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February 2012
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April 2012

The Death Of Klinghoffer

Spoiler Alert! Alan Opie as Leon KlinghofferCasual operagoers of London! Here's a useful tip for you. If you ever find yourself purchasing a ticket for the English National Opera, be sure to give them your mobile number and ask them to pester you with marketing offers. Ironically, I did just that in 2010 for a production that I wasn't able to attend on the day - the Punchdrunk collaboration The Duchess Of Malfi, which by all accounts was a bit of a dud anyway.

But since then, whenever ENO has had a few spare seats going for a particular production, they've sent me a text on the day offering them at a massively reduced rate. Which is how I started one day last week with no plans for the evening, and ended it sitting in an Upper Circle seat at the Coliseum that cost me £20 instead of the usual £59, watching THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL OPERA IN THE WORLD.

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MOSTLY FILM: City Of Drizzle

Yeah, sorry this is late.It's official: Monoglot Movie Club is now a series. Yesterday on Mostly Film, they published the second instalment, following on from the piece I wrote for them in January about what was going on in the cinemas in Eindhoven. The latest one, entitled Monoglot Movie Club: City Of Drizzle, takes a similar look at Brazilian cinema, based entirely on what local product was available in the multiplexes of São Paulo during the week I spent there in mid-February. As you'll see, there wasn't much, but I still managed somehow to get nearly nineteen hundred words out of it.

What else did I do in São Paulo during that week, you might be asking? Well, I did some work, obviously, and that needn't concern us here. But if you fancy hearing about everything that wasn't work or movies, then this is the place to be, because that's what your Red Button Supplement for this Mostly Film article is going to be about.

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Simian Substitute Site For March 2012: Monkee Business: The Musical

Monkee Business: The MusicalMONTH END PROCESSING FOR FEBRUARY 2012

Books: Just My Type by Simon Garfield is the latest in his long line of non-fiction books. (I believe that up until now, the only one I've read is The Nation's Favourite, his retelling of the mid-90s turmoil at Radio 1.) Type looks at the history of the printed word and the font, and how our relationship with them has changed over the years from Caxton to Comic Sans. Garfield reveals the tricks of the trade, showing the tiny details that can change the emotional impact of simple letters. Packed with entertaining anecdotes, and frequently revealing things that have been under your nose for decades, it's a book that literally makes you look at the world differently after reading it. In my case, right now I'm looking at the collected spines of my DVD collection and twitching violently.

Internet: Hype alert! There's a new piece by me on Mostly Film today. Yes, again. Monoglot Movie Club: City Of Drizzle is another one of those articles looking at the fun to be had going to the pictures in a foreign country, in this case Brazil. I'd do the usual trick of putting up some additional background material for the piece here, but I'm doing this thing instead, so come back tomorrow and I'll have some São Paulo restaurant recommendations for you. (If it's already tomorrow or later, there should be a link at the top of this page to take you there.)

Movies: I didn't mention it at the time, but at last year's London Film Festival I walked past Michael Fassbender on the red carpet while he was on his way into a screening. I Did Not See His Cock, as they say on Popbitch. That had to wait until a few days ago, when I finally caught up with Shame, the movie he was on his way into. Steve McQueen's study of sex addiction works as a general study of obsession, and there's no denying that Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give incredibly brave performances throughout. But it's hard to connect with them as characters: it's the story of a man who's become detached from the world, and McQueen puts another layer of detachment on top of that as he coolly observes his disintegration. You end up zooming in on the little details: the familiar-looking Felix The Cat cartoon playing out-of-focus in the background of Fassbender and Mulligan's big scene, or the route of Fassbender's late-night jog. Still, it's a beautiful-looking movie, with cinematographer Sean Bobbitt making New York look as gorgeous as he made London look in Wonderland.

Telly: By Jupiter's COCK, Spartacus is good isn't it? I admit, I came to it late, as I do far too often with TV shows nowadays. I'd heard lots of people talking about it - bemused sneering from Charlie Brooker, abject horror from John Bishop - but the first time I actually saw it for myself was when I watched the whole of the prequel series Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena in one six-hour binge during a long-haul flight. Its reputation as the goriest, sweariest, shaggiest thing on television is wholly justified: but in Arena (and I believe, the original Spartacus: Blood And Sand which is still sitting in my DVD in-tray), all those elements are there as support to a gradually emerging story that becomes the most important part. Now we're at Spartacus: Vengeance, and the episode that's just aired in both the US and UK (Libertus) is one of the most thrilling hours of telly I've seen in years, pulling together half a season's worth of plotlines and then ripping them all up in an apocalyptic climax. My only concern is that there's still half a season to go...

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