Wednesday, 30 September 2009

2009 Bangkok International Film Festival

2009 Bangkok International Film Festival
Broken Embraces
Sawasdee Bangkok
The 2009 Bangkok International Film Festival (incorporating the Bangkok International Animation Festival 2009) ends today, after six days of screenings at Paragon Cineplex and SF CentralWorld. Today's (unfortunately invitation-only) closing film is Sawasdee Bangkok, a collection of nine short films about Bangkok inspired by Paris, Je T'Aime.

The Festival also included Lars von Trier's provocative Antichrist (25th and 26th September), Giorgos Lanthimos's similarly explicit Dogtooth (26th and 29th September), Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces (28th and 29th September), and Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Nymph (the short version rather than the Cannes version; 27th and 29th September). (Pen-ek's Ploy was screened in 2007, and his Invisible Waves opened the Festival in 2006.) The Festival's poster (Beauty Eternal) has been designed by Wisit Sasanatieng, who also designed the 2008 poster.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Celebration: The Video Collection
Celebration, Madonna's third greatest hits album (after The Immaculate Collection and GHV2) features a comprehensive selection of hits from her entire career at Warner. She had been signed to Warner since her debut album in 1983, though Celebration is her final Warner project. (Future albums will be released by Live Nation.) Celebration is also available as a video compilation, Celebration: The Video Collection, an exhaustive videography featuring forty-seven videos (though the nudity in Justify My Love and Erotica is censored).

The double-disc album track-list is: Hung Up, Music, Vogue, Four Minutes, Holiday, Everybody, Like A Virgin, Into The Groove, Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light, Sorry, Express Yourself, Open Your Heart, Borderline, Secret, Erotica, Justify My Love, Revolver, Dress You Up, Material Girl, La Isla Bonita, Papa Don't Preach, Lucky Star, Burning Up, Crazy For You, Who's That Girl, Frozen, Miles Away, Take A Bow, Live To Tell, Beautiful Stranger, Hollywood, Die Another Day, Don't Tell Me, Cherish, and Celebration. A single-disc version is also available, with fewer tracks. It's So Cool is available as a digital bonus track.

The video track-list is: Hung Up, Music, Vogue, Four Minutes, Holiday, Like A Virgin, Into The Groove, Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light, Sorry, Express Yourself, Open Your Heart, Borderline, Secret, Erotica, Justify My Love, Material Girl, La Isla Bonita, Papa Don't Preach, Lucky Star, Burning Up, Crazy For You, Who's That Girl, Frozen, Miles Away, Take A Bow, Beautiful Stranger, Hollywood, Die Another Day, Don't Tell Me, Cherish, Celebration, Deeper And Deeper, I'll Remember, Rain, Secret, Bedtime Stories, I Want You, You'll See, The Power Of Goodbye, American Pie, What It Feels Like For A Girl, Love Profusion, Get Together, Jump, Give It 2 Me, and True Blue.


Antichrist, directed by Lars von Trier, is intentionally provocative, occasionally surreal, and ultimately misogynistic. The director also made The Idiots, which scandalised Cannes in 1999, and Antichrist is another Cannes succes de scandale.

The film is divided into a series of chapters, and also includes a prologue and epilogue. In the prologue, which is filmed in slow-motion and black-and-white, a man and woman have sex while their son falls to his death. The man, who is a psychotherapist, helps the woman overcome her grief (though his psychobabble is ineffective), and the couple take a trip to their cabin in the woods. The cabin is called Eden; the names of the protagonists are never revealed, though the Biblical reference is clear enough.

The woman is writing a thesis on gynocide (the systematic murder of women). 'Gynocide' was coined by the feminist writer Mary Daly in her excellent book Gyn/Ecology, though Antichrist is arguably an anti-feminist film. Like Eve, the woman becomes increasingly unsympathetic as a character, most obviously when she (unconvincingly) drills a hole through the man's leg. The film's ending suggests that, as in medieval witch trials, feminine evil must be destroyed.

Though most of the film is shot realistically with hand-held cameras and jump-cuts, there are some inexplicable fantasy sequences involving wild animals, notably a ludicrous talking fox who, in the director's voice, says "Chaos reigns!". There are also three close-up inserts which are included purely for shock value, featuring hardcore sex (as in The Idiots) and female circumcision.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sex No Go

Sex No Go
A Thai student magazine promoting sex education, distributed by Kasetsart University and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, was withdrawn and destroyed earlier this month. The magazine, Sex No Go, which was originally published in January, featured a sexual image of Mohammed and his wife Aisha, depicted as Lego characters.

The Lego picture actually shows two Israelites, and was created by The Brick Testament website; it was used as a Mohammed parody in 2006, one of many satirical Mohammed images produced following the controversy surrounding twelve Mohammed caricatures published by Jyllands-Posten.

Mohammed married Aisha when she was a child; their relationship has previously been portrayed in a Dutch cartoon and an American novel. Mohammed has also been depicted in other sexual situations: with Jesus, in a Canadian magazine; and with Jesus, Moses, and Buddha, in an Israeli magazine.


Bodyworlds, the anatomical exhibition of preserved human corpses organised by Gunther von Hagens, has been touring the world for the past twelve years. Famously, when the exhibition came to London in 2002, von Hagens performed a public autopsy which was later televised.

This year, two corpses posed in mid-coitus were added to the exhibition, though they had to be removed before the exhibition was shown in Cologne (Germany), Augsburg (Germany), and Zurich (Switzerland). (A Bodyworlds imitator, Our Body, was banned in France earlier this year.)

Friday, 18 September 2009

The 100 Best Films

The 100 Best Films
For the past five days, The Independent newspaper's Life supplement has published a list titled The 100 Best Films compiled by Anthony Quinn. Last year, two other UK newspapers (The Times and The Sunday Telegraph) published similar lists, though Quinn's selection is significantly better. His list is as follows:

1. All About Eve
2. Double Indemnity
3. Singin' In The Rain
4. The Wild Bunch
5. The Lady Eve
6. The Battle Of Algiers
7. Great Expectations
8. Vertigo
9. The Conformist
10. Chinatown
11. Brief Encounter
12. Kind Hearts & Coronets
13. This Is Spinal Tap
14. The Night Of The Hunter
15. To Have & Have Not
16. The Godfather I-II
17. Notorious
18. Sweet Smell Of Success
19. A Man Escaped
20. Citizen Kane
21. The Big Sleep
22. Raging Bull
23. Sherlock Jr
24. The Third Man
25. The Rules Of The Game
26. Fear Eats The Soul
27. Casablanca
28. The Red Shoes
29. Alien
30. The Magnificent Ambersons
31. On The Waterfront
32. Groundhog Day
33. The Apartment
34. The Last Detail
35. Duck Soup
36. L'Enfant Sauvage
37. Manhattan
38. Once Upon A Time In America
39. Breathless
40. Blue Velvet
41. Taxi Driver
42. Oliver!
43. It Happened One Night
44. Nashville
45. L'Atalante
46. Touch Of Evil
47. Gone With The Wind
48. The Conversation
49. Sunset Boulevard
50. Meet Me In St Louis
51. Overlord
52. Ball Of Fire
53. Sullivan's Travels
54. There Will Be Blood
55. LA Confidential
56. His Girl Friday
57. The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith
58. The Fallen Idol
59. The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis
60. Psycho
61. The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp
62. Toy Story
63. The Dark Mirror
64. Downfall
65. Tokyo Story
66. Rashomon
67. Wild Strawberries
68. Rebecca
69. Aguirre: The Wrath Of God
70. The Lost Weekend
71. Barry Lyndon
72. Smiles Of A Summer Night
73. In A Lonely Place
74. Rumble Fish
75. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
76. The Deer Hunter
77. Rififi
78. The Lives Of Others
79. The Adventures Of Robin Hood
80. Duel
81. Mean Streets
82. The Lusty Men
83. The Searchers
84. The Reckless Moment
85. Ridicule
86. Diner
87. Peeping Tom
88. The Leopard
89. Trainspotting
90. La Kermesse Heroique
91. I Am Cuba
92. Nights Of Cabiria
93. Together
94. Picnic At Hanging Rock
95. Don't Look Now
96. Los Olividados
97. Election
98. Unforgiven
99. The Wages Of Fear
100. Army In The Shadows

Technically, there are 101 films on the list, as The Godfather parts I and II are both listed at #16. It's surprising that films such as The Searchers (#83), Rashomon (#66), Tokyo Story (#65), and Psycho (#60) are in such low positions. It's an extremely international list, though there are only two silent films included. All About Eve is a great film, but is it really the best film ever made?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Bangkok International Animation Festival 2009

Bangkok International Animation Festival 2009
The Bangkok International Animation Festival 2009 will take place from 25th-30th September at Paragon Cineplex and SF CentralWorld, in partnership with the 2009 Bangkok International Film Festival. Ponyo, released in Bangkok recently, will be screened again at the Festival.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
The 2009 edition of Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die has now been released. As in the 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 versions, the changes are limited to the most recent films. Ten titles have been deleted, including The Passion Of The Christ, Meet The Parents, and The Queen; the most interesting of the ten additions is The Good, The Bad, & The Weird, a South Korean tribute to 'spaghetti westerns'.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea

Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea is the latest film by master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. The title character (loosely based on The Little Mermaid) is a fish who longs to be human after falling in love with Sosuke, the boy who catches her. Miyazaki's films all appeal to both children and adults, and Ponyo is no exception, though (like his earlier My Neighbour Totoro) it's aimed at a younger audience than some of his more recent works.

Miyazaki begins the film with a clear warning about marine pollution, depicting the sea and coastline littered with rubbish. Also notable is the portrayal of Sosuke's mother, Lisa; her frustration when she is late for work, and when her husband is late home, is surprisingly realistic, given the otherwise innocent nature of the film.

As in many of Miyazaki's films, there are magical elements which are never fully explained. Ponyo's father, for example, is a kind of Captain Nemo figure, a wizard who lives underwater; her mother is a sea goddess. At the end of the film, the wizard appears to rejuvenate a group of elderly people in a magical water-bubble, in an odd and surely unintentional echo of the film Cocoon.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

For Alexis

For Alexis
Apichatpong Weerasethakul has directed a short film, For Alexis, as a tribute to the murdered film critic Alexis Tioseco, which is available online. Apichatpong has previously released other short films online, including Phantoms Of Nabua, Mobile Men, and Prosperity For 2008.