Film critic with a penchant for murals

Amiable Pornchai Wiriyaprapanont has lately spent his time pondering mural paintings and exploring the nooks of old temples. But for movie-goers who grew up at the turn of the century, he's one of the foremost art and film critics who's been writing on the subjects for 23 years. Today, Pornchai still has regular columns in Season and Filmmax magazines, and every Sunday at 10pm, he co-hosts a radio show Nang Na Mai ("Film on Microphone") on FM98.

A few years ago Pornchai took up an interest in the elaborate, early-Rattanakosin temple murals and taught himself through various books and manuals. Last year he also published a study on the life and work of national artist Fua Hiripitak (1910-1993), called Young Fua. Here Pornchai tells us about the books he loves, and those he'd love to read.

_ Kong Rithdee

What are you reading?

Khun Suk ["Warrior", a 1939 novel set after the sacking of Ayutthaya in the 16th century] by Mai Meungderm. I was at first interested in the use of language influenced by ancient historical chronicles. But I've been so fascinated by the book that I've begun to travel to Ayutthaya to follow the trails described in it

What is the book you've always wanted to read but still haven't?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I read an abridged version and I've seen all the movie adaptations and the musicals, so I want to know the source of story. I haven't had the time and the concentration to do it.

What was the last book that made you laugh?

Winnie-the-Pooh by A A Miln. I love the sense of humour in it.

What was the last book that made you choke or cry?

Mae Bia ["The Cobra", a love story about a woman, a man and a snake]) by Wanich Jarungkitanant. I just re-read it and my heart sank.

Did you ever buy a book because everybody was talking about it, but when you actually read it you don't like it at all?

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami. I was disappointed. The book is long-winded. It's a case of more is less.

Roughly, how many books have you bought that you haven't started reading yet?

About 4,000. I guess I'm more of a book-buyer than book-reader!

What's the book on the subject of movies that impresses you the most?

Nang Classic, the Thai translation of William Bayer's The Great Movies, by Kittisak Suwannapokin. It opens up my mind about movies beyond the mainstream titles.

What's the book on the subject of art that impresses you the most?

Jitrakam Thai Samai Rachakarn Tee Sam ("Thai Painting in the Reign of King Rama III") by Santi Leksukhum. It's a deep and thorough research and provides a solid foundation in appreciating mural paintings.