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MOSTLY FILM: Mostly MIFfy 2015

The former Cornerhouse, which recently shut up shop and relocated down the road at Home. Hopefully the building will be restored back to the fully-functioning porno cinema it was in the old days.It's July in an odd-numbered year: which means it must be time for the Manchester International Festival again. Which also means I've written a review of the festival - or at least five of its performances - for Europe's Best Website, in a piece you can now read there entitled Mostly MIFfy 2015. Which also also means that there's some Red Button backup content for the article to be found right here.

This was a bit of a hit-and-run visit for The Belated Birthday Girl and me - we arrived in Manchester around 11am on Saturday morning, and left around 7pm on the following day. In those 32 hours we saw the five shows I reviewed on Mostly Film, slept at the Premier Inn Portland Street, had two excellent dinners at The Round at The Royal Exchange and James Martin Manchester, and ate breakfast at Gorilla and Home. The last of those is worth expanding on, because it was our first visit to Manchester's newest art centre since its opening in May. It's unnervingly quiet early in the morning, and the cafe bar's brunch menu is a little abbreviated. But the dishes themselves are lovely (including a terrifically oversized croque madame), and we had a very chilled time there, not realising that just twelve hours later Douglas Gordon would be twatting the place with an axe.

As for the shows we saw in the festival, all of them have videos of one sort or another associated with them, so they'll make up the bulk of this page.

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Edinburgh Festival Preview 2015: Insert Dated Reference To Independence Referendum Here

Sir Walter Scott, bein' a fuckin' radge at Edinburgh Waverley stationTo summarise for newcomers: I’ve been attending the Edinburgh Festival on and off since 1989. You can read all about that here. The ‘off’ part of the arrangement has, over the years, settled into something quite simple: every third year, I stay at home, and let Nick take control of the Pals for a week instead. The last time I did this was in 2012, so I’m due another break this year – and after the amount of money that Italy cost us, it’s probably just as well.

But a variation on that arrangement has slowly evolved in recent years, as Nick asks me if there’s anything in this year’s Festival programmes I can recommend, and I end up writing a couple of thousand words on the internet in response. The last time I did this was also in 2012: so, with the Fest just a month away, it’s time to plough through the International Festival, Fringe and Book Festival programmes to see what catches my eye, even though I have no plans to see anything I’m about to recommend here. As advice, you can take it or leave it, it’s entirely up to you. Ready?

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MOSTLY FILM: Live At Pompeii

To be honest, F Murray Abraham doesn't have a single line in this as good as "Chicken!" in Loaded Weapon 1Il gatto è fuori del sacchetto, I guess.

Last month, in the gap between this post and this one, The Belated Birthday Girl and I spent two weeks running around Italy. The holiday writeups always tend to suffer the worst delays on this site, so I can't make any firm promises about when you'll get to read about what we did there: hopefully, it should be soon.

But in the meantime, today you get a Mostly Film article that came out of the trip. The twentieth episode in my Monoglot Movie Club series, Live At Pompeii covers the two unsubtitled Italian films we watched over there: Mia Madre at the Cinema Odeon in Bologna, and Torno Indietro e Cambio Vita at the Cinema Modernissimo in Naples.

Notice I said unsubtitled there. We also watched a third film, The Mystery Of Dante, at the Odeon Firenze in what us monoglot types call Florence. It's an Italian film that's partly in English, and with English subtitles for the rest of it, so it couldn't really be covered in a Monoglot Movie Club piece. But I'm choosing to review it here as the Red Button Bonus Material for the original post. I have to. A film this bloody terrible deserves it.

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Simian Substitute Site For July 2015: The Great Gorilla Run


Comics: You know how the comics section around here works - the same few writers keep cropping up over and over again. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Kieron Gillen and Matt Fraction have all been namedropped here at least twice, if not more. So let's welcome a new writer to comics, one who can hopefully give us something we haven't seen before. Except the writer is Chuck Palahniuk, and his first comic is a sequel to the most famous novel he ever wrote. Fight Club 2 picks up ten years after the end of the book (and, of course, the film): we find Tyler Durden, Marla Singer and a man we now have to call Sebastian still going through their same ménage à trois, but with a couple of extra quirks added, a nine-year-old child being merely the most visible of them. We've had two issues out of the proposed ten so far: there's a lot of setting up of plot in the first one, but the second shows Palahniuk settling comfortably into his new medium, with some ingeniously slippery transitions between the multiple layers of narrative. Thankfully, he's quickly learned that a comic is a lot more than a collection of speech bubbles, and leaves plenty of space for artist Cameron Stewart to play similar tricks with form and structure. So it all holds together as a comic: what I'm not sure yet is if it holds together as a story, with the constant callbacks to the original Fight Club sometimes feeling a little too much like mere fan service. But I'm willing to read on and find out, for now.

Music: When I announced the rebirth of Spank's Audio Lair last month as a Spotify playlist, my original plan was to have a single playlist whose contents changed every thirty days or so. But now I'm toying with the idea of creating a new list every month, and leaving the old ones available on these Simian Substitute pages as a record of the songs that interested me at the time. So here's a new one for July - now let's see how long I can keep doing this before I get bored. In case you were wondering, the fact that I'm sort of namechecked towards the end of the song is not the only reason for me including Eastend Cabaret's Dangerwank.

Telly: Anyone with open eyes is probably aware by now that Marvel Comics are trying to take over all world media. They've been pretty successful with that plan in terms of their movies - but their TV shows have been less consistent, with the flagship Agents Of SHIELD having all sorts of wobbliness in the two seasons broadcast to date. Earlier this year, while SHIELD was on a mid-season break, ABC filled the gap with an eight-week miniseries entitled Agent Carter. People assumed that because Channel 4 had been showing SHIELD over here, they'd be doing the same for Agent Carter - but they'd assumed wrong. It's taken six months or so for the show to finally pick up a UK broadcaster courtesy of Fox, who start their run on Sunday July 12th at 9pm. Which is a pity, because having seen it (via methods of dubious legality that shall remain nameless), I'd say it's a much better bet for a general audience than any of Marvel's other products. Set in 1946, it's the story of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), the secret agent who supervised/fancied Captain America in the first of his films. But now Cap's jumped forward to the 21st century, and Peggy's stuck in a post-war office job having to keep her skills under one of her exquisite hats. Inevitably, that's about to change. You don't need a background in superhero mythology for this one, just the ability to enjoy a rollicking good yarn that's handled with an unexpected lightness of touch.

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