Monday, 30 April 2012

Museum of the City of New York

Stanley Kubrick & Rosemary Williams
Alfred Hitchcock
The Museum of the City of New York has put its vast collection of Stanley Kubrick's photographs online. In the 1940s, before he became a director, Kubrick worked as a photojournalist for Look magazine, and Look's photographic archive was subsequently donated to the Museum.

Now the Museum has uploaded all 7,271 of Kubrick's photos onto its website. Highlights include a self-portrait of Kubrick's reflection in a mirror, and portraits of Alfred Hitchcock on a train. The photographs are almost exclusively black-and-white, with only one colour image in the entire collection.

The Stanley Kubrick Archive in London and the Library of Congress in Washington both have small collections of Kubrick's Look photos, though MCNY's archive is far more extensive. Many of the photographs originally appeared in Look (1945-1950), and others have been published in various catalogues: Ladro Di Sguardi, Still Moving Pictures, Drama & Shadows, Only In New York, and Fotografie 1945-1950.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

100 Artists' Manifestos

100 Artists' Manifestos
100 Artists' Manifestos: From The Futurists To The Stuckists is an anthology of manifestos from 20th century art movements, edited by Alex Danchev and organised with minimalist clarity. Danchev's comprehensive selection includes not only artists but also filmmakers and architects. The concept is similar to the excellent Manifesto: A Century Of Isms, by Mary Ann Caws.

Danchev begins with FT Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto, published on the front page of Le Figaro in 1909, the document that inspired all subsequent art manifestos. The various avant-garde movements of the 1920s all published manifestos inspired by Marinetti's breathless enthusiasm.

The book ends on a sour note with the Stuckists, a reactionary group of anti-Conceptualists who are impossible to take seriously. If Danchev had extended the survey into the early 21st century, he could have concluded instead with the optimistic Sustainism manifesto published in 2010.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

500 Classic Films

2001: A Space Odyssey
500 Classic Films, listed chronologically, representing the history of international cinema.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Talk About Cinema

Talk About Cinema
Talk About Cinema, by Jean-Baptiste Thoret, discusses how contemporary cinema is influenced by stylistic innovations of the past. It was originally published in French, with a more descriptive title: Cinema Contemporain: Mode d'Emploi.

Thoret, who writes for Charlie Hebdo, highlights some cinematic technical breakthroughs, briefly summarises cinema's major artistic movements, and profiles some leading contemporary directors (as in Cinema Now). He also lists 20 Seminal Films, chosen because they contain "motifs, situations, or images destined to be reused again and again".

Talk About Cinema's 20 Seminal Films are as follows:
  • Freaks
  • The Red Shoes
  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
  • The Searchers
  • Rear Window / North By Northwest / Vertigo / Psycho / The Birds
  • Big Deal On Madonna Street
  • The Twilight Zone
  • 'the Zapruder film'
  • Inferno
  • A Fistful Of Dollars / For A Few Dollars More / The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly / Once Upon A Time In The West / Duck, You Sucker!
  • Blow-Up
  • Play Time
  • The Prisoner
  • Le Samourai
  • Night Of The Living Dead
  • Bullitt
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey / A Clockwork Orange / Barry Lyndon / The Shining
  • Easy Rider
  • Aguirre: The Wrath Of God
  • Scarface
The list, in chronological order, actually has far more than twenty titles, because Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Sergio Leone are each represented by multiple films. Even more esoterically, Thoret includes television series (The Prisoner and The Twilight Zone), an actuality film (Abraham Zapruder's footage of John F Kennedy's assassination), and an unfinished film (Inferno). (Note that Scarface is the Brian de Palma version, not the Howard Hawks original.)

The Greatest Movies Ever

The Greatest Movies Ever
Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza's book The Greatest Movies Ever has been slightly updated for its second edition. The list in the latest edition, published last year, is almost exactly the same as the 2008 version, as only two entries have been changed.

My Fair Lady, #55 in the old edition, has been replaced by Slumdog Millionaire; also, The Bank Dick, the old edition's #84, has been changed to The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. The new edition still lists 102 films, because The Godfather and The Godfather II appear as a single entry at #1.

The 101 Greatest Movies are as follows:

1. The Godfather I-II
2. Citizen Kane
3. Casablanca
4. Sunset Boulevard
5. Lawrence Of Arabia
6. North By Northwest
7. The Wizard Of Oz
8. Annie Hall
9. Chinatown
10. Singin' In The Rain
11. Nashville
12. Some Like It Hot
13. All About Eve
14. Psycho
15. Taxi Driver
16. Apocalypse Now
17. On The Waterfront
18. Gone With The Wind
19. To Kill A Mockingbird
20. The Searchers
21. La Dolce Vita
22. Double Indemnity
23. Pan's Labyrinth
24. Vertigo
25. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
26. GoodFellas
27. Jules & Jim
28. Funny Face
29. A Streetcar Named Desire
30. Saving Private Ryan
31. Strangers On A Train
32. It Happened One Night
33. The Graduate
34. It's A Wonderful Life
35. Raging Bull
36. The Best Years Of Our Lives
37. The African Queen
38. Dr Strangelove
39. Blade Runner
40. The Conformist
41. Schindler's List
42. The Lives Of Others
43. Diner
44. City Lights
45. The Deer Hunter
46. 8½
47. Top Hat
48. La Regle Du Jeu
49. 2001: A Space Odyssey
50. Bonnie & Clyde
51. King Kong
52. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
53. The 400 Blows
54. A Night At The Opera
55. Slumdog Millionaire
56. The Night Of The Hunter
57. The Third Man
58. Dr Zhivago
59. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
60. Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers
61. Pinocchio
62. Shadow Of A Doubt
63. Fargo
64. Blue Velvet
65. Jaws
66. The Grapes Of Wrath
67. Do The Right Thing
68. Wild Strawberries
69. Bicycle Thieves
70. Bringing Up Baby
71. Paths Of Glory
72. The Maltese Falcon
73. Pather Panchali
74. The Lady Eve
75. The Last Picture Show
76. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
77. Rosemary's Baby
78. Midnight Cowboy
79. M*A*S*H
80. American Graffiti
81. The Producers
82. Rashomon
83. Cabaret
84. The Lord Of The Rings III: The Return Of The King
85. A Place In The Sun
86. Red River
87. The Conversation
88. Grand Illusion
89. LA Confidential
90. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
91. Imitation Of Life
92. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
93. Spartacus
94. The Manchurian Candidate
95. Seven Samurai
96. A Hard Day's Night
97. Atlantic City
98. American Beauty
99. Pulp Fiction
100. The Shawshank Redemption
101. Groundhog Day

Note that The Maltese Falcon is the John Huston version, which is actually a remake of an earlier Roy Del Ruth film. Also, Some Like It Hot is the Billy Wilder classic, not the 1939 film of the same name.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The 100 Best Movies Ever Made...
Mostly Suck

The 100 Best Movies Ever Made... Mostly Suck
The 100 Best Movies Ever Made... Mostly Suck, written pseudonymously by Nick S, is a self-published rant against the classics of world cinema. There are actually 101 films on the list, because he also includes Day For Night as an extra entry.

The films were selected from various other published lists, and the reviews (written in the same 'style' as the late Chas Balun) are taken from the author's website. (Online, he uses a different pseudonym: Mr Satanism.)

I'm not sure exactly how serious Nick Satanism (?) is. If he genuinely hated classic films, why would he bother to watch so many of them? And if he actually liked classic films, why would he review them so negatively?

His comments often border on self-parody, so maybe the book is intended to be ironic? If it is, then he has no sense of humour; if it isn't, then he has no taste.

The 100 Best Movies Ever Made are as follows:

1. Citizen Kane
2. Singin' In The Rain
3. Schindler's List
4. On The Waterfront
5. Casablanca
6. The Godfather
7. Gone With The Wind
8. Lawrence Of Arabia
9. 2001: A Space Odyssey
10. All About Eve
11. The Bridge On The River Kwai
12. Annie Hall
13. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
14. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
15. The Best Years Of Our Lives
16. Raging Bull
17. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
18. The Wizard Of Oz
19. West Side Story
20. The Graduate
21. Vertigo
22. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
23. It's A Wonderful Life
24. The Godfather II
25. Some Like It Hot
26. High Noon
27. It Happened One Night
28. The African Queen
29. Midnight Cowboy
30. Amadeus
31. The Gold Rush
32. Psycho
33. Chinatown
34. City Lights
35. The Maltese Falcon
36. Dr Strangelove
37. Taxi Driver
38. Bonnie & Clyde
39. The Rules Of The Game
40. Mr Smith Goes To Washington
41. 8½
42. From Here To Eternity
43. Battleship Potemkin
44. Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
45. The Searchers
46. L'Avventura
47. M*A*S*H
48. Double Indemnity
49. Bicycle Thieves
50. Greed
51. The Deer Hunter
52. North By Northwest
53. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
54. Rear Window
55. The Magnificent Ambersons
56. King Kong
57. Intolerance
58. L'Atalante
59. The Birth Of A Nation
60. Persona
61. The Silence Of The Lambs
62. A Streetcar Named Desire
63. A Clockwork Orange
64. Ugetsu Monogatari
65. An American In Paris
66. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
67. Sunset Boulevard
68. The Apartment
69. The General
70. GoodFellas
71. The Grapes Of Wrath
72. Pulp Fiction
73. Seven Samurai
74. Tokyo Story
75. All Quiet On The Western Front
76. Unforgiven
77. Apocalypse Now
78. Louisiana Story
79. Rocky
80. The Sound Of Music
81. Pather Panchali
82. Fantasia
83. Le jour se leve
84. To Kill A Mockingbird
85. Rebel Without A Cause
86. Dr Zhivago
87. Tootsie
88. La Terra Trema
89. Network
90. Brief Encounter
91. Le Million
92. My Fair Lady
93. Wild Strawberries
94. Jaws
95. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
96. The Philadelphia Story
97. The Third Man
98. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
99. Stagecoach
100. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
101. Day For Night

Note that Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy. Also, The Maltese Falcon is the John Huston version and Ben-Hur is the William Wyler version.

Crazily Good!

Crazily Good!
Crazily Good!
Sutee Kunavichayanont's exhibition Crazily Good! opened at Number One Gallery in Bangkok on 15th March, and will close on 21st April. The exhibition features Psycho and other Hollywood film titles - mostly 1950s science-fiction like Creature From The Black Lagoon - copied from vintage movie posters.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Shakespeare Must Die

Shakespeare Must Die
Ing K's film Shakespeare Must Die has been banned by the Thai Film Censorship Board. The film was refused a certificate yesterday, on the specious grounds that it may create division within society. (The Thai Ministry of Culture has long been obsessed with maintaining the out-dated notion of social harmony, when in reality Thai society is deeply polarised between reds and yellows.)

The film, inspired by Macbeth, was produced by the photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom; Ing and Manit run the Kathmandu gallery in Bangkok. Presumably the story of Macbeth, which includes violent regicide, was too much for the Censorship Board. The film also references the 1976 Thammasat massacre, one of the most politically sensitive moments in modern Thai history (an event which also features in Manit's Flashback '76 and Horror In Pink, and Thunska Pansittivorakul's film The Terrorists).

Shakespeare Must Die is not Ing K's first banned film. Her cult film My Teacher Eats Biscuits was also banned, and its screening at the inaugural Bangkok International Film Festival was halted by the police. Public screenings of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes & A Century (heavily cut in 2007), Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's Insects In The Backyard (banned in 2010), and Thunska's This Area Is Under Quarantine (banned in 2009) have also been cancelled due to state censorship.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Project Japan

Project Japan
Project Japan: Metabolism Talks..., written by Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist, and edited by Kayoko Ota with James Westcott, is the first comprehensive survey of the Japanese Metabolism architecture movement. The book, published by Taschen, features extended interviews with Metabolism's founders, including its prime exponent, Kisho Kurokawa.

Kurokawa's most famous building, the Nakagin Kapuseru Tawa in Tokyo, was intended as a utopian reconfiguration of urban housing. The structure, an icon of Metabolism, is comprised of movable, connectable, and replaceable capsule apartments. It epitomises Metabolism's focus on expandability, flexibility, and adaptability. Today, like Metabolism itself, the building is largely forgotten.

Project Japan is, therefore, most valuable as a comprehensive record of this under-valued movement. The book reproduces the movement's posters, blueprints, and other rare documents, including the Metabolism 1960 manifesto. Only a handful of copies of the manifesto survive, and it had never previously been reprinted.

Klab Dawla

Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghouat, also known as L7a9d and El Haqed, was arrested on Friday and charged with insulting state authorities. His song Klab Dawla criticises the Moroccan police, and he is a member of the February 20 Youth Movement, a group which organised protests as part of last year's Arab Spring.


Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Extraordinary Voyage

The Extraordinary Voyage
The Extraordinary Voyage, directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange, is a documentary about Georges Melies and the restoration of his most famous film, A Trip To The Moon. The documentary was made by Lobster Films, the same company which restored A Trip To The Moon last year. It includes interviews with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (director of Delicatessen), Michel Gondry (director of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), and Michel Hazanavicius (director of The Artist).

The Extraordinary Voyage begins with a biography of Melies: his initial career as a stage magician and theatre manager, his attendance at the Lumiere brothers' first film screening in 1895, and his subsequent work as a pioneer of cinematic special effects and camera tricks. The documentary features extracts from HBO's From The Earth To The Moon - which included a recreation of Melies's studio - and clips from a tinted version of A Trip To The Moon created for a gala event honouring him in 1929.

The documentary also reveals how the hand-coloured version of A Trip To The Moon was restored. An original colour print was discovered at an archive in Barcelona, and this nitrate reel was digitised by Technicolor. A black-&-white negative, supplied by the Melies estate, was utilised to replace missing fragments from the colour print, which were then digitally coloured.

Melies is the subject of Martin Scorsese's most recent film, Hugo, released in 3D. The 5th World Film Fesitval of Bangkok organised a Melies retrospective in 2007. The restored version of A Trip To The Moon was screened as part of La Fete earlier this year.

The Annotated Godfather

The Annotated Godfather
The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay contains the script to The Godfather written by Mario Puzo and Francis Coppola, with notes by Jenny M Jones. Jones interviewed Coppola for the book, and it's a useful supplement to Peter Cowie's excellent The Godfather Book.

Belle De Jour

Belle De Jour
Luis Bunuel's Surrealist classic Belle De Jour will be screened at Alliance Francaise in Bangkok on 11th April. The screening is free.

Belle De Jour, starring French icon Catherine Deneuve, is probably Bunuel's most famous film. It was previously shown, as part of a Bunuel retrospective, at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival.