Noy Thrupkaew

Noy Thrupkaew is a Prospect senior correspondent.

Recent Articles

Condemned Love

Amour, Michael Haneke's latest film, is a horror story with a foregone conclusion.

Courtesy of Sony Classic Pictures
Don’t be fooled by the possibility of a kinder, gentler Michael Haneke. It would be easy to let down your guard given the title of his latest, gruelingly good film, Amour , and the release poster’s image of a beautiful, aging woman’s face cupped by loving hands. But Haneke has made a decades-long career out of crafting haute horror stories, and old habits die hard. As do the habits of Amour ’s octogenarian couple, struggling to hold on to routines as if that could stave off the inexorability of death. Set almost entirely within the confines of the pair’s Paris apartment, Haneke’s latest Cannes-winning film centers on Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) as she confronts her slow demise from stroke and dementia and her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) accepts the crushing task of serving as her caregiver. Haneke’s films are a tough haul—icy in their austerity and remove, fueled on expertly modulated tension and dread. And yet for anyone who...

This Is Not a Movie Review

Iranian director Jafar Panahi's latest film revels in the irony of making a film about being forbidden to make a film.

Director Jafar Panahi appears on screen for almost the entire duration of his latest film—making breakfast, getting bad news from his lawyer, staging an impromptu read-through of a script the Iranian government has forbidden him to shoot. Panahi is not directing, though—at least he’s not supposed to be. As his cameraman and collaborator reminds him, even yelling “cut” would be considered an offense. The resulting footage is just as ontologically coy. The feature, which makes its U.S. debut this week, is titled This Is Not a Film . Like the René Magritte painting it calls upon , Panahi and collaborator Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s “effort,” as it’s billed, draws attention to the slippery line between artifice and actuality. In this way, Panahi keeps true to his usual M.O.—the hall-of-mirrors style for which he and his mentor, the great Abbas Kiarostami ( Certified Copy , Ten , Taste of Cherry ), are renowned. What’s real...

It All Falls Apart

In the beautiful A Separation, even the family is no refuge from society.

Berthold Stadler/dapd
Who are you to judge? Another’s life, the beliefs and attachments, rational and otherwise, that make up another’s choices—how can anyone evaluate such things? Yet the arguing Iranian couple in A Separation demand judgment. They face the camera in the opening scene, a comely woman with dyed-red hair under her veil, and her bearded, exasperated husband. Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi) are presenting their case for divorce to an unseen magistrate and in turn, to us. She seeks a better life for their daughter abroad; he refuses to leave behind his home and his elderly father, who is stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. The judge denies them a divorce, declaring, “My finding is that your problem is a small problem.” They are stuck with each other and with us. These are the seemingly low stakes of Asghar Farhadi’s latest, which has the unlikely distinction of being an Iranian film with Oscar buzz. (Iran hasn’t had a nomination...

More Like Tin

The Iron Lady, short on substance and long on sentimentality, is just the sort of film Margaret Thatcher would hate.

Call it the Meryl Streep money shot, the scene most likely to appear in the Oscar montage for best actress. Margaret Thatcher sits in a patient’s paper gown, grasping for her wits through a fog of Alzheimer’s, aware she must perform a charade of competency. A young doctor peppers her with questions about whether she’s experiencing hallucinations and how she's feeling. And just like that, the anxious old woman transforms, replaced by a former U.K. prime minister who draws herself up, fixes her opponent with a glare, and issues a flinty indictment about the tyranny of modern life, dominated by those who “care more about feelings than thoughts and ideas.” The irony is that the much-anticipated The Iron Lady hews precisely to this formula. Long on sentiment but short on statement, the film is a star vehicle for Streep, who does her usual, impeccable job of conjuring flesh and blood out of a stale script. This time she’s channeling director Phyllida...

Beautiful Annihilation

Director Lars von Trier's latest film asks: What do you do when the world's coming to an end?

Christian Genisnaes As Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier would have it, there is little more maddening than a depressive in one’s care. The lachrymose lump under the covers, the dead-eyed gaze at dawn, the obstinacy—almost pleasurable, it can seem—in clinging to suffering. Nothing is worse than taking care of such a person, perhaps, except being the depressive herself, lost in a scratchy fog of sadness and anxiety punctuated only by guilt and the unanswerable, unrelenting question: Why can’t you be happy? Von Trier’s response: Because the world is coming to an end. In Melancholia , the director has made his version of a zombie apocalypse film, with Kirsten Dunst as the living dead. I don't mean to be flippant, really, as the thing is deadly serious when it’s not pitched for perverse laughs—an operatic three-parter that focuses on two sisters as they grapple with the end of the world. The film is stunning—if you go in for the director...