10 February 2024

100 Greatest Films Ever


Weekend The Godfather

Daily Mail film critic Brian Viner has compiled a list of the 100 greatest films ever made, in a cover story for today’s issue of the newspaper’s Weekend magazine supplement. The list skews towards mainstream titles, as Viner readily acknowledges: “I’ve deliberately left out some of the mighty early silents, and there aren’t too many foreign-language films because this has to be an accessible collection.” Another stipulation is that all titles are available on streaming platforms, thus disqualifying some esoteric arthouse films. (The Mail published a previous list of Viner’s 100 favourite films in 2020.)

The 100 Greatest Films Ever are as follows:

100. Oliver!
99. Thelma and Louise
98. Raiders of the Lost Ark
97. Goldfinger
96. In the Heat of the Night
95. This Is Spinal Tap
94. To Kill a Mockingbird
93. The Sting
92. The Vanishing
91. When We Were Kings
90. Twelve Angry Men
89. It Happened One Night
88. Chariots of Fire
87. Shane
86. Kes
85. The Exorcist
84. High Noon
83. All the President’s Men
82. Parasite
81. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
80. Rear Window
79. The Night of the Hunter
78. Get Out
77. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
76. The Best Years of Our Lives
75. Gone with the Wind
74. City Lights
73. Sunset Boulevard
72. Zulu
71. Chinatown
70. The Shining
69. Henry V
68. His Girl Friday
67. Shakespeare in Love
66. The Third Man
65. West Side Story
64. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
63. The Lives of Others
62. Toy Story
61. Spartacus
60. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
59. Apollo 11
58. Deliverance
57. The Elephant Man
56. Tokyo Story
55. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
54. No Country for Old Men
53. The Producers
52. Schindler’s List
51. Boyhood
50. Dr Strangelove
49. The Conversation
48. The Searchers
47. Duck Soup
46. Rome, Open City
45. Nashville
44. On the Waterfront
43. Bicycle Thieves
42. Top Hat
41. All About Eve
40. Vertigo
39. Seven Samurai
38. 2001: A Space Odyssey
37. The Deer Hunter
36. Taxi Driver
35. There Will Be Blood
34. The Bridge on the River Kwai
33. The General
32. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
31. It’s a Wonderful Life
30. Pulp Fiction
29. Raging Bull
28. Annie Hall
27. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
26. Alien
25. The French Connection
24. The Maltese Falcon
23. The Silence of the Lambs
22. Kind Hearts and Coronets
21. The Sound of Music
20. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
19. The Banshees of Inisherin
18. Double Indemnity
17. Brief Encounter
16. Modern Times
15. Shoah
14. The Apartment
13. Singin’ in the Rain
12. Apocalypse Now
11. Bonnie and Clyde
10. Citizen Kane
9. The Graduate
8. Lawrence of Arabia
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
6. Casablanca
5. Some Like It Hot
4. Jaws
3. Psycho
2. The Wizard of Oz
1. The Godfather

(Note that Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comic masterpiece, not the unrelated 1939 comedy. The Maltese Falcon is the John Huston remake, rather than the 1931 original version.)

06 February 2024

Office of the Attorney General:
“The police notified Thaksin about the allegation...”


Chosun Media

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to be paroled later this month, though in another twist to his legal drama, he also faces lèse-majesté charges that could extend his custodial sentence. Thaksin returned from self-imposed exile in August last year, and the Supreme Court sentenced him to an eight-year prison term for corruption and abuse of power.

However, on his first day in jail, Thaksin was transferred to a police hospital for unspecified medical reasons, and has remained there ever since. After he applied for a royal pardon, his eight-year sentence was reduced to one year, and the Department of Corrections confirmed last month that, given his age (seventy-four), he was eligible for parole. (These events were presumably not unrelated to Pheu Thai’s cooperation with the military’s political wing.)

This apparent leniency may have reached its limit, as the Office of the Attorney General announced today that an investigation will be opened into lèse-majesté charges first filed against Thaksin in 2016. Prayuth Pecharakun, spokesman for the OAG, said that “senior officials from the Office of the Attorney General and the police notified Thaksin about the allegation” on 17th January, and the charges relate to an interview he gave to South Korean media in 2015, when he accused members of the Privy Council of orchestrating the 2006 and 2014 coups.

27 January 2024

E. Jean Carroll:
“Donald Trump assaulted me, and... he said it never happened.”



Donald Trump has been ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages, after Carroll sued the former US president for libel. Carroll had accused Trump of sexually assaulting her, and that claim was vindicated last year when Trump was found guilty in a civil trial. Despite the guilty verdict, Trump continued to deny ever having met Carroll, compounding his defamation of her.

The damages awarded yesterday, determined by a jury in New York, include $65 million in punitive retribution, as a punishment for Trump’s repeated denials that the assault took place. Giving evidence in court, Carroll said: “I’m here because Donald Trump assaulted me, and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened.” (Trump is also counter-suing Carroll, over an interview she gave to CNN last year.)

02 December 2023

James Dyson v. Daily Mirror:
“The scope for honest comment... was very considerable indeed.”


Daily Mirror

James Dyson has lost his libel case against the Daily Mirror. Dyson had sued the newspaper over a column by Brian Reade published last year describing his business strategy as “screw your country, and if anyone complains, tell them to suck it up.”

The article was published on the Mirror’s website on 28th January last year, and appeared in the following day’s print edition (p. 19). Judge Robert Jay ruled that the column was an expression of personal opinion, and therefore not defamatory: “The scope for honest comment, however wounding and unbalanced, was very considerable indeed.”

Jay became famous as counsel to the 2011–2012 Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and practices, when his questioning of witnesses was televised. A year ago, Dyson lost another libel case, against Channel 4 and ITN.

22 November 2023

James Dyson v. Daily Mirror:
“These allegations represent a personal attack...”


Daily Mirror

James Dyson is suing the Daily Mirror newspaper over an article published last year describing his business strategy as “screw your country, and if anyone complains, tell them to suck it up.” The column, by Brian Reade, criticised poor public role models, and mentioned Dyson only briefly.

The article was published on the Mirror’s website on 28th January last year, and appeared in the print edition on the following day (p. 19). It has now been removed from the website, and deleted from online newspaper archives.

Dyson appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday, and issued a written statement about the article: “These allegations represent a personal attack on all that I have done and achieved in my lifetime and are highly distressing and hurtful.” He has accused the Mirror of defamation.

Dyson had previously filed a libel suit against Channel 4 and ITN, though that case was dismissed on 31st October last year. Judge Matthew Nicklin ruled that Dyson had not been personally implicated: “The broadcast is simply not about him, and no ordinary reasonable viewer could conclude that he was being in any way criticised.”

21 November 2023

“This image may be worth a million words...”


The New York Times

Israel and Hamas have been at war since 7th October and, as in previous conflicts, news organisations are making editorial judgements about publishing images of casualties. On 12th October, the Israeli government’s X account posted three photographs of children killed by Hamas; The Daily Telegraph newspaper printed one of those images the following day (p. 3), with the child’s face blurred. The newspaper’s headline paraphrased US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “This image may be worth a million words”.

On its website on 13th November, The New York Times published an op-ed by Lydia Polgreen describing a photo taken by Mahmud Hams showing six dead children at a Gaza morgue, though her editor decided against reproducing the image in full. Instead, a cropped version was used, showing only the lower halves of the children’s faces.

The NYT’s front page on 20th November featured a photograph showing the shrouded body of eight-month-old Misk Joudeh, her face and arm visible as her remaining family members gathered around in mourning. She had been killed, alongside her parents, by an Israeli airstrike last month. (The image, taken by Samar Abu Elouf, was reprinted on the front page of the paper’s international edition yesterday.)

As Polgreen wrote in her online op-ed: “It is a rare thing for mainstream news organizations to publish graphic images of dead or wounded children. Rightly so. There is nothing quite so devastating as the image of a child whose life has been snuffed out by senseless violence.” This was also true in 2015, when The Independent newspaper published a photograph of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach, on its front page.

16 November 2023

Asian Political Cartoons


Asian Political Cartoons

John A. Lent’s Asian Political Cartoons is a remarkable and comprehensive book, covering the history of political cartoons in no fewer than twenty countries. As the publisher claims, with justification, it is “not only the first such survey in English, but the most complete and detailed in any language.” Lent has interviewed more than 200 cartoonists—most notably, Zunar in Malaysia—and made multiple research trips to each of the countries he documents.

Histories of political cartoons traditionally focus on revolutionary France, Georgian Britain, and the Reconstruction era in the United States. Lent’s book, on the other hand, is a window into a previously inaccessible world of satirical art. He shows how cartoonists have challenged authoritarian regimes throughout Asia, and assesses the varying degrees of “freedom to cartoon” in the region (such as the repressive treatment of Mana Neyestani in Iran and Arifur Rahman in Bangladesh).

For his chapter on Thailand, Lent interviewed Chai Rachawat and Arun Watcharasawad, veteran cartoonists who have covered Thai politics since the 1970s for Thai Rath (ไทยรัฐ) and Matichon (มติชน), respectively. He discussed the Thaksin Shinawatra era with Buncha and Kamin from Manager (ผู้จัดการรายวัน), and he describes the enforced ‘attitude adjustment’ of another Thai Rath cartoonist, Sia, under Prayut Chan-o-cha’s military rule. He also covers the rise of anonymous online satirists such as Khai Maew. (Sia wasn’t interviewed for the book, though he spoke to Dateline Bangkok last year.)

The scope of Asian Political Cartoons is unprecedented, though Cherian George’s Red Lines also examines political cartooning from an international perspective. Victor S. Navasky’s The Art of Controversy covers European and American political cartoons, and Alexander Roob reproduces early newspaper cartoons in The History of Press Graphics 1819–1921.

09 November 2023

Sondhi v. Prachatai


Prachatai

Thailand’s Criminal Court yesterday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul against the online news organisation Prachatai. Sondhi had filed the case in August, claiming that Prachatai misrepresented his opinion by falsely implying that he supported another coup.

In a Facebook post on 31st July, Sondhi speculated on the future of Thai politics, listing thirteen potential scenarios. The last of these was the possibility of another coup, which he described as “ไร้ความชอบธรรม” (‘illegitimate’). Later that day, the Prachatai website reported Sondhi’s comments about the chances of a coup, though its headline omitted the word ‘illegitimate’.

The Criminal Court noted that the first sentence of Prachatai’s article quoted his reference to an ‘illegitimate coup’, and that the article also went on to reproduce Sondhi’s list of thirteen scenarios in full, thus mitigating any potential misunderstanding caused by the headline. (Dateline Bangkok raised the same points a few days after Sondhi sued Prachatai.)

13 October 2023

“Meloni, Salvini: bastardi...”
(‘Meloni, Salvini: bastards...’)


Piazzapulita

A political commentator was found guilty yesterday of defaming Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Speaking on the Piazzapulita (‘clean sweep’) talk show on 3rd December 2020, Roberto Saviano criticised Meloni and another far-right politician, Matteo Salvini, for their anti-immigration rhetoric: “Viene solo da dire: bastardi. Meloni, Salvini: bastardi. Come avete potuto?” (‘it just makes you say: bastards. Meloni, Salvini: bastards. How could you?’)

Saviano was fined €1,000, though he will only be liable to pay if he repeats his comments. Prosecutors had originally sought a €50,000 penalty. The clip from Piazzapulita is still accessible on the website of La7, the TV channel that broadcasts the programme. Meloni is also suing singer Brian Molko, who called her a fascist at a concert earlier this year.

05 October 2023

คนอุบลใน 6 ตุลา
(‘Ubon people and 6th Oct.’)


Songsarn

Tomorrow marks the forty-seventh anniversary of the massacre that took place at Thammasat University on 6th October 1976, the most notorious date in modern Thai history. The anniversary will be commemorated at Thammasat tomorrow, but only for a single day. There will be a one-day exhibition—112 มรดก 6 ตุลา— (‘112: the legacy of 6th Oct.’) and screenings of the documentary Different Views, Death Sentence (ต่างความคิด ผิดถึงตาย ๖ ตุลาคม ๒๕๑๙) and the short film Pirab (พิราบ). There will also be a discussion titled เอายังไงดีกับกองเซ็นเซอร์: บทบาทของคณะกรรมการพิจารณาภาพยนตร์และวิดิทัศน์ภายใต้รัฐบาลซอฟต์พาวเวอร์ (‘what to do with the censors: the role of the National Film and Video Committee and soft power’), arguing that Thailand’s film industry can only contribute to the country’s soft power if the censors’ role is restricted purely to classification rather than cutting or banning films.

คนอุบลใน 6 ตุลา (‘Ubon people and 6th Oct.’), an exhibition at the Songsarn café in Ubon Ratchathani, runs from 22nd September to 6th October and includes photographs of the massacre. Outside the cafe is an enlargement of the Neal Ulevich photograph that has come to symbolise the tragedy, with the hanging man’s body cut out, leaving a physical void in the image to symbolise the whitewashing of the event. A folding chair—a reference to Neal Ulevich’s famous photograph of the massacre—is also hanging outside the venue, and will be used in a performance by artist Narasith Vongprasert tomorrow.


Both the Thammasat and Songsarn exhibitions feature reproductions of the infamous Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) newspaper front page that precipitated the massacre. The Thammasat exhibition also includes a copy of a speech read by Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul at a 12th December 2021 protest calling for the abolition of article 112 of the criminal code (the lèse-majesté law). The paper is stained with Panusaya’s blood, as she carved “112” into her arm at the demonstration.

Pirab will also be shown on 8th October at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. It was previously shown at Future Fest earlier this year, and at the Thai Film Archive in 2017. Folding chairs have also been shown suspended from ropes at the Status in Statu, Uncensored, and Khonkaen Manifesto (ขอนแก่น แมนิเฟสโต้) exhibitions.

27 September 2023

The History of Press Graphics 1819–1921:
The Golden Age of Graphic Journalism


The History of Press Graphics

Alexander Roob’s The History of Press Graphics 1819–1921: The Golden Age of Graphic Journalism, published earlier this year by Taschen, is a stunning 600-page survey of illustrations from nineteenth and early twentieth century newspapers and magazines. The book features hundreds of images, many of which are full-page and double-page reproductions, and includes a comprehensive bibliography.

A prologue outlines the early history of press graphics, from the late sixteenth century onwards, though the book’s starting point is 1819. This was the year of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester, England, and William Hone and George Cruikshank’s pamphlet The Political House That Jack Built, published in response to the tragedy, which “established the era of pictorial journalism”.

Roob examines the technical developments in printing over the period, from wood engraving and lithography in the 1870s to photoxylography a century later. There is also extensive coverage of caricature and political satire, including Charles Philipon’s cartoons of the French King Louis-Philippe.

La Caricature Le Charivari

Philipon was arrested for treason after drawing Louis-Philippe as a plasterer in La Caricature on 30th June 1831. At his trial, he mischievously demonstrated that the King’s likeness could be discerned in almost anything, even a pear, and that fruit became a symbol of Louis-Philippe in subsequent illustrations by Philipon and others. On 27th February 1834, Philipon’s magazine Le Charivari (‘hullabaloo’) published a front-page editorial about the King in the form of a calligram, with the text typeset to resemble a pear.

Philipon’s pear sketches, and a caricature of Louis-Philippe as Gargantua by Honoré Daumier, are reproduced in The Art of Controversy. There is a chapter on press graphics in History of Illustration. The History of Press Graphics 1819–1921 is published in a folio format, the same size as Taschen’s Information Graphics, History of Information Graphics, Understanding the World, and Logo Modernism.

25 September 2023

The Fall:
The End of the Murdoch Empire


The Fall

Rupert Murdoch—proprietor of The Sun, The Times, and Fox News—ran his media empire for more than seventy years, before finally retiring aged ninety-two. Murdoch was an endling, the last surviving member of an endangered (and now extinct) species: the press baron. He announced his retirement on 21st September, less than a week before the publication of a new book on the twilight of his career, which will be released tomorrow.

The UK edition of Michael Wolff’s book is titled The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire, and little did the author know how prescient that subtitle would be. (In the US, the subtitle is The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty.) This is Wolff’s second book on Murdoch: he previously wrote The Man Who Owns the News, an excellent biography that benefited from rare access to Murdoch himself and his immediate family.

As Wolff writes in his introduction to The Fall, “Murdoch hated my book about him,” so this second volume is an unauthorised account. But Wolff still has contacts close to Murdoch, explaining that this makes him “the journalist not in his employ who knows him best.” (This is actually rather modest for Wolff, who boasted in a November 2011 GQ article about Murdoch: “I know what he is thinking; I know how he is thinking it; I know the rhythms of the way he talks about what he thinks; I know what he remembers and I know what he forgets.”)

After that first Murdoch biography, Wolff wrote a series of books on Donald Trump’s presidency, starting with Fire and Fury, which relied for many of its revelations on Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief political strategist. Wolff similarly uses former Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes as a major source in The Fall. The problem this time, though, is that Ailes resigned in disgrace in 2016, and died a year later. Despite this, The Fall is padded out with a prologue on Ailes, who Wolff still seems to admire.

The Man Who Owns the News contained extensive notes on its sources, but The Fall has no notes whatsoever. And while it’s become standard practice for writers of contemporary history to cite unidentified sources, Wolff goes a step further: often, he doesn’t even refer to individual sources, whether anonymous or otherwise. Also, Wolff didn’t approach Fox News to verify what he had written, breaking a basic rule of journalism. Then again, as he explains in his introduction, he sees himself as “a writer, perhaps more so than as strictly a journalist”.

This results in a book with plenty of colour but little evidence. Wolff adds novelistic details to his dialogue, telling us not only what the participants said, but also how they said it, how they felt, and even their body language at the time. He quotes Murdoch’s concerns about the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case, for instance: “quietly, but clearly” Murdoch said that the lawsuit “could cost us fifty million dollars”. Later in the same conversation—on Murdoch’s yacht—the tycoon banged a table, grumbled, scowled, and felt affronted. How Wolff knows all this is anyone’s guess.

Murdoch’s prediction of the Dominion payout was a gross underestimate, as Fox ended up paying almost $800 million for broadcasting Trump’s lies about election fraud. Wolff was in the courtroom when the judge announced that Fox had settled the case, and he reveals that Murdoch originally proposed firing host Sean Hannity as part of the settlement. (Ultimately, Tucker Carlson was sacked instead.)

Another of Wolff’s stylistic devices is to distance himself from the narrative, to an extent that sometimes misleads the reader. In Fire and Fury, he wrote that Trump telephoned an “acquaintance” without revealing that the acquaintance was Wolff himself. Likewise, in The Fall, he describes Ailes speaking to an “interlocutor” without disclosing that he was almost certainly the interlocutor in question. (He has also done this in recent interviews, with an anecdote about Murdoch, Trump, and a “guest” in a lift. In some interviews, he has identified himself as the guest, though in others he leaves the guest unnamed.)

When Murdoch retired last week—an event that Wolff did not foresee—he confirmed that his son Lachlan would take over as executive chairman. (As in the HBO series Succession, the long-term heir will only be determined once Murdoch dies.) In light of that announcement, Wolff’s reading of their relationship now seems off beam: “he seemed to wholly disregard whatever Lachlan might say. Could it be that the father had had it with the son?” It’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is apparently ‘no’.

11 September 2023

6ixtynin9:
The Series


6ixtynin9: The Series

Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s 6ixtynin9: The Series (เรื่องตลก 69 เดอะซีรีส์) was released on Netflix on 6th September (6/9). Pen-ek has remade his 1999 thriller 6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69) as a six-episode series with a new cast. In an interview with the Bangkok Post two days before the release date, he denied that the project was a straightforward remake: “I wouldn’t call it a remake because that wasn’t what I intended to do... I think this is a new version of the story and not a remake. There are more storylines, new characters and locations.”

The plot has certainly been expanded, though the events of the original film are all repeated. (Even the 1990s technology has barely been updated: the characters now have smartphones, but landlines and cassettes are still significant to the plot.) As in the film version, a young woman (Toom) loses her job and finds ฿1 million in a box outside her door. Like the similar setup in Shallow Grave, this unexpected windfall soon leads to unwanted visitors and bodies piling up. Alfred Hitchcock is another clear influence, especially Rope (bodies in chests) and Psycho (the swamp). Pen-ek even has a Hitchcockian cameo in the series, as an advertising executive.

While Toom’s plotline sticks closely to the film version, there’s a new subplot involving a police drugs raid (which takes up most of the final episode), and a mysterious woman in white who greets the deceased at the pearly gates. (This female Saint Peter is played by Veeraporn Nitiprapha, author of The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth/ไส้เดือนตาบอดในเขาวงกต). The heavenly sequences take the series into Magical Realist territory, when two dead characters are—literally—given a new lease of life. This initially seems like a reprieve for one man, though he dies again when a joke from the film version is actually carried out in the series (in a reference to In the Realm of the Senses/愛のコリーダ).

6ixtynin9: The Series

The series is more graphic than the film, as the film was made before Thailand’s movie rating system was introduced. (The sex scenes are framed similarly to those in Pen-ek’s Ploy/พลอย.) In an interview for Thai Cinema Uncensored, Pen-ek described how the censors instructed him to add a caption reassuring cinema audiences that Toom had been successfully apprehended by the police: “we were asked by the police to put the rolling credit saying that she was caught and went to jail.” Their justification wasn’t the usual crime-doesn’t-pay moral lesson; instead, it was a face-saving measure by the police: “if the girl could do this, the police look bad.”

The film was made, and set, in the aftermath of Thailand’s 1997 economic collapse (known here as the ‘tom yum goong crisis’). The new series was filmed shortly after the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused similar economic damage. Toom’s company goes bankrupt and—like real-life businesses such as Star Edu, owners of the Kaplan Thailand franchise—its management tries to avoid giving its staff the severance pay they’re legally entitled to.

The show also has a political message: news reports of pro-reform student protests are seen on TV sets throughout the series, starting with footage from 16th October 2020. Similarly, Snap (แค่... ได้คิดถึง), The Island Funeral (มหาสมุทรและสุสาน), Tang Wong (ตั้งวง), and Pen-ek’s short film Two Little Soldiers (สาวสะเมิน) are also punctuated by news reports of political violence. The series ends with an ominous written epilogue speculating on another state crackdown: “THE WIND OF CHANGE HAS BLOWN AWAY... TEAR GAS A YEAR LATER. BUT HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.”

The film version of 6ixtynin9 will be shown on 5th November in an outdoor screening at the historic Metropolitan Waterworks Authority building in Maen Si, Bangkok. The screening is part of the second กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง (‘Bangkok open air’) festival, which runs from 7th October to 12th November. The film was previously shown at Bangkok Screening Room in 2017. As part of a Pen-ek retrospective in 2018, it was screened on DVD at the Jam Factory and in 35mm at House RCA, and it was also shown at Alliançe Francaise as part of another Pen-ek retrospective that year.

Front Page —
Headline


Front Page - Headline

Last week, the Museum of Popular History organised an exhibition of vintage newspapers at the offices of iLaw in Bangkok. Front Page — Headline (บันทึกไว้บนหน้าหนึ่ง) was open from 3rd–8th September, and featured front pages covering historic political events such as the 14th October 1973 protest, the 2010 massacre, the 2006 and 2014 coups, Move Forward’s election victory, and the return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A reproduction of the infamous 6th October 1976 Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) front page was also included. For many years, there was an unspoken taboo against reprinting the page in its complete form: it was removed before the opening of Thammasat University’s exhibition commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the 1976 massacre, and did not reappear until the 2020 exhibition. Although the headline appears in พลกแผนด นประวตการเมองไทย 24 มย 2475 ถง 14 ตค 2516 (‘overturning the history of Thai politics from 23rd June 1932 to 14th October 1973’), the photograph was blacked out.

The complete Dao Siam front page was first reproduced in Sarakadee (สำรคดี) magazine (vol. 28, no. 238), though it was not included in the online version of the article. In the past few years, it has appeared in four books: Prism of Photography (ปริซึมของภาพถ่าย), 45 ปี 6 ตุลาฯ (‘45 years of 6th Oct.’), Moments of Silence, and สงครามเย็น (ใน)ระหว่าง โบว์ขาว (‘the Cold War (in)between the white bow’). Exceptionally, it was displayed on the street outside Kinjai Contemporary gallery in Bangkok last year.

03 September 2023

TinyTV Mini


TinyTV Mini

The TinyTV Mini, released this year, is the world’s smallest video player, with a 64x64 pixel OLED screen. It’s designed and manufactured in Ohio by TinyCircuits, the same company that created the Thumby, the world’s smallest games console.

The TinyTV Mini is styled to look like a vintage CRT television set. The Cube 2 and Cube 3 video players from MobiBLU, released more than fifteen years ago, had the same 0.6" screen as the new TinyTV Mini, but their overall dimensions were slightly larger.

26 August 2023

Sondhi Limthongkul:
“I will definitely sue…”


Prachatai

Media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul has filed defamation charges against the online news organisation Prachatai. The lawsuit, issued on 22nd August, claims that Prachatai misrepresented Sondhi’s opinion and falsely implied that he supports another coup. Addressing Prachatai via Manager (ผู้จัดการรายวัน), the newspaper he owns, he said: “I will definitely sue... be prepared to receive a summons”.

In a Facebook post on 31st July, Sondhi had speculated on the future of Thai politics, listing thirteen potential scenarios, the last of which was a coup, which he described as “ไร้ความชอบธรรม” (‘illegitimate’). Later that day, Prachatai reported Sondhi’s comments on its website, though its headline omitted the word ‘illegitimate’.

Prachatai’s headline arguably did misrepresent Sondhi’s comments. But the first sentence of the article rectified this by quoting his reference to an ‘illegitimate coup’. The article also went on to quote Sondhi’s list of thirteen scenarios in full.

Whatever Sondhi’s current view on the legitimacy of coups, he has certainly supported them in the past. Prachatai quoted him on 21st January 2012, speaking on ASTV: “Soldiers, don’t sit still. Come out and seize power.” That was an unequivocal call for a coup, accurately summed up by Prachatai’s headline at the time: “Sondhi urges military to stage a coup”.

Other news organisations have also quoted Sondhi appearing to endorse coups. In an interview with the Bangkok Post exactly fifteen years ago (26th August 2008, p. 3), he said that “soldiers today are cowards”, implying that they were not brave enough to launch another coup. The New York Times quoted him saying: “I see a coup as not a bad thing,” and reported that “Sondhi publicly called for yet another military intervention” (3rd November 2020, p. 10; reprinted in the next day’s international edition, p. 3).

Sondhi’s PAD campaign paved the way for the 2006 coup, either intentionally or otherwise. At that time, Sondhi also sued another news outlet for defamation, claiming that Kom Chad Luek (คมชัดลึก) had misrepresented his comments about King Rama IX. In that case, the editor resigned and the newspaper suspended publication for five days.

16 August 2023

The 100 Best Movies of the Past Ten Decades


The 100 Best Movies of the Past Ten Decades

The latest issue of Time magazine (vol. 202, no. 5), dated 14th August, features a list of the 100 greatest films of the past century. Stephanie Zacharek, one of Time’s film critics, compiled The 100 Best Movies of the Past Ten Decades: ten films from each decade, from the 1920s to the 2010s, in chronological order.

As Zacharek readily admits, the list is “marked by what some will see as glaring omissions,” such as Tokyo Story (東京物語), Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and The Godfather. Stanley Kubrick’s films are nowhere to be found. In fact, when compared to Dateline Bangkok’s list of the 100 greatest films, only a quarter of the entries are common to both lists.

Time published its first greatest-films list in 2005, compiled by Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel. From that selection of 100 titles, Corliss and Schickel chose Nine Great Movies from Nine Decades—none of which are included in Zacharek’s list.

29 July 2023

Donald Trump v. CNN:
“Bad rhetoric is not defamation…”


State of the Union

Donald Trump’s defamation lawsuit against CNN has been dismissed by a judge whom Trump appointed during his presidency. Trump sued CNN for $475 million last year, accusing the network of maliciously comparing him to Hitler by describing his false statements about the 2020 presidential election result as ‘the big lie’, a phrase used by Hitler in his autobiography Mein Kampf (‘my struggle’).

In his dismissal, issued yesterday, District Judge Raag Singhal criticised CNN’s inflammatory rhetoric, though he ruled that it was not libellous: “The Court finds Nazi references in the political discourse (made by whichever ‘side’) to be odious and repugnant. But bad rhetoric is not defamation when it does not include false statements of fact.” Singhal, appointed by Trump in 2019, concluded that “CNN’s statements while repugnant, were not, as a matter of law, defamatory.”

13 July 2023

“Fox repeatedly published defamatory falsehoods...”


Tucker Carlson Tonight

One of the rioters who took part in the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol on 6th January 2021 is suing Fox News for defamation. In a lawsuit filed yesterday, Ray Epps claims that former Fox host Tucker Carlson falsely implied that he was an undercover FBI agent involved in orchestrating the insurrection.

According to the lawsuit, “Fox repeatedly published defamatory falsehoods about Epps, including by broadcasting and rebroadcasting defamatory statements by Tucker Carlson”. It singles out the 6th January 2023 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight for “communicating as a fact that Epps was a federal agent planted to encourage supporters of Donald Trump to go into the Capitol building on January 6—the core false and defamatory allegation upon which this Complaint by Epps against Fox is predicated.”

In its defence against a previous libel action relating to Carlson, Fox argued that his comments “cannot reasonably be interpreted as facts”, and that his show should be viewed with “an appropriate amount of skepticism”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Carlson was dismissed by the network earlier this year.

02 July 2023

BirG√ľn



A Turkish journalist has been charged with encouraging terrorist organisations to target counterterrorism officials, and faces up to three years in jail if convicted. The charge stems from a complaint by Akın Gürlek, a government minister and former judge, who was mentioned in a newspaper article by Ayça Söylemez.

The article, which had the ironic headline “Yetenekli hâkim bey” (‘the talented judge’), was published by BirGün on 18th February 2020. In a statement to police after her arrest, Söylemez explained that she was merely giving background details on the judicial cases Gürlek presided over, “which are already publicly available information. Therefore, it cannot be said that I made Akın Gürlek a target of any organization.”