Posts Tagged ‘ Arts /Events ’


The Homecoming (Blooberg)
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This light-hearted and subtle Icelandic comedy deals with the very serious topic of incest in a new way where it is almost secondary to the other convoluted relationships which surround the couple at the centre of the maelstrom. Written and directed by Bjorn Hlymr Haraldsson who invests the film with an appropriate sense of comedy and pathos as required which results in a well paced film which despite its taboo subject matter almost seems to normalise the supposedly incestuous couple.
Gunnar , a self-help author who is not entirely at ease with this role, and his wife Disa seem to have settled into middle-aged apathy and despite having been married for many years don’t seem to communicate in any meaningful way anymore. When their son David returns from a trip to Denmark and announces his impending marriage to a girl, Sunna, he met there who is also Icelandic.
Over an introductory lunch to their future Daughter- in- Law Gunnar deduces that his son’s girlfriend is the product of an illicit affair he had early in his marriage and is therefore his daughter although until this moment he has been unaware of her existence. Confusion is overwhelmed by panic and unsure how to approach this potentially dangerous situation he says and does nothing hoping the relationship will simply fizzle out.
Of course this is the opposite of what actually happens as not long after the initial introduction David announces that Sunna is in fact pregnant and Gunnar’s dilemma grows but still he says nothing. Disa remains blissfully unaware of her husband’s cuckoldry and therefore does the socially normal thing of inviting Sunna’s mother for a getting to know you meal not knowing what will inevitably unfold.
What does unfold in-between the awkward small talk and even more awkward silences is a twist which many of the audience will have seen coming for some time although this doesn’t actually spoil the dramatic tension but instead intensifies it.
The Homecoming does deliver as a light comedy and there are several very funny moments cleverly and convincingly interspersed with some emotional travails which ultimately make the film a satisfying whole. Certainly the plot is adventurous yet simultaneously conventional and the subject of incest is treated respectfully andin a non-judgmental manner which is beautifully shot with some great and touching performances. All in all it is a successful movie which pushes boundaries in its own and subtle way thus creating a very enjoyable cinematic experience.

The Homecoming is showing at Cineworld on Thu June 16 at 18.00 and again on Saturday 18th June at The Filmhouse at 13.15


Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Approached in 2007 by Kurt Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, Brett Morgen was offered a veritable treasure trove of material for this biopic of possibly one of the last great rock stars to galvanise a generation. Intimate, revealing, tender, sad and with no gloss plied onto the squalid and desperate lifestyle of its protagonist it is a step away from the usual portrait of a rock star; the fame and glamour more usually associated with such depictions seems a distant and unwelcome interloper.
Even at the height of his career with hundreds of thousands in a state of worship at events such as 1993’s Reading Festival the euphoria of the crowd is tempered with the melancholy of its attentions, who entered the stage on a wheelchair dressed in a hospital gown. Already viewing stardom as a sickness things deteriorated pretty swiftly after this moment which many others would have seen as an ultimate triumph but somehow he saw as a loss of control.
It transpires that the alienation Cobain felt when fame set its sights on him was nothing new. As a child hyperactivity and an unwillingness to be welded into shape by the pliers of either peers or parents was apparent, matters only worsened when the latter decided to divorce. Deeply affected by this the teenage Cobain was shunted around from relative to relative- grandparents, uncles and aunts were all drafted in to try and help ground him in some security and exert some influence over his errant ways- thus setting a pattern of nomadic rootlessness which stayed with him throughout his brief life.
Fixating on his music both his songwriting and guitar playing instilled him with the feelings other things in his life failed to deliver. Working incessantly on these he achieved small time recognition but his reputation grew and prior to the release of ‘ Nevermind’ in 1991 his mother on hearing the master tapes of the soon to be released global phenomenon warned him he had better shape up as fame was bound to come knocking and his fragile state was in no way ready for it.
And what a phenomenon ‘Nevermind’ was!
With success came access to the hard drugs he had already experimented with and also at this juncture came his great love, Courtney Love.
Opinions are always divided as to whether Love was as destructive an element as the drugs themselves but Cobain was on a destructive path anyway and she may merely have been a companion on his fatalistic route. Certainly the footage of them together prior to and post their daughter, Frances, being born show a couple completely at ease with each other and they do seem happy even if in hindsight it is happiness tinged with sadness and destruction.
Certainly the supposed glamour of a rock stars existence seems to be very absent and replaced with a squalor and desperation which belied their status as the world’s numero uno rock and roll couple. This was no Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg holding court at the palatial and opulent Nellecote on the French Riviera but instead could be a high rise on any council estate. There is not a shred of glamour on display and this does a lot to debunk the notion of any cache of heroism or cool anyone might attach to heroin or addiction of any kind.
When the end came for Cobain it was both surprising and expected. The clues were all there in the notebooks and artworks Love provided Morgen with. They reveal a mind and soul very much in torment and in April 1994 he joined that pantheon of rock and roll greats- Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison- who also departed at the age of 27. Like those stars of a previous generation it felt like a great talent had been wasted and like most of them it felt like he still had so much more to give.


Just An Observation Friday October 25th


Well the long awaited revolution so many of us have wished for gained some screen time on Newsnight this week and arrived not courtesy of the latest highly educated whiz kid politician but from the unlikely source of comedian/actor, Russell Brand. in a thoroughly engaging and convincing interview with regular curmudgeon Jeremy Paxman, or ‘Jeremy darling’ as he will henceforth be known thanks to Brand’s affectionate terming of this supposed political heavyweight, the entertainer put forward a thoroughly convincing and impassioned argument.
Admittedly never a great admirer of Brand’s in the past finding his stand up irritatingly puerile and the least said about his acting abilities-never mind his choice of roles and former wife, the even more irritating Katy Perry- the better. However he has gone someway to reconstructing himself as a social and cultural commentator and in this area I feel he is pretty much unsurpassed in addressing issues politicians, journalists and most other celebrities-Morrissey a notable exception occupies a lot of the same territory but more about him later- simply do not. Dismissed by Paxman as a ‘trivial man’ Brand’s calls for revolution may on the surface come across as exactly that but dig deeper into what he is actually saying and the truth provides a concrete basis for his vocal exhortations and facial grimaces. A cheesy smile occupied his face for most of the interview and Paxman would have done well to remember the old adage ‘Beware the smiling assassin’ as at the interview’s conclusion there was no doubt as to who had trounced who.
‘Profit is a filthy word’ and ‘not voting out of absolute indifference’ were just two notable quotes in an argument which at times was peppered with florally enhanced adjectives but still managed to put across its basic terms. There is no representation in politics for a huge part of our society and I am part of that section which has no representation. The best vote open to me is for the lesser of two evils
which may go someway in preventing the greater evil triumphing.
This option however is riddled with a fatal flaw as anyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last General Election discovered. I remember speaking to a young first time voter shortly after the election when the Lib Dem’s had joined forces with the Tories in the disastrous collision still in power and he was already disillusioned as voting Liberal-which he considered the most humanitarian and fair option open to him- he had found himself complicit in electing the Tories into power when his objectives had been quite the opposite. This is the disillusioned and disenfranchised populous Brand was referring to who, from what I can see, are all around me and I number myself amongst them.
As for revolution well, why not? If the EDL can make political inroads in opposition to the fairer aspects of our political system why can’t we take charge and oppose the less fair ones. Sometimes it really is that simple it is just important to not let complacency get in the way. That is the real enemy!
As mentioned earlier Morrissey is just as much an activist and has spent his career being a proverbial fly in the ointment. It is unimportant whether you like his music or not although this week The Smiths album The Queen is Dead was voted the best album of all time in the NME in a chart which, for a change, seemed to possess some integrity and validity-two of my personal top three Patti Smith’s Horses and The Velvet Underground and Nico were there with only The New York Dolls missing from the top ten- but as an artist he has always spoken out on subjects others were too scared to address or considered taboo.
His Autobiography however is redefining that overworked genre and is brilliantly written in an area where the likes of nineteen year old Harry Styles- grew up in privileged background, entered talent show, made millions-proliferate and , that filthy word again, profit. It is also obvious that he has written this book himself and the use of language is impressive, evocative and wholly descriptive. Having grown up in the greyish blacks and whites of Manchester in the sixties and seventies this harsh reality never really left him even when, as the last of the international playboys, he is breakfasting with David Bowie. Intermittent snippets of conversation between these two figureheads and reluctant representatives of different generations allow us to discern that the world of the celebrity is mundane and all most of them have in common is their status and prestige. One senses he feels more comfortable with and in awe of the low rent ‘Carry On’ stars of his childhood than the Bowies, Julie Christies and other A-Listers he encounters.
As for his much publicised admission of a sex life, well that is done in true Morrissey fashion by alluding as opposed to out and out confession. If one gains any sense of a true love in Morrisey’s life then it can be directed towards the New York Dolls rather than any individual. Jake Walters would appear to come closest to capturing his heart but even he emerges as a temporary fixture whilst the Dolls are a constant source of joy and love throughout.
Definitely an autobiography which lives up to its apocryphal title and provides what most of us want from such a tome in that it names and shames constantly and he doesn’t stop at grinding his axe but continues to swing it with reckless abandon much to the reader’s delight and amusement. It is about time someone used their position to tell it how it is and just as refreshing is his deeply descriptive telling of pivotal life moments which also are not your typical fare.
Tonight sees 2013’s last instalment of Neu Reekie with an impressive line up including Withered Hand, Kei Miller, Rachel Mc Crum amongst others. The main act for me tonight bthough has to be Teen Canteen who are also promoting their excellent debut single ‘Honey’ coincidentally released on the Neu Reekie record label-these people are already following Brand’s doctrine of getting off their arses and making something happen. This is just one of several live gigs lined up around the country over the next coming weeks including one at RAMMED in the Voodoo Rooms on November 16th. Definitely one of the best Scottish acts on the circuit at the moment catch them while you can at these more intimate venues as it is only a matter of time before this changes as their star is very much in the ascendant.
Here to get your weekend off to a flying start is the video directed by Jonathan Feemantle of that aforementioned single ‘Honey’ released this week.


Princess Grace: More Than An Image


 This exclusive archive collection by Scottish knitwear specialists Pringle based on the style of Princess Grace of Monaco-who initially found fame as a Hollywood glamour icon under her own name of Grace Kelly- and drawn from her own private collection was a lesson in understated but classic chic. Timeless, effortless and exuding both class and glamour whilst the opulent surroundings of the Signet Library simply enhanced these features commendably without distracting from them.

 The Princess Grace theme was not just a gimmick  tagged on to promote sales, as in the case of too many high street stores and the never ending round of non entity celebrities only too willing to  lend their name, promote their egos and share their style ‘secrets’ with the public, but a genuine attempt to capture the essence of this ineffably chic lady and her ever enduring style conscious look. To complement the look however Pommery Champagne was served and the catwalk show’s musical accompaniment was Camille Saint-Saens’ cello piece ‘The Swan’ in reference to her wedding to Prince Rainier where the former was the drink of choice and the latter the music.

 As for the collection itself- sixteen pieces in all- it was like its muse in that it was understated whilst making a statement. The colours were mostly muted greys and blacks, vivid blues and pinks, whilst some were emblazoned with motifs and others accessorised with fake fur trims but all were highly covetable. Each piece is a limited edition however and with only the finest Scottish cashmere being used this makes them even more desirable as well as long lasting both in style and endurance terms.

 Available exclusively in Jane Davidson’s Thistle Street store this collaboration is already highly prestigious and before this show even took to the catwalk many orders had been taken for several of the pieces.

 In essence the collection is that of a fairytale princess literally straight out of the Hollywood film archives but in reality the clothes at its core are down to earth and basic but simultaneously overwhelmingly luxurious and effortlessly stylish; much like their muse!

 For further information about this collection and its availability please follow the link below



Andy Warhol: Pop, Power and Politics


Andy Warhol is better known than the actual art works he produced and whilst this may fit in with his quest as one of the all time greatest self publicists-he was definitely among the first to understand and take advantage of an obsession with media figures- it detracts somewhat from the power of his artistic statement. This exhibition in the Scottish Parliament redresses that balance by showing that far from being a charlatan who used bright colours there is a depth and intelligence in Warhol’s work which despite being over exposed and deeply ingrained in our consciousness actually still resonates with validity twenty six years after his untimely demise.

 The connection with Scotland in this exhibition is the portrait of Scots philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who also lent his name to the prestigious Carnegie Hall. It is a portrait that has previously never exhibited outside the United States and as a dominant central work it commandeers a large portion of the wall it hangs on. Not that the works surrounding it are any less imposing or impressive.

 Other stand-out pieces in this well curated exhibition are German Social Democrat Willy Brandt looking more like a Hollywood film star than politician whilst artist and sculptor Joseph Beuys and his role as founder of the German green party is also represented. The famous ‘Mao’ also makes an appearance though here as a full size drawing rather than the more recognisable screen print.

Warhol’s sole entry into American politics culminated in a poster he designed for the Democratic party in 1972 when McGovern was a contender against Nixon for the Republicans. In a typical Warholian ruse the artist used a portrait of Nixon with the words ‘Vote McGovern’ below to great provocative effect. To give some idea of the political context of this  statement think of David Cameron’s face being used as an advert to vote yes to Scottish independence. Unfortunately Mc Govern lost out to Nixon whose administration never really forgave Warhol who found himself constantly being audited by the IRS during their tenure and beyond. In hindsight his warning showing what people were actually voting for- Nixon- proved itself prescient when tales about Watergate eventually leaked.


  Endangered species such as Siberian tigers and seas turtles are also on show as a representation of conservational politics as are royal figures including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and our very own Elizabeth II.

 The Kennedy’s ‘Flash’ section is for me the most captivating work in the exhibition telling the well worn story as it actually unfolds in a wholly engrossing way without lapsing into morbid obsession. Related through a series of telex updates the text is interspersed with visual representation of Kennedy and his widow Jackie as the events of that four days which shocked and changed the world unfold. It is fascinating and even though the events and outcome are known it is as if you are caught up in the drama for the first time.

 This exhibition should help to clear up just how relevant an artist Warhol actually was for anyone who is still in doubt. Whilst his work always seemed to be simplistic it is this very simplicity which also made it complex as simply showing things as they were, the doubt and decisions to be made are all in the minds and eyes of the viewer.

 Andy warhol: Pop, Power and Politics is on at the Scottish parliament until November 3rd. To book free tickets click on the following link.


Neu Reekie 37


Other commitments have forced me to take a forced hiatus from the last two Neu Reekie events so I was really looking forward to this one. Beautiful sunshine and new Scottish hopefuls The Merrylees announced as -relatively- last minute headliners only compounded my anticipatory feelings in a positive way. Unfortunately the former combined with meeting  members of the latter all mixed with a gin and tonic forced me to miss the first third of the show as the new seating set up –in place for the Fringe- didn’t encourage latecomers.

 Once installed in my seat my evening proper began with the poet Helen Ivory performing several short poems from her collection ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’. Some of the pieces were so short that the audience were unaware that they had finished so there was a hesitation in their applause. Unfortunately this caused some nervousness in Ivory who didn’t seem too comfortable in her role as a performer which was unfortunate as her poems seemed quite compelling and exploratory of another world. It was a slightly hesitant performance but her confidence in her work lay undiminished.

 Next up was Ross Hogg’s animation piece ‘The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat’ narrated by Gavin Miller-who also introduced the showcase. It was a short concise and skilfully executed piece.

 The first of the evening’s impressive line up of musical acts Gareth Sager-formerly of the Pop Group and Rip, Rig and Panic- then begun a set which sounded at times like an avant-garde exhumation of Johnny Cash and I mean that in a good way. Flying against the rules of standard musical structure but still within its boundaries he incorporated an irreverent ‘could have heard  a pin drop’ rendering of Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Want to Talk about it’ and the Velvet’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ alongside equally impressive originals all played out against a backdrop of Warhol’s ‘Sleep’. A talent who understands where music can go and where it can take you, it was a highly emotive set with moments of fragile beauty set against gut wrenching torment.

Second of the musical line-up was Craig Lithgow and the Mutineers who arising from the remnants of former house band Emelle put on a fiery set full of cut and thrusting acoustic and electric guitars, frantic rhythms, memorable melodies alongside insightful and incisive lyrics. It was the perfect build up to the headliners of the evening, The Merrylees.

 From their opening number which was all Bowie flourish and, thanks to the introduction of a trumpet player, Scott Walker drama it was clear that the interest and plaudits surrounding this band are well deserved. Their playing was tighter than a gnats twat-as it was so endearingly but succinctly put to me-but particularly of note were guitarist Simon Allan’s guitar contributions which had a touch of Bert Weedon about them and seemed to be playing a counterpoint melody different to Ryan Sandison’s vocals which dripped like honey. Add to this a powerhouse rhythm section and even their very own Bez type figure who did his own brand of freaky dancing which almost ended in an impromptu strip but fell short of going ‘The Full Monty’; actually the dancer is not part of the band but merely an over enthusiastic friend . Bowing out with a soaring version of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ it was a stunning set  confirming as a band it would seem they have a very promising future ahead of them and it is about time Scotland showed its musical muscle again. Perhaps not dancing out of time in a singlet on stage though!

 So my return to the Neu Reekie fold was every bit as good  I imagined it would be. Unfortunately I missed the opening acts but I have no doubt they were just as good as those that followed. Keep an eye out during the Fringe for events featuring founders Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson and clear a space in your diary for August 30th when the next official Neu Reekie returns


Just An Observation Friday July 12th


 It would appear that after too many years of false starts, false promises and false hopes that Scotland is actually having what could be termed an actual ‘summer’. Soaring temperatures , sunny days and the sight of peely-wally bodies aka the Leith tan-‘ Sun’s out,  so tops off and shorts on would appear to be the Caledonian Braveheart war cry- have been the norm for over a week now. Not wishing to tempt fate I will not linger too long on this subject apart from to say ‘Long overdue but welcome back!’

Also long overdue was Andy Murray’s triumphant win at Wimbledon last Sunday which dominated headlines and conversations for a great part of the week. Congratulations are deservedly due but the fact the event was proclaimed and reported as the first British-let’s not even start on the Scottish/English debate here-win for seventy seven years since Fred Perry in 1936 was wildly incorrect. In fact the last British winner was Virginia Wade in 1977 – Dorothy Round Little in 1937, Angela Mortimer Barrett in 1961 and Ann Haydon Jones in 1969 all took home winning trophies for Britain in the intervening years- but seems to have been eradicated from history for being a mere woman.

 This kind of reporting shows an inherent sexism is still alive in our society despite years of sexual equality and equal rights for all. It is not just lazy and incorrect journalism it is also deeply irresponsible. To write female victories out of the history books-perhaps what is needed is a parallel version of historic events named ‘Her-story’ to even out the male bias and perspective- undoes all the strides forward our culture has undertaken in recent decades.

Apart from a few notable exceptions, when obviously they cannot be ignored, women have been erased from our histories and despite there is no question that each and every person on this planet originates from the female body this is a shocking omission. The term anon in poetry and attached to many familiar folk songs passed down through centuries are believed to have also come from women but because they were not recognised as making any worthwhile contributions their works were attached with this stigma and thus they remained anonymous with no recognition of their efforts.

 Despite this congratulations are due to Andy Murray in what must surely be a great week for Britain on the international stage whether you are male or female, Scottish or English (or even Irish or Welsh for that matter).

 I watched the tennis under a cloud of the previous nights partying at the first night of Rammed in the Voodoo Rooms last Saturday night. A successful night saw this intriguing prospect kick off in style attracting an interesting and up for it crowd. Homesick Aldo won hearts and devotees in his usual fashion and the two DJ’S The Baron and Anna Kissed rocked the floor with their delectably excellent choices. I actually danced so much in the latter stages of the night that on the following Sunday and Monday I could barely walk; must get into training for the next one which will be announced in the coming weeks.

 This sunshine we are having is going to render T in the Park almost unrecognisable this year. It is certainly an unrecognisable event from last year which saw the tent site being swept away in torrential rain and floods being re-named T in the Swamp by myself. When the chance to go this year and see Kraftwerk I decided to bail out and not take the risk of letting anyone down at the last minute due to my weak constitution and lack of outdoor ‘making do’ skills.

It is not a decision I regret however-despite the glorious weather- as I still maintain outdoors is my least favourite way to listen to live music. I prefer an indoor sweaty environment where the sounds overwhelm you, the electric guitars jolt your body into being and you can not only smell the sweat but actually touch it. Now that is rock and roll. What it is not is being in a crowd of 20,000 plus all waving banners and singing tunelessly along. Hope  everyone going has a good time though and that the sun keeps on shining.

Here to round off today is a video of the Teutonic Techno-Meisters’  biggest hit ‘The Model’.