Monday, 20 July 2009


Ottmar Horl
German artist Ottmar Horl is facing a police investigation following public complaints about his Nazi gnome, titled Poisoned. The golden gnome, which is performing a "Heil Hitler" salute, was on display in Nuremberg, though displaying Nazi iconography is illegal in Germany. Horl has previously shown similar gnomes in an exhibition titled Dance With The Devil, in Belgium and Italy.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Future Noir

Future Noir
Future Noir: The Making Of Blade Runner, by Paul M Sammon, has been updated to include details of The Final Cut, an additional version of the film Blade Runner released in 2007. The second edition of Sammon's book contains a 100-page chapter on the production of The Final Cut, listings of the various Blade Runner DVD releases, and an extensive interview with actor Harrison Ford.

Much of Sammon's primary research for the new edition was published by Empire magazine in August 2007. Sammon has been writing about Blade Runner ever since its production began: his on-set report was published by Omni in May 1982, his making-of article appeared in Cinefantastique in July 1982, and he compared the various versions of the film for Video Watchdog in November 1993.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A History Of Interior Design

A History Of Interior Design
A History Of Interior Design, by John Pile, is now in its third edition. Pile's historical survey spans more than 3,000 years, from Mayan temples and ancient Egypt to 21st century Europe. Interior design is "a field with unclear boundaries", as Pile acknowledges, though fortunately the book's scope is inclusive rather than exclusive, incorporating architecture, furniture, and enclosed exterior spaces in addition to conventional interiors.

There are almost 700 illustrations and nearly 500 pages, plus an Interactive Timeline CD-ROM, though the book concentrates primarily on Europe and America, with only a single chapter discussing non-Western design. The publisher, Laurence King, specialises in definitive surveys of various artistic fields, with other titles including A World History Of Architecture and Graphic Design: A New History.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Nymph (director's cut)

In Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Nymph, a young married couple take a camping trip to the forest. Nop communes with nature and photographs the surrounding trees, while his wife May is more interested in her cellphone signal, calling Korn, her lover back in Bangkok.

Nop and May's marriage is clearly going stale, as was the central relationship in Pen-ek's previous film, Ploy. Nymph, in its original version as premiered at Cannes, also share's Ploy's slow pace, sparse dialogue, and ambient soundtrack.

Nop becomes fascinated by one tree in particular, caressing its trunk as if it were a woman's body. He sees a nude woman in the distance, and follows her deeper into the forest. The woman he sees is perhaps the same woman who killed two rapists in the film's impressive prologue, with the camera swooping through trees and over a river. The woman may also be a spirit (the nymph of the film's English title) who personifies the unusually compelling tree.

Exactly what happens to Nop remains ambiguous. He seems to disappear, though later he apparently returns to the couple's house. As in Nang Nak, the returning spouse may not have returned at all; Nop may, in fact, have become a forest spirit himself, as does the missing boy in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady.

The Spectator's 50 Essential Films

50 Essential Films
The Spectator, in its 20th June and 27th June issues, has published its list of 50 Essential Films, as follows:

1. The Night Of The Hunter
2. Apocalypse Now
3. Sunrise
4. Black Narcissus
5. L'Avventura
6. The Searchers
7. The Magnificent Ambersons
8. The Seventh Seal
9. L'Atalante
10. Rio Bravo
11. The Godfather I-II
12. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
13. Grand Illusion
14. Citizen Kane
15. The Scarlet Empress
16. Tokyo Story
17. Blade Runner
18. Rear Window
19. Point Blank
20. The Red Shoes
21. Mme De...
22. Shadows
23. Pickpocket
24. Viridiana
25. Barry Lyndon
26. City Lights
27. Pierrot Le Fou
28. Sunset Boulevard
29. Notorious
30. M
31. The Roaring Twenties
32. Singin' In The Rain
33. The Long Day Closes
34. Killer Of Sheep
35. Gun Crazy
36. Andrei Rublev
37. Taxi Driver
38. The 400 Blows
39. Pulp Fiction
40. Kind Hearts & Coronets
41. In The Mood For Love
42. Sullivan's Travels
43. 8½
44. Pinocchio
45. Great Expectations
46. Rome: Open City
47. Duck Soup
48. Jaws
49. Manhattan
50. Out Of The Past

Most directors are represented by only a single film, though Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock have two each, and Francis Coppola has three (with The Godfather I and II making a total of fifty-one films on the list). One oversight: nothing by Akira Kurosawa. Foreign-language films are quite well represented, though there are only two silent films.

Rediscovering Spiritual Value

Rediscovering Spiritual Value
Rediscovering Spiritual Value: Alternative To Consumerism From A Siamese Buddhist Perspective is a collection of recent articles and speeches by Sulak Sivaraksa, publisher of Seeds Of Peace. One of Sulak's previous books, ค่อนศตวรรษ ประชาธิปไตยไทย, was banned in Thailand in 2007.

Significantly, Rediscovering Spiritual Value includes an English translation of an interview in which Sulak discusses the Thai monarchy, originally published in a banned edition of the Thai journal Same Sky. In the translated version, Sulak adds a footnote at the end of the interview: "The Thai editor stopped the interview here, yet both the editor... and the interviewee were charged with lese-majesty."

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Wonju

Happy Wonju
A cartoonist in South Korea is facing a fine equivalent to $100,000 after his local council filed a complaint with the police. The cartoonist, Choi, inserted insulting comments about South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak into a cartoon in the Happy Wonju newsletter, distributed last month.