(Issue 118)
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Unless wrestling fellow shoppers to the ground whilst queueing for a Bullring escalator is counted, Brum is unlikely to win any awards for extreme sports opportunities. So the fact that Banff Mountain Film Festival is Town Hall-bound and will be showcasing 13 high-intensity short films for an audience of world-class sofa sitters like us, is exceptional news. Here's just four of them.
Title: Chasing Niagara  Photographer: Matt Baker  Duration: 30 mins
Pro kayaker Rafa Ortiz has made the daring and fairly deadly sounding decision to paddle over the 167-foot Niagara Falls. His decision sets in motion a series of events leading his team on a remarkable two-year journey from Mexican rainforest rivers to the waterfalls of the U.S. Northwest. Their journey concludes in Canada, where the team plays a cat-and-mouse game with local police before Rafa’s mission comes to a heart-swallowing climax at the iconic Falls. Winner of Best Mountain Sports film.
Title: 55 Hours in Mexico  Photographers: J Schusler & M Lowe  Duration: 9 mins
Fly to Veracruz, rent a car, climb the third-highest peak in North America, ski down and be back at your desk for 9am on Monday — all over the course of a single weekend. How hard could it be? 55 Hours in Mexico captures the journey of those high performing weekend warriors we all hate a little bit, following four friends who take off on a fairly ill-advised adventure which just so happens to be on the continent’s highest volcano, Orizaba.
Title: Builder  Photographer: Julien Grimard  Duration: 9 mins
Some people grow up and get a real job. Others just take their childhood dreams and turn the dial up to 11. If you're that way inclined, building trails and executing tricks for your mountain bike can never get old. Builder tells the story of the building of, pounding down and acrobatics engendered by those trails through the eyes of some of the sports very best riders and builders. As well as the gravity defying shot pictured, this happens. Yep, we know.
Title: Eclipse  Photographer: Reuben Krabbe Duration: 31 mins
The odds are low, the risks are high – photographer Reuben Krabbe is determined to capture an impossible photo of a skier in front of the 2015 solar eclipse in Svalbard, Norway. Up in the high arctic though, the weather is bad and the pressure is massive. To add to the difficulty of the project, the guide is sketchy, there’s an active polar bear out there - somewhere - and the group of skiers that accompany him just want to ski. Taking Best Film in the Snow Sports category, Eclipse is a huge movie.

The Festival reaches Brum on March 5. You can catch all the films featured at 2.30pm, or an alternative programme at 7.30pm. Tickets (from £12.50).


Bryan Cranston fans – there have to be some out there – will savour this look at the blacklisted Hollywood Ten screenwriters, which sustains itself almost entirely on his cheeky, wily and wise performance. He plays Dalton Trumbo here, figurehead of a group of writers who found their commitment to communism make them pariahs as the political winds changed after World War 2 - refusing to name names to the authorities, they found themselves unable to make a living as writers for years. In truth, there’s probably a more interesting film to be made about the buildup to this rather than, as here, the aftermath, but Cranston’s performance, in particular his unlikely double act with Louis CK, is hugely enjoyable. Times


If you haven't been to Nomad yet you can consider us ex-friends. They're doing insultingly clever things with food and will soon be doing equally ace gin-based high jinx. Welcome to The Gin Sessions, five juniper-focussed events that celebrate gin in deliciously differing ways. From sensory tomfoolery involving blindfolds to geographical food and gin pairing, via Victorian England, founder and chef Alex Claridge and eximious mixologist Rob Wood will be changing your perceptions of time and place. And they'll be doing it while serving up tonic's best pal in ways you never knew possible. This is breaking news, so details are scarce, but head here for more details.


Valentine's Eve has just become a thing. On February 13, get your seat at a valentine inspired multisensory gastronomic happening, where the precise location will remain unknown to you until the immersive evening has begun. There'll be six courses - interlaced with art and performance - which may or may not involve a balloon, a cigar and a skewered heart. At the kitchen's helm is Chris Hughes of Kitchen School. And though the details are super secret, we are permitted to divulge that one portion of the evening includes Consummation (pictured). A beetroot consommé with pickled Parisienne beets, red shiso cress, spherified black garlic puree and goat’s cheese tortellini, if that's got you checking your diary, probably best move quickly - one of the two sittings has already sold out. Tickets are £40 and include a drink. Vegan/veggie options available. Ten minutes from the city centre. Labia-shaped pasta guaranteed. 
Venue: Byzantium, 11 York Road Kings Heath, B14 7SA; website
Choice: Langostinos Flambeados al Cognac (£6.95) Chooser: Manager

It's probably frowned upon, but a seriously affordable meal in south Brum involves marching into Mediterranean tapas joint Byzantium and ordering just two dishes: The above prawns and their homemade, charred flatbread (£2.95). Sink bread into the jus in which these aliens of the ocean recline, lie the flavoursome feed across your tongue and plunge into garlicky oblivion. Maybe even fall asleep (also probably frowned upon). There are heavenly happenings across the menu with one underpinning commonality - Byzantium do the simple things stunningly. One of the jewels in Kings Heath's crown it's rightly loved by the locals, but ever so worth travelling for. Oh and if you like Patatas Alioli - and at the last count only four people on Earth don't - you're going to leave tickled pink. Menu
  • Zoolander 2 comes out next week
  • World domination awaits Liskbot's cheery looking robots, at the street artist's first solo exhibition We Strike Tonight, at Millennium Point. Hear from the artist tomorrow (Feb 5)
  • Chinese New Year is occurring. Get to the Arcadian on Sunday from 12.30pm by way of celebration. Selfridges will be red. More
  • Zoolander 2 comes out next week
  • If you're yet to make it to The Gunmakers Arms, next Wednesday (Feb 10) there's an excuse beyond repute. Books, beer and live readings are taking place from 7pm. The event is free but you need to register
  • Get an opinion on orange wine care of Connolly's who have got fifteen varieties of the stuff for you to try on Feb 15 at 5.30pm. Tickets are £10
  • Zoolander 2 comes out next week. Apparently
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"The problem with winter sports is that - and follow me closely here - they generally take place in winter." - Dave Barry
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Jordyn NewtonAndrew LowryTom Cullen
I Choose Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA
Copyright © 2016 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.

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