21 08 2016

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Night palms

21 08 2016

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Train to Busan

21 08 2016

This tense and cerebral Korean zombie-as-allegory flick lives up to all the hype. Definitely recommended!





Ocean of sound

21 08 2016

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After four years wait, Frank Ocean is back with not one, but two albums! First there was Endless (described by one wag on Popjustice as a “mixtape to build a staircase to) and then the album proper, Blonde (re-titled from its originally reported “Boys Don’t Cry).

It is a beautiful, confounding work; expansive, murky and endlessly intriguing. Frank Ocean’s fascination is that he can be heartfelt while staying obscured, always disappearing back behind his curtain. The album is based in hip hop and R&B but then will depart to such disparate references as techno or the Carpenters. Melodies bubble in the background, briefly glistening spectacularly before sinking back behind strange, subtle production. Likewise, razor sharp phrases will pop out – “We’ll never be those kids again”, “no more kumbaya shit” – in between seemingly pointless repetitions. Ocean swears like a hip hop hard man and references sex with women before dropping in references to glitter and gay bars. And it is all in that voice: crooning smoothly or soaring in sweet falsetto between ferocious guest raps, strings, Radiohead guitars of Arca’s electro beats – and yet he never sounds like anyone except Frank Ocean.





Life is beautiful

21 08 2016

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Olafur Eliasson’s installation at the Versailles palace, Mariko Mori’s Olympic installation in the Mangaratiba forest in Rio de Janeiro, unknown, the Kunsthaus in Bregenz in Austria, the beautiful 1951 Chapelle du Rosair a Vence by Matisse and a Casa Brutus fashion shoot in the concert hall in Tokyo’s Ueno Park.





Reading list

21 08 2016

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I took  a trip to the Eslite bookstore in Tsim Sha Tsui this weekend and came away with some new reading material.

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I was already reading “How to be bored,” part of the School of Life’s “How to…” series which applies philosophical insights to modern life. I had really enjoyed “How to Think About Exercise” which quietly revolutionised my ideas (and practice) and so a friend had gotten me this.

The  book’s central thesis is that in the business of our lives and the ever-present temptations of digital devices, we have lost the capacity to be bored, or perhaps more accurately, idle. We are always doing “something”, although its often trivial, at the expense of “nothing.” The loss of this idle, empty time has left us with an inability to construct our “narrative self”, the book argues, leading to a loss of enjoyment and a dull sense of dissatisfaction in everything we (frantically) do. In essence, being bored is an important experience and one that is in danger of dying out.

I had come to this same conclusion myself the year before while backpacking across Northern Thailand and Laos. With the trip totally unplanned in casual backpacker style I had spent a lot of time sitting at bus stations by rice fields, or swinging my legs on dusty train platforms, and with no local data plan on my phone the option for online entertainment was taken away. Later I realised, these times had been the highlight of the trip. When in Hong Kong do I ever give myself permission to do….nothing?

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Meanwhile I also saw some more entertaining titles, like the one above, and the strange Japanese magazine below, which seems to be aimed at straight men in their thirties, anxiously chiding them to maintain their sex appeal by exercising and to become “cultured” in their efforts to be a “grace hunter”, that is “a man women find fascinating”.

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I also picked up the latest issue of Casa Brutus which had 100 art installations to visit around the world, many of them featured in the post below, including Olafur Eliasson’s current work at the Versailles Palace and Mariko Mori’s Olympic installation above a waterfall in Rio de Janeiro.

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Bangkok: To do list

21 08 2016

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It has been a while since I was in my favourite city and the list of new and interesting places I want to check out is growing ever longer, especially since I discovered the Thai magazine “aday”, which has lots of great tips like this cafe near the Hua Mak airport express stop in Ramkhamhaeng called Sunday.

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Or this pretty jogging track around the Ram Inthra stadium:

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Restaurant Harmonique with its courtyard under a banyan tree.

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Plus a secret drinking den in the city’s US military headquarters

The Skytrain jazz bar

The dining table inside a swimming pool at 3nvy.

The city’s riverside Protestant cemetery.

And the cluster of art workshops and galleries amid old European buildings on the Charoen Krung Soi 30, also known after an obscure historical figure as Soi Captain Bush.

Plus there is the new incarnation of the Thailand Design and Creativity Centre nearby in the vast old nineteen thirties main post office building, and the glittering ICON mall across the river promising a new art museum and Takashimaya department store, coming next year.

 








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