Noy Thrupkaew

Noy Thrupkaew is a Prospect senior correspondent.

Recent Articles

Everybody Watch Chris

There is no way to ignore Chris Rock -- irate man-boy, the voice a squall of gleeful outrage, the eyes bugging out in disbelief. He's so put-upon, and so happily so, that he just has to share all of it: Can you believe this? Unlike comics who try to draw audiences into their private worlds, Rock drags us outside to look at all the freaky, nasty behavior going on right there in the open. Garden-variety stupidity, bloated egos at the Oscars, the desperate illogic of crack addicts, the shopping mall the white people go to and the one they don't -- all of it the subject of Rock's hyperthyroidic delivery, that madman shout. Eyebrows pumping, he makes people co-conspirators in mocking themselves; if people didn't laugh so hard at hearing their follies punctured with such naughty accuracy, he'd probably get punched in the face. Rock has transferred his ripping commentary to his new show, Everybody Hates Chris , which airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on UPN. A quasi-account of his life as a teenager...

Bored Of War

Andrew Niccols' latest film rolls out the carpet for its supposed antihero, illegal arms dealer Yuri Orlov (played by Nicolas Cage). When Yuri first appears onscreen, he's standing on countless glistening bullets, so many of them that they gleam like a sumptuous, golden rug. He's a true Lord of War , the image says, a dirty prince who has made his fortune by peddling death. Niccols underscores that point by following the path of one of Yuri's bullets as it slowly wends its way from a case in eastern Europe to the muzzle of a gun fired in a street shoot-out in Africa to -- zingingly fast and thrilling now, arching over the dirt streets and through a tattered house -- bang , the forehead of a nameless young African boy. As its opening attests, Niccols' film traffics in stylishly violent images -- a somewhat awkward conundrum, as the director is trying to deplore the careless, capitalist cult of violence, the dehumanizing nature of gunrunning itself, as Niccols and a few of his cast made...

Theme-Park Strangers

The scene is picture perfect: a magical pinkish twilight, a gentle hill, the fairy spire of the Eiffel Tower rising in the distance. Then an old Chinese man -- bedraggled, stooped under a huge basket of trash -- steps into the frame, transforming the scene into the exquisite inverse of a classical Chinese landscape painting. Instead of showing natural elements -- trees, mountains, streams, abundant space -- creating a harmonious realm for miniscule human figures, director Jia Zhangke has flipped the proportions, revealed the human cost at the core of an ersatz ideal. The scene, which appears early on in the Chinese director's fourth feature film, tells us that The World Jia is depicting will foreground what its creators might wish to disguise: the suffering that lies under a facade of gleaming perfection. The setting of the film is a real-life theme park in Beijing where visitors can “see the world without ever leaving Beijing.” World Park recreates numerous international sites and...

Strange Beasts

The director and I are pattering away in a bizarre mélange of Thai and English, often within the same sentence. “Thai films can really have a sang son quality, that textbook preachiness, sometimes,” director Apichatpong Weerasethakul muses. “I didn't feel like papayon should be like that.” The linguistic switch-hitting is apt, considering Weerasethakul has a penchant for rupturing boundaries in his films -- between documentary and filmic fiction in his first feature ( Mysterious Object at Noon ), and between politics and sexual escapism in his second ( Blissfully Yours ). His latest venture, Tropical Malady , opens with a tender romance between two men, before plunging into a mythic tale of a soldier hunting a shaman-turned-tiger. Trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, Weerasethakul extends his uniquely hybrid identity even to his name (he often goes by Joe). Raised on the horror films that would reach his then-rural town of Khon Kaen, Weerasethakul would grow up to be a fan of...

Moving, But Not Spirited

Criticizing the latest Hayao Miyazaki movie feels evil, like passing up cupcakes made by children to sup on puppies. Miyazaki is, after all, the grand master of animation, gifted with an unparalleled and deeply humanistic imagination, the creator of rapturous worlds and complex heroines that Walt Disney could only dream of. So why the grumbles? Perhaps because Miyazaki's idiosyncratic genius has become a bit too untethered from this world. Howl's Moving Castle , his latest, has the trademark Miyazaki strengths -- the fascinating young-girl protagonist, a weirdly wonderful visual sensibility, and a few scenes of such beauty that a viewer feels choked with unshed tears. But the film also displays Miyazaki's tendency -- more pronounced in his more recent films -- to meander, to dawdle, to flutter about like an infuriating, quixotic butterfly. Wha? I found myself thinking while watching this latest offering. Who is that? Why is this happening? Maybe I'm just getting too old. Adapted from...

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