26 December 2009

Twist & Shout

Twist & Shout
Giant Torayan
Mega Death
Twist & Shout: Contemporary Art From Japan is a multi-media exhibition featuring Japanese art from the past decade, at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre from 20th November 2009 to 10th January 2010. The exhibition makes full use of the BACC's gallery spaces, with large artworks in corridors, in specially-created rooms and huts, and on the ceiling.

Kusama Yayoi's Dots Obesssions (1999) features polka dots stuck to the floor, on the walls, and hanging in mid-air. Yanobe Kenji's Giant Torayan (2005; a metal robot standing three storeys high), is the exhibition's most iconic sculpture, though Miyajima Tatsuo's Mega Death (1999; vast LED displays emitting an ominous blue glow) is an even more stunning installation.

Many of the artists are influenced by Sekaikei, a narrative genre which avoids historical, political, or social commentary, and the result is a collection of hyper-real pieces in a bright Pop Art style.

25 December 2009

What Is Design?

What Is Design?
Citroen DS1
An expanded version of TCDC's What Is Design? opened on 21st November. The former exhibition's VW Beetle has been replaced by a Citreon DS1, and recent examples of Thai product design have been added to the collection.

The collection is organised geographically, according to the 'genius loci' (Genius Of The Place) principle. It's scheduled to run until 31st November 2016.

Cinema Now

Cinema Now
Cinema Now, written by Andrew Bailey and edited (like Art Cinema, and over fifty other Taschen film books) by Paul Duncan, profiles sixty contemporary directors and a selection of their most recent films. Each director is introduced with a single paragraph of text, followed by several pages of film stills.

Some of the featured directors (and their films) are: Pedro Almodovar (All About My Mother; Talk To Her; Volver), Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain), Catherine Breillat (Romance; Anatomy Of Hell), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros; Babel), Michael Haneke (Cache), Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich; Adaptation), Fernando Meirelles (City Of God), John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus), Christopher Nolan (Memento), Gyorgy Palfi (Taxidermia), Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy; Sympathy For Lady Vengeance), Alexander Payne (About Schmidt; 14e Arrondissement), Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Invisible Waves), Cristi Puiu (The Death Of Mr Lazarescu), Tsai Ming-Liang (Goodbye, Dragon Inn), Gus van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Tropical Malady; Syndromes & A Century), Wong Kar-Wai (In The Mood For Love; 2046), and Zhang Yimou (Curse Of The Golden Flower). Notable omissions include Wisit Sasanatieng, Gaspar Noe, Lars von Trier, and Quentin Tarantino, all of whom made their debuts in the 1990s and are still producing consistently interesting films.

23 December 2009

Art Cinema

Art Cinema
Art Cinema, written by Paul Young, edited by Paul Duncan, and published by Taschen, is a survey of avant-garde filmmaking from its origins in the 1910s to the present day. Each chapter focuses on a specific film/art genre, such as Surrealist Cinema, Abstraction, The City Symphony, Structuralism, Expanded Cinema (a term borrowed from Stan van der Beek and Gene Youndblood), and Collage, amongst others. The format is similar to Amos Vogel's seminal Film As A Subversive Art: a series of short essays accompanied by numerous rare film stills with extended captions.

Young's survey is comprehensive in scope though lacking in detail. There are less than 200 pages, most of which are dominated by large, full-colour images which limit the historical or analytical content of the text. There is a reasonable bibliography, though the filmography, with only ten entries, is absurdly brief. Also, the non-chronological organisation coupled with the lack of an index limits the book's potential as a source of reference. It is, however, a beautiful coffee-table book, full of superbly reproduced photographs.

19 December 2009

Avatar

Avatar
Avatar is James Cameron's first feature film in twelve years. After the success of Titanic (eleven Oscars, equal to Ben-Hur; record-breaking box-office exceeding $1,000,000,000), he concentrated on television documentaries, as presenter of 2001: The Making Of A Myth and executive producer of The Lost Tomb Of Jesus.

Like Stanley Kubrick's delayed (and ultimately posthumous) AI, Cameron postponed the development of Avatar until CGI was sufficiently advanced. Apparently, it was the motion capture technology used to create Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings (I, II, and III) that convinced him to begin production. Cameron himself has also been a CGI pioneer: the morphing effects of the T-1000 were the highlights of Terminator II, the action sequel to his intelligent noir/SF The Terminator.

Avatar has a whole new world to introduce: Pandoran flora and fauna (bioluminescent and fascinating), Na'vi mythology, and even a new language. The result bears comparison with the ecosystem and mythology in Star Wars IV-VI, and Avatar may revolutionise SF in a similar way, though it also results in similarly flat, expository dialogue. (There is an obligatory "You are not in Kansas" Wizard Of Oz reference.) Avatar's plot revolves around a mineral called unobtainium, though this (as its name suggests) is merely a MacGuffin, providing the initial motivation for the characters to assume their avatar forms (a process similar to The Matrix, and also a metaphor for Avatar's motion-capture technology).

The invasion of Pandora has clear parallels with America's wars against Vietnam and Iraq, a point hammered home by the script ("hearts and minds"; "shock and awe"). The extensive battle footage is surely aimed at teenage boys (Hollywood's current favourite demographic), though this is offset by the film's Titanic-style romance and its conservationist, pacifist message (a painful reminder of "I know now why you cry" from Terminator II).

I'm not usually a fan of CGI, as it's too often used as an easy alternative to traditional effects (as in, for example, the most recent King Kong remake), though in Avatar the CGI enables Cameron to create a stunningly photo-realistic ecosystem populated by believable motion-capture characters. Before its release, Avatar was breathlessly described as 'the future of cinema' by reviewers who had not seen it; while not representing a paradigm shift in filmmaking itself, the film's epic spectacle and subtly immersive 3D will hopefully lure YouTube/iPod viewers back into cinemas. (Avatar was conceived and filmed as a 3D production, though a 2D version is also screening at some cinemas.)

18 December 2009

Leo Body Paint 2010

Leo Body Paint 2010
According to the Thai Ministry of Public Health, charges may be brought against Boon Rawd after it distributed a Leo Body Paint 2010 calendar featuring models painted with the Leo logo. Leo is a beer brand brewed by Boon Rawd, and the Ministry claims that the brewery is using the calendar to promote alcohol in contravention of last year's Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.

This is not the first time a risqué calendar has been banned in Thailand. Five nudie calendars were banned in 1968, and another in 1970.

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01 December 2009

Daily Xpress

Daily Xpress
The Nation newspaper relaunched itself today, dropping the business slogan it adopted in 2008. This puts it back in direct competition with its (slightly better) rival, the Bangkok Post.

This "minor revamp", as the newspaper described it yesterday, includes the termination of the Daily Xpress. In a letter to readers yesterday, the Xpress's editor wrote: "This is the last issue of Daily Xpress", and signed off with "SEE YA". The Xpress was launched in 2008; subsequently, its pagination shrank and its original content declined, and its design was never modified or updated.

28 November 2009

Metro

Metro
Author Magdy El Shafee and his publisher, Mohamed El Sahrqawi, have been fined 5,000 pounds by an Egyptian court. They were convicted of writing and distributing an 'immoral' text, namely the graphic novel Metro, which was confiscated last year.

27 November 2009

Muhammad: The 'Banned' Images

Muhammad: The 'Banned' Images
Gary Hull's book Muhammad: The 'Banned' Images includes reproductions of the controversial Jyllands-Posten Mohammed caricatures and a selection of historical Mohammed images including The Remaining Signs Of Past Centuries (censored from a French textbook). Its cover is a rather bland depiction of an actor portraying Mohammed.

Hull describes his (self-published?) book as a "supplement" and "errata" to Jytte Klausen's book The Cartoons That Shook The World, as Hull includes Mohammed caricatures which were removed by Klausen's publisher. However, Klausen has not endorsed Hull's publication, and the two books have no official connection. The books Blasphemy and L'Affaire Des Caricatures provide more insightful coverage of the debate surrounding images of Mohammed.

Story Of The Eye

Story Of The Eye
Story Of The Eye, an exhibition of watercolour paintings by Tawan Wattuya and photographs by Tada Varich, was inspired by Georges Bataille's disturbing novella of the same name. It shares Bataille's fascination with sex and death, as Tada's photographs include borderline hardcore images and a foetus preserved in formaldehyde. Tawan's paintings are even more graphic, though less realistic.

Story Of The Eye is at Gossip Gallery, Bangkok, from 12th November until 12th December. (The anthology film L'Erotisme was also inspired by Bataille.)

23 November 2009

Napoleon

Napoleon
Napoleon
Napoleon
Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made, edited by Alison Castle, is a collection of ten volumes (Reference, Script, Production, Notes, Correspondence, Chronology, Text, Costumes, Location Scouting, and Picture File), and a poster, packaged inside an enormous, hollow book. It's outrageously expensive and extremely heavy (10kg), and is limited to 1,000 numbered copies (mine being #246).

Kubrick started pre-production for a proposed epic Napoleon Bonaparte biopic in 1968, and his research included collecting over 300 Napoleonic books (all of which are listed in Castle's bibliography), a database of 17,000 images (of which Castle reproduces 6,000; the full database is online), and 25,000 biographical index cards (of which Castle reproduces 100). The project was ultimately cancelled, however, after the box-office failure of another Napoleon film, Waterloo.

Castle's book, published by Taschen, features full reprints of Kubrick's Napoleon treatment and screenplay, and two drafts of his production notes. Selections from his thousands of letters, notebooks, and costume photographs are also included. Lengthy conversations between Kubrick and historian Felix Markham are meticulously and comprehensively transcribed.

After Kubrick died, his archive materials were displayed in a temporary Stanley Kubrick exhibition, and the permanent Stanley Kubrick Archive was established. The exhibition catalogue, published in 2004, contains a chapter about Napoleon (The Best Movie (N)ever Made, by Eva-Maria Magel), and Alison Castle's 2005 book The Stanley Kubrick Archives also includes a Napoleon chapter (The Epic That Never Was, by Gene D Phillips).

18 November 2009

The September Issue

The September Issue
The September Issue is RJ Cutler's fly-on-the-wall documentary following Vogue editor Anna Wintour and her senior staff as they prepare the magazine's September 2007 issue. Wintour was the inspiration for the Miranda Priestly character in The Devil Wears Prada, and The September Issue contains little that will soften her public image - even an initially sweet scene with her daughter, Katherine, concludes with Wintour encouraging an unwilling Katherine to become a fashion editor. (She seems genuinely supportive of a young Thai designer, Thakoon Panichgul, but that might change once he becomes truly established.)

The film basically confirms our perceptions of Wintour (her instant dismissals of clothes, photos, or comments she doesn't like), though more surprising are the supporting cast of Vogue's editorial staff. The likable, hippyish, down-to-earth Grace Coddington clomps around the office, and has Wintour's fashion instincts plus humour and sensitivity. In contrast, Andre Leon Talley is almost a caricature; with his ridiculous capes and designer towels, he looks like a huge, spangly potato.

16 November 2009

Reincarnate

Thunska Pansittivorakul's new film, Reincarnate, is a fictionalised portrait of Thunska and his leading actor, Panuwat Wisessiri. Panuwat discusses the filming process with Thunska, while never breaking character, thus blurring the boundary between behind-the-scenes footage and the scenes themselves. The camera films Panuwat's body as he sleeps, showers, and relaxes.

Thunska and Panuwat play Jenga, with the red, yellow, and blue blocks symbolising the various political groups in Thailand. (UDD supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra wear red shirts; their antagonists, who support the current government, wear blue shirts; the monarchist, anti-Thaksin PAD wear yellow shirts.) Thunska's film This Area Is Under Quarantine was more overtly political, though it was consequently banned. (His earlier films were screened at a retrospective in 2008.)

Reincarnate is arguably Thunska's most explicit film, with a brief sequence (featuring Tharapong Buasai) which is visually similar to, and even more graphic than, his short documentary Unseen Bangkok. In both films, the same camera angle is used, foregrounding a particular part of the anatomy, which the director can't resist touching. Reincarnate was intended partly as a protest against the 2009 Thai cinema ratings system, which prohibits frontal nudity amongst many other taboos; unsurprisingly, the film has not been submitted to the national ratings board.

There are some beautiful images in the film, such as Panuwat, in silhouette, framed by an open window. The film's ending, in which Panuwat describes giving birth to a daughter, who then entices his spirit to leave his body, is deliberately ambiguous, and tonally similar to the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who was a co-producer of Reincarnate.

15 November 2009

7th World Film Festival of Bangkok

7th World Film Festival of Bangkok
7th World Film Festival of Bangkok
This Area Is Under Quarantine
The 7th World Film Festival of Bangkok finished today, after opening on 3rd November. All screenings took place at Paragon Cineplex (the same as the 6th Festival, whereas the 5th was held at Esplanade Cineplex).

A Letter To Uncle Boonmee, part of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Primitive installation (which also includes Phantoms Of Nabua), was screened on 9th and 15th November, though a screening of For Alexis was cancelled. A Letter To Uncle Boonmee is similar to Morakot, with the camera gliding slowly though an empty building accompanied by a voice-over.

Sadly, This Area Is Under Quarantine, by Thunska Pansittivorakul, was not shown, after the Ministry of Culture refused to give it a rating. Fortunately, it has been screened at less censorious film festivals earlier this year, such as the Rotterdam International Film Festival (the Netherlands), the Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (Italy), Queer Lisboa (Portugal), and the Q! Film Festival (Indonesia).

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11 November 2009

The Remaining Signs Of Past Centuries

Histoire Geographie
Why We Left Islam
Mohammed: The Profit Of Islam
A copy of a medieval illustration from The Remaining Signs Of Past Centuries by Abu Rayhan Biruni has been censored from a French textbook, Histoire Geographie (written by Eric Chaudron and Remy Knafou). The book was originally published uncensored in 2005, though Mohammed's face was pixelated for the fifth edition's second printing.

(Jyllands-Posten published twelve Mohammed caricatures in 2005, inspiring numerous satirical Mohammed cartoons.) Mohammed, as depicted in The Remaining Signs Of Past Centuries, appears uncensored on the covers of two books published last year: Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out (Susan Crimp and Joel Richardson) and a reprint of Mohammed: The Prophet Of Islam (HEE Hayes).

09 November 2009

Controverses

Controverses
Controverses: Une Histoire Juridique & Ethique De La Photographie, by Daniel Girardin and Christian Pirker, is a Swiss exhibition catalogue featuring some of the most controversial photographs in history. The images include early publicity photos, photojournalism, and art photography.

One of the most powerful photographs is a picture of a severed hand, from a victim of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. The image (2001), by Todd Maisel, was published by only a single newspaper (New York's Daily News), while other American papers made a collective decision to avoid printing photographs of the victims.

The two Iraq wars have produced similarly controversial images (not included in the book). A photo by Ken Jarecke of an Iraqi soldier's charred body was rejected by all newspapers except The Observer (which printed it on 10th March 1991), and "a gruesome image of a young child's head split open" was the subject of much debate in the UK media before finally being printed by The Guardian (on 28th March 2003).

Arguably the most shocking picture is Kevin Carter's photograph (1993) of a vulture following a starving Sudanese child. After taking the photograph, Carter shooed the potential scavenger away, though he was later criticised for not helping the child any further.

The book includes some famously provocative images, such as Oliviero Toscani's Benetton poster showing a nun kissing a priest (1992) and Andres Serrano's Piss Christ (1987). A Robert Mapplethorpe self-portrait (1978) is included, though it's one of Mapplethorpe's less graphic images.

Several controversial photographs of naked children are featured, including a sexualised portrait by Irina Ionesco (1970) of her daughter Eva, and notorious images by Graham Ovenden (1984) and Jock Sturges (1989). Annelies Strba's Sonja In Her Bath (1985) and a portrait of Brooke Shields by Gary Gross (1975), both of which have been removed by the police from UK galleries, are also included. Nan Goldin's "Klara and Adda Belly Dancing" [sic] is mentioned though not reproduced.

A paparazzo photo of Princess Diana taken by Jacques Langevin in the moments before her car crash (1997) is included. The infamous photo of Diana receiving first aid after the crash is mentioned in the text without being reproduced.

03 November 2009

Suicide Mind

Suicide Mind
Suicide Mind
For his new installation, Suicide Mind, Pornprasert Yamazaki has painted in his own blood on paper and ceramics. His works on paper, large reproductions of Thai and American banknotes, are hung on the walls, while on the floor are ceramic tiles painted with flower patterns. In the centre stands a vase of dead roses on a stone plinth. (The decaying flowers recall last year's Perishable Beauty exhibition and Otto Berchem's Deadheading from The Suspended Moment.)

Like Pornprasert, Kosit Juntaratip is another Thai artist who uses blood in his work. Blood has also featured in two recent Bangkok exhibitions: Kristian von Hornsleth's Deep Storage Art Project, and Chen Lingyang's Twelve Flower Months (from Women In A Society Of Double-Sexuality).

Suicide Mind opened at Whitespace Gallery in Bangkok on 23rd October, and will close on 6th December. The exhibition also includes a video showing Pornprasert extracting and painting with blood.

02 November 2009

European Union Film Festival 2009

European Union Film Festival 2009
California Dreamin'
The European Union Film Festival 2009 will take place at SF World (the cinema at CentralWorld) from 19th to 29th November. One of the highlights will be California Dreamin', by the late Romanian director Cristian Nemescu, screening on 22nd and 23rd November.

The 2007 festival also featured an outstanding Romanian film, Four Months, Three Weeks, & Two Days. Both of these films have also been screened at Chulalongkorn University's International Film Festival: Four Months, Three Weeks, & Two Days in 2008, and California Dreamin' at the 2008-2009 event.

01 November 2009

ภาพยนตร์ศรีศาลายา

Tears Of The Black Tiger
Last Life In The Universe
Tropical Malady
The Thai Film Archive (in Salaya, near Bangkok), is hosting a film festival this month, ภาพยนตร์ศรีศาลายา, screening one film per day from the past thirty years of Thai cinema. Highlights include Tears Of The Black Tiger (Wisit Sasanatieng; 20th November), Last Life In The Universe (Pen-ek Ratanaruang; 23rd November), and Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul; 26th November).

Art & Words

Art & Words
Art & Words is a catalogue of recent video works by Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. In Conversation, Death Seminar, and The Class, Araya talks to (and even teaches) a group of cadavers. One of her Conversation videos was shown at The Suspended Moment in 2006, and an earlier work, Reading For Female Corpse, was shown at From Message To Media the following year.

31 October 2009

Screamfest

Screamfest
Funny Games
Michael Haneke's English-language remake of his film Funny Games will be shown in Bangkok tonight as part of the Cineplex cinema chain's Screamfest, to celebrate Halloween.

30 October 2009

Pop Life

Pop Life
Pop Life
Pop Life
The catalogue for Tate Modern's current exhibition Pop Life has been deemed illegal by the Metropolitan Police Service. The Met ordered the removal of Richard Prince's photograph Spiritual America on the day before the exhibition opened, and the Tate withdrew the catalogue from sale while it sought legal advice.

In a letter to the Tate, the Met confirmed that Spiritual America is "a level 1 indecent image of a child. The possession and distribution of which are criminal offences." They also cautioned that the catalogue could not be legally sold uncensored: "if the book were to be distributed in its original form (i.e. with the picture of Brooke Shields in it) an offence would be committed under the Protection of Children Act 1978."

In his catalogue essay, Jack Bankowsky acknowledges that Shields was "decidedly underage" and that "Prince invites us to ogle Brooke Shields in her prepubescent nakedness". To avoid prosecution, a sticker has now been placed over the offending photograph: "This image has been obscured on legal advice" (on page 123). The case recalls that of Robert Mapplethorpe's photograph Rosie, which UK police deemed illegal in 1996, despite it appearing in several monographs of the photographer's work.

The catalogue itself, edited by Bankowsky, Alison M Gingeras, and Catherine Wood, is an excellent exploration of artists (following Warhol, who was influenced by Dali) who "engaged with mass media and the market and cultivated artistic personas". Scott Rothkopf's essay on Jeff Koons' Made In Heaven series is a highlight. There is also a detailed bibliography.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence - From Stanley Kubrick To Steven Spielberg: The Vision Behind The Film, edited by Jan Harlan and Jane M Struthers, is a portfolio of pre-production material from Spielberg's film AI: Artificial Intelligence. It includes several pages from Kubrick's notebooks, though the bulk of the book is devoted to large reproductions of concept art by Chris Baker.

AI was originally conceived by Kubrick, who worked with Brian Aldiss on a treatment and screenplay based on Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, a short story by Aldiss. Kubrick subsequently collaborated with Bob Shaw, Ian Watson, and Sara Maitland on revised versions of the script, and production was scheduled to start in 1999 after the completion of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

After Kubrick's death during post-production of Eyes Wide Shut, Spielberg took over the project and wrote a new screenplay based on Kubrick's notes. The film, directed by Spielberg, was released in 2001. (I've always regarded AI as a misguided homage to Kubrick with a syrupy Spielbergian ending.)

The book features a foreword by Spielberg which gives a brief summary of his friendship with Kubrick. (Spielberg was more forthcoming in an interview for the Channel 5 documentary Steven & Stanley in 2001.) There is an account of AI's pre-production by Struthers, who works with the Kubrick Archive, though it glosses over Kubrick's 'creative differences' with his various script collaborators. (Frank interviews with Aldiss and Maitland are featured in the Channel 4 documentary The Last Movie from 1999.)

29 October 2009

El Pais

El Pais
Akhbar Al Youm
The 24th October edition of the Spanish newspaper El Pais was banned from sale in Morocco, as it printed a cartoon by Le Monde cartoonist Plantu which Moroccan authorities considered disrespectful to the national flag. The cartoon originally appeared in Le Monde on 22nd October. El Pais also reprinted Khalid Kadafrom's cartoon from Akhbar Al Youm. (Other foreign publications - Courrier-International and L'Express International - have also been banned in Morocco.)

28 October 2009

Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell
The hugely enjoyable Drag Me To Hell is Sam Raimi's first horror film since his Evil Dead trilogy. It's a welcome return to supernatural horror, in contrast to the slasher remakes and 'torture porn' which have recently dominated the genre. It even references the silent vampire film Nosferatu, with a demon's hand casting a long shadow similar to Nosferatu's Orlok.

The plot, in which a curse is placed on a bank employee, provides plenty of gory set-pieces, though the tone is always tongue-in-cheek rather than truly horrific. (A director's cut, more violent than the theatrical version, has also been released.) All hell breaks loose for the final confrontation with the demon, and this scene includes a great moment in which a goat becomes possessed. The last-minute twist is actually revealed on the film's poster.

Broken Embraces

Broken Embraces
The central character in Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces is a blind script-writer and former director whose lover, Lena, died after their affair made her husband jealous. The film was screened at the 2009 Bangkok International Film Festival last month, and is now on general release.

Broken Embraces is more consistently restrained than Almodovar's two previous films, Volver and Bad Education, neither of which take their dark themes completely seriously. Broken Embraces does have some comic relief, however: rushes from the film-within-the-film, the melodramatic Chicas & Maletas (which is modelled on Almodovar's frenetic comedy Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown).

Almodovar has described Broken Embraces as a film noir. It does feature typical noir themes, such as jealousy and betrayal, though Lena is no femme fatale, and Almodovar's sets and lighting are only slightly less bright than his usual style.

Penelope Cruz is outstanding as the writer/director's lover, and Blanca Portillo is also particularly effective as his agent. Cruz and Portillo both previously appeared in Volver.

It's hard to feel sorry for the central character, however; he is blind and in mourning, yet he lives in a beautiful apartment, has several assistants, and apparently seduces women on a regular basis. For me, Almodovar's greatest film is still Talk To Her, with its devastating narrative, sympathetic and morally ambiguous characters, and moments of outrageous comedy.

27 October 2009

Filthy English

Filthy English
Filthy English: The How, Why, When, & What Of Everyday Swearing, by Peter Silverton, is yet another guide to the history of 'offensive' language. The book is divided thematically, as are Forbidden Words and Jonathon Green's Slang Down The Ages, as opposed to the word-by-word organisation of Dirty Words, Getting Off At Gateshead, and Hugh Rawson's Dictionary Of Invective. (An Encyclopedia Of Swearing contains entries on themes and individual words.)

Filthy English is useful for its contemporary examples, though it is slightly anecdotal in tone. Silverton has conducted substantial research [he cites my website as an "extensive source"], and he has also interviewed writers and performers about their attitudes to the words he discusses, though there are no footnotes.

20 October 2009

99 Classic Movies
For People In A Hurry

99 Classic Movies For People In A Hurry
99 Classic Movies For People In A Hurry (or, on the title page: 99 Movies For People In A Hurry) condenses each film into a four-frame comic strip. The films are listed in seemingly random order, as follows:
  • The Karate Kid
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Ghostbusters
  • Back To The Future
  • Raiders Of The Lost Ark
  • Gone With The Wind
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Casablanca
  • Radio Days
  • The Terminator
  • Alien
  • Blade Runner
  • Spartacus
  • The Third Man
  • Citizen Kane
  • Easy Rider
  • Taxi Driver
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Deliverance
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • The Seventh Seal
  • The Great Dictator
  • Lawrence Of Arabia
  • The Shining
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • King Kong
  • The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
  • Jaws
  • Dawn Of The Dead
  • The Creature From The Black Lagoon
  • Showgirls
  • The Mummy
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Mad Max
  • Die Hard
  • Delicatessen
  • The Searchers
  • Psycho
  • Battleship Potemkin
  • Un Chien Andalou
  • The Misfits
  • The Public Enemy
  • Rocky
  • The Blue Lagoon
  • Wild At Heart
  • Annie
  • The Sound Of Music
  • The African Queen
  • Singin' In The Rain
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Dr Zhivago
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Bullitt
  • The Sting
  • Rebel Without A Cause
  • Barbarella
  • The Evil Dead
  • Police Academy
  • The Blues Brothers
  • Yojimbo
  • The Bridge On The River Kwai
  • M. Hulot's Holiday
  • The Guns Of Navarone
  • Seven Samurai
  • The Thing
  • Escape From New York
  • The Testament Of Dr Mabuse
  • Metropolis
  • Enter The Dragon
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
  • Schindler's List
  • Brazil
  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Bagdad Cafe
  • The Big Blue
  • Scarface
  • The Godfather
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Dr Strangelove
  • Pulp Fiction
  • ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Rosemary's Baby
  • The Exorcist
  • Breakfast At Tiffany's
  • Forrest Gump
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • GoodFellas
  • Fight Club
  • North By Northwest
  • The Silence Of The Lambs
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Platoon
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • The Matrix
1980s films such as The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, and Back To The Future are presumably included purely for their nostalgia value. Note that The Maltese Falcon is the John Huston version and Scarface is the Brian de Palma version. Oddly, Dawn Of The Dead is the Zack Snyder remake rather than the classic George Romero original. Also, Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the obscure 1939 comedy.

18 October 2009

Story Of The Scene

Story Of The Scene
Story Of The Scene: The Inside Scoop On Famous Moments In Film, by Roger Clarke, discusses the making of eighty classic film scenes, with a two-page chapter devoted to each film (except Spartacus, which has two chapters). The most interesting chapters are those that concentrate on one specific moment, such as Brandon Lee's death in The Crow, Roman Polanski's cameo in Chinatown, the subway grille in The Seven-Year Itch, and the cockroach-eating in Vampire's Kiss.

Other chapters have less focus, and simply summarise general trivia about each film. In some cases, though, the author has interviewed the directors involved, and this results in a few gems: Park Chan-Wook discussing the octopus-eating scene in Oldboy, and John Boorman describing Stanley Kubrick's fascination with the rape scene in Deliverance.

16 October 2009

The Tate Guide To Modern Art Terms

The Tate Guide To Modern Art Terms
The Tate Guide To Modern Art Terms, by Simon Wilson and Jessica Lack, is an alphabetical guide to art styles, materials, genres, and 'isms' from Impressionism onwards. The illustrations are all black-and-white, and are limited to works from the permanent collections of the various Tate galleries; each entry is succinct, though the scope is comprehensive and there is extensive cross-referencing.

15 October 2009

Dance With The Devil

Dance With The Devil
Ottmar Horl, who was under police investigation last month for displaying a Nazi gnome in Nuremberg, is now displaying 1,200 of them in Straubing. The exhibition, Dance With The Devil, opened today and will close next Monday. It has previously been shown in Belgium and Italy. Last month's police investigation was eventually dropped, as it was determined that the gnome was satirising, rather than promoting, the Nazis.

07 October 2009

Water In Milk Exists

Water In Milk Exists
Water In Milk Exists, directed by Lawrence Weiner, features young (almost exclusively straight and white) couples discussing philosophy and having sex. Hardcore scenes are punctuated by shallow monologues about the natures of reality ("specific or general"?) and structure, including a debate about Mies van der Rohe ("I think he was an architect"). It could be another Shortbus, if it took itself less seriously.