Friday, 11 October 2019

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
The 2019 edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die was published last week. Edited by Steven Jay Schneider, the first edition appeared in 2003, and it has been updated annually ever since (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018).

This year’s edition, revised by Ian Hayden Smith, features twelve new titles: Phantom Thread, The Greatest Showman, Crazy Rich Asians, Capernaum, A Star is Born (the Bradley Cooper remake), Avengers: Infinity War, Roma, Hereditary, The Favourite, Sorry to Bother You, Vice, and BlacKkKlansman. The new entries were all released between 2017 and 2018.

To maintain the 1001 total, a dozen films from the previous edition have been deleted: Buffalo ’66, Three Kings, Magnolia, Kippur, A One and a Two... (一 一), Amores perros, Talk to Her (Hable con ella), Victoria, Spotlight, Dawson City: Frozen in Time, Lady Macbeth, and Under the Shadow. Most previous updates removed only recent films, though this year’s deletions include some twenty-year-old classics (such as A One and a Two... and Amores perros).

There are also a couple of minor changes to the illustrations. The entry for The Burmese Harp (ビルマの竪琴) previously featured an English-language poster, though this has been replaced with the correct Japanese version (page 318); and the poster for The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse) has been mistakenly replaced by a duplicated photograph (page 883).

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Monday, 7 October 2019

ราษฎรกำแหง

ราษฎรกำแหง: บันทึก 9 คดี ต้านรัฐประหารในยุค คสช. (‘dissident citizens: nine cases against the NCPO coup’), edited by Noppon Archamas, examines the charges brought against pro-democracy activists since the 2014 coup. Its spine has an anti-coup message in Morse code (“..-. ..- -.-. -.- -.-. --- ..- .--.”), and its cover features the three-finger salute appropriated by anti-coup protesters from the film The Hunger Games.

The book reproduces the legal documents in each case, including the arrests of Samat Kwanchai and members of the New Democracy Movement. (Samat’s anti-coup flyer is reproduced on page 272.)

สามัญชน

สามัญชน (‘commoner’), a new EP from the Thai band The Commoner, was released on CD this month. The EP includes a booklet with a drawing inspired by Neal Ulevich’s iconic photograph of the 6th October 1976 massacre. (A previous album, Gigantrix Extinction, also featured artwork inspired by the image, and the photograph itself appeared on the cover of the Dead Kennedys single Holiday in Cambodia.)

The five tracks on the EP all comment on Thai political issues, and the EP is dedicated to “the commoners who fought against Thai Dictatorship.” The EP is part of a long tradition of Thai protest songs, known as เพลงเพื่อชีวิต (‘songs for life’). The genre was developed by the band Caravan, in response to the 14th October 1973 massacre, and was popularised by the band Carabao.

Commoner’s Anthem (บทเพลงของสามัญชน) is a tribute to those detained in ‘attitude adjustment’ sessions after the 2014 coup. We Are Friends (เราคือเพื่อนกัน) was written for those campaigning against military graft, particularly a group arrested in 2016 while travelling to Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin. Apology Flowers (ดอก) is about the arrests of activists campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the 2016 referendum. The Loop (วังวน) refers to two long-standing injustices: the unsolved murder of Somchai Neelapaijit (who was abducted in 2004 after he accused the police of torturing Muslim detainees) and the 6th October massacre. Imprisoned Butterfly (ฝากรักถึงเจ้าผีเสื้อ) is dedicated to Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, who was jailed for more than two years after sharing a BBC article about King Rama X on Facebook in 2016.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Museum of October 6

Museum of October 6
Museum of October 6
Museum of October 6
Today marks the anniversary of the 6th October 1976 massacre at Thammasat University. To commemorate the event, this weekend there is an exhibition at Thammasat organised by the Museum of October 6. For the first time, artefacts from the massacre itself are on display, including a megaphone—riddled with bullet holes—used by student protesters.

The exhibition, titled ประจักษ์ / พยาน (‘evidence / witness’) is dominated by a large gate, red with rust. Two activists were hanged from this gate on 25th September 1976, after they campaigned against military dictator Thanom Kittikachorn’s return from exile. Their hanging was reenacted by Thammasat students on 4th October 1976. The reenactment was falsely portrayed by the right-wing tabloid Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) as an attack on the Crown Prince, and this incendiary report precipitated the massacre at Thammasat.

The red gate had remained undisturbed ever since the massacre, until it was rediscovered by Patporn Phoothong in 2017. Patporn, who curated the exhibition, has also made three documentaries about 6th October: Silenced Memories (ความทรงจ ไรเสยง), Respectfully Yours (ดวยความนบถอ), and The Two Brothers (สองพนอง). The red gate is also the subject of a painting at the ศิลปะนานาพันธุ์ ศิลปะประชาธิปไตย (‘art for democracy’) exhibition, currently on show elsewhere in Bangkok; and Pachara Piyasongsoot’s Anatomy of Silence (กายวิภาคของความเงียบ) exhibition included a painting depicting the hanged men’s view from the red gate.

Friday, 4 October 2019

ศิลปะนานาพันธุ์ ศิลปะประชาธิปไตย

The group exhibition ศิลปะนานาพันธุ์ ศิลปะประชาธิปไตย (‘art for democracy’) opened on 28th September at Angoon’s Garden in Bangkok. Most of the paintings in the show are displayed outside, with some hanging next to a small pond. The exhibition (a less provocative equivalent of the political art show Uncensored) runs for exactly one month.

Each artwork is a response to the Thai military’s political influence over the decades. For example, Jirapatt Aungsumalee’s painting ประตูแดง (‘red gate’) depicts the outlines of two men hanged from a red gate in 1976, the extrajudicial killings that precipitated the 6th October 1976 massacre. Another painting also refers to 6th October: a man ready to strike a corpse with a chair, a figure from Neal Ulevich’s iconic photograph of the massacre.

The exhibition includes a single sculpture, Pin Sasao’s ถังแดง​: ความตายของบิลลี่ (‘red barrel: the death of Billy’), which uses a mannequin and barbecue to represent the ‘red barrel’ killings of Thailand’s anti-Communist purge. There are also photographs of performance art events by Sinsawat Yodbangtoey, Memory / History / Democracy (ความทรงจำประวัติศาสตร์ประชาธิปไตย), taken at monuments marking various Thai political upheavals.

The short film The Two Brothers (สองพี่น้อง) and the Anatomy of Silence (กายวิภาคของความเงียบ) exhibition were also inspired by the ‘red gate’ hangings; the gate itself will be shown at an exhibition marking the anniversary of 6th October this weekend. The man with the chair has been painted by numerous artists, including Headache Stencil and Tawan Wattuya.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is, as its poster proclaims, the ninth film by Quentin Tarantino. It’s also, apparently, his penultimate work. (Tarantino’s previous films are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill I and II, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight.)

The title is both a tribute to Once Upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il West) and a signal that this version of 1960s Hollywood is ultimately a fairy tale. Inglourious Basterds began with the caption “Once upon a time... in Nazi-occupied France”, and the new film features a similar form of revisionist history. It’s also unashamedly nostalgic, recreating the Hollywood of Tarantino’s childhood.

All of Tarantino’s films have superb soundtracks, and Once Upon a Time... is no exception. In this case, the music is all from the period, a great early example being the lip trill from Billy Stewart’s Summertime matched to a sputtering car engine. (It’s a reversal of the moment when the music slows as the car runs out of gas in The Graduate.) In fact, the best scenes all feature Brad Pitt driving around LA listening to his car radio. However, that also hints at one of the film’s flaws: for long stretches, we simply watch the characters hanging out. This may be fun, but it’s not particularly ambitious on Tarantino’s part, especially given the epic running time.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Stone

Stone
Stone is the latest in a series of coffee-table books on building materials, edited by William Hall and published by Phaidon. Like its predecessors Concrete, Brick, and Wood, Stone features stunning full-page photographs of more than 150 buildings, each with a paragraph-length caption.

“Many of the world’s most significant, revered, influential and memorable structures are built with stone,” Hall notes in his preface. Stone is the oldest and most durable of building materials, and the book includes such architectural masterworks as the pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon, and the Taj Mahal. Various forms of stone are represented, including basalt, limestone, marble, and sandstone.

“...a long and disturbing pattern of
behaviour by the British tabloid media”

The Mail on Sunday
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, are suing The Mail on Sunday for breach of copyright, after the newspaper printed extracts from a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas. In a statement released yesterday, Harry said: “This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media.”

The Mail on Sunday published the letter on 10th February, in a four-page article written by Caroline Graham. Thomas Markle—who supplied it to the newspaper—has legal ownership of the letter as its recipient, though copyright is retained solely by his daughter, as its writer. Thus, the newspaper was not legally entitled to reproduce it.

The Queen sued another UK tabloid, The Sun, for breach of copyright in 1992, after it published a transcript of her Christmas broadcast two days early. More recently, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, sued the French magazine Closer for invasion of privacy.

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Thailand’s Movie Theatres

Thailand's Movie Theatres
Thailand’s Movie Theatres: Relics, Ruins and the Romance of Escape features photographs of more than fifty vintage Thai cinemas. The book, by Philip Jablon, also includes a brief history of film exhibition in Thailand. (A Century of Thai Cinema, by Dome Sukwong, also covers Thai film exhibition, though Jablon goes into a bit more detail.)

As the book’s subtitle suggests, many of these stand-alone cinemas have been abandoned; in his preface, Kong Rithdee laments this “glorious dereliction”. Notoriously, Siam Theatre was destroyed by arsonists in 2010, a great cultural loss (as it was the first venue to draw crowds to Siam Square in downtown Bangkok), and—to add insult to injury—its demolition gave developers an ideal opportunity to build yet another shopping mall (Siam Square One). Fortunately, the Scala cinema, which Jablon calls “Bangkok’s last movie palace”, is still open for business. Others have been repurposed, such as the Prince Theatre, which was converted into an impressive movie-themed hotel.

Thailand’s Movie Theatres also examines the social history of film exhibition, profiling poster artists such as Piak Poster and voice dubbers like Sirichai Duangphatra. It includes a fascinating account of Sirichai’s dubbing of a Hollywood thriller in 1973: “He had a penchant, moreover, for using his role as dubber to address the day’s top political scandals, both at the national and local level. And corrupt politicians were his number one target. With Serpico, making political satire for Sirichai was like shooting fish in a barrel; it turned out to be his voice-over magnum opus.”

This book, however, is not the magnum opus on Thailand’s movie theatres. That label belongs to Once Upon a Celluloid Planet (สวรรค์ 35 มม.: เสน่ห์วิกหนังเมืองสยาม), by Sonthaya Subyen and Morimart Raden-Ahmad. Once Upon a Celluloid Planet is a more comprehensive guide to Thailand’s stand-alone cinemas, with multiple interior photographs of each venue. It’s also more than twice as long as Thailand’s Movie Theatres, and was published five years earlier (though the two projects were developed in parallel).

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Bangkok Screening Room

Psycho
Nang Nak
The Exorcist
To celebrate Halloween, Bangkok Screening Room will be showing a season of horror films this October and November. Highlights include Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho, Nonzee Nimibutr’s Thai classic Nang Nak (นางนาก), and William Friedkin’s horror blockbuster The Exorcist.

Psycho will be screened on 29th, 30th, and 31st October; and 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th November, in the slightly longer European version recently released on blu-ray. Nang Nak is showing on 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 15th October. There will be a single screening of The Exorcist, on 11th October.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts

Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts
In Prabda Yoon’s short film Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts (วงโคจรของความทรงจำ), the THEOS satellite malfunctions and begins transmitting images that seem inexplicable until Pang, a young engineer, discovers that they represent “many important historical events in Thailand.” The mysterious images are never shown, though Pang lists the dates that they refer to: “2014, 2010, 2008, 1992, 1976, 1973, 1932..."

Of course, those are precisely the years that Thailand’s military would like us all to forget: the 2014 coup, the 2010 redshirt crackdown, the 2008 police violence against yellowshirt protesters, ‘Black May’ 1992, the 6th October 1976 and 14th October 1973 massacres, and the 1932 abolition of absolute monarchy. Pang excitedly suggests that historians could use the satellite data to study these events: “They might discover many new things, things that they were previously unaware of, or things that were never documented.” But her boss has other ideas, and three soldiers destroy all the material she’s gathered.

The science-fiction dystopia of Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts is, like the portmanteau film Ten Years Thailand and Thunska Pansittivorakul’s Supernatural (เหนือธรรมชาติ), also a comment on present-day Thailand. Like the soldiers erasing satellite images of ‘unwanted pasts’, Thailand’s successive military governments have sought to suppress discussion of these events. School history courses emphasise royalist-nationalist legends, while the secret history cited in the film is excluded from the curriculum. A plaque commemorating the 1932 revolution was removed without explanation. Bhandit Rittakol’s The Moonhunter (14 ตุลา สงครามประชาชน) describes 14th October as an event “that many would like to erase from history”.

The result of this whitewashing is a cycle of nascent democratic reforms repeatedly reset by military coups, as forgotten history is destined to repeat itself. In Prabda Yoon’s previous film, Someone from Nowhere (มา ณ ที่นี้), this cycle is symbolised by a violent argument between a condo owner and an interloper. The two figures represent military and civilian governments jostling for power, though their roles are later reversed, and they have no memory of their previous confrontation.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Madame X Tour

Madame X Tour
Madonna’s Madame X Tour began last night. Her previous world tours (Who’s That Girl, Blond Ambition, The Girlie Show, Drowned World, Reinvention, Confessions, Sticky and Sweet, MDNA, and Rebel Heart) were all held in stadiums or arenas, though Madame X is a theatre tour. This makes each concert a far more intimate experience, and Madonna interacted with the audience throughout last night’s show. She has experimented with smaller-scale performances before: she debuted her Tears of a Clown cabaret show in Melbourne and Miami in 2016, and played one night at the Paris Olympia during The MDNA Tour in 2012.

The new tour includes live performances of almost the entire Madame X album (Medellín, Dark Ballet, God Control, Future, Batuka, Killers Who Are Partying, Crave, Crazy, Come Alive, I Don't Search I Find, and Extreme Occident) and a handful of classics (Human Nature, an a cappella Express Yourself, Vogue, Papa Don’t Preach, American Life, La Isla Bonita, Frozen, and Like a Prayer). There are two cover versions (Fado Pechincha and Sodade), and the encore is I Rise.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Tropical Malady: The Book

Tropical Malady: The Book, published this month, is a deluxe facsimile of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady (สัตว์ประหลาด) shooting script. The full-size reproduction includes the film’s dialogue, directions, and storyboards, all annotated by the director. In addition to the lavishly reproduced screenplay, it also features an interview with Apichatpong and a booklet of English and Japanese translations. (A different copy of the script was featured in the exhibition The Serenity of Madness.)

Internationally, Tropical Malady is one of Apichatpong’s most acclaimed films, though it had only limited distribution in Thailand. When I interviewed him in 2017, he discussed its disappointing domestic theatrical release: “I think, from Tropical Malady, there’s this issue of releasing the film, and marketing, that I don’t like. And also the studio was not interested in the film, anyway, because there’s no selling point: there’s no tiger, there’s no sex, so it’s very personal.” Tropical Malady: The Book is an attempt to raise the film’s Thai profile.

As in the novel S., simulations of various documents have been inserted between the pages: a handwritten letter (from Keng, one of the film’s protagonists), a Risograph print of a fantastically lurid comic (สมิงมนต์คนอาคม/‘possessed by a tiger’), a temple booklet (พื้นเสือสมิง/‘tiger spirit tales’), a magazine serial (นารายณ์ทรงปืน/‘Narai with a gun’), and a poster. The premium edition also comes with a sticker and tote bag, both featuring the book’s calligram logo. The book is housed in a custom cardboard box with the same design.

Tropical Malady: The Book was edited by Sonthaya Subyen and Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa. This superb tribute to one of Thailand’s greatest films is the last of Sonthaya’s Filmvirus books, a long-running series that also includes Once Upon a Celluloid Planet (สวรรค์ 35 มม.: เสน่ห์วิกหนังเมืองสยาม) and another Apichatpong Weerasethakul monograph, Unknown Forces (สัตว์วิกาล).

Monday, 9 September 2019

Roar

roar
Roar: Sulak Sivaraksa and the Path of Socially Engaged Buddhism, by Matteo Pistono, is an authorised biography of one of Thailand’s most respected and controversial public intellectuals. The book was published in the US; it’s on sale in Thailand, though it would surely be withdrawn if government censors ever read it. It includes a quote from Sulak’s interview with the Toronto Star newspaper (published on 3rd August 2011), which Pistono accurately describes as “a statement no newspaper in Thailand has ever been willing to print for fear of lèse-majesté.”

พระพุทธรูปอุลตร้าแมน

Terminal 21
Popularity 2
Popularity 1
Popularity 4
Popularity 3
Paintings depicting the Buddha as Ultraman (พระพุทธรูปอุลตร้าแมน) have been removed from an exhibition in Nakhon Ratchasima. The works, part of a series titled Popularity, were put on display at the Terminal 21 shopping mall on 3rd September, though they were withdrawn following allegations of blasphemy. The exhibition, เต๊อ=เติ๋น (literal translation: ‘too much=terrace’), is scheduled to close on 11th September.

Far from being blasphemous, the paintings present the Buddha as a heroic figure for young Ultraman fans. Nevertheless, the student artist, Suparat Chaijangrid, was required to issue a tearful public apology at a Buddhist temple on 7th September. (This ritual, in which transgressors of social convention must repent and plead for forgiveness, is a regular media spectacle in Thailand.)

The case recalls that of Withit Sembutr’s painting of Buddhist monks from 2007, Doo Phra (ดูพระ), which was withdrawn from a Bangkok mall under similar circumstances. Depictions of the Buddha in Thai art are generally reverential and thus uncontroversial, though an exception was Vasan Sitthiket’s Buddha Returns to Bangkok (พระพุทธเจ้าเสด็จกรุงเทพ 2535), a response to the 1992 ‘Black May’ massacre. Vasan has also painted the Buddha shooting corrupt politicians with a machine gun.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Prism of Photography

Prism of Photography
Prism of Photography: Dispersion of Knowledge and Memories of the 6th October Massacre (ปริซึมของภาพถ่าย: การแตกตัวขององค์ความ รู้และความทรงจำว่าด้วยเหตุการณ์ 6 ตุลา) is a visual archive of the 6th October 1976 massacre at Thammasat University, “one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of modern Thailand.” It includes Thai newspaper front pages, photographs taken by journalists at Thammasat, and autopsy photographs of the massacre victims. The images are primarily sourced from the Documentation of Oct 6 (บันทึก 6 ตุลา) website.

Surprisingly, the most iconic image from 6th October, Neal Ulevich’s picture of a man preparing to beat a hanging corpse with a chair, is not included. Nevertheless, the book is a more comprehensive collection of photographs than any previous publication on the massacre, such as สมุดภาพเดือนตุลา: ประมวลภาพเหตุการณ์ 14 ตุลาคม 2516 และ 6 ตุลาคม 2519 (‘picture book of 14th October 1973 and 6th October 1976’).

Most significantly, it’s (as far as I’m aware, after researching the subject myself for the past few years) the first book to reprint the notorious Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) front page from 6th October 1976. Dao Siam’s headline and accompanying photo have been much discussed though seldom, if ever, reproduced. For example, the headline appears in พลกแผนด นประวตการเมองไทย 24 มย 2475 ถง 14 ตค 2516 (‘overturning the history of Thai politics from 23rd June 1932 to 14th October 1973’), though the photograph was blacked out.

Prism of Photography, by Thanavi Chotpradit and Kornkrit Jianpinidnan, is available at the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2019, at CityCity Gallery from 5th to 8th September. (Kornkrit also produced a photobook for लिंगम् Project 2018/‘linga project 2018’.) The book is free, though it’s limited to 500 copies.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Rifts

Rifts
The group exhibition Rifts (รอยแยก) features thirteen Thai artists who came to prominence over the last thirty years, in what was arguably the first wave of postmodern Thai art. Each artist is represented by a single work, and one of the highlights is Reading for One Female Corpse, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s first piece of video art.

Rifts: Thai Contemporary Artistic Practices in Transition, 1980s-2000s opened at the BACC in Bangkok on 30th August, and will close on 24th November. Feeling the 1990s, part of the permanent collection at MAIIAM in Chiang Mai, features Thai art from the same period.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Elect After Election

Elect After Election
Elect After Election
Elect After Election
Elect After Election
The Elect After Election (เลือกแล้วได้อะไร? ประชาธิปไตยไทยหลังการเลือกตั้ง) installation features 750 seats, one for each of Thailand’s MPs and senators. The 500 appointed senators are represented by monoblok chairs, while the 250 elected politicians are symbolised by lowly stools. On the exhibition poster, the senators are depicted as tongue emojis, recalling Rap Against Dictatorship’s single 250 Bootlickers (250 สอพลอ).

In the centre of the installation is a blow-up figure with Prayut Chan-o-cha’s face, absurdly inflating and deflating in time to audio clips of Prayut’s parliamentary speeches. (Prayut, who led the 2014 coup, was appointed PM by the rubber-stamp National Legislative Assembly, and was reappointed after the 24th March election thanks to the votes of the hand-picked senators.)

Elect After Election was organised by Elect, a new NGO that aims to increase Thai public interest in politics and democracy. The exhibition opened yesterday at BACC in Bangkok, and will close on 1st September.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut
Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film examines the production and legacy of Eyes Wide Shut, twenty years after its theatrical release. Authors Robert P. Kolker and Nathan Abrams make effective use of files from the Stanley Kubrick Archive, comparing script drafts and using production reports to create a detailed account of the extended filming process. (Frederic Raphael’s self-serving memoir Eyes Wide Open is also a major source.) Endnotes are included, though they are not numbered in the body text, thus phrases such as “Cruise says” misleadingly imply that Tom Cruise (for example) spoke to the authors personally.

The book’s second half, dealing with Eyes Wide Shut’s post-production and release, is less impressive than the first. There are only two paragraphs devoted to the editing process, and Kubrick’s editing notes are dismissed as “gobbledygook.” The film was censored to comply with MPAA regulations, though the authors were unable to confirm how this was decided: “whether Kubrick intended to do this remains the subject of some controversy.” (The soundtrack was also changed, for the film’s European theatrical release and all video versions, though the book makes no mention of this.)

Kubrick died during post-production, and the book leaves key questions relating to posthumous editorial decisions unresolved. Most remarkably, the film’s state of incompletion at the time of Kubrick’s death is dealt with under the subheading “The Irrelevant Question”. Such matters are dismissed as mere trivialities: “Whether it might have been different in some small way is ultimately irrelevant and certainly counterproductive to our understanding of the film and the pleasure we take from it.” This is a pretty extraordinary statement, given Kubrick’s meticulous attention to detail.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The Textening

Four American media companies have been fined by the Federal Communications Commission after unauthorised broadcasts of the emergency alert system tone. The tone, which is similar to an SMS notification, can only be broadcast on television or radio in the event of a genuine emergency, and the FCC argued that its use in entertainment shows could lead to “alert fatigue” and public dismissal of genuine emergency alerts, resulting in “a substantial threat to public safety.”

The ABC network received the largest fine, $395,000, as a 3rd October 2018 episode of the late-night comedy show Jimmy Kimmel Live! included a parody of the emergency alert. Its spoof trailer, The Textening, featured nine uses of the alert tone.

AMC was fined $104,000, as it featured the alert in an episode of the horror series The Walking Dead (Omega, broadcast on 17th February). Meruelo Radio received a $67,000 fine, as a spoof alert tone appeared in trailers on its California radio station KDAY on 8th September 2017. Animal Planet was fined $68,000, as an episode of its reality TV series Lone Star Law (Thousand Year Flood, shown on 21st January 2018) also featured the alert tone. In that case, the alert was a genuine emergency message about Hurricane Harvey, though the show was broadcast several months after the storm.

Monday, 12 August 2019

100 Must-See Films

100 Must-See Films
On 7th July, the Sunday People newspaper (a UK tabloid) published 100 Must-See Films, an eight-page supplement listing “the top 100 films of all time.” The list, compiled by Karen Rockett, does not include any silent or foreign-language entries.

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Underdocs

Underdocs
Boundary
By the River
Soil Without Land
When the Lido cinema closed in 2018, after fifty years, you could have been forgiven for thinking that it would become yet another shopping mall. After all, that’s precisely what happened to the iconic Siam cinema on the same street. However, Lido reopened this month, not as a mall but as a revamped arts venue, Lido Connect.

The old Lido cinema was known for showing independent films, and fortunately this tradition will continue, as one of Lido’s screening rooms has been retained. (In fact, aside from a snazzy new facade, the building is structurally unchanged.) Doc Club Theater will now screen films at Lido Connect in addition to their existing venue at Warehouse 30. One of their first screenings will be Underdocs, a day-long retrospective of documentaries by Nontawat Numbenchapol, on 17th August. Nontawat will introduce each film, and will also take part in post-screenings discussions.

Underdocs begins with Nontawat’s Boundary (ฟ้าต่ำแผ่นดินสูง), which documents the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia when the disputed Preah Vihear Temple was exploited for nationalist political gain. The issue was so sensitive that the director couldn’t even reveal his identity while filming at the temple. As he told me in an interview: “I could not tell anyone in Cambodia that I’m Thai, because it would be hard to shoot. I had to tell everybody I’m Chinese-American... My name was Thomas in Cambodia.” Boundary will also be shown at Warehouse 30, on 31st August; 6th, 12th, and 18th September; and 7th and 16th October.

Nontawat’s second documentary, By the River (สายน้ำติดเชื้อ), is the second of three films showing as part of Underdocs. The film highlights the effects of lead pollution in the water of Lower Klity Creek in Kanchanaburi; when fishermen complained about poisoned fish, the local government simply told them to “find something else to eat.” The film’s subject is no less controversial than that of Boundary, as mining companies filed defamation lawsuits in 2016 and 2017 after similar investigations into water pollution. (The first case was dismissed, and the second was settled out of court.) By the River will also be shown at Warehouse 30, on 8th and 11th October.

The final film in the Underdocs trilogy is Nontawat’s latest work, Soil Without Land (ดินไร้แดน). Boundary explored the Thai-Cambodia border dispute through the experience of a newly conscripted soldier (identified only by his nickname, Aod), and Soil Without Land takes a similar approach, documenting Jai Sang Lod’s conscription into the Shan State army. The Shan are persecuted in Myanmar, and are denied refugee status in neighboring Thailand.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

12 Classics

12 Classics
Manhattan
Pulp Fiction
Tokyo Story
House Rama, Bangkok’s first arthouse cinema, is moving at the end of this month. When House opened twelve years ago at RCA, the area was one of Bangkok’s most popular nightlife destinations, though it has become increasingly neglected following the gentrification of numerous other districts in the city. In that time, there has also been a significant expansion of indie cinemas in Bangkok, including Cinema Oasis, Bangkok Screening Room, and the Friese-Greene Club.

House will open at its new location, Samyan Mitrtown, in September. To celebrate its relocation, it will be screening a classic film each month for the next year. The 12 Classics season includes Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story (東京物語). The season starts with Pulp Fiction, from 26th to 29th September; it will also be shown at Bangkok Screening Room, on 14th September. House Samyan will even have a 35mm projector in one screening room, so hopefully some of the twelve classics will be shown on celluloid.