Be careful with the Kaminomoto

This month’s Q&A subject, John Archer, was so full of stories about the old days of print advertising in Southeast Asia, we had a difficult time editing down the article. Something that wasn’t mentioned in the print article was that notorious ad man Neil French actually worked under John when he fist came to Asia.

If you’re looking for some examples of the “adventurous” advertising that John mentioned, you can find some great retro ads and the stories behind them at Neil French’s personal website. Included are his famous pieces for Chivas Regal, Kaminomoto and XO Beer that originally ran in Singapore’s The Straits Times.


Clash Hits Theatres Today

December 18, 2009

Back in September, AsiaLIFE delved into the burgeoning Vietnamese movie industry in a cover story by contributing editor Thomas Maresca (vol. 18). Tom spoke to a number of directors and film stars, including Johnny Tri Nguyen, the co-star of The Rebel, one of the most successful films to come out of Vietnam, and Clash, which hits theatres today.

Highly anticipated, Clash also stars Ngo Thanh Van (who Tom interviewed in October’s Q&A, vol. 19). Among other stunts, the film features the first car chase ever filmed in Vietnam. Check out all the gratuitous, exploding goodness in the trailer below.

Wow … that’s a lot of kicking.

There’s not much English information on the actual plot of Clash out there, so we asked former junior art director Linh Van to translate for us. The road-to-redemption story follows two anti-heroes: Trinh (Ngo Thanh Van) and Quan (Johnny Tri Nguyen). Trinh is on her final mission for her criminal overlord: to steal a hard drive that controls Vietnam’s VINASAT.1 satellite. When she’s betrayed by the gang that she’s assembled to complete the job, Quan remains her only ally. Despite their attraction, Trinh becomes suspicious of Quan’s motives.

Check out the AsiaLIFE archives for September’s cover story on the cinema of Vietnam and October’s Q&A with Ngo Thanh Van.

A new exhibition of video, objects and photo-based work by pioneering media artist Bruce Yonemoto called North South East West opens tonight at 6pm at Galerie Quynh.

Bruce Yonemoto is acclaimed for his collaborations with his brother Norman as well as for his independent practice. His work references the clichés and myths of American culture and the influence of media – most notably Hollywood productions – on society and culture. At the same time his work addresses issues such as identity, race and ethnicity and more generally universal preoccupations with time, life and death. The artist explores America’s collective memory and distorts reality into a semi-permanent state of illusion and stupor.  We are faced with aspects of our daily lives that rarely appear as clear as in Yonemoto’s documentations and manipulations of memory.  Although his practice often references America, his works have cross-cultural inferences to which viewers of different cultures can relate.

Bruce Yonemoto has been honored with numerous awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Film Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Maya Deren Award for Experimental Film and Video. He and his brother, Norman, were the subject of a major mid-career survey at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles in 1999. Bruce’s solo installations, photographs and sculptures have been featured in one person shows at institutions such as the ICC in Tokyo, the ICA in Philadelphia and the Kemper Museum in Kansas City and in gallery exhibitions at Alexander Gray, New York, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, Tomio Koyama, Tokyo. His work has also been featured in ‘Los Angeles 1955-85’ at the Pompidou Center, Paris, and the Generali Foundation, Vienna, The Getty Research Center in LA, and the 2008 Gwangju Biennial, Korea. His works can be found in various public collections around the world including the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Exhibition dates: December 17, 2009 – January 16, 2010

Location: Galerie Quynh, 65 De Tham Street, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm

Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Contact information: Mai Ardia (English); Huynh Kim Yen (Vietnamese),, +84 (08) 3836 8019

Free Coffee at Sandals Today

December 17, 2009

The folks over at Sandals restaurant (93 Hai Ba Trung) have an early Christmas present for HCM City. You can pop in for a free Lavazza coffee all day today until closing. The baristas will be whipping up cappuccino, cafe latte macchiato, espresso, ristretto and Americano (not takeaways).

Sandals will also be serving a six-course set dinner with wine pairings on Christmas day and preparing festive platters for holidays at home. And on New Year’s Eve, you can create your own menu and drink free flow sparkling red or white wine and Tiger draught beer.

Emma Lynch for the BBC

In last month’s AsiaLIFE, our first annual Insight Issue, we spoke to Dr. Le Thanh Sang about how sociologists and demographers can help the country prepare for the effects of climate change on hundreds of at-risk communities in the low-lying Mekong Delta. This week, the BBC also gave the region its attention, running an excellent slideshow called Adapting to climate change in the Mekong Delta.

There are some striking images in the essay, including a shot of a man standing beneath his father’s elevated tomb, which the father asked his son to raise on stilts so he wouldn’t be “‘drowned’ after death.”

Thanks to Simon Christy from the HCM City branch of Green Drinks for sharing this link with us. Simon and the folks at Green Drinks organize regular talks on climate change and environmental issues in Vietnam.