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March 2012
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May 2012

MOSTLY FILM: Terracottadammerung 2012

Let's face it, the Terracotta Far East Film Festival was made for people like me. For four festivals now, they've been bringing the best movies from all over Asia to the Prince Charles cinema in London. I saw a bit of the first festival in 2009, and wrote about it here. I had to miss 2010's completely, because I was actually in Asia at the time. And then in 2011, I caught as much of the festival as I could, and did a big thing about it for Europe's Best Website.

The latest Terracotta Festival took place last weekend, and once again I've covered it for Mostly Film, in a piece I've chosen to call Terracottadammerung 2012 because the title went down well last time.  And as is usually the case, I have some bonus material for visitors to my own site. You see, as festival boss Joey Leung kept saying during his introductions, Terracotta isn't just about films. The Mostly Film piece covers the 16 feature films that were shown over the weekend: but here, I'm going to talk about the Masterclasses.

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Easter Parade 2012

Crab. Not pictured: Winkle.This is Easter. There are rules. You'll know them if you were around this time last year, but here's a summary: The Belated Birthday Girl and I try to spend each Easter Sunday in a different place, and watch a film that was made using that place as a location. Except on the years that we don't.

You'll be pleased to hear that 2012 wasn't one of the years when we didn't. So, welcome to Whitstable! It's not just for Peter Cushing fetishists any more.

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MOSTLY FILM: Personal Jesuses

Lots of Heavens have a NorthWell, that's Easter over for another year. I'm still recovering from what I did over the weekend, and you'll have to wait a few days to find out what it involved. But right now, I'm propping myself up in my sickbed to report on how Mostly Film celebrated the holiday. Inevitably, it involved a lot of films.

Specifically, it involved a lot of films with Jesus in them. In the runup to Good Friday, they looked at two of the most famous depictions of the Passion on film: Viv Wilby reviewed Pier Paulo Pasolini's The Gospel According To St Matthew, while Phil Concannon revisited the controversy that surrounded Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ.

But today, in Personal Jesuses, we get... the others. Eight Messiahs of varying flavours that have appeared in movies over the years, chosen by a group of regular contributors to Europe's Best Website. And two of them are my own personal picks, which means that once again I can provide you with a backup piece featuring video clips and jokes that weren't good enough to fit in the 250 word count.

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Brain Activity/Joy In People

Try to imagine a combination of David Shrigley's 'I'm Dead' and Jeremy Deller's 'Joy In People' that looks a little like this, but made by someone with access to decent image editing tools and talent.I know there isn't all that much coverage of visual art on this site - here, take a look - but it's interesting to me that this is the first time I've ever reviewed anything at London's Hayward Gallery. I'm in and out of all the other arts venues on the South Bank all the time, but it's rare that something at the Hayward attracts my attention.

So it's nice to be able to report that a conveniently matching pair of exhibitions is occupying the space from now until May 13th, 2012. One single ticket will get you into both: it's a very good deal, for a number of reasons.

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MOSTLY FILM: Obscure Gems Two

Detail from the UK/US poster art for Ninja III: The Domination. Compare this with the artwork that accompanies my Mostly Film piece, and see if you can spot the subtle changes that were made for other territories."In 1984, Alex Cox made Repo Man." This was the attention-grabbing sentence that launched Mostly Film on April 4th, 2011. Bit of a shit start for Europe's Best Website, wasn't it? Still, it got better, and they've let me write more articles for it since, despite everything.

By accident rather than design, the week surrounding Mostly Film's first birthday will be largely taken up with multiple-author pieces, and I've contributed to a couple of those. My input to this Wednesday's birthday celebration is fairly wee, so I'll leave you to remember to read that yourself when it's published. Instead, let's focus on today's article, Obscure Gems Two: Revenge Of The Obscure: it highlights six films that have been widely overlooked, and two of them have been chosen by me.

It's an educational piece, and the main thing it taught me is that I've almost completely lost the ability to write to a word count. My two contributions started life around the 400 word mark, and took absolutely ages to hammer down to the required 250. Still, at least the stuff I had to cut out for space can be recycled in this bonus feature, so it wasn't all wasted.

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Simian Substitute Site For April 2012: Easter Monkeys


Comedy: Mopping up some much-delayed business from last summer's Edinburgh Fringe, I've finally caught up with Richard Herring's newest show What Is Love, Anyway? The show's programme - the usual lavish affair, available for free with a recommended donation to Scope - confirms how long WILA? has been doing the rounds, containing as it does references to the days when Herring and Andrew Collins hadn't fallen out. Similarly, it's hard for Herring to sound convincing on the negative aspects of love when he knows that we know that the story he tells in the second half of meeting his new long-term girlfriend is fast approaching its punchline: they're getting married over the Easter weekend. But as ever, he's an engaging storyteller, and admits this one is closer to the gentler autobiographical mode of The Headmaster's Son than anything else he's done. Having said that, Herring's unscripted shows are where he really takes off nowadays, so we can look forward in May to what the cool kids will doubtless be calling RHLSTP. (Rerlstup!)

Music: The first time I saw Joe Gideon And The Shark, they were supporting Nick Cave in the Art Deco splendour of the Troxy. The second time, they were headlining at the more intimate Borderline. Last week was the third time, and their gear took up the entire back wall of the tiny little basement at Power Lunches in Dalston, making them the only live act I've ever seen playing progressively smaller venues each time. To be fair, the most recent one was a slightly experimental affair, with the brother and sister duo trying out a batch of new songs from their forthcoming second album. They're all sounding great: as before, Joe tells stories over guitar riffs, while Viva performs choreographed miracles with drums, keyboards and a loop box all at the same time, but the new material adds a healthy dollop of visceral noise on top of the tunes. That may just be a consequence of the live setting, of course: hopefully we'll find out when the new record's released.

Video: One event I forgot to tell you about from last month: the one-off screenings of the Chemical Brothers' live movie, Don't Think, which took place roughly simultaneously in cinemas across the world. It's an admirable attempt to convey the audio-visual chaos of a Chems gig in a confined space. The East London screening I went to had several dozen audience members literally dancing in the aisles by the end, something I haven't seen at a movie since, erm, U2's Rattle And Hum in the late 80s. Anyway, for those of you who missed it in cinemas in February, Don't Think is now available in a DVD/CD package for you to recreate the experience at home. You may have to put your eyeballs directly onto the TV screen to get the same level of visual impact, but at least you can crank up the bass higher than most cinemas would normally dare.

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