Posts Tagged ‘ current-events ’

THE HOMECOMING (BLOOBERG)

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

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday October 25th

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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

Princess Grace: More Than An Image

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 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

 http://www.janedavidson.co.uk/designers/pringle/

NEU REEKIE 37

Neu Reekie 37

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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

Just An Observation Friday July 5th

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 Allegedly there is a heatwave on the way! At last, is all I can say, as I really need to see lots of lobster coloured people walking the streets of Edinburgh moaning about the unbearable heat and forgetting that only a short while ago they were complaining just as bitterly about the cold/wind/rain/wind (delete as applicable or don’t delete if all apply) and wishing it were a little warmer/ sunnier/drier (delete as applicable again). It is about time we had a semblance of a summer in Scotland and 2013 has not been too bad thus far although the traditional storm clouds gathered and torrential rain made a fleeting appearance as soon as the Scottish school holidays began.

Perhaps we should just reconsider when these holidays take place or whether they are necessary at all! It is definitely worth a try suspending them indefinitely if the end result is we all get better weather.  Just a thought!

 The Edinburgh International Film Festival ended last Sunday and I must admit it was with more of a whimper than a bang. Totally underwhelmed not only by the films but also by promotion of the event I find it amazing that when I am out and about so many local residents are unaware  it is even taking place. Being one of the world’s longest running events of its kind s to sweep it to the side is pretty unforgivable and shows a lack of concern for Scottish culture which is constantly undervalued anyway. Apparently one of the big sells this year was that they were showing many films which had been refused by other similar film festivals although whether this is a good or bad thing is still unclear in my mind. Did we show the cream of the crop or were we scraping the dregs from the bottom of the barrel.

Not everything was bad however and for a more detailed report of what is and isn’t worthwhile just click here for more detailed insights and reviews.

 Next week sees T in the Park make a return which means that inevitably so will the rain. Last year was more T in the Swamp and turned into a totally washed out mudfest. I am being pressured into going to see Kraftwerk on the Friday evening-which I am convinced would be really quite something- on the premise that I will be in the VIP area. I must admit to being tempted but would be more tempted if I was being transported in and out via a specially chartered helicopter.

Much as I love Kraftwerk I have seen them live before in much more suitable pristine surroundings and they were simply outstanding and among one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I am not sure I want this memory sullied by mud and the indignity of portaloos.

 This weekend there are two interesting events occurring though as luck would have it they are both on at the same time. First up is the launch of Neu! Reekie co-founder Michael Pedersen’s debut poetry collection, Play With Me, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Several years of hard work finally comes to fruition at this event which also features appearances by former Fire Engine and current Jesus! Baby singer Davy Henderson alongside fellow Neu! Reekie cohort Kevin Williamson among others. Definitely one to check out if you can although if you miss it there will be a similar follow up event on Friday 16th August as part of the International Book Festival.

 Elsewhere an intriguing and adventurous new night featuring live music within a club environment called Rammed is launching at the Speakeasy in the Voodoo Rooms at 8pm. Its creators claim they are trying to put back some of the elements missing from Edinburgh nightlife over the last few years whilst adding a few new elements to ensure that proceedings remain both current and relevant. Musical acts for the launch are the unforgettable Homesick Aldo and the riotous Andy and the Prostitutes with DJ sets by the Baron and Anna Kissed. There is already a buzz about this event and if toxic glamour and excellent music is your thing then I suggest you make sure you don’t miss it.

 That is it for this week and I am off out to bask in, what I am hoping by now is tropical sunshine. Either that or I am staying indoors to hunt out a pair of wellies and parka to go and see Kraftwerk. Now that is a sentence I thought I would never write!

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

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Well that is it for another year then. The A-List stars have departed whilst the opening and closing galas provided a maelstrom of dramatic flourish, flamboyance and glamour to our usual grey days and the momentum of the event provided ceaseless conversations amongst the locals. Except none of the former really happened did it?

 In fact the whole event passed pretty much unnoticed to local residents- and even to me who was a participant- and if pushed for a comment many would even have failed to notice it was actually taking place. Matters weren’t even helped by the fact the weather was remarkably pleasant with sunshine days and warm balmy evenings being the norm. Compare and contrast with last year when it rained torrentially and incessantly.

 The ultimate disappointment though must lie in the choice of movies selected with few of the films making too much of an impression either way. If honest I must admit the best film I saw during the whole thing was the 1971 Richard Fleischer classic, shown as part of a retrospective, 10 Rillington Place starring a suitably creepy Richard Attenborough as serial killer John Christie. It was the only film among the many I attended that held the audience in its spell throughout with a tension which was palpable; a matter confirmed when at a crucial moment I tore my eyes away from the action to observe an almost trancelike state audience caught up in the drama. I witnessed nothing like this sort of effect at the many new films I attended.

Mind you this may be because I attended mainly press showings but everyone knows how cynical a group of film critics can be. I am not sure this still applies to the younger ones who appeared to be barely out of diapers but wore their miserabilist tendencies in plaid with carefully selected geek chic glasses.

 Of the new films premiered the best, in my opinion, were Svengali, The Great Hip Hop Hoax, Oh Boy, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks and a Russian offering, Betrayal. The latter I haven’t got around to reviewing yet but it is an Almodovar styled film with the vivid colours and fiery passions replaced with Soviet chill to disorientating effect. The plot is highly implausible and relies on the viewer’s suspension of belief, but somehow this works to its advantage as opposed to its detriment.

 The opening film Breathe In starring Guy Pearce and the patriotic, set in Glasgow, closer Not Another Happy Ending with Karen Gillan were slightly underwhelming if the truth be told. As were the opening and closing parties which followed if I am being even more honest. In fact the best party I attended during the twelve day duration down as the most memorable film festival of recent times it is also not the most forgettable was nothing to do with the film festival but was held in an empty art studio with a bunch of non celebrities who could show the organisers of these stilted industry affairs how it should be done

 On the plus side the event was still a step in the right direction away from the low key efforts of 2011 which abandoned all parties and celebrity attendances. It also had the best and most consistent weather of any Scottish festival in recent years and perhaps this onslaught of sunshine distracted from the event as who wants to sit in a darkened cinema when it is sunny outside. Particularly to a nation as deprived of vitamin D as us Scots are.

 Now that it is all over however I must say that the best summary I can offer is that although 2013 will not go!

MISTER JOHN

 

Mister John

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Featuring a flawlessly understated performance by Aidan Gillen Mister John adopts its own languid pace and despite threatening to erupt into something more dramatic and thrilling on several occasions it somehow manages to reinforce restraint and draw itself back in thus achieving individuality as opposed to generic type. This does not mean it is without its shortcomings however, it is just that often these shortcomings work in its favour.

 Travelling to Singapore after his brother John’s death-the Mister John who lends the film its title- Gerry(Gillen) attempts to sort out the estate of his more financially successful brother. After his luggage goes missing he borrows some of his brother’s clothes and in the process slips into imagining the alternative lifestyle of his more flamboyant sibling. For someone seemingly so withdrawn and wearing a cloak of sadness this new role is an extremely attractive proposition.

 It would seem sex is seemingly permanently on offer to Gerry as he assumes this new role but he has trouble connecting emotionally as he is still haunted by his wife’s infidelity back in London. Stranger still he becomes emotionally drawn to his late brother’s beautiful widow Kim(Zoe Tay) and the tension of their encounters teeters on the precipice of an affair but his emotional withdrawal prevents him from embracing this complicated entanglement.

 More of a character study than anything else Mister John relies heavily on the plausibility of Gillen’s performance and he manages to capture the pathos of his character in sublime fashion. His awkwardness is cringeworthy and this is what gives the character credibility and emotional depth.

 The screen writing and director team of Christine Molloy and Joe Lawler made a brave and admirable decision in not allowing their vision to be tampered with merely to fill a specific genre or type as this emerges as the film’s main strength.

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