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  • LIFE

    Paranoia rules

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 20/01/2012

    » John Carpenter's 1982 version of The Thing is about monsters from space in the same way that Lars von Trier's recent Melancholia is about the end of the world. Both films use spectacular catastrophes out of science fiction to show the power of destructive mental states that can literally pull the world out from under those affected by them.

  • LIFE

    Peeking into the past

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 03/02/2012

    » In her book, On Photography, Susan Sontag pointed out that the passage of time often readjusts the aspects of a photograph that we find interesting. When looking at an old photo of someone's remote relative, taken in the 1880s or 1890s, the face of the person represented may be the first thing we look at, but often the clothing is what really draws the attention, or the furniture, knick-knacks sitting on shelves or tabletops, books on shelves, lamps or wallpaper, things that would have been taken for granted by the person who took the photo.

  • LIFE

    When worlds collide

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 17/02/2012

    » A few years ago I happened on a series of releases on DVD of an ancient US science-fiction television programme called Tales of Tomorrow. It was broadcast during 1951-2, when memories of World War II and the horrific revelations of its final years were still quite fresh. They gave rise to a widely felt pessimism about human nature that was apparent in the movies of the post-war years _ shadowy American film noir culminating in Robert Aldrich's apocalyptic, still-terrifying Kiss Me Deadly, French existentialist parables like Wages of Fear, and many of the Japanese classics made during the period.

  • LIFE

    Hypnotic epic

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 02/03/2012

    » Most of the mysteries referred to in the title are of the kind found in those immense, ultra-melodramatic serialised novels that kept 19th-century readers waiting for the next issue. The generous documentary extras included with this new release explain that the super-prolific Camilo Costelo Branco, whose 1854 serial novel Mysteries of Lisbon is adapted here, sometimes wrote these long-running, cliffhanging narratives. So here we have all of the mothers dead in childbirth, multiple identities, long-shot coincidences, crimes of passion, stories-within-stories-within-stories, and other tasty ingredients that make those books fun to read even today.

  • LIFE

    Pure cinematic fantasy

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 30/03/2012

    » Almost as impressive as his own films in recent years has been Martin Scorsese's work as a guide to and curator of other directors' work. His loving cinematic tours of Italian cinema and personal favourites from the US and other countries have attracted millions of viewers to films that they may never had heard of otherwise. He does not take us back yet again to Citizen Kane or Grand Illusion or Intolerance. His choices are often obscure movies that he saw on television as a boy in New York _ often, I suspect, on the old 1950s Million Dollar Movie programme_ and never forgot. Scorsese has also been active in the restoration old films, and viewers who watch elaborately-documented DVD editions of classic films like those issued by Criterion will find him turning up from time to time doing commentary tracks on which his enthusiasm is impossible to resist.

  • LIFE

    Silenced speaks volumes

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 27/04/2012

    » It would be hard to think of many subjects uglier than the one surveyed in excruciating detail by director Hwang Dong Hyuk in this film. Adapted from a novel by Cong Jee-yeong that was in turn based on actual events that took place in Korea in the mid-1990s, Do-ga-ni centres on a Korean school for deaf children where the students are routinely beaten and raped by the teachers and staff. It follows the events through a young teacher who discovers the extent of the abuse and then finds that all attempts to stop it are frustrated as the local police and Christian community close ranks to protect the offenders.

  • LIFE

    An exploration of erotica

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 18/05/2012

    » Sex as a loveless addiction, a compulsion that brings no pleasure or happiness, is no stranger to us here in Bangkok, where sex bars, bathhouses and massage parlours cater nightly to regulars who can't stay away. Recently, after I screened this new Blu-ray edition of Shame, Steve McQueen's wrenching portrait of a sex addict, for a group of friends, one of them wondered aloud what would have happened to its hero, Brandon Sullivan, if he had made his way to Soi Cowboy. It is a gruesome thought.

  • LIFE

    The end of an era

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 01/06/2012

    » There are no trysting lovers steaming up windows in Roy Baker's 1958 film on the sinking of the Titanic, and if there were they would be badly out of place. If James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, was an uneasy welding together of a trite across-class-lines romance and a terrific disaster movie, Baker's film more successfully combines the styles of a feature film and a documentary.

  • LIFE

    Thirties shocker still affecting

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 27/07/2012

    » When the Motion Picture Production Code, a draconian set of moral censorship guidelines, came crashing down on Hollywood studios in 1934 it put an end to one of the most adventurous eras in American film-making, extinguishing a spark that was not to be revived until the early 1970s.

  • LIFE

    Long-delayed opus well worth the wait

    Life, Plalai Faifa, Published on 10/08/2012

    » Filmed in 2005, Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret was held in limbo for years by legal battles before a cut version was released in 2011.

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