28 December 2012

The Girl

The Girl
The Girl is a BBC/HBO co-production dramatising the making of Alfred Hitchcock's films The Birds and Marnie, and Hitchock's relationship with his leading lady, Tippi Hedren. Toby Jones stars as Hitchcock, and Sienna Miller plays Hedren.

Directed by Julian Jarrold, it premiered on HBO on 20th October and was broadcast on BBC2 on 26th December. It's one of several fictionalised films about the making of real films, including My Week With Marilyn, Gods & Monsters, Ed Wood, RKO281, and Shadow Of The Vampire.

It's not the only Hitchcock biopic this year: Anthony Hopkins also played him, in the film Hitchcock, about the making of Psycho - a film that The Girl refers to both directly and indirectly. The Hopkins film takes some liberties with the facts, suggesting that Hitchcock's wife Alma contemplated adultery, and making tenuous connections between Hitchcock and Ed Gein.

In contrast, The Girl aims for more authenticity. Its screenplay was based on Spellbound By Beauty by Donald Spoto, who also wrote the authoritative The Dark Side Of Genius and The Art Of Alfred Hitchcock. Tippi Hedren herself was a consultant on the project, and we have to rely on her account of what happened on the film sets and in her dressing room.

Hedren's screen test, however, is easy to verify, and its atmosphere is misrepresented in The Girl. The screen test recreated in The Girl presents Hitchcock as a voyeur, making an uncomfortable Hedren kiss an impassive Martin Balsam, played by an older, unattractive actor. In the real screen test, however, Hitchcock can be heard joking with Hedren and Balsam, putting them both at their ease, and Hedren and Balsam - both New Yorkers - have a friendly rapport.

Whether Hitchcock was really guilty of sexual harassment, as The Girl alleges, we will probably never know for sure. Precisely what he said or tried to do remains unclear, though his awkward lunges and advances are plausibly portrayed in The Girl. Presumably he was more forward with Hedren because he felt that he had discovered her, in contrast to the untouchable icons (such as Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman) he had previously worked with.

Toby Jones is too short, though he captures Hitchcock's voice flawlessly. Anthony Hopkins made little attempt at a vocal impersonation, though he had a more appropriate stature. Jones is an increasingly prolific actor: in the past few years, I've seen him in Snow White & The Huntsman, The Hunger Games, The Adventures Of Tintin, My Week With Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Captain America, The Rite, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows I-II, Frost/Nixon, and The Mist.

The supporting cast includes Imelda Staunton, entirely convincing as Alma Hitchcock, in contrast to Helen Mirren's miscast role in the Anthony Hopkins version. Penelope Wilton plays her standard drippy character, ideal in Shaun Of The Dead, though inappropriate for Hitchcock's sharp assistant Peggy Robertson.

24 December 2012

المصرى اليوم

المصرى اليوم‎
A cartoonist working for Egypt's المصرى اليوم‎ newspaper is currently facing blasphemy charges. Doaa El Adl's cartoon, depicting Adam and Eve, was printed yesterday. (Egypt previously banned the graphic novel Metro, in 2009.)

17 December 2012

The Hobbit
An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first film in a new trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. The films are set in Middle-Earth, like Jackson's breath-taking Lord Of The Rings series (The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers, The Return Of The King), and the Hobbit films are Lord Of The Rings prequels.

Whereas the Lord Of The Rings films were adapted from three substantial novels, the three Hobbit films are all based on a single 300-page book, and are padded out with additional material. Jackson clearly sees The Hobbit as an epic equal to The Lord Of The Rings, though that's not how its author envisioned it. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows was split into two parts to prolong the franchise for an additional year, so the studio was presumably delighted to stretch The Hobbit into a trilogy.

There are cameos from some of the Lord Of The Rings cast, notably Andy Serkis playing Gollum, though Ian McKellen as Gandalf is the only returning member of the original Fellowship. The Fellowship's replacements, a band of dwarves, are mostly unremarkable. The dwarf leader is a pale imitation of Aragorn from Lord Of The Rings. Martin Freeman, in the lead role as a young Bilbo Baggins, gives an understated, naturalistic performance that's unlike the rest of the cast. The highlight comes when Bilbo meets Gollum, in an extended two-hander sequence that recaptures some of the Lord Of The Rings magic.

The film is most interesting as a technical experiment: it was filmed at forty-eight frames-per-second (known as HFR, or High Frame Rate), twice as fast as the regular frame rate. The faster frame rate eliminates the judder caused by camera panning, and it also produces impressive detail and clarity in the projected image. Higher frame rates were previously attempted by Douglas Trumbull in his ShowScan process, though the technique had never been used for a commercial film until The Hobbit.

The HFR effect is similar to high-definition television, and therefore appears less cinematic. Also, the extra clarity exposes the artificiality of the sets, props, and visual effects. (And there is much more CGI than in The Lord Of The Rings.) The sets look like sets; thus, instead of immersing us, as Jackson intended, the forty-eight frames-per-second distance the viewer.

An Unexpected Journey was filmed in HFR 3D, and that's the format that I saw it projected in. It's also screening in 3D, 4DX, IMAX DMX, IMAX DMX 3D, and HFR IMAX DMX 3D versions. If you're lucky, you can also find it in regular 35mm.

16 December 2012

Cinema Diverse

Cinema Diverse
Tears Of The Black Tiger
Wisit Sasanatieng
Cinema Diverse, a free season of films organised by Films Forum, opened at BACC on 24th June and closed last night (a week earlier than originally scheduled). The closing film was Wisit Sasanatieng's cult Thai New Wave classic Tears Of The Black Tiger, a 'spaghetti western' influenced by Sergio Leone in a melodramatic, nostalgic lakorn style. The director and cast-members were present for a Q&A after the screening. (Tears Of The Black Tiger has been shown previously at the Thai Film Archive, in 2010 and 2009.)

Wisit's other films are Citizen Dog, The Unseeable, The Red Eagle, the music video เราเป็นคนไทย, the short film Norasinghavatar, and a segment of the anthology film Sawasdee Bangkok. He also designed the posters for the Bangkok International Film Festival in 2008 and 2009, and wrote the script for Nang Nak.

15 December 2012

Encounter Thailand

Encounter Thailand
My second feature for Encounter Thailand magazine, Spooking Thailand's Filmgoers, is published in the November issue (on pages 32-34). The article is a preview of the upcoming 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok, including an interview with the Festival's founder, Kriengsak Silakong. My debut Encounter Thailand feature was published in October.


13 December 2012

Hollywood's Top Ten

Hollywood's Top Ten
Hollywood's Top Ten
Last year, Hollywood's Top Ten, a show on the cable station ReelzChannel, broadcast two lists of the greatest films ever made: Movies To See Before You Die (2nd November, selected by Richard Roeper) and Best Movies Ever Made (2nd December, voted by the audience).

The Movies To See Before You Die are as follows:

1. The Godfather I-II
2. Citizen Kane
3. The Shawshank Redemption
4. Pulp Fiction
5. The Usual Suspects
6. Breathless
7. Annie Hall
8. It's A Wonderful Life
9. This Is Spinal Tap
10. The Searchers

The Best Movies Ever Made are as follows:

1. The Godfather
2. The Dark Knight
3. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
4. Gone With The Wind
5. The Shawshank Redemption
6. Forrest Gump
7. Casablanca
8. Schindler's List
9. GoodFellas
10. Titanic

Note that, in the audience poll, Titanic is the James Cameron version rather than the earlier British version. Roeper's list contains eleven films, as The Godfather and its sequel share the #1 position.

Interestingly, The Godfather is the #1 film in both lists, though the audience may have been influenced by Roeper's list. The Dark Knight and The Shawshank Redemption are consistently popular modern classics, though Roeper's list is too populist: it has no silent films, and only a single foreign-language film. (I compiled my own list of 10 Essential Films this month.)

12 December 2012

10 Essential Films

Selected from a database of 500 Classic Films.

09 December 2012

The End Of Fun

Unholy McTrinity
Russian prosecutors are investigating one of the world's most prestigious museums, the Hermitage in St Petersberg. The museum is currently hosting The End Of Fun, an exhibition by Jake and Dinos Chapman, which opened on 20th October.

The exhibition includes the bronze sculpture Unholy McTrinity, which features a crucified Ronald McDonald. Police apparently received complaints from visitors accusing the artists of blasphemy. The show's centrepiece is a recreation of the Chapman's installation Hell, which was destroyed by a fire in 2004.

Blasphemy charges were previously brought against the Forbidden Art 2006 exhibition in Moscow. S Brent Plate's book Blasphemy discusses other blasphemous art. The End Of Fun will close on 13th January next year.

29 November 2012

The Sun

Louis Walsh has been awarded £400,000 in an out-of-court settlement against The Sun newspaper. Walsh had sued The Sun for defamation after it falsely reported that he had groped Leonard Watters at a nightclub. The story, headlined "Louis probed over 'sex attack' on man in loo", was published on 23rd June 2011, and Watters was jailed for six months after he reported the fictitious incident to police.

28 November 2012

"...a prominent Tory politician..."

Alistair McAlpine has received damages from both ITV and the BBC after he was linked to a rumoured paedophile network. McAlpine was paid £185,000 by the BBC and £125,000 by ITV in libel damages. The BBC's director general has resigned as a result of the controversy.

On 2nd November, BBC2's Newsnight broadcast a report featuring an interview with Steven Messham, who claimed to have been sexually abused as a child. The report did not name McApline as Messham's abuser, though it did refer to "a prominent Tory politician at the time".

On ITV1's This Morning on 8th November, presenter Phillip Schofield claimed to have found a list of alleged paedophiles online, and handed Prime Minister David Cameron "the names on a piece of paper". The list, which included McAlpine's name, was visible for a split second while Schofield was holding it.

Newsnight broadcast an apology on 9th November: "Mr Messham has tonight made a statement that makes clear he wrongly identified his abuser and has apologised. We also apologise unreservedly for having broadcast this report." This Morning broadcast an apology on the same day: "It's extremely regrettable that names may have been very briefly visible as a result of a misjudged camera angle".

BBC director general George Entwistle was interviewed by John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 10th November. In the extraordinary interview, Entwistle said that the Newsnight report was not brought to his attention until the day after it was broadcast, and he had not read news about it on Twitter or in the press.

An incredulous Humphrys replied: "You've no natural curiosity? You wait for someone to come along to you and say, 'Excuse me, Mr Director General, but this is happening and you may be interested', you don't look for yourself, you don't do what everybody else in the country does: read newspapers, listen to everything that's going on". Entwistle resigned later that day.

26 November 2012

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi
The production team responsible for staging Terrence McNally's play Corpus Christi in Greece have been charged with blasphemy. The play presents a homoerotic interpretation of the life of Jesus and his disciples. It was first performed in New York in 1998, was scheduled to open at the Hytirio theatre in Athens last month, though the premiere was postponed due to violent protests organised by right-wing political groups. The director of Corpus Christi's Greek adaptation, Laertis Vasiliou, and the play's cast, now face charges of blasphemy.

The play is set in Texas, and was performed there in 2001. It was staged in London the year before. More recently, it was revived in New York in 2008, and even performed at a church in Cameron Park, California, in 2009. Its script was published in 1999.

Jesus has previously been portrayed as gay in Fernando Bayona's photographic series Circus Christi, Matthias von Fistenberg's film Passio, Ed D Louie's film He, James Kirkup's poem The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name, Enrique Chagoya's lithograph The Misadventures Of The Romantic Cannibals, and Johnny Correa's illustration Resurrection (in The Insurgent). Also, in Jerry Springer: The Opera, Jesus admits: "Actually, I am a bit gay". Kittredge Cherry's book Art That Dares examines other homoerotic representations of Jesus.

23 November 2012

Mekong Hotel

Mekong Hotel
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest film, Mekong Hotel, opened the 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok earlier this month. Like Apichatpong's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, his short films A Letter To Uncle Boonmee and Phantoms Of Nabua, and his Primitive installation, it was filmed near the Mekong river on the Thai-Laos border.

The film stars two of Apichatpong's most frequent collaborators, Jenjira Pongpas and Sakda Kaewbuadee, who previously appeared together in the short films Luminous People, Morakot, The Anthem, and My Mother's Garden. The actors play partly fictionalised versions of themselves: the film is set near Jenjira's actual home, and she discusses her real-life memories and future plans. The documentary tone is set by the opening scene, in which Apichatpong auditions composer Chai Dhatana - a sequence later that was later expanded into a short film, Sakda.

Like Apichatpong's earlier short film Morakot, the eponymous Mekong hotel is a haunted guesthouse. A 'pob' spirit possesses each of the characters, briefly turning them into cannibals. Several of Apichatpong's previous films, notably Tropical Malady and Uncle Boonmee, have also featured spirits, though here the ghosts are surprisingly corporeal. Jenjira's character, for example, is revealed to be 600 years old, though she is portrayed as realistically as the similar 'ghost' in Pedro Almodovar's Volver.

As in Uncle Boonmee, the sense of magical realism is uncanny (in the Freudian sense) and sometimes comical. The characters seem to exist in several parallel universes: Sakda (who starred in Syndromes & A Century) plays at least three different people (a young man seducing his female neighbour, an old man with a different name, and a young gay man), though outwardly he always looks exactly the same. Again, this recalls Uncle Boonmee, in which Sakda and Jenjira have an out-of-body experience.

Mekong Hotel looks entirely naturalistic, with medium-shots, long takes, and no camera movement (inspired by Yazujiro Ozu?). The dialogue sequences are punctuated by long-shots of the river and its surrounding landscape, accompanied by Chai's guitar soundtrack.

15 November 2012

Encounter Thailand

Encounter Thailand
My debut feature for Encounter Thailand magazine, Thai Movie Censorship, was published in the October issue (on pages 38-39). The article examines films cut and banned in Thailand, discussing Syndromes & A Century, Insects In The Backyard, Shakespeare Must Die, and This Area Is Under Quarantine, including an interview with director Thunska Pansittivorakul.


14 November 2012

Bangkok Design Festival 2012

Bangkok Design Festival 2012
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
MoCA Design Tour
The theme of this year's Bangkok Design Festival is Art In The City. The 2012 Festival is bookended by screenings of Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, at SF World (CentralWorld): the film will be shown on the opening day (today) and on the closing day (28th November, with a introduction by the director). [Tickets for both screenings are already sold out.] Also as part of the Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art will host a guided Design Tour on 17th and 18th November.

ASEAN Horror Film Festival

ASEAN Horror Film Festival
The Unseeable
Chulalongkorn University's ASEAN Horror Film Festival begins today in Bangkok. The Festival includes outdoor screenings of horror movies from the ASEAN region, ending on Friday with Wisit Sasanatieng's The Unseeable.

13 November 2012

100 Ideas That Changed Photography

100 Ideas That Changed Photography
100 Ideas That Changed Photography is part of the 100 Ideas That Changed... series, published by Laurence King. It was written by Mary Warner Marien, author of the excellent Photography: A Cultural History from the same publisher.

Marien follows the same format as 100 Ideas That Changed Film, an earlier entry in the series: 100 chapters, each with a single page of text accompanied by a full-page photograph. There are chapters devoted to a variety of camera types, photographic mediums, and genres, most of which are analogue rather than digital. There are also entries for different methods of photographic distribution, such as postcards, tabloids, and photo-sharing.

The book feels like an expanded version of The Visual Dictionary Of Photography, or a concise version of The Focal Encyclopedia Of Photography. The emphasis is on technology more than the art of the medium (in contrast to Photographers A-Z). A World History Of Photography (Naomi Rosemblum), The History Of Photography (Beaumont Newhall), and The History Of Photography (Helmut Gernsheim) have more historical context, though 100 Ideas That Changed Photography is useful as an overview of the subject.

08 November 2012

The Godfather
The Official Motion Picture Archives

The Godfather: The Official Motion Picture Archives
The Godfather: The Official Motion Picture Archives, by Peter Cowie, examines the making of Francis Ford Coppola's film The Godfather. It's less than 100 pages long, though it includes removable facsimiles of various documents related to the film's production and marketing. (Hitchcock: Piece By Piece, published last year, had a similar format.)

The book's chapters are too superficial. Fortunately, the detachable documents, including brochures and posters, are more impressive than the text. Cowie's earlier account, The Godfather Book, is a more in-depth study of the film, and The Annotated Godfather is also more substantial. (Unlike those two earlier works, this new book contains no contribution from Coppola.)

Cowie has previously written an early monograph on Orson Welles (A Ribbon Of Dreams), an authorised production history of Apocalypse Now (The Apocalypse Now Book), and a BFI Film Classics guide to Annie Hall. Recently, he produced the lavishly-illustrated Akira Kurosawa: Master Of Cinema.

30 October 2012

The Empire Of Death

The Empire Of Death
For thousands of years, human remains have been preserved in charnel houses and ossuaries. Originally, these sites were simply a more practical alternative to burial: a body would be interred only temporarily, and, after decomposition, the remaining skeleton would be placed in an ossuary or charnel, thus reducing the demand for graveyard space.

The Empire Of Death: A Cultural History Of Ossuaries & Charnel Houses, by Paul Koudounaris, is the first full-length study of these macabre places. In his introduction, Koudounaris briefly outlines cultural attitudes towards death, citing Mary Douglas, Julia Kristeva, Norbert Elias, and Mikhail Bahktin (though not Georges Bataille).

In chapters with evocative titles such as The Triumph Of Death, Koudounaris presents an international history of charnels and ossuaries. His survey includes charnels with piles of disarticulated skeletons (such as St Catherine's monastery in Sinai, Egypt), decorative skulls displayed in European churches (notably Rome's Capuchin Crypt), and underground tableaux of clothed, mummified bodies (most famously, the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Italy).

There are countless skeletons displayed in each ossuary, with rows of neatly-aligned skulls filling entire walls. The Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic, for example, is a chapel decorated with thousands of skulls and bones, including an enormous skeletal chandelier.

The book (published by Thames & Hudson) is beautifully printed, resembling an old Bible with its gold-embossed covers and manuscript-style typography. This is appropriate given its emphasis on Christian ossuaries and charnels. (The text excludes pre-Christian traditions, such as the Mayan and Aztec tzompantli.) There are extensive notes, and numerous full-page images photographed by the author.

27 October 2012

Sync Talk

Sync Talk
Thunska Pansittivorakul will give a presentation on Creative Politics this Thursday, at the second Sync Talk session. The event will take place at the Asian Knowledge Institute, Bangkok. Thunska has directed numerous short films (most recently, 2060) and several features including This Area Is Under Quarantine, Reincarnate, and The Terrorists.

19 October 2012

A History Of The Movies In Four Parts

A History Of The Movies In Four Parts
Today's edition of the Wall Street Journal features A History Of The Movies In Four Parts, a guide to "four landmark films" selected by David Thomson. (Thomson's book Have You Seen...? has a list of 1,000 films.) The four films profiled in today's concise article (in the Weekend Journal supplement) are M, Psycho (the subject of Thomson's book The Moment Of Psycho), Sunrise, and The Truman Show.

15 October 2012

Design Nation

Design Nation
The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
Design Nation, a festival of music, performance, film, and visual art, opened at the Pridi Banomyong Institute in Bangkok on 29th September, with a screening of Carl Dreyer's silent classic The Passion Of Joan Of Arc. The festival ran until yesterday.

Last night, Design Nation closed with an evening of four film screenings. A Retelling Of Dystopia I (by Nopadol Boonyai) and II (by Teerawat Mulvilai) are edited versions of 1970s action movies with comical live dubbing (as in What's New Pussycat?). The Island Of Utopias (by Pramote Sangsorn) features a poor man searching through the rubble of a collapsed building. Finally, Thunska Pansittivorakul's 2060 is an extract from his forthcoming feature Supernatural.

2060, set forty-eight years in the future, features three men reciting the rules of citizenship (respecting the nation, religion, and monarchy), and discussing a birthday speech by "the Leader". There are echoes of George Orwell's 1984, though it's also a comment on contemporary Thailand. Cutaways to posters of Communist dictators highlight the power of propaganda and cult of personality.

The film ends with direct criticism of the Thai military, featuring photographs from the October 1976 massacre and condemning two former generals (the sanctimonious Chamlong Srimuang and the unrepentant Pallop Pinmanee). Thunska has previously directed numerous short films, and his features include This Area Is Under Quarantine, Reincarnate, and The Terrorists.

14 October 2012

Muji Product Fitness 80

Muji Product Fitness 80
Muji Product Fitness 80
Muji Product Fitness 80
Muji Product Fitness 80, an exhibition of Muji-designed products, opened at Central Chitlom, Bangkok, last week, and will run until 22nd October. The suitably minimalist exhibition includes a small collection of Muji posters. Industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa gave a presentation on the opening day, 9th October, though strangely his most famous design - a Muji wall-mounted CD player - is not part of the exhibition.

13 October 2012

Cactus River

Cactus River
Cactus River, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest short film, premiered on the Walker Art Center's website earlier today. The film is an observational documentary filmed in black-and-white, with some scenes speeded up and others slowed down.

It stars Apichatpong's regular collaborator Jenjira Pongpas (who also appears in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Mekong Hotel, Morakot, The Anthem, Luminous People, and My Mother's Garden), who has now changed her name to Nach Widner. Apichatpong's previous online short films are Ashes, For Alexis, Phantoms Of Nabua, Mobile Men, and Prosperity For 2008.

08 October 2012

10th World Film Festival of Bangkok

10th World Film Festival of Bangkok
Mekong Hotel
Holy Motors
Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf
The 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok will open on 16th November with a screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's new film, Mekong Hotel. This semi-documentary is set on the Thai/Laos border, like Apichatpong's recent Primitive films. It will be screened again on 21st November.

Leos Carax's eccentric new film, Holy Motors, will also be shown (on 17th November including a Q&A with Carax, and then on 22nd November), alongside his classic romantic drama Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf (on 19th and 22nd November). Holy Motors is full of references to French cinema history, including Etienne-Jules Marey's Chronophotographie and Edith Scob once again wearing the mask from Eyes Without A Face.

The opening-night screening of Mekong Hotel will be at Paragon Cineplex (the venue for the 6th, 7th, and 8th Festivals), with subsequent films showing at Esplanade Cineplex (the venue for the 5th Festival, and the 9th earlier this year). The Festival will close on 25th November.

04 October 2012


The Iranian newspaper Shargh was shut down last week, and its editor Mehdi Rahmanian was arrested, after the newspaper printed a cartoon commenting on the Iran-Iraq War. The cartoon, by Hadi Haydari, was published on 25th September, and shows Iranian soldiers blindfolding each other.

01 October 2012

The Price Of Politics

The Price Of Politics
The Price Of Politics, by Bob Woodward, details last year's tortuous negotiations between President Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner over the rise in America's debt ceiling. Woodward reconstructs the meetings between the two sides in considerable detail, supplemented by interviews with Obama and Boehner. (Woodward also interviewed Obama for his last book, Obama's Wars.)

The exhaustive detail limits the book's scope: the negotiations are covered in depth, but this sidelines any coverage of wider economic issues. (Ron Suskind's Confidence Men had a broader scope.) Also, Obama and Boehner's disputes are already familiar, and their bargaining and quibbling don't exactly make for a riveting read.

29 September 2012

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
The 2012 edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, edited by Steven Jay Schneider, has been released. As in previous editions (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), changes to the list have been limited to the most recent films.

Fourteen films have been removed, including the South Korean western The Good, The Bad, & The Weird and Roman Polanski's award-winning The Pianist. The Passion Of The Christ, first deleted in 2009, then reinstated in 2011, has been deleted again. The fourteen replacement films include Shame, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Tree Of Life, Hugo, and The Artist.


24 September 2012

International Herald Tribune

Le Temps
The International Herald Tribune newspaper today published a cartoon by Patrick Chappatte which includes a drawing of Mohammed. (It was first published by Le Temps newspaper in Switzerland.)

The cartoon shows Voltaire in the editorial office of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Voltaire is depicted holding a copy of Charlie Hebdo, which features a caricature of a naked Mohammed. Chappatte previously drew Mohammed in one of his 2006 cartoons.

21 September 2012

The Race For Colour

The Race For Colour
The Race For Colour
The Race For Colour, directed by Vince Rogers, was broadcast on BBC1 on Monday. It's a short documentary on the discovery of the first experimental colour film.

Staff at the UK's National Media Museum in Bradford (which, incidentally, has a splendid Cinerama auditorium) found a reel of 38mm film made by Edward Raymond Turner in the 1900s. Turner shot with black-and-white film through red, green, and blue filters, and projected the film through the same filters to produce a colour image. (Previously, colour had been achieved artificially by hand-painting or tinting each frame.) After Turner's death, however, his test films were considered lost, and a rival system, the Kinemacolour process, was developed instead.

Kinemacolor was a retrograde technology, though, as it used only two filters (red and green, a simplification of Turner's three-filter process), resulting in less realistic colour reproduction. Kinemacolor was one of a series of cinematic innovations produced by the 'Brighton school', a group of film pioneers that included William Friese-Greene (inventor of the Biophantascope), Charles Urban, James Williamson, and George Albert Smith. They are particularly famous for their early use of close-up photography, in Smith's film Grandma's Reading Glass and in Williamson's The Big Swallow.

Technicolor eventually achieved realistic colour reproduction, initially with a two-strip process used for The Gulf Between and The Black Pirate. Three-strip Technicolor was first used for Becky Sharp, though is most famous for the classics The Adventures Of Robin Hood, Gone With The Wind, and The Wizard Of Oz.

The Race For Colour includes fragments of Turner's colour film, which dates from 1902, demonstrating that his three-colour system was at least twenty years ahead of its time. The programme also features Martin Scorsese discussing Turner's footage.

The discovery of Turner's film rewrites film history. After the hand-coloured version of A Trip To The Moon, the longer version of Metropolis, and the Danish version of The Passion Of Joan Of Arc, Turner's footage represents yet another incredible discovery of a historic silent film.

20 September 2012

Stanley Kubrick & Me

Stanley Kubrick & Me
Stanley Kubrick & Me, written by Emilio D'Alessandro with my good friend Filippo Ulivieri, is D'Alessandro's memoir of his time as part of Kubrick's inner circle. D'Alessandro initially worked as Kubrick's driver, though he later became one of the director's closest associates.

Stanley Kubrick & Me (subtitled Trent'anni Accanto A Lui: Rivelazioni & Cronache Inedite Dell'assistente Personale Di Un Genio) tells the story of D'Alessandro's thirty years with Kubrick. It's the autobiography of the director's most trusted assistant.

19 September 2012

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French newspaper, has again published provocative cartoons of Mohammed. The newspaper's current issue features a back-page caricature of Mohammed naked with a video camera, and a cartoon of Mohammed at an awards ceremony; both caricatures were drawn by Renald Luzier, known as Luz.

The cartoons are a commentary on the recent film clip Innocence Of Muslims. That film has led to anti-American protests outside numerous American embassies, and over thirty people have been killed as a result. Anticipating similar reactions to Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, several French embassies have announced that they will close on Friday as a precaution.

Charlie Hebdo's editorial office in Paris is currently being guarded by riot police. The office was attacked by arsonists last year after the newspaper published a Charia Hebdo special edition 'guest-edited' by Mohammed. Charlie Hebdo also caused controversy in 2006 by printing Mohammed cartoons in solidarity with Jyllands-Posten. Charlie Hebdo's first Mohammed cartoon appeared in 2002.

Many other publications also printed their own Mohammed cartoons in solidarity with Jyllands-Posten: Weekendavisen, France Soir, The Guardian, Le Monde, Philadelphia Daily News, Liberation, Het Nieuwsblad, The Daily Tar Heel, Akron Beacon Journal, The Strand, Nana, International Herald Tribune, Gorodskiye Vesti, Adresseavisen, Uke-Adressa, and Harper's.

Equally provocative drawings of Mohammed as a dog were exhibited in 2007. The short film Fitna also includes a Mohammed cartoon, and there was an Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! event in 2010.

18 September 2012


La Provence
A French court has ordered the publisher of Closer magazine to cease distribution of photographs of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, topless. The paparazzi photos were taken while she and her husband, Prince William, were sunbathing at a private villa. The couple took legal action against the publisher, and are also seeking a criminal prosecution of the photographer.

The photos first appeared in Closer last Friday, and were reprinted by the Irish Daily Star newspaper the next day. Italian magazine Chi (which previously printed a photograph of a dying Princess Diana) published more of the images on Monday. The magazine Se & Hor, published in Sweden and Denmark, has announced that it will print the photographs this Friday. The regional French paper La Provence printed a relatively modest picture of the Duchess in a bikini on 7th September.

Nude photographs of the royal family have been published before. Famously, UK tabloid The Sun printed a topless photo of Sarah Fergusson on its front page on 21st August 1992. Full-frontal photos of Prince Charles were published in Playgirl magazine (January 1997). Famously, Brad Pitt successfully sued Playgirl for invasion of privacy after it published nude photographs of him in August 1997 (which was the magazine's best-selling issue).