Hey, there's a new Godzilla film out! Well, sort of. It's called Shin Godzilla, and its cinema release in the UK was limited to a series of one-night stands last Thursday, followed by a few short runs that are currently happening in various cities. If you hurry, you might still be able to catch it near you: otherwise, you'll have to wait for the home video release just before Christmas.
Anyway, I've reviewed Shin Godzilla for MostlyFilm, so you may want to go and read that to find out what I thought about it. Did you realise that discounting the various American remakes, there have been twenty-nine Godzilla movies made in Japan, including this new one? Imagine what it would be like to watch all the trailers for them back to back!
I'll keep this short, as I usually do when I've got a group piece on MostlyFilm to plug. (After all, it seems a bit much to write a thousand or more words of backup material like I did here when I only contributed five hundred or so to the original article.)
Anyway: Steven Soderbergh has a new film out, and here's its trailer. He technically stopped directing films five years ago (although during that time he directed two complete seasons of a TV show to keep himself occupied), but now he's back. In Celebrating Soderbergh, a bunch of the MostlyFilm regulars have picked one of his films and written about it. I went for Schizopolis, probably one of the oddest things he's ever done.
Need reminding what those films looked like? Well, that's why there's a video playlist down there.
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.
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.)
"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.
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.
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.
It's been nearly two months since I went on the Dubai trip that I've documented in my latest Monoglot Movie Club piece for MostlyFilm. You know, the one that finished with an overnight flight back to London where I got very little sleep and eight hours later had to go to my first film at the London Film Festival and DAMMIT, I still haven't done the Wrap Party roundup for that, it'll be coming soon, promise. Anyway, that one.
The piece in question is called Not Catching Your Drift, which is a moderately amusing reference to one of the films I saw there, the street-racing drama Hajwala. But it could have been quite different. Shortly after seeing the second movie, Bilal, I discovered that it was based on the early life of a real person: Bilal ibn Rabah, best known as one of the most loyal companions of the prophet Mohammed. Count yourselves lucky that I didn't go with my original title of The Fatwa And The Furious.
Providing Red Button Bonus Content for this post is going to be a little tricky: after all, it's the third visit I've made to Dubai this year, and I've more or less drained the well dry when it comes to travel tips and mall reviews. (In the case of the latter, the only new thing worth reporting on from this trip is the discovery of casual eaterie Common Grounds, close to the cinema inside the Mall of the Emirates.) So, below you'll just find a few trailers relating to the movies I saw.
We do enjoy a good film festival round these parts, as you may have noticed. London, obviously: the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme kind of counts as one too: and then there are the festivals that burned themselves out, like Terracotta and Edinburgh. It might be considered surprising that the London Korean Film Festival has been running in the city where I live for a decade now, and I've never seen a single film from it. In my defence, it's always come a little too hard on the heels of the LFF for my liking: I'm still recovering from the thirty-odd films I saw in October, and you want me to watch more?
Still, when the MostlyFilm editor asked me one week before the start of the LKFF if I fancied writing a preview for it, and sent me the links to 31 online screeners, it struck me that maybe a few more films wouldn't hurt.
In the end, I watched nine all the way through, and gave up on a tenth part way once I realised it was a three-hour long director's cut and I wouldn't have time to finish it that day. The result went up on MostlyFilm yesterday under the title London Korean Film Festival 2016, to coincide with the opening gala screening. You've missed that by now, obviously, but there are still another fourteen days of Korean movies to be seen in London, plus a ten-day touring programme visiting Sheffield, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow and Belfast. Visit here for full details of all the films showing, but not until you've had a quick look at the trailer reel I've provided below as the Red Button Bonus Content for the MostlyFilm review.
It's there in my bio at the end of every article I write for MostlyFilm: "his specialist subjects are Asian cinema, cult movies and TV, and watching foreign films without the benefit of subtitles." So far in 2016, I've written quite a bit that falls into the first and last of those categories, but nothing that really counts as culty.
Well, today that changes, with a review I've written of Psychomania, one of the cultiest of British movies. Ignore the ridiculously inaccurate poster image over on the left there: if you have a vague memory of an undead Nicky Henson misbehaving on a motorcycle while his devil-worshipping mother Beryl Reid tuts in the background, then you've probably already seen Psychomania in a late night telly slot and doubted the evidence of your own eyes. (Much like I did when I first saw it over three decades ago, as you'll see.)
Psychomania is currently doing a tiny tour of UK cinemas as part of the Scalarama festival, but the big news is that it's just about to come out in a lavishly restored Blu-ray/DVD set with tons of bonus features. And speaking of bonus features, I've assembled a wee YouTube playlist of related bits and bobs as backup material for the MostlyFilm article.