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April 2010

British Animation Awards 2010

'Who's gonna offer me cheap skunk?' (Goodbye London) Whose bloody stupid idea was it to give the word biannual two completely different meanings? Whoever it was, it's probably best to make things clear: the British Animation Awards take place once every two years, not twice a year. We covered them here in 2006 and 2008, and here we are again.

Specifically, we're here for the Public Choice award, where actual paying punters get to pick their favourites from a selection of 50-60 new short British films made during the preceding two years. These were shown across the UK in a series of screenings during February: the votes have now been tallied, and the winners will be announced at the official awards ceremony at BFI Southbank on April 8th.

For the third BAA running, I believe that this site is the only place where every single one of the 59 shortlisted films will be reviewed, even if some of those reviews are insultingly brief. Most of the one month delay between the London BAA screenings and the publication of this piece results from the amount of time I've spent trying to track down both video clips and animators' homepages for all of the films in question. You might want to have a cup of tea to hand if you intend to follow every single link below.

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Except For Viewers In Scotland...

Limmy at the top, the Burnistoun brigade at the bottom (Cornell and Florence to the left) "...who've got their own programmes." It was such a cliché in the old days before digital TV that Armando Iannucci wrote an entire sketch about it.

As a Sassenach who remembers hearing that phrase crop up in continuity announcements, I'm coming to it from an entirely different perspective. Iannucci rightly complains about all the good stuff he wanted to see, but couldn't because BBC Scotland had decided to replace it with "a Paul Coia quiz show about hills". But what about all that Scottish programming that never gets shown south of Hadrian's Wall? Surely there must be some good stuff in there that the rest of us are missing?

Well, so far in 2010 there've been two comedy series - Limmy's Show and Burnistoun - that have only been shown on BBC Scotland, but are definitely well worth a look. And thanks to digital telly and the iPlayer, they're not just Scotland's own programmes any more.

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Japanese 100-A-Side Football

Gambatte! Stolen from Metafilter, but too good not to share with the rest of you. (Especially when my next major post - on the British Animation Awards Public Choice Award - is taking a lot longer to write than I thought it was going to...)

The premise is simple: professional Japanese football club Cerezo Osaka recently played a televised game against a team of schoolboys. Obviously, that's nothing like a fair fight, so the odds were evened up in the most delightful way possible. The kids' team had 100 players on it, working in a 40-30-30 formation.

20 minutes or so of video can be found below, in three handy chunks. Enjoy. (Note that parts 2 and 3 are given as text links, because if you embed them the thumbnail images give away the score...)

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I Put A Spell On You

Released on March 7th: I Put A Spell On You by Shane MacGowan & Friends. AKA The Haiti Benefit Record You Can Listen To Without Wanting To Stab Your Own Ears Out.

MacGowan's voice is, without question, utterly utterly shagged by now. Thankfully, his address book is in infinitely better shape. He's managed to get Paloma Faith, Glen Matlock, Eliza Doolittle, Nick Cave, Bobby Gillespie, Chrissie Hynde, Johnny Depp, Mick Jones, y suntuosa Cait O’Riordan on board for a blistering cover of the old Screamin' Jay Hawkins tune.

Buy it from here* for a mere 79p, and then donate a bit more to Concern when you're done.

* purchase link is UK only: download also available from 7 Digital Eire and Amazon US

Simian Substitute Site for March 2010: Fourth Monkey Theatre Company

Fourth Monkey Theatre CompanyMONTH END PROCESSING FOR FEBRUARY 2010

Art: Chris Ofili (ongoing at Tate Britain, London until May 16th, 2010) is an excellent chronological study of the artist's work to date, although the elephantdungophobe who saw it with me would beg to differ. The centrepiece installation is The Upper Room, which is effectively The Last Supper With Monkeys. It marks the high point of Ofili's original notorious style, and it's interesting to see how his subsequent move to Trinidad has broadened his choice of themes and materials. (Or as the elephantdungophobe suggested, "he's grown up.")

Movies: A belated kung hei fat choi to all our Chinese readers. All's Well Ends Well Too 2010 was one of the big Chinese New Year movies this year, and had a short London run at the Prince Charles cinema. The usual fluffy nonsense that's released in Hong Kong for the holidays, with anachronistic gags, old people rapping, gratuitous kung fu tournaments, and women disguising themselves as men by drawing on a moustache. Not that any of that's a bad thing, of course. Also seen in February: the British Animation Awards Public Choice selections, to be covered here in great and tedious detail shortly.

Music: Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here, his first new album in fifteen bloody years or so. Nice to hear that he's still got it, marrying his old school poetic sensibility to a surprisingly modern backing. Check out the video for Me And The Devil / Your Soul And Mine to hear the proof. My only gripe is that the whole album's only 29 minutes long. We need more of this, and soon, dammit.

Radio: Save 6Music! Scrap BBC1 instead, nobody I know watches that shit.

Telly: The Ricky Gervais Show - currently on HBO in the US, appearing in the UK on Channel 4 from April 23rd. This simply takes the audio podcasts starring (in decreasing order of funniness) Karl Pilkington, Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, and slaps animation on top to turn them into telly. All well and good as far as they go, until you discover that amateur animators have been doing this with the Gervais podcasts for a couple of years now, and they've been doing it better too.

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