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December 2013
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February 2014

MOSTLY FILM: East Side Stories

You know, until I watched Love Strikes!, I wouldn't have believed that there was such a thing as 'too much karaoke'.I've had a long-standing relationship with the Japan Foundation's annual touring film programmes. I reviewed several of the movies in the 2008, 2010 and 2011 seasons on this site: then I moved the operation over to Mostly Film for 2012 and 2013, writing previews of the films rather than reviews.

I've got a taste for pre-festival screeners now, to be honest, so I'm doing it all over again for the 2014 season, in a preview article called East Side Stories that's up on Mostly Film today. Of the eleven films in the collection, I managed to get hold of advance copies of six, and could also cannibalise one of my old Terracotta Festival reviews for a seventh. I'm hoping to catch the other four movies during the tour itself, and I'll try to review those in the comments section of the article.

The season hits various UK arthouse cinemas from today (January 31st), and tours for the next two months - full details are at the bottom of the Mostly Film piece. Meanwhile, do you want to see some clips of the films on offer? As usual, this handy Red Button backup content can help.

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MOSTLY FILM: None More Obscure

In a long-forgotten Public Information Film from the mid-1980s, popular television personality Alexei Sayle demonstrates the dangers of trying to get your cock out and drive a taxi simultaneously.You've probably noticed by now that over on Europe's Best Website, we like obscure things. To that end, Mostly Film runs an occasional series of articles entitled Obscure Gems, in which a selection of its writers celebrate films that you may have missed. I didn't have anything to contribute to the first one, which may explain why I went nuts and wrote about two separate gems for the second in the series. I also threw in my tuppence worth for the third article, best regarded as an anomaly which now makes it impossible to decide whether the follow-up to it counts as Obscure Gems 3 or Obscure Gems 4.

Playing it safe, we've dropped the numbers and called it None More Obscure. Five of the Mostly Film regulars - Indy Datta, Gareth Negus, Matthew Turner, Blake Backlash and yours truly - have come up with another selection of long-forgotten favourites. This particular batch seems to have been predominantly driven by memories of careless selections from video shops in the 1980s, and that includes mine too. The attached collection of trailers - offered here as the usual backup service I provide for Mostly Film articles I'm involved in - feels like nothing so much as one of those VHS trailer reels we spent most of the eighties fast forwarding through to get to the feature. That's not to say that they're bad, as you'll see.

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Riff-Raff Competition Update

It'll be with you in a Jiffy, Dave.Just under a month ago, I revealed the track listing of my Pick Of The Year 2013 CD, Hanging Out With Various Riff-Raff, a compilation of my seventeen favourite tunes from last year. And as is now traditional, I also set a small competition to give all of you the chance to win a physical copy of the CD. The closing date is February 28th, so there's still plenty of time to get your entries in and

Nah, just kidding. Dave's won it. Again.

Dave's been entering the CD competitions almost as long as they've been running, and has walked away with the prize in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and now 2013. If he'd been twice as proficient at winning these things, I could have titled this page 12 Years A Dave, but we'll have to wait a bit longer for that one.

Anyway, congratulations to him. But it annoys me a bit that we've got into one of those ruts where it's the same one or two people - oh, all right then, one - who enter every time I do one of these things. So! How do you fancy competing for the SECOND PRIZE of a NOT QUITE AS GOOD COPY OF THE CD? Yeah? Yeah?

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Simian Substitute Site For January 2014: Apenheul


Comedy: Andrew O'Neill sums it up beautifully towards the end of his event. "You read one book about Jack The Ripper, and you think you know it all. Then you read a second one, and you don't know what to think any more. And then you read another twenty, and you go mad and start doing walking tours." O'Neill's Jack The Ripper Walking Tour was something that The Belated Birthday Girl and I found out about shortly after becoming familiar with his stand-up comedy, but it's taken us this long to find a date that actually worked for us. (I ended up buying tickets for The BBG as part of her Christmas present, which is either deeply romantic or deeply troubling depending on how you look at it.) O'Neill has one hell of a juggling act to perform here, and he makes it look deceptively easy, negotiating some terrifying emotional hairpin bends in his telling of the story. For example, a surreal riff on the confessions of a tarpaulin fetishist (amusingly YELLED directly into The BBG's face on the night we attended) segues into the grim retelling of the discovery of the Ripper's first victim. It's a terrific mixture of history, comedy, creepiness and cardiovascular workout (he's a fast walker): he finds time to dissect all the crackpot theories about the Ripper's identity, while managing to come up with an equally plausible one of his own. He organises the walks on an irregular basis, but if you stalk him on Twitter you should get an early warning of when the next one's happening.

Telly: I think one of my greatest achievements in 2013 was to finally get around to watching an episode of Horrible Histories while sober. It's always been a fun thing to pull off the PVR when you get back from the pub: like Andrew O'Neill, its mixture of hard historical fact and wacky comedy is delightfully appealing to both adults and children. (That last sentence is not intended to suggest that you take your kids to a Ripper Walk, by the way.) Horrible Histories finally shut up shop in the summer of 2013, whereupon its six leading cast members took the Murdoch shilling and moved over to Sky with a new series called Yonderland. It's set in a mystical fantasy world which is being slowly torn apart by evil forces. Fortunately, they've identified a saviour who can rescue them: unfortunately, it's 33-year-old suburban housewife Debbie Maddox (Martha Howe-Douglas), and she doesn't really want to do the job. Freed from the constraint of having to teach stuff to kids, the team just focus on generating smart family-friendly fun, and they manage that just fine. The show recently finished its first series, but Sky will probably repeat it to death like they usually do, and there's a DVD on the way this month.

Travel: The BBG has had a long-time interest in the life and work of Alan Turing, so it's surprising that it's taken us this long to visit Bletchley Park. And now we've been there, we want to go again. It's a sprawling site, and the few hours we'd allocated for it allowed us to barely scratch the surface. The main building offers, as you'd expect, a detailed examination of the secret codebreaking work that literally changed the course of the Second World War, with lots of old Enigma machines and the like for you to examine. But there are a dozen or more other buildings in the complex. The National Museum of Computing, for example, which will generate all kinds of nostalgic feelings in old IT people who will freak out when they see a model of their first ever removable hard disk drive (the DEC RL02, featuring a massive 10.4MB of storage when formatted). Or the tiny cinema museum, with a huge display of vintage projection equipment, and an art deco cinema showing old newsreels. And that's just the stuff we found. Get yourself a cheapo ticket and train deal from National Rail and go there as soon as possible.

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