Posts Tagged ‘ Cillian Murphy ’

Free Fire

Free Fire

This latest addition to the impressive Ben Wheatley canon draws together a strong cast- Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hamner, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley and Sam Riley- and assembles them in a deserted warehouse in 1970’s Boston. There an arms deal between two Irishmen, Chris and Frank-respectively Murphy and Smiley- and a dandy South African Vernon (Shopley) set up by the fixer Justine (Larson) is about to go down.
And go down it certainly does!
Pretty soon an argument breaks out between a couple of the hired help over a transgression the previous night and the whole scenario descends into a shoot out of epic proportions. Comparisons are inevitable with the shoot out in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs even down to the incongruous anodyne musical choices at moments of tension; here Annie’s Song by John Denver replaces Stealers Wheel’ s Stuck in the Middle with You for comic relief.
What follows for the next hour is a hail of bullets, a barrage of witty dialogue inside a collapsing building and surroundings which ultimately do more harm than the bullet storm; maiming and fatally wounding each participant until it becomes clear that no-one is going to leave that warehouse unscathed even if they do manage to stay alive.
If fast paced action shoot-outs are your type of thing then I have no hesitation in recommending this film as it is definitely a prime example of this particular genre. However I must admit I felt my attention wandering about twenty-five minutes into the carnage and felt that an opportunity had been wasted with such a stellar cast and greater use could have been made of their actual acting abilities- as opposed to rolling around in broken glass, rubble and eventually agonising pain- and there could have been either more build up or comedown before and after the action theme took over with more dialogue and deeper character analysis.
However the premise of this film never was to explain the underlying nature of the characters or to engender any interest in their back story and even the deal at the centre of the whole film is sketchy and vague about who is actually involved or even why.
As an action movie Free Fire delivers admirably on every level and of course Wheatley manages to create an overall look and feel which never disappoints. Add an attractive strong cast and Free Fire is a visually arresting feature which takes no prisoners.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Well the hibernation is now official and after a fairly mild start winter has replaced autumn with a sudden chill in the air. The expectant air of Christmas looms ominously and the masses have already started discussing the John Lewis ad on social media. I do wonder when your life takes such a turn that the annual appearance of a shop ad becomes a matter worthy of discussion and even manages to reduce some to tears! Remind me to never take that turning; it must be the one marked ‘tragic’!
Elsewhere the end of one of the best series on terrestrial TV, Peaky Blinders, finished up last night and one good looking Irish man, Cillian Murphy, is to be replaced next week by another, the former Calvin Klein model Jamie Dornan as possibly the best looking psychopath ever, in The Fall. That will be the next few Thursday nights taken care of then! BBC2 at 9pm.
Out at the cinema this week I have seen one of the best films of the year, Nightcrawler, and in total contrast one of the worst, Mr. Turner. To the latter first and this Mike Leigh attempt at a biopic of the famous artist was a bitter disappointment that seemed to drag on for hours. At several junctures during the film the central character was close to death but only marginally more often than I felt close to it.
I went along on the advice of a dear friend who obviously has no taste in such matters, not that I shall ever remind him of this… often. It was doubly disappointing in that when eventually I escaped from the cinema-the seasons had changed twice at least in the interim- I assumed that at least I may have missed Christmas. In fact the only good thing about the whole experience was that although I had visibly aged at the films conclusion my companion-the recommender of this drudgery- had aged far more than me. Seriously, this film should come not with a guidance setting but an anti-ageing product!
Nightcrawler on the other hand is a sharp, sexy, well paced film in which Jake Gyllenhaal excels as the creepy protagonist with both sociopath and psychopathic leanings as well as a craving for success at any cost. Definitely one of the most compelling films I have seen in a while and a full review can be found here. Definitely recommended!
After unfortunately missing the return of The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang last weekend I am determined not to make the same mistake this weekend when the mighty Primevals play at the Citrus Club in Grindlay Street this Saturday –Nov 8th- to launch their new album. Supported by The Phlegm and The Trama Dolls this night is probably the best night out this weekend for anyone who loves rock and roll. There are other things going on-notably glam homage The King Rockers at Studio 24- but The Primevals gig looks like being the one to catch.
Right the weekend starts now so have a good one everyone!
Poster at top by Al Hotchkiss.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday  October 18th

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Rain, rain and more rain seems to be the topic du jour. With apparently the coldest winter in decades-I thought 2009 and 2010 harsh enough- apparently on the horizon then I suppose a little rainfall is probably merely the hors d’oeuvre in the weather stakes and allows a little time for both preparation and resignation. Perhaps it is time to stock up on the cashmere-it is always time for that- and the fashion show I attended last week unveiling Pringle’s new collaborative archive collection modelled on original designs from Grace Kelly’s wardrobe would be perfect. Beautiful pieces created out of Scottish cashmere they are definitely on my wish list but with my funds more limited than the designs themselves-starting prices are around £500- it is on my wish list that they will be staying.

 It is also around this time of year when the lure of nights in becomes quite appealing. I also stupidly hope for the fact that there may actually be something decent to watch on the television but with every passing year this seems to be a hope even more futile than the year before. The BBC series ‘Peaky Blinders’ finished its run last night and I must admit that both the opening and closing episodes were amazing pieces of television but unfortunately the four episodes in between failed to ignite and I often found my attention wavering. In fact if it had not been for the vertiginously cheek-boned Cillian Murphy I may have given up after that first episode and I feel I am not alone in this.

 What was worthwhile this week however was Stephen Fry’s look into homophobia in different parts of the world; Uganda, America, Brazil and Russia came under the microscope. Usually I find Fry slightly insufferable and unctuous although I respect and recognise his intellect. If only he didn’t feel the need to draw attention to it quite so often himself then I feel I may be more swayed into paying attention to exactly what it is he is saying.

‘Out There’ on BBC2 –once a hinterland but now seemingly a safe haven for anything worthwhile the BBC has to offer- was certainly a brave and necessary endeavour on Fry’s part and was for the most also a successful one. Fry’s insistence of hectoring and talking down his opponents was typical of him and although his indignation was well placed I thought during his sequence interviewing Vitalay Milinov, responsible for introducing a law which bans ‘promoting homosexuality’ and more or less condoning homophobia, was cut short when Fry announced he was going to prevent him from making a fool of himself on camera. Why? Surely this was a perfect opportunity for Milinov to show how ridiculous his ideologies were and Fry rather than arguing with him in the same outraged manner should have allowed him to go on and spout ever more ridiculous bile induced rhetoric. This was one of those occasions where his silence would have been a more effective tool and weapon.

 A particularly heart breaking scene though was when the mother of a Brazilian teenager recounted the events of her son’s death. Telling the tale of her son  she revealed he wasn’t even yet an adult when he was abducted, abused then tortured relentlessly before having the final indignity of spending his last moments on Earth being strangled by his own t-shirt. It was a distressing account and to see the mother’s dismay, lack of comprehension and utter heartbreak spoke more about homophobia than a thousand interviews no matter how well meaning.

 Fry did do a good job here and the subject matter is obviously very close to his heart. Whilst the situation in Russia shows no signs of improving- one in four gay teens attempts suicide- by bringing these issues out into the open and giving them a platform can only be a step in the right direction.  Fry made a poignant observation that out of the twenty four species of animals which display homosexual tendencies there is only one that shows signs of homophobia and that is humans who consider themselves the most evolved of any species. Obviously the opposite is true in certain cases.

 Talking of over opinionated people I have just started reading Autobiography by Morrissey. Just released this week as a Penguin Classic- typically presumptuous and droll Morrissey- the opening passages are filled with descriptions of his childhood Manchester as a land that the swinging sixties and time forgot. Instead they are endless streets to confine and define and the rotting stench of death and fear left by Hindley and Brady leaving Manchester in monochrome greyish blacks and whites as the rest of the world exploded into psychedelic colour.

 Like Fry, Morrissey can occasionally be insufferable but he is also an exceptional artist in his sphere and at times has been a totally necessary one. I personally was aware of him even before the Smiths due to a mutual obsession of the New York Dolls so he has been on my radar for longer than I care to imagine. He has continued to fascinate and exasperate in equal measure ever since but at times if I don’t understand him then I can often console myself that even he doesn’t properly understand himself either. One thing I don’t understand though is how such a devoutly British artist allowed his work to be delivered in Americanese. Thus we have color instead of colour and endeavor rather than endeavour just to mention two examples. Disappointing!

 The big question will be whether he reveals his much discussed and debated sexual orientation; like it even matters. The message has been clear to those in the know from the earliest Smiths days due to the lyrics and the iconography of the cover stars on each newly released record: Joe Dallesandro, Candy Darling, Truman Capote and Jean Marais among them. Many have maligned Morrissey for not being open about his sexuality but personally I thought he was right in this and it was just that he didn’t make it something to define him as artist. He was covering so many other important topics at a time when music had become vacuous, bland pop that his sexuality was of little significance in comparison. It also cleverly allowed him to retain a little of that rarer and rarer commodity known as mystique. I wonder whether bare-all ‘celebrities’ such as the Kardashians will still be of interest thirty years-thirty minutes even- down the line.

The welcome return of several club nights in November give me something to look forward to in the run up to Christmas. First up is Hot Mess on November 1st at the Wee Red Bar after a lengthy sabbatical on the west coast for the past year or so. Also there is the second instalment of the Rammed live music/ club experience at the Voodoo Rooms on November 16th with an appearance by Teen Canteen who are making big waves on the scene at the moment. More about this night in the next few weeks but it is definitely a date to save. There is also the Joy 20th anniversary party at Studio 24 the following week-the 23rd– and for anyone who went clubbing in the nineties and the early years of the noughties this will be one not to be missed.

 I therefore am staying in this weekend in the company of that belligerent Mr. Morriseey and a ten ton bag of Bombay Mix and may take the time spent in to polish up  my many pairs of dancing shoes in preparation for a fun filled November.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday  October 4th

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After a relatively quiet September-culturally anyway- after the excesses of the Fringe it would seem that Edinburgh’s artistic circle have stirred themselves. Possibly the most high profile opening this weekend is the Andy Warhol Pop Power and Politics exhibition being held at the Scottish Parliament until November 3rd.

Possibly the most recognisable and influential-in many ways- artist of the 20th century detractors always claim  Warhol’s work to be vacuous and lacking soul but this misses the point completely. There was a lot more intelligence in his work than is instantly recognisable and presenting culture as it was –albeit with brighter colours- was a bold statement that afforded his work longevity and ongoing scrutiny.

 Warhol himself is as recognisable as his works and emerges as one of the all time great self publicists. His influence and fingerprints are all over 21st century culture whilst his ideas still course through the veins of modern life. Reality television has its roots in Warhol’s ideas of sticking a bunch of previous unknowns and recording their actions and reactions.

The main difference between his early films and the abomination that reality TV has become is that most of the characters he chose to feature included great beauties, articulate talkers and interesting characters such as Edie Sedgwick, Joe Dallesandro, Candy Darling, Nico, Jackie Curtis and Gerard Malanga, all who operated in a vacuum of sorts and had something worthwhile to say and put across.

Compare and contrast with the never ending circle of Bianca Gascoignes and Louis Spences and it is clear how this ideology has faltered and become an instant form of creating a false celebrity. True the Warhol acolytes also wanted fame and celebrity status but deep down were aware it was never actually going to happen- of all his disciples only Lou Reed  really achieved international acclaim in his own right- therefore retaining some of their credibility and, more importantly, their integrity.

 As for politics Warhol’s work is shot through with politics although it is not always clearly apparent. The Chairman Mao’s, Jackie Kennedy’s, JFK Assassination works as well as his Andrew Carnegie portraits are all obvious enough candidates but his ‘Electric Chair’ is also rampantly political. It is a stark image which says nothing and everything at the same time but simply presents an object of death and allows the viewer to make their own mind up whilst drawing their own conclusions. Or not as the case may be.

andy-warhol-mao-1972-FS-II.93 Andy Warhol’s ‘Mao’

The Edinburgh International Fashion Festival team are also back next week and their involvement in the Pringle show at the opulent Signet Library looks like being a fashion event not to be missed. Entitled ‘Princess Grace: More Than An Image’. I am assuming the collection will be based on poise and elegance, two characteristics heavily associated with the former screen icon who became a bona fide royal after marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco abandoning her Hollywood career at its very apotheosis.

Although September was a quiet cultural month for me personally it was very active socially so now that October has arrived I am looking forward to more nights in. Matters in this would be assisted however if there was ever anything decent ever on the television. Even a series which started out as hopeful as ‘Peaky Blinders’ seems to have somehow lost its way and although it still possesses a great Nick Cave and White Stripes soundtrack-not to mention Cillian Murphy’s ethereal eyes and razor sharp cheekbones- the plot is flagging and the characters raise little empathy, never mind caring what actually happens to any of them. Hopefully the return of ‘Homeland’ for its third series this Sunday will raise the bar again and some decent drama will provide relief from the barrage of reality shows, singing and dancing competitions and ‘Downton Abbey’s’.

 Saying that my own guilty pleasure in the reality show stakes, ‘Made in Chelsea’, is also returning in the coming weeks. I actually annoy myself by watching this as the characters-I refuse to call them real people- are all obnoxious, smug, self obsessed and supercilious. Somehow I have convinced myself that I watch it to feel glad at least I am not like them and feel better for it but this argument is unconvincing as that would make me smug, self obsessed, supercilious etc. etc. and therefore I am no really any better than them at all. In fact it makes me worse as I am still interested in their lives-whilst insisting the opposite- but they are not even aware of mine.

 Let’s hope then that the programmers who organised the winter schedules have a new surprise up their sleeves. I hold out little hope for this however and may have to join the rest of the world by drowning in ‘Breaking Bad’ box-sets, hyperbole and obsession. Sounds like a good idea!

Photo at the top- Joe Dallesandro in Andy Warhol’s ‘Flesh’

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday  September 13th

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A short break after the Fringe madness and a chance for Edinburgh to settle down, after the departure of the hordes of tourists and the onslaught of incoming students, seems to have been cut short. It would seem that the early start of the Festival-accompanied by an earlier finish also-which for the first time ever began in July didn’t mean that the time in between these two events, when local residents can claim their city back and walk the pavements without being shunted around and talked at in unintelligible and frantic lingoes, was not in fact being extended as the arrival of students back in the second week of September has clearly made clear.

I am wondering whether Halloween is now at the beginning of October and Christmas is sometime in November as everything seems to be arriving earlier and earlier with each passing year. As far as the latter goes I would not be surprised as the last two weeks have seem festive items appearing on the shelves of some of the larger retail outlets and any minute I expect the first festive themed adverts to appear on television. If I see a Chanel No. 5 advert before November however this is when I know the world has gone mad and our calendar has been radically altered without anyone informing us!

 The end of the Festival this year ended with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang and that includes the Fireworks which let’s face it has become a bit played out and predictable. I opted for the Mela experience instead and headlining act, the Orb. Unfortunately so did about 95% of the population of Edinburgh and as I made my way down the thought which crossed my mind was exactly how is this going to work?  Everybody I knew in my extended circle seemed to have a ticket and Leith Links is hardly Wembley Stadium. As it turned out it didn’t work as the event was cancelled due to extreme high winds though in many ways I suspect this was one act of God the organisers were down on their knees praying for.

If the whole thing had gone ahead I have the feeling it would have been an unmitigated disaster with many disgruntled ticket holders unable to gain entry due to it being oversold. This was the crux of the problem as many believed they had purchased tickets to see The Orb rather than realising they had merely bought tickets to the Mela. The high winds therefore were probably more of a convenience than inconvenience for the organisers as I predicted a bigger disaster if the event had gone ahead.

 Last weekend saw the arrival of autumn with a very abrupt end to summer and its soaring temperatures. Actually autumn is probably my favourite season as it is both cleansing and fresh. It has been refreshing to actually have a selection of seasons this year and hopefully it means people will moan a little less about the weather although we all know that is unlikely seeing as it is virtually a national pastime if not an obsession.

 Unfortunately this also means the return of the X- Crutiating factor which I noticed has returned to our screens and, in act which doesn’t reek of desperation in the slightest, has re-installed the so, so –in her deluded surgically altered head at least- the outrageous Sharon Osbourne. Maybe I stand alone in this but I feel the woman is a faker and although her father -Don Arden-was an industry bigwig in the sixties he was also known as a tyrannical bully who was quite happy to use force to get what he wanted. I am sure there wasn’t a wind like the one which necessitated the cancellation of the Mela blowing the day that particular apple- or Sharon fruit- fell from the tree.

 Elsewhere on TV the new BBC series Peaky Blinders –BBC2 Thursdays at 9pm- looks like being a worthwhile effort. Starring Cillian Murphy-he of the ethereal blue eyes and impossible cheekbones- and set in the early 20th century, but including a sound track including Nick Cave and the White Stripes, it looks set to follow ‘The Fall’ as confirmation that the BBC can still produce outstanding dramas when it puts its mind to it.

 One criticism I have though-and this is about TV Dramas in general- is that the format of showing a series such as this in one hour weekly slots feels outmoded. Our culture is now used to box-sets where the viewer can watch multiple episodes in one sitting and this is now how people prefer to watch such things. It would be a brave move if schedulers realised this and then either showed such series’ over several consecutive nights or at the very least extended the hourly slot to two hours. The latter worked well for ‘The Killing’ on BBC4 so why not apply this tactic to our home-grown dramas? Our viewing habits have changed and this is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

 Coming up next month is the long awaited fourth album ‘Reflektor’ from one of my favourite bands, Arcade Fire,’ Always innovative and moving forward the title track shows that once again they are on track and following their own muse. Here is a taster of what to expect before the album’s release on October 29th.

 Picture above Cillian Murphy in ‘Peaky Blinders’