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THE NATION ASIANEWS March 8-14, 2009

TRAVEL, FOOD & DRINK, STYLE, ARTS AND TRENDS IN ASIA

Waist not , want not Hot!

Mind the gap

Milano mobilises

Tea for tooth


TRAVEL, FOOD & DRINK, STYLE, ARTS AND TRENDS IN ASIA THE NATION ASIANEWS

March 8-14, 2009

PUFF PIECE

BELLA JAPANESE

P12 P13

NIGHTHAWKS AT THE MARKET

P14-15

Around Asia

COVER

Not ready for rags

TOP TOPKNOTS

P28-29

p9-11

OSCARS FOR TOKYO

P24-25

SPANNING THE HAN

P32-33

C o ver / T h an i s S u dt o : F l y n o w

team

Editor: Phatarawadee Phataranawik | Deputy Editor: Khetsirin Pholdhampalit | Photo Editor: Kriangsak Tangjerdjarad | Photographers: Ekkarat Sukpetch, Thanis Sudto | Writers: Manta Klangboonklong, Pattarawadee Saengmanee, Lisnaree Vichitsoratra | Contributor: Pawit Mahasarinand, JC Eversole | Designers: Nibhon Appakarn, Pradit Phulsarikij, Ekkapob Preechasilp | Copy-editors: Luci Standley and Rod Borrowman | Sub-editor: Paul Dorsey | Contact: www.nationmultimedia.com, e-mail: ace@nationgroup.com. (02) 338 3461-2 ACE is published by NMG News Co LTD at 1854 Bangna-Trat Road, Bangkok


What’s Hot

A

fter years of renovation by English architect David Chipperfield, the Neues Museum is scheduled to open on March 18 for the first time since it was wrecked in World War II. The museum, built between 1843 and 1855, will reopen

with a two-week “exhibit” of more than 70 dancers, musicians and singers in a collaborative performance by Sasha Waltz & guests, Vocalconsort Berlin, Akademie fuer Alte Musik and the classical chamber ensemble Kaleidoskop.

bl o o mber g / adam berry

What’s new at the Neues

Dressed to kill

Barbie’s such a babe

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he world fashion scene celebrated Barbie’s birthday at New York Fashion Week last month and now it’s Bangkok’s turn to wish the iconic doll a happy anniversary. They may be following such big names as Calvin Klein, Donna Karen, Tommy Hilfin||

ger, Rachael Roy, Betsey Johnson and Anna Sui, but the designers at local brand Jaspal are bound to impress with their six anniversary collections on the themes glamorous, jet set, sporty, rock, vintage and classic. The collections come with two styles of handbag,

one in a classic crocodile print, the other in shiny leather, along with casual shoes with the Barbie logo print. Modelled by Thailand’s hardcore fans and celebs, the collections will be revealed at Siam Paragon’s Fashion Hall tomorrow at 4.30.

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embers of alternative rock band Moderndog are once a ga i n s h o w i n g t h e i r creativity, this time joining up with Lee for “The Moderndog Collection”, a limited-edition line of jeans, printed T-shirts, bags, hats and belts. Fans of both the clothing line and the band can read all about the new collection in next week’s Ace. March 8-14, 2009


P h o t o c o u res y o f K o kas h i ta F est i val

Trends

Dancing over the cracks Six Thai performers get cheek to cheek with a Tokyo troupe at a new festival in Japan Kinken Shonen

Pawit Mahasarinand

H

“Othello”

When the ‘Festival/ Tokyo 09 Spring’ program was decided, the keyword ‘New Real’ appeared, says program director.

“Hey Girl”

March 8-14, 2009

Shigehiro Ide

bring them closer. “Ide is trying to show various elements in Thai culture that will be completely foreign to much of the Japanese audience, such as muay thai and Thai massage,” says Grisana Punpeng. “But while it’s true that there are big differences in the way Thai and Japanese performers perform

ow we confront reality, how we illustrate it, and how we can transcend it are questions frequently asked by the arts,” says Chiaki Soma, director of a new festival for cutting-edge performing arts that’s running this month in Tokyo. Among works searching for new realities at Festival/Tokyo is “Kokashita”, a collaboration between Japan’s famed Idevian Crew and Thai performers. The two worlds first collided at auditions in Bangkok last October, where the Crew’s captain Shigehiro Ide handpicked six Thai profeson stage, the gaps never exist sionals — dancer Kanison during either rehearsals or the Youngprampree; actor performance itself. and director Grisana “For example, Kanison’s Punpeng; dancer, actor, body type and fluidity of movewriter and TV producer ment fit perfectly with Ide, and Korakot Puangsawad; Chanchana and Chayanuch’s dancing twins Chanballet skills match Mineko’s. chana and Chayanuch “The differences in the two Akjiratikarl; and Theatre Akeera Modesakoon cultures are not seen as gaps, 8X8 funny-woman but as a double enjoyment for Akeera Modesakoon. In December, the audiences.” they were joined at a Bangkok workAnd Akeera? shop by three of the Idevian Crew, a “Well, she’s the odd one out, selected company known for its humorous, for a personality unmatched by any huedgy shows. Last month they landed man being on this planet.” in Tokyo to fine-tune “Kokashita” before its debut next Saturday. Perfect partners The term kokashita describes the “Kokashita” opens next Saturday and space beneath Tokyo’s elevated rail runs until March 20 at the Owlspot tracks and highways — a feature of Theatre. “Festival/Tokyo” runs until March Bangkok too. Ide’s choreography uses 29. For more, visit http://festival-tokyo.jp/ the idea of these small gaps to en. Keep track of Thai artists at kokashita. illustrate the differences between blogspot.com. the two cultures but also to |5|


Trends Milan gets the boot t o o b e h t s t e g Milan gets the boot n a l i M Cavalli and Prada showcase some fancy footwear Gina Doggett

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ightly zipped or held up by garters, thighhigh boots by Roberto Cavalli and Prada were the new must for the femme fatale at Milan Fashion Week last Sunday. Long slim legs filled Miuccia Prada’s boots to the hilt, and garters of the same leather attached to a belt cinching an ultra-short skirt or frock — or even a furry undergarment. Calf-high boots with rugged all-weather soles in fawn, black or red were also secured by garters reaching to the knee. Then blood lust was in the air as Prada’s female gladiators marched down the catwalk in tunics made up of leather

strips sparkling with strass. Meanwhile, black leather, zippers and diaphanous fabrics added up to more than mere suggestion in Cavalli’s collection. “It’s not a time for romance,” the Florentine couturier told reporters. “You have to be aggressive to win,” he said, adding that he had “declared war on the [financial] crisis.” A zipper climbs up the back of the leather boot all the way to the top of the leg to flirt with the hem of a miniskirt in fur or nail-studded material in Cavalli’s comehither creations. By night, it all comes off, to be replaced by a skimpy black body stocking draped in sheer black or midnight blue voile. — Agence France-Presse

Prada

Roberto Cavalli

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A F P / C h r i st o p h e S i m o n

March 8-14, 2009


Walk on on the the wild side Walk on thewild wildside side Walk E P A / M atte o B a z z i

Fur returns to Milan’s catwalks with fox and sable snuggling up to mink

D

olce and Gabbana sauntered into the surreal on Monday as Fendi flirted with fur in their autumn/ winter collections in Milan. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana unveiled ready-to-wear creations worthy of the highest of haute couture, marrying extravagance with a bit of surrealist theatre. It was all in the shoulders, whether puffed up in generous fur stoles, frilled out in shocking pink satin or poking up for a more restrained triangular look. Marilyn Monroe was a special guest star, appearing on white satin frocks and a Mikado evening gown that was the show’s finale.

Nature’s goddesses — silver fox, mink, sable — padded serenely through the urban jungle imagined by Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi, leaving just a suggestion of their presence. Here too, strong shoulders determined the silhouette, while fur or feathers softened the edges, whether in the trim or in the lining of a coat, jacket or dress. Leggings, omnipresent in Milan this season, warmed just the lower leg, with echoes on the forearm. The Dsquared twins, Dean and Dan Caten of Canada, combined grunge with cool and lots of airy sophistication in multi-layered outfits. Ankles were in, poking out of baggy jeans or khakis or this season’s de rigueur skintight black leathers and leggings. Skimpy knit tube minis competed for attention with feathered skirts and trims, while a casual pea coat topped a fancy black gown. John Richmond seduced with shimmering gold off-the-shoulder tops and long black leather fingerless gloves. A grey Napoleon jacket over mid-

night blue harem pants and black ankle boots exuded confidence, as did a slate grey jacket over a bare breast and pleated trousers. — Gina Doggett Agence France-Presse

Fendi

A F P / F i lpp o M o ntef o te

March 8-14, 2009

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Go SHOPPING UNFOLD YOUR IDEAS

at the Factory Colourful cards for summer inspired by flowers, boats and planes ranging in price from Bt650 to Bt950. Design your own scrapbook by choosing from a mountain of materials that includes stickers, papers, ribbons and more at reasonable prices.

ph o t o / ekkarat s u kpetch

Summery scrapbooks evoke the warm atmosphere of a picnic and cost Bt950.

An elegant wedding card decorated with lace, ribbons and a glittering heart-shaped pendant for Bt900.

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Attractive cards adorned with ribbons – Bt250 each

Send stylish good wishes with handmade cards for any occasion. Prices are Bt390 and Bt800.

Creative customers are whittling cute scrapbooks and cards from the mountain of raw materials at Nancy J’s

Pattarawadee Saengmanee

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ancy J’s Factory – a newcomer to a corner in CentralWorld – is becoming the mall’s hottest stage for hobbyists and creative types. The small store is the brainchild of Chatchaya Watcharaporn, who uses any occasion as an excuse to make quirky cards for her loved ones. Opened in November, the factory actually looks more like a gallery. The walls are lined with a cute and playful collection of handmade cards and scrapbooks made from a mountain of materials imported from America. It’s also a playground for the imagination: Chatchaya keeps one corner for customers who feel the creative urge bubbling over. Just select the materials you like and sit down for some expert advice on turning your sweet ideas into eye candy. If the inspiration isn’t flowing, the experts will show you a variety of designs with various materials and make the card for you. “It’s like a childhood dream come

true – being able to transform your wildest imaginings into paper shapes. Then you can give them to your loved ones as good wishes straight from the heart,” says Chatchaya. “The original idea was to build a play area for my daughter where she could share ideas with others. But I realised that that doing activities together will bring any family closer, so I opened the store late last year.” Though it offers an innovative selection of ready-made cards and scrapbooks, the focus is on do-it-yourself, with good-quality materials including coloured and printed paper, photo albums, lace, eye-catching stickers, colourful ribbons, pegs, buttons, glues, magic marker pens, glittering diamond sequins and more. Ranging in price from Bt60 to Bt1,000, there’s something to suit every budget. Keep your eye out for the regular workshops on making scrapbooks at Chatchaya’s new branch, opening next month nearby in CentralWorld’s Beacon zone.

Paper trail Nancy J’s Factory is in the Atrium zone on the third floor of CentralWorld. It’s open daily from 10am to 9.30pm. Call (081) 773 7888. March 8-14, 2009


Cover P h o t o / T h an i s S u dt o

Yes we can...dress you! They call it ‘the rag trade’, but the clothing industry in Thailand still cuts quite a figure - Bt40 million for this month’s Bangkok International Fashion Week March 8-14, 2009

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COVER

27 Nov

Lisnaree Vichitsorasatra

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Eric Raisina

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he world of fashion is certainly not immune to the global economic slump but in Thailand, at least, it’s still breathing comfortably. The country’s biggest event, the Siam Paragon Bangkok International Fashion Week, is geared up for a four-day catwalk feast starting on March 19. Investing Bt40 million, sponsors including Siam Discovery and Siam Centre continue to bank on runway shows to goose along the local clothing industry. This year’s “Colour the Earth” bash will have 10 shows, headlined by Flynow, the only big Thai brand participating, and French labels Christope Guillarme & Eric Raisina and Eric Raisina. With only four Thai houses involved - the others being 27 Nov, Asava and Kunitar & 8E88 Siam Paragon is introducing its own brand, Code10. The 10 designers at Code10 deal primarily in feminine party dresses, but eight of them also create luxury handbags and costumes for the mall. “It’s time for Thailand to prepare to become a major fashion producer,” says Paragon marketing chief

Asava

Kriengsak Tantiphipop, who’s running this fashion week. The recession is forcing the fashion industry to drastically change its presentation style, he acknowledges. “The brands have to be able to offer everything in one store, to keep the shoppers coming in.” This month’s shows will be missing established brands like Tube Gallery, Nagara, Senada and Theatre. Tube Gallery’s Saksit Pisalasupongs says he’s just been too busy preparing for the prêt à porter events in Paris. “We’ve got enough money to put on a show here but there’s not enough time and people,” says Saksit, who’s also opening a store in Britain in collaboration with other brands and making deals with buyers in the Middle East and elsewhere in Europe. Chamnan Pakdeesuk of Flynow agrees that timing as well as finances is keeping several Thai brands March 8-14, 2009


P h o t o / T h an i s S u dt o

ELLE WEEK NOW JUST A DAY! Phatarawadee Phataranawik

Lingerie Salon

away from Bangkok Fashion Week, but stresses that it’s a great way to maintain your profile and boost sales. Flynow has a loyal local following and is now trying to muster more interest overseas by getting involved with the Paris prêt à porter. While many designers are securing corporate sponsorships to keep them in business, Flynow has been able to cover its own expenses, but it too is vulnerable to the economic downturn. “ I try to think things through more carefully when I prepare a show now,” Chamnan says. “We try to create the same impact with a given material and budget, but later when we add up the figures, we find we’re not able to save much.” The budget for this year’s fashion week is the same as last year’s, notes

March 8-14, 2009

Paragon chief executive Chadatip Chutrakul. “Even in a recession we can’t be depressed,” she says. “The show must go on!” One way to persevere, designers realise, is to create for the average buyer and do fewer luxury numbers. Flynow, known for its craftsmanship, is injecting more comfort into its evening gowns with “laser cutting”, which eliminates seams. Asava is once again teamed with Singha but, whereas it paid tribute to New York City in its winter collection, it will this month celebrate “summer in the Hamptons”, the posh beach community where Manhattan socialites laze. Practicality is the watchword for 27 Nov, which is going for mix-andmatch, and Kunitar & 8E88 has some pretty frocks and slim men’s outfits in store for fashion week. Eric Raisina and Christophe Guillarme will bring an international appeal to the catwalk. Raisina, a textile designer who creates his own silk in Cambodia, all woven and dyed by hand, has been waiting for two years to participate in Bangkok Fashion Week. Having seen the best on offer from Paris, London, New York and Milan, he believes Asia - and Thailand in particular - is the place to be now in terms of shifts in global fashion.

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hile Bangkok International Fashion Week refuses to buckle up, the longer-established Elle Fashion Week, starting this year on May 9, is scaling down from four days to one. And it will incorporate a music concert and charity fund-raising as well. With the same budget as last year - around Bt10 million - the Elle magazine event will fill the Centara Hotel’s convention hall with live music as well as innovative fashion design. Confirmed participants so far are leading brands Issue, Greyhound, Sretsis and Boudoir. Led by Elle (Thailand) editor Kullawit Laosuksi, the organisers are looking to recruit alternative rock outfits like Moderndog and Groove Riders to perform, dressed in sample outfits from the designers. The audience is expected to number 5,000, including foreign buyers, and the organisers are keen to get the general public more involved. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Pa Tong-ko Foundation begun by Aids activist Meechai Viravaidya, head of the Population and Community Development Association, which helps people living with HIV and those without it get set up together in business. | 11 |


Hip Hangout

Spotlight on

South African wines JC Eversole

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Sweet treats

The founder of a popular pastry academy brings her flair for desserts to a new bakery K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

photos / E k k a r at S u k petch

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or delicious desserts that melt on the tongue, it’s hard to beat Dressing Dessert, the new bakery shop that’s the b r a i n c h i l d o f Va n d a Pantaxsin, founder of the successful pastry academy Van de Janned. Here, you’ll find a selection of beautifully decorated European pastries and cakes. “Many of the customers who came to order cakes from my school asked why I didn’t open a baker y,” Vanda says. “Their idea was good and I decided to open this shop nearby, which allows all pastry lovers to tasty our desserts before signing up for classes.” The bakery, which is a joint venture with singer Supatcha “Toon” Pitinan, doesn’t only showcase the goodies made at the Van de Janned academy but also serves as the showroom for the rattan furniture made under the Papazaan brand, which is owed by her friend. Clients can sit in the small garden or inside on rattan chairs upholstered in vintage fabrics that contrast with the dark wood walls. | 12 |

Among the sweet treats are Italian tiramisu, English apple crumble and French mixed-berry yoghurt cheesecake for Bt85 or Bt95. “Our pastries are not too sweet and that suits Thai tastes. Everything is home-made and combines many different layers. We’ve use only the best ingredients from abroad,” says Vanda, whose family i m p o r t s ingredients and equipment. The drinks menu includes a selection of teas as well as smoothies such as the Honeymoon Suite, which blends honey with lime, apple and orange. Those with an appetite can dine on spaghetti with green curry paste, mushroom cream-sauce waffle and steamed rice with shrimp-paste sauce served with fried salmon and vegetables. Prices start at Bt59. Dressing Dessert is on Soi 3/1, Town in Town Village, Lat Phrao Soi 94 and is open daily from 10am to 10pm. Call (083) 999 4981 or visit www.Dressing Dessert.com. For information on bakery classes, check out www.VJBakery.com.

emorable dining experiences always make us want to come back for more, and joining the Sheraton Grande’s Rossini on the list of those restaurants long esteemed for their extraordinary wine dinners is Basil, the hotel’s upbeat Thai restaurant. For its debut wine dinner performance, director of food & beverage Giuseppe Fornillo and Basil chef Thanida left nothing to chance. “While I knew there many good wines coming from South Africa, I didn’t know Springfield Estate, so we tasted each of them and developed our menu accordingly,” said Fornillo. Based on comments from the sold-out room, they got it right and then some. Pairing Thai cuisine with wines from a consistently topranked winery is a treat and education for all concerned. That Springfield Estate coowner Jeanette Bruwer was in attendance added lustre to an already bright evening. “I’m always happy to experience where my ‘wine children’ are visiting,” said Bruwer, referring to the wines she and her brother have nurtured as fourthgeneration growers and winemakers in West Cape’s Robertson Valley. Adhering zealously to natural growing and production methods, the Bruwers rely on natural yeast for fermentation, believing this results in keener varietal character. “We take big chances to maintain our consistency and quality, which often costs us losses others find unacceptable,” said Bruwer. The proof was obvious in the balance: background pepper and citrus-tropical fruit flavours of the Firefinch and Life From Stone ’07 sauvignon blancs, and the supple feel and finish of ’05 Wild Yeast chardonnay that were perfect with chef Thanida’s sweet-sour snowfish soup and steamed seabass with lemon grass. Grilled lamb in mussaman curry and ribeye of beef with sweet-basil sauce were great companions for Springfield’s ‘06 Whole Berry cabernet with its soft tannins, hints of bell pepper and supple finish. The curtain rang down on Basil’s inaugural event with a silky Bordeaux-style blend of merlot, cabernet franc and petite verdot in Springfield’s ’02 Work of Time. Call Sheraton Grande at (02) 649 8888 for info on the next wine dinner event. For more on Springfield Estate Wines, call BB&B at (02) 661 9446. March 8-14, 2009


Sushi and spaghetti At Terra Roku, you’ll find the very best of Italian and Japanese creations. Just don’t leave “fusion” widowed.

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enice and Rome may meet Kyoto and Tokyo at Terra Roku, the contemporary restaurant on the sixth floor the Grand Millennium Sukhumvit, but there’s nothing fusion about the food. It’s all about a merging of minds. The name reflects the partnership: terra is Italian for earth, an apt description of the warmly lit decor, while roku is Japanese for six, which denotes the floor. Two of the world’s most popular cuisines are available here, with master chefs cooking up a storm in open but separate kitchens stationed in the middle of the restaurant. Diners can choose to sit in red-velvet Charles Eames chairs on the edges of the 150-seat restaurant with translucent curtains closed off for privacy. Al fresco dining offers a pleasurable alternative while secluded private rooms for eight to 10 provides an option for meetings or family parties. March 8-14, 2009

The spicy salmon salad for Bt380 is a perfect starter on the Japanese menu and comes with crispy fresh vegetables

Terra Roku is open daily except Mondays from 6 to 11pm (last order 10.30pm). Call (02) 204 4165 or visit www.GrandMillenniumSKV.com.

and curry-powder dressing. A mustorder is the new sushi creation called akami (Bt600), a delicious mix of imported red tuna, sushi rice, seared foie gras, black sesame and mango. Also to be relished is buri t e r i y a k i /s h i o y a k i – yellowtail fish grilled with soy sauce for Bt410. Italian-food fans will love the thin-sliced smoked salmon pizza with mozzarella and oregano (Bt310) as well as the pan-fried lamb chops with an aromatic herb crust served with eggplant, glazed onions and carrot purée (Bt790). For dessert, try the green tea mousse or tiramisu. Set menus offering both cuisines are also available at Bt900 to Bt1,500 per person. The Venezia-Kyoto set features appetiser and soup followed by a main course choice between grilled Spanish mackerel with citrus sauce or yakitori. Terra Roku also features monthly “one ingredient: two c uisine s ” campaigns. From Tuesday through March 22, tuna is the star. | 13 |

photos / E k k a r at S u k petch

K he t sirin Pholdhampalit


Laid-back

Deals in the Now open Friday nights, Chatuchak Market shines a light in the economic gloom

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March 8-14, 2009


dark Pattarawadee Saengmanee

and wristwatches and photos of the movie stars of yesteryear. Next door, Aunty Kinaree Patchimsiri and her husband offering a dazzling array of shirts, jeans and trousers for as little as Bt80 – all reclaimed from the wardrobe of their teenage son. “He loves fashion and has a pile of clothes that he’s only worn once, all in

great condition, so we figured we might as well sell them,” Kinaree chuckles. “We’re not professional vendors – it’s just a ‘hobby’. It’s better than just staying at home and doing nothing!” Surasavadee Karuaumpoo proffers terrific home decorations from Japan and South Korea – including digital clocks, tissue holders that look like cups of noodle and telephones in the form of soft-drink cans. “I’m going to open a shop at Lotus

Srinakarin and sell this kind of playful, decorative item, but until that deal’s finalised I’m testing the water here,” she says. “I was really lucky to get a booth, even if it’s just for a month.” At Peyawan Nommae’s stall you can find almost every toy sold at McDonald’s in the last 15 years. She’s got the characters from “ Toy Story” and “Mulan”, Snoopy and all the rest. “I collect McDonald’s souvenirs and sell some at a friend’s store,” she says. I caught the news on TV that Chatuchak was going to have a night market and decided to enter the draw for sellers’ licences.” Nearby, another avid collector, Chalermpong Funna, and his friends are completely stocked up on 1970s telephones, wall clocks and wristwatches and loads of vintage sunglasses from Taiwan that sell for between Bt150 and Bt250. “We have a stall at the Ratchadapisek and Sanam Luang night markets,” says Chalermpong. “This place is another great opportunity to boost the income.” You can find all of these vendors at Chatuchak until March 27, at which point a new crop of hawkers will take over for April. Interested retailers can sign up at the Chatuchak administration office Wednesday through Sunday during office hours.

Sales strategy The Chatuchak Friday Night Market is open from 6 to midnight. The subway’s Kamphaeng Phet station is close by. For more details, call (02) 272 4440-1. March 8-14, 2009

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P hotos / E k k a r at S u k petch

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hatuchak Market by night is a completely different experience from the usual daylight rummage on the weekends. L aunched las t month at the suggestion of Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra to let folks earn a little more during the economic slump, the Chatuchak Friday Night Market, with 400 stalls sprawling across the area in front of the administrative office, offers all kinds of clothing, knickknacks and food. One-month vendors’ licences were sold for Bt100, and space was set aside for handicapped hawkers. Something like 10,000 people queued up for the spots, so the stall space is now booked well ahead. The wares on sale are both new and second-hand, and many items aren’t tagged with prices, so haggling is common. Be prepared to battle for a bargain. Kittiya Keera’s antique home-decor items, wooden furniture and collectibles catch the eye right away. Her family runs an antique shop on Soi Chokchai 4 and also sells stuff at the Ratchadapisek and Pattawikorn night bazaars. Check out the old-fashioned Thai wares from the ’60s and goodies from overseas that are even older – lamps, fans, jars, cosmetics cases, clocks


Laid-back

! e i V a l st

C’e

You’re riding the Skytrain and see a guy swimming on the roof of a lovely building. That’s the new Vie Hotel, and he’s loving it K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

ph o t o / ekkarat s u kpetch and c o u rtesy o f vie h o tel

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icha Poolvoraluck, the movie mogul behind the Major Cineplex Group, has tested the hospitality waters with his posh V Villa hideaway in Hua Hin, and now he’s pampering Bangkok with the stylish, 154room Vie Hotel. The hotel, with a great location on the former site of the Mckenna cinema, is the first Asian property for the Accor Group’s chain of M Gallery boutique inns. J+H Boiffils, the French architects who gave us Siam Paragon and the Emporium, came up with the design and interior concepts for the Vie – modern with glass from top to toe but natural too with coconut-wood furniture and hardwood floors. Thai silk upholstery in shades of orange and copper provides the traditional accents, and high ceilings and vast windows complete the visual feast. There are deluxe rooms, onebedroom suites, two-bedroom duplex suites and three penthouse suites with rates ranging | 16 |

from Bt4,000 to Bt22,000, plus penthouses whose price you shouldn’t have to ask about. The deluxe rooms, 38 to 41 square metres, have loads of closet space, LCD TVs and separate showers and bathtubs, but you pay Bt750 per 24 hours for Internet access. Families will go for the onebedroom suites, 72 to 75sqm with separate living rooms and a working table piled with stationery. The two-storey duplex suites offer two king-sized beds and, at 125 to 145sqm, the roominess of a whole house. There’s a large living room with a dining area on the side, separate showers and bathtubs and three LCD TVs. Adjacent to the main building is the four-storey Vie 39, which promises to be a hip, one-stop entertainment venue. It has a jazz lounge on the second floor, al-fresco snacks on the third, wine and cigars on the fourth and, up on the roof, a swimming pool, where you can do laps in view of the Skytrain!

Laps of luxury The Vie Hotel on Phya Thai Road is easily reached from the Skytrain’s Rajthevee station. Call (02) 309 3939 or visit www.VieHotelBangkok.com. March 8-14, 2009


Wellness

There’s nothing

like a cuppa New trends in exotic teas are boosting the market all over the world

Ste fanie Hiekmann, Deut sche Pre sse-Agentur

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mixed with black and green tea leaves as well as with rooibos tea. As the weather heats up, Linhart expects tastes to return to fresh aromas and herbs. Alongside fruity lemon and lime, Moroccan mint will be highly prized, he says. People who love strong blends will continue to go for vanilla and teas with sharp chocolate notes as the ideal flavours, he predicts. Generally, the most popular are teas that go in spicy directions. This can be observed in the big trend toward chai teas. These are being drunk with chocolate, vanilla, ginger and chilli flavours. Tea specialists agree that fruit teas will be a new hit among the wellness and mood-lifting teas. “Many people like to drink tea in the evening while sitting on the sofa,” he says. “Black tea can be disturbing at that hour because it makes many people alert.”

March 8-14, 2009

Aiming to rustle up funds for the care of Thai tuskers, respected painter Aree Sitthiphan has asked 120 of his fellow artists to donate their works for a charity exhibition called “Artists for Elephants”. More than 200 works of art -mostly paintings - will be on display at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre at the Pathumwan intersection from March 15 to 23. Contributors include National Artists Thawee Rachaneekorn, Kamol Tassanachali and Pratuang Emcharoen. Call (02) 214 6630-8 or visit www.BACC.or.th.

Stuck on life’s roundabout? If you’re living life in the fast lane you might want to slow down a bit by checking out the newly opened Ariya Dhamma House, a public dharma library and practise centre opposite Wat Samiennaree on Prachanivej Road. On the shelf are hundreds of titles on Buddhism, mostly in Thai. Nearby there’s a small room for meditation which also hosts talks by leading bhikhu and bhikhuni. It’s open daily from 9 to 5. Call (02) 953 9344.

Float to a deeper level

ph o t o / lat - wp

ea-drinkers can hardly miss the variety of brews on offer in the stores these days - from green teas with chilli peppers, cocoa beans in rooibos tea to coffee-flavoured black teas. Individual blends are constantly being expanded by teas that branch off into new fields of taste. German tea specialist Alexander Linhart expects even bolder and more eclectic blends to come in future. “These days there are two types of tea drinkers,” he notes. There’s the classic tea lover, who t ra d i ti o n a l l y p r e f ers unflavoured green or black tea leaves. And there’ the second type, which Linhart believes is now the larger group, who drink intricate blends with strong aromas, and are always in search of new tastes. Among fruit teas, Linhart has noticed a trend into the exotic: Papaya, mango and pineapple fruits are being

Painting the plight of pachyderms

The Bodhi wellness centre is giving visitors out-of-body experiences in the space-age technology of its floatation tank. Step into the light-and-sound-proof pod and you’re cradled by a bed of saltwater kept at a constant 38.5 degrees C to match your skin temperature. With the disappearance of the effects of gravity and the sensory world, muscle and nerve stimulation drop to zero for a deeper level of relaxation. The centre is offering discounts throughout March. Call (02) 260 4894 or visit www.TheBodhi.com. | 17 |


PHOTO ESSAY

Venice Of The East TEXT BY DAILY EXPRESS PHOTOS BY THE NATION (THAILAND)

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f a multi-billion-baht plan to reshape Rattanakosin Island and its surrounding communities along the Chao Phraya River gets off the ground, Bangkok stands to reclaim its Venice of the East title.

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March 8-14, 2009


March 8-14, 2009

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Lifestyle

COURTESY OF KO MUNI TAS RAJ UT

Knit One, Purl Two, Hook One Thousand

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Contrary to conventional ideas, knitting is not just for grandmothers or women waiting for their babies to be born. A whole lot of young people are hooked on the hobby as well JAKARTA

Nayu Novita The Jakarta Post

F

orget the image of a grandmother knitting while sitting on a rocking chair surrounded by balls of wool. Contrary to conventional ideas, knitting is not just for grandmothers or women waiting for their babies to be born. A whole lot of young people are hooked on the hobby as well. Take a look at the gathering held every afternoon by the Let’s Knit group at the knitting supply store Miki Moko in Blok M Plaza, Jakarta. According to Linda ‘Nicegreen’ Astuti, 28, one of the managers of the Let’s Knit mailing list, the majority of members are under 35 years old. “Many who have joined are senior high school students or university students,” she said. The group was established in 2006 by two close friends, Dyah Dyanita, or Dydy, 31, and Safrida Purwati, or Frida, 31. Since then, the number of members on the Let’s Knit mailing list has increased daily. They also have a website, www.merajut.com. “If we calculate the total number of members on the mailing list and the forum participants on the site then there are more than a thousand people,” said Frida. The two women, who had the same hobby—knitting— when they were young, met in an Internet chatroom. “A long time ago we were angry because books about knitting were not being published in Indonesian,” said Frida, who works as an IT analyst. “We started sharing our ideas, then we both agreed to write a book about knitting, which was published in 2008.” While writing the book, Frida and Dydy formed a mailing list and an Internet knitting site to reach out to more people with a love of knitting. All the preparations done from afar —at that time, Dydy was living in New York. By the middle of 2006, the mailing list and the Internet site were ready. That was how the pair discovered just how many people have a fondness for knitting. Members on the mailing list, whom they call rajuters (knitters), even include people from remote areas of Indonesia and elsewhere in the world. March 8-14, 2009


“There are some in Sumatra, Kalimantan and even Papua. Overseas, there are some who live in Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Holland, Japan, the Middle East and Germany,” said Frida. The members themselves are as varied as the countries they come from, including housewives, university students, shop assistants, technicians, journalists, lecturers, doctors and lawyers. “Although the majority are women, many of our members are men,” said Linda, who works in technical administration with a telecommunications service company. Asking questions and getting answers about knitting techniques and making knitting patterns is daily fare for the rajuters. They discuss a range of topics, from choosing needles and substituting yarns, through to making knitting patterns. To see the individual results of their work, just search their personal blogs. A quick browse demonstrates that there are few limits to just what can be made from knitting: Household goods such as tablecloths, pillowcases and placemats; accessories such as handbags, cell phone holders and purses; and of course clothes: vests, cardigans, sweaters, shawls, beanies, socks, gloves and bandanas. But there is no need for those just starting out to be daunted by the exquisite and sophisticated pieces the group members are turning out, the founders say. It’s easy enough to start from scratch. That’s because there are written instructions on how to knit, while the Internet site gives links to video tutorials. “Or you can also ask to be taught directly by others members who you can meet in the real world,” said Linda. Knitting itself is not too difficult to learn, but there are plenty of tricks to look out for. “It needs perseverance and creativity; there are also mathematical calculations that are quite complicated,” Frida said. “If you are wrong in making just a small calculation you have to reorganiSe from the beginning.” But these die-hard knitters find that once they become engrossed in their activity, they can knit and knit all day. March 8-14, 2009

For example Frida, when she is working at speed, can make a shawl of up to 1.2 meters long in only two days, and can turn out an adult’s hat in one day. For Frida, knitting is not restricted to the home; she often knits in the train on her way to the office. “Knitting can become an addiction,” said Frida. “Apart from eliminating boredom and calming stress, knitting is also good at training concentration. There is even research that shows knitting is useful to delay senility, and can be therapeutic for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).” Linda is just the same. After coming home from work, she often stays up knitting late into the night, even as late as 1am. She not only spends her time making items for herself, but also accepts requests from her colleagues, such as covers for cell phones and Bible

It doesn’t help that a ball of wool can cost 120,000 rupiah ($10). “If we uses other types of yarn the price can be lower,” she said. Knitting also can be a useful way to express affection—by giving handmade gifts. To celebrate their birthdays, all members of the mailing list contribute a bag and pencil box that they’ve made to elementary school students in Bandung. “Last August we donated 29 bags. This mid-February we donated again—79 bags,” said Linda. In celebrating world knitting day, known as WWKIP (World Wide Knitting in Public), in the middle of July 2008, the rajuters sat and did their knitting in public spaces. The knit-in, held in the Bogor Botanical Gardens, was attended by around 20 people. What they knitted that day, mostly baby blankets, was then donated to an orphanage.

KNIT ON: “Knitting can become an addiction,” members of the Let’s Knit group say.

covers. She sells these for around 50,000 rupiah (US$4.50) Knitting can also become a source of a little money on the side. Frida calculates the price for her items based on the type (cotton, acrylic or wool) and the amount of material used, plus the cost of manufacture at 50,000 rupiah ($4) per ball of yarn. For example, big knitted garments such as woolen cardigans are price between 500,000 rupiah ($45) and 800,000 rupiah ($75). “For cardigans, the amount of wool used can be considerable,” she said.

Yet another benefit, the members find, is that knitting can also be a tool to explore and promote local culture. “With this aim in mind, last year we held a knitting competition with the theme of batik and traditional Indonesian motifs,” Dydy said. “After reading the book Knitting on Top of the World, I realised that knitting in other countries has special characteristics. There are many people, including the top famous designers in the world, who express their ideas through knitting. So there is no reason why Indonesia can’t become like that.” | 21 |


AFP P h oto

ENTERTAINMENT

JAKARTA

Charles R Larson Jakarta Post

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TOP DOG: A collage of Indian newspaper front pages featuring the Oscar success of the film Slumdog Millionaire in New Delhi on February 23. The Danny Boyle movie, which won eight Oscars including best film, has a British director, producer, writer and studio, but India has claimed it as its own because of the Indian cast, crew and location.

Is It The ‘Slumdog’ Reality?

India basked in the reflected glory of Slumdog Millionaire after the Oscar success, although there was little red-carpet glamour to be found in the Mumbai slums where it was set | 22 |

n spite of all the international controversy about Slumdog Millionaire, now that the film has swept the Hollywood Oscars including the best movie of the year, Indians, I suspect, are going to have much to crow about. How ironic that a half a year ago the movie’s investors feared that they had made a real dog a film that would interest no one and were considering dumping it directly on DVD with no release in movie theatre s around the world. Can the movie moguls have been so myopic that they had no idea of the film’s importance? Then the slow release, mostly in art-houses in the United States and England, rather than the big cineplexes, and the increasingly positive word-of-mouth (still in the West), followed by the surprise Golden Globe Award as best film of the year along with several other significant awards for music and acting. And at the time Slumdog Millionaire hadn’t even been released in India. I was traveling in India when all the brouhaha about the film exploded. Many Indians were ecstatic about all the attention and the subsequent awards the film rapidly acquired: everything about Danny Boyle’s film was happening so quickly. Reviews of the movie (which officially opened in India on January 23) were positive, even glowing. Pirated copies of the film were selling everywhere for as little as 40 rupees, less than a dollar. The Indian press was overflowing with articles about the film, photos of the actors, the director and the composer, and interviews with Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A, the novel that became the basis for the film. A typical review for example, Khalid Mohamed’s in The Hindustan Times (January 24) began by proclaiming, “There’s reason to dance on the streets.” Mohamed gave the film five March 8-14, 2009


March 8-14, 2009

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AFP P H OTO/In drani l MUK H ERJEE

stars, the highest possible ranking, and announce that a portion of the film’s about the day he arrived in the United profits will be given to India’s poor. ended his glowing evaluation by States, in New York City. Riding in a Others objected that the child stating, “Literally every performance taxi, he said he was afraid to get out for rocks. Still, your heart goes out most of actors in Slumdog Millionaire fear that the streets were filled with were given only a pittance for their gangsters who would kill him. all to Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, labour in effect, exploited. That Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Hollywood films shown around the criticism prompted further good Rubiana Ali, the kids who portray the world, certainly give that impression. deeds by the film’s backers, who knee-high Jamal, Salim, and Latika. Female American students I’ve talked promise that the children will be They’re extraordinary just like the rest to overseas have told me that men in supported in on-going ways. of Slumdog Millionaire. As one of the the Third World assume that they are The entire controversy of the film’s songs goes, Jai jo!” interested in the same non-stop sexual phenomenal success pivots on Then the attacks on the film began, activities depicted in American someone making money off someone generally arguing that the unflattering pornographic films. else’s misery, distorting and exploiting representation of Mumbai especially Well, those images about America the poverty India into stereotypes that Westerners are already too quick to assume. Arindam Chaudhuri, in The Times of India (February 2), excoriated that the film “sucks,” describing the movie as “A phony poseur that has been made only to mock India for the viewing pleasure of the First World!!” The film “illogically shows every negative thing about India happening in the protagonist’s life slums, open-air lavatories, riots, underworld, prostitution, brothels, child labour, begging, blinding and maiming of kids to make them into ‘better beggars,’ petty peddlers, traffic jams, irresponsible call centre executives.” The corrective to this KIDS’ HOUR: Neighbours of Slumdog Millionaire child actor Mohammed Azharuddin cheer as they watch barrage of negative attacks the Oscars on television in Mumbai on February 23. had already begun to appear, also in The Times (January another culture. Fortunately, Desai are about as accurate as the poverty, 26). Santosh Desai titled his op-ed offers clarity here by stating, “If violence, and greed depicted in essay, “The slum is not the other cinematic representations about India Slumdog Millionaire, which is only to India.” It’s the real India. Slumdog are stereotyped, so are those for all state that they depict certain excesses Millionaire depicts India as it is with cultures.” Right on. Desai has summed and extremes of life everywhere: the all its ills and foibles - arguing that up the flaw of Hollywood (and good and the bad, the beautiful and Indians are not being honest with Bollywood) itself. the ugly. themselves if “We genuinely believe I think of the times when my wife Now that Hollywood has crowned that Mumbai can be summed up by and I have sat through four or five the film with an Oscar for the best the Taj.” Yet, the controversy mushroomed, previews of “coming attractions.” All movie of the year, I suspect that especially in the Western press. The the movies blend together, blood and Indians everywhere will rejoice. And people who made the film were accused mayhem, everyone gets killed. Bodies maybe we’ll all think a little more of making a fortune out of India’s are everywhere, which makes me recall seriously about the stereotypes we use misery, prompting the same people to the remark from an African student and confront every day of our lives.


ENTERTAINMENT

A New Departure For Japan Japan’s cinematic artistry gets recognised with two Oscar nods TOKYO

Takashi Kondo and Ikuko Kitagawa The Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri

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AFP PHOTO/Mark RAL STO N

wo Japanese films picked up Oscars at the 81st annual Academy Awards at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on February 22 evening. Okuribito (Departures) won in the Foreign Language Film category and Tsumiki no Ie (La Maison en Petits Cubes) was named Best Animated Short Film. The French name translates as The House of Small Cubes. Okuribito, directed by Yojiro Takita, 53, is the first Japanese film to receive an Oscar in the category. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto was the last film to win a special award in 1955, but the SAY ‘OSCAR’: Director category was not Yojiro Takita holds the trophy after being officially established awarded Best Foreign until 1956. Language Film of the Takita and lead Year at the 81st actor Masahiro Academy Awards. Motoki collected the award for Okuribito. A beaming Takita said in English to the audience: “I am here because of films. This is a new ‘depar| 24 |

ture’ for me. And I will, we will, be back. I hope.” Tsumiki no Ie, directed by Kunio Kato, 31, was Japan’s first ever Oscar in its category—the nation’s only other animation success coming in 2003 with Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in the category of Best Animated Feature. “So heavy. Thank you very much,” Kato told the audience on picking up the award. Okuribito portrays with a humorous touch how a mortician observes people’s lives and deaths. For the film, which was in the pipeline for more than 10 years, Motoki, who plays the mortician, studied relevant techniques under a real mortician. During his training he wiped the faces of bodies and dressed them. Released in September, Okuribito swept aside challengers for domestic cinema awards. It won in 10 categories, including best film, at the 32nd Japan Academy Prizes, and picked up the Hochi Film Award. It also took home the top prize at the Montreal World Film Festival in September. Kato began independently producing animation films while a student at Tama Art University. Kato has worked in an animation workshop at Robot Communications Inc., a film production company, since graduation. He has picked up many animation awards for previous works, including 2003’s Aru Tabibito no Nikki (The Diary of Tortov Roddle). Tsumiki no Ie is about an elderly man living in a blocklike house. He piles up bricks to build his house higher and stay above the rising level of the sea. The animation was painstakingly drawn by hand, meaning it took about seven months to complete the 12-minute film. March 8-14, 2009


The day before he left for the United States for February 22’s award ceremony at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, Kato told The Daily Yomiuri the news of his nomination had been overwhelming. “I never dreamed they would nominate my work,” Kato said quietly. Takita had a similar reaction when he received the news late in January. “It hasn’t really hit me yet; an Oscar nod is beyond my wildest dreams,” he said at a press conference following the announcement. “Okuribito is a very Japanese story. But I’m glad that people around the world—beyond the nationalities and language—could relate to such a universal theme as death.” Producer Yasuhiro Mase compares the movie with a “baby”, calling it “a difficult delivery”. The crew finished filming in August 2007 and premiered it in September 2008, spending 13 months in postproduction and promoting the film. Mase says audiences needed extra time to truly appreciate Okuribito—a heartwarming drama centered on the work done by morticians. “It’s unusual to take such a long time. But it’s very difficult to put the feel of movies like Okuribito into words,” he told The Daily Yomiuri. The promotion team test screened the film and also entered the film in international film festivals in the hope it would appeal to non-Japanese audiences, too. But Japan’s big three directors were already taking part in the Venice International Film Festival, so the Okuribito team decided to try their luck with the Montreal World Film Festival, which was held at about the same time as the Venice festival. The film took home the festival’s top prize in September, just a few weeks ahead of its opening in Japan. “It was a difficult delivery, and it really took an effort on everybody’s behalf. The cast, the director, writer, staff and producers generated this sort of chemical reaction that resulted in this (Oscar) miracle,” Mase says. Yoshio Kakeo, executive director of Kinema Jumpo Film Institute, praised the nomination. “At European film festivals such as Cannes or

March 8-14, 2009

Venice, it’s somewhat predictable which direction the judges are heading and who the nominees will be, as you can see who the regular competitors are, but an Oscar win comes down to luck,” Kakeo said. He said he will be happy to see a film like Okuribito, which is far from the world of TV-sponsored blockbusters, find more popularity in Japan because of its recognition overseas. Tsumiki no Ie, meanwhile, won the Annecy Cristal, the top prize at June’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website, only short films that have won a best-in-category award at a specified competitive film festival are eligible for an Academy nomination. Kato said his win at the French animation festival opened the door for the Academy Award nod. Tsumiki no Ie is about an elderly man living in a blocklike house in a flooded world. He constantly piles brick upon brick to keep himself at the top of the building to escape the rising water level. One day he has to “dive into” his submerged rooms to pick up a pipe that he accidentally dropped. The traditional animation technique used for the film creates a nostalgic and antique air, while the story itself has a certain romance as he retraces the history of his life as he passes through the submerged rooms. Kato is the second Japanese to be nominated for Best Animated Short Film, following Koji Yamamura, whose Atamayama was nominated in 2003. Okuribito is the 15th Japanese movie to be nominated for best foreign language film—a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track—since Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon first received the Honorary Foreign Language Film Award in 1951. (The Foreign Language Film category was not officially established until 1956.) It’s the first time since Yoji Yamada’s nomination for Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai) for 2003 that a

Japanese film has been nominated for the award. Okuribito follows a former musician (played by Masahiro Motoki) who becomes involved in the job he wanted to do the least—nokanshi, or mortician. By “sending” bodies of strangers to another world several times, he realises the importance of his job and comes to appreciate what he does. Kinema Jumpo’s Kakeo says Okuribito had successfully managed to find a balance between artistry and entertainment. “Many recent Japanese movies explore (our culture’s) deep, subtle feelings, which are often difficult for non-Japanese to understand. Japanese virtues such as a-un (an instinctual understanding) or iwazu mogana (needless to say) are very hard to convey. Okuribito succeeded in presenting such Japanese sensibilities in an easy-to-understand way,” he said.

I’M THE WINNER: Animated Short Film Oscar winner Kunio Kato attends the 2009 Governor’s Ball in Hollywood after the Academy Awards show. AFP PHOTO/Val erie MACON

Wildest dreams

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C h ina Dai ly fil e ph otos

ENTERTAINMENT

With All Due Respect As cultural exchanges between China and the world grow rapidly, more Chinese actors appear in Hollywood films BEIJING

Liu Wei China Daily

W

hen American network NBC revamped hit 1970s TV series The Bionic Woman in 2007, they chose KoreanAmerican actor Will Yun Lee to play Jae Kim, the operations leader who teaches the lead character, Jaime Sommers, how to use her powers. It was a meaty role and in one episode, Lee even had a love scene with American actress Katee Sackhoff. In Cashmere Mafia, Lucy Liu dates Korean actor Jack Yang, who has impressive social manners, masculinity and a highly prestigious job as a brain surgeon. These might sound like trivial anec| 26 |

dotes but casting such Asian characters in high-profile American shows would have been inconceivable just a few years ago, when Chow Yun-fat never got to kiss Mira Sorvino in Replacement Killers and Jet Li’s kiss with Aaliyah was edited out of Romeo Must Die. “The rise of Asian economies, including China’s, is making American people more interested in the region and compelling TV and filmmakers to do wider and deeper research,” says Yan Luo, the Shanghai-born actress who went to the

United States in the 1980s and directed/produced the 2001 movie Pavilion of Women, which focused on cross-cultural relationships. She has a keen interest in how Asian people were all too easily stereotyped for many years. “The decades-long lack of effective communication and the indifference of a powerful culture to weaker ones should be taken into consideration when we talk about the depiction of Asians in the US mass media,” she says. For a long time after their debut in the 1919 silent film Broken Blossom, Asian males were confined to limited roles in American films and TV. One was the learned ancient scholar powered by a mysterious oriental

March 8-14, 2009


philosophy, like the detective Charlie Chan, who quotes supposed ancient Chinese wisdom at the end of each story, saying things like: “The Emperor Shi Hwang-ti (Qinshihuang), who built the Great Wall of China, once said that ‘he who squanders today talking of yesterday’s triumphs will have nothing to boast of tomorrow.’ “ Others were the studious nerd, like B D Wong’s researcher in Jurassic Park, or the violent villain, of which the best known was Dr Fu Manchu, the incarnation of ‘yellow peril’ with a face like Satan. Another Asian male stereotype is the feminine and emasculated man. Remember Mickey Rooney as the buck-toothed Japanese landlord who sneaks a peep at Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or the nerd Long Duk Dong in John Hughes’s 1984 adolescent classic Sixteen Candles? These gross simplifications may seem laughable today but for many years they had a profound influence on American audiences’ perception of Asian men. In Slanted Screen, a documentary directed by Jeff Adachi about the longtime stereotyping of Asian males, comedian Bobby Lee of MAD TV says: “My nickname was ‘Long March 8-14, 2009

ASIAN FACES: Hollywood films featuring Asian actors (clockwise from top left): , Bruce Lee, Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, Jet Li, Chow Yun-fat, Yun Lee and Jackie Chan.

Duk Dong’ in high school because of that character, and I think every Asian guy that ever went to an American school earned the nickname Long Duk Dong because of that character. That means that you’re not going to get any girls.” Even more insulting for Asian actors was that their roles often went to Westerners. Westerners played Fu Manchu in the series, many versions of Charlie Chan—even Swedish actors, for goodness sake— and the two lead characters in The Good Earth, a film about a Chinese peasant couple. Their so-called ‘yellow faces’ were created with dark make-up, glue to narrow and slant the eyes, plus false buckteeth. This charade became less popular in the 1960s, when an Asian cast had dominated the 1961 hit Flower Drum Song. Jiang Nikang, professor of American culture studies at Nanjing University, says an awakening world also played a role in the changing attitudes. “The Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s brought about a social atmosphere that was more open and democratic,” says Jiang. “Asians and other minority groups, were striving for more rights in various social walks.” The pace of change quickened after Bruce Lee’s classic kung fu flick Enter the Dragon in 1973. Although to some he seemed to be just another one-dimensional macho hero, Yan Luo thinks his appearance marked a significant shift for Asian-Americans, both as actors and as men. “Before Lee, Asian men were often portrayed as sly and effeminate,” Luo

says. “Lee brought a new image of artistic strength and masculinity.” Lee’s stellar career paved the way for the later success of several Chinese actors in Hollywood, including Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat and Jet Li. Compared to many Asian-American actors who struggled so much back home, those three were handed numerous plum roles. They each possessed unique characteristics—Chow the gentle one, Chan the funny man and Li the martial arts expert—even if none achieved real A-list status. “It takes time to know a country and its people,” says Luo. “It is quite normal that a group of people will stereotype another they do not know well. In our films and TV there are stereotyped Westerners, too. The only way out is to communicate and learn more.” Jiang is optimistic, too. “Cultural exchanges between Asia and the rest of the world are growing rapidly and wider now,” he says. “As Western people get to see and get along with more Asians, they will also understand each other better.” | 27 |


TH E DA I LY YOMIU RI P HOTOS

ARTS & CULTURE

The Final Cut

Hierarchy is everything in sumo and a wrestler’s hair, as much as his strength, is a sign of seniority TOKYO

James Hardy The Daily Yomiuri

H

is hair is the sumo wrestler’s most potent symbol. It grows alongside his strength and is a sign of seniority in a world where hierarchy is everything. And when a wrestler calls time on his career, his retirement is dramatically enacted by the removal of his top knot. In sumo, severance doesn’t just mean pay. Veterans of the top two divisions are entitled to a ceremony called a danpatsushiki. In it, a procession of invited guests take turns to snip away at the | 28 |

wrestler’s elaborately coiffured oicho mage. It is another of sumo’s brilliant modern traditions, playing on the emotions evoked as something beautiful and archaic—the oicho mage hairstyle is a relic of the Edo era—is destroyed. On January 31, Ryogoku Kokugikan hosted a rare double danpatsushiki featuring Kasugano stablemates Tochinohana and Tochisakae. “The two of them have been close friends throughout their careers, so it seemed natural (to combine their re-

tirement ceremonies),” said Tochinohana’s sister Chizuru Yachi. Going dutch also helps to fill the 11,000-capacity Ryogoku Kokugikan. Only future stablemasters are allowed to book the arena and selling tickets is their responsibility, NHK sumo commentator Doreen Simmons said. Tochinohana—now stablemaster Hatachiyama—apparently invited half of Iwate Prefecture, while Saga Prefecture native Tochisakae—now Takenawa—filled the nosebleed seats with students from his Saitama Sakae High School. Both men have become coaches at their stable. Simmons has been to countless retirement ceremonies since she started watching sumo in 1974. She said there had been a “different crowd” in the last two or three years, with casual fans filling up more of the seats. “It’s always been an opportunity to get in people who’ve never seen sumo before, but these days, for example, the baiten (souvenir kiosks) are being mobbed by people who’ve never been able to get these things,” she said. “Clearly, these are people who might come back (to full 15-day tournaments).” Someone who might fall into that category is Jacopo Favi, an Italian who was visiting Tokyo from his home in Shanghai. Favi dropped by the arena on the off-chance something was happening. “I’ve only seen sumo on TV, so I was curious to see how it is (in real life),” he said. “It’s completely unexpected to see this. It’s a unique celebration.” It’s unique, alright, but to even the most committed fan, watching a haircut take place can be a dull affair. To keep the crowd happy, big events stack the programme with the same kind of entertainment seen on regional tours: demonstrations, taiko drumming, slapstick sumo, March 8-14, 2009


singing and some abridged ‘tournaments’ that culminated in a yokozuna match-up. While most spectators drank and ate their way through the one-hour main event, the 300 or so men—women cannot enter the ring, even for this— who took miniscule snips as they conveyor-belted their way through the ring represented the pyramid of patrons on whose support every wrestler’s career depends. In Tochinohana’s case, the governor of Iwate and officials from his alma mater, Meiji University, were among those who took their cues from the referee in charge. At most ceremonies, a celebrity friend will break the monotony. Interest—and pathos—grows when family and friends take their turns. On this occasion, the final ‘civilians’ to step up were the two men’s fathers. Earlier, Tochinohana’s father said the day was a chance to look back at his son’s career. “When he went down to makushita, he went to the stablemaster and told him he wanted to quit,” he said of the former komusubi’s demotion to the unpaid third division after a back injury. “But he didn’t, and he came back. Winning the a special prize after his comeback (in the top makuuchi division at the 2005 Kyushu tournament) is my best memory of his career.” The fathers were followed by sumo officials and wrestlers. The biggest roar was for yokozuna Asashoryu, who was still basking in the glory of his victory at the New Year tournament. After him March 8-14, 2009

came senior Kasugano stablemate Tochinonada, before the pair’s stablemaster ended the ceremony—and with it their wrestling careers. The hundreds of hesitant snips that preceded it seemed to add an uncouth violence to the stablemaster’s assured cuts through the heart of each wrestler’s top knot. The feeling was reinforced when he held up each severed clump of manicured hair like a head at a royal execution. After bowing to all four sides of the arena and listening to some short testimonials, the two men retreated to the spacious judges room that sits between the East and West dressing rooms. Hairdressers tidied up as teary-eyed wives, and in Tochisakae’s case, one of his sons, looked on. “He keeps saying, ‘You can’t cut off your mage’,” said Tochisakae, who expressed gratitude for being able to end his career in front of so many fans. “That so many people came makes me very happy. I don’t know if I fulfilled the fans’ hopes for me, but I did the best I could during my career. I hope the same people who cheered me on will support the young wrestlers at Kasugano stable.” In the East dressing room, sekiwake Baruto was getting ready to go home after playing his part in the afternoon’s events. “I’m always thinking that one day it is going to be my day,” he said. “It’s like after you leave school. When you’re at school, you think everything is bulls—. But afterward, you think ‘hey, school was good.’ | 29 |


People

Single-minded Determination Indonesian model and TV presenter Caroline Zachrie is realising a long-held dream to go into the music business. And she knows she has something to prove JAKARTA

Bruce Emond The Jakarta Post

T

he statuesque 33-yearold Caroline Zachrie debuted her single, the catchy So Right (Selalu di Hatiku), at nightclub Dragonfly recently. | 30 |

“It has been my obsession to do something in the music industry, I’ve been singing on and off but never recording. And then the signs came and it was like, okay, now it’s time,” Caroline says during a break from rehearsals for her performance. She says her aim from the beginning was to come out with a single that was in the dance/urban sounds genre and definitely not ‘pop-ish’. And also for it

to be in English. “With English, it just comes naturally for me,” says Dutch-born Caroline, who spent most of her formative years in the UK and the US as the daughter of a diplomat, returning to Indonesia at the age of 18 in 1993. “When I met my producer Larry (Aswin), I told him I wanted to do something that wasn’t Indonesian commercial, because everybody’s doing bands, this and that, pop or whatever. I wanted to do something urban, chill-out, that can be enjoyed in bars and lounges.” It’s the music that she and her crowd of friends enjoy. An event organiser and PR coordinator, she is part of Jakarta’s well-heeled young urban set, some of whose members make an appearance in her video for So Right. She believes it’s the right time for the sound to hit it big with sophisticated urbanites. The irony of recording the song in English (only the opening lines selalu di hatiku, or ‘always in my heart’, are in Indonesian) is not lost on Caroline. When she returned to Indonesia and went from modelling to presenting, some made fun of her use of English and her strongly accented Indonesian, and dubbed her pretentious. Confident and assertive, speaking in clipped but flawless English, with the occasional smattering of Indonesian, she says wryly that her English-language song “kind of turns the tables” on those past critics. “People would say, ‘she’s so stuck up’... But English is my mother tongue, what we were brought up with, and I was really afraid of saying the wrong thing in Indonesian...” Caroline says she grew up loving singing at family gatherings and enjoyed theatre in high school. But she also is aware that a self-described stubborn streak and perfectionism will not be enough to convince the doubters. The pat assumption may be that she is just another pretty face trying to capitalize on her 15 minutes of fame with a little diversion into music. Or that she is restlessly trying something new based, in a way of speaking, on a song and a prayer. March 8-14, 2009


Running Fever When a model ages, she either withers or blooms anew. In the case of 41-year-old Filipino model Tweetie de Leon, she turns more heads now than ever before MANILA

Ruel S De Vera Philippine Daily Inquirer

W

hen she’s standing still, Filipino model Tweetie de LeonGonzalez is impossibly photogenic. Long-limbed and lithe, with skin the most pleasing shade of frappucino and eyes sharper than precious gem, Tweetie turns heads even when she’s just sitting there and chatting. And then she starts moving. When those aerodynamic cheekbones cleave the air and she seems to gain speed with every step, everyone secretly watching fights an urge to keep up with her. In fact, the 41-year-old Tweetie turns more heads now than ever before. It is a combination of the sheer pull of beauty (“What a pretty face”), the power of remembrance (“Is that Tweetie?”) and the gift of wonder (“She looks amazing!”). Like the woman herself, this phenomenon of instant attraction is a rare confluence of several things. Foremost of this is how Tweetie has remained swamped with modelling stints more than a decade after she actually left the ramp to raise a family. “I thought I’d retired when I was pregnant with my first child 13 years ago, but I still find myself doing a few runway shows, print shoots and advertising work every now and then,” she says. The second is that she has always been into physical fitness. “As a child, I was more active than athletic, but when I reached my pre-teen stage, I discovered March 8-14, 2009

sports—volleyball—and I was hooked,” she recalls. “I started going to the gym at 15.” Being deeply into sports, Tweetie constantly challenges herself. While the physically demanding smash action of squash is a favourite, this mother of four decided to take up running in January. Just like that, she took off and never looked back. It fits. Running, after all, is the essential act of aspiration. It’s what we yearn to do immediately after learning to walk. It’s the act of getting ahead, the upgrade of any physical activity. The Olympic motto commences with citius; even in Latin, the fast go first. And Tweetie does take her new sport very seriously. “I run two to three times a week, alternating with my squash days,” she reveals. “As a beginner, I usually do a five-kilometer run. Sometimes, I go over.” She says the first 15 minutes are the hardest. “It takes my body a while to warm up. It gets better as I run longer.” Running with friends and family makes it fun. “The best part of running is that you can do it anytime, anywhere, alone or with others.” For now, Tweetie is working not just running but on running well. “I want to improve my skill, distance and time each time I run. To aim for the New York Marathon at this point is just too far fetched.” That may sound like a challenge for the transcendent beauty who has proven that she possesses the smarts, the push and yes, the phenomenal legs, to match. “I think I’m a lucky girl,” Tweetie says, with a smile worthy of any finish line. | 31 |


KOREA TOU RIS M ORG ANISAT ION

Explore

Han at night

Bridges Of Han There are more than 20 bridges across Seoul’s famous river, which reflect the history of the country SEOUL

Northern part of Mapo

Lee Joo-hee The Korea Herald

O

ne feels proud to be a Seoulite when crossing the vast and commanding Han River by car or train, and seeing the water glistening in the sun, and the beautiful lights along each bridge at night. The Han River, which cuts the metropolitan city from east to west, not only represents the industrial might of the country but is also a great tourist attraction. There are more than 20 bridges across the Han, which reflect the history of the country, each telling a story. Some of the bridges are more famous, such as Seongsu Bridge, which was reconstructed after its tragic collapse in 1994. Others, like Gangdong Bridge in the eastern corner of Seoul, are less known. Two recently constructed bridges | 32 |

March 8-14, 2009


Hanggang Railroad Bridge Southern part of Seong

represent the increasing traffic and the constant economic growth of the city. Appreciating the value and significance of the Han River, the Seoul Metropolitan Government began in 2006 its so-called ‘Han River Renaissance’ project to recreate and improve the space around the Han River. In January this year, the Seoul government added more aims to the project,

including measures to change the river’s skyline, which is largely filled with grey residential buildings. According to the plan, apartment buildings taller March 8-14, 2009

than 50 storeys will be possible in such areas as Yeouido, Apgujeong, Jamsil and Seongsu. The space surrounding the river will also be revamped into parks and cultural spaces. More projects are likely to be added, as Seoul City, Incheon and Gyeonggi province have recently reaffirmed their determination to work together in creating the Gyeongin Canal linking Han River to the West Sea.

History

The development of Han River bridges has been closely intertwined with the growth of Korea’s culture and economy for the past 600 years, after the capital city was moved from Gaegyeong (curHanggang bridge rently Gaeseong of North Korea) to Hanseong (Seoul) in 1394 by Taejo, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty. It is said that the king had to travel up and down the river, which was narrower at the time, every year—either to pay tribute to his ancestors or

on leisure outings. The first kind of a bridge is said to have been a form of floating pier, created by putting large planks over some 70 large boats, to allow the royal procession to cross over. This bridge was located where Hangang Bridge stands. It was also a source of great public complaint, as many people were mobilised to bind the boats, taking at least a month each time they did this. As livelihoods along the river grew, traffic demand across the river also increased. With improved engineering and construction skills, the work to build the first bridge—what is now Hangang Railroad Bridge—began in 1897, linking Yongsan and Noryangjin. Construction was completed in 1900. Han River bridges were also tested through time, such as the demolition of the Hangang Bridge during the Korean War (1950-1953) to hold back North Korean troops from progressing south. Twenty bridges straddle the river in Seoul, and two new ones have been completed as of last year. There are six additional bridges in Gyeonggi province. | 33 |


T HE NAT ION (T HAIL AND )

DATE BOOK S I N GA P O R E

Cinderella

I

n this version, the path to true love between Cinderella and the Prince is fraught with modern-day trappings. This good-humoured full-length ballet returns for the fourth rendition since its premiere by Singapore Dance Theatre in November 1996. When: March 6-8, 8pm Where: Esplanade Ticket: S$38 - S$88 (US$25 - $57) Info: www.singaporedancetheatre.com Courtesy of th e S ingapore Dance Th eatre

BA N G KO K

Dove Festival

Y

Hamlet: The Techno Drama

ears ago, it was popular in Thailand to raise zebra doves— especially in the lower southern provinces—believing that doves bring good luck. A local dove-cooing contest was organised in time, and has since grown into the international event that it is today. The highlight of the Asean Barred Ground Dove Festival is a dove-cooing and red-whiskered bulbul singing competition. Local products are on sale as well. When: March 7-9 Where: Khwan Mueang Park

V

eteran Thai director Damkerng Thitapiyasak and New Theatre Society present an adaptation of Hamlet, a solo performance set in the modern day. All the characters in the original play will be there but they will be played by only one actor. When: March 4-15, 7:30pm Where: Crescent Moon Space, Pridi Banomyong Institute Tickets: 250 baht-350 baht (US$7-$10) Info: +66 86 787 7155, NewTheatreSociety.Hi5.com

HONG KONG

Bangkok courtesy of Hong Kong Arts F estival

HK Arts Festival

O

ver 180 performances and events, including four free performances, eight world premieres and eight Asian premieres, are in the festival. Highlights include classic yue opera stories performed by the Shanghai Yueju Opera Theatre, Kafka’s Metamorphosis by the Vesturport Theatre of Iceland and The Peony Pavilion by the National Ballet of China. The final performance of Lisa Ono—A Celebration of 50 Years of Bossa Nova—will be on March 9, a day after the official closing of the festival.

Courtesy of N ew Th eatre S ociety

YALA

When: Until March 8 Where: Various venues Info: www.hk.artsfestival.org/en

The Rabbit And The Mouse

T

hai artist Sudsiri Pui-Ock breathes life to her memories in the West with her On The Path of Searching exhibit. A journey and a travel memoir, the show assembles paintings, videos and dining table installations, all conceived during her two-year residency in the Netherlands. When: Until March 24, 10:30am to 7pm Where: DOB Building, opposite Hua Lumphong station, Rama IV Road Info: www.DOBThailand.com, +66 2 237 5592-4

In-I

O

scar-winning actress Juliette Binoche and today’s most dazzling dancer and choreographer Akram Khan challenge each other in the dance production In-I. Binoche makes her dance debut in the piece, directing and writing for the first time. The Hong Kong Arts Festival is the first stop in Asia on this | 34 |

premiere international tour. When: March 6, 8pm Where: Lyric Theatre, HK Academy for Performing Arts Tickets: Adult HK$200 (US$26)-HK$640 (US$83), Student HK$100 (US$13) - $260 (US$34)

One of Sudsiri’s early paintings. March 8-14, 2009


THE NATION ASIANEWS March 8-14, 2009  

embers of alternative rock band Moderndog are once a ga i n s h o w i n g t h e i r creativity, this time joining up with Lee for “The Moder...

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