Movies: Around the time of VidBinge 2008 - remember those? - I expressed a fondness for Martin McDonagh's film In Bruges. It's a film I probably need to revisit soon, and followers of my Twatfeed may be able to guess why. But you do find yourself having to justify your liking of the film to people, citing McDonagh's theatrical background as justification for the plot having more interest in structure than in the sorts of things that real people might do. It has to be said that his followup Seven Psychopaths is even more crippled by this failing, and it comes as no surprise to learn that it's based on a pre-Bruges script that's been rescued from a bottom drawer and tidied up a little. The tidying up process stretches as far as a wee post-modern reference to the way all the female characters are massively underwritten: it doesn't, however, go as far as removing a line where someone introduces the final shootout in dialogue, which was subsequently recycled in Bruges. Psychopaths has its moments - most of them down to Christopher Walken's performance - but not enough of them to make it entirely enjoyable. Let's see what McDonagh's proper second movie script looks like before judging him.
Music: Here's a terrifying thing to report: a few weeks ago, I had to make the accommodation booking so that Spank's Pals have somewhere to sleep during the 2013 Edinburgh Festival. That's nine months in advance! New human beings are constructed from scratch in less time than that. It'll be my first Edinburgh since 2011, when I proclaimed that The North Sea Scrolls was my favourite show on that year's Fringe. It's been a slow journey since then, but finally Luke Haines, Cathal Coughlan and Andrew Mueller have exposed their alternative history of Britain to a wider audience, via a national tour (which you've missed) and a CD release (which is still out there - go for the limited double-disc edition, featuring Mueller's essential narration). The show's undergone some changes since the Edinburgh run, most notably in the now-deleted sequence involving Jimmy Savile's state funeral, which was a much funnier idea back in August 2011 when Savile was a) not dead and b) not the most hated man in the country. But all the other flights of fancy and cracking songs are still there, and still delightful. Will the Scrolls be represented on my Pick Of The Year 2012 CD? You'll find out imminently. (But the short answer is yes, obviously.)
Theatre: Well, it looks like we missed out on that 21/12/2012 apocalypse predicted by the Mayans. (We also missed out on the 22/12/2012 apocalypse predicted by Grant Morrison in The Invisibles, but that one might just have been a typo.) Robin Ince and Brian Cox put together a show to mark the December 21st date, along the lines of their rationalist Christmas extravaganzas Nine Lessons And Carols For Godless People. By comparison, The End Of The World was a more science-heavy affair, as comedians and scientists got together to summarise humankind's achievements on its final night of existence. There were plenty of comic highlights, from Stewart Lee channelling a disappointed Mayan death god to Dara O'Briain giving the disaster movie 2012 one last kicking. But the best bit of all was pure science: Adam Rutherford edited together footage from all 135 Space Shuttle missions, and asked the band 65daysofstatic to provide a soundtrack that mirrored the sheer fucking awe of what we pulled off as a species during those three decades. Yes, as you can see, the video's been available on the internet for the last year and a half. But at the Hammersmith Apollo, with the band playing that soundtrack live at maximum volume, those eight minutes were the most exhilarating I spent in a theatre all year.
In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site Of The Month for January 2013 is York Knavesmire Harriers' Brass Monkey Half Marathon, which takes place this year on Sunday January 20th. Sadly, you're too late to register to take part in it: but if you're in York that weekend you can watch out for the runners, and if you're too lazy to even do that you can at least check out the stats from previous years.
Coming up this month: lots of travel (Okinawa and Belgium), the traditionally late announcement of my favourite songs of the year, and more if I get around to it. How about you? Answers in the comment box below. And happy new year, obviously.