Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
Inflation protected bonds and equities, part 2
Last week we looked at the trauma that the US and the UK are
suffering. This can be countered by good alpha management where there are still
some great deals to be found. However, for those of a slightly more conservative
bent, it may pay to look further afield. I would recommend that you look at
Australia. Just look at the real yield differentials between the US and
Australia. Then calculate what that may mean for absolute return investors.
The tables and charts shown here compare the yields on inflation linked bonds
between the US and AU. The downward trend in US TIPS yields versus AU is
interesting. Does this mean that Australian inflation will be much better than
the US? Alternatively, if US inflation is about to kick in, what does that mean
for further Fed interest rate cuts (increases) and therefore equity prices and
the US Dollar?
If one looks at the fundamentals, it can be said that the Australian government
is in reasonable credit. Mainly, this is due to natural resources, continuing
migration from all four corners of the globe - especially Asia and good
government expenditure. If there are worries about inflation and a global
financial catastrophe then Australian ILB’s should be scrutinised. However, if
you believe that Australian inflation may be controlled by the pre-emptive
interest rate rises, then it may be of benefit to look at short end Australian
government bonds. Since everybody seems to be talking about inflation (and
rightly so, look at the price change of cheese, milk, bread these last 12
months) it could be argued that inflation expectations are priced in.
As stated above, it is highly likely that the US stock markets will suffer a lot
more. This will be done by either slower growth or higher interest rates or a
combination of the two. Nonetheless, as I have already said, there is the
possibility to make profits as it is a trading market for those that can
actively manage a portfolio. Even though the bear market rallies will get weaker
and shorter there is still the potential for an upside. This is because of
possible government intervention; however, it is still expected that these are
also likely to fail in the end.
Many equity managers are upbeat about 2008. They have to be, it is their job.
However, you should not be taken in by current prices and valuations. There is
no way that anyone can describe the present situation as having a bargain
basement. Just as an example, the dividend yields on Australian banks could be
regarded as high but they may be about to cut their dividends so how can this
be? The price to book for CBA.AU in 1991 was around about 1. It is now 2. With
the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must re-state that multi-asset
active management is the only way to go unless you go with someone like Man
Australia and use one of their capital (principal) guaranteed funds like
Eclipse. For those of you who may not have heard of this then Man OM-IP 3Eclipse
is the 31st OM-IP fund to be sponsored by Man Investments Australia. It combines
two complementary investment approaches, the AHL Diversified Program and the RMF
Portfolio, and seeks to provide investors with the following benefits:
Performance - Aims to generate medium term capital growth in both rising and
Security - Provides the security of a Capital Guarantee and a Rising Guarantee
from Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Diversification - Low correlation with the performance of investments in stocks,
property and bonds.
Man OM-IP 3Eclipse is the third in the series of Eclipse funds, which have
raised in excess of A$250 million. The first OM-IP Eclipse fund has been trading
for a short period of time, commencing in August 2006, and has provided
investors with a compound annual return of 16.7% since inception. Please
remember though that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future
performance. The really exciting thing about this is that it only cost AUD5,000
to invest. So for those people who have not tried this type of investment before
then it is not going to break the bank to have a go.
The above data and research was compiled from sources
believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its
officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above
article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any
actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For
more information please contact Graham Macdonald on
Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman
As the Boy Scouts say - Be Prepared
of the more lucrative areas of photography is industrial espionage. This
is one form of photography that does not need you to come home with the
‘ultimate’ image. All it needs is a recognizable image.
There is a small army of photographers out there who dedicate their
lives (and expertise) to industrial espionage, and the motor industry
and motoring magazines pay good money for ‘scoops’. I have had my lucky
day too. I spotted a totally unfamiliar looking car. Slowing down to
allow the car to go by it was noticed that it had no name badges or
stickers and was being closely followed by another vehicle full of
monitoring equipment. Smelling that we were on to something, we gave
And a chase it was. Let me assure you that these guys when they are
testing vehicles “under cover” do not want photographers along for the
ride. We pursued them for around 50 kilometres till eventually we ran
them into a dead end street, where we blocked them off and approached
with camera in hand. Out sprang all the Japanese occupants, “No photo.
No Photo,” was their cry. “Sorry takee plentee photo” was my reply.
I shot off a complete roll and quickly had them processed and faxed one
picture to a magazine editor in the capital. He immediately arranged for
courier service (this was before the days of digital cameras, electronic
scanners and the such) to pick them up and the photographs ended up on
the front cover of Japan Auto, as well as being published in the US,
Australia and the UK. We had discovered a new diesel powered car on test
that was scheduled for release in two years time. That 50 km chase and
one roll of film was time and money spent wisely. The end result was
several hundred dollars in my bank account.
So how can you be ready to score your scoop and get your hands on some
ready cash? Well the first thing you have to do is keep your eyes and
ears open. If you know an event is going to take place, you are several
jumps ahead of all the photographers who do not know about it, aren’t
you? There is a second thing you must be diligent about. You must have
the camera ready to go. In other words, it has a fully charged battery
in it, space available in the memory card, and is ready to take
pictures. You cannot ask the man about to bungee jump off the bridge if
he’ll wait till you nick into the shop and get a new battery first. In
this business, opportunity only knocks once, and most times, damn
As part of this being ready concept, I recommend that you screw a wide
angle lens on your waiting camera too. In my case it was a 24 mm f 2.8
“fast” lens. Why? Because the wide angle lens gives you a much greater
depth of field (than when using a longer lens), and you are much more
likely to get the subject in focus than you are otherwise - particularly
if you are doing a “grab” shot on the run. The other aspect in using the
wide angle is that when you rush in close you end up getting a much more
dramatic shot than otherwise (another old newspaper photographer trick).
But you do have to rush in close!
The final part of the being ready bit is to make sure your camera is
well protected while you tote it around with you while waiting for the
shot of a lifetime to bob up in front of you. Use a very sturdy, thickly
padded camera bag. A good one will cost 1,500 baht - but it will be
worth it. It protects against knocks and the heat, though it is still
advisable to keep the camera bag in the coolest part of the car, and out
of the direct sun’s rays.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
“I’ve got this mole, Doctor”
Unfortunately, as we get older, we become prone to find skin
imperfections, we never had before. None of us like getting older - however,
it still beats the alternative! But by being around for a longer period of
time means that we become more prone to certain disorders and conditions.
Our skin is no different, and tumors of various types begin to appear on our
skin as we age.
Now the very word “tumor” strikes fear in the hearts of many, but this is
purely a term we use to describe growths on the skin, which may or may not
be “malignant”. In fact, most skin tumors are not malignant (called
“benign”), and even with the malignant ones, the majority are not going to
bring you to meet your maker before your use-by date. Having said that, it
does not mean that you should ignore skin growths. Most will not kill you,
but they can make the last few years very unpleasant if left untreated.
Looking first at the benign tumors, probably the most common are Seborrhoeic
Keratoses. These are the dry slightly raised “warty” lesions that look as if
they have been stuck on to the skin. In fact, many people “flake” them off
with a well applied finger nail. They come in all colours, and a very simple
way to remove them is with liquid nitrogen freezing. This leaves you with a
smooth white spot where you had a rough coloured one before. (Ask to see
Another interesting lesion is the Acrochordon. These are little skin tags
that hang off the skin and are often considered to be unsightly by the
owner, and can be removed with one suture and one snip.
Another benign lesion is the Keratoacanthoma. These grow fairly rapidly and
have a smooth outline. We usually cut them out, because they are actually
quite difficult to differentiate from SCC’s (Squamous Cell Carcinomas).
I was reminded of the following group of skin lesions when I attended an
Arabic function recently. Many of the Middle-Eastern people were wearing the
‘dish dasha’, that all covering garment from neck to floor. In the
blistering sun of the Levant, this provides much protection from the sun,
whilst the white skinned people go the other way and strip their shirts off.
Wrong! Australia, for example has one of the highest rates of skin
malignancies in the world. In my young days, we were sent outside to get a
bit of “healthy” tan, our parents not knowing that it was actually an
So now we are into the malignant lesions and the three main types are the
SCC (Squamous Cell Carcinoma), the BCC (Basal Cell Carcinoma) and the
Melanoma. These develop over a period of time and exposure to the sun’s UV
light is the main culprit. Hence our call these days to all parents to make
sure their children are well protected by a Factor 30+ sunscreen. In 60
years time your children will appreciate you, but you’ll probably be dead by
then. It’s always the case, isn’t it!
SCC’s are nearly always on sun damaged skin, and fair skinned people are the
most prone. There is often a reddened area around a central scaly patch, and
with long-standing ones the center can ulcerate. Again, it is surgical
excision or nitrogen freezing.
The BCC’s on the other hand are much more aggressive than the SCC’s. They
have a scaly surface and a raised ‘pearly’ edge. Known as ‘Rodent Ulcers’
because they gnaw away at healthy tissues, they can invade and erode
cartilage and even bone. Surgical excision is still the mainstay of
Finally, the Melanomas. These are dark pigmented skin lesions (moles) with
irregular borders and invade the deeper tissues and can spring up as
secondary lesions as well. These tumors can kill you. Wide and deep surgical
excision is the treatment of choice. If the excision is wide enough, and you
got it early enough, you will be fine, but if ignored, this type of skin
cancer metastasizes through the body and is universally fatal.
Skin tumors should not be ignored. If you have some, take them to your
doctor for diagnosis today!
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Have you ever been embarrassed because everywhere you go, your partner makes you
late? What do you do about hopeless time keepers? (Or are you one of them too?)
My Thai girlfriend is wonderful in every way, other than the fact she can never
be on time for anything! And I mean anything. I bought her a watch, I’ve put a
clock on the bedroom wall, but that does not get her into better time habits
either. I know Thai people are supposed to have this free and easy attitude to
time, but my friends expect me to be on time for appointments, lunches and the
like, and if I bring Noi we will always be late and I get hassled and irritated,
which can spoil the day. What suggestions do you have, Hillary?
Dear Tick Tock,
It is “time” (sorry about that) for you to sit down with your girlfriend and
explain why you have a need to be “on time” everywhere. “Secondly” (sorry about
that again, but some days I can’t help myself) you should also make time to sit
down and make sure that you are not needlessly making life more difficult for
yourself than it need be. Is it always imperative that you be exactly on time?
There is always a middle way, Petal. Telling them you will be at the venue
between 7-7.30 gives you 30 minutes leeway, and you can always fib and tell your
girlfriend you are expected to be there at 6.30.
I never thought I would have to write to someone like you, but I’m here from the
UK to look after my old father (he’s almost 80) and is, I thought, living on his
own in Pattaya. When I spoke to him from England I got the impression that he
was still pining for my late mother who died just over 12 months ago, but when I
got here that seems to be nothing like the true situation. I find that he is
going to girly bars at night and I have seen them fondling him in a most
indiscreet manner. It’s worse than that, because he often brings one of them
home. What can he possibly do at his age? Do you agree that a man of his age
(and a retired civil engineer too) should not be handling himself in this way? I
find it disgusting, and my mother would be horrified if she knew just what
depravity he is up to now she has passed on. I would like your advice on how I
get him to stop this sort of thing, as I am sure you will be just as disgusted
at this type of behavior being shown by someone who used to be a loving husband
to my late mother and father to me. My mother used to handle him OK until she
got sick. Is it a medical problem, do you think?
No my dear, it is not a medical problem, it is a daughter problem. However, I do
not understand your saying that he has been “handling himself in this way” when
in the sentence before you give me to believe that he is being more than
adequately handled by others! You should be pleased that your 80 year old father
is still showing signs of life and share in his enjoyment of it. Life is for
living, no matter what age you are. Time for you to lighten up, Petal. If your
father is not asking to be looked after in a ‘wifely’ way, you should not
presume to do it. If you want to do something for your father in a constructive
fashion get him a medical check up and a packet of Vitamin V if he is medically
fit enough, though it sounds like he is more than up to it already.
I am a larger sized lady, but I am happy with myself and my shape. I have been
“overweight”, or what I would describe as “cuddly” for the last fifteen years
and this has defied all attempts at dieting, so I have now given up and just
enjoy myself. This does lead to some problems though when getting items for my
wardrobe. In the western countries the ladies apparel shops do cater to the
larger sizes but this does not seem to be the case here. Do you know of any
shops in Pattaya that would keep dresses of size 18 and over? The “one size fits
all” is a little optimistic I have found.
Hillary is happy for you that you are happy with your size and shape, as so many
of us are not. However, the local shops will obviously stock clothes for the
majority of their customers - they are Thai and come in sizes 6-10. But do not
despair, help is at hand, called tailor shops! Most of the tailor shops in
Thailand also cater for women customers. If you have a favorite dress you can
get it copied, or if you have a photograph of a dress that you like, you can get
it made. There are advertisements in the this newspaper for the more reputable
Learn to Live to Learn: with Andrew Watson
When is it Okay?
The international school in which I worked in Jerusalem was a
remarkable place. Set in the semi-circular buildings of the
former English Mission Hospital and surrounded by manicured
gardens, it was an oasis of caring calm in a desert of
depravation seemingly bereft of love. It was ever thus; even the
opening in 1897 caused serious riots from opposing Jewish
zealots, who remembering the crusades (yes it’s true), had
subsequently nurtured (perhaps understandably) instinctive
distrust and distaste for anything to do with a cross; even when
they were hanging around the necks of doctors and nurses.
Outside the gates (and later walls) it seemed that madness
reigned, but walking into this sanctuary of peace, you left
anxiety, pain and suffering behind. It was a world populated by
smiles, hope and love. The contrast could not have been more
dramatic, the sensation more vivid.
The school backed on to an ultra-religious area of west
Jerusalem, known as Meah She’arim, where, dressed in the
enduring costumes of Eastern Europe of the 17th century, hatted
Haredim* scurried to and from religious seminaries known as
Yeshivas, whilst wigged and scarfed mother hens led lengthy
lines of children like Russian dolls - tallest first, smallest
last - through filthy streets choking with traffic, clogged with
Sometimes, our new, younger female staff would either forget or
ignore warnings and turn left into Meah She’arim instead of
right towards somewhere else and walk headlong into culture
shock, into a place where it was made abundantly clear that they
were not welcome. Woe betide any female wandering with her
shoulders visible. They would be spat at; phlegm spiced with
vitriol, abused with the foulest language by children with the
blessing of their mothers and fathers. They were seen as
unclean, as gentiles, the children of murdering crusaders.
The school, owned and managed by an evangelical Christian group
whose avowed intent, put simply, was (and remains) to encourage
Jews to embrace Jesus as the Messiah, was to the extremist
tendencies in the vicinity of Meah She’arim, a vile jelly that
Nonetheless, despite the imperious overtone of evangelism
ringing in your ears, the school embraced and celebrated
diversity. In fact, it did what it said, fostering
“understanding and reconciliation, welcoming students of all
faiths or none.” Its diversity was its greatest strength. It’s
impossible to proselytize to a group of students so varied,
especially when their IB curriculum is consciously inconsistent
with any notion of religious indoctrination, more especially
still when the Principal demonstrates leadership skills of the
During the Al-Asqua Intifada in Jerusalem in 2001, the school
became a haven for reconciliation and a model for the indigenous
populations to follow. Fearless but compassionate, the leader of
the school brought the community together. This required the
capacity for understanding a situation with intuition,
initiative, intelligence, courage and a sense of shared humanity
and the same kind of instinctive genius as leaders like Mandela
and Ghandi. I do not exaggerate. The leader demonstrated
panoramic vision and was regarded as a visionary himself. He was
able to identify and maintain the special character of the
school and to symbolize to the outside world exactly what the
school stood for. He set challenging but manageable standards of
performance which motivated all employees and was the exemplar
of a positive role model. His considered choice of appropriate
response is what is referred to as “style flexibility”.
As you might expect, the Principal used the word “tolerance”
frequently, a dangerous word indeed if left contextually
unexplored, or used without substantiation and justification.
“Why,” some staff asked, “are we tolerant of people who spit on
our teachers?” Other staff responded, “They shouldn’t have gone
into that district. We know what they are like there. They made
a mistake. They offended the locals.” A dangerous line, the
latter; cultural relativism at its most impotent. Or perhaps, a
realist stance? It was certainly true that if one attempted to
pursue any legal redress against the “spitters” then local legal
ranks would close very quickly, as political influence was
wielded. In Jerusalem, everything is politicised by religious
difference. Nonetheless, it was possible to arrive quite quickly
at an argument grounded in ethical absolutism; it’s not OK, and
it never will be OK, to spit on somebody else.
This whole theme of “being OK” was taken up within the school
and grew into a rather marvellous expression of common, shared
humanity. There was a large Belgian man who liked his food very
much; probably too much. When hunger consumed him, he would
scavenge for food around campus like a great lolloping bear.
Once he found a sealed packet of smuggled Sainsbury’s bacon in a
fridge and being in a state of fervent desire, he ripped it
open, thinking it to be some kind of prosciutto. The first
rasher he ate raw. “It tasted strange and rather unpleasant,” he
later recounted, but remaining unconvinced that dissatisfaction
should impede his ravenous inclination, he proceeded to stuff
himself with the remaining eleven rashers, still raw.
He may have been rapacious, but he was also affable, cuddly and
lovable and he cared deeply about his fellow humans. He
instigated a competition amongst students to design a T shirt
which should carry the words, “I’m OK only if you’re OK,” a
mantra which truly reflected the sense of camaraderie within the
school. The result took the message of interdependence and
caring beyond the school walls, into a tense, often violent
world of confrontation. But the wearers of the T shirt (it was
designed for the students by the students and became the
unofficial uniform) acted out the mantra on the streets. So that
when a Haredi* from Meah She’arim, too busy to look where he was
going, walked straight into someone bigger on the street and was
knocked down, our students would be there, helping him up,
checking he was OK. The message was clear: don’t be tolerant of
intolerance but combat hatred with love, fight ignorance with
knowledge and despair with hope. And tell somebody: that you’re
OK only if they’re OK.
*Haredi(m): A sect of Orthodox Judaism
Next week: Globe trotting
DOC ENGLISH Teaching your kids how to learn English:
Turning an Anarchic Classroom into an Active Classroom
This week I’d like to respond to a letter from Shelley, a fellow teacher
in Chiang Mai, who e-mailed me recently. Her question was: ‘How do I let
my students take a more active role in their learning without there
Thanks for reading Shelley! In response to your first question, of
course there’s nothing wrong with some anarchy in the classroom, as long
as there is a little learning going on! However, we do need some
structure to our lessons and of course we have a time limit and a
curriculum to deliver (otherwise sadly we won’t get paid).
Although we want our students to ‘discover’ as much as they can for
themselves and to actively seek information by experimenting, asking
questions, using books and other resources, at the end of the day there
needs to be clear objectives to the lesson and these objectives need to
I think students need to be introduced to the concept of ‘active
learning’ over a period of a few weeks (or even months). It’s best to
start with a new class and introduce things gradually by giving them
greater choice over the lesson content, materials and more time and
resources to find things out for themselves. Students may be used to
working independently, for example, and may need to be slowly introduced
to working in pairs or groups. If you have inherited a class, you may
find that some students may be used to being ‘spoon-fed’ information and
answers, or they may be opposed to being taught in a different way. It
may take quite a while for students to take responsibility for their own
learning, to ask questions, seek new answers, to look for information
themselves, to work together on joint tasks and to take risks.
of the Game
When I start with a new class I find it’s important to take a fresh look
at the Classroom Rules. We don’t want to impose rules on our students,
but sometimes rules are necessary in order for the lesson to be
productive. However, it is possible to establish rules in a
‘child-centred’ way. Rather than making our own rules, we can encourage
our students to brainstorm some rules together and come up with their
own classroom rules. Afterwards, they could illustrate these rules and
pin these to the wall in big letters. Students can laminate or even
frame the rules to emphasise their importance to everyone.
If the students create their own rules, these rules will allow the free
flow of ideas. When brainstorming rules, students should consider
problems such as ‘How can we stop everyone talking at once?’, ‘How can
we get the teachers attention?’, ‘How can we work without
distractions?’, or even ‘What is bad behaviour?’ and ‘What can we do
about bad behaviour?’ Generally you will find that the new rules and
consequences that students come up with will be harsher than anything
you could have thought of so you may have to tone them down a bit!
Once you have a set of classroom rules, you have a framework for a
student-centred lesson. Students should be far more willing to follow
the classroom rules if they themselves have created them and they will
be more aware of how rules can benefit their learning. Hopefully these
rules will ensure that things don’t descend into anarchy!
If you are teaching your kids at home, you can brainstorm your own
‘classroom rules’ before you start. Agree a time limit for learning,
topics, methods, materials (books, etc.). Allow your child to help you
come up with rules and their own learning strategy. If it doesn’t work,
you can meet and revise your plans.
Anarchy in the UK
Sometimes it’s useful to know some strategies for dealing with bad
behaviour, or kids that seem like they ‘simply don’t want to learn’.
I remember a situation when I was trainee teacher in the UK. I walked in
to cover a class that had descended into anarchy. Some of the kids were
chucking chairs around, others were talking with their backs to me and
others (who wanted to learn) were sitting there frustrated with the
general situation. With my back to the class, I pretended to ignore them
and started to draw a huge diagram of a volcano on the board (it was a
Geography lesson). Slowly, the class started to take notice and started
asking questions about my diagram. I answered some of their questions;
however, I left spaces in the diagram and provided a list of vocabulary
at the side, so that the students could work out some of the answers for
themselves. Most of the students started to settle down and some of them
started to try and draw and label my diagram.
First I kept calm and showed that I was in control of myself (if not the
class at this point). Then I encouraged the children to notice the new
information and encouraged them to ask questions. Finally, I showed
interest in their opinions and provided a fun way for them to learn and
discover the answers for themselves. I also gave choices; students could
choose what they wanted to put in the boxes and even whether or not to
learn. In my experience, given the choice, students prefer to learn and
join an activity rather than do nothing at all!
Some simple rules for you to follow yourself when teaching young
* Try not to get angry; smile and show that you are in control.
* Criticise bad behaviour, but not the child. Don’t feel tempted to
humiliate the child in front of the class, put them down or make
negative or personal comments. Highlight and commend examples of good
* Know your students, their names and their background. For example, if
any students have recently moved to the area, if they are likely to be
encountering any problems at home. Find tasks and activities that you
know your students will enjoy. Learn a little of their native language
if you can
* Agree the objectives of the lesson and the rules of any activity
clearly before you start.
Good classroom management is essential. Here knowing the students names,
who their friends are and their family background helps a lot. Students
who don’t pay attention can be moved to the front, students who
interrupt to the back. Chatty students can be moved next to quiet
students. If you want to do this in a child centred way, discuss your
choices before you move with the whole class, let the whole class decide
the best seating arrangement. They should be able to work out the best
arrangement to maximize their learning.
That’s all for this week mums and dads. If you want more information on
teaching your kids at home you can email me at: docenglishpattaya
@gmail.com Enjoy spending time with your kids.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
Get Smart: US Action/Comedy – Steve Carell as Secret Agent
Maxwell Smart, in a movie based on the 60’s US television series created
by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and starring Don Adams, which made fun of
spies in the cold war and secret spy gadgets.
Death Sentence: US Drama/Thriller – Kevin Bacon in a white-collar
revenge fantasy in the vein of Death Wish (and based on a novel by the
same author, Brian Garfield) pondering the nature and limits of
retribution, asking if murder can ever be justified. Director James Wan
(responsible for the infamous Saw) delivers a high-end exploitation
film. Rated R in the US for strong, bloody, brutal violence, and
pervasive language. But I have always liked the performances of the
iconoclastic Kevin Bacon. Generally negative reviews.
The Last Moment/Rak-Sam-Sao: Thai Romance/Drama – A love triangle
develops between three university friends, one of whom becomes
The Other Boleyn Girl: UK/US Drama/History/Romance – A sumptuous
and sensual tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set against the
backdrop of a defining moment in European history. It tells the story of
two beautiful sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett
Johansson) Boleyn who, driven by their family’s blind ambition, compete
for the love of the handsome and passionate King Henry VIII (Eric Bana).
Both women shall share the King’s bed, but only one will rise to the
throne and take power as his Queen of England. One sister will fail, and
the other will pay for her success with her life. Outstanding
performances by the three Hollywood leads and a host of the finest
British actors. Beautifully filmed and costumed. Recommended – despite
some heavily critical and sarcastic reviews, I don’t think they come
much better than this. Mixed or average reviews.
Good Morning Luang Prabang: Thai/Lao Drama/Romance – Thai
superstar Ananda Everingham, part Laotian himself, is extraordinarily
charming as a partly-Laotian Thai photographer assigned a photo shoot in
Laos. He is reluctant to return to his homeland, which he left many
years before, as he feels estranged from his country. This relaxed and
sweet love story/travelogue is a valentine to the land and people of
Laos. It will bring to mind the places you saw on that trip to Laos, or
the one you will take. A labor of love for Ananda, he waived his acting
fee. It’s a Thai-Lao co-production, and marks the first Laotian feature
film in nearly 20 years. Slow, languid, and loveable – and recommended.
The Happening: US/India Drama/Sci-Fi – M. Night Shyamalan
produces another mysterious film people will either love or hate. It’s
beautifully crafted, with excellent scenes of tension and spookiness.
Don’t read too much about it before you see it – go with an open mind.
Rated R in the US for violent and disturbing images, but it seems much
of this has been clipped out in Thailand. Generally negative reviews.
The Incredible Hulk: US Action/Sci-Fi – With an excellent
performance by Edward Norton, it’s a terrific comic-based action picture
with mythic themes – shades of King Kong and Frankenstein. Very exciting
indeed, and a top notch production. I’m enjoying this new series of
movies from Marvel Studios starring their ever-popular superheroes,
which started with the recent excellent Iron Man. Generally favorable
Kung Fu Panda: US Animation/Comedy – Pure fun! And I laughed a
lot. An animated comedy set in the legendary world of ancient China,
about a lazy panda who must somehow become a Kung Fu Master in order to
save his valley from a villainous snow leopard. Sort of an undated
version of the recent Jet Li/Jackie Chan film The Forbidden Kingdom,
full of irreverent invention against bright Chinese images, full of
dazzling animation. Very assured and accomplished, sharp and funny, with
some surprisingly tender moments. Jackie Chan voices the monkey,
Angelina Jolie voices the tigress, and Dustin Hoffman voices Shifu. The
scene after the credits is actually very sweet and meaningful. Almost
worth staying for. Generally favorable reviews:
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: UK/US
Adventure/Family/Fantasy – Further adventures of the four British kids
in Narnia. Generally favorable reviews.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: US Adventure/Action
– If you like good adventure films, go see this. Generally favorable
Sex and the City: The Movie: US Comedy – Fans of the television
show and Sarah Jessica Parker should be very happy with this chick-flick
about very rich, witty, well-dressed women and their so-called problems.
Mixed or average reviews. Rated R in the US for strong sexual content,
graphic nudity, and language
for June 26
Wanted: US Action/Thriller – A young man (James McAvoy)
discovers his father is an assassin. And when his father is murdered,
the son is recruited into his father’s organization and trained by a man
named Sloan (Morgan Freemen) to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Rated R
in the US for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and