Easter Parade
MOSTLY FILM: On The Outside, Hacking In

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.

In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site for May 2011 is The Chuggin' Monkey. Yes, it would appear that for the second month in a row, I've chosen the homepage of an obscure American bar - this one's in Austin, Texas. What's going on with that, eh? Anyway, they seem like nice enough people, and if you're in Austin on a Thursday night you can take advantage of their $3 Bombs offer. If you're not planning to be there in the near future, I'm afraid you're out of luck: even their t-shirts are currently only available over the bar.

Comments, anyone? And I mean nice ones like Suze's adventures in Dover^H^H^Hrset, not shit ones like 'buy adipex' saying "Haha, I hate Hitler"?


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