Just An Observation Friday March 22nd


Just when it seemed almost safe to shed a layer or two of clothing, winter descended again over the last week with blizzards and snow which although not exactly causing mayhem have allowed us to all return to our national pastime of complaining about the weather. I am unsure why whimsical-the kindest description I could muster- weather is such an obsession in this country but it does seem to affect people’s moods as well as their ability to talk of much else as is witnessed by it being news headlines for about four days in a row despite being little more than a few snow flurries with a small dusting lying on the ground, most of which had disappeared by the following afternoon.

The inclement weather allowed me to eventually catch up on the Oscar winning film Argo after putting it off due to the hype which has already surrounded it. I wanted to see whether it was deserving of its Oscar win and the only opinion I could come up with was yes…and no.

Focussing on the rescuing of six employees of the American Embassy in Iran at the time of the revolutions in the late seventies it seems like yet another attempt at rewriting American history in America’s favour- see also Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty also among this years contenders- after accusations of the great state being a global bully. Attempting to redress the balance by showing the U.S. as a caring compassionate and even modest nation-as far as its own citizens and the press are concerned- Argo details one CIA operative’s endeavours to rescue the refugees before they are captured and suffer the likelihood of public beheadings against the wishes of his superiors who are only interested in maximising bad publicity on the international circuit.

That the plan involves an elaborate ruse that has the operative- coolly played by Ben Affleck who also did a sterling job with its direction- masquerading as a film producer who enters Iran alone and whilst there convinces the six would be captives that they must assume the role of his film crew. It is a well thought out and simultaneously ridiculous plan which even involves several Hollywood bigwigs brought into the CIA’S fold to help out.

It ambles along, for much of its duration, at its own pace and the period detailing is pretty spot on. One thing I notice which is being used to date 20th century films /dramas is the number of people who smoke, how often they smoke and the fact they smoke any damn place they feel like.

It is essentially Affleck’s film however and most of cast slide into insignificance around him but whilst it is an admirable film it does lapse into cliché on several occasions; the closing climactic scenes involve a chase along the tarmac of the airport which is so Hollywood it is almost cringeable. A good film but definitely not the best of the last year by a long shot.

Last week also saw a great night at The Leith Links Cricket Club-no matter how I say or write it it never sounds any cooler or more glamorous- which was an amazing night featuring four bands including the stupendous Homesick Aldo-who stole the night- Greek Maggot Bingo the Liberty Takers and the Bonnevilles. Despite the venue not exactly being rock and roll it suited the evening perfectly and attracted a great crowd who were more than up for it. So underground it was positively subterranean.

This weekend however sees the return of Andy and the Prostitutes –my favourite act of last years Fringe- with a spanking brand new show called ‘Adventures in Pornoland’. This band are riotous, raucous, funny and more than a little filthy-latest release ‘Wank It’ is testament to just how filthy these boys can be and they can be caught at the Phoenix in Broughton Street on Friday at 7.30pm or alternatively- or additionally if you can’t get enough of their debauchery- at the Institute in Marchmont on Saturday from 8pm onwards. A taste of what to expect-expect the unexpected- can be found here.

It seems that the success of Danish drama ‘The Killing’- I am still in mourning after the departure of Sarah Lund and her cosy knits- ITV have decided to lift the idea more or less wholesale and set it in a seaside town in Wessex called Broadchurch which also gives the series its name casting David Tennant as the cop with unorthodox methodology; much like Lund in its Danish counterpart.

Three episodes in however and I am still missing the subtitles whilst being overawed by the clichés and red herrings which a facsimile often produces. Tennant and his co-star Olivia Colman manage to keep the whole thing afloat however even when Pauline Quirke as a scowling local eccentric and a grumpy newsagent threaten to drag it out with the tide. I am however quite intrigued as to how it is going to all fashion itself out but having it unfold over eight weeks demands too much attention and does not create enough suspense. If ITV had put their money where their mouth was they could have shown it in two hour instalments over four weeks but that might have meant rescheduling their soap opera patterns and we cannot have that now can we? Not unless it is football which seems to overtake everything else in terms of importance.

Right off for my descent into the dark nether world of Andy and the Prostitutes and can only hope I make it out of the weekend with a little of my dignity in tact. Not that I am entering it with much in the first place!

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