Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Art Of Controversy

The Art Of Controversy
What Would Mohammed Drive?
Victor S Navasky's book The Art Of Controversy: Political Cartoons & Their Enduring Power provides a potted history of the political cartoon, with chapters discussing the works of individual cartoonists from the past three centuries. Leonard Freedman's The Offensive Art covers similar ground, though Navasky provides a wider historical perspective.

Navasky begins with the caricaturists William Hogarth and James Gillray (also discussed in the Rude Britannia exhibition catalogue, which, unlike Navasky, reproduces Gillray's iconic cartoon of Napoleon and William Pitt). Navasky also profiles artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, John Heartfield, and George Grosz, who are not primarily cartoonists yet have produced satirical works.

Several of the world's most controversial cartoons are included. Honore Daumier was jailed for lèse-majesté after his portrait of Louis Philippe as Gargantua was published in La Caricature. During World War II, a Philip Zec illustration angered Winston Churchill so much that he attempted to close down the Daily Mirror. A photomontage on the cover of the News Statesman, by Steve Platt, depicting John Major with his alleged mistress, resulted in a lawsuit from Major. In South Africa, Zapiro was sued by Jacob Zuma after his cartoon in the Sunday Times depicted the President preparing to literally rape the justice system.

Navasky does not reprint the infamous Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons. He does, however, include the ingenious Plantu cartoon commenting on the controversy in Le Monde, and What Would Mohammed Drive? by Doug Marlette. (Marlette's cartoon was published in 2002, before Jyllands-Posten's caricatures, not in 2009 as Navasky claims.) The cover of Navasky's book - a bomb censored by a diagonal stripe - is similar to the cover of Stern, commenting on the Mohammed cartoons, from 9th February 2006.

Quote of the day...

Apparently we can't criticise the army, even though they still use the GT200. Previous quotes of the day: a PAD leader says Thailand should be more like North Korea, the ICT Minister openly admits to violating the Computer Crime Act, and a patronising Ministry of Culture official.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard

Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard
Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard, by Matt Taylor, features over a thousand photographs taken during the filming of Jaws. The book also includes examples of Jaws memorabilia collected by Jim Beller. Its expanded second edition has sixteen pages of additional material. Director Steven Spielberg wrote the foreword, indicating his approval of the project, though he was not interviewed for the book.

There have been several documentaries about Jaws, including The Making Of Jaws, In The Teeth Of Jaws, Jaws: The Inside Story, and The Shark Is Still Working. Also, Carl Gottlieb's The Jaws Log gives an on-set account of the making of the film. Taylor's book is not a comprehensive guide to the making of Jaws, as it focuses only on photographs and anecdotes provided by local residents, though it provides a valuable collection of previously unpublished images documenting the production of Jaws.

Encounter Thailand

Encounter Thailand
The March issue of Encounter Thailand, the magazine I edit, includes my feature Destination Thailand (on pages 30-32). The article is a review of the recent Chinese comedy Lost In Thailand.

I also edited the February issue. My previous articles were published in October, November, and December last year.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

2001: The Lost Science

2001: The Lost Science
Adam K Johnson's book 2001: The Lost Science - The Science & Technology Of The Most Important & Influential Film Ever Made is a guide to the various model spaceships from Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick's 2001 is a masterpiece, and it's my favourite film, though even I wouldn't go so far as to call it "The Most Important & Influential Film Ever Made", as Johnson's subtitle does.

The book contains blueprints, photographs, and correspondence from the Fred Ordway archive, and a documentary on an accompanying DVD. (Criterion's CAV laserdisc, released in 1988, also includes material "from Ordway's personal collection.") Ordway was Kubrick's scientific advisor on the film, and his archive includes a handful of previously unpublished photographs of Kubrick, though the bulk of the book consists of detailed drawings and photographs of the model spaceships featured in the film. These are of limited interested to Kubrick fans, though there is a thriving community of model-builders who are presumably the book's target market.

Piers Bizony's book 2001: Filming The Future also contained a chapter on the models, in addition to more general behind-the-scenes information about the making of the film. Jerome Agel's The Making Of Kubrick's 2001, now out of print, was an authorised account of the film's production. Anthony Frewin's Are We Alone? also features production materials from the film, as do Alison Castle's The Stanley Kubrick Archives and the Kubrick exhibition catalogue.