Issue 277
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Forget your tape measure and Swedish meatballs, Flatpack is a Birmingham-wide festival of films, live performance and some pretty leftfield happenings, with no need for an Allen key. And like with any decent festival, you’re in serious danger of spending longer looking at the programme (running April 30 to May 5) to figure out what to do, than actually doing. If only there was a handy digital guide telling you about the best things to book...

If you’ve dreamt of Hollywood but never quite made it, Let’s Make A Movie, a theatre-performance-slash-standup-show-slash-film-shoot is a total cockle warmer. Watch Richard Soames delve into his DIY director’s back catalogue and dissect films such as his remake of The Matrix with poignancy and proper chortles. All this while he makes a movie of the experience. Meta. Tickets (£6)

Underneath Digbeth's Arch 21, The Flatpack Hub plays host to Pick 'n’ Mix, a selection of some of the best shorts to be submitted to the festival over the last year. Films include a look at the JQ’s Coffin Works, some hardcore OAP zip-wiring action in The 106-Year-Old-Daredevil and winner of the Indy Shorts International Film Festival: Opening Night (pictured). A lazier writer might suggest Pick n’ Mix has something for everyone. Oh, and it's free.

With Best Film nomos from a fistful of festivals, Iranian Mani Haghighi’s Pig sneers at the notions of industry accolades and posthumous admiration. When talented film directors start turning up murdered, our blacklisted, down-on-his-luck director of a hero asks, ‘why can’t it be me’? With humour that’s as dark as David Lynch's cellar, this crime drama is well worth the walk to The Mockingbird. Tickets (£10)

If you feel that your packed lunch needs a Studio Ghibli Glow Up, then Beautiful Bento is pour vous. Join artist Mari Miyazawa at Digbeth's Kanteen as she demos how to craft quirky Bento characters out of rice (pictured). For fans of anime and, of course, food, we can’t wait to see what we can do with a Princes Beef Paste sanger, some Space Raiders and a Freddo. Tickets (£10) 

Should you miss the A1, tip-top, clubbing of 90s raves, then Beats will be right up your strasse. Following lads (lads, lads, lads) Spanner and Johnno on the last illegal rave before everybody grows up and the Public Order Act comes in, Brian Welsh’s drama channels Trainspotting as it stakes its claim as a Scottish classic. Tickets (£10) 

On the fun-for-all-the-fam front, Outside the Box ceases being loathsome management speak and instead packs in short movies aplenty. With the slapstick silliness of Hors Piste, the intriguingly named My Best Friend Explodes and the hula-hooping bear of Saturday's Apartment, this collection of films is perfect for those who used to dig the cereal variety packs or those with short attention spans. At Mac, tickets are £6.

Narcissister Organ Player is an avant-garde documentary which delves into issues of femininity, race and identity. Punctuated with up-close-and-personal input from masked mixed media artist, Narcissister, this visual scrapbook examines the effect of her mother’s life, death and illness on her art. Adults only.Tickets (£10) 

The Electric Cinema opens its doors to Diamantino: part-fairy tale, part-social commentary and full-on mind-flip. Winner of the Critics' Week Grand Prize at Cannes 2018, Diamantino is the world-famous footballer who loses his goal-scoring mojo amidst Europe’s refugee crisis, which results in his money-grabbing sisters attempting to clone him. You know what? It’s easier if you just see it. Tickets (£10) 

Klankvorm A-V Double Bill is a duo of audiovisual performance pieces boasting the kind of output that normally comes from licking an A4 sheet of LSD-coated blotting paper. Matthijs Munnik’s Hyperplanar features an inventive new laser system with precision controlled lights that scan around at high speeds creating holograms. Yes please. Rotor’s Terraforming-M, meanwhilefollows the journey of humanity bidding farewell to Earth to become an intergalactic species. Expect to be engulfed in a sea of smoke and light. Tickets (£6)
Flatpack Festival runs from April 30 to May 5 in cinemas, venues and arches across the city.


One of the great things about Suzi Ruffell is that she feels like a red-hot rising star, while those of us in the know have been fans of the observational comedian for the best part of a decade. The adage of taking 10 years to become an overnight success rings particularly true when it comes to stand-up. To the uninitiated, Suzi is an electrifying live presence, pacing the stage like a panther while sharing the sort of anecdotes that prove oddly reassuring: as you'll discover, it's not just you who's made questionable life decisions down the years. Suzi's made 'em and, by shots, does she enjoy regaling you with them. Like her pal Alan Carr, Suzi's self-deprecation is served with a healthy side portion of warmth; by the end of the night, you won't only have enjoyed one of the best comedians in the business, you'll want to be her mate. On May 7, tickets are £12.
Venue: The Oyster Club, 43 Temple Street, B2 5DP; website 
Choice: Mussels with smoked caviar sauce (£14.50) Chooser: Waitress

Confidently good looking and with a covetable little black book when it comes to sourcing, The Oyster Club, has pulled back its thick, assured curtains, with a market disruptor of a seafood bar most of Birmingham didn't realise it needed. From Adam Stokes of Michelin-starred, eponymous fame, the walk-in bar and small, bookable restaurant is open seven days, with the same menu wherever you sit. Eating there less than a week after first service, the oysters were, as you'd seriously hope from the name, exquisite — watch them being shucked from your seat for added happiness. The mains, recommended by Adam, were good and, from the genuine team commitment to getting feedback, will be great. Opting for tempura halibut with crushed minted peas and tartare sauce (£24), plus Jenga-like chips (£4.50) — the fish, peas and tartare taken together were a flavour-filled euphoria of sweet, salty, tartness, but tried alone, the fish was slightly dry and overcooked, something we comment on because of the perfection-requiring price tag that attaches to what is essentially posh fish and chips. The total winner of the meal, and easily the best variation of moules we've tried was the mussels with Prosecco and smoked caviar sauce. The decadent dish felt fresh despite its obvious richness, with joyous little thwacks of flavour from the salty caviar. An order of bread (£4.50) for soaking purposes is a must here, as well as a glass of something cool and crisp. We preferred the buzzy bar to the bookable tables downstairs and counsel you not to be put off by a lack of reservation: at no point was there a queue for a table while we were there. Our new top tip for a perfect little lunch for one. 


In case you were in any doubt, you picked precisely the right time to live in Brum. This week alone, Bakery30Caneat's celebration cake venture — started taking orders for creations like this. From £40, and as good as the stunner of a selection in the cafe, but you get the whole thing. Across Stirchley High Street, perennial popper-upper Eat Vietnam has got the keys to a permanent spot. Ming and the team are aiming to start trading in mid-June. Also working towards a June start, Poli (as in Neapolitan). From the people behind Grace + James, the wood-fired pizzeria is opening a few doors down on York Road in Kings Heath. Expect carefully sourced meats, cheeses, craft beers and wines to form the backbone of this newbie. Back pats for everyone. Especially YOU.


Crack open the retro bone and slurp out the marrow, Jonah Hill's directorial debut, Mid90s, skates into the Everyman Cinema in Mailbox next week, and it won't be alone. The no-filter coming-of-age tale follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 1990s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a skate shop. The trailer alone feels like a work of art. If you're going to watch this movie — and if you were born after 1975 that's basically a given — then the Everyman is the place, because this screening comes with a line-up of top level skaters and b-boys performing in what promises to be an immersive-as-hell one-off. There's an after party soundtracked by Silence Tha Nomad, too. Silence is not expected. Tickets

Digbeth's got a DIY Art and Culture Fair this Saturday from 12pm. Meet new artists producing zines, comics, photography and illustrations — handmade is the common thread here. Entry is free.
Twisted American Pancakes are at 1000 Trades throughout April. Check out the menu on this pop-up.
The Planetarium at Thinktank reopens this Saturday after something of a star-lift (like a face-life but waaaay more sparkly). As well as new shows, expect brighter, sharper imagery and faultless surround sound. More
Seoul Food is taking over the kitchen at 52 Gas Street this weekend. Korean fried chicken with kimchi and a candied bacon waffle is what's happening. Menu
After a li'l preview last night, dedicated darts bar, 180 Club, launches on St Pauls Square today. Full report to follow.
Tacos and tequila go together for more reasons than alliteration. Early bird tickets for a festival celebrating their happy union are £7. On May 18.

"Skateboarding is not a crime."

90s slogan

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WORDS: Robb Sheppard, Katy Drohan, Tom CullenJames Gill
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