End of the world: Gangnam Style?

If the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are about to descend on Earth, it seems one might be riding in from South Korea on an invisible steed to the tune of “Gangnam Style”.

South Korean social networks and websites have been buzzing in recent days over a prediction attributed to the 16th century French seer Nostradamus, that suggests the singer Psy is not the smiling, benign 34-year-old rapper he appears.

“From the calm morning, the end will come when of the dancing horse the number of circles will be nine,” reads the “prophecy” being circulated on websites, Facebook and Twitter.

An obvious fake, the quote has its origins in a spoof five-minute “documentary” posted on YouTube that has garnered up 1.5 million views and ties Nostradamus and Psy to the December 21 apocalypse prophesied by the Mayans.

The interpretation is compelling.

South Korea is known as “land of the morning calm”, the dancing horse is Psy’s signature dance style and the nine circles refer to the nine zeroes he will rack up when the “Gangnam Style” video passes one billion YouTube views.

The number of views currently stands at nearly 972 million, and it could reach the billion mark on or around December 21.

The “documentary” features an ominous narration that notes Psy’s “cultural domination over Western civilisation” with images of the singer dancing with Britney Spears and UN leader Ban Ki-moon.

“The evil that is enticing and looks cool will bend people’s minds with contagious behaviour,” it adds over footage of flash mobs doing the horse-riding dance in Paris and Rome.

The parody has gone down well in South Korea, with people perhaps looking for some light relief following a North Korean rocket launch last week and ahead of a presidential election on Wednesday.

“It’s hilarious … apparently circulating a silly rumour on the Internet is a universal thing everywhere in the world,” tweeted one observer styled d_ijk_stra.

“Now Psy is getting linked to Nostradamus? It shows just how popular Psy has become!” added fleschekim. Photo: AFP

Girl’s Generation in Singapore

Korean pop Girl's Generation perform at The Float at Marina Bay in Singapore

Korean pop Girl’s Generation perform at The Float at Marina Bay in Singapore

Korean pop Girl’s Generation perform at The Float at Marina Bay in Singapore on November 23, 2012, as part of the SMTOWN Live World Tour III concert gathering the 8 most popular K-pop groups.

AFP PHOTO/Roslan Rahman

Korean pop Girls Generation in Singapore

Korean pop Girls Generation in Singapore

The music legend Elton John returns to Thailand

The music legend Elton John returns to Thailand

The music legend Elton John returns to Thailand

The music legend Elton John returns to Thailand on December 13, 2012 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok Thailand. Sir John and his band perform here to celebrate 40 years since his top hit Rocket Man was launched. Forty years ago, in April 1972, Elton John released the single Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long Long Time) which went on to great chart success and received critical acclaim worldwide. The single entered the UK charts on April 22, reaching the number 2 position and staying on the chart for 13 weeks. In the USA the single entered the Billboard chart on May 6 and reached the number 6 position, staying in the US chart for 15 weeks. These were the highest positions achieved so far by an Elton John single in the UK and the USA. To celebrate the landmark 40th anniversary of its release, Sir Elton John is taking the celebrations globally for a world tour with Thailand as one of the stops. Photo: EPA

10 movies must see at the 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok

FADOS at the 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok

FADOS at the 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok

From drama and comedy to musicals and documentaries, 84 features and shorts will be screened during the 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok, which starts next Friday.

The festival opens at Paragon Cineplex with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest feature “Mekong Hotel”, which premiered earlier this year in a special screenings at Cannes Film Festival. The closer is “Fados” at Esplanade Cineplex on November 25.

Among the highlights will be the presentation of the festival’s Lotus Award for lifetime achievement to French director Leos Carax, who latest feature “Holy Motors” will screen.

Deciding which films to see is always difficult so we asked the festival director, Kriengsak “Victor” Silakong and deputy director Dusit Silakong to pick their 10 must-sees.

1. FADOS

Victor: Performing arts on screen tends to looks alienated but director Carlos Saura offers a very subtle representation in ‘Fados’. This is a film that truly honours the performing arts.”

The story: The last in the famed musical trilogy directed by Saura uses Portuguese’s capital Lisbon as a backdrop. He explores Portugal’s most emblematic musical genre fado and its haunting spirit of saudade (melancholy) and traces its African and Brazilian origins up to the new wave of modern faudistas through the production design in each song.

2.YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE

Dusit: “This film represents the Taiwanese trend of turning novels or short stories into films. It is very well-paced and reflects the feel-good and frustrated moments of teenage life.”

The story: Ko Ching-teng claims to be immune to the charms of Shen Chia-yi, the girl all his classmates are crazy about. But when Shen is ordered to tutor Ko, their friendship blossoms into something more. After graduation from senior high, Ko and Shen almost become a couple but Ko sets up a fight, which fails to impress Shen and all deals are off.

3. HOLY MOTORS

Victor: “For me, this should have been the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year even though it went home empty-handed. It’s a grotesque movie in the sense that a rich man disguises himself as different people so he can observe other lives from different social levels. The character bring us to different kinds of people and surprises us eventually.”

The story: From dawn to dusk, Monsieur Oscar, journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man. He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part – but where are the cameras?

4. ELEPHANT SHAMAN

Dusit: “This is the story of the last elephant shaman and his mission to teach the wild elephants that invade the villagers’ fields. What I love about this film is how much it teaches us and the importance of living in harmony with nature.”

The story: The documentary focuses on an 85-year-old ethnic Meo who is thought to be the last elephant shaman in Thailand. He wants to to pass on his knowledge to the next generation.

5. UNDER SNOW

Victor: “The director presents the local lifestyle through this folk tale with two actors and to the accompaniment of kabuki music. He cleverly has the actors morph into different characters from the folk tales but in the present world. While there is English narration, there are no subtitles during the Japanese dialogue.”

The story: In the Japanese region of Echigo, the locals live under heavy snowfall for half of the year. Because of this, they have developed their own customs of everyday life, festivals and religious rituals. Ulrike Ottinger leads us into the reality of the snowscape with its beauty and austere living conditions, follows the mythical tracks of the “gods of paths and roads” and mountain spirits, and places us within the fairytale world of a beautiful vixen and her lover.

6. LE HAVRE

Victor: “Definitely the must-see movie. This film makes you feel good as it shows how people can give love to another person even though they may not know that other person.”

The story: Fate throws young African refugee Idrissa into the path of a bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With optimism and the unwavering support of his community, the man stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation.

7. POST TENEBRAS LUX

Victor: “The film represents contemporary Mexican life. Though we can guess what the movie will lead us to, there is a moment that will both surprise and shock the audience.”

The story: Juan and his urban family live in the Mexican countryside, where they enjoy and suffer a world apart. Nobody knows if these two worlds are complementary or if they are striving to eliminate one another.

8. CINE HOLLIDY

Dusit: “This is a kind of ‘Cinema Paradiso’, where the coming of television and the old world of cinema clash head on. Even though the film doesn’t see TV as the evil that kicks it away, it reveals the common truth that modernity inevitably leads the death of older habits.”

The story: The arrival of television in the Brazilian countryside in the ’70s almost put an end to the small movie theatres. But a hero called Francisgleydisson decided to fight to keep alive his passion for his cinema. His weapons: creativity and a unique sense of humour.

9. NO MAN’S ZONE

Dusit: “This documentary explores the lives of the elderly who lived near the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. They had to leave the homes where they had lived for decades. For them, it’s like a repeat of World War II, as the neighbourhood is empty and they become homeless once again.”

The story: The 40-year-old nuclear power station on the coast of Fukushima went into crisis after being struck by the tsunami on March 11, 2011. Within 24 hours, an evacuation order was proclaimed for the surrounding 20 km area. The documentary travels into this No Man’s Zone and the surrounding regions where people continue to live.

10. BARBIE

Dusit: “It’s a simple melodrama but it’s a lovely film, especially the young actresses!”

The story: An American physician arrives at Pohang airport with his 13-year-old daughter Barbie. Steve is adopting Soon-yong for a heart transplant to save his younger daughter who has heart disease. Mangtak, Soon-yong’s uncle, is selling his niece well aware that she’s going to die. But Soon-ja, who believes in the American dream and has no idea of the truth, uses every trick in the book to be adopted in place of her sister.

The World Film Festival of Bangkok is organised by the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with Nation Broadcasting Corporation, The Nation and Major Cineplex.