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  • News & article

    Parallel ambitions

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 25/01/2012

    » We wish them the best of luck, and we pray Hua Hin International Film Festival won't turn out to be a lemon. A month ago hardly anybody had heard about this brand-new event, and now those who've heard about it are wondering if they'll take the trouble of making a trip down to the seaside town to watch the films. Our advise is, if the sky is blue and you have nothing else to do (and if you want to forsake the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival that will also happen this weekend) just go for the fun of it. Worst case, you can always decamp to the beach, or one of the seafood joints in Khao Takieb.

  • News & article

    Film festival needs direction

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 01/02/2012

    » If the Red Carpet works, the film festival works. That seems to be the motto of the hype machine behind last weekend's Hua Hin International Film Festival, which proudly paraded stars down the sandy, horse-free beach of the InterContinental while the cinemas were haunted by ghosts. Nothing's wrong with using a movie festival to support tourism, as long as some attention is paid to what it's all about: film, and the film-going experience.

  • News & article

    Three flavours

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 03/02/2012

    » Baseball geeks will revel in the chance to cheer along with the underdog that makes it, the league-stinker that stuns the big-spender, with the help of digital tinkering. But even if you're illiterate in the great American game, this sport drama has enough of a broad sweep to hook you along with Billy Beane, the real-life manager of Oakland Athletics who, in 2001, gambled with the then-unthinkable strategy of computer analysis and took his team on a 20-match winning streak. That Beane is played by Brad Pitt _ boyish, beaming and bright-eyed _ is, if not exactly a grand slam, a pretty swooping homerun.

  • News & article

    Heeding the call of history

    Muse, Kong Rithdee, Published on 04/02/2012

    » It is one of those sensational, semi-stupid questions that a journalist sometimes cannot summon his wit and restraint from asking: Would she, Michelle Yeoh, have made the same decision as the character she plays, Aung San Suu Kyi?

  • News & article

    Feminine perspectives

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 10/02/2012

    » In her smoky evocation of lost love, vintage romance and bewitching cello music, Madonna, at the helm of W.E., channelled Wong Kar-wai of the early millennium, doing that visual serenade of beautiful, distressing women who're in the mood for love. Wong sculpted melancholia out of gorgeous haze; Madonna's swirl of luxury and grainy jump-cuts merely drift, and then land somewhat in emptiness. Re-telling the story of "the greatest romance of the century" _ the one between Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson _ the Material Girl also gives us a story of a wife who's in the desperate mood for pregnancy. So much so that the effort crosses over from beautiful and tender to obsessive and self-sabotaging.

  • News & article

    Embracing anonymity

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 15/02/2012

    » Over the years it's become something of a cliche: Isabelle Huppert is a small woman who's built up an illustrious career by playing emotionally powerful roles _ roles so big in attitude that we tend to forget the size of the actress playing them. She's played Madame Bovary; she's played the amoral mother in a film based on a George Bataille novel; and she's probably best known to Thai audiences as the intensely masochistic Erika Kohut in The Piano Teacher.

  • News & article

    Berlinale, it's a wrap

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 22/02/2012

    » In Berlin last weekend, Roman inmates performed Shakespeare and won the Golden Bear, the year's first major prize in world cinema handed out at Europe's premiere film festival. Decking the sidebar awards were a Hungarian movie about violence against gypsies, a poignant East-West German drama, a rapturously eccentric Portuguese black-and-white film, while the only Asian title to score was a Chinese epic set during the last days of imperial rule. It was the usual distribution of honours to cover every base by the jury led by Mike Leigh (and including Jake Gyllenhaal and Charlotte Gainsbourg).

  • News & article

    A portrait of Myanmar

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 29/02/2012

    » Last month at the British Council in Yangon, Robert H. Lieberman showed his 88-minute documentary to a packed auditorium of over 100 viewers. The film is called They Call It Myanmar, and the premiere was a public screening with artists, film-makers, NGO workers and ordinary citizens attending to watch their own country from the viewfinder of a foreign film-maker. Lieberman had invited Aung San Suu Kyi, who also appeared in the film as one of the interviewees, but she couldn't make it.

  • News & article

    Evil of election

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 02/03/2012

    » Politics is a poison that eats the soul _ especially the soul of a mangenue who dips his foot in the acid water completely believing it's a fountain of hope. The Ides of March, George Clooney's fourth film as writer/director, says that much, which is not much, given the time of cynicism and embittered tussle we all (and not just the US citizens in their election year) are inhabiting. The machination of the plot and escalating disillusionment of the Ryan Gosling's character, a visionary press secretary turned rookie viper, have just enough stings to keep us involved, yet this liberal's guilt trip treats the dark side of democracy with such cerebral knowingness. Politics hurts, and when it does it kicks the guts _ I wish the dagger had been more ruthless and visceral.

  • News & article

    Bring your daughter to the slaughter

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 23/03/2012

    » A big part of Jennifer Lawrence's appeal is how the actress, 21, crosses between that slippery threshold that borders a girl and a woman. Not in the coquettish way Audrey Hepburn sometimes did, but with an earthly, gutsy attitude of an autodidactic prize fighter _ without the dragon tattoo though. In a tracksuit, a bow and arrows slung back, as she often appears in The Hunger Games, Lawrence is an underaged hunter now on the run from a pack of bloodhound predators, and we feel the nervousness of a girl thrust into the centre of an adult game. And yet, there are moments when she glows with ripe womanhood. Not just in her figure, but her conviction and grit. Sorry to the droves of Twilight fans, but Lawrence's character, Katniss Everdeen, makes the vampire-lusting Bella look like a case of arrested development.

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