Just An Observation Friday May  31st


At last a sleepy hibernating Edinburgh seems to be rubbing its tired eyes and stirring itself from its winter slumber-it is the end of May and still the weather often makes this seem premature-as Festival season hovers into view and kicks into gear. In the past week I have attended several press launches with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the establishment based Fringe stalwart Assembly Rooms and the relatively new Summerhall all throwing their hats into the ring with an interesting and diverse mix of acts to choose from.  Hopefully this will stifle the city’s residents from  complaining that there is nothing to do.

 Also there are rumblings about a new night time venture called Rammed which aims to put the life back into Edinburgh’s night life and shake things up with a series of events featuring live music and inhouse DJ’s, aiming to create a sonic environment and experience unlike any other at the moment. More details will follow in the next couple of weeks once everything is confirmed and I have more information to give you but the signs at the moment are all good …if not even better than that!

 The Film Festival is the first of these events to take place and with artistic director Chris Fujiwara delivering his second year at its helm the high standards met last year look like being matched if not surpassed. The opening film Breathe In stars Guy Pearce and Kyle MacLachlan and the festival closer stars Karen Gillen but in-between contemporaries and up and coming lesser knowns conspire to create an interesting mix of modern cinema which has something to offer anyone who actually bothers to investigate. Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, a portrait of Harry Dean Stanton, The East –starring Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood fame- and a German offering called Oh Boy are the ones which  caught my eye on initial inspection of the brochure but I am sure on further investigation other jewels will reveal themselves to me.

 I haven’t had time to acquaint myself too much with the Summerhall programme but must admit their launch was one of the more elaborate and successful I have attended. Pushing the boat out with countless Bellinis, never ending Gin and tonics with  Hoi Sin duck snackettes and mini lemon mousses-of which I consumed several- providing some much needed food sustenance the night rolled along both effortlessly and impressively. I did manage to ascertain that even before the fringe kicks off they have an evening with man of the moment-of several moments over the last few decades- Niles Rodgers as well as the International Fashion Festival. Certainly upping the ante this year, after finding their formative feet over the last two, their programme focuses on the more artistic end of the spectrum but initial responses would indicate that some of the bigger players should maybe start looking over their shoulders.

The official Fringe programme also came out this week but admittedly I haven’t even managed to look at that, so daunting a prospect does it present. Luckily I am now becoming more discerning in my choices and several years of experience now allow me to be able to pick and choose what I think may be the more worthwhile shows and direct you all in the right direction whilst hopefully steering you away from the dross and the bullshit which, believe me, the Fringe has more than its fair share of.

 Elsewhere I have been disappointed by the return of ‘Britain’s Got Delusions and Mental Health Issues’ to our screens this week. It still puzzles me that Simon Cowell is still allowed to dominate, monopolise and commandeer the viewing schedules with such regularity. Personally I find the whole experience insulting to my intelligence and tastes and think it appeals to the lowest common denominator but  is so thrust into our faces, with little in the way of competition or opposition, that even those who cannot stand it become involved in some kind of debate on its merits or total lack of them.

Luckily I haven’t subscribed one second of my week to watching this drivel and am disappointed that whilst trash like this receives inordinate screen time and front page headlines one of the best British dramas in years ‘The Fall’ languishes in the hinterland of BBC2 largely unnoticed.

Starring an impressive Gillian Anderson as an emotionally devoid Policed officer on the hunt of a cold and detached serial killer portrayed by an equally impressive Jamie Dornan the performances are as outstanding as the drama which uncoils itself weekly. If Broadchurch was ITV’s attempt to create a drama on a par with the excellent Danish cult show ‘the Killing’ then ‘The Fall’ is those ambitions actualised. This is British drama at its most complex, unnerving and exhilarating and moving away from the tired clichés  has the added twist of not being so much of a whodunit –as we knew the killer from the opening scenes-but has much more of the psychic chill of a whydunit. This is British drama at its highest standard and if you haven’t seen it so far then I recommend catching up on Iplayer before the penultimate episode on Monday.

 That is it for this week and further news about what and what not to see at the various festivals will be winging its way through these pages very soon as will further information about Rammed. This weekend however I will be mostly avoiding the Meadows Festival which has seemingly camped itself very noisily outside my front door. More than likely it will be rained off anyway as any event in Edinburgh with the word Festival seems to elicit an immediate torrential downpour. Aside from this there is always Neu Reekie tonight and as usual this night will put a little sunshine in your heart whatever the weather.

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