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August 2008
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October 2008


Malcolm McDowell, looking up an old friend I couldn't help it: I was young. (Actually, I was 35, but skip that for now.) Back in 1999, I acquired my first multi-region DVD machine, capable of playing discs from all over the world. A couple of months later, I found myself on a two-week holiday in America, a country crammed with video shops which were prepared to sell me DVDs I couldn't buy back home. So if Customs had chosen to examine my suitcase on my return from the States, they'd have found one movie in there that they'd previously prohibited from ever entering the UK: the uncut version of Caligula.

That was nine years ago. Embarrassingly, up until recently, I still hadn't seen it: I'd lent it to a few people at work, but never got around to watching it myself. So imagine my irritation when I discovered that Caligula's previously unspeakable perversions have now officially entered the British mainstream. It's been passed uncut by the BBFC, and as of this week it can be purchased in all its hardcore glory from your local high street. (Or from the Amazon link below, of course.) Which probably means it's about time I sat down and watched it.

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Rising Monkey 2008/2: Hanging Out With Algy Bigknackers

Noboribetsu Onsen: Hells, a-poppin' So I mentioned last time [Rising Monkey 2008/1: Not The BBG In Japan] that the police questioned me when I first arrived in Sapporo. That's no big deal, really: they were questioning anyone who looked a bit unusual, i.e. non-Japanese. You see, Sapporo - like all the other places in Japan we visited in the latter half of June 2008 - is on the northern island of Hokkaido. And a few weeks after our visit, the G8 leaders were due to hold their 2008 summit in the Hokkaido spa town of Toya.

As a result, the whole of the island was in a flap while we were there. On the one hand, increased security precautions and escalating paranoia over the arrival of outsiders: on the other, local traders attempting to outdo each other with cheesy souvenirs, and restaurants offering special menus from all the G8 countries. Local media coverage in the runup to the G8 summit assumed that the event would put Toya on the world stage: but two months after the event, it's sad to look back and realise that the world wasn't all that interested. It's possible that the one abiding legacy of the Toya summit will be Guilala, the new film from maverick director Minoru Kawasaki, which depicts the G8 leaders being terrorised by a giant monster.

Continue reading "Rising Monkey 2008/2: Hanging Out With Algy Bigknackers" »


Nuria Garcia is Lupe. (I'm saving the terrible pun on her name for the article itself.)Robert Lepage plays tend to come in two sizes. At one extreme, you have one-act one-man shows like The Far Side Of The Moon or The Andersen Project, which normally involve the writer/director playing multiple roles with the aid of the most cutting-edge theatre technology available. At the other extreme, you have epic pieces which can potentially sprawl over several days, using a large cast and even more imaginative staging techniques to produce something... well, I'd say 'cinematic', but that might actually be too small a word for what Lepage can achieve.

Lipsynch definitely falls into the second category: when the lights go down at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, you know you won't be going home till ten that night. But the time goes by so fast, it feels more like one of his short pieces. How does he do that?

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Simian Substitute Site for September 2008: Drunk Monkey

Drunk Monkey Well, that's Edinburgh wrapped up for another year. Although having said that, I received a late contribution to the Postscript from Charmian earlier on today, so expect to see that popping up in the near future. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

August is Edinburgh month: October is London Film Festival time: and that usually means that September is a bit of a dead lump in between the two. Hopefully, not so much this time, for two reasons. Firstly, there's the second part of my writeup of Japan 2008, which will (honestly) justify the subtitle of Hanging Out With Algy Bigknackers that I trailed at the end of the first part. And secondly, it struck me during July's repost frenzy just how few book reviews I've written here over the last couple of years, so I think this may well be the month when I put that right.

Continue reading "Simian Substitute Site for September 2008: Drunk Monkey" »