14 October 2013

International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune
Turning The Page
The International Herald Tribune published its final issue today (along with a historical supplement, Turning The Page), and from tomorrow its name will change to the International New York Times. The change comes a decade after the newspaper was purchased outright by The New York Times.

The International Herald Tribune was founded in 1887 as The New York Herald, and it became the New York Herald Tribune in 1924. Its most recent title dates from 1967. The International Herald Tribune is the world's leading international newspaper, though culturally it will also be remembered for its appearance in Jean-Luc Godard's film Breathless.

11 October 2013


The Thai political documentary Paradoxocracy is currently showing at House Rama (RCA, Bangkok). It was previously screened at the House of Commons cafe in Thonburi. It will also be shown this Sunday at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya.

06 October 2013

The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time!

The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time!
The current issue of the Australian edition of Empire magazine is a special 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time! edition. The list is based on The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (without the exclamation mark), published by Empire UK in November 2008. The UK list was compiled from votes from readers (including me) and members of the film industry.

The Australian edition is introduced by editor Daniel Murphy as "a global poll", though he doesn't mention that the poll was actually conducted five years ago. Sixty-one films from the original 500 have been replaced: recent films have been added, along with some notable Australian films. Murphy writes, for example: "The Castle claiming top gong for an Australian film at number 72? That's one to make you smile", implying that The Castle was voted for by an international readership. In fact, The Castle didn't feature in the 2008 list, and was presumably added (with the other sixty films) by the magazine's Australian editorial team.

The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time! are as follows:

1. The Godfather
2. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
3. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Jaws
6. GoodFellas
7. Apocalypse Now
8. Singin' In The Rain
9. Pulp Fiction
10. Fight Club
11. Raging Bull
12. The Apartment
13. Chinatown
14. Once Upon A Time In The West
15. The Dark Knight
16. 2001: A Space Odyssey
17. Taxi Driver
18. Casablanca
19. The Godfather II
20. Blade Runner
21. The Third Man
22. Star Wars IV: A New Hope
23. Back To The Future
24. The Lord Of The Rings I: The Fellowship Of The Ring
25. Toy Story III
26. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
27. The Avengers
28. Dr Strangelove
29. Some Like It Hot
30. Citizen Kane
31. Skyfall
32. Die Hard
33. Aliens
34. Gone With The Wind
35. Amour
36. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
37. Alien
38. The Lord Of The Rings III: The Return Of The King
39. Terminator II: Judgment Day
40. Andrei Rublev
41. A Clockwork Orange
42. Heat
43. The Matrix
44. Vertigo
45. The 400 Blows
46. Kind Hearts & Coronets
47. The Big Lebowski
48. Schindler's List
49. Psycho
50. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
51. On The Waterfront
52. This Is Spinal Tap
53. Seven Samurai
54. Evil Dead II
55. 8½
56. The Shining
57. The Lord Of The Rings II: The Two Towers
58. La Dolce Vita
59. Casino Royale
60. Lawrence Of Arabia
61. His Girl Friday
62. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
63. Come & See
64. Inception
65. The Usual Suspects
66. The Graduate
67. Sunset Boulevard
68. Oldboy
69. Tokyo Story
70. Edward Scissorhands
71. Harold & Maude
72. The Castle
73. Annie Hall
74. Three Colours: Red
75. Stand By Me
76. The Night Of The Hunter
77. 12 Angry Men
78. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
79. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
80. A Matter Of Life & Death
81. Manhattan
82. Spartacus
83. Rosemary's Baby
84. The Thin Red Line
85. The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp
86. Batman Begins
87. The Great Escape
88. Brazil
89. Blue Velvet
90. LA Confidential
91. Carrie
92. Iron Man III
93. The King Of Comedy
94. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
95. Magnolia
96. When Harry Met Sally
97. Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi
98. Yojimbo
99. Once Upon A Time In America
100. Spirit Of The Beehive
101. American Beauty
102. The Wild Bunch
103. Reservoir Dogs
104. North By Northwest
105. Toy Story
106. Network
107. Raising Arizona
108. The Hustler
109. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
110. Rear Window
111. The Rules Of The Game
112. A Man For All Seasons
113. An American Werewolf In London
114. The King's Speech
115. Touch Of Evil
116. Before Sunset
117. Fitzcarraldo
118. I Am Cuba
119. Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
120. The Conversation
121. Blazing Saddles
122. Rio Bravo
123. Miller’s Crossing
124. Withnail & I
125. The Wages Of Fear
126. The Battle Of Algiers
127. Los Olvidados
128. The Princess Bride
129. A Woman Under The Influence
130. The Silence Of The Lambs
131. Breathless
132. Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
133. The Sting
134. Lost In Translation
135. Harvey
136. The Man Who Would Be King
137. The Last Of The Mohicans
132. Pan's Labyrinth
138. Life Of Pi
139. Double Indemnity
140. Seven
141. Duck Soup
142. Amadeus
143. Dances With Wolves
144. Cool Hand Luke
145. Avatar
146. As Good As It Gets
147. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
148. The Dark Knight Rises
149. There Will Be Blood
150. Sophie's Choice
151. Shampoo
152. Cyrano de Bergerac
153. Notorious
154. Z
155. The Red Shoes
156. The French Connection
157. Boogie Nights
158. Gladiator
159. The Innocents
160. Betty Blue
161. Badlands
162. Saving Private Ryan
163. True Romance
164. Unforgiven
165. The Royal Tenenbaums
166. Being There
167. The Year Of Living Dangerously
168. A Nightmare On Elm Street
169. The Bridge On The River Kwai
170. The Searchers
171. Don’t Look Now
172. Partie De Campagne
173. Goldfinger
174. Tootsie
175. District 9
176. Viridiana
177. La Haine
178. Django Unchained
179. Brief Encounter
180. The Wizard Of Oz
181. Memento
182. Superman
183. Rushmore
184. A Canterbury Tale
185. City Of God
186. Hellzapoppin'
187. Toy Story II
188. To Kill A Mockingbird
189. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
190. Performance
191. Le Samourai
192. Dirty Harry
193. Paths Of Glory
194. Lincoln
195. The Big Country
196. The Wrestler
197. Brokeback Mountain
198. Ghostbusters
199. Big
200. Eraserhead
201. Ed Wood
202. Bicycle Thieves
203. It's A Wonderful Life
204. Amelie
205. Point Break
206. Fargo
207. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
208. Before Sunrise
209. JFK
210. The Killer
211. The Intouchables
212. Monty Python's Life Of Brian
213. Bride Of Frankenstein
214. The Artist
215. The Exorcist
216. The Misfits
217. The Departed
218. Local Hero
219. Platoon
220. Argo
221. Songs From The Second Floor
222. Army Of Shadows
223. Jackie Brown
224. M
225. The Magnificent Seven
226. Sunday Bloody Sunday
227. M. Hulot's Holiday
228. The Outlaw Josey Wales
229. Far From Heaven
230. McCabe & Mrs Miller
231. Star Trek
232. The Snowton Murders
233. Distant Voices, Still Lives
234. Get Carter
235. Romeo & Juliet
236. Leon
237. No Country For Old Men
238. Festen
239. Howl's Moving Castle
240. Shaun Of The Dead
241. Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom
242. Jurassic Park
243. The Bourne Ultimatum
244. Battle Royale
245. Black Narcissus
246. Delicatessen
247. Requiem For A Dream
248. Cinema Paradiso
249. Forrest Gump
250. Brighton Rock
251. King Kong
252. Downfall
253. Heimat
254. Dazed & Confused
255. The Philadelphia Story
256. All That Jazz
257. Pandora's Box
258. My Darling Clementine
259. Sunrise
260. Darling
261. First Blood
262. The Leopard
263. Let The Right One In
254. The Verdict
264. Ninotchka
265. Port Of Shadows
266. The Black Cat
267. Groundhog Day
268. The Blues Brothers
269. Field Of Dreams
270. Roman Holiday
271. The Hangover
272. Das Boot
273. American Graffiti
274. AI: Artificial Intelligence
275. Crimes & Misdemeanors
276. Wall-E
277. The Lady Vanishes
278. A Place In The Sun
279. Beasts Of The Southern Wild
280. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
281. The Maltese Falcon
282. My Neighbour Totoro
283. Sin City
284. Looper
285. On The Town
286. Carlito's Way
287. National Lampoon's Animal House
288. Mad Max II
289. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
290. The Godfather III
291. Ran
292. Scarface
293. L'Avventura
294. Secrets & Lies
295. The Thing
296. Solaris
297. Rashomon
298. Rocco & His Brothers
299. Chopper
300. La Maman & La Putan
301. The Red Balloon
302. The Untouchables
303. La Belle & La Bete
304. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
305. All The President's Men
306. It Happened One Night
307. La Cercle Rouge
308. The Palm Beach Story
309. Sawdust & Tinsel
310. Love & Death
311. The Best Years Of Our Lives
312. Black Swan
313. Radio Days
314. The Prestige
315. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
316. Midnight Cowboy
318. Gremlins
319. The Terminator
320. American History X
321. Suspiria
322. Battleship Potemkin
323. Sweet Smell Of Success
324. Trainspotting
325. Midnight Run
326. Rebecca
327. The Lion King
328. Braveheart
329. Funny Face
330. Aladdin
331. The Last Seduction
332. Pan's Labyrinth
333. Kill Bill I
334. Out Of Sight
335. The Nightmare Before Christmas
336. The Truman Show
337. The Green Mile
338. The Sixth Sense
339. Grease
340. Drive
341. The Seventh Seal
342. 300
343. Titanic
344. Jules & Jim
345. Animal Kingdom
346. Spirited Away
347. The Passenger
348. The Gold Rush
349. Monsters Inc.
350. The Birds
351. Fatal Attraction
352. Leave Her To Heaven
353. All About Eve
354. Au Hasard Balthasar
355. Arthur
356. Planet Of The Apes
357. Zulu
358. Unfaithfully Yours
359. Bugsy Malone
360. Un Chien Andalou
361. Napoleon
362. Mad Max
363. The Long Goodbye
364. Russian Ark
365. The Lady Eve
366. Rabbit-Proof Fence
367. Blow Out
368. Bridesmaids
369. Clerks
370. The Elephant Man
371. Good Morning Vietnam
372. Natural Born Killers
373. The Bourne Identity
374. Pradator
375. Cabaret
376. Airplane!
377. The Breakfast Club
378. Rocky
379. Casino
380. Army Of Darkness
381. Inglourious Basterds
382. Shine
383. Four Weddings & A Funeral
384. The Social Network
385. Mean Streats
386. The Goonies
387. Ratatouille
388. Children Of Men
389. Monty Python & The Holy Grail
390. Cache
391. Hugo
392. Romper Stomper
393. Donnie Darko
394. The Shop Around The Corner
395. The Great Silence
396. Ace In The Hole
397. Rain Man
398. The English Patient
399. Mulholland Drive
400. Paris, Texas
401. The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
402. Night Of The Living Dead
403. Zero Dark Thirty
404. Greed
405. The Incredibles
406. Little Miss Sunshine
407. Do The Right Thing
408. RoboCop
409. Dirty Dancing
410. The Jungle Book
411. Iron Man
412. Men In Black
413. A Hard Day's Night
414. Spider-Man II
415. Heathers
416. Finding Nemo
417 The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert
418. The Double Life Of Veronique
419. Bad Taste
420. Dawn Of The Dead
421. Days Of Heaven
422. Jerry Maguirre
423. Lethal Weapon
424. A Man Escaped
425. To Have & Have Not
426. Kill Bill II
427. Spring In A Small Town
428. The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser
429. Danger: Diabolik
430. Big Trouble In Little China
431. Electra Glida In Blue
432. X-Men II
433. Good Will Hunting
434. The Cat Concerto
435. American Psycho
436. Beauty & The Beast
437. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
437. Spider-Man
438. The Lost Boys
439. Grosse Pointe Blank
440. Akira
441. Being John Malkovich
442. Wake In Fright
443. Dog Day Afternoon
444. Hairspray
445. Dumb & Dumber
446. High Fidelity
447. The Master
448. Ponyo
449. Crocodile Dundee
450. Speed
451. Unbreakable
452. The Raid: Redemption
453. Top Gun
454. 28 Days Later
455. Full Metal Jacket
456. Lantana
457. Little Shop Of Horrors
458. Batman
459. Ikiru
460. Crash
461. Incendies
462. Halloween
463. The Hurt Locker
464. Juno
465. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
466. 12 Monkeys
467. Snatch
468. The Deer Hunter
469. The Crow
470. Glengarry Glen Ross
471. The Hunt
472. Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban
473. Le Doulos
474. Enter The Dragon
475. The Impossibe
476. Santa Sangre
477. Rebel Without A Cause
478. Flesh
479. Stoker
480. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
481. Scream
482. True Grit
483. Before Midnight
484. The Wicker Man
485. Breakfast At Tiffany's
486. Superbad
487. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
488. Breaker Morant
489. Another Year
490. Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ
491. Amores Perros
492. End Of Watch
493. In The Company Of Men
494. Sideways
495. Jailhouse Rock
496. Kick-Ass
497. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
498. Antichrist
499. Saw
500. Ocean's 11

The following films have been cut from the 2008 list: Zelig, Princess Mononoke, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Death Of Mr Lazarescu, High & Low, The Tree Of Wooden Clogs, Almost Famous, United 93, The Addiction, Moulin Rouge!, Mother & Son, Safe, The Verdict, The Virgin Suicides, Ghost World, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Layer Cake, Interview With The Vampire, Together, Transformers, Sense & Sensibility, Lone Star, The Lives Of Others, Star Wars III, The Last Waltz, Sunshine, The Return, Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, Hot Fuzz, Zodiac, Serenity, Election, Two Days In Paris, Garden State, Cloverfield, Killer Of Sheep, Batman Returns, Lords Of Dogtown, V For Vendetta, Wonder Boys, Enduring Love, Spider-Man, Atonement, Ten, A History Of Violence, Star Wars I, The Bourne Supremacy, Dead Man's Shoes, Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Into The Wild, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Son's Room, Topsy-Turvy, The Big Red One, Brick, Superman Returns, Back To The Future II, Sweeney Todd, The Fountain, King Kong, and Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

The additions to the list fall into two main categories: films released after the original list was compiled (i.e. since 2008), and acclaimed Australian films (as this is Empire's Australian edition). There are also two classics - The Birds and Little Shop Of Horrors - that were excluded from the original list but have been included in the revised version.

The additional films released since the 2008 list are: Amour, Inception, Avatar, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Lincoln, The Artist, Black Swan, Inglourious Basterds, Ponyo, The Impossible, Kick-Ass, Antichrist, True Grit, Toy Story III, District 9, The Avengers, Iron Man III, The King's Speech, Life Of Pi, Skyfall, The Incredibles, Argo, Star Trek, The Hangover, Let The Right One In, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Looper, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Wrestler, Drive, Animal Kingdom, Bridesmaids, The Social Network, Zero Dark Thirty, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Master, The Raid: Redemption, Incendies, The Hurt Locker, The Hunt, Stoker, Before Midnight, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Another Year, and End Of Watch.

The added Australian films are: The Castle; The Snowton Murders; Chopper; Gallipoli; Mad Max; Rabbit-Proof Fence; Shine; Romper Stomper; The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert; Wake In Fright; Crocodile Dundee; Lantana; and Breaker Morant.

Aside from the sixty-one substitutions, the 2013 list is otherwise very similar to the 2008 list. There are minor changes to the positions of some films, and the rankings of three titles have altered significantly: Pan's Labyrinth drops from #132 to #332, Blow Out drops from to #139 to #367, and Wall-E rises from #373 to #276.

Empire Australia also published a 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list in 2007, and a previous one in 2002. Both polls were won by Star Wars IV, which is #22 on the 2013 list.

[Some films in the list share the same titles as other films or remakes. Note that Some Like It Hot is the Billy Wilder classic, Carrie is the Brian de Palma horror, Crash is the Paul Haggis drama, Beauty & The Beast is the Walt Disney version, The Maltese Falcon is the John Huston version, Casino Royale is the Martin Campbell version, Scarface is the Brian de Palma version, Ben-Hur is the William Wyler version, Romeo & Juliet is the Baz Luhrmann version, Titanic is the James Cameron version, The Avengers is the Joss Whedon version, and True Grit is the Joel and Ethan Coen version.]

In It Together

In It Together
In It Together: The Inside Story Of The Coalition Government is Matthew d'Ancona's account of the coalition in the UK between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. D'Ancona's book is clearly being positioned as a successor to Andrew Rawnsley's Servants Of The People: The Inside Story Of New Labour. They have similar cover designs (political cartoons) and subtitles (The Inside Story Of...), and d'Ancona's level of access is similar to Rawnsley's was during the Labour government.

In It Together covers only three years of the government's term of office: David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, and his 'coalition agreement' includes a pledge to serve a fixed five-year term. (Servants Of The People similarly covered only the first three years of Tony Blair's premiership; Rawnsley wrote a sequel, The End Of The Party, in 2010.) The coalition still has almost two years left to run, though the (inside) story of its formation and first few years is already substantial enough.

D'Ancona and Rawnsley are both extremely well-connected, though Rawnsley's book benefitted from the extraordinary tensions at the heart of the Labour party in the 1990s. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson, and Alastair Campbell were the dramatis personae of a tragic drama, with Brown as Macbeth. Unfortunately for d'Ancona, the coalition apparently doesn't have the same level of bitter rivalry, thwarted ambition, and back-stabbing as the TB-GB era. George Osborne, who was presumably one of d'Ancona's major sources, is evidently no Gordon Brown. While that makes for a much more co-operative government, it's less compelling in prose.

29 September 2013


A painting by Ayanda Mabulu has been removed from this year's FNB Joburg Art Fair in Johannesburg, after the Art Fair organisers deemed it too controversial. The painting, titled Yakhal’inkomo, depicts South African President Jacob Zuma trampling on a protesting miner. The artist has previously depicted President Zuma naked, and a portrait of Zuma by Brett Murray was removed from another Johannesburg gallery last year. Zuma has also been caricatured by the cartoonist Zapiro.

Бей чертей

Языческие боги
Бей чертей, a song by the Russian band Corrosia Metalla, has been banned by the Russian Ministry of Justice. The Gagarinsky District Court in Moscow ruled on 22nd May that the song was 'extremist' and thus illegal, and the judgement was upheld by the Ministry of Justice on 27th September. Бей чертей was included on the band's album Языческие боги, released in 2002.


25 September 2013

The Wizard Of Oz

The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz
This Friday and Saturday, there will be a screening of The Wizard Of Oz at the Bangkok Community Theatre. During the screening of the classic musical (directed by Victor Fleming), the audience will be encouraged to participate, singing along with the film's songs and wearing Oz-themed costumes.

20 September 2013

MDNA World Tour

MDNA World Tour MDNA World Tour
Madonna's MDNA Tour has been released on video and as a double-album, both titled MDNA World Tour. DVD and blu-ray editions both feature the entire concert, filmed last year in Miami, Florida (and broadcast by Epix on 22nd June). For the first time, the live album version also includes the full concert. (Previous live CDs, Sticky & Sweet Tour, The Confessions Tour, and I'm Going To Tell You A Secret, featured only selected highlights.) The album has been released on CD in Europe and Asia - though not in America - and is also available in a dual-format edition (DVD and double CD).

The track-list is: Virgin Mary, Girl Gone Wild, Revolver, Gang Bang, Papa Don't Preach, Hung Up, I Don't Give A, Best Friend, Express Yourself, Give Me All Your Luvin', Turn Up The Radio, Open Your Heart, Masterpiece, Justify My Love, Vogue, Erotic Candy Shop, Human Nature, Like A Virgin Waltz, Love Spent, Nobody Knows Me, I'm Addicted, I'm A Sinner, Like A Prayer, and Celebration. (Erotic Candy Shop is a medley of Erotica and Candy Shop; Erotica also featured on the soundtrack of Madonna's directorial debut, Filth & Wisdom, in 2008.)

19 September 2013

The 20 Films You Should Watch

Today, as part of its Quick Guides series, The Times newspaper published The 20 Films You Should Watch, a list representing a concise history of cinema. The 20 Films You Should Watch, selected by Wendy Ide and Kevin Maher, are as follows:

1. Nosferatu
2. The General
3. King Kong
4. The Lady Eve
5. Citizen Kane
6. Double Indemnity
7. Bicycle Thieves
8. Rashomon
9. Singin' In The Rain
10. The Searchers
11. Vertigo
12. Breathless
13. 2001: A Space Odyssey
14. Annie Hall
15. Apocalypse Now
16. Raging Bull
17. Pulp Fiction
18. Secrets & Lies
19. Bowling For Columbine
20. Wall-E

The list is numbered, though the films are listed chronologically. It's a surprisingly good list: all of the films from #5 through to #17 are among my personal favourites. Previously, The Times compiled a list of The Top 100 Films Of All Time in 2008.

18 September 2013

The Simple Truth

The Simple Truth
The Simple Truth (an English translation of the Thai ความจริงไม่มีสี) is Abhisit Vejjajiva's account of the 2009 and 2010 political protests in Thailand. Abhisit was Thai Prime Minister from the end of 2008 (when the Constitutional Court dissolved the ruling People Power Party) until 2011 (when he was defeated by Yingluck Shinawatra in a general election). His term of office was dominated by a series of protests by the UDD. These culminated in the massacre of May 2010, during which Abhisit authorised the use of lethal force by the army, and more than ninety people were killed.

The book begins with a foreword by Korn Chatikavanij, justifying the use of military force against the protesters though regretting that "over 90 soldiers, civilians and protesters died". (Note that he lists soldiers before protesters, implying that the army suffered the most casualties, when in fact less than 10% of the victims were soldiers.) Korn even claims that the army's use of live bullets was part of the UDD's strategy: "The rationale used by the protest organisers was that, for the government to lose, protesters must die. For that to happen, the army must be armed with real bullets. And for that to happen, the army must first be attacked with real weapons".

Abhisit constantly links the UDD protesters with violence and weapons. For instance: "People could have been injured or died. I could have been the first Thai Prime Minister to die on the road", "I came face-to-face with hysteria and blind hatred that could kill", "The Red Shirts were mobilising across the entire country, effectively calling for bloodshed", "I shudder to think what might have happened had they opened fire on the troops", and "men were entering the temple, perhaps even with arms and other weapons" [my italics]. Notice his subtle linguistic device: each reference to violence is speculative or hypothetical, a rhetorical association of the red-shirts with violence.

Abhisit attributes some of the casualties to 'black-shirt' snipers who allegedly infiltrated the protest sites: "On the evening of 10 April 2010, a black-clad militia with military assault weapons launched a brutal attack on peacekeeping forces, leaving both soldiers and protesters injured and killed". As for Black May itself, he is adamant that there was no military massacre: "one thing is clear: there was never a mass killing of 90 people as the Red Shirts keep claiming". He offers no alternative explanation for the extensive bloodshed, except for another hypothetical: "could it be that the armed militia... were continuing with their strategy to destabilise the government?"

He insists that he worked tirelessly for a peaceful outcome: "I can assure you that all of us - the government and the security forces - tried our best to prevent casualties". This, of course, is at odds with his decision to order soldiers to open fire on citizens of their own country. (In contrast, he accuses Somchai Wongsawat of a "brutal suppression of PAD protesters on 7th October 2008.") One wonders who Abhisit is trying to convince. His core supporters (middle-class Bangkokians) supported the military's actions all along, and he has no need to justify his actions to them. On the other hand, anyone sympathetic to the protesters would be alienated by Abhisit's constant demonisation of the UDD.

There are some appendices, including a bizarre analysis by Philip J Cunningham of a 2012 Abhisit interview. Abhisit was interviewed by the BBC's Mishal Husain, who questioned him about the Black May military massacre. (Dismissively, he told her: "unfortunately, some people died".) Cunningham uses most of his article to suggest others whom the BBC should also interrogate, such as Thaksin Shinawatra, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, and even Mark Thompson. When he does finally turn to the Abhisit interview directly, he claims that "Husain went after Mr Abhisit - battering him with rote questions, shouting down his soft-spoken voice, playing up the lurid aspects of the case". He paints Abhisit as a helpless victim, though Husain was asking pertinent questions about civilian casualties.

Phaidon Design Classics

Phaidon Design Classics Phaidon Design Classics Phaidon Design Classics
Phaidon Design Classics
Phaidon Design Classics is a collection of 999 objects representing the entire history of design. It's published in three large volumes, each profiling 333 objects: Pioneers (001-333), Mass Production (334-666), and New Technologies (667-999). (The Spanish edition, 1,000 Objectos De Culto, includes an extra object, the iPhone. The Design Book, a mini version with 500 objects, is also available.)

The focus is on industrial design rather than graphic design, as each of the 999 entries is a physically manufactured object. Each product is represented by one or more large photographs, and each of the three volumes has more than 1,000 pages. Some of my favourites are #60 (Berliner gramophone), #239 (Anglepoise lamp), #261 (Western Electric 300 telephone), #311 (Herman Miller Lounge Chair Wood), #319 (Dualit Vario toaster), #480 (Austin Mini), #530 (Zenith staple-remover), #710 (Olivetti Valentine typewriter), #749 (Polaroid SX70 camera), #850 (Alessi 9093 kettle), #892 (Alessi Juicy Salif juicer), and #998 (Apple iMac).

The Design Encyclopedia by Mel Byars is more academic, and David Raizman's History Of Modern Design has more historical context, though they focus on designers and styles whereas Phaidon Design Classics celebrates the products themselves. Perhaps the objects are over-fetishised, and some of the text seems too much like advertising copy (for example, #417: "Any desk graced with a Rolodex marks the owner out as an efficient, busy, and well-connected individual"), though this is certainly the most comprehensive design collection ever published.

17 September 2013

The Museum Of Scandals

The Museum Of Scandals
The Museum Of Scandals: Art That Shocked The World, by Elea Baucheron and Diane Routex, is a survey of shocking and provocative art from the Renaissance until today. The book is a translation of the French Le Musee Des Scandales: L'Art Qui Fache. Like The Art Museum, it's designed as a museum in a book, with full-page reproductions of individual artworks arranged in themed galleries.

The book's scope - both historical and thematic - is wide-ranging, though it's a slim volume with less than 200 pages. There are chapters devoted to blasphemy (including Forbidden Art 2006 and Andres Serrano's crucifix-in-urine Piss Christ), political incorrectness (including Honore Daumier's Gargantua, discussed in The Art Of Controversy), and sex (including the abject Viennese Actionist performances and - in a rare uncensored reproduction - Nan Goldin's Klara & Edda Belly-Dancing).

The final chapter, discussing transgressive art, is the most fascinating. It recounts the scandals caused by modern art movements such as Impressionism, Cubism, Dada, and Abstract Expressionism (The Shock Of The New, as Robert Hughes described it), though it also covers potentially obscene artworks such as Piero Manzoni's Merda d'Artista ("what it says on the tin", as the Ronseal slogan claimed), Bodyworlds, Marco Evaristti's Helena (goldfish in blenders), and - most controversially - Xiao Yu's Ruan (the head of a human foetus attached to the body of seagull).

There are a few notable omissions. The Mohammed cartoons are not included, and neither are the pornographic Made In Heaven photographs of Jeff Koons and Ilona Staller. Rick Gibson's truly shocking Human Ear-Rings (foetuses worn as jewellery) are also missing. Robert Mapplethorpe is included, though he's represented by one of his less extreme photos. There is an index, though no bibliography or footnotes.

John A Walker's Art & Outrage had a very similar concept to The Museum Of Scandals. Steven C Dubin's Arresting Images, Kerstin Mey's Art & Obscenity, and Anthony Julius's Transgressions also cover similar ground, as does the excellent Controverses by Daniel Girardin and Christian Pirker. Brent S Plate's Blasphemy discusses sacrilegious art, and Seduced examines the history of sex in art.

The Design Book

The Design Book
The Design Book, published by Phaidon, contains photographs of 500 objects, representing the greatest examples of design from the Industrial Revolution onwards. The book's layout is based on The Art Book, The 20th Century Art Book, and The Fashion Book, also published by Phaidon. Its 500 entries were selected from the 999 objects in the three-volume Phaidon Design Classics series.

The Design Book has been printed in a more portable size than Design Classics, thus the large-scale photographs in Design Classics have been substantially reduced. Also, three new products have been added: Apple's iPhone, the Kelvin LED lamp designed by Antonio Citterio for Flos, and James Dyson's Air Multiplier fan. (Products were selected based on their historical significance, though also on their availability: all of the objects are currently in production, so no typewriters, gramophones, or film cameras are included.)

16 September 2013

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
The 2013 edition of Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die has been published. This edition, marking the book's tenth anniversary, was revised and updated by Ian Haydn Smith. Previous editions (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) made only minor alterations to the list of 1001 films, typically replacing a dozen or so entries from the past decade. This new edition is a much more substantial revision, though: fifty films have been replaced, and the changes apply throughout the list. The book's design and illustrations have also been completely revised: the layout has been cleaned up, and hundreds of original posters have been included.

The following films (in chronological order) have been added to the 2013 edition: The Great White Silence; The Eagle; The Adventures Of Prince Achmed; A Throw Of Dice; Limite; The Goddess; Peter Ibbetson; The Lady Vanishes; Mrs Miniver; Summer With Monika; The Man With The Golden Arm; Oaklahoma!; Some Came Running; The Exiles; The Exterminating Angel; Mary Poppins; Wake In Fright; The Devils; The Hired Hand; F For Fake; The Towering Inferno; Sleeping Dogs; Christ Stopped At Eboli; Diva; The Draughtsman's Contract; Local Hero; Wall Street; Dead Ringers; Robocop; Distant Voices, Still Lives; Field Of Dreams; Hana-Bi; Bowling For Columbine; Elephant; Aileen: Life & Death Of A Serial Killer; Osama; Moolaade; The Consequences Of Love; Cave Of Forgotten Dreams; The Cabin In The Woods; Lincoln; Les Miserables; Django Unchained; Skyfall; Life Of Pi; Argo; and Amour.

Toy Story II and III have also been added, though they've been combined with the original Toy Story into a single entry (just as the Lord Of The Rings I, II, and III were consolidated into one entry in the 2008 edition). In addition, a handful of previously-deleted films from old editions have now been reinstated: Boogie Nights (deleted in 2011), Gangs Of New York (deleted in 2006), and Russian Ark (also deleted in 2006).

Fifty films have been removed from the new edition (also in chronological order): Way Down East; Seven Chances; Le Million; La Chienne; Me & My Gal; Judge Priest; Sabotage; Babes In Arms; Dance, Girl, Dance; I Walked With A Zombie; Spellbound; The Stranger; The Ghost & Mrs Muir; Angel Face; The Big Sky; Beat The Devil; Seven Brides For Seven Brothers; Animal Farm; The Man From Laramie; The Man Who Knew Too Much; The Young One; One-Eyed Jacks; Winter Light; Hombre; 1900; Five Deadly Venoms; Three Brothers; The Last Battle; Utu; The Official Story; Housekeeping; Landscape In The Mist; Story Of Women; Drowning By Numbers; Say Anything; Reversal Of Fortune; Jacob's Ladder; Naked Lunch; Aileen Wuornos: The Selling Of A Serial Killer; Casino; Pi; Dancer In The Dark; Kandahar; La Vie En Rose; Anvil!; True Grit; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; War Horse; The Descendants; and Hugo.

There are also some variations in foreign-language editions of 1001 Movies. The Dutch version (1001 Films Die Je Gezien Moet Hebben!) contains thirteen unique entries (Fanfare; Like Two Drops Of Water; A Flight Of Rainbirds; The Lift; Abel; The Assault; Antonia's Line; Little Sister; Character; Wilde Mossels; Black Book; Loft; and Moscow, Belgium). The Danish (1001 Film Du Skal Se For Du Dor) and Swedish (1001 Filmer Du Master Se Innan Du Dor) also feature entries from their local film industries (Day Of Wrath; Ditte, Child Of Man; Jenny & The Soldier; Cafe Paradis; One Summer Of Happiness; Raven's End; Hunger; A Swedish Love Story; Tree Of Knowledge; The Element Of Crime; My Life As A Dog; Pelle The Conqueror; Pain Of Love; Nightwatch; Fucking Amal; The One & Only; The Bench).


13 September 2013

The Onion

The Onion
In its current issue, the satirical weekly newspaper The Onion has published a cartoon depicting an orgy involving the deities of four major religions. Jesus, Moses, and Ganesha are shown with their penises erect, and Ganesha is fisting Buddha.

The cartoon is The Onion's response to the riots in Libya that were apparently sparked by the depiction of Mohammed in the film Innocence Of Muslims. The Onion's headline "No One Murdered Because Of This Image" makes the point that Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists do not resort to violence when their religions are offended, whereas some Muslims do.

Jesus has been depicted with an erection in Terence Koh's sculpture Gone Yet Still, and in two cartoons in the student magazine The Insurgent. A Belgian sculptor was prosecuted for blasphemy in 1988 after depicting a tumescent Jesus. Also, Danish artist Jens Jorgen Thorsen painted a tumescent Christ on the wall of a railway station in 1984. JAM Montoya's 1997 photograph El Ultimo Deseo depicts Christ with an erection. A series of three paintings (Man Of Sorrows, circa 1530) by Maaten van Heemskerck depict Christ in a similar state, as discussed in Leo Steinberg's book The Sexuality Of Christ In Renaissance Art & In Modern Oblivion.

A less explicit cartoon depicting a post-coital Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, and Buddha was published by the Israeli magazine Nana in 2006, one of many Mohammed cartoons published in solidarity with Jyllands-Posten, which caused widespread protests with its Mohammed caricatures in 2005.

12 September 2013

Radio Times Guide To Films 2014

Radio Times Guide To Films 2014
The Radio Times Guide To Films 2014, edited by Sue Robinson, includes capsule reviews of 23,077 films, including 506 new entries. (Last year's edition reviewed 23,068 films, thus 497 have been deleted from the old edition to accommodate this year's new entries, though some of the deletions were previews replaced by reviews.)

The Radio Times Guide To Films, now in its fourteenth edition, is one of the only comprehensive annual film guides still available in print. Halliwell's Film Guide was put to rest after its awful The Movies That Matter edition. The Time Out Film Guide was cancelled last year. Leonard Maltin's annual guide has been split into two editions: a Classic Movie Guide and The Modern Era. VideoHound still publishes its phone-directory-sized annual Golden Movie Retriever, though it's limited to films released on video.

Like Time Out's reviews, the Radio Times Guide To Films entries are all available online for free, so it remains to be seen how long the Guide will continue to be printed. Clearly, though, the publishers feel that there's still a market for such a mainstream and traditional book, perhaps due to the older average age of Radio Times readers. The Guide's cover photo - Clint Eastwood in a still from A Fistful Of Dollars - is another clue that the Guide is catering to an older demographic.

The new entries this year include Hitchcock ("disappointingly inconsequential"), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ("takes a while for the story to get going"), Only God Forgives ("agonisingly slow, and punctuated with graphic scenes of violence"), Lincoln ("brings to life a moment of 19th-century political brinkmanship in captivating style"), and Django Unchained ("audacious and thrilling"). They were all previewed in last year's edition, though they have actually been reviewed in the new edition. (Previews in the new edition include The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, which is still in production! Including such entries for forthcoming films seems premature and un-necessary.)

07 September 2013


งานมอบรางวัลหนังน่าจะแบน, a mini film festival showcasing films that test the limits of Thai censorship, was held today at BACC. The organisers invited directors to submit provocative and controversial films, to be judged not only on merit but also on their likelihood of being banned.

The competition was organised to highlight the continuing problem of film censorship in Thailand, after the banning of recent Thai films Shakespeare Must Die, Insects In The Backyard, and This Area Is Under Quarantine. A similar event, the Freedom On Film seminar, was held at BACC in June.

28 August 2013


Gothic: The Dark Heart Of Film, edited by James Bell, is the second in a series of anthologies published by the BFI. (The first was 39 Steps To The Genius Of Hitchcock, also edited by Bell.) The BFI has also organised a season of Gothic films, screening in London and around the UK.

The book's essays cover a diverse range of horror themes: monsters, the occult, ghosts, and Gothic romance. Expressionist classics (The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari, Nosferatu), Universal monster films (Frankenstein, Bride Of Frankenstein) and Hammer horrors (The Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula) are discussed extensively, though the scope also extends to tropes such as Gothic landscapes and architecture, and a wide variety of sub-genres.

The artistic and theatrical influences on Gothic cinema are explored, though there is less discussion of Gothic literature, except in Christopher Frayling's foreword. (Frayling also wrote Spaghetti Westerns.) There are two chapters by Kim Newman (author of Nightmare Movies). Other contributors include Roger Clarke (author of Story Of The Scene), Mark Kermode (author of BFI Classics: The Exorcist) and Marina Warner (author of Phantasmagoria).

27 August 2013


Paintings by Konstantin Altunin were removed by Russian police from a gallery yesterday. The gallery, the Museum of Authority in St Petersburg, has now been closed by the police. The confiscated paintings were part of the gallery's inaugural exhibition, Правители (Leaders), which opened on 15th August.

Four of Altunin's paintings were seized, all of which are satirical portraits of Russian politicians and religious leaders. Радужный Милонов (Rainbow Milonov) is a portrait of Vitaly Milonov surrounded by a rainbow, mocking Milonov's anti-gay legislation. От исповеди (Confession) depicts Patriarch Kirill I with tattoos of Lenin, Stalin, the Virgin Mary, and skulls on his bare chest. The explicit diptych Эротические сны Мизулиной (The Erotic Dreams Of Mizulina) portrays the conservative politician Yelena Mizulina as a contortionist, and shows her performing oral sex. The most provocative work, Травести (Travesty), shows President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wearing lingerie.

Art satirising Putin has been censored on several previous occasions. In 2009, Alexander Shednov was arrested after projecting a collage of Putin wearing a dress, and an abstract painting inciting violence against Putin was banned in 2010.


12 August 2013

Understanding Modern Art

...Isms: Understanding Modern Art
...Isms: Understanding Modern Art, by Sam Phillips, is the latest in the ...Isms series that also includes Understanding Architecture and Understanding Cinema. Phillips charts the familiar trajectory of modern and contemporary art movements, from Impressionism onwards.

There is some overlap with ...Isms: Understanding Art by Stephen Little. (Tellingly, Phillips claims that the term 'Sensationalism' was "coined for this book", though in fact it first appeared in Little's book.) To avoid duplicating the illustrations from Little's work, Phillips doesn't include iconic paintings such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon: Cubism, for example, is represented by Gris, instead of Picasso or Braque. This makes the book less useful as an introduction to modern art.

Styles, Schools, & Movements by Amy Dempsey, 100 Artists' Manifestos by Alex Danchev, and Manifesto by Mary Ann Caws all take a similarly 'ismatic' approach to modern art. Dempsey's book, in particular, is a superior guide to modern art 'isms'.

09 August 2013


Next week, there will be another chance to see the Thai political documentary Paradoxocracy. It will be screened on 17th August at the House of Commons cafe in Thonburi.

07 August 2013

My Lunches With Orson

My Lunches With Orson
My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom & Orson Welles was edited by Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. The book is a series of transcripts of conversations recorded at the Ma Maison restaurant in Hollywood, in the years before Welles died.

There's an obvious comparison to be made between My Lunches With Orson and This Is Orson Welles, a book of Peter Bogdanovich's interviews with Welles published in 1992. In fact, Bogdanovich introduced Welles to Jaglom: "In 1970 I had introduced Orson to my old friend, filmmaker Henry Jaglom... When Orson and I fell out, Henry stepped in to fill that sort of role in Orson's life". My Lunches With Orson and This Is Orson Welles both contain transcripts of tapes recorded years before they were published, though their contents are quite different.

This Is Orson Welles was an attempt to preserve Welles's account of his entire life and work, one of several such projects Welles collaborated on shortly before he died. (The others were an authorised biography, Orson Welles by Barbara Leaming; and an extended BBC Arena interview, The Orson Welles Story.) The book was written with Welles's co-operation, and he redacted any material he didn't like. (Welles wrote to Bogdanovich: "I said that [name deleted] ought to be put in jail. Well, let's commute the sentence. The book doesn't need it".)

In contrast, after his conversations with Jaglom, Welles did not collaborate on the editing of My Lunches With Orson. In fact, it's debatable whether or not he even knew that Jaglom planned to publish the material. Thus, the result is far more candid than This Is Orson Welles. Welles is surprisingly frank about his personal life ("I loved her, yeah. Very much. But, by that time, not sexually. I had to work myself up to fuck her") and his associates (including Bogdanovich, who he calls "your friend"; Jaglom reminds him: "He was your friend, too").

Welles sometimes appears pretentious: a simple question from a waiter ("And roast pork?") prompts a long quotation from The Merchant Of Venice ("Bassanio says to Shylock..."), while the waiter waits patiently to take Welles's order. Also, his inability to negotiate is extraordinary: Welles starts pitching a mini-series to an HBO executive, though he gives up almost immediately. The executive insists that "it does interest me very much", though Welles responds defensively: "You're wrong. You're really wrong. Boy, are you wrong". Ultimately, the exasperated executive walks out.

Biskind's introduction to the book is quite superficial, recycling well-known details about Welles's Hollywood productions (from Citizen Kane to Touch Of Evil), but skirting over the Shakespeare films in a single sentence. Biskind also claims that Welles "unofficially directed" The Stranger, although he was officially credited as its director. There's no index, and only limited endnotes.

This Is Orson Welles has a more formal Welles interview, and Discovering Orson Welles and Orson Welles At Work have more research about Welles's career, though My Lunches With Orson is a fascinating series of informal conversations. It's pure gossip, but it reveals another side to one of the cinema's greatest directors.

06 August 2013

Moving Innovation

Moving Innovation
Moving Innovation: A History Of Computer Animation, by Tom Sito, is the first comprehensive history of CGI and digital animation. Sito discusses pioneering computer animators such as John Whitney, computer-game graphics, cinematic visual effects (including Jurassic Park), and animation studios such as Pixar (Toy Story and its sequels).

The book also includes recent developments such as the motion-capture technology used in The Lord Of The Rings (I, II, III), The Hobbit, the recent King Kong remake, and Avatar. It's a useful companion to Cartoons (Giannalberto Bendazzi) and The World Encyclopedia Of Cartoons (Maurice Horn), histories of hand-drawn animation. The first survey of computer art - HW Franke's Computer Graphics, Computer Art - was published over forty years ago.

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
The Creation Of A Classic

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs: The Art & Creation Of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs: The Creation Of A Classic (subtitled The Art & Creation Of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film on the jacket) is the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Walt Disney Family Museum in California last year. The book was written by JB Kaufman, who is also the author of The Fairest One Of All.

The catalogue contains around 200 examples of Snow White production art, though it doesn't feel quite as substantial as The Fairest One Of All. In fact, the strengths of Kaufman's other Snow White book unfortunately don't apply to the catalogue. Also, the catalogue falls into several traps that the other book avoided: chapters titled Collecting The Magic and Celebrating Walt's Genius are too close to 'magic of Disney' studio propaganda.

The Fairest One Of All

The Fairest One Of All
The Fairest One Of All: The Making Of Walt Disney's Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, by JB Kaufman, is a comprehensive account of the production of Snow White, which remains the quintessential Disney animated feature. The book was published by the Walt Disney Family Foundation, which is significant for two reasons: their imprimatur granted Kaufman full access to the Disney archives, though the Foundation is not affiliated with the Disney corporation, so the book is not a product of the 'magical world of Disney' self-mythologising publicity machine.

While not as hagiographic as expected, Kaufman still lavishes praise on the film (comparing it to Intolerance and Citizen Kane) and dismisses criticism of it. After quoting a negative review, for example, he notes that the critic "of course, was not an artist himself, nor did he have the luxury of screening the film repeatedly and studying the animation in detail, as we can do today".

Overall, though, this is a scholarly study of Snow White, not merely a studio puff piece, and Kaufman is careful not to perpetuate the myths associated with the film. He acknowledges, for instance, that "there had been other animated features before this one", and includes two stills from The Adventures Of Prince Achmed.

The book features hundreds of large and full-page colour illustrations of production sketches and other concept art. (Many of these also featured in an exhibition - Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs: The Creation Of A Classic - and its catalogue, also by Kaufman.) The illustrations are accompanied by an extensive history of the film's production, with surprisingly detailed footnotes and appendices.

01 August 2013

101 Greatest Films Of All Time!

Barry Norman's 101 Greatest Films Of All Time Barry Norman's 101 Greatest Films Of All Time
Last year, Radio Times magazine published 101 Greatest Films Of All Time!, a list selected by veteran film critic Barry Norman. Norman chose 100 films, and the 101st entry was selected by the magazine's readers.

The list was categorised by genre and published in two parts, on 21st January (thrillers, romance, family, drama, comedy, and war) and 28th January (action/adventure, musicals, horror, sci-fi, and westerns). The 101st film was announced on 29th February.

Norman previously compiled a 100 Best Films Of The Century list, published in 1992. Radio Times produced a 100 Landmark Films list in 2006, and it publishes the Radio Times Guide To Films annually.

The Landmark Films list, and Norman's own list from 1992, were both far more wide-ranging than Norman's current selection. There are only two foreign-language films in the present list, and it has no silent films at all.

The 101 Greatest Films Of All Time are as follows:

  • GoodFellas
  • Dirty Harry
  • The Big Sleep
  • The Godfather
  • The Silence Of The Lambs
  • LA Confidential
  • North By Northwest
  • Chinatown
  • Psycho
  • The Third Man
  • Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • High Noon
  • Unforgiven
  • The Wild Bunch
  • Shane
  • Red River
  • The Searchers
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Halloween
  • The Exorcist
  • Frankenstein
  • Rosemary's Baby
  • Night Of The Living Dead
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • Casablanca
  • Gone With The Wind
  • A Matter Of Life & Death
  • Brief Encounter
  • It Happened One Night
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • I Know Where I'm Going!
  • Gregory's Girl
  • The Graduate
  • Mary Poppins
  • Great Expectations
  • Toy Story
  • ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Bambi
  • Shrek
  • The Railway Children
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Harry Potter I-VIII
  • Cabaret
  • Moulin Rouge!
  • Singin' In The Rain
  • West Side Story
  • Chicago
  • The Red Shoes
  • My Fair Lady
  • High Society
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Kiss Me Kate
Action & Adventure
  • Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
  • The Adventures Of Robin Hood
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Jaws
  • Gladiator
  • Seven Samurai
  • Lawrence Of Arabia
  • Deliverance
  • The Dark Knight
  • Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The World
  • The Great Escape
  • Apocalypse Now
  • To Be Or Not To Be
  • The Bridge On The River Kwai
  • Dr Strangelove
  • Paths Of Glory
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Shoah
  • The Cruel Sea
  • Schindler's List
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • Citizen Kane
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Raging Bull
  • Bad Day At Black Rock
  • 12 Angry Men
  • All About Eve
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
  • Alien
  • Blade Runner
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Annie Hall
  • Groundhog Day
  • Ninotchka
  • Airplane!
  • Duck Soup
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Kind Hearts & Coronets
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • Monty Python & The Holy Grail
  • Pulp Fiction
There are more than 101 films on the list, as all eight Harry Potter films are listed as a single entry. Note that Frankenstein is the James Whale version from 1931, not the earlier Thomas Edison silent version. Also, Some Like It Hot is the Billy Wilder classic from 1959, not the obscure 1939 film of the same name. There have been numerous adaptations of Romeo & Juliet; the one listed here is the Baz Luhrmann version from 1996.

29 July 2013

Tears Of The Black Tiger

Tears Of The Black Tiger
Wisit Sasanatieng's classic Tears Of The Black Tiger will be screened at the Thai Film Archive on 31st July. Tears Of The Black Tiger was also shown as part of the BACC Cinema Diverse season last year. It was screened previously at the Thai Film Archive in 2010 and 2009.

Tears Of The Black Tiger was Wisit's debut film. It's a camp and melodramatic tribute to vintage Thai cinema - if Douglas Sirk had made a spaghetti western with Andy Warhol, it might have looked something like this. Wisit's other films are the romantic fantasy Citizen Dog, the period ghost story The Unseeable, and the action film The Red Eagle. He has also directed the short film Norasinghavatar, the music video เราเป็นคนไทย, and a segment of the portmanteau film Sawasdee Bangkok.

26 July 2013

The Art Museum

The Art Museum
The Art Museum
The Art Museum, edited by Amanda Renshaw and published by Phaidon, is an enormous history of art that weighs more than eight kilos (as heavy as Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon). The book is divided into 'galleries' and 'rooms', instead of chapters, and it contains photographs of more than 2,500 works of art.

The illustrations are most impressive when they are presented as full-page images or double-page spreads (such as the tapestry The Lady & The Unicorn), though some major works are represented by smaller pictures and each 'room' includes only a handful of exhibits. Each section has a brief introduction for context, though the large-scale illustrations are clearly the main focus (as they are in The Art Book and The 20th Century Art Book, also from Phaidon).

22 July 2013

Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives
Only God Forgives, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, stars Ryan Gosling as an American drug dealer running a boxing club in Bangkok. (Lost In Thailand and other films have also been set here.) Refn and Gosling previously collaborated, more successfully, on Drive.

Gosling's brother murders a Thai prostitute, and her father kills him in revenge. The father then has his hand cut off by a corrupt Thai cop wielding a sword. Gosling's mother arrives in Bangkok, and asks Gosling to avenge his brother's death. Tougher than Gosling's conflicted, Oedipal character, she dominates each of her scenes, largely because everyone else is so blank.

The film's cinematography, by Larry Smith, is outstanding, with its film noir shadows and circle-of-hell red lighting. Smith worked with Stanley Kubrick on several films, and Only God Forgives is very Kubrickian with its slow zooms and symmetrical compositions.

In another similarity with Kubrick, the characters in Only God Forgives are unrealistic and impassive; they sit perfectly still or walk slowly in long, silent sequences punctuated only by loud footsteps. Strange, stilted karaoke scenes add to the sense of unreality.

Gosling's character is potentially interesting (a drug-dealing gangster with a conscience), though his moral ambiguities are never explored. There is a single chase sequence, and occasional bursts of graphic, ritualistic violence, as the cop tortures everyone connected with the prostitute's death, though the film's inertia and lack of suspense make it unsuccessful as a thriller.

17 July 2013


Nontawat Numbenchapol's Boundary, a documentary about the disputed Preah Vihear Temple in Cambodia, will be screened in Bangkok from tomorrow. The film is politically sensitive: last month, the Ministry of Culture announced that it had been banned, though two days later they performed a suspicious U-turn, explaining that the earlier announcement had been made by an unauthorised sub-committee.

A cut was required before the film was eventually approved by the Ministry of Culture: background audio of a crowd chanting "Long live the king!" at a New Year countdown was muted. Inexplicably, the film received a restrictive '18' rating.

Unable to secure regular theatrical distribution, Nontawat has been forced to negotiate with cinemas independently, selling tickets personally in the lobby of each venue. After screenings upcountry earlier this month, he is bringing the film to Bangkok's Esplanade cinema for four days, from 18th to 21st July. Nontawat will be present for a Q&A after each screening; he took part in Freedom On Film last month.

Boundary is composed largely of silent, still sequences depicting the serenity of rural life, as a counterpoint to the fierce border dispute surrounding the temple. Nontawat begins by interviewing Aod, a young soldier, in his home village. Idyllic sequences of novice monks bathing and Aod's father fishing are contrasted with Aod describing his military conscription and the army's crackdown against the red-shirts.

After footage of the Thai military firing at their Cambodian counterparts near Preah Vihear, we see damage to houses and a school close to the temple, caused by bombs and gunfire from Cambodian troops. Finally, at the end of the film, Nontawat's camera explores the temple itself, the ruined Khmer compound that has caused such bloodshed and ultra-nationalism in the past few years.

The sensitivity surrounding Boundary follows the equally controversial political documentary Paradoxocracy, whose release was similarly delayed. Paradoxocracy was screened at Esplanade and Paragon, though incredibly the cinemas actually discouraged customers from seeing it: screenings were not advertised or listed online, and callers were told that the film was unavailable.

Encounter Thailand

Encounter Thailand
I have interviewed actor Ananda Everingham as the cover feature for the July issue of Encounter Thailand magazine (In Bed With Ananda, on pages 26-33). The article has also been translated into Thai.

For the June cover story, I interviewed Pla Komaratat and Kay Sitongdee, and I interviewed Apichatpong Weerasethakul for the May issue. I edited the February, March, and April issues. My previous articles were published in October, November, and December last year.


The 100 All-Time Greatest Movies

The 100 All-Time Greatest
Yesterday, Entertainment Weekly magazine published a special edition ranking the all-time greatest films, TV programmes, albums, and novels. The magazine's managing editor Jess Cagle explains that the lists were compiled by "writers and editors from each section [of the magazine] overseen by EW editors Jeff Giles and Jason Adams".

The 100 All-Time Greatest Movies list is surprisingly traditional, dominated by the 'golden age' of Hollywood. In fact, only four films on the list (The Dark Knight, The Lord Of The Rings III, The Hurt Locker, and There Will Be Blood) were released after 2000. Silent films are equally marginalised: there are only three examples included, all of which are American (The Gold Rush, Sunrise, and Intolerance).

Citizen Kane is restored to its regular #1 position, after being usurped by Vertigo in last year's Sight & Sound list; in contrast, Entertainment Weekly ranks Vertigo at only #38. When Entertainment Weekly published its original 100 Greatest Movies list in 1999, The Godfather was #1 and Citizen Kane was #2, though now their positions have been reversed. The 1999 list contained slightly more foreign-language and silent films than the 2013 version.

The 100 All-Time Greatest Movies, according to Entertainment Weekly, are as follows:

1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
3. Casablanca
4. Bonnie & Clyde
5. Psycho
6. It's A Wonderful Life
7. Mean Streets
8. The Gold Rush
9. Nashville
10. Gone With The Wind
11. King Kong
12. The Searchers
13. Annie Hall
14. Bambi
15. Blue Velvet
16. Singin' In The Rain
17. Seven Samurai
18. Jaws
19. Pulp Fiction
20. The Sorrow & The Pity
21. Some Like It Hot
22. Toy Story
23. Notorious
24. The Sound Of Music
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey
26. Bicycle Thieves
27. The Maltese Falcon
28. The Wizard Of Oz
29. North By Northwest
30. Sunrise
31. Chinatown
32. Duck Soup
33. The Graduate
34. Adam's Rib
35. Apocalypse Now
36. Rosemary's Baby
37. Manhattan
38. Vertigo
39. The Rules Of The Game
40. Double Indemnity
41. The Road Warrior
42. Taxi Driver
43. The Lord Of The Rings III: The Return Of The King
44. On The Waterfront
45. Mr Smith Goes To Washington
46. The Adventures Of Robin Hood
47. A Clockwork Orange
48. It Happened One Night
49. Goldfinger
50. Intolerance
51. A Hard Day's Night
52. Titanic
53. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
54. Breathless
55. Frankenstein
56. Schindler's List
57. Midnight Cowboy
58. The Seventh Seal
59. All The President's Man
60. Top Hat
61. The Silence Of The Lambs
62. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
63. Network
64. The Best Years Of Our Lives
65. Last Tango In Paris
66. The Shining
67. Rebel Without A Cause
68. GoodFellas
69. Dr Strangelove
70. L'Avventura
71. American Graffiti
72. The 400 Blows
73. Cabaret
74. The Hurt Locker
75. Touch Of Evil
76. Lawrence Of Arabia
77. Dog Day Afternoon
78. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
79. Night Of The Living Dead
80. Dazed & Confused
81. Blade Runner
82. Scenes From A Marriage
83. The Wild Bunch
84. Olympia
85. Dirty Harry
86. All About Eve
87. La Dolce Vita
88. The Dark Knight
89. Woodstock
90. The French Connection
91. Do The Right Thing
92. The Piano
93. A Face In The Crowd
94. Brokeback Mountain
95. Rushmore
96. Sullivan's Travels
97. Diner
98. All About My Mother
99. There Will Be Blood
100. Sweet Smell Of Success

Note that Frankenstein is the James Whale version and Titanic is the James Cameron version. Some Like It Hot is the 1959 classic, not the obscure 1939 comedy.

16 July 2013

Encounter Thailand

Encounter Thailand
I interviewed film producers Kay Sitongdee and Pla Komaratat as the cover feature for the June issue of Encounter Thailand magazine (Free As A Bird, on pages 28-31). The article has also been translated into Thai.

I've written a feature on the Thai ghost Mae Nak, for the same issue, reviewing the new film Pee Mak Phra Kanong (the most successful Thai film ever made). The article (The Haunted Screen, on pages 32-33) traces Mae Nak's extensive film appearances, including the classic Nang Nak.

I interviewed Apichatpong Weerasethakul for the May issue of the magazine, and I edited the February, March, and April issues. My previous articles were published in October, November, and December last year.


03 July 2013

La Vie De Mahomet

La Vie De Mahomet
The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has published the second part of its comic biography of Mohammed, La Vie De Mahomet, by Stephane Charbonnier and Zineb el Rhazoui. The comic depicts Mohammed's adult life, and is subtitled Le Prophete De L'Islam. The first part, which dealt with Mohammed's childhood, was published earlier this year.

Charlie Hebdo first published a Mohammed cartoon appeared in 2002, followed by a front-page Mohammed caricature in 2006. This was followed by a Charia Hebdo edition 'guest-edited' by Mohammed in 2011, and a naked Mohammed caricature last September (criticising the protests against Innocence Of Muslims).

Mohammed cartoons first caused controversy when a dozen of them were published by Jyllands-Posten in 2005. Since then, many other newspapers and magazines have also printed Mohammed caricatures: Weekendavisen, France Soir, The Guardian, Philadelphia Daily News, Le Monde, Liberation, Het Nieuwsblad, The Daily Tar Heel, Akron Beacon Journal, The Strand, Nana, Gorodskiye Vesti, Adresseavisen, Uke-Adressa, Harper's, and the International Herald Tribune (in 2006 and 2012).