10 October 2014

Ugetsu

Ugetsu
Bangkok's Japan Foundation will screen Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu this evening. Ugetsu, one of the greatest of all Japanese films, was previously shown at the Foundation last year.

05 October 2014

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
The 2014 edition of Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die has been published. Like last year's tenth anniversary edition, it's been revised by Ian Haydn Smith. After the substantial changes made last time, this year's list follows the pattern of previous editions (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), substituting only a handful of very recent films.

This year's thirteen new entries are: The Wolf Of Wall Street, Gravity, Twelve Years A Slave, A Touch Of Sin, American Hustle, Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Great Beauty, The Act Of Killing, Wadjda, Blancanieves, and Nostalgia For The Light. The thirteen deletions are: Argo, Les Miserables, Skyfall, Bridesmaids, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Le Havre, Shame, The King's Speech, Of Gods & Men, No Country For Old Men, Little Miss Sunshine, The Departed, and Inglourious Basterds.

PDF

Comics: A Global History

Comics: A Global History
Comics: A Global History, 1968 To The Present (by Dan Mazur and Alexander Danner) is one of the few books to offer an international history of comic art. Most surveys have focused exclusively on either American comics or Japanese manga, though Comics: A Global History covers the US, Japan, and Europe. So, while it's not quite global in scope, it's more inclusive than previous books on the subject.

The authors begin their history in 1968, which they describe as "a watershed year in which a number of comics creators in Japan, America and Europe began to aggressively demonstrate that comics could be more than an ephemeral vehicle for children's entertainment". (That year marked the birth of the alternative comix movement.) The introduction summarises 1950s and 1960s comic history, a useful extension of the book's chronology.

The key artists and comics of the post-war era (Robert Crumb's Zap, Alan Moore's Watchmen, "God of Manga" Osamu Tezuka) are all included, as are the major international forms of comic art ("bande dessinee, manga, fumetti, tebeos, historietas, komiks") and their more literary sub-genres ("fumetti d'autore" and "bande dessinee romanesque"). Various manga formats and styles ("gekiga", "akahon", "kashihon", "shojo", "shonen", "seinen", "josei", and "watakushi") are explored, though the classifications are a little bewildering, as the authors recognise: "Categories diversified... The distinctions were blurry at times, and the terminology was fluid."

Aside from the major comic markets, the book also finds space for some less familiar territories, such as a brief history and taxonomy of South Korean "manhwa" (sub-divided into "ddakji", "sun-jung", and "myongnang"). Roger Sabin's Comics, Comix, & Graphic Novels and Maurice Horn's World Encyclopedia Of Comics (both of which cover the entire history of comics) are still essential reading, though Comics: A Global History is a unique international study of modern comics.

03 October 2014

Fifty Years Of Illustration

Fifty Years Of Illustration
Fifty Years Of Illustration, by Lawrence Zeegen and Caroline Roberts, profiles influential illustrators and graphic artists since the 1960s. The five chapters all cover different decades, though the emphasis is on contemporary examples, with the final chapter (the 2000s) being twice as long as the others. (Curiously, although Zeegen and Roberts are named as co-authors on the cover and title page, the text is credited solely to Zeegen, and Roberts is merely listed as one of four picture researchers.)

Each artist has either a single-page entry or a double-page spread, with a capsule biography and examples of key works. Some notable entries include Milton Glaser (one of America's most celebrated graphic designers), Robert Crumb (the comic-strip artist who created the alternative Zap Comix), Gerald Scarfe (the Sunday Times cartoonist), Fritz Eichenberg (an engraver, and author of the excellent The Art Of The Print), and Shepard Fairey (the street artist whose Hope poster became a symbol of Barack Obama's election campaign).

While the glossy, colour photographs are impressive, the text is less substantial. Each chapter begins with an overview of the decade in design, contextualised with details of contemporaneous news events. In the final chapter, for example, we learn that "on 26 January 2001 an earthquake hit Gujarat in India killing around 20,000 people". These news summaries seem like padding, and they're irrelevant in a book about illustration.

The bibliography is another weak point: only eighteen books are listed, five of which were written by Zeegen himself. All of the works cited were published in the last two decades, thus classic texts such as A History Of Graphic Design (Philip Meggs) and History Of The Poster (Josef and Shizuko Muller-Brockmann) aren't included. Also, two children's history books are listed (!), though I have no idea why.

In his introduction, Zeegen recognises that the book's fifty-year time-frame is "a mere slice of the discipline's rich heritage". Illustration: A Visual History, by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast (who has an entry in Fifty Years Of Illustration) covers illustration from the Victorian era onwards, and is therefore more highly recommended as an introduction to illustration. A History Of Book Illustration, by David Bland, is the most comprehensive book on the subject.

The book's publisher, Laurence King, has produced definitive histories of various artistic disciplines, including A World History Of Art, A World History Of Architecture, A History Of Interior Design, Graphic Design: A New History, History Of Modern Design, and Photography: A Cultural History. Fifty Years Of Illustration is less ambitious, though it is useful as a sourcebook of modern and contemporary illustration.

01 October 2014

The Innovators

The Innovators
The Innovators is Walter Isaacson's (potted) history of computing and the internet. Each chapter explores a particular aspect of digital technology: the computer, video games, the internet, the PC, the web, etc. (though not social media). Isaacson's focus is on the gestation and birth of each innovation, and the primary innovators responsible, rather than a comprehensive survey of every subsequent development.

Therefore, this is a book about pioneers and their inventions. They include Alan Turing (who theorised a Logical Computing Machine), Steve Russell (creator of Spacewar, the first graphical computer game), Nolan Bushnell (who popularised video games with Pong), Bill Gates (co-founder of Microsoft), Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple), Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the world wide web), and Larry Page (co-founder of Google). The book also recognises the extensive contributions made by women in what is often perceived as a male-dominated field.

Isaacson has interviewed many of the pioneers he profiles (all of the living ones, it seems), and his list of sources includes practically every major figure in digital culture. (He interviewed Steve Jobs extensively for his acclaimed biography in 2011; in The Innovators, he states plainly what he merely implied in the biography: that Jobs "filched the [GUI] concept from Xerox".) A History Of The Internet & The Digital Future, by Johnny Ryan, covers broadly the same territory as The Innovators, though Isaacson's book benefits from its author's unrivalled access to the key players involved.

The Innovators (subtitled: How A Group Of Hackers, Geniuses, & Geeks Created The Digital Revolution) might not be "the standard history of the digital revolution", as its dust jacket predicts. But it's surely the most authoritative history of the eureka moments that transformed computing.

30 September 2014

Radio Times Guide To Films 2015

Radio Times Guide To Films 2015
The Radio Times Guide To Films 2015, edited by Sue Robinson, will soon become the last remaining comprehensive annual film guide. Printed reference books such as this are an endangered species, as publishers react to the migration of information online. (Several dictionary and encyclopedia publishers have already announced that they will no longer be releasing printed versions of their flagship titles.)

Halliwell's Film Guide, for many years the standard UK film guide, died an undignified death with its The Movies That Matter edition in 2008. Its rivals, including the Virgin Film Guide (which featured longer reviews) and Elliot's Guide To Films On Video, were much more short-lived. The Time Out Film Guide (more opinionated and less mainstream) was cancelled in 2012. In America, Leonard Maltin's annual guide was split into separate Classic and Modern editions, and will no longer be printed at all after this year. VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever is still published annually, though it cuts more entries each year and is limited to films released on video.

Radio Times film reviews are all available online for free (as are Time Out's), so it's surprising that their annual Film Guide remains a viable proposition. The cover illustration - the poster for Jaws - perhaps indicates (like the Fistful Of Dollars cover from last year) that the book is aimed at an older demographic which has not yet switched over to online sources such as the IMDb.

There are precisely 23,099 entries in the new edition, including 547 new films; last year's edition contained 23,068 entries, thus there have been almost as many deletions as additions. In a spurious attempt to appear as up-to-date as possible, the Film Guide includes previews of forthcoming films, which are then rewritten as reviews in the following year's edition. This year, there are eighty-seven previews, which presumably will be converted into reviews for the 2016 edition.

The new reviews this year include Noah ("an impressive spectacle"), The Hobbit II ("dramatic tension comes in fits and starts"), and The Wind Rises ("older viewers and fans will be enchanted by this modest entry in Miyazaki's canon"). Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street receives a five-star review ("an exhilarating story of decadence and debauchery", as does Gravity ("breathtaking").

The Radio Times Film Guide had a little-known predecessor: the Radio Times Film & Video Guide, written by Derek Winnert and published in 1993 and 1994. It was pulped, and Winnert was dismissed as Radio Times film editor, after a plagiarism lawsuit from the publishers of Halliwell's.

26 September 2014

12th World Film Festival of Bangkok

12th World Film Festival of Bangkok
Metropolis
Metropolis
Pierrot Le Fou
The 12th World Film Festival of Bangkok opens next month. One of this year's highlights will be Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis, restored with almost thirty minutes of additional footage from a 16mm Brazilian print, screening on 23rd and 25th October. (Metropolis was previously shown at the inaugural World Film Festival in 2003.) This year's Festival also includes Pierrot Le Fou, one of Jean-Luc Godard's early French New Wave films, showing on 21st and 26th October (previously screened as part of The Godard Week in 2010).

The Festival begins on 17th October, and runs until 26th October. Like the 11th Festival, it will be held at the SF World cinema, CentralWorld. (The 6th, 7th, and 8th Festivals were held at Paragon Cineplex; the 5th, 9th, and 10th took place at Esplanade Cineplex.) The Festival is organised by Kriengsak Silakong, who I interviewed for Encounter Thailand.

21 September 2014

Once Upon A Celluloid Planet

Once Upon A Celluloid Planet
Once Upon A Celluloid Planet: Where Cinema Ruled - Hearts and Houses of Films in Thailand is a unique photographic guide to Thailand's stand-alone cinemas, movie palaces from the pre-multiplex era. Sonthaya Subyen and Morimart Raden-Ahmad have photographed more than sixty cinemas, documenting their marquees, box offices, auditoriums, and projection booths. Many of these once-luxurious movie theatres are now derelict (such as Siam Theatre, destroyed by arsonists in 2010), though the splendid Scala cinema remains in business.

The book also includes nostalgic essays by writers and directors, such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who ends his piece with this comparison: "Tens of thousands of years ago, when our ancestors were living in caves, they often drew on the walls of the cave, showing us how they lived their lives. It seems to be an unknown force in our blood. Looking at it like this, you could say that cinemas, whether inside or outside department stores, are our modern day caves."

There are also chapters devoted to unusual forms of film promotion, from glass slides to painted mud flaps. The 500-page book - a valuable record of social history, film culture, and architecture - is part of the Filmvirus series, which also includes a monograph on Apichatpong, Unknown Forces. (A Century Of Thai Cinema, by Dome Sukwong, also features a few pages of vintage cinema photographs.)

18 September 2014

Turning Point 1997-2008

Turning Point 1997-2008
Hayao Miyazaki's autobiographical Turning Point 1997-2008 is a collection of articles and interviews related to his films Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo. It's a translation of the Japanese 折り返し点 1997-2008, and a sequel to Miyazaki's first anthology, Starting Point 1979-1996. Miyazaki himself was surprisingly reluctant to publish it: "A book that has collected the likes of talks I have given here and there, or what I was obliged to say, or what I wrote because I was asked to write something seems to me to reveal evidence of my shame. So, frankly, I'm not too happy about it."

The book provides useful access to material previously available only in Japan. Fortunately, the chapters on Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki's first international success) and Spirited Away (his masterpiece) are the most extensive, with in-depth interviews and production notes. The Howl's Moving Castle chapter, however, has only a tangential connection to the film, and the final chapter includes only two short articles on Ponyo. It's odd that Turning Point was published some six years after the Japanese edition, and that it contains no new material on Ponyo or Miyazaki's final film, The Wind Rises. (One of the book's translators, Frederik L Schodt, wrote Manga! Manga!: The World Of Japanese Comics.)

12 September 2014

Basic Mathematics

Basic Mathematics
Member 247
A textbook has been withdrawn from colleges in Thailand after a student pointed out that one of its photographs was taken from a Japanese porn website. The book, Basic Mathematics, features a cover photo of Mana Aoki posing as a teacher. The image was taken from a publicity still for the 'adult' film Costume Play Working Girl, available on the Member 247 website.

The photo was edited for the textbook cover: the Japanese text on Aoki's binder was replaced with the word "Mathematics", and the original classroom background was replaced with mathematical charts. The Vocational Education Commission, which distributed 3,000 copies of the book, admitted that the cover illustrations were randomly chosen from an internet image search, with an apparent disregard for copyright and suitability.

There have been previous textbook controversies in other countries, related to religious imagery rather than porn stars. A French textbook was censored in 2009, as it included a medieval illustration of Mohammed. There were protests in India in 2011, after a cartoon featuring Mohammed was included in a school textbook.

10 September 2014

The Making Of Gone With The Wind

The Making Of Gone With The Wind
Gone With The Wind, "the quintessential film of Hollywood's Golden Age", had three directors (Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and Sam Wood, with only Fleming receiving credit), though producer David O Selznick was the film's main auteur. The Making Of Gone With The Wind, by Steve Wilson, contains more than 600 items from the Selznick archive at the Harry Ransom Center in Texas, to accompany an exhibition which opened yesterday at the University of Texas.

The book includes correspondence from Selznick (with transcriptions of each document in a fifty-page appendix), concept artwork (including stunning drawings by production designer William Cameron Menzies), and on-set photographs. The material is presented chronologically, and the large (often full-page) photos are reproduced with surprising clarity considering they're seventy-five years old.

Selznick sought to adapt novels as faithfully as possible, a process he called 'pictorialization'; this literary approach, and his endless memos, led to creative tensions with his directors. (Thomas Schatz's book The Genius Of The System and the documentary Hitchcock, Selznick, & The End Of Hollywood discuss this further.) Alfred Hitchcock made Rebecca, Spellbound, The Paradine Case, and Notorious while under contract to Selznick; the villain of Rear Window resembles Selznick, and in North By Northwest, Roger O Thornhill's middle initial stands for "Nothing" in a reference to Selznick's similar affectation.

David Thomson (author of Moments That Made The Movies, The Big Screen, Have You Seen...?, The Moment Of Psycho, and A Biographical Dictionary Of Film) wrote the TV documentary Gone With The Wind: The Making Of A Legend, which was broadcast on the launch night of TNT, 3rd October 1988. The 70th and 75th anniversary Gone With The Wind DVD/blu-ray releases include a slim book featuring Selznick archive material, and reproductions of Selznick's memos.

05 September 2014

Photography Will Be

これからの写真
おれと
おれと
An exhibition at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art has been censored by police in Japan. Photography Will Be includes photographs by Ryudai Takano depicting himself and various male models posing nude. The photos were initially exhibited uncensored, despite Japanese obscenity laws prohibiting frontal nudity, though some visitors complained to the police.

On 13th August, instead of removing the twelve photographs (from a series titled おれと), the Museum draped translucent white sheets over them to partially obscure the nudity. Of course, this has also drawn attention to the censorship. The exhibition opened on 1st August, and runs until 28th September.

25 August 2014

The Routledge Encyclopedia Of Films

The Routledge Encyclopedia Of Films
The Routledge Encyclopedia Of Films, edited by Sabine Haenni, Sarah Barrow, and John White, is a survey of "world, classical ('classic') and independent cinema over the past 100 years". From the same publisher as the excellent Encyclopedia Of Early Cinema, the Encyclopedia Of Films contains 195 entries, covering 197 films (with the Three Colours trilogy treated as a single entry). The selected films each receive a fairly substantial analysis, in essays of around 2,000 words.

The editors begin their introduction by emphasising that they have selected a representative sample of films rather than a list of masterpieces: "This book is not an attempt to assert that the films discussed here are the 'greatest' or 'best' films ever made by film-makers from around the world." In fact, they reject the notion of a hierarchy of classic films: "There is neither effort, nor wish, to promote a particular canon of world cinema." Nevertheless, their selection does appear canonical, which I would argue is a strength rather than a weakness.

The Encyclopedia is similar to the first volume of the International Dictionary Of Films & Filmmakers, edited by Nicolet V Elert and Aruna Vasudevan. The International Dictionary's essays on each film are slightly shorter than the Routledge Encyclopedia's, though in other respects the Dictionary is superior. It covers almost 500 more films, and many of its entries include large stills, while the Encyclopedia is not illustrated. The Dictionary provides extensive bibliographies for each entry, while the Encyclopedia has only a handful of references per film. Also, the Dictionary's contributors include many first-rate film critics and historians (Erik Barnouw, John Baxter, Michel Ciment, David Cook, Douglas Gomery, Nick James, Kim Newman, Gene D Phillips...), in contrast to the lesser-known contributors to the Encyclopedia.

PDF

24 August 2014

18th Thai Short Film & Video Festival

18th Thai Short Film & Video Festival
ยานศรนารายณ์
The 18th Thai Short Film & Video Festival opens on 28th August at BACC in Bangkok. The Festival will run until 7th September, and all screenings are free. The 11th Festival was held at Bangkok's now-closed EGV Grand Discovery cinema, though the 12th, 13th, and all subsequent festivals have been held at BACC.

The film ยานศรนารายณ์: ระหว่างวงโคจรดาวอังคารและดาวพฤหัสฯ, which was previously shown as part of the pre-Festival Marathon, will be screened on 31st August. A prophetic film, it was inspired by George Orwell's 1984 and produced before that novel became a symbol of the anti-coup movement. It's an extract from a feature-length film, though some of the dialogue has been self-censored to avoid accusations of lèse-majesté. The credits have also been blacked out, and the film was submitted to the Festival anonymously. (I'm sworn to secrecy.) Another extract from the same film was screened as a stand-alone short in 2012.

22 August 2014

Prime Minister Prayut

Prayut Chan-o-cha, the leader of this year's coup, was appointed (or anointed) Prime Minister yesterday. The National Legislative Assembly voted 191-0 in favour of Prayut's appointment. There were no alternative candidates, no dissenting votes, and Prayut was not even present to accept the nomination.

The result was hardly surprising, as most NLA members are military officers and all were chosen by Prayut's NCPO. Earlier this week, the Assembly approved the NCPO's budget proposal by a vote of 183-0, again without any dissenting votes. It's clear that the NLA is merely a rubber-stamp legislature, with no inclination or ability to challenge Prayut or the NCPO. As army chief, head of the NCPO, and Prime Minister, Prayut now wields almost absolute power.

Since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thai politics has been dominated by frequent periods of military rule, punctuated by occasional democratic administrations. There have been numerous coups and massacres, though no military leaders have ever faced prosecution. (Indeed, the leader of the 2006 coup subsequently became an elected MP, and the interim constitution grants an amnesty to Prayut's NCPO.)

15 August 2014

เจ้าสาวหมาป่า

เจ้าสาวหมาป่า
Two members of the Prakai Fai Karn Lakorn theatre group have been arrested, following a police investigation into a play staged by the group last year. The play, เจ้าสาวหมาป่า, was performed at Thammasat University on 6th and 13th October, as part of a week-long commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 pro-democracy student uprising.

Several members of the theatre group were interviewed by police in November last year. In June this year, they were summoned by the NCPO and questioned about the play. One of the actors, Patiwat Saraiyaem, was formally charged with lèse-majesté yesterday, and writer/director Prontip Mankong was charged with the same offence today.

12 August 2014

"NCPO Announcements...
shall be all deemed lawful"

In June, NCPO leader Prayut Chan-o-cha announced his three-step pathway to a new election following this year's coup. Now it seems that the country has entered the second phase of Prayut's plan, as anti-coup protests have fizzled out and the NCPO has begun establishing an interim government.

The prospect of military detention and court martial has successfully deterred any anti-coup activity, and even symbolic protests have now stopped. Instead of promoting reconciliation, police encouraged people to submit photographs of protesters, for a 500 baht reward. After the last protest, on 8th June, the deputy police chief claimed that the protesters "are causing damage to our country... They are creating a bad image for the foreigners." Apparently he didn't consider the image created by 5,000 soldiers on the streets of Bangkok.

A propaganda campaign to "bring back happiness" has been launched by the military, with free entertainment being provided in partnership with the private sector. Thousands of free tickets to see the patriotic film The Legend Of King Naresuan V were distributed on 15th June. (Cinemas were required to install CCTV cameras to record and identify any patrons who left the screenings early.) Rights-holder RS was persuaded to allow World Cup football matches to be broadcast on the army's terrestrial television channels 5 and 7. Prayut has issued a list of twelve values that children should uphold; incredibly, one of these values is "Correct understanding of democracy".

In another PR exercise, army spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatiphak gave a press conference at the FCCT in Bangkok on 11th June, euphemistically describing the military takeover as an "intervention" rather than a coup. He insisted that people were "invited", rather than 'detained', by the military; implausibly, he claimed that former PM Yingluck "was free to go back home on the same day." After Same Sky editor Thanapol Eawsakul's detention, a colonel explained that they would "interrogate him and re-adjust his attitude", in contrast to the rosy picture painted by Weerachon. Some detainees have even accused the army of torture.

To demonstrate its commitment to the country's administration, the NCPO has already allocated billions of dollars to pay for new policies and infrastructure projects. The first of these was a pledge to reimburse the farmers who had not been paid following Yingluck's rice subsidy scheme. The NCPO also announced transportation megaprojects, including two high-speed train lines. When Yingluck proposed a similar plan, with almost exactly the same budget, it was vetoed by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that high-speed rail was not necessary in Thailand. Yet the NCPO's almost identical proposal has attracted no such comments.

Martial law also precludes any debate on the NCPO's interim constitution, which was published on 22nd July. The constitution includes an amnesty for the coup leaders, as did the 2007 charter: "Amnesty shall be granted to NCPO and NCPO leaders, as well as individuals who take part in or conduct actions related to taking control over state administration" (article 48). When Yingluck proposed a political amnesty last year, she was criticised by all sides, triggering the PDRC protest, though there has been no criticism of the military's amnesty. The constitution also states: "NCPO Announcements and Orders... shall be all deemed lawful, constitutional and final" (article 44), effectively giving Prayut absolute power.

The National Legislative Assembly, appointed by the NCPO, held its first session on 7th August. 105 of its 200 members are serving or retired military officers. Next week, the NLA will vote for a Prime Minister, and Prayut is widely expected to be chosen.

The Bangkok Post's military reporter, Wassana Nanuam, is known for her high-placed sources, though maintaining this access to top-level military personnel also compromises her objectivity. She wrote an especially obsequious article on 19th June, almost begging Prayut to become PM: "Confidence in Gen. Prayut is overwhelming. Many Thais think we are in dire need of a strong, decisive leader... In their view, Gen Prayut is a hero who has freed the country from its troubles." As is the case with the lèse-majesté law, absolute censorship means that only hagiography is permitted.

07 August 2014

The Making of Stanley Kubrick's
2001: A Space Odyssey

The Making Of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Making Of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Making Of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Making Of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Making Of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, written by Piers Bizony and published by Taschen, is the most comprehensive guide to Kubrick's greatest film. It consists of four books: two hardbacks in a sleek metal box that resembles the monolith from 2001, and two paperbacks. (It also comes with a reprint of a Mad magazine comic parody of 2001.)

The most substantial volume (a tall, narrow hardback with many fold-out pages) is an expanded and completely revised edition of Bizony's 2001: Filming The Future, documenting "the story of the world's most impressive science-fiction film". It includes concept art and hundreds of photographs from the Stanley Kubrick Archive, though surprisingly there are no reproductions of Kubrick's notes or correspondence. There are limited footnotes and an equally brief bibliography.

The other hardback volume, titled 2001: A Space Odyssey, a wide book that echoes the film's widescreen format, is a collection of stills from the film. The frame-enlargements are noticeably darker than they appear in the film itself, in contrast to the bright, glossy stills in The Stanley Kubrick Archives (also published by Taschen).

The paperback volumes are facsimiles of two pre-production documents: 2001: A Space Odyssey - Script (Kubrick's annotated copy of the prose treatment, written by Arthur C Clarke), and 2001: A Space Odyssey - Notes (production notes compiled by Victor Lyndon). However, there are no drafts of the screenplay, nor Kubrick's special-effects notes. Separate from the metal slipcase, and not matching the two black hardbacks, the paperbacks seem rather incongruous, and it's odd that the entire set wasn't produced in hardback with a wider slipcase. (At least the paperbacks would look better without their dust jackets.)

The book was designed by M/M, who also created Taschen's book about Kubrick's Napoleon. Like Napoleon, The Making Of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 is a limited collector's edition: only 1,500 copies are available (mine being #1,368), all neatly signed by Kubrick's widow, Christiane. Napoleon, with ten volumes all contained within an enormous book, was a more substantial and integrated tribute to a Kubrick project, though such a definitive book on 2001 may be impossible, due to the sheer quantity of archive material. One indication of the attention to detail in the book's design is that its title is rendered as 2OO1 (using capital Os rather than zeros), as in the film's title sequence.

There are already numerous books devoted to 2001, including The Making Of Kubrick's 2001 (by Jerome Agel), The Making Of 2001: A Space Odyssey (by Stephanie Schwam), 2001 Memories (by Gary Lockwood), Moonwatcher's Memoir (by Dan Richter), 2001: The Lost Science (by Adam K Johnson), Are We Alone? (by Anthony Frewin), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (by Peter Kramer). The 2001 File (by Christopher Frayling) will be published in the near future.

Visual Project: Creativities Unfold 2012

Visual Project: Creativities Unfold 2012
Every day this month, Bangkok's TCDC will screen highlights from its Creativities Unfold 2012 event, as part of the Visual Project series. Creativities Unfold is TCDC's annual design seminar; the theme for 2012 was Design Is Opportunities, and the speakers included Dieter Dams, one of the greatest living designers. (Previous Visual Project seasons have included Woody Allen films and Picasso documentaries.)

05 August 2014

Doppelganger Month

Cult Movie Night
Persona
Bangkok's Jam Cafe is hosting a Doppelganger season this month, as part of its regular Cult Movie Night event. The season includes Ingmar Bergman's Persona, which will be screened on 13th August. (Previous Cult Movie Night seasons have included American Independent Month, Anime Month, 'So Bad It's Good' Month, Philip Seymour Hoffman Month, and Noir Month.)

02 August 2014

18th Short Film Marathon

Short Film & Video Marathon
ยานศรนารายณ์
The 18th Thai Short Film & Video Festival will begin later this month, screening a selection of around sixty titles chosen from over 500 films submitted. Before the Festival opens, all 500+ submissions are being screened at BACC from 2nd July until 6th August. All screenings are free.

Tomorrow's Marathon session includes the short film ยานศรนารายณ์: ระหว่างวงโคจรดาวอังคารและดาวพฤหัสฯ. The film was made by a recognised Thai indie director, though it was submitted anonymously and will be shown without credits. (I'm sworn to secrecy.) It's an extract from a feature-length film, though some of the dialogue has been self-censored to avoid accusations of lèse-majesté. The film it was excerpted from was inspired by George Orwell's 1984, a novel which has since become an anti-coup symbol.

25 July 2014

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here & Now

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here & Now
Derriere La Gare St Lazare
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here & Now is the exhibition catalogue for the Cartier-Bresson retrospective held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris earlier this year, though it also serves as a complete survey of the photographer's life and work. The book was written by Clement Cheroux, who also curated the exhibition. The English translation is published by Thames & Hudson, and its title was inspired by a phrase suggested by Cartier-Bresson in 1953, "ici et maintenant".

Cartier-Bresson was most often associated with photojournalism, though arguably he was the greatest of all photographers. He is best remembered for his concept of 'the decisive moment', which became the English-language title of his monograph Images A La Sauvette. (The Decisive Moment, Cartier-Bresson's masterpiece, will finally be reprinted later this year, accompanied by a booklet written by Cheroux.) Derriere La Gare St Lazare, a photograph of a man jumping into a puddle, is probably his most famous work, and it captures the essence of the decisive moment.

There have been numerous Cartier-Bresson books published since his death, including several from Thames & Hudson. The Man, The Image, & The World, which includes 600 photographs and a comprehensive bibliography, is the most extensive Cartier-Bresson monograph. His writings are collected in a single slim anthology, The Mind's Eye.

Here & Now divides Cartier-Bresson's career chronologically into three broad periods: early experiments with Surrealism, political photojournalism, and post-war reportage. It's a significant collection because it includes some rare and non-canonical photographs, such as a snapshot taken at scout camp when Cartier-Bresson was a teenager. It also features several of the magazine spreads that Cartier-Bresson was assigned to photograph, so the photos are presented in their original contexts. Some of these photo-spreads are printed in colour, and these colour reproductions are especially valuable as most Cartier-Bresson monographs are exclusively black-and-white.

The book's extensive selection includes over 500 photographs and sketches, which are reproduced from archive prints. Consequently, many of the older images have an off-white tint and occasional blemishes, as Cheroux recognises: "The use of contemporary prints, with their special tonality and, in some cases, their defects, contrasts with the digitized versions used in most recent publications." This was a deliberate policy of Cheroux's, to avoid what he regards as a homogenous presentation of Cartier-Bresson's work, though the images are therefore not as glossy or crisp as we might have expected.

08 July 2014

American Independent Month

Cult Movie Night
Reservoir Dogs
Bangkok's Jam Cafe is hosting an American Independent season this month, as part of its regular Cult Movie Night event. The season continues tomorrow with Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. (Previous Cult Movie Night seasons have included Anime Month, 'So Bad It's Good' Month, Philip Seymour Hoffman Month, and Noir Month.)

Reservoir Dogs was one of the most impressive directorial debuts in American independent cinema. Tarantino's follow-up, Pulp Fiction, is a masterpiece. Without exception, his subsequent films are outstanding: Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained.

05 July 2014

La Fete 2014

La Fete 2014
Galleries' Night
Chant For Female Corpse
Chant For Female Corpse
La Fete, Bangkok's annual French arts festival, opened on 4th June, and will close tomorrow. Unlike previous years (including 2013, 2012, and 2011), there are no film screenings at this year's festival, though the highlight this year is Galleries' Night, with many galleries staying open until midnight tonight.

The Jim Thompson Art Center will be taking part in Galleries' Night, and will show Araya Rasdjarmreansook's triptych video installation Chant For Female Corpse. Araya's other video works include Reading For Female Corpse (shown in From Message To Media), Conversation (shown in The Suspended Moment), and The Class I-III (shown in Dialogues).

Spiritual America 2014

Spiritual America 2014
After the Metropolitan Police Service removed Richard Prince's photograph Spiritual America from Tate Modern's Pop Life exhibition and catalogue in 2009, Xenofon Kavvadias made Freedom of Information requests to read correspondence between the Tate and the Met. This material, some of which was redacted before it was published, forms part of his Masters of Fine Arts degree show.

Kavvadias will also exhibit a copy of Prince's photograph (which is included in Controverses), retitled Spiritual America 2014. The degree show exhibition, at Goldsmiths College in London, runs from 10th to 14th July.

02 July 2014

The 1st Silent Film Festival In Thailand

Silent Film Festival In Thailand
Silent Film Festival In Thailand
The Pleasure Garden
The Ring
The Lodger
Next month, Thailand's first Silent Film Festival will be held in Bangkok. The Festival, organised by the British Council with restored prints supplied by the BFI, begins on 7th August. Most screenings will take place at Lido, though the final screening will be at Scala.

Three silent films by Alfred Hitchcock will be shown: The Pleasure Garden (his directorial debut; 7th and 10th August), The Ring (an atypical Hitchcock production, and his only solo screenwriting credit; 8th and 10th August), and The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog (13th August, at Scala). All film screenings will be accompanied by a live pianist, to recreate the original silent cinema atmosphere. (The acclaimed composer Somtow Sucharitkul will be one of the pianists for The Lodger; previously, the BFI commissioned an orchestral score for the film by Nitin Sawhney.)

The Lodger, an Expressionist thriller based on 'Jack the Ripper', is certainly Hitchcock's greatest silent movie, and arguably one of his masterpieces. It's the first truly Hitchcockian film, and the Silent Film Festival provides a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen. (The lodger's arrival at the boarding house influenced a similar scene in The Ladykillers.)

House 10th

House 10th
Last Life In The Universe
City Of God
This year marks the tenth anniversary of House RCA, Bangkok's only independent cinema. To celebrate, the cinema has organised a season of films, House 10th, which starts tomorrow and runs until the end of the month. Highlights include Last Life In The Universe, by Pen-ek Ratanaruang (director of Ploy, Invisible Waves, Nymph, and Headshot), screening for free on 11th July; and City Of God, by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, screening on 16th July.