MOSTLY FILM: Comin' At Ya!

The best line from Sex & Zen II. See? I wasn't making it up.If you were following me on Twitter on January 5th, you knew this was coming. This was the first thing I tweeted that morning: "Plan for today: watch five hours of Chinese softcore pornography for the future amusement of @MostlyFilm's readers. Wish me luck." Curiously, all the replies that sympathised with my plight came from women, while the only one that took the piss came from a man. (Yeah, @PastryThief, I'm looking at you.)

But it's true, that's exactly how I spent that particular Thursday: I watched two bits of old Chinese porn from my fuzzy collection of VHS tapes, and then one bit of new Chinese porn via the wonders of Virgin Media's FilmFlex service. It wasn't as entertaining a day as you might expect. For full details, you'll need to go to Europe's Best Website, which has today published a self-explanatory piece by me entitled Comin' At Ya! (A Brief History Of Sex & Zen).

Amazingly, despite its subject, the article is more or less safe for work. The rest of this page, though? Maybe not so much.

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Easter Parade

If you want to do it exactly the way we did, add some cooked quinoa to the stuffing. Yum. Traditions were made to be broken: and eagle-eyed readers of this site may have realised by now that I broke a couple of them last Christmas. For one thing, there hasn't been an article about VidBinge 2010, because there wasn't a VidBinge - it proved too difficult to get enough of Spank's Pals in one place at the same time last December. For another, I still haven't got around to writing about what The Belated Birthday Girl and I did over the festive season, mainly because I've been too rushed off my feet to get the words together. (Short answer? We stayed at home. We made ourselves a rather lovely stuffed pumpkin as illustrated with some nutty Brussels and roasties on the side, watched a series of carefully-chosen thematically-linked double-bills, and had a very nice time all round. There, that's 2000 words you don't have to plough through now.)

But our big Easter tradition has evolved slowly over the last decade, and is proving more difficult to shake off.

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VidBinge 2009

Operation Kino The first thing you’ll want to know is: did people turn up? After all, last year’s VidBinge – my annual one-day DVD marathon made up of audience selections from the previous calendar year’s film releases – was notorious for only having two attendees other than myself. Happily, the event held on Saturday December 12th 2009 was a much more popular affair. The running order was based on selections from six of your favourites from Spank’s Pals – Seapea, Lesley, Old Lag, The Belated Birthday Girl, The Cineaste and Jon – with a special guest appearance from Caroline, who decided to join us even though she hadn’t voted. I’m normally quite strict about that sort of thing, but after last year’s debacle I was happy to bend the rules a bit.

The process remains unchanged from the first ever VidBinge, held ten years earlier. I assembled a list of twenty films that were released in the UK during 2009, all of which I had available on DVD (apart from Tokyo Sonata, which I'd taped off the telly a few weeks earlier). The people coming to VidBinge voted beforehand for their five favourites, and I amalgamated their choices to come up with a programme based on the most popular. As you can see from the official results (click graph above for readable version), there was a fair old logjam in fifth place: but let’s focus on the top four, which are the ones we actually watched on the day.

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VidBinge 2008

A shameless bit of pandering to The Belated Birthday Girl: Josh Brolin in No Country For Old Men, shooting a dogI won't lie to you: the 2008 VidBinge was a bit of a disappointment compared with previous years. Usually, there are six or seven of Spank's Pals voting on their pick from twenty of the year's best movies, in preparation for an all-day screening of the four or five most popular ones at my place. But thanks to shopping commitments, illness and other reasons, only two people could attend the December 2008 event: fan favourites The Belated Birthday Girl and Old Lag.

But you know what? We went ahead and did it anyway. Sure, the vote ended up a little less granular than it has done in the past. We ended up with one runaway winner in first place, and four films tied in second place. Happily, the combined running time of all five allowed us to just about squeeze them into the traditional 1pm-11.30pm slot. So with the help of some booze and the takeaway pizza place over the road, we watched all of the following.

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Caligula

Malcolm McDowell, looking up an old friend I couldn't help it: I was young. (Actually, I was 35, but skip that for now.) Back in 1999, I acquired my first multi-region DVD machine, capable of playing discs from all over the world. A couple of months later, I found myself on a two-week holiday in America, a country crammed with video shops which were prepared to sell me DVDs I couldn't buy back home. So if Customs had chosen to examine my suitcase on my return from the States, they'd have found one movie in there that they'd previously prohibited from ever entering the UK: the uncut version of Caligula.

That was nine years ago. Embarrassingly, up until recently, I still hadn't seen it: I'd lent it to a few people at work, but never got around to watching it myself. So imagine my irritation when I discovered that Caligula's previously unspeakable perversions have now officially entered the British mainstream. It's been passed uncut by the BBFC, and as of this week it can be purchased in all its hardcore glory from your local high street. (Or from the Amazon link below, of course.) Which probably means it's about time I sat down and watched it.

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REPOST: Not Available In The Shops

'And THAT'S for XP Service Pack 1!' screamed The BBG Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/10/2004.

Having wished Bill Gates out of existence in Nothing So Strange, Brian Flemming went on to attempt the same trick with Jesus Christ in his controversial 2005 documentary, The God Who Wasn't There. The DVD's available from the film's website, and includes a slightly inevitable Richard Dawkins commentary track. Flemming is currently working on a fictional film based around the same premise, titled Danielle.

Amber Benson made a second film in 2006 - Lovers, Liars And Lunatics - which is again obtainable from the website. IMDB claims she's now in pre-production for Drones, and co-directing with Adam "Warren off of Buffy" Busch. They're an item, I believe. Which is funny if you remember Warren and Tara's last scene together on Buffy.

Behn Fannin completed The Television in 2005. He does lots of other stuff apart from making films: see his personal homepage for details.

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REPOST: From India With Love

Four of Lagaan's first eleven (Aamir Khan second from left) Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/08/2002.

I still get to see a couple of Bollywood movies a year (thanks to the good people at Cineworld cinemas), although shamefully they mostly tend to be ones involving the principal cast and crew from the three reviewed here. Take Lagaan, for instance. Aamir Khan has kept a comparatively low profile, appearing in a relatively small number of productions like The Rising: Ballad Of Mangal Pandey (shown at VidBinge 2005) and Rang De Basanti. Lagaan's director Ashutosh Gowariker came a bit of a cropper with Swades: We The People, but recently surged back to form with historical epic Jodhaa Akbar.

Hrithik Roshan has had some fun roles since
K3G, including the science-fiction diptych of Koi... Mil Gaya and Krrish, and the lead in the aforementioned Jodhaa Akbar. But Shahrukh Khan has been working more or less continuously, including a pleasantly daft cameo with Devdas co-star Aishwarya Rai in Shakti: The Power, an even dafter lead role (40-year-old soldier poses as a college student to maintain national security) in Main Hoon Na, and leading a women's hockey team to victory in Chak De! India.

Not mentioned here: shameless ripoff director Sanjay Gupta, whose crimes include Kaante (a mashup of the plots of Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects) and Zinda (a wholly unacknowledged adaptation of Oldboy).

Right now (July 2008), another attempt at a Bollywood stage extravaganza is touring the planet: The Unforgettable Tour, starring various members of the Bachchan clan. It hits London's O2 Arena on August 24th.

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