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March 2015
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BrewDogging #19: Liverpool

This is the sort of technology they should really try to implement in offices.[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stockholm, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi]

For a Mancunian, I really haven’t spent that much of my life in Liverpool. I know, it’s only next door, and there are at least a couple of people who live there now that I’ve known for decades – but up until now, the longest time I’d spent there was a weekend on business around a quarter of a century ago.

As The Belated Birthday Girl has suggested herself, one of the nice things about the BrewDogging project is that it’s given us a flimsy excuse for visiting places in the UK (and elsewhere) that we wouldn’t do normally. And besides, it was Easter a couple of weeks ago, and we had a long-standing tradition to uphold. So, we made plans to take the train up to Liverpool over the holiday weekend to check out one of BrewDog’s newest bars, and see what else the city had to offer. Not that Network Rail made it easy – they chose that weekend to shut down the main line out of London, meaning we had to take the roundabout route via two separate Birmingham stations. Apart from that unpleasantness, though, it all went rather well.

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MOSTLY FILM: Dogs In Refrigerators

Daisy, the dog from John Wick. Don't get too attached, now.Most of my contributions to Mostly Film are event-driven - either documenting films I've seen on a trip abroad, or covering what's showing at a festival. It's not too often that I get to write about a current theatrical release, but it does happen once in a while. This week, I've contributed a review of John Wick, the new Keanu Reeves movie that opens in the UK on Friday April 10th. The review's titled Dogs In Refrigerators: both the title and the header image may require you to read this and this before they make a lick of sense.

In brief, I liked John Wick a lot when I saw it, even though it was only on a seven inch screen on the back of an Emirates plane seat. It obviously owes a huge amount to one of my favourite genres of cinema - the action movies that were coming out of Hong Kong in the latter half of the 1980s, particularly those made by John Woo. So - with the caveat that scenes of Strong Bloody Violence are about to follow - the Red Button Bonus Content for the John Wick review will consist of a few of my favourite John Woo sequences, so you can see where directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch have been getting their ideas from.

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Simian Substitute Site For April 2015: Monkey Kingdom

Monkey KingdomMONTH END PROCESSING FOR MARCH 2015

Movies: At some point in the near future, Mostly Film will publish the 20th episode in my long-running series of massively uninformed foreign film reviews, Monoglot Movie Club. But it won't happen until I go somewhere foreign and watch some more films. I was in Dubai again a few weeks ago, but the two Egyptian movies I saw there weren't really interesting enough to warrant a piece on their own, much less a 20th anniversary one. So let's burn off those reviews here. Regatta, despite the title, has nothing to do with boats: it's the name of the leading character, dabbling in petty crime to help buy passports for his family, only for his whole world to collapse when a bit of carelessness on his part results in his mum being thrown in jail. It's one of those plots which would cease to exist if everyone just calmed down and talked to each other, but the holes are still plainly visible despite everything being performed at screaming pitch. It's not helped by some careless technical flubs - at one point Regatta hugs his mother, and the impact of him against her radio mike nearly blows out the cinema's subwoofer. Youm Maloush Lazma, meanwhile, is even more formulaic and even less subtle: it's a comedy set on the day of a wedding, where most of the farce derives from a jilted ex-girlfriend whose every appearance on screen is literally accompanied by the music from Psycho. The biggest surprise in this one is the way a subset of characters remove themselves from the main plot towards the end to go off and get stoned. It turns out that I do understand some Arabic after all, as long as it involves words like 'hashish'.

Music: There are several reasons to love The Unthanks for what they do, but here's one you don't hear very often - they're brilliant at choosing support acts for their live shows. We first caught them back in 2007, when The Belated Birthday Girl was even more impressed by Devon Sproule's opening set: and to this day, if we're honest about it, she still feels the same way. At a subsequent show, we were both rather taken with New York singer-songwriter Jaymay, although we haven't been keeping up with her post-Autumn Fallin' work as much as we should. Flash forward to the Unthanks' triumphant London show at the Roundhouse just a few weeks ago, and we were delighted to see the tradition being upheld when The Young'uns came on first, and immediately stormed into a perfect acapella cover of an eighties folk classic. With a smart mix of traditional tunes and sharply focussed original material, and some fun chat in between, they made for a rather terrific curtain raiser. Sure, half an hour later, the Unthanks themselves were performing the full-length version of Mount The Air WITH ADDED CLOG DANCING, and no support act could possibly compete with that: but The Young'uns had a bloody good go. Their new album, Another Man's Ground, is coming out on April 26th, and has already been pre-ordered by me, don't you worry.

Theatre: It's a sign of the times that if you go to the cinema now to see one of those broadcasts of a live performance, you'll have to sit through 20 minutes of trailers for future broadcasts of other live performances - they've become a surprisingly lucrative revenue stream for cinemas, attracting people who wouldn't normally go to the movies. Like, for example, the old biddies sat behind us at Maxine Peake's Hamlet last week, grumbling throughout the adverts about how loud they were. Hamlet's actually an odd example of the live broadcast phenomenon: filmed during one of the performances at Manchester's Royal Exchange back in Autumn 2014, it's taken six months to reach cinemas. During that time, you can tell that some care has been taken with the editing, with some jolting shifts in perspective added by a sparingly-used overhead camera: it's presented more as a film than as an attempt to recreate the live experience, with no audience applause at the end of each act. Peake is as extraordinary as they say, in another collaboration with director Sarah Frankcom after 2013's The Masque Of Anarchy: and without wishing to give too much away, that's a partnership we should be revisiting here later this year. But some of the other gender-flipping in the cast is equally impressive, with Gillian Bevan's Polonia a particular highlight. You may still be able to catch Hamlet at a cinema near you, if you're lucky: the same also applies to the stunning Mark Strong-led production of A View From The Bridge, which we were lucky enough to catch in the flesh last week.  (The BBFC is currently attaching a warning to Bridge that it contains 'one bloody scene', which is hysterical if you've seen this particular version.)

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