderful Life has become a Christmas tradition, though this was because its copyright was not renewed, so it could be shown on television every year royalty-free.