21 December 2008

The Dark Knight (IMAX 70mm)

The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins, stars Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as the Joker. This ultra-noir Batman, from the director of Memento, is nothing like the camp 1960s TV series, and is even darker than Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns.

Six sequences, including the incredible truck-flip (achieved without CGI), were filmed in 70mm IMAX format. With an aspect ratio of 1.43:1, these scenes occupy the full IMAX screen, though the majority of the film was shot on 35mm and is framed at 2.4:1.

19 December 2008

Perishable Beauty

Perishable Beauty
Algordanza
Perishable Beauty, running from 28th November 2008 until 22nd February 2009) at Bangkok's TCDC, is an exhibition exploring the transience of physical perfection (also the theme of The Way Of All Flesh, by Midas Dekkers). The exhibition's installation is stunning, though the exhibits themselves are less substantial.

A banqueting table laden with rotting food, sealed in an air-tight tank and growing mouldier every day, is the most impressive exhibit. There is also a diamond created from human ashes, produced commercially by Algordanza. Other displays, relying on TV clips, photographs, and everyday objects, are underwhelming.

Although the Perishable Beauty poster is seemingly inspired by Orlan, her work is not included in the exhibition. Also, the exhibition is filled with dead flowers yet Otto Berchem is not represented. (His sculpture Deadheading was shown in Bangkok two years ago, at The Suspended Moment.) Indeed, the exhibition is more suited to a museum than to TCDC, as it's educational rather than artistic.

Save The Film

Save The Film
The Thai Film Archive (in Salaya, near Bangkok) is hosting an event called Save The Film tomorrow afternoon. Two of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's recent films will be shown: Luminous People (which premiered at Traces Of Siamese Smile) and Morakot (which was previously screened at Tomyam Pladib).

15 December 2008

Newin: "It's over, boss..."

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has won this morning's parliamentary vote, and has thus become Thailand's new Prime Minister. Abhisit's coalition partners resisted lucrative offers from Puea Thai, perhaps after behind-the-scenes pressure from the army and Democrat deputy leader Suthep Thaugsuban. Following the PPP's dissolution, a key PPP faction led by Newin Chidchob shifted its allegiance to the Democrats, after Newin telephoned Thaksin Shinawatra to say: "It's over, boss".

12 December 2008

International Film Festival 2008-2009

International Film Festival 2008-2009
California Dreamin'
Chulalongkorn University's International Film Festival has returned, running from today until 6th February 2009 in Bangkok. The main attraction at the previous festival was Four Months, Three Weeks, & Two Days, and this time the highlight is another Romanian film, California Dreamin' (showing on 23rd January 2009). All screenings are free.

Illustration

Illustration
Illustration: A Visual History, by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast, features a chronological account of the history of commercial illustrations from Victorian caricatures to digital art, via pulp novels, psychedelic posters, and satirical cartoons. It includes representative examples of magazine covers, advertisements, comics, and typography.

11 December 2008

An Interview With Muhammed

Jan Peter Balkenende, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, has released a statement condemning a short film titled An Interview With Muhammed. In the film (directed by Ehsan Jami, who screened it at a press conference in the Dutch parliament on 9th December), an actor wearing a Mohammed mask gives his views on contemporary Islam. Balkenende announced: "The Dutch government... regrets the fact that Mr Jami's film deeply offends the feelings of many Muslims".

02 December 2008

"The Court had no other option..."

This afternoon, the Constitutional Court announced its verdict in the vote-buying and fraud cases against three ruling coalition parties. All three parties (Chart Thai, Matchima Thipataya, and the PPP) were found guilty, and are thus automatically dissolved. Their executives, including PPP leader and Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, are now banned from politics for the next five years.

Somchai, Thaksin Shinawatra's brother-in-law, had been PM for only three months. He was appointed following the disqualification of Samak Sundaravej earlier this year. Samak's removal emboldened the PAD, who had been occupying Government House. On 5th and 6th October, the PAD also blockaded parliament, though they were dispersed by riot police on 7th October. One protester was killed by an exploding tear gas cannister; Queen Sirikit presided over her funeral on 13th October, in an apparent signal of support for the royalist PAD.

The head of the nine judges defended today's decision, saying: "The Court had no other option". The judgement marks the third guilty verdict against Thaksin's parties, after Samak's disqualification and the dissolution of TRT. Today's decision seems suspiciously like an attempt to placate the PAD, and it has already been described as a judicial coup.

01 December 2008

People's Alliance for Democracy

The good news: today will be the final day of the People's Alliance for Democracy's occupation of Government House. The bad news: the protesters will go directly from Government House to join the PAD's blockades of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports. Both airports have been declared emergency zones.

Meanwhile, with Suvarnabhumi closed for a whole week due to the demonstrators, there has still been no serious attempt by the police to remove the PAD. The Prime Minister is in hiding, and army chief Anupong Paochinda has called on him to resign (in an interview with Channel 3 on 16th October). Anupong surely deserves dismissal for insubordination, though sacking him could provoke other army generals to launch another coup.

In what it called a "final war", the PAD occupied Government House for three months, completely unopposed by the police. At the start of the occupation, one of the PAD's core leaders, Sondhi Limthongkul, gave an interview to the Bangkok Post newspaper in which he irresponsibly goaded the army to launch a coup ("soldiers today are cowards") and self-righteously positioned himself as the protector of the monarchy ("If we don't do it, the monarchy might collapse").

Despite its name, the PAD's policies are absolutely undemocratic. Sondhi has called for a "new politics" which would result in only 30% of MPs being elected, with the other 70% being appointed.

24 November 2008

New Sermon

Police have removed photographs by the Russian performance artist Oleg Kulik from an exhibition in Paris. The images, part of a retrospective exhibition titled New Sermon, were confiscated on 28th October after police visited the exhibition at the FIAC art fair.

21 November 2008

Astonishment & Power

Astonishment & Power
Astonishment & Power
The ArtGorillas gallery in Bangkok is currently showing Astonishment & Power, an exhibition of paintings and photographs by Bogomir Krajnc. The exhibition includes abstract collages (painted over newspapers and old prints), and photographs of dead animals (including a bird's head, used as the exhibition's poster image). There is even a painting with an animal skull stuck onto it. Astonishment & Power opened on 10th November, and runs until the end of the month.

20 November 2008

100 Films
Pour Une Cinematheque Ideale

100 Films Pour Une Cinematheque Ideale Les 100 Plus Beaux Films De L'Histoire Du Cinema
Cahiers Du Cinema, the highly respected French film magazine, has published a book listing 100 films necessary for a perfect cinema programme. The book, by Claude-Jean Philippe, is titled 100 Films Pour Une Cinematheque Ideale. A Parisian cinema, the Reflet Medicis, will indeed be screening the 100 films, in a season called Les 100 Plus Beaux Films De L'Histoire Du Cinema, running from yesterday until 6th July 2009.

The 100 films were chosen by a panel of seventy-eight film critics. The list is ranked according to the proportion of votes each film received, as follows:

48/78 (61%)
  • Citizen Kane
47/78 (60%)
  • The Night Of The Hunter
  • The Rules Of The Game
46/78 (59%)
  • Sunrise
43/78 (55%)
  • L'Atalante
40/78 (51%)
  • M
39/78 (50%)
  • Singin' In The Rain
35/78 (45%)
  • Vertigo
34/78 (44%)
  • Les Enfants Du Paradis
  • The Searchers
  • Greed
33/78 (42%)
  • Rio Bravo
  • To Be Or Not To Be
29/78 (37%)
  • Tokyo Story
28/78 (36%)
  • Le Mepris
27/78 (35%)
  • Ugetsu Monogatari
  • City Lights
  • The General
  • Nosferatu
  • The Music Room
26/78 (33%)
  • Freaks
  • Johnny Guitar
  • La Maman & La Putain
25/78 (32%)
  • The Great Dictator
  • The Leopard
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour
  • Pandora's Box
  • North By Northwest
  • Pickpocket
24/78 (31%)
  • Casque D'Or
  • The Barefoot Contessa
  • Mme De...
  • Le Plaisir
  • The Deer Hunter
23/78 (29%)
  • L'Avventura
  • Battleship Potemkin
  • Notorious
  • Ivan The Terrible I-II
  • The Godfather
  • Touch Of Evil
  • The Wind
22/78 (28%)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Fanny & Alexander
21/78 (27%)
  • The Crowd

  • La Jetee
  • Pierrot Le Fou
  • Confessions Of A Cheat
20/78 (26%)
  • Amarcord
  • La Belle & La Bete
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Some Came Running
  • Gertrud
  • King Kong
  • Laura
  • Seven Samurai
19/78 (24%)
  • The 400 Blows
  • La Dolce Vita
  • The Dead
  • Trouble In Paradise
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • M. Verdoux
  • The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
18/78 (23%)
  • Breathless
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Barry Lyndon
  • Grand Illusion
  • Intolerance
  • Partie De Campagne
  • Playtime
  • Rome: Open City
  • Senso
  • Modern Times
  • van Gogh
17/78 (22%)
  • An Affair To Remember
  • Andrei Rublev
  • The Scarlet Empress
  • Sansho Dayu
  • Talk To Her
  • The Party
  • Tabu
  • The Bandwagon
  • A Star Is Born
  • M. Hulot's Holiday
16/78 (20%)
  • America America
  • El
  • Kiss Me Deadly
  • Once Upon A Time In America
  • Le jour se leve
  • Letter From An Unknown Woman
  • Lola
  • Manhattan
  • Mulholland Drive
  • My Night At Maud's
  • Night & Fog
  • The Gold Rush
  • Scarface
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • Napoleon
It's a pleasant surprise to see two films by Kenji Mizoguchi - Ugetsu Monogatari and Sansho Dayu - as his work rarely appears on top-100 lists. Note that Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy. Cahiers produced a similar list in 1994, 100 Films Pour Une Videotheque, though that list was restricted to films available on VHS.

18 November 2008

Memento

Memento
Memento is a psychological thriller directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano. It's an example of neo-noir filmmaking, featuring the detective-mystery plot, duplicitous characters, flawed protagonist, femme fatale, and downbeat conclusion typical of film noir. More specifically, Memento is an example of film soleil, a strain of noir (exemplified by Chinatown) that exchanges chiaroscuro for sunshine and swaps the grime of New York for the cleanliness of California.

Leonard Shelby (Pearce) and his wife were attacked in their home by two masked men. During the attack, Shelby killed one of the men, though he sustained a head injury that resulted in anterograde amnesia: he can remember his life before the attack, though he has lost his short-term memory. Consequently, he photographs everyone he meets, writes notes to himself, and even tattoos important information on his body. The film begins with Leonard searching for his wife's murderer, a man whose initials are JG. He is helped by an amoral cop, Teddy (Pantoliano); and he meets a bartender, Natalie (Moss), who gives him vital information. Teddy and Natalie both exploit Leonard to a certain degree, as does the only other person he interacts with, a motel clerk.

Leonard exists in a constant state of confusion, unable to remember anything for more than a few minutes, and the film employs a unique narrative structure in order to give the audience the same sense of bewilderment. The story is essentially told in reverse chronological order, with each event followed by the event that chronologically preceded it. Throughout the film, Leonard tracks down clues that lead him to JG, and each new clue is initially a mystery to the audience: we learn of the significance of each event only when its context is revealed by the subsequent scene. (The technique was later used by Gaspar Noe in Irreversible.)

Memento's narrative positions it alongside the non-linear, fragmented structures of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and other recent films, a trend inspired by the success of Pulp Fiction. With a complex series of clues, an unreliable narrator, and a twist ending, it also recalls The Usual Suspects. The film demands an audience's attention, since every scene contains a new piece of the puzzle; it's one of the smartest and most original films of the decade.

13 November 2008

Legendary Movies

Legendary Movies
Legendary Movies, by Paolo d'Agostini, features 140 films arranged chronologically and selected for their artistic, cultural, and commercial significance. It was originally written for the Italian market, as I Grandi Film: Quando Il Cinema Diventa Leggenda, and consequently there is a distinctly Italian bias to the list.

There are plenty of genuinely legendary films in the book, though there are also quite a few popular yet insubstantial (and frankly awful) titles: A Summer Place, The Pink Panther, Mary Poppins, Love Story, Forrest Gump, and Life Is Beautiful. Also, very recent films (such as the Bourne and Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogies) could hardly be described as legendary.

The Legendary Movies are as follows:
  • Cabiria
  • The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
  • Nosferatu
  • Battleship Potemkin
  • Metropolis
  • The Blue Angel
  • Frankenstein
  • Grand Hotel
  • King Kong
  • It Happened One Night
  • Modern Times
  • Grand Illusion
  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Ninotchka
  • Stagecoach
  • Gone With The Wind
  • Citizen Kane
  • Casablanca
  • Arsenic & Old Lace
  • Rome: Open City
  • Gilda
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • The Asphalt Jungle
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Singin' In The Rain
  • High Noon
  • Don Camillo
  • The Wild One
  • Roman Holiday
  • From Here To Eternity
  • A Star Is Born
  • On The Waterfront
  • Sabrina
  • Seven Samurai
  • Rear Window
  • Rebel Without A Cause
  • & God Created Woman
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Seventh Seal
  • The Bridge On The River Kwai
  • The Great War
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
  • Some Like It Hot
  • A Summer Place
  • La Dolce Vita
  • Breathless
  • Two Women
  • Psycho
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Breakfast At Tiffany's
  • West Side Story
  • Lolita
  • Jules & Jim
  • Lawrence Of Arabia
  • The Pink Panther

  • The Leopard
  • A Fistful Of Dollars
  • Goldfinger
  • Mary Poppins
  • Dr Zhivago
  • A Man & A Woman
  • Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
  • The Dirty Dozen
  • Belle De Jour
  • The Graduate
  • In The Heat Of The Night
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • Planet Of The Apes
  • Bullitt
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Rosemary's Baby
  • Easy Rider
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Love Story
  • M*A*S*H
  • Dirty Harry
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Cabaret
  • The Godfather
  • The Sting
  • American Graffiti
  • The Exorcist
  • Jaws
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
  • Nashville
  • Taxi Driver
  • Rocky
  • In The Realm Of The Senses
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Grease
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Manhattan
  • Alien
  • The Blues Brothers
  • The Shining
  • American Gigolo
  • The Party
  • Raiders Of The Lost Ark
  • Escape From New York
  • First Blood
  • ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Blade Runner
  • Once Upon A Time In America
  • A Nightmare On Elm Street
  • Back To The Future
  • Top Gun
  • 9½ Weeks
  • Wings Of Desire
  • The Last Emperor
  • Rain Man
  • Nikita
  • Pretty Woman
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Raise The Red Lantern
  • The Silence Of The Lambs
  • Thelma & Louise
  • Basic Instinct
  • Batman Returns
  • Schindler's List
  • Forrest Gump
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Seven
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Life Is Beautiful
  • Titanic
  • The Matrix
  • Gladiator
  • The Lord Of The Rings I-III
  • Amelie
  • Talk To Her
  • Kill Bill I-II
  • The Last Samurai
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • The Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum
  • Pirates Of The Caribbean I-III
Note that Ben-Hur, Frankenstein, and The Ten Commandments are all sound films and not the earlier silent versions. Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy. Also, Titanic is the 1997 James Cameron version (as opposed to the earlier 1943 and 1953 versions). There have been many filmed adaptations of Romeo & Juliet; this one is the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version.

05 November 2008

LittleBigPlanet

Boulevard De L'Independence
Arab Money
The new PlayStation game LittleBigPlanet has been recalled and modified, to remove a song from its soundtrack. The song, Tapha Niang (from Toumani Diabate's album Boulevard De L'Independance), features quotations from the Koran; fortunately, the album is still available. (A remix of the Busta Rhymes single Arab Money, released this month, also includes lines from the Koran.)

[Previously, a song featuring Koran quotes was removed from Joey Boy's album The Greatest Beats in Thailand. Also, Lebanese performer Marcel Khalife's song Ana Yousef, Ya Abi (1995) was accused of blasphemy due to its Koran quotation. MF Husain, who painted the controversial Mother India, also quoted from the Koran in his song Noor-Un-Ala in 2004.]

audio

04 November 2008

Stanley Kubrick:
Essays On His Films & Legacy

Stanley Kubrick: Essays On His Films & Legacy
Stanley Kubrick: Essays On His Films & Legacy is a new compendium of Kubrickian scholarship, edited by Gary D Rhodes. At first glance, it closely resembles Depth Of Field, a previous collection of essays on Kubrick, with individual analyses of his major films, excluding Dr Strangelove, and several chapters devoted to Eyes Wide Shut.

The contributors to Depth Of Field (Diane Johnson, Vincent LoBrutto, Frederic Raphael, Jonathan Rosenbaum, et al.) were less academic, though arguably more authoritative. The contributors to Rhodes's book all have university teaching positions, yet none of them has previously published any work on Kubrick.

In his introduction, Rhodes inexplicably praises the first essay as a "monumental examination of Kubrick's photography for Look magazine". Unfortunately, the essay is a missed opportunity: instead of providing a detailed analysis or survey of Kubrick's Look photography, the author (Philippe Mather) spends page after page on photojournalism textbooks and sociological theories. Also, Mather's Look sources are all secondary, seemingly limited to Drama & Shadows and LoBrutto's biography.

Other disappointing essays include overly descriptive articles on Kubrick's documentaries (by Marina Burke) and Killer's Kiss (by Tony Williams), both of which feature extensive plot summaries and only limited analysis. Then there is Eric Eaton's dry, theoretical study of Paths Of Glory: he examines the film's "conceptualization of at least two fundamental, polarized properties: (1) abstraction-concretion; and (2) the opposition of the powerful cultural forces emanating from the two states toward the concrete world of"... zzzzzzzzz.

Thankfully, there are also some more engaging essays: Hugh S Manon explores Kubrick's contributions to film noir, Reynold Humphries examines the politics of Spartacus, and Homay King analyses the camerawork of Barry Lyndon. There are three interesting approaches to Eyes Wide Shut: gender, by Lindiwe Dovey; carnival, by Miriam Jordan and Julian Jason Haladyn; and phenomenology, by Phillip Sipiora. (Dovey does, however, make a glaring error, writing that Eyes Wide Shut "is the only film in which Kubrick acts as an extra". In fact, Kubrick is not an extra in Eyes Wide Shut, though he does briefly appear in five of his earlier films.)

The book's final chapter, by Robert JE Simpson, deals with Kubrick's personal reputation and public image, discussing the media representations of Kubrick that have appeared since his death (including Raphael's book, Eyes Wide Open; Colour Me Kubrick; and the Stanley Kubrick Archive, in London). This is the book's most original chapter, and contains valuable information on texts that many people may be unaware of.

6th World Film Festival of Bangkok

6th World Film Festival of Bangkok
Jubilee
Manthan
Bhumika
The 6th World Film Festival of Bangkok was held at Paragon Cineplex from 24th October to 2nd November. It featured retrospectives of directors Derek Jarman (including his Punk film Jubilee on 26th October) and Shyam Benegal (including his Middle Cinema films Manthan on 27th and 30th October, and Bhumika on 26th and 31st October). The Festival was on a slightly smaller scale than last year, with no peripheral events.

L'Express International

L'Express L'Express International
L'Express International, the global edition of the French weekly magazine L'Express, has self-censored a portrait of Mohammed used on the cover of the current issue. The French edition is uncensored. Even obscuring Mohammed's face did not stop Morocco from banning the international edition.

Forbidden Words

Forbidden Words
Forbidden Words: Taboo & The Censoring Of Language, by Keith Allan and Kate Burridge, is an analysis of social and cultural linguistic suppression.

The authors take an inclusive approach, finding space not only for swear words and profanities but also for political correctness, proscriptive usage, and jargon. Each chapter begins with an abstract, though an introduction outlining the various areas of enquiry might be a useful addition, given the wide scope of the book.

The first chapter explores the origins of social taboos and literary censorship, material which will be familiar to many readers. More interesting is the next chapter, which discusses euphemistic language; here, the authors coin a new term, 'orthophemism', to describe literal vocabulary which is neither euphemistic nor dysphemistic.

The bulk of the book is a series of thematic chapters describing linguistic taboos against sex, bodily fluids, food, disease, and death. (My website is cited as a reference in one chapter.)

30 October 2008

100 All-Time Favorite Movies

100 All-Time Favorite Movies
Not my favourite films, 100 All-Time Favorite Movies is instead the title of a new book edited by Jurgen Muller. Published by Taschen in two volumes (1915-1959 and 1960-2000), it includes a chronological survey of 100 classic films. Being a Taschen book, its layout and photography are superb; the selection of films is impressive, too, with only two questionable entries (Fanfan The Tulip and Forrest Gump) and only one inexplicable omission (Singin' In The Rain).

Taschen's 100 All-Time Favorite Movies are as follows:
  • The Birth Of A Nation
  • Nosferatu
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Gold Rush
  • Battleship Potemkin
  • The General
  • Metropolis
  • The Blue Angel
  • Under The Roofs Of Paris
  • M
  • Duck Soup
  • King Kong
  • Modern Times
  • Grand Illusion
  • Gone With The Wind
  • Fantasia
  • Citizen Kane
  • To Be Or Not To Be
  • Casablanca
  • The Big Sleep
  • La Belle & La Bete
  • Notorious
  • The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • The Third Man
  • All About Eve
  • Rashomon
  • The Young & The Damned
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • The African Queen
  • High Noon
  • Fanfan The Tulip
  • The Wages Of Fear
  • Seven Samurai
  • La Strada
  • Rebel Without A Cause
  • The Night Of The Hunter
  • Giant
  • The Searchers
  • Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud
  • Wild Strawberries
  • Vertigo
  • The 400 Blows
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
  • La Dolce Vita
  • L'Avventura
  • Psycho
  • Breakfast At Tiffany's
  • Lawrence Of Arabia
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Dr Strangelove
  • Goldfinger
  • Dr Zhivago
  • Pierrot Le Fou
  • Andrei Rublev
  • Bonnie & Clyde
  • The Graduate
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Once Upon A Time In The West
  • Easy Rider
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • The Wild Bunch
  • Death In Venice
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Deliverance
  • Cabaret
  • The Godfather
  • The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie
  • A Woman Under The Influence
  • Chinatown
  • Jaws
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
  • Taxi Driver
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Annie Hall
  • The Deer Hunter
  • The Tin Drum
  • Mad Max
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Raging Bull
  • Fitzcarraldo
  • Fanny & Alexander
  • Scarface
  • Blade Runner
  • The Fourth Man
  • Blue Velvet
  • Dead Ringers
  • The Silence Of The Lambs
  • Forrest Gump
  • Chungking Express
  • Pulp Fiction
  • LA Confidential
  • Face/Off
  • The Celebration
  • All About My Mother
  • American Beauty
  • Magnolia
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Note that Ben-Hur is the 1959 sound version rather than the 1925 silent version, and Scarface is the 1983 remake rather than the 1932 original. Also, Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy. The oddest mistake: Psycho ends with a smirking skull, not a "smirking toilet seat" (page 440)!

27 October 2008

The Nation On Sunday

The Nation On Sunday
Following the Bangkok Post's Sunday relaunch and expansion last month, The Sunday Nation has been relaunched as The Nation On Sunday. It's still very thin, with just two pages of national news, and the Sunday edition seems to drop the business focus of the daily edition.

The rather pointless name-change is accompanied by a new magazine produced in partnership with Asia News. The first half of the magazine includes new features by Nation journalists; this is encouraging, as most features (and all international news and sport) in both The Nation and the Bangkok Post are supplied by agencies.

However, the back half of the magazine comprises reprints of Asian newspaper/magazine articles which were previously reprinted in Asia News. In what is either an embarrassing mistake or a sign of desperation, two of the articles reprinted from Asia News are actually articles which it reprinted from The Nation and the Daily Xpress. One of them is a preview of the World Film Festival and first appeared in the Daily Xpress on 10th October, more than two weeks ago.

25 October 2008

The Movies That Matter

The Movies That Matter
The latest (twenty-fourth) edition of Halliwell's Film Guide has been published, under the cumbersome title Halliwell's The Movies That Matter: From Bogart To Bond & All The Latest Film Releases. The book is edited by David Gritten, who took over from John Walker at the last minute before the previous edition was published. Gritten has made radical changes to this new edition, the most alarming being the removal of 20,000 film reviews.

In his introduction, Gritten outlines the dilemma he faced: Halliwell's Film Guide was expanding each year, as more films were added. The twenty-third edition reviewed over 24,000 films, and, apparently, readers were complaining that the book was too large and heavy. (Why don't they just buy more sturdy shelves?) So, Gritten decided to substantially shift the book's focus: it will no longer attempt to review every release, and will, instead, concentrate on only a few thousand noteworthy films. The emphasis is on theatrical releases, not on DVDs or videos, in another departure from recent editions.

Thus, there are reviews of every mainstream film released in the past year (350 of them), plus 2,000 significant films released in the past twenty years, plus 500 classic films released more than twenty years ago. (The 500 films range in chronology "from Intolerance to Blue Velvet", according to Gritten, though actually The Birth Of A Nation, which predates Intolerance, is also included.) In total, therefore, there are almost 3,000 films listed.

Why include 2,000 films from twenty years yet only 500 films from ninety years? Gritten's rationale is that "for good or bad, most films seen today" are less than twenty years old. That may be true, but it does not explain why they are Movies That Matter. Gritten, in his introduction, claims that the 2,000 films in the twenty-years group all have "brand new" reviews, though this is not really the case. Thus, although this new version has 350 extra reviews of very recent films, we are not actually getting value for money, because the deletions (more than 20,000!) far exceed the additions.

The films are listed alphabetically, though not always logically. For example, The Devil's Backbone is listed under 'T' (for 'The') whereas The Godfather appears under 'G' (for 'Godfather'). To add to the confusion, there is no cross-referencing of alternate titles.

21 October 2008

"He is sentenced to two years in jail..."

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been convicted in absentia for violating the National Counter-Corruption Act. He was charged with facilitating his wife Potjaman's purchase of a plot of land at below market value. The plot, in Bangok's Ratchada district, was sold to Potjaman by the Bank of Thailand in 2003. The Supreme Court judge who announced the verdict today said: "Thaksin had violated the article of the constitution on conflict of interest, as he was then prime minister and head of government who was supposed to work for the benefit of the public. He is sentenced to two years in jail." Notoriously, Thaksin's lawyer, Pichit Cheunban, made a blatant attempt to bribe the judges during the trial, handing over a lunchbox containing 2,000,000 baht in cash.

Thaksin and Potjaman are currently living in exile in London. They jumped bail earlier this year, ostensibly to attend the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics, and have not returned to Thailand since. They were not prevented from leaving the country, and they were carrying a suspiciously large collection of luggage with them. Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006, while he was attending the United Nations in New York; corruption was one of the reasons cited as justification for the coup. A military-appointed Assets Examination Committee froze seventy-six billion baht of Thaksin and Potjaman's assets last year, pending the outcome of an anti-corruption investigation.

20 October 2008

Hyena

Hyena
Hyena
Hyena
Yesterday, Thai PBS broadcast a group of new short films, under the umbrella title Hot Short Films. The programme included Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s Hyena (ไฮยีน่า), which was first shown at BACC earlier this year. (Nawapol also directed Bangkok Tanks.) Hyena is a single, static shot showing a young man getting ready to go out. A television screen and a poster of Rama IX form a diptych behind him. A Thai-dubbed version of the BBC wildlife series Killing for a Living is playing on the TV (specifically, the Murder in the Family episode from 1993).

The documentary narration seems to offer an inadvertent political commentary, though if challenged, the director could argue that the juxtaposition is coincidental, as Rama IX posters can be found in many Thai houses. The technique recalls that of Manussak Dokmai’s short film Don’t Forget Me (อย่าลืมฉัน), in which archive footage of the 6th October 1976 massacre is accompanied by narration from a documentary on the Mlabri tribe, though in that case the voice-over describing tribal rituals provides an ironic counterpoint to the massacre footage.

16 October 2008

MovieMail's Top 50 Films Of All Time!

MovieMail's Top 50 Films Of All Time!
The November edition of the MovieMail Monthly Film Catalogue features a list of the Top 50 Films Of All Time.

The Top Fifty Films are as follows:

1. Three Colours: Blue/White/Red
2. Breathless
3. Singin' In The Rain
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. A Man Escaped
6. The Seventh Seal
7. The Third Man
8. The Leopard
9. Miller's Crossing
10. M. Hulot's Holiday
11. The Lives Of Others
12. Lawrence Of Arabia
13. Blade Runner
14. I Was A Fireman
15. Casablanca
16. Andrei Rublev
17. Seven Samurai
18. Citizen Kane
19. Brief Encounter
20. Annie Hall
21. Some Like It Hot
22. It's A Wonderful Life
23. The 400 Blows
24. A Matter Of Life & Death
25. Bicycle Thieves
26. Tokyo Story
27. Jaws
28. Battleship Potemkin
29. The Rules Of The Game
30. Pather Panchali/Aparajito/Apur Sansar
31. Psycho
32. The Battle Of Algiers
33. Nashville
34. Belle De Jour
35. Dr Mabuse The Gambler
36. All About Eve
37. My Neighbour Totoro
38. The Godfather I-III
39. Vertigo
40. Sunset Boulevard
41. La Dolce Vita
42. Fitzcarraldo
43. All Quiet On The Western Front
44. There Will Be Blood
45. Satantango
46. L'Avventura
47. The Night Of The Hunter
48. Festen
49. The New World
50. Chinatown

There are actually fifty-six films on the list, as it includes three trilogies. Interestingly, Blade Runner at #13 is the 'final cut' version with digital tweaks approved by Ridley Scott last year. Also, Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy.

06 October 2008

Have You Seen...?

Have You Seen...?
Have You Seen...?: A Personal Introduction To 1,000 Films, by David Thomson, is an alphabetical guide to "a thousand fiction films, going back to 1895 and ranging across the world - the landmarks are here, the problem films, a few guilty pleasures, a few forlorn sacred cows, some surprises, a thousand for you to see". The most surprising thing about the book is that I don't hate it.

Thomson's Biographical Dictionary Of Film is routinely described as the greatest film book ever written, but personally I can't stand it; and I often find Thomson's newspaper articles infuriating. Have You Seen...? is much more satisfying, though: the layout is clean and simple, with one page per film; the selection of titles is inclusive and diverse; and the reviews are fair, with Thomson acknowledging the merits of even the films he doesn't like. (Thomson previously contributed to Film: The Critics' Choice, a selection of 150 classic films.)

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03 October 2008

Ploy (DVD)

Ploy
In Ploy, by Pen-ek Ratanaruang, a jet-lagged husband and wife arrive at a Thai hotel after their flight from America. At 5am, the husband (Wit) goes to the hotel bar for a smoke, and meets a teenage girl (Ploy). Wit invites Ploy up to the hotel room to rest, which naturally angers his wife (Daeng). Frustrated and jealous, Daeng goes out to a cafe, where she is chatted up by a stranger who invites her back to his apartment.

The romance has gone from Wit and Daeng's marriage - it's reached its expiration date, as Wit explains to Ploy. In contrast, in another room, the hotel's bartender has a passionate relationship with one of the maids. These scenes were deemed unacceptable by Thai censors, and the film was released here in a less explicit version, though the director's cut was screened at last year's Bangkok International Film Festival. The film was released on VCD in its cut version, though the Thai DVD is uncut and includes an audio commentary by Pen-ek.

Wit, Daeng, and Ploy all drift in and out of sleep, and we are never quite sure what is real and what is a dream. The film's slow pace, long silences, and ambient soundtrack all enhance the sleepy atmosphere. An early murder sequence is certainly a fantasy, though other scenes - the bartender's relationship with the maid, a potentially fatal encounter for Daeng, and a reconciliatory conclusion for the married couple - are more ambiguous, and could perhaps also have been dreamt by the three main characters. This may explain some confusing plot points: why did the receptionist tell Daeng that Wit and Ploy had left together when it was not true (like the proprietor of the McKittrick Hotel in Vertigo), and, more importantly, how did Daeng recover from her (ultimately melodramatic) ordeal so quickly?

The film reminded me of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, in its themes (marital jealousy and sexual fantasy), its structure (confusion between dreams and reality; the slow pacing; the dangerous, illicit adventure and subsequent reconciliation), and even its score. Last year, Pen-Ek noted that Stanley Kubrick is one of his inspirations, and also that he is more interested in funerals than weddings. (In this film, Wit and Daeng are returning to Thailand to attend a funeral.) Pen-ek's recent films, including Ploy, share an emotional detachment evident in Eyes Wide Shut and in Kubrick's work generally.

01 October 2008

Screening Sex

Screening Sex
Screening Sex, by Linda Williams, is a history of the representation of sex in mainstream and arthouse cinema. It complements her definitive history of pornography, Hard Core.

There are chapters on the Hollywood kiss in the Hays Code era, New Hollywood's sexual liberation and counter-culture, mainstream 'porno chic', and hardcore scenes in contemporary arthouse films. In The Realm Of The Senses has a chapter to itself, and there is also extensive discussion of Last Tango In Paris, Deep Throat, Blue Velvet, and Boys In The Sand, amongst others.

My only qualm is: why devote so much space to Brokeback Mountain? Yes, it's topical, but surely it's a very minor footnote in the history of screen sex, and therefore doesn't merit the twenty pages and nine photographs that Williams accords it.

It's no surprise that Screening Sex is such a superlative study of its subject, given its author's reputation as the pre-eminent scholar of cinematic sex. The analytical text is accompanied by a comprehensive bibliography and some surprisingly graphic images.

Norasinghavatar

Short Film Project
Norasinghavatar, currently showing at Traces Of Siamese Smile, is a short fantasy film by Wisit Sasanatieng. [It was produced last year as part of the Short Film Project in Commemoration of the Celebration on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary; other directors partaking in the Project include Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Pen-ek Ratanaruang.]

The film is inspired by Hindu mythology, and features Norasinghawatarn, an incarnation of the god Narayana. The film's characters are all played by masked actors, filmed against bluescreen backgrounds generated by CGI. As in Wisit's films Tears Of The Black Tiger and Citizen Dog, there is extensive digital manipulation in post-production, brightening the colours to an almost psychedelic degree.

30 September 2008

Traces Of Siamese Smile

Traces Of Siamese Smile
Traces Of Siamese Smile: Art + Faith + Politics + Love (what a corny title) features multi-media works by Thai artists and filmmakers including Wisit Sasanatieng, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. International artists such as Andy Warhol, Marina Abramovic, and Nobuyoshi Araki are also included, and there are over 100 artists in total. Apichatpong's new video Luminous People features an abbot blessing boat passengers while they sleep and a young man singing about the death of his father. Wisit is represented by Norasinghavatar, part of the Short Film Project.

The exhibition was originally scheduled to open on 20th September, at the new Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Then, the opening was postponed until 23rd September. Finally, at the very last minute, it was inexplicably postponed again, to open on 24th September. It will close on 26th November (not 23rd November as originally scheduled).

29 September 2008

2008 Bangkok International Film Festival

Bangkok International Film Festival 2008
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Otto
Serbis
This year's Bangkok International Film Festival runs from 23rd September until tomorrow at CentralWorld's SF World cinema. The poster was designed by Tears Of The Black Tiger director Wisit Sasanatieng.

The future of the event had been in doubt following corruption charges filed against Juthamas Siriwan, the former head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, relating to money she received from the American company Film Festival Management; the budget is much reduced from last year, leading to a 'quality not quantity' agenda this time around. Children Of The Dark, a drama about child prostitution in Thailand, has been withdrawn from the schedule - a reminder that TAT is still the main sponsor.

The low-key opening film was Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The explicit Filipino drama Serbis won the Southeast Asian competition. Bruce La Bruce's gay zombie film Otto, or Up With Dead People was also included.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody's Allen's fourth consecutive European film, after three London productions (Match Point, Scoop, and the badly-received Cassandra's Dream). It stars Scarlett Johansson, who also appeared in Match Point and Scoop. The film feels very light and inconsequential, with its holiday-romance plot and an ending which puts all the characters back to the same positions they were in at the beginning. Penelope Cruz gives the most passionate performance; her final scene of jealous rage recalls Judy Davis's first scene in Deconstructing Harry. Barcelona's city council certainly got their money's worth: they funded the film, which is full of picture-postcard Catalan scenery.

In Otto, a young man (the Otto of the title) who thinks he's a zombie (and might actually be one) is hired by Medea, a pretentious art-film director, to star in a gay zombie film titled Up With Dead People. Medea's earnest revolutionary rhetoric recalls the sloganeering of The Raspberry Reich; she also paraphrases Apocalypse Now: "I love the smell of the graveyard in the afternoon. It smells like extermination". Ingeniously, her girlfriend, Hella, appears to be trapped in a silent movie: she is always shown in black-and-white, and her dialogue is delivered via inter-titles. The most notorious sequence is a more graphic version of a scene in David Cronenberg's Crash. The film was co-produced by Terence Koh, and his artworks can be seen in some of the sets.

Brillante Mendoza's film Serbis is, like La Chatte A Deux Tetes, set almost entirely in an adult movie theatre (named Family, apparently a real location). Like Persona, it opens with a 35mm print being threaded into a projector and ends with the celluloid burning up. In between, Serbis follows the lives of a family living and working in the Family cinema, as they deal with pregnancy, infidelity, a large boil, and a stray goat. Their cinema is patronised by 'service boys', whose services are shown in rather graphic detail (again, like La Chatte A Deux Tetes), though the real star is the dilapidated Family cinema itself.

27 September 2008

The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time

The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time
Empire magazine's current issue features The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time - and the magazine has 100 different covers, each featuring one of the films from the list. Empire asked its readers for their nominations last month. International directors and critics were also polled, making this survey, according to Empire, "THE MOST AMBITIOUS MOVIE LIST EVER ATTEMPTED".

The 500 films are as follows:

1. The Godfather
2. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
3. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Jaws
6. GoodFellas
7. Apocalypse Now
8. Singin' In The Rain
9. Pulp Fiction
10. Fight Club
11. Raging Bull
12. The Apartment
13. Chinatown
14. Once Upon A Time In The West
15. The Dark Knight
16. 2001: A Space Odyssey
17. Taxi Driver
18. Casablanca
19. The Godfather II
20. Blade Runner
21. The Third Man
22. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
23. Back To The Future
24. The Lord Of The Rings I: The Fellowship Of The Ring
25. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
26. Dr Strangelove
27. Some Like It Hot
28. Citizen Kane
29. Die Hard
30. Aliens
31. Gone With The Wind
32. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
33. Alien
34. The Lord Of The Rings III: The Return Of The King
35. Terminator II: Judgment Day
36. Andrei Rublev
37. A Clockwork Orange
38. Heat
39. The Matrix
40. Vertigo
41. The 400 Blows
42. Kind Hearts & Coronets
43. The Big Lebowski
44. Schindler's List
45. Psycho
46. On The Waterfront
47. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
48. This Is Spinal Tap
49. Evil Dead II
50. Seven Samurai
51. 8½
52. The Shining
53. Donnie Darko
54. The Lord Of The Rings II: The Two Towers
55. La Dolce Vita
56. Casino Royale
57. Lawrence Of Arabia
58. His Girl Friday
59. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
60. Come & See
61. The Usual Suspects
62. The Graduate
63. Sunset Boulevard
64. Oldboy
65. Harold & Maude
66. Edward Scissorhands
67. Tokyo Story
68. Annie Hall
69. Three Colours: Red
70. Stand By Me
71. The Night Of The Hunter
72. 12 Angry Men
73. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
74. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
75. A Matter Of Life & Death
76. Manhattan
77. Spartacus
78. Rosemary's Baby
79. The Thin Red Line
80. The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp
81. Batman Begins
82. The Great Escape
83. Brazil
84. LA Confidential
85. Blue Velvet
86. Carrie
87. The King Of Comedy
88. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
89. Magnolia
90. When Harry Met Sally
91. Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi
92. Once Upon A Time In America
93. Spirit Of The Beehive
94. The Wild Bunch
95. Yojimbo
96. American Beauty
97. Reservoir Dogs
98. North By Northwest
99. Toy Story
100. Network
101. Raising Arizona
102. The Hustler
103. Rear Window
104. The Rules Of The Game
105. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
106. A Man For All Seasons
107. An American Werewolf In London
108. The Tree Of Wooden Clogs
109. Touch Of Evil
110. Before Sunset
111. Fitzcarraldo
112. I Am Cuba
113. Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
114. The Conversation
115. Blazing Saddles
116. Rio Bravo
117. Miller’s Crossing
118. Withnail & I
119. The Wages Of Fear
120. The Battle Of Algiers
121. Los Olvidados
122. The Princess Bride
123. A Woman Under The Influence
124. The Silence Of The Lambs
125. Breathless
126. Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
127. The Sting
128. Lost In Translation
129. Harvey
130. The Man Who Would Be King
131. The Last Of The Mohicans
132. Pan's Labyrinth
133. Double Indemnity
134. Seven
135. Duck Soup
136. Amadeus
137. Dances With Wolves
138. Cool Hand Luke
139. Blow Out
140. As Good As It Gets
141. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
142. Almost Famous
143. Cyrano de Bergerac
144. There Will Be Blood
145. Sophie's Choice
146. Shampoo
147. Notorious
148. Z
149. The Red Shoes
150. The French Connection
151. Gladiator
152. Boogie Nights
153. The Innocents
154. Betty Blue
155. Badlands
156. Saving Private Ryan
157. True Romance
158. Unforgiven
159. The Royal Tenenbaums
160. Being There
161. The Year Of Living Dangerously
162. A Nightmare On Elm Street
163. The Bridge On The River Kwai
164. The Searchers
165. Partie De Campagne
166. Goldfinger
167. Don’t Look Now
168. Tootsie
169. Viridiana
170. La Haine
171. Brief Encounter
172. The Wizard Of Oz
173. Memento
174. Superman
175. Rushmore
176. A Canterbury Tale
177. City Of God
178. Hellzapoppin'
179. Toy Story II
180. To Kill A Mockingbird
181. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
182. Performance
183. Le Samourai
184. Dirty Harry
185. Paths Of Glory
186. United 93
187. The Big Country
188. School Of Rock
189. Ghostbusters
190. Big
191. Brokeback Mountain
192. Eraserhead
193. Ed Wood
194. Bicycle Thieves
195. It's A Wonderful Life
196. Amelie
197. Point Break
198. Fargo
199. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
200. Before Sunrise
201. JFK
202. The Killer
203. Monty Python's Life Of Brian
204. Bride Of Frankenstein
205. The Addiction
206. The Exorcist
207. The Misfits
208. The Departed
209. Local Hero
210. Platoon
211. Moulin Rouge!
212. M
213. Songs From The Second Floor
214. Army Of Shadows
215. Jackie Brown
216. Sunday Bloody Sunday
217. The Magnificent Seven
218. M. Hulot's Holiday
219. The Outlaw Josey Wales
220. Far From Heaven
221. McCabe & Mrs Miller
222. Mother & Son
223. Safe
224. Distant Voices, Still Lives
225. Get Carter
226. Romeo & Juliet
227. Leon
228. No Country For Old Men
229. Festen
230. Howl's Moving Castle
231. Shaun Of The Dead
232. Jurassic Park
233. Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom
234. The Bourne Ultimatum
235. Battle Royale
236. Black Narcissus
237. Delicatessen
238. Requiem For A Dream
239. Cinema Paradiso
240. Forrest Gump
241. Brighton Rock
242. King Kong
243. Heimat
244. Dazed & Confused
245. Downfall
246. The Philadelphia Story
247. All That Jazz
248. Pandora's Box
249. My Darling Clementine
250. Sunrise
251. Darling
252. The Leopard
253. First Blood
254. The Verdict
255. Ninotchka
256. Port Of Shadows
257. The Black Cat
258. The Blues Brothers
259. Groundhog Day
260. Field Of Dreams
261. Roman Holiday
262. The Virgin Suicides
263. Das Boot
264. American Graffiti
265. AI: Artificial Intelligence
266. Ghost World
267. Crimes & Misdemeanors
268. The Lady Vanishes
269. A Place In The Sun
270. The Death Of Mr Lazarescu
271. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
272. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
273. The Maltese Falcon
274. Sin City
275. My Neighbour Totoro
276. Layer Cake
277. On The Town
278. Carlito's Way
279. National Lampoon's Animal House
280. Mad Max II
281. Interview With The Vampire
282. The Godfather III
283. Ran
284. Scarface
285. Solaris
286. L'Avventura
287. Secrets & Lies
288. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
289. The Thing
290. Rashomon
291. Rocco & His Brothers
292. La Belle & La Bete
293. La Maman & La Putain
294. The Red Balloon
295. The Untouchables
296. All The President's Men
297. It Happened One Night
298. La Cercle Rouge
299. The Palm Beach Story
300. Sawdust & Tinsel
301. Love & Death
302. The Best Years Of Our Lives
303. Together
304. Radio Days
305. The Prestige
306. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
307. Midnight Cowboy
308. The Terminator
309. Transformers
310. Gremlins
311. American History X
312. Suspiria
313. Battleship Potemkin
314. Sweet Smell Of Success
315. Sense & Sensibility
316. Trainspotting
317. Midnight Run
318. Rebecca
319. The Lion King
320. Braveheart
321. Funny Face
322. Aladdin
323. The Last Seduction
324. Lone Star
325. Kill Bill I
326. Out Of Sight
327. The Nightmare Before Christmas
328. The Truman Show
329. The Lives Of Others
330. Star Wars III: Revenge Of The Sith
331. The Green Mile
332. The Sixth Sense
333. Grease
334. The Magnificent Ambersons
335. The Seventh Seal
336. Titanic
337. 300
338. Jules & Jim
339. Spirited Away
340. High & Low
341. The Passenger
342. The Gold Rush
343. Monsters Inc.
344. The Last Waltz
345. Fatal Attraction
346. Leave Her To Heaven
347. All About Eve
348. Au Hasard Balthasar
349. Arthur
350. Planet Of The Apes
351. Zulu
352. Unfaithfully Yours
353. Bugsy Malone
354. Un Chien Andalou
355. Sunshine
356. Napoleon
357. The Long Goodbye
358. Russian Ark
359. The Lady Eve
360. The Return
361. Clerks
362. The Elephant Man
363. Good Morning Vietnam
364. Natural Born Killers
365. The Bourne Identity
366. Pradator
367. Cabaret
368. Airplane!
369. The Breakfast Club
370. Rocky
371. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
372. Army Of Darkness
373. WALL-E
374. Hot Fuzz
375. Four Weddings & A Funeral
376. Zodiac
377. Mean Streats
378. The Goonies
379. Ratatouille
380. Children Of Men
381. Monty Python & The Holy Grail
382. Cache
383. Serenity
384. The Shop Around The Corner
385. Ace In The Hole
386. The Great Silence
387. Rain Man
388. The English Patient
389. Election
390. Two Days In Paris
391. Mulholland Drive
392. Paris Texas
393. Garden State
394. Cloverfield
395. Casino
396. The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
397. Night Of The Living Dead
398. Killer Of Sheep
399. Greed
400. The Incredibles
401. Batman Returns
402. Little Miss Sunshine
403. Do The Right Thing
404. RoboCop
405. Dirty Dancing
406. Iron Man
407. The Jungle Book
408. Zelig
409. Men In Black
410. A Hard Day's Night
411. Spider-Man II
412. Heathers
413. Finding Nemo
414. The Double Life Of Veronique
415. Dawn Of The Dead
416. Bad Taste
417. Lords Of Dogtown
418. V For Vendetta
419. Days Of Heaven
420. Jerry Maguirre
421. Lethal Weapon
422. A Man Escaped
423. Kill Bill II
424. To Have & Have Not
425. Wonder Boys
426. Enduring Love
427. Spring In A Small Town
428. The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser
429. Danger: Diabolik
430. Big Trouble In Little China
431. Electra Glida In Blue
432. X-Men II
433. Good Will Hunting
434. The Cat Concerto
435. American Psycho
436. Beauty & The Beast
437. Spider-Man
438. The Lost Boys
439. Grosse Pointe Blank
440. Akira
441. Being John Malkovich
442. Atonement
443. Dog Day Afternoon
444. Hairspray
445. Dumb & Dumber
446. High Fidelity
447. Ten
448. A History Of Violence
449. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
450. King Kong
451. Speed
452. Unbreakable
453. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
454. The Bourne Supremacy
455. Top Gun
456. 28 Days Later
457. Full Metal Jacket
458. Batman
459. Ikiru
460. Crash
461. Halloween
462. Dead Man's Shoes
463. Juno
464. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
465. 12 Monkeys
466. Snatch
467. The Deer Hunter
468. The Crow
469. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
470. Glengarry Glen Ross
471. Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban
472. Le Doulos
473. Into The Wild
474. Enter The Dragon
475. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
476. Santa Sangre
477. Rebel Without A Cause
478. Flesh
479. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
480. The Son's Room
481. Topsy-Turvy
482. Scream
483. The Big Red One
484. The Fountain
485. The Wicker Man
486. Breakfast At Tiffany's
487. Superbad
488. Princess Mononoke
489. Brick
490. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
491. Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
492. Amores Perros
493. In The Company Of Men
494. Sideways
495. Jailhouse Rock
496. Superman Returns
497. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
498. Back To The Future II
499. Saw
500. Ocean's 11

Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy. Note also that Beauty & The Beast is the Disney animated version, The Maltese Falcon is the John Huston version, Casino Royale is the Martin Campbell version, Scarface is the Brian de Palma version, Carrie is de Palma's 1976 horror film, Ben-Hur is the William Wyler version, Romeo & Juliet is the Baz Luhrmann version, Titanic is the James Cameron version, and Crash is the Paul Haggis version. Two versions of King Kong appear: the original is #242, and the Peter Jackson remake is #450.

Empire published a list of 201 films in 2006, in which The Godfather was voted #5. The film has also appeared on the magazine's previous lists: 100 Favourite Films Of All Time, 1996 (#6); Your 100 Greatest Films Ever!, 1999 (#7); The 50 Best Films, 2001 (#4); 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time, 2004 (#6).

23 September 2008

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
The 2008 edition of Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die has now been published, marking the book's fifth edition. As with previous revisions, the only changes have been to films from the past ten years.

This time around, City Of God and Kill Bill I have fortunately been reinstated, having been deleted from the 2006 edition. Talk To Her, removed from the 2007 version, has also thankfully been restored for the new edition. The Lord Of The Rings I-III have now been incorporated into a single entry.

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The Greatest Movies Ever

The Greatest Movies Ever
Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza's new book, The Greatest Movies Ever: The Ultimate Ranked List Of The 101 Best Films Of All Time!, is an updated of their previous Four-Star Movies, published in 2003. (Each book actually lists 102 films, because The Godfather and The Godfather II appear as a single entry at #1.)

For the new list, seven titles have been removed: Raise The Red Lantern, Saturday Night Fever, Belle De Jour, Thelma & Louise, Airplane!, Terminator II, and The Bridge On The River Kwai. Many titles occupy exactly (or almost exactly) the same positions in the new version, though there are a few dramatic changes: The Manchurian Candidate drops from #23 all the way down to #94, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid drops from #62 to #90, The Graduate drops from #18 to #33, and Sunset Boulevard climbs from #19 to #4.

The authors haven't included any silent films, noting that silent cinema is "too rich to sandwich in with a token choice or two". Of course, the same case could be made for Japanese or French cinema, each of which is indeed represented by less than a handful of titles. A list of 101 greatest films is, by its very nature, a reductivist exercise, so I'm not really convinced by the exclusion of silent movies.

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. My Fair Lady
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 Bank Dick
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 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy.

21 September 2008

12th Thai Short Film & Video Festival

12th Thai Short Film & Video Festival
Diseases & A Hundred Year Period
The 12th Thai Short Film & Video Festival opened on 29th August at the new Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, running until 14th September. Last year's 11th Festival provided an opportunity for Thai filmmakers to respond to the 2006 military coup, and featured several marquee-name directors.

This year's event began with Sompot Chidgasornpongse's film Diseases & A Hundred Year Period. Sompot was an assistant director on Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes & A Century, and his new film is a reaction to the Thai censorship of Apichatpong's work.

09 September 2008

Tasting While Grumbling

The Constitutional Court announced today that Samak Sundaravej's term as Prime Minister must end, effective immediately. The Court ruled that he violated the constitution by hosting a cookery show, Tasting While Grumbling, on TV earlier this year. The constitution forbids a serving Prime Minister from receiving private income; it also stipulates that the entire cabinet must resign following the PM's disqualification. The disqualification of the Prime Minister and the cabinet, over something as trivial as a cookery show, follows the dissolution of TRT last year.

Samak had been under pressure to resign for over a week, following the People's Alliance for Democracy's continued occupation of Government House. However, he had repeatedly refused to step down, arguing that an elected PM should not give in to mob rule. The Election Commission voted unanimously to recommend the dissolution of the PPP last week. Their decision was based on the Supreme Court's conviction of PPP deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyaphairat, following the EC's investigation into vote-buying during the 2007 general election. Yongyuth was found guilty of vote-buying by the EC in May, though they had initially endorsed him, in a rush to approve sufficient MPs to enable the parliamentary session to begin.

08 September 2008

Ken Adam Designs The Movies

Ken Adam Designs The Movies
Ken Adam Designs The Movies
Ken Adam Designs The Movies: James Bond & Beyond is a new book by Ken Adam and Christopher Frayling, featuring reproductions of Adam's sketches and other pre-production art from the various films he has designed. It's an excellent companion to their previous book, which was an extended interview accompanied by a smaller selection of images.

Adam worked for Stanley Kubrick on Dr Strangelove and Barry Lyndon, and the earlier book quotes a letter sent to Adam by Kubrick after Adam initially refused to work on Barry Lyndon. Ken Adam Designs The Movies includes a copy of the letter, at the back of the book.

07 September 2008

Bangkok Post Sunday

Bangkok Post Sunday
The Bangkok Post today relaunched its Sunday edition, substantially expanding its pagination. In contrast, today's edition of The Sunday Nation is extremely thin: only eighteen pages in total, with virtually no advertising at all.

The Nation does at least include national news now, which it had dropped following the launch of the Daily Xpress. The Xpress itself is now twenty pages shorter than it used to be (and is seemingly no longer published on Sundays, replaced by The Sunday Nation).