(Issue 156)
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In what historians are already calling a "slight coincidence", there are three new exhibitions demanding of your retinal review and, call us predictable, but we're going to tell you about them. And we're going to do that in three, two, one...
Birmingham's mingin' isn't it? Everywhere you turn it's just concrete and... Hang on! Is this an absolutely stunning painting of an absolutely stunning part of our absolutely stunning city? The work of artist Rick Garland, it captures an extraordinary moment in an ordinary day, from the vantage point of our bizarrely beloved ramp. Shortly arriving at Reuben Colley Fine Art gallery (and yours for £9500), it's one of a number of jaw-dropping works that you are cordially invited to caress with your corneas any time between October 31 and December 3. Tell them we sent you for a 0% discount.
Being referenced in The Simpsons is a surefire sign that you were a big deal in life and though not so well known this side of the pond, George Bellows was, like the Stranglers, big in America. In February 2015, the Barber announced an important new acquisition: Nude, Miss Bentham (1906), an early masterpiece by Bellows and a piece formerly owned by Andy Warhol. It is only the second painting by the artist in a British public collection, and the first outside London. In short, it's a big deal too. Go see his work alongside like-minded artists in a wonderful exhibition looking at how the human body was portrayed by the Ashcan School. Details  
Artist Ryan Gander has selected works from a world class collection of modern and contemporary British art, which appear to be involved in the act of, well, just sort of looking at stuff. Gander is curious about what might happen in the museum at night time, behind closed doors. Do his interestingly positioned statues come alive? In a word, no. But the whole thing looks completely ace and you can go see it after hours, complete with live Blues and a glass of something sparkling and English. Details


If you're a movie-going purist who'd rather lose a little finger than watch a film in 3D, move along. We've nothing for you here. If you're partial to advances in silverscreen technology, however, it's safe to say things have advanced. Cineworld Broad Street is now home to Brum's first 4DX screening room, an in equal measures brilliant and preposterous cinematic experience that involves watching the latest blockbuster in a moving chair while having scents, smoke, lights, air and water (yes water) blasted at you at relevant and synchronised moments in the movie. When subtle it enhances the experience immeasurably but, when at its most rigorous can take away from what's happening on screen. Either way, you absolutely need to try it. Prices start at £14.30.


Don't be afraid, but advances in ‘deep learning’ technology mean that computers can now be programmed to recognise patterns in human behaviour, and predict our next steps. Selling out when performed at Sadler’s Wells and the V&A Museum, the visual mind bender of a dance show — also known as Pattern Recognition — sees former Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer Alexander Whitley resume his collaboration with proper whizzy digital artist Memo Akten. Bespoke computer code created by Akten is behind the system of moving lights that track, learn from and intelligently respond to the two dancers it observes. It all goes a little something like this. At the Patrick Centre of Hippodrome repute on Nov 3 and 4, get your seat for £8 (they're usually £14) using this link.


You can't phone a friend, and your family may not make a fortune but a sagely subversive gameshow (pictured) is coming to town, with Miss Behave, glittering star of Olivier award-winning, hit smashing La Clique, as your ringmaster. Taking place on November 10, the guaranteed rib-tickler (for which, tickets here) is also the launch party for the eighth edition of SHOUT Festival of Queer Arts and Culture. Continuing until November 20, the multifarious epic this year takes in 28 performances, exhibitions, and events, including at mac Birmingham, Grand Union and Millennium Point. We're likeying the look of Big Girl’s Blouse, which explores what being transgender was like in the 1970s and showed earlier this year at London’s Soho Theatre. Also on the short list is newly commissioned Looking for John. A heartfelt, comic story of one man’s obsession with Brum-born Olympic figure skater, John Curry, from November 16 to 19. Full programme
Venue: The Butchers Social, 97 Stratford Road, Henley-in-Arden, B95 5AT
Choice: Lamb burger (£12) Chooser: Waitress; website

As the clocks go back this weekend your need for a country pub that justifies the journey is about to become acute. The Butchers Social comprises the sort of beamed bar you're hoping for, with a distinct dining room giving table service, whistles and bells. Expect clever takes on the conventional, which show the experience of chef owner Mike Bullard. The "prawn cocktail" (£8) actually consists of perfectly poached lobster with concentrations including avocado and Marie Rose, while the cumin and fennel pork belly lollipops (£7) come with equally intricate tastes of vindaloo, mango and mint. Well balanced, well conceived dishes. The overall winner of this happy battle was however the barbecued shoulder of lamb, served as one of those burgers that absolutely requires both knife and fork, with a moreishly sweet yet tangy beer and malt glaze, plus cooked heritage tomatoes and smoked almonds. Add in a sharp slaw to cut through some of the richness of the meat, and you have a plate of food that has flavour, texture and tongue-pleasing contrasts. Menu


Marvel’s ongoing project to dominate all media ever often gets criticised for its samey product, and at times it’s justified. Who could have predicted then that Doctor Strange, their first movie outing for a third-tier character few had heard of, would contain probably 2016’s most inventive individual sequence? The plot is boiler-plate hero’s journey stuff, Benedict Cumberbatch’s maimed surgeon learning both magic and humility by joining a band of mystics, but the visuals make this an obligatory trip to the biggest 3D screen you can find. It’s unusual these days to see special effects that actually feel special, but there’s a two-minute sequence of Cumberbatch tumbling between dimensions that’s astonishing – it really is a new milestone in digital effects, if several other sequences wear the Inception influence pretty heavily. It helps a lot that a ludicrously overqualified cast (Benny C is joined by Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams) know exactly how to balance the absurdity of the script’s frequent outbreaks of mumbo–jumbo. Times
  • The Night & Day Markets' Halloween weekender starts tomorrow evening. Tickets are from £10 if you buy as a group of four
  • Limited seats remain for Knightmare Live, the real time adaptation of the cult TV show, complete with dungeoneers and ever-changing quests. This Saturday at mac Birmingham, it's £15
  • For an ardently grown up take on bonfire night, head to Hampton Manor, for an Aussie wine festival of more than 25 drops. There'll be the requisite firework/bonfire combo, plus live music and hot dogs. £35
  • Tick off all the exercise you meant to do in October with a day of free at a Bannatynes gym. Pre-booking required
  • The Force — as well as a good measure of flashy lights and bangs — will be awakening Drayton Manor this weekend, with showings of Star Wars: Episode VII and a sufficiently spectacular laser show
"If human beings had genuine courage, they'd wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween. Wouldn't life be more interesting that way?" - Douglas Coupland, The Gum Thief
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGES: Dan Govan (Miss Behave)

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Copyright © 2016 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.

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