Sunday, 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.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Perishable Beauty

Perishable Beauty
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).

Monday, 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".

Friday, 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: 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.

Thursday, 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".

Tuesday, 2 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.

Monday, 1 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.