MOSTLY FILM: It Only Happens In The Movies?
MOSTLY FILM: It Continues To Only Happen In The Movies?

Simian Substitute Site For February 2015: Arashiyama Monkey Park

Arashiyama Monkey ParkMONTH END PROCESSING FOR JANUARY 2015

Movies: For over a decade now - since Lagaan, to be precise - I've been fascinated by how different Aamir Khan is from Bollywood's other movie idols. He's a rarity in that he acknowledges there's a world outside: not so much pandering to a Western audience, more pushing things beyond what an Indian audience would expect. That's definitely the case with his new film P.K., which recently became India's highest ever grossing movie. Part of this may have been down to the publicity campaign, which kept things close to its chest for as long as it could. The first trailer, in particular, presents P.K. as a bumbling Mr Bean type character, without ever revealing the reason why that is. The film, meanwhile, tells you why in the first scene - he's an alien stranded on earth. Inevitably, this quickly becomes a story of human foibles being observed by an outsider: but it takes longer to reveal that the main foible that he'll be looking at is religion. This is ballsy stuff for an Indian movie star to cover, and he's taken some stick from Hindus who feel especially picked on. Domestic audiences have ignored the begrudgers and gone to see it in droves, and have been rewarded with a unique mix of daft comedy, sharp social comment, and - of course - a few song and dance numbers. Bollywood finally has its own Life Of Brian, and it's quite a thing to see.

Music: Okay, let's get this out of the way. Back in December, I gave you the track listing of my Pick Of The Year CD for 2014, Everywhere Is Monsters. I also announced a competition to win a copy, and gave you a multiple choice question to answer. Which of the following artists - Half Man Half Biscuit, Trey Parker or Pet Shop Boys - has been responsible for the highest number of my compilation titles so far? Now, you may have noticed that I didn't tell you what would happen if nobody got the right answer. That's because there's no wrong answer, a deliberate move to potentially open up the competition to people other than Dave. Tricksy, I know, but this didn't go unnoticed...

Interesting one - from what I can make out, it's a trick question, and they have 3 each?
HMHB - 1991, 19972001
TP - 1998, 19992011
PSB - 198620122013

...so congratulations to Dave for an absolutely perfect answer. Can the rest of you lot at least try next year? Promise?

Theatre: I recently wrote a couple of pieces - one for Mostly Film, one for here - about my adventures in Jakarta. Here's one adventure I didn't write about at the time: my struggle with the wi-fi at the Grand Indonesia shopping mall, trying to deal with it timing out every ten minutes while I was in the online booking queue for Daniel Kitson's latest theatre show. Kitson's theatrical pieces have, up until now, been monologues: either simply recited on stage, or split between multiple tape decks when he felt like a change. In the two pieces I've seen so far, a pair of stories has been gradually had their link revealed: and to a certain degree, the same is true of his latest one, Tree. The big difference here is that it's a play for two people, each of whom gets to tell their story to the other. Tim Key plays a man who's turned up an hour early for a picnic date: Kitson plays the long-term inhabitant of the tree under which the picnic is due to take place. While Key waits for his date to arrive, the pair engage in conversation, and things are gradually revealed. It doesn't have the huge emotional impact of Kitson's earlier plays, but it's got all the humour and observation you'd expect from them. After a busy month-long run in January, the play's coming back to the Old Vic for one more week starting February 16th: find a decent network to connect to and book now.

In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site Of The Month for February 2015 is Arashiyama Monkey Park, located a short bus ride away from Kyoto station. "Hey, Spank," you're probably saying at this point, "you were in Japan over Christmas, did you visit this park at any point during that trip?" Well, yes, I did, and at some point very soon I'll tell you more about it. I was originally hoping to have parts two and three of Rising Monkey 2014 up this week, but various delays have knocked that plan on the head. You should see the rest of our Christmas holiday report some time this month: in the meantime, you can visit the official site of one of Kyoto's most simian attractions, and see the picture up there that I took of the rules for dealing with monkeys. (They have three, just like gremlins.)

Plenty of Japanese stuff to look forward to this month, one way or another. I'll even accept Japanese language comments in the box below, if you feel up to it...

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