19 March 2018

The Documentary
Film Makers Handbook

The Documentary Film Makers Handbook
The Documentary Film Makers Handbook, by Genevieve Jolliffe and Andrew Zinnes, was first published in 2006. It includes interviews with more than a hundred documentary directors, including Thunska Pansittivorakul. Thunska discusses film censorship in Thailand: "We operate everything under a moral frame. This means anything that doesn't fit within our culture, would not be accepted by society."

13 March 2018

Insects in the Backyard

Insects in the Backyard
Insects in the Backyard
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด) will be shown on 16th March at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in Bangkok. The film premiered at the World Film Festival of Bangkok in 2010, and was promptly banned. It was eventually released, with a single cut, late last year, and was shown last month at two events: the Eat Play Love Film Festival and Indie in Salaya.

ภาพยนตรานุกรมแห่งชาติ ฉบับที่ ๑

Thai Film Archive
The Thai Film Archive published the first volume of its national filmography in 2014, in an edition of 1,000 copies. (The second volume was completed this year.) ภาพยนตรานุกรมแห่งชาติ ฉบับที่ ๑ พ.ศ. ๒๔๗๐-๒๔๙๙ features credits and plot synopses for every Thai film produced between 1927 and 1956, beginning with the country's first feature film, Double Luck (โชคสองชั้น). More than 500 movies are included, though only 2% of those films - including The King of the White Elephant (พระเจ้าช้างเผือก), restored by the Archive - survive today. One of the lost films, Criminal Without Sin (สุภาพบุรุษเสือไทย), revived the Thai film industry after World War II and led to twenty years of predominantly silent, 16mm film production.

08 March 2018

Ghostly Desires

Ghostly Desires
In Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema, published in 2016, Arnika Fuhrmann provides detailed analysis of selected Thai films in terms of "Buddhist sexual contemporaneity, a conception in which sexuality is not solely a matter of citizenship and rights, freedom and prohibition, or nationally defined social convention, but is vitally informed also by Buddhist-inflected forms of representation, practice, and affect." (This extract gives some indication of the book's academic writing style.) There are chapters on Nonzee Nimibutr's Nang Nak (นางนาก), Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady (สัตว์ประหลาด), and the video art of Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. An epilogue discusses Thunska Pansittivorakul's This Area Is Under Quarantine (บริเวณนี้อยู่ภายใต้การกักกัน).

04 March 2018

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, edited by James Quandt, is the first English-language book on Apichatpong. Published in 2009, it includes a comprehensive analysis of Apichatpong's feature films, interviews with the director, and an annotated filmography of his short films and features. The Thai Film Archive has published a pocketbook on Apichatpong, and Unknown Forces (สัตว์วิกาล) also includes a detailed filmography.

03 March 2018

Beyond Phad Thai

Beyond Phad Thai
Cinema Oasis, a new independent arthouse cinema, will open in Bangkok this month. The cinema was established by director Ing K. and her partner, photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom. (They also run the Kathmandu photography gallery.)

Ing directed the banned film Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย) and the documentary Censor Must Die (เซ็นเซอร์ต้องตาย). When I interviewed her in 2016, she said: "We have to keep on pointing out this ridiculous fact: that filmmakers are the only people without a legal right to freedom of expression. The only people who must submit their work to government inspection before being allowed out into the world."

The first event at Cinema Oasis will be Beyond Phad Thai (เผ็ดกว่าผัดไทย), a season of independent films, beginning with the excellent Tongpan (ทองปาน). Tongpan will be screened on 17th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 28th, and 31st March; and 4th, 7th, and 11th April. The Beyond Phad Thai season finishes on 12th April.

Crushing Dissent in Egypt

A woman who accused Egyptian security forces of kidnapping her daughter has been arrested and detained for fifteen days. Mona Mohamed has been charged with spreading false information, after she gave an interview to the BBC about her daughter's disappearance. The programme, Crushing Dissent in Egypt, was broadcast on BBC World News on 24th February as part of the Our World series. A shorter version was shown on BBC2's Newsnight on 21st February.

28 February 2018


The Jim Jefferies stand-up show Freedumb was released on Netflix on 1st July 2016, and on CD and LP in 2017. The album's highlight comes when Jefferies explains how his extensive use of the c-word led to a loosening of the taboo against it on the American stand-up comedy circuit: "I say 'cunt' more than anyone else. I'm sort of known for saying 'cunt'. Seven years ago, when I did my first comedy special in America, the word 'cunt' was banned in every comedy club in America. And then I said 'cunt' loads on television and now people can say 'cunt' in comedy clubs. Basically, I'm the Rosa Parks of 'cunt'!"

22 February 2018

Lahon W Bass

Lebanese comedian Hicham Haddad has been charged with defamation of a foreign leader after he joked about Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. On his television show Lahon W Bass, broadcast by LBCI on 2nd January, Haddad mocked the Crown Prince's human rights record. The editor of ad-Diyar newspaper (الديار) is facing a similar charge: defamation of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, following an article he wrote last November.

After being charged with defamation on 26th January, Haddad appeared on his show four days later wearing a prison uniform. This led to further charges of mocking the judiciary. Marcel Ghanem, the presenter of another show on the same channel, is also facing criminal charges. An episode of Ghanem's Kalam Ennas (كلام الناس) programme, broadcast on 16th November last year, featured a guest who criticised Lebanese President Michel Aoun, amongst other government figures.


Hard Mode

Hard Mode
Comedian Louise Reay is being sued for defamation by her former husband after she joked about him in her Edinburgh Festival Fringe show last year. She performed her stand-up show, Hard Mode, at the Stand Comedy Club from 3rd to 27th August 2017.

La grande illusion

La Grande Illusion
La grande illusion opens next week at Bangkok Screening Room. Jean Renoir's masterpiece will be shown on 27th and 28th February; and 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, and 24th March.

Indie in Salaya

Indie in Salaya
Insects in the Backyard
The Thai Film Archive will be showing Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's film Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด) on 24th February, at an event called Indie in Salaya. The free screening will be followed by a Q&A with Tanwarin. The film was first shown at the World Film Festival of Bangkok in 2010, before being banned. It was finally given a theatrical release, albeit cut by three seconds, at House Rama last year. It was also shown last week at the Eat Play Love Film Festival.

19 February 2018

Visual Vinyl

Visual Vinyl
In 1977, the exhibition The Record as Artwork: From Futurism to Conceptual Art featured Germano Celant's collection of vinyl records produced by artists. (Celant is more famous for coining the term Arte Povera.) The exhibition catalogue includes black-and-white photos of 100 artists' records, and notes that this is "a whole area of artistic exploration that has not yet been sufficiently documented."

The subject was finally "sufficiently documented" by Visual Vinyl, a 2015 exhibition of records from the collection of Jan van Toorn. The catalogue of that exhibition, published last year, explores the intersection of records and visual art: album covers designed by artists, and artists' records. It features examples from the 1950s onwards, including early Dada and Fluxus records.

The book claims that "Visual Vinyl provides the first comprehensive overview of so-called "artists' covers" - record jackets with ground-breaking designs by contemporary artists." That's not strictly true, because the more comprehensive Art Record Covers was published first, but Visual Vinyl is unique because it also includes images of the records themselves (pictures discs and illustrated labels), box sets, and inserts.

The first illustrated album covers were designed by Alex Steinweiss in the 1940s. Richard Evans' book The Art of the Album Cover covers sleeve design from Steinweiss onwards. Nick de Ville's Album: Classic Sleeve Designs is the most comprehensive guide to the history of album covers.

18 February 2018

One Stand-up Filmmaker

One Stand-up Filmmaker
The Thai Film Archive launched a series of pocketbooks about contemporary Thai directors in 2013. The first in this ชั้นครู series was a book about Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and the third focussed on Pen-ek Ratanaruang. เป็นเอก รัตนเรือง: One Stand-up Filmmaker, published in 2014, includes a filmography of Pen-ek's feature-length and short films.


Apichatpong Weerasethakul
In 2013, the Thai Film Archive launched a series of pocketbooks about contemporary Thai directors. The first in this ชั้นครู series was a book about Apichatpong Weerasethakul (ตัวตนโดยตัวงาน: อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล), which includes an interview partially translated into English.

16 February 2018


Thong Lor Art Space
This month, Thong Lor Art Space in Bangkok is screening a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Pen-ek Ratanaruang's new film, Samui Song (ไม่มีสมุยสำหรับเธอ), which is still on general release. เนื้อกับหนัง, directed by Santi Taepanich, opened on Sunday, and will be shown again on 17th, 18th, 24th, and 25th February.

Eat Play Love Film Festival

Eat Play Love Film Festival
Insects in the Backyard
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด) will be shown tomorrow as the opening film of the Eat Play Love Film Festival. The event, organised by Bioscope magazine, will close a week later.

Appropriately, the screenings will be at ChangChui in Bangkok, where a restaurant also called Insects in the Backyard opened last year. (It's more than just a name, as the restaurant specialises in fried insects. They also have a take-away service: giant water beetles preserved in jars of olive oil.)

Insects in the Backyard premiered at the World Film Festival of Bangkok in 2010, and was promptly banned. It was eventually released, with a single cut, late last year, and will be shown at the Thai Film Archive on 24th February.

My Story

My Story
The Terror of War
My Story
Allergic Realities
This Bloodless War
The Leica camera store at Gaysorn, a shopping mall in Bangkok, has opened a new photography gallery, and its inaugural exhibition is My Story. The exhibition features twenty-five Vietnam War images by photojournalist Nick Út, including his most famous work, The Terror of War, a photo of Kim Phúc, naked and screaming in pain after a napalm attack.

When The Terror of War was first published, on 9th June 1972, Phú personified the Vietnam War's thousands of civilian victims. Kevin Carter's photograph of a starving Sudanese child, and Nilufer Demir's picture of the Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, are among the very few images with a similar impact. (Famously, Carter did not provide any assistance to the child he photographed, whereas Út took Phúc to hospital immediately after taking her picture.)

Út's photograph has been painted in blood by Kosit Juntaratip for his Allergic Realities exhibition, and photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom created a consumerist parody of it, This Bloodless War. My Story opened at the Leica Gallery on 8th February, and will close on 30th April. The exhibition is also being shown simultaneously in Singapore.

15 February 2018

นโยบาย by ประชาชน

Internal Security Operations Command, a division of the Thai army, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Isma-ae Tae, a human rights activist. The charge relates to an episode of the Thai PBS television programme นโยบาย by ประชาชน, broadcast on 5th February. In the programme, Isma-ae alleged that he had suffered physical abuse while held in detention by the army.

Isma-ae was detained in 2008, along with five other students, and was released without charge after nine days (two days beyond the maximum legal limit). He filed a civil claim for compensation, and was awarded ฿255,000 in damages for unlawful detention in 2011. (This was increased on appeal by a further ฿50,000 in 2016.)

Defamation is a criminal offence in Thailand, and libel charges are sometimes used to silence whistle-blowers and investigative journalists. In another case involving Thai PBS, a mining company sued a high school student who claimed that a river had been polluted. (The case was later dismissed.) The Nation newspaper was sued for a similar reason. (That case was settled out of court.) Also, a BBC correspondent faced a lawsuit after accusing a lawyer of fraud. (The plaintiff later dropped the case.)

14 February 2018

Jan Dara: The Beginning (DVD)

Jan Dara: The Beginning
Jan Dara: The Beginning (จัน ดารา ปฐมบท), directed by Pundhevanop Dhewakul, is a prequel to Nonzee Nimibutr's original Jan Dara (จัน ดารา). It stars Mario Maurer, who later starred in Pundhevanop's At the Gate of the Ghost (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง). (Both films demonstrate why Mario, a former model, is more famous for his looks than his acting skills.)

For its theatrical release in 2012, Jan Dara: The Beginning was cut to obtain an '18' rating, though a Thai senator started a brief moral panic by complaining that it was still too sexually explicit. (The film has plenty of topless nudity, which is rare in mainstream Thai cinema.) The Ministry of Culture responded by requiring cinemas to check audience-members' ID cards at the box office.

According to the Film and Video Act, age verification is only required for films rated '20', while the lower ratings ('13,' '15', and '18') are purely advisory. The exceptional (and illegal) ID-check was not widely enforced by cinemas, and the film had already been playing for a fortnight before the policy was confirmed. The DVD is uncut (almost half an hour longer), and rated '20'.

12 February 2018

Doc Club Theater

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's documentary Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย) will be screened by Doc Club Theater at Warehouse 30 in Bangkok on 15th and 23rd February. It was last shown there a month ago, in the Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก season. It was also screened at Alliance Française last month as part of their Pen-Ek Retrospective.

When I interviewed Pen-ek in 2014, he emphasised how politically sensitive Paradoxocracy was: "half of the footage that we have, you can't show to people. You'll just have to bury it in the ground somewhere." His new film, Samui Song (ไม่มีสมุยสำหรับเธอ), is still on general release.

06 February 2018

Peace TV

Peace TV, a television station operated by the red-shirt UDD movement, has had its broadcasting licence suspended yet again. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission announced that Peace TV must cease broadcasting for fifteen days, from midnight tonight.

The NBTC's ruling relates to three episodes of Democracy (ทิศทางประชาธิปไตย), broadcast on 4th, 10th, and 11th October 2017. The channel's licence was suspended for thirty days last year and in 2016. Its licence was revoked in 2015, though that ruling was overturned by the Administrative Court.

Samui Song

Samui Song
Samui Song (ไม่มีสมุยสำหรับเธอ) is Pen-ek Ratanaruang's first film since his documentary Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย). With Samui Song, he returns to his more familiar neo-noir territory: a lakorn (soap opera) actress hires a hitman to kill her husband, in a setup inspired by Double Indemnity. The film opened in Thailand last week, and Pen-ek took part in a Q&A at Paragon Cineplex in Bangkok on Sunday.

Vi, the actress, feels typecast in bitchy lakorn roles, and asks her agent for an audition with an (unnamed) arthouse director. The agent (echoing a civil servant's comment about Apichatpong Weerasethakul) dismisses his films as boring, and insists that Thai audiences prefer lakorn. In a metafictional twist, the 'boring' film the agent describes is Pen-ek's Invisible Waves (คำพิพากษาของมหาสมุทร), Vi is played by real-life soap star Chermarn Boonyasak, and Samui Song is as melodramatic as any lakorn series.

Vi's husband, Jerome, is rich and successful though sexually impotent. In one sequence, he tries to jerk off, though he remains flaccid. (Surprisingly, the film was released uncut with an '18' rating despite its male frontal nudity.) Jerome is a devotee of a cult-like Buddhist sect, and he even allows its leader to rape Vi. (The sect, whose members wear grey rather than saffron robes, is based partly on the corrupt Wat Dhammakaya.) Pen-ek appears in a TV interview with the cult leader, making merit in the vain hope that his film will be a box-office hit.

Engaging hitmen have featured in several of Pen-ek's films - Invisible Waves, Headshot (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า), Fun Bar Karaoke (ฝันบ้าคาราโอเกะ) - and Guy, the hitman in Samui Song, is the film's only multidimensional character. (He's a contract killer, yet he also cares for his sick mother.) Guy bludgeons Jerome with a phallic sculpture (as in A Clockwork Orange), though things take a Hitchcockian turn when the murder goes wrong (shades of Dial M for Murder). There is also a Buñuelian influence, specifically from [possible spoiler alert] That Obscure Object of Desire (Cet obscur objet du désir).

At key points in the film, Pen-ek jumps forward in time elliptically, leaving gaps in the narrative. Vi and Guy eventually seem to disappear from the story altogether. In their place, three new characters are introduced: a lesbian couple and their young son. How much of what happens are we supposed to believe? It's possible that the entire plot is a film-within-the-film, the Pen-ek project that Vi initially wanted to audition for. The twist ending offers no resolution to this satisfyingly ambiguous film.

02 February 2018


The silent classic L'Inhumaine will be shown at Alliance Française in Bangkok on 6th February. Marcel L'Herbier's film features rapid montage sequences (influenced by La Roue) and is also notable as an early work of science-fiction cinema (predating Metropolis). Most significantly, though, L'Inhumaine is a masterpiece of modernist production design, with Art Deco sets by Alberto Cavalcanti and Fernand Léger amongst others.

The restoration of L'Inhumaine, which includes its original colour tinting, is flawless. The film was restored by Lobster Films, who previously rediscovered the hand-coloured version of A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune) and produced a stunning restoration of Man with a Movie Camera (Человек с кино-аппаратом).

27 January 2018


Lumière!, a compilation of 114 meticulously restored short films by the Lumière brothers, will be shown at Alliance Française in Bangkok on 3rd, 13th, and 17th February. The film, subtitled L'aventure commence, was given an international theatrical release in 2017, though it has been available on DVD and blu-ray in France since 2015.

Lumière!, narrated by Thierry Frémaux, is similar to the earlier documentary The Lumière Brothers' First Films, a compilation of eighty-five Lumière films narrated by Bertrand Tavernier. In both of the compilations, the Lumières' films are arranged thematically rather than chronologically. (Frémaux edited both documentaries. He and Tavernier jointly run the Institut Lumière in Lyon.)

26 January 2018

The Post

The Post
Steven Spielberg began production of The Post in May 2017, and the film premiered before the end of that year. The combination of Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks results in a film as impressive as you'd expect (and recalls the "Cruise/Kidman/Kubrick" publicity campaign for Eyes Wide Shut). Streep and Hanks both give superb performances, of course, though their roles aren't especially demanding.

The Post of the title is The Washington Post, which published the Pentagon Papers after an injunction was issued against The New York Times. But the film's emphasis on the Post does a disservice to the Times, which had printed the Pentagon Papers first. The debate that the film dramatises, between the Post's publisher, editor, and lawyers, also took place at the Times, which would have made an equally dramatic story.

The film naturally invites comparisons with All the President's Men. The Post even positions itself as a prequel to the earlier film, ending with a security guard discovering the Watergate burglary. It's not as tense as that classic thriller, though its script (co-written by one of the writers of Spotlight) does justice to its historic subject matter. And its central theme - journalists exposing government lies and media suppression - is as relevant as ever, given Trump's increasingly Nixonian presidency.

23 January 2018

Mae Nak Phra Khanong

Mae Nak Phra Khanong
The legend of Mae Nak, the ghost of a woman who died in childbirth, is Thailand's most popular folk tale. (There is a shrine to her just around the corner from my apartment.) She has inspired almost twenty films, including the blockbusters Nang Nak (นางนาก) and Pee Mak (พี่มาก..พระโขนง). (I wrote about Pee Mak and other Mae Nak films in a 2013 magazine article.)

Mae Nak Phra Khanong (แม่นาคพระโขนง), released in 1959, was the first Mae Nak film in colour, and it set the template for all subsequent versions. Like most Thai films of the period, it was a silent production filmed in 16mm. (35mm sound films only became the norm after 1970.) Mae Nak Phra Khanong remained the definitive Mae Nak film for forty years, until the release of Nang Nak.

Mae Nak Phra Khanong will be shown in a free outdoor screening at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya on 26th January. The screening will feature live dubbing, recreating a practice that was common during Thai cinema's 16mm era.

19 January 2018

Cunt and Cock Show

Cunt and Cock Show
Fuck the Police
Vasan Sitthiket's Bangkok gallery, Rebel Art Space, is currently hosting an exhibition by Dutch artist Peter Klashorst. Many of the paintings feature sexualised female nudes, including Fuck the Police, a literal interpretation of the NWA song Fuck tha Police. (Vasan has previously incorporated the slogan "FUCK THE POLICE" into his work.)

The exhibition is titled Cunt and Cock Show (ลึงค์แลโยนี). Similarly, Judy Chicago wrote a feminist play called Cock and Cunt, which featured dialogue such as "a cock means you don't wash dishes. You have a cunt. A cunt means you wash dishes." (I performed this scene at university in 2001, while I was researching the c-word.) Cunt and Cock Show opened today, and closes on 3rd February.

16 January 2018


Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness, the silent film made "in the Jungles of Northern Siam" by the directors of King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack), was an early feature-length documentary released in 1927. Like Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, and other documentaries of the period, it combines real locations with staged events. (It also shows the autobiographical nature of the Carl Denham character in King Kong who, like Cooper, made melodramatic documentaries in exotic locations.)

Chang was last shown here as part of Bangkok Bananas in 2009, with music performed by a live orchestra. It will be shown again on 25th February at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, also with a live orchestral soundtrack, and the screening is free.

11 January 2018

"Talk shows play a formative role
in shaping public debate in Egypt..."

Tapes Reveal Tacit Acceptance By Arabs of Jerusalem Decision
Egypt's state prosecutor is set to press criminal charges against The New York Times, after it reported that the Egyptian intelligence service had attempted to influence television coverage of America's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In an article published on 7th January, headlined "Tapes Reveal Tacit Acceptance By Arabs of Jerusalem Decision", David D. Kirkpatrick wrote that an intelligence officer, Ashraf al-Kholi, had telephoned four TV presenters asking them to play down any negative reaction to the US policy. (The article also appeared in the international edition, on 8th January.)

The article quoted one of the TV hosts, Azmi Megahed, who confirmed that the recordings were genuine. Kirkpatrick also explained the significance of the calls: "Television talk shows play a formative role in shaping public debate in Egypt, and Egyptian intelligence services often brief the presenters of the programs about messages to convey to the public. The hosts typically prefer to characterize the conversations as journalists talking to sources."


09 January 2018

Pen-ek Retrospective

Pen-ek Retrospective
Monrak Transistor
Fun Bar Karaoke
You wait twenty years for a Pen-ek Ratanaruang retrospective, and then two come along at once. Cinema Journey 20 ปี ภาพยนตร์เป็นเอก, a complete retrospective of Pen-ek's films, is being held at various venues in Bangkok this month. At the same time, Bangkok's Alliance Française is hosting Pen-ek Retrospective, its own season of his films.

Alliance Française will be showing seven films. Pen-ek will introduce Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์) on 19th January. There will be a double bill of Fun Bar Karaoke (ฝันบ้าคาราโอเกะ) and 6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69) on 20th January. Nymph (นางไม้) is showing on 23rd January, Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย) on 25th January, and Ploy (พลอย) on 26th January. Finally, Pen-ek will introduce Headshot (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า) on 27th January, as part of the Echoes of French Cinema season.

07 January 2018

Fall Out

Fall Out
Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem is Tim Shipman's sequel to All Out War, his definitive account of the Brexit referendum. Fall Out covers the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the first stage of the European Union negotiations, and the disastrous 2017 general election. Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, is arguably the most well-connected political correspondent in the UK: his coverage of the Conservative government is as gripping as Andrew Rawnsley's accounts of the New Labour era (Servants of the People and The End of the Party). His off-the-record sources include thirteen cabinet ministers.

Chapter titles such as "Brexit Means Brexit" and "Strong and Stable" reveal how much Prime Minister Theresa May has relied on repeating brief, vague soundbites instead of fully explaining her policies. Shipman portrays her as a PM driven by personal conviction though out of her depth. May is the book's central figure, though Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, her joint chiefs of staff, are another major element of the drama: "This is a play with many actors, but overwhelmingly it is the story of those three people and how they took charge of the most complex political conundrum since the Second World War".

After the Tories lost their parliamentary majority, it was only the resignations of Timothy and Hill that prevented a party coup against May's leadership. Shipman's book reveals in some detail why the two chiefs were so disliked; their nickname for Chancellor Philip Hammond, for example, was "The Cunt". One source tells Shipman: "they would say things like, "You're a posh cunt," and "No, you're a posher cunt." "Who is the poshest cunt of the lot?" This is a conversation between Nick and Fi, and I looked across at the prime minister, thinking, "Do you think this is all right?" There was not a glimmer."

In the immediate aftermath of the election, everything was up in the air: "May's future as prime minister hung in the balance as cabinet ministers contacted each other". Cabinet members were all mutually suspicious, May most of all: "She called Boris Johnson and formally asked, 'Do you intend to stand against me?'" The Chancellor was equally paranoid: "Hammond put her on the spot: 'You were going to sack me, weren't you?'" Shipman writes that, although Grant Shapps' attempted coup was ultimately aborted, it had gathered steam following May's 2017 party conference speech: "One day after May's meltdown, three members of her cabinet decided her time was up."

Fall Out was published last November, and in that same month two cabinet ministers (Priti Patel and Michael Fallon) were forced to resign. Another, May's closest political ally (Damian Green), quit a month later. The fallout continues.

05 January 2018

World Class Cinema

World Class Cinema
The Godfather
The Godfather II
Singin' in the Rain
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Apocalypse Now
Ben Hur
Taxi Driver
The World Class Cinema season will return this year with a new lineup of Hollywood classics. The first screening of the new season will be Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor, on 14th January. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, starring Marlon Brando, will be screened on 11th February; its sequel, The Godfather II, is on 18th February. Coppola's Apocalypse Now is on 13th May. Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain, acclaimed as the greatest musical ever made, will be shown on 11th March. On 8th April, it's the Walt Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The epic Ben-Hur is on 17th June, followed by Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, Taxi Driver, on 15th July. Casablanca, one of the greatest Hollywood films ever made, will be shown on 25th November. All screenings will be at Bangkok's Scala cinema.