Noy Thrupkaew

Noy Thrupkaew is a Prospect senior correspondent.

Recent Articles

Free At Last

After Innocence begins with a shout-out to God. “Halle lu jah!” crows one man, arms upraised. “Praise God!” The man has literally been saved, after all, though by DNA and not strictly the divine, one of the growing number of men exonerated by genetic evidence. Jessica Sanders' deliberately paced and often disturbing documentary doesn't dwell long on the exuberance of the newly freed. As its title attests, the film primarily focuses on the aftermath of exoneration, the often bewildering and belittling slog that faces the men after their supposed redemption. Not surprisingly, the system that demonstrated an incompetence verging on cruelty in the incarceration of these men continues to haunt them after their release. One of the documentary subjects was given less than $6 when he left prison; this in stark contrast to the job training, counseling, and other services that are granted to parolees. Others never receive official or even informal apologies -- or, worse yet, never have their...

Paradise Lost

Everything is broken in Paradise Now -- the crumbling buildings, the battered cars. Hany Abu-Assad's darkly compelling feature is set in the West Bank town of Nablus, and the city's decay fills every corner of the frame, every aspect of the lives of two would-be suicide bombers, Khaled (Ali Suliman) and Said (Kais Nashef). Paradise Now is an intriguingly ambivalent, uncomfortable film, one that reflects the circumstances of its making: Abu-Assad and his crew shot the film while firefights between the occupying Israeli army and Palestinian forces would break out around them. The film draws on the ensuing jittery tension, the disorienting tug between viewpoints to complicate its politics, its attempt to glimpse into the murky political and psychological terrain of suicide bombing. Abu-Assad sketches out the parameters of Khaled and Said's lives with a drolly dark humor. Their lives are aimless, but the filmmaker captures a sort of lost loveliness: The two young auto mechanics puff on a...

Both Sides, Now

In his advance publicity work for Commander in Chief, series creator Rod Lurie told the press that the show -- ABC's new drama about the first female president -- was distinctly “anti-partisan.” Oh please, Rod; it's a lefty wish come true. The audience at the Washington screening put on by the nonprofit women's group The White House Project churned with excitement, punctuating key moments of the drama with choruses of “mm- hmm ” and “you tell him, girl.” In the revival-tent atmosphere of the screening room, we were gripped with the fevered righteousness of a cause: a woman president, one who reflects our political visions and goals, and, even more jaw-dropping, an über-frau who juggles work -- and what work! -- and family … and still manages to look like a Hollywood star. She can do it; why can't we? “[This show] is putting our dreams on the screen,” an American University student told me, and indeed, the audience seemed in thrall to a collective fantasy: a woman able to create the...

The Nutty-And-Slutty Defense

North Country is a nasty bait and switch, a film with feminist aspirations that suddenly goes all Lifetime lunatic. You feel safe at first. At the Washington, D.C., screening, people from Ms. Magazine and a domestic-violence-prevention organization are on hand to cheer the film and hand out promotional junk. You sigh with anticipation, ready to watch an A-list cast get inspirationally grungy with the based-on-a-true story depiction of the nation's first class-action sexual-harassment suit. Charlize Theron has gone and rolled around in the dust to give herself more of that Monster ugly-cred, Frances McDormand busts out her Minner-soda accent: You go, girls! Inspire my popcorn-munching ass! The film lays the victimhood on thick, right from the start. Josey Aimes (Theron) flees her wife-beating husband through the harsh Minnesota winter and winds up at her unsympathetic parents' house. Desperate to support her two kids, she takes a job at the local mine, where she and a few other down-on...

The Strongman's Story

Early on in Ellen Perry's jaw-dropper of a documentary, Fall of Fujimori , the controversial former leader of Peru is seen applying his makeup, dabbing on foundation with a sponge and peering into a mirror. It's a disarming and curious moment, made all the more incongruous by the information that has preceded it: Alberto Fujimori is living in exile in Japan, wanted on charges of corruption, kidnapping, and murder in Peru. In its own way, the scene is a subtler reworking of the footage of U.S. pols primping, prepping, and running spit-covered combs through their hair in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 . Like Moore's film, Fujimori aims to show its viewers what goes on behind the stagecraft of politics and the ugliness behind its façade. Perry has a lighter hand than Moore does, however; as a result, her film disturbs in a more nuanced fashion. She intrigues, perturbs, and asks many questions, but provides few answers – an approach that will likely provoke viewers into scurrying to find...

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