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  • LIFE

    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.

  • LIFE

    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.

  • LIFE

    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.

  • LIFE

    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.

  • LIFE

    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.

  • LIFE

    Journey of the guitar king

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 11/12/2015

    » A small documentary film opens in limited cinemas this week. Revisiting a chapter in the Thai music history that many people may have forgotten, The Guitar King tells the story of Lam Morrison, a Thai rock musician and the country's first guitar star in the late 1960s. A long-haired man in his 70s now, Lam honed his guitar skills playing in GI camps in Udon Thani during the Vietnam War, before playing at bars in Bangkok and even toured Germany and Norway.

  • LIFE

    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.

  • LIFE

    Short on action

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 21/11/2014

    » Poor Katniss Everdeen, your heart is pure but your fate isn't yours to decide, and while the working-class revolution explodes and the "we burn, you burn" rally echoes, you look on and wonder if you're a piece or a player, a pawn or a plotter.

  • LIFE

    Cinematic gems in competition

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 04/01/2015

    » The deadline is Oct 1, but more than 40 countries have already submitted their entries for the foreign-language film category at next year’s Academy Awards. Earlier this week, Thailand announced that its representative at the 2015 Oscars would be hit romantic comedy Kid Tueng Wittaya (Teacher’s Diary). The film, which focuses on two teachers and the indirect courtship they conduct via messages written in a diary hidden on a houseboat, was released earlier this year to a mixed critical reception but local box-office success. Life wishes its director, Nitiwat Tharatorn, the best of luck.

  • LIFE

    Romance among the ruins

    Life, Kong Rithdee, Published on 19/09/2014

    » Love is a crumbling currency in the wistful, strangely affecting Pavang Rak (Concrete Clouds). Set in 1997, during the economic meltdown that burst our bubble and left urban carcases of unfinished skyscrapers, the film remembers the emotional inertia of that year and watches its characters drift like ghosts as they realise that even love — of all the catastrophes — can't give them salvation. There's voluptuous despair. There's a full cabinet of 1990s pop-cultural reminiscence, and there's the filmmaker's awkward strive to reconcile the narrative flow with his experimental impulses — and yet here's a Thai film that's as tender as it is bold. It's also a film about the mood (and not necessarily the actualities) of that fateful, uneasy moment of 17 years ago when the market crashed and our sense of the future dashed.

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