Posts Tagged ‘ edinburgh international film festival ’

THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON

The Legend of Barney Thomson
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Directed by and starring Robert Carlyle ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson’ provides this year’s EIFF opening gala presentation and in this context it works. It is a light-hearted stab at dark comedy which although it has its moments- mainly in the form of Emma Thomson as a worthy co-star as the protagonist’s mother- falls somewhat short of its own ambitions as it is neither dark or funny enough to register as a classic of its particular genre.
Barney Thomson(Carlyle) is one of life’s underachievers who having worked for over twenty years in the same establishment a barber finds himself usurped by younger colleagues who have the ability to communicate more fluently with customers and don’t seem to have had the charisma bypass that he has suffered. Frustrated and volatile his situation is only made worse when after being sacked he accidentally kills his boss and finds himself en route to being Glasgow’s answer to Sweeney Todd.
Enlisting the help of his harridan of a mother-brilliantly played in an over the top manner complete with Glaswegian accent and convincing prosthetics by Emma Thomson- he subsequently finds himself in a situation which aside from being a voyage of discovery is also a spiralling descent into evermore implausible and improbable situations.
Parallel to this scenario is a mass murderer on the loose on the Glasgow streets who posts body parts of their quarry to their victims’ families. The police team investigating this spate of killings is led by an over the top Ray Winstone and his trusty but bumbling assistant who is also being thwarted and usurped in his own ambitions by a younger female officer (Ashley Jensen).
Both stories eventually merge and the outcome is nowhere as unexpected as I suspect it would like to think itself as the clues are obvious in the plot from the very outset but this doesn’t make the film any less enjoyable.
‘The Legend of Barney Thomson’ is probably a good choice for an opening film for this year’s festival even if it does stray on the side of safe. Carlyle, Winstone and Jensen are ably supported in their roles by a stellar cast which also includes martin Compston and Samuel Robertson although it is Emma Thomson who steals the show in her over the top but still highly believable guise as a Glasgow harpy. The film is not the most memorable film you are likely to see at this year’s event but that doesn’t mean it is not enjoyable for its duration.

Just an Observation

Just an Observation
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Well it is that time of year again when festival season hovers into view and wakes a seemingly endless collection of rhythm and talent free bongo players from their hibernation. Seriously, has there ever been a bigger waste of human energy than playing the bongos? My gripe is purely personal, I must stress, as living in a part of the city close to where these miscreants all gather the ongoing rhythm-less noise is as relentless as it is annoying. It seems to start about midday and continues until midnight and often beyond and their persistence is admirable if hugely irritating as even the likelihood or actuality of rain does little to diminish their fervour and on and on they go.
This matter will be exacerbated this very weekend when the Meadows Festival takes place. Far from being a curmudgeon who hates to think of people enjoying themselves I think festivals are a great opportunity for people to gather, socialise and spend time which does not involve, the great Scottish pastime, sitting in a pub. If they could do it without the unnecessary pounding of bongos I would probably appreciate it more but it seems to those who favour tie-dye-another personal hate– bongos are a crucial element of tuneless expression. I will never be able to work this one out and there is always the option of fastening my windows tight shut to block out the excrutiating noise.
Next week sees the return of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and although 2013 was a relatively disappointing year with few stand-out films emerging my hopes are high for this years programme which I will reveal more of next week. It is also very unlikely that this event will attract too many bongo players as filmgoers are a far more sophisticated bunch. Instead they favour geek chic; with horn rimmed glasses, facial hair and check shirts de rigueur as a mark of their supposed individuality. This uniform seems to be incorporated by both genders so at least there is a sense of equality in the lack of imagination.
Summerhall had a press launch the other night to introduce their fringe programme and, for me at least, the very exciting news that they will be featuring Genesis P-Orridge as one of their exhibiting artists during this time. The exhibition by P-Orridge and his late partner Lady Jaye entitled ‘Life as a Cheap Suitcase’ is their first show in Britain since 2003 and is part of their Pandrogyne Project wherein they decided to transform themselves into each other. Unfortunately after a series of surgeries Lady Jaye has since passed away but P-Orridge continues on his quest in his own indefatigable and unpredictable way.
Other big players at this relatively new venue include Mark Ravenhill, Steven Berkoff, Alison Jackson and Faile & Bast. This venue has come a long way in a very short time and the fact they are again first to announce their festival line up which shows an amazing amount of diversity and is very encouraging regarding its future as a a major player.
Next weekend also sees two great musical events on the opposing coastlines of Scotland. The east coast is holding the launch party for the Teen Canteen single ‘You’re Still Mine’ Henry’s Cellar Bar on Saturday 14th and should be a great night. A full review of the single will be on these pages early next week.
Over on the west coast however, the mighty Television are playing their legendary ‘Marquee Moon’ in its entirety on the very same night. My tickets for the latter were organised by a very dear friend a few months ago so I will be making the trek west for the night. If however you are languishing in the capital and still want a musical experience then I suggest you make your way to Henry’s Cellar Bar.
Unfortunately a gig I was looking forward to this weekend has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for Rammed at The Voodoo Rooms-which has unfortunately also been cancelled- the gig was then moved to The Safari Lounge but has since been postponed.
Despite this disappointment there is still The Valves on Sunday at the Meadows Festival and then after –or instead of if it is raining- Heavy Nova in Woodland Creatures where your missing Rammed fix can be administered, in the late afternoon through to evening shift, by The Baron and his trusty and glamorous companion Rachel. Exhibitions at Summerhall and the ECA Degree Show are also worthwhile ventures so really there is no excuse to be staying in at all. Just leave the bongos at home! Please!

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FASHION FESTIVAL: SYMPOSIUM

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2013- Symposium

954840_465978903491448_828566177_n Photo by Scott Trindle

 Described by director Jonathan Freemantle as the core event of 2013’s festival, Symposium consisted of a day of interesting, complementary and contrasting talks on this year’s main themes: storytelling and performance. Fittingly held in the dissecting room at Summerhall various fashion subjects were opened up to investigation to show how the internal workings of the industry and its peoples create the outer subject matter with which we are so familiar without giving too much thought as to its origins. The talks ranged from the doyenne of American Vogue, the indomitable and indefatigable Diana Vreeland, to Amanda Harlech performing a piece wherein choice outfits from her life created a history of its own.

 The first talk of the day was delivered by author Amanda Mackenzie Stuart who read select passages from her biography about the legendary Diana Vreeland who established herself in the 1930’s with her ‘Why Don’t You’ column in Harpers Bazaar wherein she pointed her readers toward a glamorous lifestyle with some outlandishly ludicrous- and some not so –suggestions. From here she was promoted to editor before defecting to Vogue as editor in chief during the extremely culturally shape-shifting sixties which she promoted with ruthless abandon whilst embracing the decade’s spirit wholeheartedly.

Mackenzie Stuart read passages which took us on this journey and her talk was tinged with Vreeland’s acerbic wit and observations but at the same time also made clear she was not to be dismissed as some relic as she also brought to the fore the ideas that style had little to do with money and everything to do with ‘the divine spark’ that comes from within.

 The divine spark was a phrase which resonated throughout this day of talks and her biography Diana Vreeland Empress of Fashion is certainly an interesting work making an excellent companion piece to the 2012 documentary The Eye has to Travel about Vreeland which whilst not so insightful manages to provide some footage of Vreeland herself and thus provides the important voice which Mackenzie Stuart didn’t dare attempt to replicate to accompany much of this fascinating material.

Future-Positive-edinburgh-fashion-2 Photos by Igor Termenon

 The second talk of the day was a chaired discussion between the author of Fashion Scandinavia Dorothea Gundtoft, Lauren Dyer Amazeen and Jonathan Freemantle which threw up such topics as the high street as art and fashion gallery and how fashion is perhaps moving too fast as the seasons are all melding into one and having a wardrobe which is exclusive to a particular season is no longer necessary or even viable. The trio also discussed how many people look at clothes and cannot distinguish the art form contained within as they are too busy looking at the product or, in more extreme cases, no further than the label.

 One topic which I found particularly interesting was when they discussed the creative culture which actually exists in Edinburgh but so many locals seem to be unaware of as they are too busy complaining that nothing goes on. This is something I have always maintained and Freemantle summarised it perfectly when he said ‘Edinburgh never received the memo’ when it came to how much is going on here behind the scenes. The fact it has a climate and space which removes itself from clutter and noise-the fringe and festival not withstanding- allows art to grow and artists to consider what they are doing without their visions being influenced or compromised by the whirlwind and expense of a city like London or New York.

 The last talk of the morning session was delivered by Professor Sandy Black who authored The Sustainable Fashion Handbook. This discussion opened up issues about unnecessary wastefulness, landfill and how the fashion industry can do something to help these grave issues which affect the future of the planet. We already all know about recycling but there are many other ways we can help and Vivienne Westwood’s DIY ethos is something she supports as Westwood was the first major big name designer to recognise the problem whilst promoting it within her range. It is anathema to a fashion designer to suggest the public buys less clothes and this is what Westwood did but, of course, she would prefer if you bought less clothes then she would prefer that they were more of hers. An interesting and humorous talk about a very serious subject, it provided food for thought before breaking up the morning round of events.

 Afternoon was kicked off-in the highest, most stylish heels obviously-by shoe designer Georgina Goodman in conversational mode with journalist Jackie McGlone.

Future-Positive-edinburgh-fashion-3 Georgina Goodman by Igor Termenon

 Mentored by Manolo Blahnik, Goodman made an interesting raconteur who described shoes as being weapons accessing emotions. She made a convincing point concerning this argument and her style was intriguingly captivating but simultaneously down to earth whilst she delivered anecdotes which throughout never failed to fully engage.

 Next up was Bella Freud who, also in conversation with McGlone, somehow made her whole career sound so effortless. Whether it was deciding to start up a knitwear company or make a film it seemed she had no qualms about embarking on these projects and utilised whatever skills she had at her disposal to make them succeed. The fact she has been a name ‘brand’ since the early nineties indicate it is not all as haphazard as it initially seems and a strong artistic vision lies at her core as well as some serious ‘editing’ which was another key word of the day.

Future-Positive-edinburgh-fashion-5 Bella Freud by Igir Termenon

 Of particular interest was a clip from her debut film ‘A Day at the Races’ which emerged  as some statement of intent with its slinky soundtrack-The Stooges and Bryan Ferry’s  malignantly malevolent but sashaying ‘Casanova’ were highlights- accompanying images of supermodels all driven around in her family Bentley. The grainy homemade feel only made it more glamorous and otherworldly.

 Amanda Harlech then gave a short but captivating performance which was simply entrancing. Pulling out select pieces from a large trunk, to create a narrative, which included baby clothes, Westwood, Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel each item took us on a very personal journey which was hers alone but told the story of all our fashion evolvements, albeit with different garments. It was a truly mesmerising piece and one which brought a reverent hush to the hall.

Future-Positive-edinburgh-fashion-9 Amanda Harlech by Igor Termenon

 Concluding with a panel discussion –think Question Time for glamorous people- where the afternoon’s participants were joined by David Lindsay-Net A Porter- and Paula Goldstein-digital editor of Purple.fr- it was a fitting and more relaxed finish to a highly innovative and enjoyable day which never once allowed the pace to drag or its audience to flag. It is about time fashion was discussed and appreciated as a serious art form which, whether we like it or not, plays an important part in all our daily lives and days like these merely provide conclusive evidence of this.

THE COMPLEX

 

The Complex

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‘Ghosts don’t haunt places they haunt the human mind’ is a choice phrase uttered during this Japanese psychic chiller directed by Hideo Nakata and it would be one well remembered by the films central protagonist, Asuka. At times resembling a more convoluted plotline devised by esteemed author Haruki Murakami the film relies more on cleverly constructed atmospherics than clever dialogue or acting skills. Despite falling slightly short of becoming a classic of its genre it is not wholly unsuccessful and building to a hysterical climax it is certainly worthy of note and investigation.

 Asuka (Atsuka Maeda), a young nursing student, moves into a housing complex with her parents and younger brother and straight away feels ill at ease as the complex feels abandoned apart from a young lone child playing. After befriending the child immediately strange occurrences start to happen and a shifting of emotions pervades.

 Strange noises from the next apartment and an alarm clock which goes off every morning at 5.30 am arouse feelings of unease which are not assuaged by friends at college informing her the complex has a reputation for being haunted.Matters only worsen after she discovers a malnourished corpse in her neighbouring apartment but she also forms a bond with one of the young men, Sasahara (Hiroki Narimiya),  drafted in to clean up the apartment.

Things however take on even more sinister twists and turns and strange happenings conspire in Asuka no longer able to distinguish between what is real and what is merely a product of her obviously disturbed state of mind. It would be unfair to divulge too much of the plot but matters become more frenetic resulting in a frenzied exorcism to rid her apartment-or is it her mind- of the evil spirits which torment  and occupy a place in her psyche.

 Skilfully executed The Complex is relatively successful on its own terms however it will not trouble classics of its genre and although compared to Japanese classics such as The Ring it is simply not in the same class as that film. It is still worth checking out though as it does compel the viewer to try and distil the reality of unfolding of events from what is simply imagined or feared.

THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX

The Great Hip Hop Hoax

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At first the tale of two students from Dundee who adopt American accents and pretend they are Californian in the ruthless pursuit of fame as rap stars  simply because their Scottish accents had them laughed out an A&R meeting and referred to as the ‘rapping Proclaimers’ seems unbelievable.,However this ploy which enabled them to a attain a lucrative recording deal, convincing and fooling everyone they met may seem even more highly implausible but it is in fact a true story. Jeanie Finlay delivers this documentary in a style which recalls the tale of Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain-whose stateside doppelgangers went under the pseudonyms Silibil ’n’ Brains- at the apotheosis of their deceit -around nine or ten years ago- intercut with more serious recent hindsight interviews from the duo. It is a fascinating watch and one which details the sheer determination and chutzpah necessary in achieving fame.

 Naturally charismatic, Billy Boyd attracted the attention of Gavin Bain the first time they met and an inseparable friendship was forged. Discovering several things in common what became apparent was they both had musical ambitions so joining up with a third party they formed a rap group singing in Scottish accents and became a local cause celebre due to the individual nature of their act.

Dreaming of bigger things they travelled to London and wangled an audition but were laughed at because of their Scottish accents. Disheartened, but not out, Bain-a natural born mimic- started talking and performing in an American accent. Partly  act of revenge and partly wanting to have their talent recognised through whatever means it took, the pair then both adopted Californian personas and started living, talking and breathing these imaginary characters twenty-four seven.

 Of course such a tactic is not without its drawbacks and the more attention and success which came their way, the more the chance of being discovered also hovered in the background.  Therefore some necessary self sabotage was necessary every time things looked like becoming too big whilst drug and alcohol abuse did not help to assuage the paranoia which was lingering in the air, but merely aggrieved it.

 Eventually the constant  living  a lie became too much for Boyd when abandoning the pursuit of fame in favour of marrying his childhood sweetheart and raising a family became a more attractive option thus spelling the end of the duo as a working entity.

 It is hard to imagine how two canny lads from Scotland were able to pull the wool over so many eyes but it does make an amusing tale. Particular highlights are Boyd’s blagging his way backstage into the Brits-photos with everyone fom Siouxie Sioux, Kelly Osbourne and Kasabian confirm this- where drinking with Daniel Bedingfield the first realisation that he is involved in such a grandiose  lie emerges during a heavy drinking session wherein the singer casually comments ‘I thought you were Scottish’. It is then he realises the whole ruse has a limited time frame and desperate to capitalise on this pressurises the perfectionist and reluctant Bain to rush a record out but all to no avail.

 A great exposé on the gullibility of the music industry The Great Hip Hop Hoax is an enjoyable ride which reveals that gall and chutzpah are sometimes all it takes to succeed. Despite this Boyd and Bain never actually achieved all they could as the pressures of the lie they were living eventually overtook any ambitions or creativity. This is a shame as it would have made a better ending if they had actually attained international success and then revealed the truth. This is a minor quibble though and it is still a worthwhile docufilm

The Great Hip Hop Hoax is on BBC2 Scotland at 9pm Friday October 11th.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday June 14th

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Fashion seems to be very much in the air this week. First of all I attended an amazing showing of the new collection by Atelier E.B. this Wednesday on a warm balmy summer evening- I am rarely able to use that phrase with our whimsical Scottish climate so indulge me please- in the picturesque and atmospheric Inverleith House situated in the Botanic Gardens. Fine knit cashmere pieces, beautifully tailored coats, funky tee shirts and full length woollen socks all tempted several of the attendees with orders filling up the books of the two artists/designers at the core of this venture, Lucy McKenzie and Beca Lipscombe. It did feel strange looking at items more closely associated with winter on such a beautiful summer evening but strangely enough the two opposing factions didn’t detract from each other and the evening rounded off perfectly with a stroll through the gardens aided by swigs from a celebratory bottle of champagne. At Inverleth House until Sunday 16th June Atelier E. B. is well worth checking out.

 Cashmere and winter clothing were very much on my mind the following evening however when I attended Leith Late. Making my way up Leith Walk the contrast in the weather from the previous evening could not have been more pronounced as cold winds and grey skies competed with each other as to which could dampen the spirits of  this worthy event the most. It was not a total downer though and I managed to garner some enjoyment from the spells I spent in Woodland Creatures, Elvis Shakespeare , The Art Bus and finally the Windsor Buffet Bar. The latter was most notable for the tuneless, flat singing of the female singer of their headlining band. Matters were not aided by the presence of her number one fan –and best friend- who made it quite clear if appreciation of her friend’s talents were not shown then her displeasure would be. As I tried not to wince every time a high note was not properly reached- there were many of these occasions- I also had to prevent a smirk from spreading across my face.

 Tomorrow night sees me returning to the world of fashion again as the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival launches its programme of events. Last years venture was highly successful so returning for a second time it will be interesting what 2013 yields from this enterprising and innovative team.

 Monday sees the Film Festival kick off and although I haven’t had time to compile a complete Calendar I have several films earmarked as essential and no doubt along the way I will discover a great many more. I am particularly looking forward to this year’s closing film- Not Another Happy Ending starring Karen Gillen- as it features a song by Teen Canteen, my new favourite girl group, on its soundtrack. Daily updates on what is worth seeing –or not as the case may be- will be posted before the films can be viewed by the public and hopefully will help to steer you in the right direction.

 News this week was confirmed about a new night called Rammed which is to be held at the Voodoo Rooms on July 6th. An impressive line up featuring the phenomenon which is Homesick Aldo and the wonderfully wilfully perverse Andy and the Prostitutes constitute the live music aspect of the evening. Not to be outdone however The Baron and Anna Kissed will be providing some excellent tuneage  before, during and after the bands, aiming to create a sonic environment and cultural experience unlike any other on the scene at the moment. Get along early though as spaces are limited and instead of trying to appeal to a mass audience which requires the struggle of filling up the venue with any old punters the promoters have instead elected to opt for a more intimate and select setting.

 Here then to round up today is a recently recorded video by a solo Homesick Aldo, although he has promised that his live act will feature a whole slew of new material and for the first time he will unveil and perform a prepared set with other musicians accompanying him.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday June 6th

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At the time of writing summer seems to be making a rare appearance with blue skies and sunshine proliferating over the last week. Aside from the inappropriate ratios of clothing to flesh and alcohol to body weight-typical of Scots although it would appear not wholly exclusive to them- there has not been much to complain about over the last few days.

 Unless of course you count the ongoing strains of the Bongos which invaded the confines of my living space via a few trustafarians at last weekends Meadows festival which certainly brought on a new condition henceforth known as ‘Bongo Rage’ in me. I don’t know what it is about a bit of grass combined with dreadlocks, lager, burnt food all topped with sunshine and open air that makes people with no talent think they are Mickey Finn (from T.Rex who also possessed little in the way of talent but at least looked amazing) and feel the incessant desire to pound away on the bongo skins aimlessly for a whole weekend.

From my flat which overlooks the Meadows the resulting sound was like a constant migraine niggling away at my psyche with little relief until the Monday morning. Trying to enter the spirit of the thing I actually ventured over to see if I could soak up some of the atmosphere-usually I decamp to another part of town during this weekend- and whilst it was a reasonably pleasant experience, no doubt enhanced by Sundays glorious sunshine, I can truthfully report that bongos are even less bearable at close quarters. In fact the visual horror of seeing a bunch of hippies flailing around minus rhythm or style may have taken things to a new height of irritation.

 This weekend sees the return of the dreaded bongos at Leith Links festival which although I am pretty sure I am not attending  I may just make an appearance at just to hurl some much needed abuse to punctuate their aimless beatings. Much more appealing however is Leith Late13 taking place next Thursday between 6-9pm on Leith Walk in 17 venues and featuring over 30 artists, musicians and performers.

 The previous evening I will be attending an opening for Atelier E.B. in the prestigious Inverleith House surrounded by the picturesque splendour of the Botanic Gardens. The company is the combined brain child of Beca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie and the event holds host to their new collection ‘Ost End Girls’ and whilst they still focus on their desires to promote the Scottish textile industry-combining it with Belgian manufacturing- with cashmeres, tweeds and other traditional fabrics they will also for the first time be showing a summer collection. A full report of the evening will be posted after the event but this is a worthwhile venture which deserves support and is open to the public from Thursday 13th until the 16th at the same venue-Inverleith house- so do yourself a favour and go along.

 As mentioned last week a new venture called Rammed featuring live music and DJ’S aiming to create a sonic environment is due to make an appearance in the near future. So far all I can reveal is that a date of Saturday July 6th in the Voodoo Rooms has been announced and that the headlining act is proto superstar Homesick Aldo who after causing waves on the scene over the last year or so has been locked away in rehearsals creating new material and extending his musical palette to re-launch his musical/blues experience on the public at this event.

I, myself, am hoping to hear the fruits of his labours at a private open house party tomorrow night.  I am admittedly very curious about both this and the new venture as I feel it is about time Edinburgh got back into trying to create some sort of underground scene which is both exclusive and inclusive at the same time. If you have not heard, or heard  of, Homesick Aldo then I suggest you do and a feature which appeared on this site several months ago is a s good a place as any to start. The article can be found here.

 Today however I am actually strangely excited about going to see what will obviously be an over the top camp extravaganza and exposé about glitzy entertainer Liberace, Behind the Candleabra. As I am attending with a friend who himself is a camp piece of toxic outrage who minces more than a butchers equipment I am expecting my viewing experience to be accompanied by squeals of delight, salacious cackles and attempts- most likely unsuccessful- to control his desires to highkick his way down the theatre aisles whilst all the while claiming the film to be a wonder of  modern cinema. However from the trailers I have seen thus far I feel I may have to suppress my own desires –total anathema to me usually I hasten to add- to follow his lead and embrace the moment!