Friday, 28 April 2017

Polish Arts & Culture Week

Polish Arts & Culture Week
Apocalypse Now
Polish Arts & Culture Week, which began on 23rd April and finishes tomorrow, will include a screening of Francis Coppola's classic Apocalypse Now today at BACC. The film was inspired by Heart Of Darkness, a novella by Polish writer Joseph Conrad.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Czech New Wave Month II

Czech New Wave Month II
Closely Observed Trains
The Firemen's Ball
Bangkok's Jam Cafe will host its second Czech New Wave season next month. The opening film, on 3rd May, will be Jiri Menzel's superb Closely Observed Trains (previously shown during the 5th World Film Festival of Bangkok, at a screening introduced by the director himself). Czech New Wave Month II concludes on 31st May with Milos Forman's The Firemen's Ball.

Jam's first Czech New Wave Month took place in November 2016. Jam's previous seasons have included Derek Jarman Month, Seduction Month, Dreams Month, Forking Paths Month, Resizing Month, Banned Month, Doppelganger Month, American Independent Month, Anime Month, 'So Bad It's Good' Month, Philip Seymour Hoffman Month, and Noir Month.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Bangkok Screening Room

Tears Of The Black Tiger
Next month, Bangkok Screening Room will be showing Wisit Sasanatieng's debut film, Tears Of The Black Tiger. A combination of Italian 'spaghetti western' and Thai lakorn melodrama, it has become a cult classic due to its uniquely over-saturated colour palette. It was also one of the first films of the Thai New Wave of the 1990s.

Wisit has also directed Citizen Dog, The Unseeable, The Red Eagle, and รุ่นพี่. His short films include เราเป็นคนไทย (a music video for Petch Osthanagrah), Norasinghavatar (part of a project honouring King Rama IX), and ทัศนา (a segment of the anthology film Sawasdee Bangkok). He was also the screenwriter of Nonzee Nimibutr's Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters [sic] and Nang Nak, wrote the treatment for Kongkiat Khomsiri's Slice, and designed the posters for the Bangkok International Film Festival in 2008 and 2009.

Tears Of The Black Tiger was shown at the Thai Film Archive in 2009 and 2010, and at BACC (introduced by Wisit and the cast) in 2012. It will be playing at Bangkok Screening Room on 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 21st, and 24th May.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

"Here's why they go ape at Ross"

The Sun
Kelvin MacKenzie, columnist for The Sun newspaper, has been suspended following complaints about his description of Everton footballer Ross Barkley. The article has been deleted from The Sun's website. In the column, published on 14th April (and headlined "Here's why they go ape at Ross"), MacKenzie compared Barkley to a gorilla: "There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home. I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it's the eyes that tell the story."

The Mayor of Liverpool has accused MacKenzie of racism, a charge now being investigated by Merseyside police. MacKenzie is a notorious controversialist, and his deliberately provocative comments often generate criticism. MacKenzie was editor of The Sun throughout the 1980s, during which time it published numerous homophobic and xenophobic editorials. MacKenzie and The Sun have particularly low reputations in Liverpool, as he was the newspaper's editor when it blamed Liverpool FC fans for the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.


Thursday, 13 April 2017

"We apologise to Mrs Trump..."

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail newspaper has paid damages to Melania Trump, the US First Lady, in settlement of a lawsuit she filed last year. The damages are undisclosed, though the total settlement paid by the Mail is rumoured to be $3 million - a large sum by UK libel standards, though less than the $150 million originally sought by Trump's lawyer, Charles Harder (who had previously sued the gossip website Gawker into bankruptcy).

Trump sued the Mail over an article it published on 20th August last year, headlined "Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife's past that could derail Trump". The article, written by Natalie Clarke, discussed allegations that Trump's former modelling agency had provided escort services, and suggested that Trump had worked as an escort. The Mail quoted the owner of the modelling agency denying the story, though this was overshadowed by the insinuations in the headline.

After Trump filed her lawsuit, the Mail went to unusual lengths to remove all traces of the article online, including having it deleted from Google's cache and the PressReader digital archive. The Mail also printed a lengthy response to the lawsuit on 2nd September last year, though this repeated the claims in the process of retracting them: "To the extent that anything in our article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs Trump worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business'... it is hereby retracted, and we regret any such misinterpretation."

Following the settlement of the case yesterday, the Mail printed an apology on page nine of today's paper. This time, it did not repeat the claims, instead referring euphemistically to "allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling." The statement also included an unequivocal retraction and apology: "We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them. We apologise to Mrs Trump for any distress that our publication caused her."

500 Must-See Movies

500 Must-See Movies
Total Film magazine has published a new film list it describes as "the essential selection every film fan should watch". 500 Must-See Movies is divided into five genres: comedies, thrillers, action, horror, and sci-fi. Three of the individual genre lists have been published previously as Total Film magazine supplements: science-fiction and fantasy (Summer 2016, issue 247), thrillers (August 2016, issue 248), and comedies (September 2016, issue 249).

Only five genres are represented, though films from excluded genres such as musicals, westerns, and animation have not been omitted. Instead, they have been reclassified: Singin' In The Rain appears in the comedies section, Snow White becomes science-fiction, The Searchers is designated an action movie, and Citizen Kane is apparently a thriller.

Other lists of 500 films include Empire magazine's The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (2008) and The Telegraph newspaper's 500 Must-See Films (2013). (I've also compiled my own list of 500 Classic Films.) Total Film's previous film lists are: The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time (2005), The Top 100 Movies Of All Time (2006), The 67 Most Influential Films Ever Made (2009), and 100 Greatest Movies (2010).


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Broken Vows

Broken Vows
UK politician Nick Brown is suing author Tom Bower over a sentence in Bower's biography of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bower's book, Broken Vows (2016), includes a reference to Brown's relationship with another man: "Nick Brown, the new minister of agriculture, was accused by the News of the World of paying £100 to rent boys in order to be kicked around a room, and admitted his sexuality."

Bower's description of Brown being "kicked around a room" was presumably based on Alastair Campbell's book Power & The People (2011), the second volume of his political diary. Campbell wrote that the News Of The World newspaper gave him advance notice of the story it was planning to run on Brown's private life: "They said they had the confession of a self-confessed rent boy who had been paid £100 a time to beat up Nick and kick him around a room." Campbell's diary includes denials from Brown about the beating, kicking, and payment, making clear that they are untrue.

In its article (published in 1998), the News Of The World also included Brown's denials, and made no reference to the unsubstantiated beating or kicking claim. However, Bower's book does not include any denials; it also distorts the facts (using the plural "rent boys") and implies Brown's guilt (noting that he "admitted" his sexuality). Bower misrepresents the issue by reducing it to a single sentence, and an earlier edition of Campbell's diary, The Blair Years (2007), was similarly misleading: "The News of the World had apparently trapped Nick Brown with rent boys".

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Orbit Festival

A nightclub manager has been arrested in Tunisia after a DJ included a sample of the Islamic call to prayer as part of his set at the Orbit Festival. The nightclub, El Guitoune in the town of Hammamet, has been closed down by the local authorities.

Dax J, a techno DJ based in Berlin, was one of the headliners on 31st March, the opening night of the two-day event. The call to prayer, which begins with the expression "Allahu akbar" ("God is great"), was also featured on the single Metal Hammer (1990) by And One.

[Quotations from the Koran have previously caused controversy when they have appeared out of context in non-Islamic songs. Tapha Niang by Toumani Diabate; Arab Money by Busta Rhymes; Maya by Joey Boy; Ana Yousef, Ya Abi by Marcel Khalife; and Noor-Un-Ala by MF Hussain all feature extracts from the Koran.]