Friday, 10 August 2018

Motel Mist

Motel Mist
Bangkok Screening Room will be showing Motel Mist (โรงแรมต่างดาว) on 2nd September, followed by a Q&A with its director, Prabda Yoon. The film was dropped by its distributor (TrueVisions) the day before its original release date, and was subsequently released independently.

Queer Film Festival

Queer Film Festival
Vous vous souviens de moi?
This month, Bangkok's Museum Siam is hosting a Queer Film Festival. There will be free outdoor screenings of contemporary gay films on 12th, 18th, and 25th August. The event begins with Queer DigiThaized, five short films shot on digital video, including Thunska Pansittivorakul's Vous vous souviens de moi? (ในนฝนตกลงมาเนสส). The five films were selected by Nontawat Numbenchapol, director of Boundary (ฟ้าต่ำแผ่นดินสูง), who will take part in a post-screening discussion with Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, director of Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด).

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Bangkok Joyride III

Bangkok Joyride III
The third part of Ing Kanjanavanit's epic documentary Bangkok Joyride (บางกอกจอยไรด์) opened last week at Cinema Oasis. Chapter three, Singing at Funerals (เพลงแห่ศพ), covers the PDRC demonstrations from 15th to 26th January 2014, when Suthep Thaugsuban escalated the protest with his 'Bangkok Shutdown' campaign. (Chapter four, Becoming One, will cover the PDRC's sabotaging of the 2014 general election.)

Singing at Funerals follows the same format as the first two chapters, How We Became Superheroes (เมื่อเราเป็นยอดมนุษย์) and Shutdown Bangkok (ชัตดาวน์ประเทศไทย). Filmed on Ing's iPhone, it features excerpts from PDRC rallies (including speeches by Vasan Sitthiket and Ing herself) and extensive footage of street processions. The coverage ultimately becomes excessive: the camera follows Suthep for half an hour as he collects donations from an endless line of protesters. There are also numerous shots of Thai flags being waved, and this fetishisation of the national flag has been a consistent feature of Bangkok Joyride.

Family Flicks Month

Family Flicks Month
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
This month is Family Flicks Month at Bangkok Screening Room, with a season of classic family films including Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (also shown earlier this year during Scala's World Class Cinema season). Snow White is showing on 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th August, and tickets are free for children.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Cinema Winehouse

Full Metal Jacket
Bangkok's Cinema Winehouse will be screening Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket on Saturday. (They showed Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and The Shining earlier this year.)

Sunday, 15 July 2018

3D: Double Vision

3D: Double Vision
3D: Double Vision, edited by Britt Salvesen, is the catalogue to an exhibition of 3D art currently on show in Los Angeles, though it's also an in-depth (no pun intended) history of stereoscopic imagery. The book includes a chapter on stereographs by Errki Huhtamo (author of Illusions in Motion) and a detailed chronology of stereographs, holograms, and lenticular images by Zach Rottman.

The stereoscope viewer and stereograph cards were Victorian inventions, which later influenced devices such as the View-Master. The first feature-length 3D film, The Power of Love, was released in 1922, though 3D cinema's heyday was in the early 1950s, with films such as Bwana Devil and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Look magazine published a lenticular image ("the first three-dimensional photograph ever produced in mass quantities by any publication anywhere") in its 25th February 1964 issue. The first printed hologram appeared in Science Year 1967: The World Book Science Annual.

There have been previous books on 3D cinema (3-D Movies by R.M. Hayes) and holographic images (Holograms by Sean F. Johnston), though Salvesen's fascinating catalogue is the first comprehensive cultural history of 3D. The exhibition plates are reproduced in 3D, and the book comes with two pairs of glasses to view stereograph and anaglyph images.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Cinema Winehouse

The Maltese Falcon
Bangkok's Cinema Winehouse will be screening The Maltese Falcon this evening. John Huston's debut film is a classic thriller and a perfect film noir.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Dirty Little Secret, an episode of the second season of Preacher, begins with Jesus having sex with a woman after the Last Supper, on the night before Good Friday. Afterwards, his disciples arrive, and he leaves with them for the Garden of Gethsemane. Later, the episode reveals that the woman gave birth to his child, thus continuing his bloodline. The latest descendent is Humperdoo, a mentally disabled man worshipped as a living messiah. The Preacher is based on a comic series written by Garth Ennis. Dirty Little Secret was broadcast on 21st August 2017 on the US cable channel AMC.

The myth of a divine bloodline was popularised forty years ago by Donovan Joyce's The Jesus Scroll, and more recently by Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code. Nigel Wingrove's short film Visions of Ecstasy depicts Saint Theresa's fantasy of sex with Jesus during his crucifixion. Martin Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ caused controversy with a dream sequence in which Jesus has sex with Mary Magdalene. A sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary was also featured in the D.H. Lawrence novella The Escaped Cock (retitled The Man Who Died) and Fernando Bayona's photographic exhibition Circus Christi.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Bangkok Screening Room

Monrak Transistor
This month, Bangkok Screening Room will show Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. Both films will be screened on 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, and 31st July.

Monrak Transistor is one of Pen-ek's most accessible and entertaining films. Like Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger (which is extracted in Monrak Transistor), it both celebrates and critiques the nostalgic idyll it depicts.

Rope, inspired by the Leopold and Loeb murder case, is most notable for its experimental editing technique: it was filmed entirely in ten-minute takes, and takes place in real time on a single set. Hitchcock's characteristic suspense is combined with an unconventional theatrical style. Rope was also Hitchcock's first independent film, after his Selznick contract ended, and his first film in colour.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Revolution française

Revolution francaise
Emmanuel Macron was elected just over a year ago, becoming President of France aged only thirty-nine. With characteristic ostentation and self-confidence, he compared himself to Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods. In his first fortnight as President, he condemned Russian state propaganda at a Versailles press conference with Vladimir Putin, and greeted Donald Trump with a vice-like handshake. His domestic poll ratings have suffered following his reform of France's previously sacrosanct labour laws, though he has successfully maintained the downward trend in the unemployment rate that began in early 2017.

Sophie Pedder's Revolution française: Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation covers Macron's election campaign, his first year in office, and "his ambition to remake France." Pedder acknowledges his contradictions, though she is broadly optimistic about his potential. Her book includes an interview with Macron at the Elyseé Palace.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

100 Greatest Films

100 Greatest Films
Today's issue of The Daily Telegraph features a 100 Greatest Films list compiled by film critic Robbie Collin. The list is organised by genre (from the conventional to the esoteric), and each director is limited to a single film. (Collin also contributed to 500 Must-See Films in 2013.)


Friday, 22 June 2018

Bangkok Underground Cinema

The Passion of Joan of Arc
Bangkok Underground Cinema will organise a weekend of free film screenings on 30th June and 1st July at Dadfa, a market in Bangkok. The silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc) will be shown on the second day, with a live improvised score. (It was previously screened at the 5th Silent Film Festival.)

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Pleasure Factory (DVD)

Pleasure Factory
Pleasure Factory (快乐工厂) was made in Singapore by Thai director Ekachai Uekrongtham, whose previous film was Beautiful Boxer (บิวตี้ฟูล บ๊อกเซอร์). When Pleasure Factory was shown in both Thailand and Singapore, an explicit masturbation sequence (featuring Loo Zihan) was censored, along with two sex scenes. Altogether, around two minutes of footage was cut. However, the film was released uncut on DVD in Europe and America.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018


Darisa Karnpoj's first solo exhibition, Vein/Vain, opens this weekend. Darisa, who signs her work with the nickname Riety, paints portraits of women using their own blood, diluted with water. The exhibition, at Daydream Believer in Bangkok, also offers an insight into her artistic process, displaying blood samples and a sketchbook alongside the paintings. Vein/Vain is on show from 16th to 30th June.

Other Thai artists have also painted with blood. Kosit Juntaratip's Allergic Realities exhibition featured classic news photographs recreated with his blood. Pornprasert Yamazaki used his blood to paint banknotes for the Suicide Mind and Currency Crisis exhibitions, and he showed blood-and-petrol works at Swallow. For his Died On 6th October 1976 series, Manit Sriwanichpoom soaked autopsy photographs in blood. There was even a banner painted in blood at Democracy Monument during the 2010 political crisis.


Thursday, 7 June 2018

100 and One Must See Movies!

100 and One Must See Movies!
In 2016, poster company Skratkz created 100 and One Must See Movies!, a poster featuring 101 classic films, each represented by an icon hidden behind a scratchable symbol. The idea was imitated a year later by Gift Republic's 100 Movies Bucket List poster. DOIY's 100 Movies You Must See Before You Die poster, in the style of an Advent calendar, is a similar concept.


100 Movies Bucket List

100 Movies Bucket List
Last year, Gift Republic designed a 100 Movies Bucket List poster, featuring 100 classic films, each represented by an icon hidden behind a scratchable window. The idea was presumably based on the Skratkz poster 100 and One Must See Movies! from 2016. DOIY's 100 Movies You Must See Before You Die poster, in the style of an Advent calendar, is also a similar concept.


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The Sweet Gang (DVD)

The Sweet Gang
The Sweet Gang
The Sweet Gang (ยกก๊วนป่วนหอ), a low-budget sex farce directed by Niran Thamprecha, was made for the Thai straight-to-VCD market in 2005. It was also released on VCD and DVD in Hong Kong (界女鬥一番). (The film's on-screen title is The Sweet Gang, though the video covers all drop the definite article.)

The Sweet Gang is of almost no interest, except for its use of self-censorship for comic effect. Whenever a character is about to disrobe, the film is interrupted by a flashing "SENSOR !!!" [sic.] warning. This happens several times, lasting from a few seconds to more than a minute, by which point the joke has worn rather thin.

A very similar device was used by Apichatpong Weerasethakul three years after The Sweet Gang. When Syndromes and a Century (แสงศตวรรษ) was censored in Thailand, Apichatpong replaced the cut sequences with silent, black footage to highlight the censorship.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Killing

The Killing
Bangkok Screening Room will be showing Stanley Kubrick's The Killing next month. The Killing, a noir thriller, was the first film Kubrick made with his producing partner James B. Harris. (His previous films, Fear and Desire and Killer's Kiss, had been made without a production company.) The Killing was one of many crime films influenced by John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, though its editing is entirely original: its non-linear narrative style would later influence Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Sterling Hayden, star of The Asphalt Jungle and The Killing, would later play Jack D. Ripper in Kubrick's Dr Strangelove. The Killing will be shown at Bangkok Screening Room on 15th, 16th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 29th, and 30th June; and 1st July.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Sudsakhorn Adventure

Sudsakhorn Adventure
Payut Ngaokrachang's Sudsakhorn Adventure (สุดสาคร) will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya on 26th and 30th June. Both screenings are free. In his definitive global history of animation, Cartoons, Giannalberto Bendazzi praised Sudsakhorn Adventure's "suggestive, modern interpretation of the country's graphic tradition." Unfortunately, in the book's second edition, Animation: A World History, Bendazzi revised his opinion: "apart from its decorative qualities, the film is an artistic failure." Nevertheless, Sudsakhorn Adventure remains a milestone in Thai animation, as the country's first feature-length cartoon.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Cinema Winehouse

Apocalypse Now
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Bangkok's Cinema Winehouse is showing three classics this week. Apocalypse Now is showing this evening; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) is on Wednesday; and Hitchcock's Vertigo is on Friday.

Thai Cinema: The Complete Guide

Thai Cinema: The Complete Guide
Thai Cinema: The Complete Guide, edited by Mary J. Ainslie and Katarzyna Ancuta, is the first full-length book in English devoted to the Thai film industry. It includes reviews of 129 films, organised by genre, effectively establishing a Thai cinema canon. (Since 2011, the Thai Film Archive has also been compiling a registry of culturally significant films, with new titles added annually every 4th October.) The book also profiles ten key directors from Thai cinema history.

There are entries for classics such as Rattana Pestonji's Black Silk (แพรดำ), the Mitr-Petchara blockbuster Monrak Lukthung (มนต์รักลูกทุ่ง), the influential modernist film Tone (โทน), Chatrichalerm Yukol's social-realist His Name Is Karn (เขาชื่อกานต์), Nonzee Nimibutr's Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters (2499 อันธพาลครองเมือง), the retro melodrama Tears of the Black Tiger (ฟ้าทะลายโจร), Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady (สัตว์ประหลาด), Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก), and the record-breaking Pee Mak (พี่มาก..พระโขนง). One notable absence is Criminal Without Sin (สุภาพบุรุษเสือไทย), which (for better or worse) established the 16mm live-dubbing mode of production.

In their introduction, the editors note the challenges facing anyone researching Thai cinema: many films, from classics to relatively recent titles, are no longer in circulation; and English translations of names and titles are wildly inconsistent. The book is therefore an essential guide to films that remain largely inaccessible. To address the translation problem, RTGS is used throughout the book, though this is not an ideal solution, as it's not widely or consistently used by other sources.

Aside from Thai Cinema, there are very few English-language books on the subject. Bastian Meirsonne edited a brief guide with the same title (Thai Cinema). Scot Barmé's Woman, Man, Bangkok includes a chapter on the origins of Thai filmmaking. Aliosha Herrera surveyed the 16mm era in the journal Rian Thai (เรียนไทย; volume 8). Archivist Dome Sukwong wrote the coffee-table book A Century of Thai Cinema. The essays by Chalida Uabumrunjit and Anchalee Chaiworaporn in Film in South East Asia (edited by David Hanan) remain the best narrative histories of Thai cinema.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Paper: Material, Medium, and Magic

Paper: Material, Medium, and Magic
In their introduction to Paper: Material, Medium, and Magic, editors by Neil Holt and Nicola von Velsen argue that, despite the rise of digital media, paper retains its aesthetic value, and that its use in art and design deserves more consideration: "Such a history of paper has not, to our knowledge, yet been told." This is therefore the first book to provide a broad survey of paper as an artistic medium, with chapters on decorated paper, Japanese washi, pop-up books, origami, typography, marbling, and cartography (amongst other subjects).

As the editors recognise, most chapters "develop their themes in a rather cursory manner," given the book's wide scope, though some essays (on coloured paper, fine art, watermarks, and paper art) are more substantial. Many historical and contemporary illustrations are included. There is also a selected bibliography, to which could be added Marbling (by Phoebe Jane Easton), Marbled Paper (Richard J. Wolfe), The Papered Wall (Lesley Hoskins), History of Cartography (Leo Bagrow), and Printing Types (Daniel Updike). (Paper was translated from the German Papier: Material, Medium und Faszination; the English edition has an additional editor, Stephanie Jacobs.)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Democracy Restoration Group

The Democracy Restoration Group, which held a seminar last year to mark the third anniversary of the 2014 coup, today organised a pro-democracy protest in Bangkok on the coup's fourth anniversary. Several hundred protesters gathered this morning at Thammasat University's football field, from where they intended to march to Government House, though they were blocked by police barricades. In the early afternoon, a group of around 100 people broke through the barriers and marched as far as Democracy Monument, though the protest leaders were arrested and the demonstration ended before 4pm.

During the past four years of military rule, there have been repeated assurances from the junta that democracy is just around the corner. On 28th June 2014, coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha pledged to hold an election by October 2015. Then, during a visit to Tokyo on 9th February 2015, he announced that an election would instead take place by February 2016. When that deadline passed, he announced on 9th August 2016 that an election would be held by November 2017. Then, on 10th October 2017, he pushed the election timetable forward to November 2018. Most recently, on 27th February this year, he said that an election will happen by February 2019.

Monday, 21 May 2018

लिंगम् Project 2018

Linga Project 2018
join #dark
Quasi una fantasia
Mountain Wind
A Season in Hell
लिंगम् Project 2018 is a collaboration between three Thai artists - Kornkrit Jianpinidnan, Santiphap Inkong-ngam, and Thunska Pansittivorakul - who have each made a short video and produced a book of photographs. The artists took part in a Q&A at Asian Culture Station in Chiang Mai on 18th May.

Kornkrit's monochrome, square images, titled join #dark and resembling Robert Mapplethorpe's Polaroids, are printed on a series of unbound white cards. Santiphap directed a music video, Mountain Wind; Whispering to a Wall (ลมภูเขา; กระซิบกับผนังปูน), with stills by Apichat Yimyong. Thunska's video, A Season in Hell (ฤดูกาลในนรก), includes footage from his upcoming feature film Santikhiri Sonata (สันติคีรี โซนาตา).

लिंगम्, or 'linga', is the Sanskrit term for a phallic symbol (representing the Hindu god Shiva), and Thunska takes this literally in his book Quasi una fantasia (อัศจรรย์), which includes some hardcore imagery. There are also stills from his films Supernatural (เหนือธรรมชาติ), The Terrorists (ผู้ก่อการร้าย), and The Altar (หมู่บูชา).

The three artists' books - join #dark, Mountain Wind, and Quasi una fantasia - are available in a signed and numbered set. (My copy is number 10.) The package costs ฿800, which is remarkable given that the edition is limited to only thirty copies.


Tuesday, 15 May 2018


There will be a free screening of Chatrichalerm Yukol's ครูสมศรี at the Thai Film Archive tomorrow. The film, like the director's earlier His Name Is Karn (เขาชื่อกานต์), focuses on an eponymous central character fighting against corruption and bureaucracy. Chatrichalerm made several other equally groundbreaking socially conscious films, dealing with topics including prostitution (Angel/เทพธิดาโรงแรม), teenage drug addiction (Daughter/เสียดาย), and drug trafficking (Powder Road/ฮโรอีน).

Later, he switched gears and directed lavish royalist-nationalist epics such as The Legend of Suriyothai (สุริโยไท) and the Kingdom of War (ตำนานสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช) series about King Naresuan. His career trajectory is similar to that of Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who made the banned Raise the Red Lantern (大红灯笼高高挂) though whose later films such as Hero (英雄) were effectively state propaganda.

Monday, 14 May 2018


Members of the punk/grindcore band Blood Soaked Street of Social Decay were arrested on Saturday after they burnt posters of Prayuth Chan-ocha at จะ4ปีแล้วนะ, an event marking the four-year anniversary of the 2014 coup. (The event's full title includes the insult ไอ้สัตว์, though this was self-censored on the poster.) The show's organisers were also arrested, though no-one was charged.


Cinema Winehouse

Reservoir Dogs
All About Eve
Once Upon a Time in the West
Bangkok's Cinema Winehouse continues its weekly screenings of movie classics. This week, they will be showing Reservoir Dogs on Wednesday, followed by Once Upon a Time in the West (C'era una volta il west) and All About Eve on Thursday. (Once Upon a Time in the West was previously shown at the Italian Film Festival 2012.)

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand

The 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand will take place later this month. As in previous years (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017), there will be a week of screenings at the Lido and Scala cinemas in Bangkok. This year's event opens on 24th May with a gala screening of Carl Dreyer's masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc) at Scala. (It will also be shown at Lido, on 30th May.) The other films will all be screened at Lido, and in fact this will be Lido's swan song, as the cinema will close down permanently on the last day of the Festival, 31st May.

"I'm not gonna try to
sound like Winston Churchill..."

The latest episode of The Kubrick Series podcast is an interview Stanley Kubrick gave on 10th June 1987 to Tim Cahill, a magazine journalist. Cahill supplied his two-hour Dictaphone recording of the interview, and it was uploaded yesterday. The interview was first published in the 27th August 1987 issue of Rolling Stone. In the article, Cahill described Kubrick as "entirely unpretentious. He was wearing running shoes and an old corduroy jacket. There was an ink stain just below the pocket where some ball point pen had bled to death."

Comparing the tape and the published transcript, it becomes clear how much Kubrick's answers were compressed and paraphrased in the printed version. The article also includes several quotes that are not on the tape, such as "truth is too multifaceted to be contained in a five-line summary." These bon mots were clearly written later, and at one point on the tape Kubrick asks for some time to review a draft of the transcript: "Give me at least a day to have a crack at it... I'm not gonna try to sound like Winston Churchill, but I'd like to just tidy it up." He even specifies that he'd like a triple-spaced manuscript: "I've gotta have room to write, to change the words." (The Kubrick Archive has dozens of pages of interview transcripts similarly revised by Kubrick.)

This is the third posthumously-released Kubrick interview recording. Alison Castle's book The Stanley Kubrick Archives included a CD of Jeremy Bernstein's interview with Kubrick, recorded in 1966. The French radio series A voix nue broadcast Michel Ciment's Kubrick interviews from 1975, 1980, and 1987. (The archive of film critic Alexander Walker, at La Cineteca del Friuli in Italy, has two recordings of Walker's interviews with Kubrick, from 1980 and 1987.)

Monday, 7 May 2018

Cinema Winehouse

A Clockwork Orange
Gone With the Wind
Seven Samurai
The Exorcist
From tomorrow until Saturday, Bangkok's Cinema Winehouse will be screening a classic film every evening. Tomorrow, it's Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, followed by Gone With the Wind on Thursday, Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (七人の侍) on Friday, and The Exorcist on Saturday.