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April 2011
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June 2011


It's my fault. "Let's get t-shirts from each of our gigs and wear them in a photo," I said. And then I found out that the current Sufjan Stevens tour t-shirt is rubbish, so I had to improvise something quickly. Sorry.Very soon, The Belated Birthday Girl and I will be celebrating ten whole years of doing that thing we do.

What’s our secret? As with any successful relationship, it involves give and take on both sides. For example, if there’s a film out that I want to see but she doesn’t, we wait until there’s a film out that she wants to see but I don’t, and then do them both back to back on the same day. Hence the slightly peculiar double bill of Paul and Black Swan we caught a few months ago.

It’s rare that we have to come to similar arrangements with music... but the other week, that very thing happened. She likes Everything Everything: I’m not fussed. I like Sufjan Stevens: she’s not fussed. Both acts were playing the south of England within 48 hours of each other. What to do?

Make a commitment to each write a review of the act we like least, that’s what. Enjoy! (Apologies for the imbalance in videos, but more people seem to have been bootlegging the Sufjan Stevens gig than the Everything Everything one.)

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MOSTLY FILM: Terracottadammerung

Sam Voutas and co-star In these matters, I take my lead from Chris Sims. He started out as an amateur comics journo with his own site, Chris's Invincible Super-Blog. At some point down the line, he became a professional comics journo with Comics Alliance, but couldn't bring himself to abandon the fanbase he'd built up on his own blog over the years. So, he still posted when he could on The ISB, but at the same time he used it to announce his frequent contributions to Comics Alliance: not just with a straightforward link, but also with additional commentary and the occasional bit of material from the cutting-room floor.

So yeah, what I'm doing with these Mostly Film articles - such as today's piece on the Terracotta Far East Film Festival - is a similar sort of thing. Except Sims gets paid for at least one of his writing gigs. And he's contributed to a book - Write More Good - that you can buy in proper shops, not just as print-on-demand. But apart from all that, similar, right?

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MOSTLY FILM: On The Outside, Hacking In

Mostly Film: Your Number 1 Resource For Intelligent Film Writing. Yes, I'm pretty sure that's what this picture is supposed to represent. For some reason or other, my website is especially popular with sex perverts. You can tell, because the posts that get the heaviest day-to-day traffic are the ones relating to naughty things. And one of the most popular is my 2005 review of The Russ Meyer Collection, in which I wrote about the Sunday afternoon when The Belated Birthday Girl and I watched half a dozen films by The King Of Tits back to back.

This wasn't something that The BBG particularly enjoyed, being a Girl and all, and by the end of the day I felt I had to offer some sort of recompense for her suffering. So a couple of weeks later, we spent another Sunday afternoon watching five films by one of her favourite directors, the Japanese maverick Takashi Miike. The plan was to write a similar piece for the site about the experience of watching them. Unfortunately, I never quite got around to writing it up. Sorry, love.

Still, the experience eventually paid off some five and a half years later, when we collaborated on an article about Miike which is published on Mostly Film today.

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Simian Substitute Site for May 2011: The Chuggin' Monkey


Movies: If you remember last year's coverage of the London Film Festival, then you may recall that Meek's Cutoff was The Belated Birthday Girl's pick of the festival. You may also recall the wee controversy that she reported on from the LFF screening. The film was made in the boxy 4:3 screen ratio by director Kelly Reichardt, to remove the pleasures of the landscape that a typical widescreen Western gives you, and focus your attention on the people stumbling around lost in the middle of it. However, owing to a breakdown in communication, the projectionist showed the film with the top and bottom cropped off the picture to make it fit the usual 1.85:1 frame used by most movies today. Obviously, this irked The BBG somewhat, and she made it her mission to see the film again as the director intended, and to drag me along with her. This she did at a special preview screening as part of the Birds Eye View festival in March, only to find that they made exactly the same projection cock-up. The effect isn't quite as ludicrous as I made out in a satirical tweet the following day, but it does have a subtle impact on the composition. And now that we've both seen it projected properly during its official release, it's possible to appreciate just what a difference the framing makes. As for the film itself, if you put in the effort to accept its deliberately measured pace, it's great: read this guy for details.

Music: It sounds like some sort of terrible internet prank. Take the charming theme tunes from a dozen Studio Ghibli animations, and get a series of obscure metal bands to cover them. Nevertheless, Princess Ghibli (credited under the collective pseudonym Imaginary Flying Machines) is a great record, or whatever the correct term is these days for a big old pile of MP3s. The key thing they get right is keeping as much of the original melodies as possible, just making them louder, faster, and replacing no more than 20% of the lines with death metal grunting. Something like Tonari no Totoro becomes utterly delightful as a result, still keeping its pop sensibility despite everything they throw at it. And in the case of the closing Nausicaa Requiem, they even (whisper it quietly) improve on the original, by giving the melody to someone who can bloody sing.

Travel: I've already mentioned that we spent Easter weekend in Dover this year: now here's some information about the things we did which didn't involve watching yet another royal wedding go wrong on DVD. Our base for the three days was the Victoria Guest House, which is perfectly lovely and nicely located: even if you end up (as we did) in the highest and least ventilated room in the place on the hottest weekend of the year so far, they'll give you a fan to help you cope. Best bet for an overview of the sights is the combined White Cliff boat and bus tour which you can join from their kiosk in the Marina. Dover Castle is good fun too, although you may need to wear your special 'Please Do Not Assume That I Want To Participate In Your Historical Roleplaying, Unemployed Actor In Costume' t-shirt: while less aggressively interactive history can be found at Dover Museum and The Roman Painted House. Our main meals (in increasing order of scrummyness) comprised homely Italian at Dino's, trendy organic at The Allotment, and posh Easter Sunday lunch at The Marquis. Just one word of warning on the latter: the route from Kearnsey station looks like a pleasantly straightforward 2.5 mile country walk, but a good 2 miles of that has no pavement and lots of speeding cars. Other travelling has taken place in April, and that's why this first-of-the-month piece isn't quite happening on the first. More on that anon.

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