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Game of the Week: Taking the varnish off Mario

And a bit about cinema's most fragile hunk.

Bowser and Mario lob a fireball from Bowser's helicopter in this Triple Move attack from Super Mario RPG.
Image credit: Nintendo

Not to brag, but last night I spent a fiver buying the film of A Month in the Country online. It's the film of J.L. Carr's miniature masterpiece of a novel about a veteran of the Great War who spends a month restoring a mural in an old church, and it stars cinema's most fragile hunk, Colin Firth. (Kenneth Branagh, singularly non-fragile as ever, is also in it, alongside Natasha Richardson.)

I'd wanted to see the film for a while, partly because I read the book last year, I think, and it absolutely floored me. It's tender and peaceful and exquisitely human, and it's a great way into the work of Carr himself, who seems wonderfully oddball in his work and interests. But I also wanted to see it because the film, which was made in 1987, was presumed to have been lost, until a copy of it turned up in a warehouse in the early 2000s. Watching it feels like finding an endangered species in the garden.

It's fitting, probably - and certainly useful for this piece of writing! - that the same week I bought A Month in the Country I also played a lot of Super Mario RPG on the Switch. I played this a bit back when it was on the Wii's Virtual Console, largely because I loved the Mario RPG series that spawned from it and I wanted to see where stuff like the Mario & Luigi games had come from. Partly, though, I played it because, although this game got a release in Japan and America when it launched on the SNES, it never made it to Europe.

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