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  • LIFESTYLE

    A note on Thailand Biennale

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 02/01/2019

    » One recent morning at Nopphrat Thara beach, the high tide flooded the lower part of a strange, interwoven structure. Rising from the blue water of the bay, it looked like an island, a new, unmapped island of Krabi visible from this popular spot where tourists visit and board tour boats to outlying islands.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Bismillah, Freddie will not let us go

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 02/11/2018

    » Freddie Mercury, played with an earnest commitment bordering on fetishism by Rami Malek in the biographical film Bohemian Rhapsody, is a rock star the likes of which we hadn't seen before the 1970s and haven't since: An Asian frontman of a British rock outfit, a four-octave opera lover who sang in leotards and thongs, a proud organiser of orgiastic jamborees, and a gay man who endeared himself to the hard-rock audience that, in all likelihood in those pre-diversity days, either failed to realise that their mustachioed rock-god was out-and-out queer or suppressed their suspicion so completely that they didn't feel any cognitive dissonance in their devotion to Queen. Even the name Freddie gave the band laid it all bare.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Sometimes transcendental, always relevant

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 25/05/2018

    » The American films were on short supply this year at Cannes -- which in turn deprived the assembly line of red carpet material -- but nobody seemed to mind that except, well, some American media and fashion bloggers. That superfluous caveat aside, the recently wrapped 71st Cannes Film Festival was nearly unanimously praised as one of the best editions in recent memory, with a string of good, sometimes very good, titles playing night after night -- and even the bad films weren't so offensively bad, as was often the case. In the midst of soul-searching following the question of relevance (the world wants Avengers), the rise of streaming (the world watches films on phones), the decline of arthouse popularity, Cannes insists on the sacredness of cinema, on the future of the art, and this year it paid off solidly.

  • OPINION

    Wake me up when Thaiism rings true

    Oped, Kong Rithdee, Published on 10/02/2018

    » It has been widely translated as “Thainess”. But “Thainess” may not be accurate when describing Thai Niyom, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s latest catchphrase and sort-of policy. The correct term in English, I propose, should be “Thaiism”, just like populism ( Pracha Niyom), nationalism ( Chat Niyom), conservatism ( Anurak Niyom), authoritarianism ( Amnat Niyom), or alcoholism, you know, the excessive use of alcohol to drown out grief and the pain of broken promises.

  • LIFESTYLE

    A film festival devoted to refugee crises

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 06/12/2017

    » The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will host the 7th Refugee Film Festival Bangkok 2017, which runs from tomorrow until Dec 10 at Paragon Cineplex. Admission is free, but advanced registration is required at the UNHCR Facebook page.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Rousing history from its slumber

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 06/01/2017

    » In the documentary Angkor Awakens, director Robert H. Lieberman condenses the past and present of Cambodia into 90 minutes. From the ruins of Angkor Wat to the Khmer Rouge horror and present-day testimonies, the film highlights the key episodes in the country's cultural and political development. And while the broad sweep may seem a little too broad at times, the film pulls a rabbit out of the hat with its extensive interview with strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose reflections on the state of his country as well as his memory of the Khmer Rouge era become a centrepiece of the story.

  • OPINION

    Cyber snoop bill caps off a year from hell

    News, Kong Rithdee, Published on 17/12/2016

    » It's a contest no one wants to win: Is 2016 the worst year ever?

  • OPINION

    A tower of our glory, except the foreign bit

    News, Kong Rithdee, Published on 03/09/2016

    » I happened to be there at the opening of the sparkling corn-cob skyscraper, the trophy of high-capitalism and symbol of wealth. No fireworks at the launch of the MahaNakhon Tower, that would have been tacky, but we had the beam-me-up light dance and iridescent sky painting, cued to booming music. Jose Carreras sang arias.

  • OPINION

    All aboard for a 'Thai-Thai' referendum

    News, Kong Rithdee, Published on 23/07/2016

    » The word "Thai" means "free". But when you repeat the syllable and say "Thai-Thai" (with a dismissive laugh), suddenly it means "fake" -- it means we've bent whatever rule the world has to make it suitable to our temperament, emotion and impulse. For example, when you're not sure if your principle is solid, your stance firm, your democracy authentic, or your coup justified, there's a simple way to shut down the argument: just say it's baab Thai-Thai, "in the Thai way". Then, if everything is not forgiven, at least it's understood.

  • LIFESTYLE

    A part of Myanmar's tapestry

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 24/06/2016

    » Even with the civilian government, the military is still untouchable in Myanmar -- at least in the movies. Last week state censorship banned the film Twilight Over Burma: My Life As A Shan Princess, an Austrian production about the real-life Austrian woman who met a Shan prince in the US, married him and moved to Burma before the 1962 military coup d'etat that brought everything down. The film, which was shot largely in Thailand and starring mostly German and Thai actors, was supposed to open the Human Rights Film Festival in Yangon last Tuesday.

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