Friday, 30 September 2016

Radio Times Guide To Films 2017

Radio Times Guide To Films 2017
The comprehensive film guide is a concept that unfortunately seems antiquated in the age of the IMDb. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide ceased publication in 2014. The Time Out Film Guide ended in 2012. Halliwell's Film Guide died an undignified death in 2008 as The Movies That Matter. The Virgin Film Guide finished in 2005. That leaves the Radio Times Guide To Films as the last remaining film guide, and its 2017 edition was published this month. (VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever is also published annually, though it's restricted to films released on video formats.)

The Radio Times Guide To Films 2017, edited by Sue Robinson, follows the same format as its recent editions, with a vintage cover photograph (in this case, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial) presumably chosen to appeal to its older target demographic. (The traditional Barry Norman endorsement on the cover is an even more clear indication that the intended audience is 'of a certain age'.) It's increasingly surprising that there remains a market for the Radio Times Guide To Films, especially as longer versions of its capsule reviews are available on the Radio Times website, though long may it continue.

This year's edition has 1,712 pages, exactly the same number as last year's edition. 24,039 film reviews are included, slightly more than last year's 24,017. There are 504 new entries (including more than 90 previews), meaning that many older titles have been deleted in order to maintain the same pagination. The total number of reviews is creeping up each year: there were 23,068 in 2012, 23,077 in 2013, and 23,099 in 2014.

New reviews this year include The Hateful Eight ("an immoral western frontier explodes in typical Tarantino, blood-spattered fashion"), The Jungle Book ("finds magic and wonder in the CGI-enabled action"), Independence Day: Resurgence ("the story runs out of steam"), Listen To Me Marlon ("a terrific tapestry of a great star's life"), and Hitchcock/Truffaut ("too much awe and not enough insight"). The book is impressively up-to-date, with reviews of films such as Bridget Jones's Baby that are still on general release.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

100 Diagrams That Changed The World

100 Diagrams That Changed The World
De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
100 Diagrams That Changed The World, by Scott Christianson, features 100 diagrams, drawings, and charts from the Chauvet Caves to the iPod patent. Each diagram is reproduced as a full-page illustration, alongside a single-page summary of its history and significance. The book has no references or bibliography, though it's interesting because it includes examples of patent diagrams and other technical drawings that are missing from conventional histories of design.

The 100 diagrams include Renaissance icons such as Copernicus' heliocentric representation of the solar system, Leonardo's Vitruvian Man ("one of the most widely reproduced artistic images"), and an anatomical drawing from Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica ("one of the great achievements in the history of printing"). The book also includes the first examples of bar charts and line graphs (both created by William Playfair), Venn diagrams (John Venn), tree diagrams (Porphyry), flow charts (Frank and Lillian Gilbreth), pictograms (Michael George Mulhall), and emoticons (Puck magazine).

The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information, by Edward R Tufte, is the standard text on graph and chart design; Tufte praises Joseph Minard's representation of Napoleon's Russian campaign as "the best statistical graphic ever drawn," though it's not included in 100 Diagrams. The Book Of Trees is a history of tree diagrams. Cartographies Of Time is a comprehensive history of timelines. Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 has the most extensive selection of Leonardo's drawings. The Story Of Emoji discusses the development of emoticons. Pictograms, Icons, & Signs traces the evolution of pictograms. Information Graphics and Understanding The World feature contemporary and historical infographics. The BBC4 series The Beauty Of Diagrams profiled six influential diagrams, all of which are included in this book.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Twentieth-Century Jewellery

Twentieth-Century Jewellery
Twentieth-Century Jewellery: From Art Nouveau To Contemporary Design In Europe & The United States, by Alba Cappellieri, surveys jewellery from the 1890s to the first decade of the 21st century. Its plates section features 300 colour photographs (with many full-page images) of jewellery from museums and private collections, including masterpieces such as Faberge's Imperial Coronation Egg and Cartier's Panthere brooch. An extensive bibliography lists jewellery books published since 1923.

The book begins with a fifty-page essay on the development of jewellery design since 1900, which focuses on Europe (especially Italy; it was published in Italian as Gioielli Del Novocento) and America, though also briefly mentions Russia and Japan. Cappellieri cites the pave secret, serti mysterieux technique of Van Cleef & Arpels as "one of the most important innovations in the history of twentieth-century jewellery".

Cappellieri also discusses "the transitions between jewellery and the arts: design, architecture and fashion". This cultural context is sometimes excessive (for example, a full-page reproduction of a Giacomo Balla painting "that beautifully sums up the period between 1929 and the end of the Second World War. On 24 October 1929, which was a Thursday, the Dow Jones index crashed...").

Nevertheless, Twentieth-Century Jewellery is a comprehensive survey of modern jewellery, featuring jewels from a wider range of sources than other books on the subject. H Clifford Smith wrote Jewellery, the first comprehensive jewellery history, in 1908. A History Of Jewellery 1100-1870 (Joan Evans, 1953) is the other standard work. Modern Jewellery: An International Survey 1890-1963 (Graham Hughes, 1963) was the first guide to modern jewellery design. 7,000 Years Of Jewellery (Hugh Tait, 1986) is the most comprehensive international history of jewellery.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Allergic Realities

Allergic Realities
Thammasat Hanging
Horror in Pink I
This Is the Buddhism Country
History Class
Holiday in Cambodia
Neal Ulevich
An exhibition of new works by Kosit Juntaratip opened last weekend in Bangkok. Allergic Realities features eighteen paintings of iconic news photographs, replicating the grainy printing process traditionally used by newspapers. Kosit has used his own blood to paint the halftone dots.

One of the paintings (Thammasat Hanging) is based on the notorious Neal Ulevich photograph of a public lynching following the 1976 Thammasat University protest. The photo was also appropriated by Manit Sriwanichpoom for Horror In Pink (ปีศาจสีชมพู), featuring Manit's trademark 'Pink Man' as an incongruous spectator. Vasan Sitthiket's Blue October (ตุลาลัย) series included a version of the photograph painted in mournful blue, with gold leaf to honour the hanged man, and the sarcastic title This Is the Buddhism Country (นี่แหละหนอเมืองพระพุทธศาสนา). Sutee Kunavichayanont carved it into a wooden desk for his History Class (ห้องเรียนประวัติศาสตร์) installation. The image even featured on the cover of Holiday in Cambodia, a single by the Dead Kennedys (ironically, given the song's title).

Another Thai artist, Pornprasert Yamazaki, has also painted with blood; his work was shown at the Swallow, Currency Crisis, and Suicide Mind exhibitions. Manit Sriwanichpoom soaked autopsy photographs in blood for Died On 6th October 1976. UDD protesters painted a banner in blood at Democracy Monument, and Kristian von Hornsleth collected Thai blood samples for his Deep Storage Art Project.

Kosit previously painted with blood during performances in the 1990s (as documented in Thailand Eye), and he has also used other bodily fluids as a medium: his painting Copulate With Love (at MAIIAM) is labelled "Ejaculation on canvas (Kosit's spermatozoa)". Allergic Realities opened at Bangkok University Gallery on 17th September, and runs until 30th October.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo is being sued by the Italian town of Amatrice, after the French newspaper published a cartoon by Felix Moureau mocking the victims of an earthquake that decimated the town. A lawsuit against the newspaper has been filed on behalf of the town council. (The newspaper has previously been sued for blasphemy, though that case was ultimately dismissed.)

230 residents of Amatrice were killed in last month's earthquake. On 31st August, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon comparing the victims to pasta dishes. The cartoon was criticised as deeply insensitive, and Charlie Hebdo faced similar criticism last year when it printed cartoons of Alan Kurdi. The newspaper first caused controversy in 2006, with its front-page cartoon of Mohammed.

A dozen Charlie Hebdo staff were killed in a terrorist attack last January, and the newspaper responded defiantly with another front-page Mohammed caricature. Its offices were firebombed in 2011, after it published a Charia Hebdo issue guest-edited by Mohammed. In 2012, it printed a cartoon of Mohammed naked. In 2013, it produced a comic-strip biography of Mohammed titled La Vie De Mahomet (parts 1 and 2), followed by an expanded edition. In 2014, it published a front-page cartoon of Mohammed being beheaded by an Islamic State terrorist.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bangkok Screening Room

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
The Third Man
A new independent cinema, Bangkok Screening Room, will open next week. The venue, in Silom, will have a 4k projector and fifty seats. Its inaugural programme includes both Thai and Hollywood classics.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives will be shown on 23rd to 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th September; and 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th to 9th October. Carol Reed's The Third Man, starring Orson Welles, will be screened on 22nd, 24th, 25th, 29th September; and 1st, 4th October. Ishiro Honda's Godzilla (which played at the 22nd Open Air Film Festival) is on 5th, 8th, 30th September; and 2nd, 5th October. Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo will be shown on 6th, 8th, 11th, 20th, 22nd, 25th, 27th, and 30th October.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time

The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time
The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time, by Frank Schnelle and Andreas Thiemann, is ambitiously subtitled The List To End All Lists. The authors have studied film lists from the past decade (many of which are featured on Dateline Bangkok), which they "collected, combined and, in the end, condensed... into one meta-list."

The 100 Greatest Movies are as follows:

1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. Blade Runner
5. Apocalypse Now
6. Pulp Fiction
7. Taxi Driver
8. Some Like It Hot
9. Casablanca
10. Singin' In The Rain
11. Chinatown
12. Vertigo
13. Psycho
14. Lawrence Of Arabia
15. The Godfather II
16. Seven Samurai
17. Rear Window
18. Raging Bull
19. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
20. North By Northwest
21. The Third Man
22. Jaws
23. M
24. Dr Strangelove
25. A Clockwork Orange
26. GoodFellas
27. The Searchers
28. Gone With The Wind
29. Sunset Boulevard
30. Alien
31. Tokyo Story
32. Schindler's List
33. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
34. It's A Wonderful Life
35. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
36. The Wizard Of Oz
37. Once Upon A Time In The West
38. The Apartment
39. Annie Hall
40. The Lord Of The Rings I: The Fellowship Of The Ring
41. Fight Club
42. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
43. All About Eve
44. City Lights
45. Rashomon
46. The 400 Blows
47. The Matrix
48. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
49. 8½
50. The Rules Of The Game
51. Breathless
52. Battleship Potemkin
53. The Wild Bunch
54. Bicycle Thieves
55. The Shawshank Redemption
56. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
57. Touch Of Evil
58. Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans
59. The General
60. Metropolis
61. On The Waterfront
62. The Night Of The Hunter
63. Back To The Future
64. The Big Lebowski
65. La Dolce Vita
66. Modern Times
67. The Silence Of The Lambs
68. Amelie
69. Nashville
70. Saving Private Ryan
71. The Shining
72. Double Indemnity
73. Grand Illusion
74. Andrei Rublev
75. Blue Velvet
76. The Seventh Seal
77. Fargo
78. The Deer Hunter
79. American Beauty
80. Terminator II: Judgment Day
81. The Gold Rush
82. Forrest Gump
83. LA Confidential
84. The Dark Knight
85. Les Enfants Du paradis
86. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
87. Gladiator
88. City Of God
89. Bringing Up Baby
90. Aguirre: The Wrath Of God
91. The Maltese Falcon
92. The Leopard
93. Persona
94. Reservoir Dogs
95. Fanny & Alexander
96. L'Avventura
97. Bonnie & Clyde
98. Die Hard
99.The Usual Suspects
100. Once Upon A Time In America

[The book was first published in German, as Die 100 Besten Filme Aller Zeiten (2007). Note that Some Like It Hot is the 1959 Billy Wilder comedy, and The Maltese Falcon is the 1941 John Huston thriller.]


Candy Cigarette
Controversies: A Legal & Ethical History Of Photography is an English translation of Controverses by Daniel Girardin and Christian Pirker. Controverses was originally published in Switzerland in 2008.

In his essay Beyond Appearances, Pirker discusses "the photographs that you will not see in this book." Sally Mann "refuses to exhibit or reproduce" her portrait of her daughter, Candy Cigarette (1989). Thomas Condon was convicted of "disturbing the peace of the dead" in 2001 after photographing corpses in a Cincinnati morgue, and his photographs cannot be published. Finally, Jackie Onassis won an injunction against a Dior advertisement photographed by Richard Avedon (1983) featuring her lookalike; "This ruling still remains in force", according to Pirker, though the photo was reprinted in Contested Culture (2000; by Jane M Gaines).

Unsurprisingly, there are three photographs from the Swiss edition of Controverses that are not present in the English version. Graham Ovenden was convicted of indecent assault in 2013, and his nude photograph of Maude Hewes (1984) was removed. [It was included in the Channel 4 documentary For The Sake Of The Children (28th August 1997) and in issue sixteen of Gauntlet magazine (1998).] The nude portrait of Brooke Shields by Garry Gross (1975) was also omitted, as it was deemed illegal by UK police following the Pop Life exhibition. Irena Ionesco's full-frontal portrait of her daughter (1970) has been replaced by a topless portrait of her (1978).

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Fashion 150

Fashion 150
Christian Dior
Fashion 150: 150 Years / 150 Designers, edited by Arianna Piazza, is an encyclopedic guide to fashion designers and trends. Originally published in Italian (titled Moda: Storie & Stili) it covers 150 years of fashion design, beginning with Charles Frederick Worth, "the first couturier". The book is as physically substantial as its contents, with more than 500 pages printed on heavy stock, coloured edges, and a thick dust jacket.

Coco Chanel's petite robe noir ("the little black dress that gave rise to the Chanel legend") and two-tone suit ("the magnum opus of a lifetime; it is the perfect garment") are included, as is the 'New Look' created by Christian Dior: "Dior showed his first collection and the world stopped to marvel. It was one of the most important fashion moments in history."

The Thames & Hudson Dictionary Of Fashion & Fashion Designers and The Fashion Book both profile more designers, though they have capsule-style entries whereas Fashion 150 has more depth. The three-volume Encyclopedia Of Clothing & Fashion (edited by Valerie Steele) is the most comprehensive, though Fashion 150 is more up-to-date and has better illustrations.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

All The President's Men

All The President's Men
The fortieth anniversary edition of All The President's Men includes an afterword (originally published in The Washington Post) discussing President Richard Nixon's legacy: "Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars - against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system, and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mindset and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon's: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency."

In 1972, Nixon's 'White House plumbers' broke into the Democratic National Committee's Washington headquarters in the Watergate building. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's coverage of the Watergate scandal remains arguably the most significant story in the history of journalism, as it ultimately led to Nixon's resignation.

Nixon insisted "I am not a crook" (at a press conference on 17th November 1973), though he resigned in a live broadcast on 8th August 1974: "because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation would require... Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow."

Nixon's conspiracy to obstruct the FBI's investigation into Watergate was revealed by the infamous 'smoking gun' tape released on 5th August 1974 after a Supreme Court ruling. On the tape, recorded in the Oval Office on 23rd June 1972, Nixon says: "they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case, period." (I first listened to it at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California, shortly after Nixon's death.)

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Essentials

The Essentials
The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies & Why They Matter, by Jeremy Arnold, is a guide to "fifty-two must-see movies from the silent era through the early 1980s." The fifty-two films, representing one per week for a year, were selected from TCM's The Essentials series.

Each director is represented by a single listed film, except Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder, who deservedly have two and three films each, respectively. Whereas most film lists include recent titles, this has no films from the last thirty years. Also unusually for a list-based book, it features an extensive bibliography.

The Must-See Movies are as follows:
  • Metropolis
  • All Quiet On The Western Front
  • City Lights
  • Grand Hotel
  • King Kong
  • Duck Soup
  • It Happened One Night
  • The Thin Man
  • Bride Of Frankenstein
  • Swing Time
  • Mr Smith Goes To Washington
  • Gone With The Wind
  • The Lady Eve
  • Citizen Kane
  • Now Voyager
  • Casablanca
  • Double Indemnity
  • Meet Me In St. Louis
  • Leave Her To Heaven
  • The Best Years Of Our Lives
  • Out Of The Past
  • The Red Shoes
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • The Third Man
  • White Heat
  • Adam's Rib
  • Winchester '73
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Gun Crazy
  • All About Eve
  • Singin' In The Rain
  • Roman Holiday
  • Seven Samurai
  • On The Waterfront
  • Rear Window
  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
  • The Searchers
  • Some Like It Hot
  • North By Northwest
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
  • Breathless
  • Lawrence Of Arabia
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Dr Strangelove
  • Bonnie & Clyde
  • In The Heat Of The Night
  • The Graduate
  • Once Upon A Time In The West
  • Jaws
  • Rocky
  • Annie Hall
  • This Is Spinal Tap
[The films are listed chronologically. Note that Ben-Hur is the William Wyler version and Some Like It Hot is the Billy Wilder comedy.]

Friday, 2 September 2016

"Malicious and harmful
to Mrs. Trump..."

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
Melania Trump, the wife of US presidential contender Donald Trump, has launched a lawsuit against the Daily Mail newspaper after it published allegations that she had worked as an escort. Her lawyer, Charles Harder, issued a statement saying that the claims were "so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150m."

The case was filed today at Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland. Donald Trump is notoriously litigious, and Harder has successfully sued the gossip website Gawker into bankruptcy on behalf of another client, Hulk Hogan.

The Mail's article about Melania Trump, written by Natalie Clarke, was published on 20th August (on pages fourteen and fifteen), and also appeared on the newspaper's sensationalist website. After the lawsuit was filed, the Mail went to great lengths to remove all traces of the article online: it was not only deleted from the website, but also expunged from Google's search results, and replaced by the message "Content has been suppressed for editorial and/or legal reasons" in the PressReader digital archive.

The Mail's story was based on a cover story in the Slovenian magazine Suzy, published on 5th August, though the magazine is not named in the lawsuit. The Mail reported Suzy's allegation that models at the agency where Melania Trump worked "principally earned money as elite escorts," though it described the claim as a "seemingly fantastical story" and distanced itself from the magazine: "There is no evidence to back up these startling claims made in Suzy magazine."

The newspaper published a lengthy retraction today: "To the extent that anything in our article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs Trump worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business'... or that either of the modelling agencies referenced in the article were engaged in these businesses, it is hereby retracted, and we regret any such misinterpretation." (The retraction quotes the online headline "Naked photoshoots..." though the print article was headlined "Racy photos...")


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Jules Cheret

Jules Cheret
Jules Cheret: Artist Of The Belle Epoque & Pioneer Of Poster Art is "the first major English- and German-language publication on Cheret." Editor Michael Buhrs is director of Museum Villa Stuck, in Munich, where a Cheret retrospective exhibition was held in 2011.

As Buhrs explains in his foreword, Cheret's poster designs were central to the Parisian Belle Epoque: "As a lithographer, printer, draughtsman, painter, interior designer and illustrator, he is a pre-eminent figure within the artistic and literary milieu of Paris at the turn of the century."

Cheret is widely regarded as the first true artist of illustrated posters. In his History Of The Poster, Josef Muller-Brockmann writes that Cheret "introduced the decisive turning point in poster design. His work established the beginning of the modern poster." Cheret's prolific output, often depicting colourful, liberated women known as 'Cherettes', was largely responsible for the 'affichomanie' ('poster-mania') coined by Octave Uzanne.

In his essay on Cheret and design, Martijn F Le Coultre quotes a contemporary description of Cheret as "king of the poster". Buhrs sees him as the "father of the modern poster", as does Philip B Meggs in his History Of Graphic Design. The Phaidon Archive Of Graphic Design describes him as "the father of the pictorial poster". In The Art Nouveau Poster, Alain Weill calls him "undeniably the father of the poster". According to Weill's comprehensive The Poster: A Worldwide Survey & History, he is "the father of poster art."

Many of Cheret's posters were included in Les Maitres De L'Affiche, reprinted in English as The Complete "Masters Of The Poster". There are chapters on Cheret in Weill's The Poster and The Art Nouveau Poster, and he is also discussed extensively in Stephen J Eskilson's Graphic Design: A New History.


After a brief hiatus, Bangkok Open Air Cinema Club will return in October. The Club organises screenings of classic films (such as Star Wars IV) on the roof of The Hive in Bangkok.

Appropriately enough, they will be showing John Carpenter's classic Halloween (1978) on 19th November. Along with Black Christmas (1974), Halloween provided the prototype for the 'slasher' films that dominated American horror cinema in the 1980s.

The Art Nouveau Poster

The Art Nouveau Poster
Jules Cheret
The Art Nouveau Poster is "the most comprehensive survey to date" of Art Nouveau poster design. It was first published in French, as L'Affiche Art Nouveau. Author Alain Weill also wrote The Poster: A Worldwide Survey & History, the first and only complete history of posters.

The poster as an art form was a product of the Belle Epoque, benefiting from the development of chromolithography and an advantageous French law: "Although still in its earliest infancy, the poster was about to enjoy a golden age... In this it was helped by a specifically French development in the form of a law that came into force on 29 July 1881, allowing posters to be stuck to any object and to any site that was not specifically excluded."

For the next two decades, Paris was gripped by "affichomanie" ('poster-mania', coined by Octave Uzanne). The leading poster designer of the period was Jules Cheret: "Cheret was undeniably the father of the poster and was hailed as such by his contemporaries." (Many of Cheret's posters were included in Les Maitres De L'Affiche, reprinted in English as The Complete "Masters Of The Poster".)

The standard histories of graphic design (Meggs' History Of Graphic Design and Graphic Design: A New History) both discuss posters in their chapters on Art Nouveau graphics. Josef Muller-Brockmann's History Of The Poster includes a chapter on "The illustrative poster" which focuses on the Art Nouveau era. Ghislaine Wood wrote a chapter on Art Nouveau posters and bookbinding, "The Art of Paper", in Paul Greenhalgh's Art Nouveau 1890-1914.