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BrewDogging #15: Dog Tap, Ellon

At least you don't have to wait 45 bleedin' minutes to get served here. (Yet.)[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stockholm, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield]

You could argue that Dog Tap doesn't really belong in this list. After all, if we take this web page as the official statement of BrewDog's bar locations, there's (currently) no sign of Ellon on there at all. To which I would argue a) BottleDog shouldn't be on there because it's a shop, and b) Dog Tap is a BrewDog bar, but it's a special case - it's located inside the brewery building itself, just outside Aberdeen.

I've hedged my bets with that '(currently)' above because that may change, since strictly speaking the bar isn't open yet. But last weekend, a sneak preview was offered to anyone who was in town for the 2014 BrewDog AGM. And as I've previously covered the meetings that took place in 2012 and 2013, we may as well say a few words about this year's while we're here.

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MOSTLY FILM: Take It To The Bridge

I have an ongoing wanky photographic art project called Hotel Rooms 2014, featuring the door of every room I’ve paid money to stay in this year. The fact that it’s got so many entries on it so far is a testament to the amount of travelling my Moderately Responsible Job In The Computer Industry currently requires. I consider it quite a privilege that the people who pay the bills let me book my own hotels, so I make it a point of honour to get decent deals where possible.

Back in March and April of this year, I visited Denmark and Sweden on consecutive weeks. The two nations are famously connected by the Øresund Bridge: its structure is used to support the plotting of Scandi cop show The Bridge, and by extension it’s also the central metaphor at the heart of my latest Monoglot Movie Club piece for MostlyFilm. Take It To The Bridge reviews a film I saw on the Danish leg of the trip (Klassefesten 2) and a film I saw on the Swedish leg (Tommy), with the vague implication that the two will be compared and contrasted, even though that never actually happens.

What I will do, however, is use this Red Button Bonus Content piece to compare and contrast the hotels I stayed at in each country, as both of them were a little out of the ordinary. While we’re here, I’ll also throw in a few restaurant recommendations along the way.

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Terracottadammerung 2014 (part 2)

The Terracotta team and their guests for 2014. More pictures at"Films. Directors. Actors. Parties." The tagline for the Terracotta Far East Film Festival makes it clear that it's far more than just a big pile of Asian films shown in a short space of time. So in part two of my review of the 2014 festival (here's part one if you missed it), let's start by looking at a new non-film feature introduced this year: food.

I highlighted this as a problem as long ago as the last sentence of Terracottadammerung 2012: if you’re doing lots of films back to back, there’s not enough time to eat. My suggestion was to extend the breaks between films, but Terracotta came up with the fiendish idea of allowing you to preorder dim sum baskets from the nearby Opium, the official social focus point of this year's festival. It’s still not a perfect system: my main objection is that you have to climb four fucking flights of stairs to collect your order, couldn't they lower it down to you on a bit of rope or something? Still, the package of six dumplings you get for a fiver was ready and waiting for me after a screening, tasted nice, and even left time afterwards for a pot of fancy tea that cost as much all over again. However, The Belated Birthday Girl would like to register her disapproval at the veggie basket only having four dumplings in it rather than six, and suggests that this should be looked into.

Right, let's get back to films. Here's what we saw on the final two days of TFEFF14.

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Terracottadammerung 2014 (part 1)

We had the preview last month, courtesy of Mostly Film: and then towards the end of the month we had the thing itself. I'm talking about the Terracotta Far East Film Festival, whose 2014 run took place between May 23rd and June 1st. This is the fourth year in a row that I've binged out with one of their Festival Passes, allowing you access to all of the films in their Current Asian Cinema section: if it helps, you can prepare for this one by seeing what I thought about the films in 2011, 2012 and 2013. I'll wait till you've finished.

Done that? Okay then, here's 2014. As I mentioned in the preview article, there were three major sections to Terracotta this year: Current Asian Cinema, the TerrorCotta horror all-nighter, and a separate strand dedicated to films from the Philippines. The Belated Birthday Girl and I did TerrorCotta a couple of years ago when it was only a half-nighter, and that nearly wrecked us, so we skipped it completely this time. (Besides, we'd already seen its best film, Takashi Miike's Lesson Of Evil, having picked up the Blu-ray in Hong Kong last year.) But we made a decent stab at the rest, catching all of the Current Asian Cinema and two of the six Filipino movies, plus a pre-festival bonus flick. That makes sixteen films in total, which I've chosen to cover over two separate posts: so here comes everything we saw apart from the final weekend.

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Simian Substitute Site For June 2014: Monkey Business Comedy Club


Books: It seems to be a ten-yearly cycle, for some reason. I pick up a John le Carre novel, I read it, I'm reminded of how brilliant he is, and then I forget about him again for a decade. Truth be told, the only reason I bought A Delicate Truth in the first place was because it was going for three quid by the tills at WH Smith. We're long past the era of the Cold War shenanagans that made his reputation, but le Carre still has his finger on the pulse of what's going on. The thing that surprised me most about A Delicate Truth was its boldly episodic structure: in a series of extended chapters (here's the first one), he tells the story of a British military operation on Gibraltar, and then veers off in a number of different directions to gradually reveal what happened before and after it. His sense of character is as solid as it always was, backed up with an even more cynical view of the world than ever. Still, given that he's in his eighties now and continuing to publish a novel a year, I think le Carre's earned the right to that cynicism. If it's been years since you last read one of his books, maybe it's time you reacquainted yourself with him.

Comics: I'm still struggling to find new comics to be interested in, and it's probably significant that the most exciting one I picked up this month is a collection of a four-issue miniseries originally published in 1996. It's taken 18 years for Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Flex Mentallo: Man Of Muscle Mystery to come out in paperback, and it's all down to one simple mistake on Morrison's part: when he based a comicbook superhero on the Charles Atlas adverts that used to fill in the gaps between story pages, he forgot to ask Charles Atlas first. Fourteen years after the case was thrown out of court, the book's finally back on the shelves again to dazzle a new generation that only really knows of Morrison and Quitely because they created the best Superman book of all time. Flex Mentallo, despite its welcome collection between a single set of covers, probably works best as a set of individual comics - because alongside the surreal story of a musclebound superhero trying to track down the ultimate bad guy, it's also a reflection on the history of the medium itself, with each issue subtly satirising the foibles of one particular era in comicbook history. (Less subtly in the case of the grim 'adult realism' we associate with eighties funnybooks, or maybe that's just because it's the era I feel closest to.) It wouldn't be the first or last time that Morrison's writing has played with narrative layering and post-modernism, but it's easily the most elegant of his experiments in the form, and Quitely once again proves himself a world leader in the artistic depiction of utterly impossible things. Buy it now, or the planet is doomed, as they warn you on the cover.

Music: I first came across Max Richter's Four Seasons on one of my long-haul journeys last year - either Dubai or Hong Kong, not quite sure which, but it was on the in-flight audio anyway. (Something else I discovered on that Dubai flight, a useful tip for the Jeff Bridges fans amongst you: you can make long boring plane journeys that little bit more edgy by playing Gorecki's Third Symphony on a loop.) I listened to a bit of Four Seasons, was curious to find out more, and then forgot about it again until a few weeks ago, when the album was re-released in a special edition. To give it its full title, Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons features Richter deconstructing Vivaldi's masterwork movement by movement, and then handing the results over to violinist Daniel Hope and the Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin to perform. Sometimes Richter takes an interesting phrase from the original and generates a series of looped variations on it, much like Michael Nyman was doing with Purcell and Mozart three decades ago: sometimes he just makes minor tweaks to the original, like removing one beat out of eight from Winter 1. There are huge variations in quality from track to track, but on the whole it's a fascinating experiment. The special edition includes a couple of performance videos, some noodly electronic soundscapes, and a quartet of hilariously destructive dance mixes. My favourite one is the variation on Summer 3 reworked by Robot Koch, purely because someone has chosen to call themselves Robot Koch.

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