29 June 2023

E. Jean Carroll:
“Oh yes, you did. That’s my response...”


CNN

Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll are suing each other for defamation, based on interviews they each gave to CNN on the same day. Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages on 9th May after Trump was found guilty in a civil trial of sexually assaulting her, though the jury cleared him of rape. Carroll and Trump were interviewed on separate CNN shows on the day after the verdict.

Appearing on CNN’s This Morning, Carroll said of her rape allegation: “Oh yes, you did. Oh yes, you did. That’s my response.” (Her answer has been widely misquoted as “Oh yes, he did.”) According to Trump’s lawsuit, filed on 27th June, “these false statements were clearly contrary to the jury verdict”.

Carroll is also suing Trump for remarks he made on the same day. Reacting to the sexual assault verdict in a CNN interview, Trump said of Carroll: “I don’t know her, I never met her, I have no idea who she is.”

23 June 2023

Bastardgate


Daily Mirror

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘bastardgate’ scandal, when former UK prime minister John Major was recorded calling three of his cabinet ministers “bastards”. Major was speaking to ITN political editor Michael Brunson in an off-the-record conversation in Downing Street on 23rd July 1993, after they had taped a television interview. The exchange was not broadcast, but the cameras were still rolling.

Discussing current and former ministers who were briefing journalists against his policies on Europe, Major told Brunson: “You and I can both think of ex-ministers who are going around causing all sorts of trouble. Do we want three more of the bastards out there?” This was widely regarded as a reference to the Eurosceptic cabinet ministers Michael Portillo, Peter Lilley, and Michael Howard.

The Observer newspaper published lengthy quotes from the “remarkably frank” conversation two days after it was recorded. Two days after that, the Daily Mirror printed the entire transcript (headlined “THE ‘BASTARDS’ TAPE IN FULL”). The tabloid also gave away free bastardgate cassettes to readers who sent in coupons. (The tapes began with an introduction by then-editor David Banks, who said: “this tape signifies our stand against the establishment’s attempts to gag this great newspaper.”)

Major devoted a chapter of his memoir John Major: The Autobiography to the controversy, admitting that he had been “careless... to have spoken to Brunson so freely”. At a lunch for Westminster journalists in 2013, he said that the “bastards” comment was “unforgivable”, then paused for effect and added: “My only excuse is that it was true.”

The Mirror’s bastardgate splash was followed a day later by the leaking of a different off-the-record conversation between Major and another journalist, Jonathan Dimbleby. This second recording was obtained by the Mirror’s tabloid rival The Sun, which dubbed it ‘Majorgate’. Speaking in 1992, Major could be heard complaining to Dimbleby that Conservative voters often refuse to take part in exit polls, which he described as “a high fuck-up factor among Tories.”

Bastardgate and Majorgate came shortly after two royal ‘-gate’ scandals, ‘Dianagate’ and ‘Camillagate’, which also involved illicitly recorded conversations. The ‘-gate’ suffix, most recently applied to ‘partygate’, originated with the Watergate scandal in the US.

20 June 2023

“Johnson committed a serious contempt...”


Boris Johnson

The UK parliament voted overwhelmingly yesterday to endorse an excoriating committee report into former prime minister Boris Johnson’s role in covering up the ‘partygate’ scandal. 354 MPs voted in favour of the report’s findings, and only seven voted against. Johnson resigned as an MP on 12th June, after receiving an advance copy of the report; in an unrepentant written statement, he denounced the committee as “the very definition of a kangaroo court.” (The partygate scandal was also one of the factors leading to Johnson’s resignation as prime minister last year.)

The House of Commons Committee of Privileges ruled that Johnson lied to parliament on multiple occasions. Their report states: “We conclude that in deliberately misleading the House Mr Johnson committed a serious contempt.” It goes on to say: “The contempt was all the more serious because it was committed by the Prime Minister, the most senior member of the government... He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly.”

On 1st December 2021, the Daily Mirror published Pippa Crerar’s initial investigation into staff parties that took place at Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown (headlined “BORIS PARTY BROKE COVID RULES”). On the same day that the story broke, Johnson denied that any lockdown rules had been broken, telling parliament that “all guidance was followed” in Downing Street. A week later, he told parliament: “I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”.

Many more details of raucous Downing Street parties later emerged, and more than a hundred attendees (including Johnson) were fined by the police, though Johnson maintained that the gatherings were justifiable work events. The House of Commons committee concluded that Johnson’s claim that he was misinformed by his staff was “no more than an artifice.” Their report also found that he lied under oath when he appeared before the committee: “He misled the Committee in the presentation of his evidence.”

The committee’s report argues that “[t]here is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House”, though Johnson’s case is not completely unprecedented: during the Suez crisis, Anthony Eden also lied to parliament. On 20th December 1956, in a final speech before his resignation as PM, Eden told the House of Commons: “I want to say this on the question of foreknowledge, and to say it quite bluntly to the House, that there was not foreknowledge that Israel would attack Egypt—there was not.” It later emerged that the UK had indeed colluded with Israel and France to coordinate their invasion of Egypt.

Cigar Aficionado


Cigar Aficionado

This month’s issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine (vol. 31, no. 4) is dedicated to classic movies, and includes a poll of readers’ favourite films. The magazine surveyed “a random group of readers”—presumably a small sample of subscribers—25% of whom voted for The Godfather. (The other films in the top ten list received less than 10% each.)

Cigar Aficionado has an older, male readership, and the magazine proclaimed The Godfather “the Greatest Film Ever Made” in a cover story last year, so the poll result was fairly predictable. Garrett Rutledge conducted the poll and, as he admits in the magazine, “we can’t say we’re all that surprised.”

Cigar Aficionado readers’ top ten films are as follows:

1. The Godfather
2. Casablanca
3. GoodFellas
4. The Shawshank Redemption / The Sting
6. Gladiator / Tombstone
8. The Godfather Part II / Heat / The Longest Day

08 June 2023

“You becoming the prime minister means nothing to me...”


BBC Thai

Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party and potential Thai prime minister after his victory in last month’s election, has been accused of lèse-majesté by several royalist pressure groups who filed a complaint against him yesterday. The complainants accused him of disrespecting the monarchy in a BBC News interview published online on 29th May. (An extended version, with Thai subtitles, has been viewed more than a million times.)

Reforming the lèse-majesté law was a key part of Move Forward’s manifesto, and in the interview Pita told reporter Jonathan Head: “I don’t want the monarchy to be used as a political weapon”. Pita also told the BBC: “if I get a chance to sit down and talk to... people who actually want to increase the penalty of royal defamation, I think we’d be able to find a common ground”. (That comment seemed idealistic, as ultra-royalists have generally been unwilling to compromise on their campaign to punish those who question the monarchy.)

After making the police report, Songchai Niamhom, leader of the King Protection Group, denied that his complaint was politically motivated. Addressing Pita directly, he said: “you becoming the prime minister means nothing to me... but any day you harm or have ideas against the main institution of the nation, I will continue to file complaints against you”. Despite his denial, the lèse-majesté charge does appear to be a political threat, as Songchai has previously used the same tactic against another Move Forward MP, Amarat Chokepamitkul. (He has also filed lèse-majesté charges against the rapper P9D.)

Head himself has also previously been charged with lèse-majesté, in relation to eleven articles published on the BBC News website. (His byline did not appear on some of the articles in question, and the charges related to elements for which he had no responsibility, such as the layout of photographs of King Rama IX.) He also faced a defamation charge after his 2015 investigative report into legal malpractice in Phuket.

02 June 2023

‘The trial of the century’


The Sydney Morning Herald

Ben Roberts-Smith—a Victoria Cross recipient and former SAS soldier—has lost his libel suit against three Australian newspapers that had accused him of war crimes. The case has been dubbed ‘the trial of the century’ by the Australian media, as Roberts-Smith is the country’s most-decorated living soldier and the newspapers had accused him of murdering unarmed prisoners of war in Afghanistan.

The allegations against Roberts-Smith were first published by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, and The Age. He was not named in the initial reports, in June 2018, though his identity was revealed two months later. Australian police launched an investigation into the claims, though no criminal charges were brought, and Roberts-Smith sued for defamation.

Yesterday, judge Anthony Besanko ruled in the publishers’ favour, finding that most of the allegations against Roberts-Smith were true. The verdict in this civil defamation case has destroyed the reputation of an Australian national hero, and it may lead to calls for a reopening of the criminal investigation into Roberts-Smith’s war crimes.

25 May 2023

ไทยถลอก (ปอกเปิก)
(‘Thailand is badly bruised’)


Somchai Katanyutanan Thai Rath

Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister after winning the 2011 Thai general election, and was removed from office by the Constitutional Court in 2014. The events of her premiership were fodder for veteran political cartoonist Chai Rachawat (the pen name of Somchai Katanyutanan), whose work appears in the country’s most popular newspaper, Thai Rath (ไทยรัฐ). (Chai also illustrated The Story of Tongdaeng/เรื่อง ทองแดง, King Rama IX’s biography of his pet dog.) Chai’s cartoons from 2011 to 2014 are collected in ไทยถลอก (ปอกเปิก) (‘Thailand is badly bruised’), published in 2014.

Yingluck sued Chai for defamation in 2013, after he called her a “อีโง่” in a Facebook post. (The term roughly translates as ‘stupid bitch’.) A book from the same period by cartoonists Buncha/Kamin describes Yingluck using equally offensive language, though it was the viral nature of Chai’s Facebook comment that prompted the lawsuit. Chai occupies the opposite end of the political spectrum to his fellow Thai Rath cartoonist, Sia, who has also published books of his cartoons.

อรุณตวัดการเมือง
(‘political Arun’)


Arun Watcharasawad

อรุณตวัดการเมือง (‘political Arun’), a collection of political cartoons by Arun Watcharasawad, was published in 2012. Arun is a cartoonist for the liberal Matichon (มติชน) newspaper and Matichon Weekly (มติชนสุดสัปดาห์) magazine, and the book features his work from 2010 to 2012. It also includes การ์ตูน-การเมือง-ไทย (‘cartoons-politics-Thailand’), a fascinating chapter on the history of Thai political cartoons by Parnbua Boonparn.

Matichon Weekly

Typically, Matichon Weekly devotes almost a full page to each of Arun’s cartoons, and it’s easy to see why: these are impressive works of satirical art. Like most political cartoonists, Arun employs recurring visual metaphors—shark-infested waters seem to be one of his favourites—though his work also references classical mythology and artists such as Hokusai.

24 May 2023

รวมการ์ตูนการเมือง แหลเพื่อพี่
(‘cartoon collection for everyone’)


Buncha/Kamin

Buncha and Kamin are political cartoonists for the right-wing Manager (ผู้จัดการรายวัน) newspaper. Their book รวมการ์ตูนการเมือง แหลเพื่อพี่ (‘cartoon collection for everyone’), released in 2013, is an anthology of cartoons satirising former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government. Manager is published by Sondhi Limthongkul, who has friends and enemies in high places: he narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 2009, and he received a royal pardon in 2019 after being sentenced to a twenty-year jail term for bank fraud.

Sondhi co-founded the People’s Alliance for Democracy movement against Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin. So it comes as no surprise that Buncha and Kamin’s cartoons are scathing in their criticism. In their commentary for the book, they don’t mince words, describing Yingluck as stupid and her administration as evil. Their cartoons also stray beyond satire into downright insult, such as a macabre fantasy sketch showing Thaksin being murdered.

Buncha/Kamin Buncha/Kamin

The cartoons mocking Yingluck’s supporters are even more problematic: they are portrayed as a herd of buffalo. Kwai (‘buffalo’) was a term of abuse adopted by the PAD, who dismissed the red-shirts as an uneducated mob undeserving of the right to vote. (Research in After the Coup confirms the prevalence of this patronising attitude.) Tepwut Buatoom’s picture book Buffaloes Dream of Being Human (ควายอยากเป็นคน) subverts the ‘buffalo’ stereotype, and the term has been reappropriated in a t-shirt design.

“Trump’s defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll...”


CNN

Writer E. Jean Carroll is seeking further damages from Donald Trump following his appearance on CNN’s Republican Presidential Town Hall earlier this month. Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages on 9th May after Trump was found guilty in a civil trial of sexually assaulting and defaming her. The jury concluded that Trump had assaulted Carroll in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York around thirty years ago, and that he had libelled her by denying the allegation in posts on his Truth Social website.

The day after the verdict, Trump was interviewed by Kaitlan Collins on CNN and again denied assaulting Carroll: “I don’t know her, I never met her, I have no idea who she is.” To applause from the Republican-leaning studio audience, he said: “I swear on my children, which I never do: I have no idea who this woman—this is a fake story, made-up story.” He also described Carroll as “a whack job.”

Carroll is now seeking an additional $5 million in punitive damages for libel. Her lawsuit, filed on 22nd May, claims: “Trump’s defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll since it is hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will, or spite.” Earlier this year, Trump was indicted on criminal charges related to his alleged concealment of hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.

11 May 2023

“Fox intentionally trafficked in malicious falsehoods…”


Fox News

The former head of a US government advisory board is suing Fox News for defamation. Nina Jankowicz was executive director of the Disinformation Governance Board, which was created last year to provide guidance on disinformation to the Department of Homeland Security. Following extensive criticism—the board was described as Orwellian by both liberals and conservatives—Jankowicz resigned and the board ceased operations after less than a month. A libel lawsuit filed yesterday claims that “Fox intentionally trafficked in malicious falsehoods to pad its profits at the expense of Jankowicz’s safety, reputation, and well-being.”

The lawsuit alleges that Fox hosts made more than 300 potentially defamatory references to Jankowicz over a period of eight months last year, citing three central false allegations broadcast by the network: that Jankowicz and her board intended to restrict free speech, that she sought to edit Twitter users’ tweets, and that she was fired from her position as executive director. Fox hosts are also accused of using “ugly language that could have no other purpose than to denigrate Jankowicz’s character and professional reputation” (though this is not covered by defamation law).

US defamation law has a high burden of proof, requiring evidence that any false statements were made intentionally. (The legal term is ‘with actual malice’.) Of the three allegations Jankowicz highlights, only the third approaches this threshold. To substantiate the claim of ‘actual malice’—that Fox “deliberately and knowingly lied that Jankowicz had been terminated from her post”—the lawsuit cites two contradictory comments by Primetime host Jesse Watters. On 18th May 2022, he stated that “Nina Jankowicz resigned” though two days later, he said: “She got booted this week.”

This lawsuit comes a few weeks after Fox settled a defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems and sacked its most popular host, Tucker Carlson. (Carlson was abruptly fired on 24th April. In response to a previous defamation charge, Fox had claimed that that his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, should be viewed with “an appropriate amount of skepticism”.) The network is also currently being sued for defamation by another voting technology company, Smartmatic.

18 April 2023

Dominion v. Fox News:
“Lies have consequences...”


Fox News

US cable TV channel Fox News and election technology company Dominion Voting Systems have reached a settlement in their defamation case, with Fox agreeing to pay Dominion $787.5 million. The Wall Street Journal reported at the weekend that a settlement was being discussed, and judge Eric Davis unexpectedly delayed the start of the trial, in a possible attempt to encourage settlement negotiations, though jurors were sworn in yesterday and the settlement was announced only at the last minute.

Dominion sued Fox in 2021, accusing the network of broadcasting “a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” and “outlandish, defamatory, and far-fetched fictions” in the aftermath of the 2020 US presidential election: “Fox recklessly disregarded the truth. Indeed, Fox knew these statements about Dominion were lies.” The lawsuit cited false conspiracy theories that Dominion had rigged the election, claims spread by Donald Trump and his lawyers in the final months of his presidency and endorsed on Fox News shows.

Dominion had sought $1.6 billion in damages, which was widely considered unrealistic, even given the egregious nature of the Fox News broadcasts under dispute. Thus, the $787.5 million settlement, which represents almost half of the total damages originally sought, is extremely high. (As a company, Dominion is valued at less than $100 million.) The settlement implies either that Fox feared losing the defamation case and potentially paying more in damages, or—more likely—that the network sought to avoid the embarrassment of a public trial.

The trial was due to take place in Wilmington, Delaware, a city with a largely Democrat population. (Wilmingtonians voted 2:1 in favour of the Democrats in the 2020 presidential election, and President Joe Biden has a house in the city.) This suggests that the jurors were unlikely to be sympathetic to Fox News and its pro-Republican content. Also, in his pretrial ruling last month, the judge wrote that it “is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true”: an emphatic rejection of the Fox News defence of fair comment.

Once the settlement had been reached yesterday, Fox said in a statement: “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.” This acceptance of the pretrial ruling, albeit in vague terms, is an unusual concession, as out-of-court settlements do not routinely include admissions of liability. This, coupled with the enormity of the settlement, suggests that Fox was keen to avoid potentially damaging witness testimony from its executives and prime-time hosts.

Fox’s defence had already been undermined by the release of hundreds of emails and text messages, submitted in evidence before the trial began. Crucially, these messages demonstrate that the hosts gave airtime to the conspiracy theories about Dominion software despite personally disbelieving them, which could demonstrate actual malice (the legal term for knowingly making false and defamatory statements). In a text message on 9th November 2020, for example, Tucker Carlson wrote: “The software shit is absurd.” Conversely, on his show later that day, he said: “We don’t know anything about the software that many say was rigged.” (Fox defended itself in a previous defamation case by arguing that Carlson’s show should be viewed with “an appropriate amount of skepticism”.)

In a statement outside court yesterday, Dominion’s lawyer Justin Nelson said: “The truth matters. Lies have consequences. Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories, causing grevious harm to Dominion and the country.” Dominion is also suing another right-wing cable channel, OAN, for $1.6 billion, though OAN lacks the funds to offer a Fox-style settlement. Another election technology company, Smartmatic, is suing Fox for $2.7 billion.

The $787.5 million settlement makes this the largest media defamation case in US legal history. The previous record was the $222.7 million awarded in damages to Money Management Analytical Research in 1997, after The Wall Street Journal accused the company of fraud in a 21st October 1993 article by Laura Jereski (headlined “Regulators Study Texas Securities Firm and Its Louisiana Pension Fund Trades”). In that case, however, the damages were reduced on appeal to $22.7 million. (In the UK, libel damages were at their highest in the 1980s, though the amounts were paltry in comparison to the US.)

video

10 March 2023

Sazandegi


Sazandegi Sazandegi

The newspaper Sazandegi (سازندگی) was shut down by the Iranian regime last month after it reported on the country’s economic crisis. The subheading of a 20th February front-page story about the rising price of lamb—“گوشت چگونه از سفره طبقه متوسط و طبقه کارگر حذف شد؟” (‘why is meat missing from the tables of the middle and working classes?’)—led to the newspaper’s immediate suspension. Its permission to publish was reinstated on 1st March.

Sazandegi previously attracted controversy when it was sued by the Speaker of Iran’s parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, over a front-page editorial and cartoon published on 26th May 2021. The drawing of the Speaker, by controversial cartoonist Hadi Haydari, suggested that he was anxious about, and therefore implicitly guilty of, allegations that he had interfered in the allocation of the budget.

07 March 2023

The Greatest Films of All Time


Sight and Sound

Last year, Sight and Sound published the results of its Greatest Films of All Time survey. Ever since 1952, the magazine has polled film critics around the world every ten years, to compile authoritative lists of the ten greatest films ever made. In 2012, for the first time, they expanded their list to include 100 titles, and their 2022 poll was also initially published as a list of 100 films. Now, last year’s list has been expanded further, to 250 films, printed as a checklist on pp. 50–53 of the new April issue (vol. 33, no. 3).

30 January 2023

India:
The Modi Question


India: The Modi Question
India: The Modi Question

Screenings of a new BBC documentary that includes serious allegations against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been prevented at several Indian universities, and students have been arrested at one campus. The programme reveals that Rob Young, the UK’s High Commissioner to India in 2002, wrote a confidential report concluding that “Narendra Modi is directly responsible” for the deaths of more than 1,000 people at a mass riot in Gujarat earlier that year.

India: The Modi Question, directed by Richard Cookson and Sadhana Subramaniam, was broadcast in the UK on BBC2 in two parts, on 17th and 24th January. It quotes from Young’s report, which alleged that Modi met senior police officers and “ordered them not to intervene in the rioting.” Students at Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi were detained by police to prevent an outdoor screening of the documentary on 25th January.

The situation recalls that of another BBC documentary, India’s Daughter, which was also censored in India. In that case, however, the Indian government banned the programme from being broadcast on television, whereas India: The Modi Question was never scheduled for transmission in India. Modi has been PM since 2014, and was Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time of the riot. A cartoonist was arrested for caricaturing him in 2011, during his time as Chief Minister.

26 December 2022

The Trump Tapes:
Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump



Bob Woodward interviewed President Donald Trump an unprecedented nineteen times for his book Rage, published in 2020. Woodward has now released his recordings of eighteen of those interviews as an audiobook, The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward's Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump. (One of the Rage interviews was not recorded, though Woodward summarises it based on his contemporaneous notes. A 2016 interview with Trump before the presidential election is also included.)

Trump cooperated extensively with Rage in an attempt to avoid a repeat of Woodward’s previous book, Fear, which was written without his cooperation. (A recording of a phone call, in which Trump blamed his advisor Kellyanne Conway for not passing on Woodward’s initial interview request, was released by The Washington Post in 2018.) In his spoken epilogue, Woodward says: “It is still somewhat of a puzzle to me why he talked to me, and at such length. I think he honestly believed he could talk me into telling the story of his presidency as he would like it to be seen and remembered in history.”

As was the case with Woodward’s Fear, Trump likewise didn’t cooperate with Woodward’s Washington Post colleagues Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig for their book A Very Stable Genius. (He describes them to Woodward as “two sleazebags”, adding for good measure: “Rucker, he’s a sleazebucket. I know him well. He never writes good.”) Yet he did speak to Rucker and Leonnig for their next book, I Alone Can Fix It, just as he spoke to Woodward for Rage. Interestingly, Woodward repeatedly asks Trump, in vain, for a transcript of his February 2020 phone call with Chinese President Xi, though Rucker and Leonnig were seemingly able to obtain it.

Trump’s astonishing indiscretion is immediately apparent from the recordings. As Woodward says at the beginning of his spoken introduction, Trump is “staggeringly incautious,” and this is evident throughout the eleven hours of audio. The interviews were mostly conducted over the phone, often in the evenings when Trump was in his private quarters at the White House, which presumably contributed to the informal nature of the conversations. (There are echoes of the “unsolicited phone calls without presumption of confidentiality” that Trump made to Michael Wolff during the writing of Fire and Fury, though in Woodward’s case he always reminds Trump that he’s recording the calls.)

In his commentary, Woodward also describes Trump as “at times staggeringly repetitive, as if saying something often and loud enough will make something true.” Maggie Haberman also mentions this tendency—which is a deliberate rhetorical device—in her recent Trump biography, Confidence Man: “He started to explain why he doesn’t like when audiotapes of his interviews are released. Being on camera was “much different,” he said. “Whereas,” he said, in a “written interview, I’ll repeat it twenty times, because I want to drum it into your beautiful brain. Do you understand that?” He repeated himself again.”

Rage was originally intended as a study of Trump’s foreign policy. (Woodward had previously written a similar book on Obama.) But after the coronavirus epidemic began in early 2020, Woodward shifted the focus to Trump’s covid response. Throughout February and March 2020, Trump had publicly insisted that the virus would spontaneously disappear, though on 20th March 2020 he confirmed to Woodward: “This thing is vicious, the most contagious virus anyone’s ever seen.” Even allowing for Trump’s usual exaggerations, that’s a dangerous discrepancy between his public and private statements, and he didn’t publicly admit the severity of the situation until eleven days later.

In Rage, Woodward concluded that President Trump was “the wrong man for the job.” In his epilogue to The Trump Tapes, he acknowledges that that was an understatement: “I realise that I didn’t go far enough. Trump is an unparalleled danger.” The Trump Tapes was released on ten CDs last month, and a book of transcripts, The Trump Tapes: The Historical Record, will be published early next year.

23 December 2022

500 Must-See Movies


500 Must-See Movies

Total Film magazine published a special issue in 2017 listing 500 Must-See Movies. This year, they have released a second edition with an updated list. There are only minor changes to the original edition, with the addition of recent films such as Get Out, 1917, A Quiet Place, Avengers: Infinity War, and Parasite (기생충). As in the first edition, only five genres are included: horror, science-fiction, thrillers, action movies, and comedies.

Empire and Us Weekly magazines have also published top-500 film lists, as did the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers. Empire later revised its list for its Australian edition, and published a collection of 500 five-star reviews. Dateline Bangkok also has its own list of 500 classic films.

Total Film’s previous greatest-film lists are: The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time from 2005, The Top 100 Movies of All Time from 2006, and 100 Greatest Movies from 2010. It also compiled a list of The Sixty-Seven Most Influential Films Ever Made in 2009.

22 December 2022

The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time


Variety

This week’s issue of Variety (vol. 358, no. 12), published yesterday, features The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, as selected by thirty-two of the magazine’s writers. This is one of the very best greatest-film polls: an ideal combination of arthouse titles, classic Hollywood, world cinema, and popular movies.

Variety’s 100 greatest movies are as follows:

100. The Graduate
99. Twelve Angry Men
98. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
97. Alien
96. A Hard Day’s Night
95. Toy Story
94. Bridesmaids
93. Le samuraï
92. Pink Flamingos
91. Scenes from a Marriage
90. The Shining
89. Belle de jour
88. Malcolm X
87. The Sound of Music
86. Close-Up
85. Natural Born Killers
84. Pan’s Labyrinth
83. Kramer vs. Kramer
82. Parasite
81. The Dark Knight
80. Pixote
79. Waiting for Guffman
78. Jeanne Dielman
77. Goldfinger
76. The Tree of Life
75. Boogie Nights
74. My Neighbour Totoro
73. Intolerance
72. Breaking the Waves
71. My Best Friend’s Wedding
70. Twelve Years a Slave
69. Beau travail
68. King Kong
67. Bicycle Thieves
66. Paris Is Burning
65. A Man Escaped
64. Carrie
63. Bambi
62. Dazed and Confused
61. The Passion of Joan of Arc
60. Moulin Rouge!
59. Vagabond
58. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
57. Brokeback Mountain
56. Rosemary’s Baby
55. Pather Panchali
54. Mad Max II
53. In the Mood for Love
52. The General
51. Apocalypse Now
50. Breathless
49. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
48. The Piano
47. Mean Streets
46. Notorious
45. Titanic
44. L’avventura
43. Shoah
42. Moonlight
41. The Wild Bunch
40. Fargo
39. Some Like It Hot
38. Lawrence of Arabia
37. Annie Hall
36. On the Waterfront
35. The Silence of the Lambs
34. Stagecoach
33.
32. Vertigo
31. Network
30. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
29. Double Indemnity
28. City Lights
27. Bonnie and Clyde
26. The 400 Blows
25. Bringing up Baby
24. Tokyo Story
23. The Apartment
22. Chinatown
21. Gone with the Wind
20. Blue Velvet
19. The Godfather II
18. Persona
17. Nashville
16. Casablanca
15. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
14. Do the Right Thing
13. The Rules of the Game
12. GoodFellas
11. Singin’ in the Rain
10. Saving Private Ryan
9. All about Eve
8. It’s a Wonderful Life
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey
6. Seven Samurai
5. Pulp Fiction
4. Citizen Kane
3. The Godfather
2. The Wizard of Oz
1. Psycho

Note that Some Like It Hot is the 1959 comedy, and Titanic is the 1997 blockbuster. A third of Variety’s choices are also included in Dateline Bangkok’s 100 greatest films list. (That list is not ranked, though if it were, Psycho would also be at no. 1, as it is in Variety.)

21 December 2022

500 Best Movies of All Time



In 2018, Us Weekly magazine published a special 500 Best Movies of All Time issue (vol. 18, no. 47). The top twenty-five titles are listed first, and the others are classified by genre. The films are organised alphabetically within these categories, and are not ranked. The list features more than 500 titles, as some series—the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises; The Naked Gun and Kill Bill and their sequels—are counted as single entries.

Us Weekly is a mainstream entertainment magazine, so the selection is weighted in favour of popular Hollywood movies; as the editors wrote in their introduction: “we tried to pay attention not just to what critics like, but to what audiences like as well.” There are a handful of foreign-language titles, including Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette, classified rather literally as a crime film), and just one silent film (Metropolis, listed under drama rather than science-fiction).

Us Weekly’s top twenty-five films are as follows:
  • Avatar
  • Black Panther
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Casablanca
  • Chinatown
  • Citizen Kane
  • E.T. the Extra-terrestrial
  • Get Out
  • The Godfather
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Harry Potter
  • Inception
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • National Lampoon’s Animal House
  • Psycho
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Raging Bull
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Rocky
  • Scarface
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Titanic
  • Toy Story
  • The Wizard of Oz
(Titanic is the 1997 blockbuster, Psycho is the 1960 masterpiece, and Scarface is the 1983 remake. Harry Potter refers to all eight films in the series.)

Empire and Total Film magazines have also published top-500 film lists, as did the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers. Empire later revised its list for its Australian edition, and also published a collection of 500 five-star reviews. Not to be outdone, Dateline Bangkok has its own list of 500 classic films.

02 December 2022

The Greatest Films of All Time


Sight and Sound

Sight and Sound magazine has announced the results of its 2022 critics’ and directors’ polls, The Greatest Films of All Time. There have been dozens of similar polls, based on votes by either critics or the public—Dateline Bangkok has featured every greatest-film list published since 2005—though Sight and Sound’s list is the first and most authoritative of them all. The magazine compiled its original list in 1952, with Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) being the inaugural winner. For fifty years, starting in 1962, Citizen Kane was in first place, until it was overtaken by Vertigo in 2012.

This year’s result is much more surprising, with Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the top of the new list. As Laura Mulvey writes in the magazine’s latest issue (vol. 33, no. 1), “Vertigo had been gradually closing in on Citizen Kane for decades; Jeanne Dielman has appeared from nowhere.” 2001: A Space Odyssey came first in the directors’ poll, replacing Tokyo Story (東京物語), and the full results of both polls are included in the new issue of the magazine.

Sight and Sound

The Sight and Sound critics’ top ten is as follows:

1. Jeanne Dielman
2. Vertigo
3. Citizen Kane
4. Tokyo Story
5. In the Mood for Love
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Beau travail
8. Mulholland Drive
9. Man with a Movie Camera
10. Singin’ in the Rain