Archive for February, 2019

Can You Ever Forgive Me

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It is easy to forget in a world of blockbusters, big star names and an endless cycle of publicity hungry franchises that occasionally a film of real substance, human frailty and hopelessness can brak through and engender some real empathy even though its central character- the author- Lee Israel portrayed brilliantly by Melissa Mc Carthy- is wholly unsympathetic and pretty unlikable on nearly every level.

Alongside McCarthy’s compelling performance credit must also go to Marielle Heller’s direction and Nicole Holefcener and Jeff Whitty’s thoughtful and incisive screenplay which pulls no punches and makes little attempt to draw a veil over some of the less savoury aspects of Israel’s personality. Throw Richard E Grant into the mix with a performance, which just falls short of over the top, as her bitchy friend and eventual co-conspirator Jack Hock and the stage is set for  the makings of a great film.

With her  career having stalled after a commercial failure Lee Israel finds herself on the sidelines of the eighties literary circle where what see sees as lesser talents are commanding advances in the millions whilst she struggles to get a meeting with her agent who eventually tells her that there is no public appetite for her latest project on vaudeville star Fanny Brice.

Totally out of step with the times and lacking the social skills for survival in a new era of celebrity driven authors Israel stumbles upon some personal and intimate typed letters from Katherine Hepburn and hits upon the lucrative idea of forging letters from other notable figures- Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward are amongst those Israel attempts to impersonate- to fame hungry collectors and historians.

All is going well until someone notices some anomalies and a lack of discretion out of character with the person Israel is trying to emulate wherein she has her collar felt by the FBI and has to enrol the services of Jack as she has now been visibly identified, placing her on a watch list.

Of course as always in these situations everything unravels and Israel finds herself in extremely deep water.

It is amazing that a character  as abrasive and rude as Israel can arouse any support from her audience- this is a woman who makes distasteful jokes about her disabled friend after all- but somehow Mc Carthy’s performance manages to make you root for her even though you don’t ostensibly like her.

In essence the film details loneliness and frustration in an articulate way without ever articulating either of these things explicitly. This is its real substance  and what makes it so entertaining.

 

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Just An Observation

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So with Brexit merely a few weeks away it would seem that things are even less clear than they were even a few months ago and let’s face it they were as clear as mud back then. The government is in disarray but pulling together to ensure that we all head into the abyss with them. Except they won’t be heading into any abyss any time soon as they all have the financial resources to ensure they will remain unaffected by any of the wounds they are inflicting on the rest of us. In fact some of them even stand to turn a profit. Now who saw that coming? More accurately who didn’t?

One thing that is clear is the whole thing has been a Tory catfight that somehow escalated into national crisis with threats of food shortages. medical supplies in disarray and even Martial Law being threatened as a means to quell any dissenters. I don’t recall seeing any of those things emblazoned across the side of a bus in the Leave campaign.

It is quite astounding-and disgusting- that one political party has managed to create such mayhem and discord with a nation at each others throats and living in a constant fear of what is coming next. Party before country is certainly the Tory manifesto and unfortunately this looks unlikely to change in the near future as people continue to vote for them and Labour offer no alternative whatsoever; unless a party with no backbone is likely to secure your vote.

What disgusts me even more is how complicit the mainstream media is in this deception; every time the government receives another damning blow they write about it as of it is some sort of triumph. Don’t even start me on the BBC by the way…

However with all this chaos and disappointment on an almost daily basis it was good to hear some good news from the capital this week as the Save Leith Walk campaign which has been gathering momentum over the last months actually succeeded in their aims to stop the demolition of the beautiful Art Deco frontage on Stead’s Place in the face of totally inappropriate plans put forward by Drum Property Group. The latter’s plans were unanimously rejected in a rare case of common sense prevailing by Edinburgh council and although the fight is far from over it was heartwarming to see a community take on a big corporate business structure and actually win.

As said before the fight is far from finished but the fact that such a grass-roots endeavour by the locals and residents was able to garner such widespread support- national as well as local politicians, celebrities, musicians , Hollywood film stars etc. all threw their weight behind it- shows a strength of will that made me proud to be Scottish.

Now if only we were allowed to sort out this Brexit mess…then again we have another solution at our disposal and I doubt the time will ever be more right than it is now.

Particularly pleased to see that hopefully Leith Depot may get a reprieve as it really is an essential venue not just for the local community but also for the city’s musical scene as a whole. Coming as the news did during Independent Music Venue Week couldn’t have been more serendipitous really.

Talking of Independent Music Venue week there are some great gigs on this weekend at Sneaky Pete’s, Opium and Summerhall as well as finishing off on Sunday night at the aforementioned Leith Depot with Callum Easter which promises to be a belter of a gig which sold out almost as soon as it was announced.

If the cold weather doesn’t inspire you to leave the comfort of your abode then Netflix has a great couple of series’ which I can highly recommend. First up is The Ted Bundy Tapes which I reckon will see off the upcoming biopic starring Zac Efron for creepiness and sheer tension. It doesn’t set out to glorify him in any way but ultimately any form of attention or recognition directed towards a serious narcissist will feed the ego and the mythology and that is always an unhealthy risk. I think in the most part this series manages to avoid these trappings but despite this it does whet the appetite for wanting to know more.

Also well worth catching is Sex Education starring Gillian Anderson which I mistakenly thought was a ‘teen’ show but on closer examination found it to be well written with great characters and extremely addictive. It is a show which attempts to push boundaries but also knows when not to go too far; a rare thing these days.

Out at the cinema there are also several great choices including The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots-ignore the historical inaccuracies and get swept up in the drama- the emotionally rewarding Stan And Ollie and out today the interesting looking Can You Ever Forgive Me.

All in all there is plenty to be getting on with and now that the 96 days of January are  officially over it is maybe time to come out of hibernation!

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