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REPOST: Edinburgh Festival 2003: UnSpanked

Gary Le Strange. I wasn't trying to imply that this is Nick at all, it's just the way the layout happened. Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/09/2003.

From my original introduction: "I didn't go to Edinburgh this year, invoking my usual one-year-off-in-three rule: but that didn't stop Spank's Pals from making their regular visit to the world's greatest arts festival. Nick, Diane, Rob D and one of the Muses discuss the best and worst shows here."

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A Brighter Summer Day

And here's the cover of that Video CD that's been out of print for several years now.The Taiwanese film director Edward Yang died on June 29th 2007 at the age of 59, and at the time of writing my newspaper of choice still hasn't run an official obituary (though their website has a rather touching tribute from former Edinburgh Film Festival boss Shane Danielsen). It's a disgrace, frankly. After all, Yang's last film - Yi Yi, also known as A One And A Two - won him a Best Director award at Cannes, and had a successful arthouse release in the UK. Back then in 2001, he was even considered popular enough for the ICA to programme a season of his earlier films.

And this is where it gets personal: because the ICA's screening of Yang's 1991 film, A Brighter Summer Day, has a special place in the mythology of myself and The Belated Birthday Girl. In comics terms, it was our #0 date movie: the last film we saw as just friends, before realising there were other things we could be doing together. In fact, in between that screening and our first proper date, I visited Hong Kong and brought back a souvenir for The BBG - the Video CD version of the four-hour director's cut of A Brighter Summer Day (the version we saw at the ICA was the three-hour international release). So you can see, it's an important film for both of us.

Fast forward to July 2007: we've been going out for six years, Edward Yang is dead, A Brighter Summer Day appears to be currently unavailable in any video format, and we suddenly realise that we still haven't watched that four hour version. Which means that I'm about to review a film that you probably can't see anywhere right now. But, hopefully, that will change soon.

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REPOST: Edinburgh Festival 2002

Your 2002 Edinburgh programmes. Please excuse the grubby-looking carpet behind them. Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 09/09/2002

No real surprises for any of you who were here in 1998, 1999 or 2001. Faithful old regulars Nick, Lesley, Jon, Charmian and Eve are back again. Lee's here for the first time. As for The Belated Birthday Girl... is this her first or her second Edinburgh Festival? Difficult to say, really. And the Film Unlimited posse who livened things up so much last year are back in slightly reduced form, as 7sarah brings her Coven Of Bitches into town during our first weekend.

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Monkey: Journey To The West

Monkey (front row, centre) and his mates The city of Manchester has developed a whole new cultural life for itself since I left it some twenty-odd years ago. (I'm sure that's just a coincidence.) For example, back when I was a student there, it didn't even have an arthouse cinema worth mentioning: I can remember the days when the Cornerhouse, current jewel of the Mancunian arts community, was a porno house. Still, that's all changed now, and the frantic redevelopment of the city - helped in part by the IRA's little present to it back in 1996 - has made it a terrific place to return to.

And now it has the Manchester International Festival: the celebration of world arts that a city with this level of cultural history deserves. It's an eighteen day arts festival, running from June 28th to July 15th 2007,  and it's unique in being a festival of entirely new work. But given that we had only one day to spare in Manchester, what could we see? A live performance by PJ Harvey? An installation by Howard Devoto? A site-specific theatre piece starring Johnny Vegas? Or something involving a monkey? A difficult choice, as I'm sure you can imagine.

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REPOST: Edinburgh Festival 2001

Some day, all street entertainers will be put inside glass prisons for our protection. Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/09/2001. No, there isn't a report for 2000. Sorry.

INTERIOR: CURZON SOHO, DAY

The Mezzanine Bar of the nicest cinema in London's Fashionable West End. SPANK is holding court at the bar. A dozen or so habituees of the Guardian's Film Unlimited talkboard are hanging on his every word.

Arrrrr. Climb upon my knee, young 'uns, and I'll tell 'ee of my exploits in the wilds of Caledonia.

They all climb upon his knee as requested.

OW! My friggin' LEG! Get off, you big bastards! OFF!! No, you can stay. Actually, if you just move over a little to... yes, that'll do it.

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Simian Substitute Site for July 2007: Beta Monkey Music

Beta Monkey MusicFor anyone who's counting, this is the 100th post on what we're still calling Spank 2.0. And given that this version of the site will hit its first birthday in a fortnight, that means you've been getting an average of two posts a week since we restarted operations. (Anyone who points out that 31 of those 100 are reposts from the old site can just bugger off, frankly.)

What can you expect to come this month? Well, there may be some sort of celebration of the birthday itself: I haven't decided yet. There definitely should be a couple of new items, one of which has its own simian connection (no clues yet). And yes, I'll be adding to the repost count with recollections of previous Edinburgh Festivals, in preparation for our exhaustingive coverage of the latest one in August.

(Incidentally, you may want to take another look at the London Film Festival posts from previous years. Until recently, they consisted of just an index page, with links to the old site for the daily diary pages. Thanks to a newly-added feature in TypePad, I can now put those diary pages on the blog itself. So I'm already doing that for the Edinburgh reposts, and I'm working through the LFF archive bit by bit to hammer those posts into the same format.)

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