<insert reference to shitty Neil LaBute remake of The Wicker Man here>There's an unspoken subtext to my latest MostlyFilm piece, a roundup of things I saw at the 2017 Manchester International Festival. Our visit took place nearly two months after the bombing at the Manchester Arena. It made me rather proud of the city of my birth, seeing the way people came together in reaction to the atrocity. And there are still signs of that all over the city today: the 'WE MCR' banners hanging off every vertical surface in town (as seen at the top of the MostlyFilm article), along with the frequent use of the city's bee symbol. (The example here has been on the floor of the town hall for countless years, but it's the best picture I have.)

We were only there for a weekend, catching six different MIF events (seven if you count the computer game), and spending any time we had in between them in many of our old favourite haunts. A couple of new ones were added to the list this time: breakfast at Evelyn's Cafe & Bar (which was Superstore when we visited it last), and dinner at Bundobust (having enjoyed the Leeds branch so much last Easter).

As for the shows, the MostlyFilm piece will tell you most of what you need to know, but I've also got some video trailers and clips here for those of you hungry for Red Button Bonus Content.

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MOSTLYFILM: Tales Of Asian Vengeance

Many tales will be told of the month I've just had. Eventually, at least. You know what it's like around here.

In brief: those of you with a reasonable capacity for logical deduction may have worked out that I was on holiday in Hong Kong with The Belated Birthday Girl at the start of May 2017. You know my views on HK, if you're a regular reader: it's The Funnest Place On EarthTM, and that continued to be my opinion throughout the week we were there. Just one week, though: and at the end of that, we got on a plane and spent the following week in Japan, where even more fun stuff happened.

So, a very enjoyable holiday in two of our favourite countries, which concluded when we landed back at Heathrow on the morning of Sunday May 14th. A mere eight hours later - following a dash home to drop off the suitcase and pick up a second, pre-packed one - I was on another plane out of Heathrow, for a week of working in Dubai. I came back early on the following Friday morning, hung around for about 24 hours, and then flew off again to spend my first ever week in Saudi Arabia, again for work purposes.

To summarise: I've spent each of the four weeks of May 2017 in a different time zone. Currently I'm back in London, but don't ask me what time it is right now, because I have absolutely no idea.

All of this travelling is going to be documented in a collection of posts that'll be turning up here over the next couple of months: as with last year's big holiday, I'm going to tease you initially with a video featuring disturbing amounts of fire which will get explained eventually. But for now, the first major piece about my travels is the latest Monoglot Movie Club episode for MostlyFilm. Tales Of Asian Vengeance reviews the two movies we saw on our holiday - one from Hong Kong, one from Japan. If you want to see the trailers for the two films, they're linked to in the article itself: if you want to watch some more related video clips, they're in the Red Button Bonus Content section below.

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MOSTLYFILM: Once In Every Generation

If you've watched the relevant episode of Season 5, you can probably *hear* this picture.I won't say too much about this one, because it's a group affair. In case you weren't aware, the first ever episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was broadcast twenty years ago last month, on March 10th 1997. You may remember that I marked the show's ten year anniversary with a review of the first season. Ten years after that, I've got involved in something bigger.

Over on MostlyFilm, a bunch of us - CaulorLime, TheTramp, Jim Eaton-Terry, MrMoth, me, Sarah Slade and The Belated Birthday Girl - have grabbed one season apiece (apart from Jim who's grabbed two because he's greedy, and The BBG who... well, you'll see) and reviewed the hell out of it. MrMoth has glued it all together seamlessly into a gigantic celebration of all things Buffy that we're calling Once In Every Generation. It'll take you ages to read, and it damn near broke some of the people involved in its creation. But it's definitely worth putting some time aside for it.

You theoretically shouldn't really need Red Button Bonus Content, given all the Actual Content on offer here. But I've quickly hurled a video playlist together with the unwitting assistance of YouTube user BuffyverseTrailers, who's created a fake cinema-style trailer for each of the seven seasons of the show, allowing you to get a flavour of the whole run in about 20 minutes. And the playlist is topped off with an official trailer for the Buffy Season Eight motion comic, which ties in with the subject of The BBG's segment.

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MOSTLYFILM: It's Just A Show

Your Mads for this season of MST3K: Felicia Day as Kinga Forrester, and Patton Oswalt as TV's 'Son Of TV's Frank'. One day, theses will be written on how Oswalt has managed to blag a role for himself on every single TV show he's a fan of.Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back, and on the whole I think I'm happy about that. I last wrote about the show here in 2008, when a cheap DVD of the movie spin-off was finally released, almost a decade after it had been taken off the air. And now, almost a decade after that, series creator Joel Hodgson has assembled a new cast and hurled fourteen new episodes of the show onto Netflix.

Over on MostlyFilm, I've written a piece entitled It's Just A Show, looking back at the history of MST3K and forward to its new incarnation. Meanwhile, over here in the Red Button Bonus Content, I've got the usual playlist of trailers and whatnot that you might expect. But there's a wee problem with that...

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MOSTLYFILM: Babycart On The Ray Of Blu

Possibly a little too monochrome for use in the MostlyFilm piece, not to mention the wrong shape. But I like it.We've been here before, at least a little bit. A dozen or so years ago, a short festival of Japanese cinema called Wild Japan played in London, and almost inevitably I got to write about it on here. Included in the writeup is a review of Shogun Assassin, which I finally got to see in a cinema for the first time, after years of watching sub-par home video copies. Even then, they had to project the film from a DVD, owing to various problems with getting hold of a 35mm print. At the time, I said "Enjoyable as it was to see this projected on a big screen, I'm sure someone could clean up in cinemas with a decent restored print in the future."

Well, that still hasn't happened. But what we do have now is a Blu-ray box set from Criterion containing a high-definition (though still unrestored) copy of Shogun Assassin, plus beautifully cleaned-up copies of the two original films that it was constructed from, as well as their four sequels. Packaged under the original series title of Lone Wolf And Cub, it's in the shops right now.

I've reviewed the whole damn thing on MostlyFilm, in an article entitled Babycart On The Ray Of Blu. And as this is another MostlyFilm piece referencing a large number of films, it's accompanied here by some Red Button Bonus Content featuring a playlist of trailers for all of them and more. Caution: the trailers are reasonably representative of the levels of violence and sex to be found in the films, so be careful where you watch them.

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The odd thing is, Yoshiki doesn't even *play* the guitar.If you're reading this post on the day it goes up - i.e. Thursday March 2nd, 2017 - then this counts as a timely warning. Because TONIGHT, many cinemas around the UK will be holding a one-off screening of We Are X, a new documentary film about the hugely popular Japanese rock band X Japan. Never heard of them? That's why you need to see a documentary about them, I guess.

Still not convinced? Well, to be honest, the only reason I bring it up is because I've written a review for MostlyFilm of We Are X, which you can read right now. As you'll see, I think it's a fascinating film, but I wasn't particularly interested in X Japan's music. Maybe you'd like to take issue with me on that, or you'd like to hear some songs for yourself before buying tickets for their Wembley Arena gig this Saturday.

You know, this feels like exactly the sort of reason why Red Button Bonus Content was invented! So here comes a video playlist featuring one song from each of the five studio albums X Japan have released to date. (They've been promising a sixth for some time now, but still no word on that yet.)

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MOSTLYFILM: Odd Obsessions

Destruction Babies"Various permutations of these fourteen films will be whizzing around fifteen UK cinemas from today until March 29th. Pick and choose the ones you like, and don’t feel you have to see every single film. Because that would be obsessive, wouldn’t it?"

Regular readers who've seen that paragraph turn up at the end of Odd Obsessions, my latest piece for MostlyFilm, will probably have wet themselves laughing after reading it. Because it refers to the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme, the annual collection of recent and classic Japanese movies that makes it way around the UK every February and March. Since 2012, the very nice people at the Japan Foundation have been sending me screeners of selected films from the year's programme, and I've been reviewing them for MostlyFilm. But for the last five years, I've also paid hard cash to see any of the programme films that I didn't have screeners for - and reviewed them either in the comments of the piece itself (2013, 2014) or in a separate blogpost (2015, 2016). So, yes, I have been that obsessive really.

Not this year, though: I can't give you a full review of every single film in the 2017 season. The MostlyFilm preview covers eight films: there are another six in the collection. I can't get to see three of them during the London run, through a combination of clashing schedules and unexpectedly fast sellouts. So you'll have to find out for yourselves what Somebody's Xylophone, Tsukiji Wonderland and A Silent Voice are like. I've now watched the other three, though, and you can read my reviews below as part of the bonus content for the MostlyFilm piece. Plus, there are thirteen bits of video for you at the end.

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'I've read this review three times now, and I'm still not sure if he's taking the piss out of my hair or not.'If things go according to plan - bearing in mind, of course, that we currently live on a planet where the concept of 'things going according to plan' appears to have been completely abandoned - then during February, you should see three new posts on here covering the cities we visited on our Christmas holiday: Berlin, Warsaw and Krakow. Lots of sights were seen and lots of beer was drunk, so there'll be plenty to talk about there.

It was the first time ever in Poland for both The Belated Birthday Girl and myself, so that was a whole new set of experiences to process in itself: and, inevitably, one of those new experiences was seeing Polish movies without subtitles at the cinema. It didn't work out quite as successfully as I'd hoped, but the results are now documented in the traditional way, in an article on MostlyFilm entitled Monoglot Movie Club: Bipolar.

To spoil the article a little for those of you who haven't read it yet, we (eventually) watched the latest two episodes in a crime drama franchise called Pitbull. It's a series that's had a long and complex history, as I explain in the review: and you can experience that history right here, right now in this Bonus Content for the review, as I present a series of videos showing how Pitbull has evolved over the last twelve years. Caution: scenes of violence, sex and mucky Polish language will follow.

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MOSTLYFILM: Call Of Heroes

Wandering adventurer Eddie Peng and action director Sammo Hung. According to the Yahoo! News page I, um, borrowed this picture from, Sammo made Eddie do 53 takes of one particular stunt until he got it right. He's like the David Fincher of flying kicks to the head, if you will.I'm never quite sure what to do about Fridays.

As you're probably aware, MostlyFilm generally publishes on three days a week - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You're probably also aware that whenever I contribute a piece to Europe's Best Website, I like to include a post of backup material here as well, in a healthy spirit of cross-promotion. When the original piece goes up on a Monday or a Wednesday, it's nice and easy: I'll post my backup the day after, in the gap between two MostlyFilm posts, and everyone's happy.

But what about when MostlyFilm publishes me on a Friday? Well, there are several possible options. Sometimes I post my backup material on the same day, or the day after, or leave it until the following week. Or, on the odd occasion, I forget to do it altogether and have to hurriedly cobble together something nearly a fortnight after the original article.

Which is why my review of the excellent Hong Kong action movie Call Of Heroes appeared on MostlyFilm on Friday January 6th, and this backup piece is appearing some thirteen days later. Sorry about that. Anyway, I've got some video clips for you featuring several of the people involved in the film, in case you were interested in finding out what they'd done before this one.

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MOSTLYFILM: Kind Of Funny, Kind Of Sad

I suggested this to MostlyFilm as a new way of rating movies, and they asked me to forcibly insert the Fear-Love Timeline into my anus.Pop quiz, hotshots! What do the films The Happiness Of The Katakuris and Donnie Darko have in common?

Answer: without actually meaning to, I've somehow ended up reviewing both of them three times on the internet. With the Takashi Miike musical, I wrote about it in three very different contexts - an unsubtitled print in Tokyo in the days before Monoglot Movie Club had even been invented, a subtitled print when it came over to the Edinburgh Film Festival, and as a feature in Tartan Video's Asia Extreme Festival.

All of those reviews occurred over the space of roughly eighteen months. The ones for Donnie Darko, on the other hand, are a lot more spread out. I first wrote about the film when it turned up at the 2001 London Film Festival, shortly after its American release. I got to re-assess it a little over a year later, when it was chosen by the Pals as part of the programme for VidBinge 2002. And now, fourteen years after that, Donnie Darko is getting a re-release in UK cinemas all over again, which meant I got to revisit the film one more time for MostlyFilm.

You can read my review over on Europe's Best Website right now: it's in a post titled Kind Of Funny, Kind Of Sad. And if you're looking for some bonus content to back it up, I've got some videos for you right here.

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