The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 13 January 2018

Film

Image: Getty Images

Thailand’s lead role

The Southeast Asian country is a stage for all the world when it comes to international film projects. Now can Thai productions, in turn, grab a global audience?

Thriving cities, pristine tropical beaches and dense jungles are just three reasons why Thailand is a versatile location for making movies – and a recent report shows that filmmaking fortunes are starting to fall in the nation’s favour. The number of international projects shot in the country rose by about 40 per cent last year, with a generous new tax incentive enticing productions from both the US and China. The skilled services of a talented industry are also an incentive says Thailand Film Office’s Sirinart Theenanondh: “We have professional crews and the costs here are very competitive compared to other countries.” With Thai cinematic hits not gaining international audiences, this production boost could help homegrown talents increase their presence on the big screen.

Magazines

Productive page-turner

Make a date to leaf through a new Portuguese publication that celebrates the country’s craft culture.

We've made no secret of our admiration for the Iberian peninsula and we're equally taken by Observador, a new print title that champions Portuguese craft, creativity and independent businesses. Expect artfully shot profiles of makers (Casulo’s macramé masterpieces caught our eye), in-depth interviews with the likes of Maria de Lourdes Modesto (the grandmother of Portuguese gastronomy) and the lowdown on modernist wineries worth a visit – not to mention all manner of wares, chairs, shops, shoes and jewellery. “Observador was 100 per cent digital at birth in 2014 but things have changed a little since then," says founder João Miguel Tavares, explaining that the print issue, with a circulation of 15,000, is jointly put together with editor Ana Dias Ferreira, based on a treasure trove of online stories. “We didn’t have a top-notch ‘Made in Portugal’ magazine; there was a void and we tried to fill it.’

Review

‘Billboards’ off the chart

The captivating new film from the director of ‘In Bruges’ is in line for awards aplenty – and here’s why.

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, writer and director Martin McDonagh (he of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths) has created a mad, bad and dangerous masterpiece that invites small-town, big-country America to look long and hard in the mirror. However, the moralising – never explicit – is secondary to the yarn. Frances McDormand is Mildred, whose daughter’s unsolved murder she keeps “live” by calling the town sheriff (a tough and tender Woody Harrelson) to public account on those three billboards. The fallout is epic, Old Testament and Steinbeckian, with the script crackling like an electric fire thrown in a bathtub. The story spins on a series of improbable sixpences; tears of laughter, and the other, will fall. This incredible film won Golden Globes earlier this week and McDonagh had better build a bigger trophy cabinet.

Art

Breached defences

Donald’s border wall hasn’t sprouted up yet – but an exhibition ridiculing his plans is very much in place.

Can border walls be classified as art? Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel seems to think so: he has reframed Donald Trump’s eight border-wall prototypes between the US and Mexico as a major land-art exhibition. A guided tour of Prototypes begins in San Diego and crosses into Tijuana, from where the “sculptural installation” can be viewed. Alongside the tour, the artist’s non-profit art organisation Maga (cheekily referencing the president’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”) has started a petition to protect the models from demolition by invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906. Büchel’s provocative work ultimately mocks Trump’s border wall plans by making a statement just as absurd as the original scheme.

From Monocle 24

Eureka: Marc Popper – Café Paradiso

The Entrepreneurs

Marc Popper is the co-founder of Italian-inspired espresso bar and restaurant Café Paradiso in Geneva. In this episode he tells us how his previous work in branding helped him conceptualise the Paradiso and how he partnered with his previous clients to open it.

From Monocle Films

Antwerp: new and improved

In collaboration with Visit Antwerp, we hop on a bike and take a tour of this understated gem. From fashion to food, a quiet renaissance is taking place in this forward-thinking Belgian city.

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