Simian Substitute Site For April 2020: Monkey Wellbeing
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Easter Parade 2: In Situ Boogaloo

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns. It seems like a risky economic strategy in the current climate, but there you go.Covid-19 has no respect for tradition, as we've learned. Since 2012, The Belated Birthday Girl and I have made an annual pilgrimage to Aberdeen for the BrewDog AGM, with its fifty minutes of business presentation in the middle of ten hours of drinking. We were all booked in for the 2020 AGM on Saturday April 11th, i.e. yesterday. You won't be surprised to hear that it didn't happen. (Watch this space, though.)

Other traditions, however, have turned out to be more resilient. Since 2002, with a couple of minor exceptions, The BBG and I have tried to ensure that wherever we find ourselves on Easter Sunday, we'll watch a film that was shot in that area of the world. 2020 would have been the first year that Easter Sunday coincided with our annual Aberdeen visit: we'd got as far as having a candidate film ready, in which ABZ doubled for Somalia (insert your own punchline here, Ricky) in a jolly little tale of the oil industry. In the gap between the cancellation of the AGM and the cancellation of our flights, we even had a sneaky backup plan which involved an Easter Sunday day trip out to BrewDog St Andrews.

All that fell through, of course, and now we're spending Easter Sunday 2020 in London. Which London film should we watch this year? Well, the last time I did a year-by-year roundup of our Easter films was in 2011, so let's build up to the answer slowly by seeing what we've watched since then.

2012 - Venus, Copeland House, Whitstable
I wrote a full page about this trip at the time, so there's not much more to be said apart from two quick updates. Firstly, the owner of the Copeland House B&B has sold up as she promised, and nowadays it's a rental property. Secondly, Jodie Whittaker's done alright for herself since then, hasn't she?

2013 - Get Carter, Premier Inn Newcastle Quayside, Newcastle
We always do well with locations for Michael Caine films. In 2008, we watched The Italian Job in the actual building where the prison scenes were filmed: in 2013, our hotel room in Newcastle gave us a perfect view of the Tyne Bridge as we watched Get Carter. Again, I wrote a whole page about our Newcastle weekend, but also wrote a whole other page about its BrewDog bar, as we were visiting during what turned out to be year one of the BrewDogging project...

2014 - Four Lions, Ibis Sheffield City, Sheffield
...which is why I stopped writing dedicated Easter Parade pieces after that one, because every subsequent Easter holiday ended up tying in with a visit to a BrewDog bar for the project, and the film reviews ended up getting rolled into the bar reviews. So 2014 took in BrewDog Sheffield, as well as a meetup with Suze, a pair of small-scale gigs and some snooker.

2015 - Letter To Brezhnev, Nadler Hotel, Liverpool
Times change - when we started doing this over a decade ago, we were limited to films that were showing in cinemas at the time. We soon realised that we'd have more control by bringing DVDs and a portable player, and watching them in our hotel room. I mention this here because the Nadler - the hotel we chose this time because it was convenient for BrewDog Liverpool - has now become the Resident. The website suggests it's more of a rebranding than a takeover: hopefully they haven't changed it too much.

2016 - Rome Open City, Casa Howard, Rome
A stone-cold classic viewed in our not-a-hotel close to BrewDog Rome. One side effect of doing this roundup now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is visiting all these hotel websites and seeing what disarray they're all in at the moment. (Though curiously, Casa Howard's branch in Florence still seems to be taking bookings.) 

2017 - Billy Liar, Premier Inn Leeds City Centre (Leeds Arena), Leeds
A rare two-city Easter Sunday - we had the choice of watching a Leeds film in the morning, or a York film in the evening. I suspect it was the choice of film that ultimately swung it, tying in with our visit to BrewDog's second Leeds bar.

2018 - The Little Comrade, Forum Coca-Cola Plaza, Tallinn / Torsk På Tallinn, Hotel Bern, Tallinn
This ended up being an awkward one. I'd gone to enormous trouble to obtain a DVD of Torsk På Tallinn in time for our visit: it was a little-known TV movie, an early work by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, who'd subsequently go on to make Let The Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It was so incredibly dull that we fell asleep halfway through it, and two years later we still haven't got around to finishing it. We ended up deciding that our local film for 2018 was in fact The Little Comrade, a Tallinn-set period piece that we'd caught at the cinema the day before.

2019 - Tokyo Story, Sotetsu-Fresa Inn Tokyo-Kyobashi, Tokyo
No arguments about this one, viewed in central Tokyo using the BFI Player and a cheeky VPN to convince it we were still in the UK. You could argue that there's as much of Onomichi in view in this film as there is of Tokyo, which is partly why we visited Onomichi just a couple of days later.

2020 - 28 Days Later, Château Belated-Monkey, London
And so we reach the present day, and our first London-based Easter since 2009. It's a very different London from the one depicted in either Performance or Notting Hill, however: the streets are deserted, and everyone's living in fear of a killer virus. 28 Days Later was, let's be honest, the only option open to us for today. I hadn't seen it since its original release in 2002, and could only remember the first two setpieces: David Schneider's splendid overacting in the opening setup ("Rage!"), followed by Cillian Murphy's dazed stumble through an entirely depopulated central London. That walk is still astonishingly eerie to watch, and possibly gets a bit of an edge from our current predicament. By comparison, the zombie bits are a little bit silly, and the lack of scenes involving infected people fighting over toilet rolls feels unrealistic. Still, I was half expecting 28 Days to generate the queasy unease that I remember feeling when I watched Mars Attacks! and its scenes of property destruction just two weeks after 9/11: and I didn't get that, so I think that counts as a success.

2021? Well, if travel is still a thing by then, we'll see what our twentieth Easter film will be.


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