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REPOST: The 72nd Academy Awards

Just ignore the Premier ident in the top right hand corner of these pictures, will you? I'm too tired to airbrush it out right now. Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 27/03/2000.

The 80th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday February 24th, 2008. Which means it must be eight years since the last time I sat up all night to watch the ceremony live. Here's what it felt like back then.

No Country For Old Men for the win, in case you're asking. Disclaimer: haven't seen There Will Be Blood yet.

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The Jul Log: Christmas In Copenhagen

What could be more Christmassy? A bottle of Tuborg's Julebryg Christmas beer, photographed on Christmas morning. (In the bar at the Metropol cinema, since you asked.)[note to self: need to find some sort of opening that makes the six-weeks-late-ness of this piece look like it was deliberate]

We're well into February now: so how are your New Year's resolutions holding up? Don't want to sound too smug about it, but both The Belated Birthday Girl and I did surprisingly well in 2007. We started the year by proclaiming that we were going to stay away from air travel as some sort of token sop to the planet's messed-up ecology: and through judicious use of trains for our big holiday, we managed to do that for the whole year. Admittedly, now we're into 2008 the work commitments are starting to bite seriously, and both The BBG and I will have to get on a plane some time over the next two months. But it's shown us that with a little imagination and patience, aircraft don't have to be the only solution to a large-scale travel problem.

And the same applied to the big finish for our year without planes: Christmas week in Copenhagen, done the hard way.

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A Life More Ordinary

Spoiler! The ladies from Strawberry ShortcakesHere's what programmer Jasper Sharp has to say about A Life More Ordinary: A Portrait Of Contemporary Japanese People On Film, a short season of movies touring the UK in February and March 2008: "there are no bullets to the head or blood splatter, no clashing katana or bizarre ghosts with long hair."

Um, he wouldn't be referring to this lot, would he? Nevertheless, he does have a point: the only movies from Japan we tend to see in the UK these days are genre pieces. Unless you attend film festivals, you may not even be aware that the Japanese are still making movies about normal people and their non-superhuman lives. It's a failing that A Life More Ordinary is trying to rectify, as it takes six recent Japanese films out to London, Bristol, Belfast, Edinburgh and Sheffield over the next two months.

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Swamp Thing

'There's a monster that lives out in the swamps. Everybody knows that.'The mythology of the 1980s comics revival is fairly well established by now. A handful of writers and artists - many of them from the UK - invaded the American comics industry and made it a much more interesting place to be. Northampton's own Alan Moore was one of the key figures in that renaissance, and his work with artist Dave Gibbons on Watchmen is justifiably regarded as a landmark.

But the fans know that Watchmen didn't just come out of nowhere: before then, Moore had been doing work on one of DC's old monster titles - Swamp Thing - that paved the way for everything that was to follow. It was one of the first mainstream comic titles that actively marketed itself as being for an adult audience, ditching the traditional Comics Code Authority seal of approval. It showed that it was possible to take old characters and breathe new life into them, through a complete re-imagining of who they were. And Moore's influence can still be detected in the dozens of British writers who've worked for Marvel and DC in the quarter-century since then.

Fancy reading a comic that actually changed the medium? Because you can do that for free, now.

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REPOST: British Animation Awards 2006

Windmill, windmill for the land: the video for 'Feel Good Inc' by Gorillaz gets framegrabbed for the second time by this site Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/03/2006.

The British Animation Awards are biennial affairs, so we're due another round of them very soon - expect a report on here, eventually. In the meantime, the shortlisted candidates for the Public Choice award are touring the UK throughout February 2008, and if you're lucky they'll be appearing soon at a cinema near you.

(Is it really two years since I got broadband installed? Funny to see how the idea of watching short films online seemed moderately exotic back then, in those early YouTube days...)

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Simian Substitute Site for February 2008: Monkeys Might Puke

Monkeys Might Puke Well, you got most of what I promised you last month. At least I'm not in the embarrassing situation of having my discussions of the best films and music of 2007 drifting into February of the following year. As for the rest? Well, the travel pieces always take a while, but I'm reasonably hopeful that I can write up our Christmas in Copenhagen before the end of this month. I'm still planning to write something about the Pogues, too, once I can block out half a day or so to listen to their back catalogue all in one go.

Other plans for February include a couple of film-related articles, as there are some interesting-looking seasons of movies in London cinemas this month. Plus, I think, an old comic for you to look at. And I may not quite be done yet on the subject of TV Comedy Shows Of Foreign Lands. We'll see.

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