Posts Tagged ‘ Ewan Mc Gregor ’


T2 Trainspotting
Admittedly I was initially nonplussed by the original Trainspotting feature due to being more impressed by the novel and preferring subsequent stage productions- particularly those at the Edinburgh Fringe over the last two years- but time has mellowed my original weary scepticism and I now wholly appreciate that it is a landmark film of its time; those are the very qualities which clouded my first impressions incidentally.
Anyway who could resist a film which boosted the careers of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed bringing them to the attention and subsequent prominence to a whole new generation?
This sequel, re-introducing the original characters from Irvine Welsh’s book, therefore has a lot to live up to and this is it does to some extent although it offers nothing new nor any clear insights into what returning to your past actually means.
Re-assembling the original cast of Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan Bremner and Robert Carlyle as well as the superfluous addition of Kelly Mac Donald – whose scene is so incongruous it feels as if it is there simply for the sake of giving her a scene. Helmed once again by Danny Boyle this gives the film some additional kudos and a sense of the past merging with the present. However I felt now, as I did with the original production, that Ewan Mc Gregor is all out to sea with his performance and once again is the film’s weakest link.
However both Ewen Bremner as Spud and Robert Carlyle as Begbie are excellent in their roles and Jonny Lee Miller always has his charisma to help him through but the real star of the film is Edinburgh itself.
Never has the city looked so appealing on-screen and even in the more desperate scenes when the city’s underside is used to show its deprivation. It also helps having local characters such as Bradley Welsh in the role of a sauna owner cum gangster type and Garry Fraser as second unit director as well as a host of Edinburgh faces as extras giving the whole thing a local flavour. Even the much maligned trams make what must be their film debut.
The plot, for what it matters, revolves around Mark Renton’s ( Mc Gregor) return to Edinburgh and the people he ripped off for thousands twenty years before. The following action revolves around him setting up another scam and being pursued by an unforgiving Begbie who let’s say hasn’t let twenty years mellow his anger or his thirst for vengeance.
To anyone nostalgic for the thrills the original film provided at a time when ‘Cool Brittania’ ruled our pop culture and Trainspotting flew the Scottish flag high and proud then I would wholeheartedly recommend this film as it will awaken the lost youth of those days. On its own merits though T2 Trainspotting can hold its head high although the remix of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life at the films dénouement is unnecessary; some things should be left as they are and need neither remixed nor a sequel!
One thing that irked me however was if the film is set twenty years on from the original film which was set in the mid eighties why was there such a proliferation of smart phones which were nowhere near as ubiquitous around 2005-2006 as they are in this film. Just a minor detail but a detail nonetheless!



Here for their second Fringe outing, their 300th performance to be totally precise, are the very aptly nameD In Your Face Theatre company with their hands on, fast paced and no holds barred –what is a hold anyway?- adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.
Gavin Ross excels as Renton in a performance which goes beyond mere acting and totally inhabits his role as the main character, Renton. The rest of the cast is no less impressive –some of them play several roles and seem to reappear in a different guise seconds after leaving the stage in a previous incarnation-making this a true ensemble production and success!
There is a bit of Trainspotting fever around the capital at the moment anyway as the original cast and director Danny Boyle have only just very recently left the city after filming the sequel at various city locations. It has been no surprise to see the likes of Ewan McGregor or Johnny Lee Miller hanging around The Omni Centre or the Central Bar in Leith so the return of this exciting and high-octane adaptation- by far my personal favourite beating the film version hands down- could not be better timed.
Opening with a frantic rave scene-complete with audience adorned in glowstick armbands- the atmosphere is ramped up to eleven before a word of dialogue is even uttered. The dialogue when it comes is coarse, brash, crude, antagonizing and thoroughly entertaining. The cast weave in and out the audience terrifying some, horrifying others but never ever boring any of them. It is a confrontational performance which never allows the audience’s attention to wander.
At times the pace seamlessly slows down a little but it is no less compelling. The sheer melancholy and sadness that lies at the heart of any junkie becomes apparent and the tragedy that lies at the heart of it all –an essential component of Welsh’s book- exposes itself from behind all the macho braggadocio which dominates the stance of the male characters the bulk of the time.
An essential must see at this year’s Fringe –it is already selling out in advance fast so I recommend booking tickets as soon as possible- you really don’t want to be the one to say you missed out.
Trainspotting is at Assembly Underground at 18.00 and 20.30 until August 29th(not 16th and 23rd). Due to popular demand some late night dates have been added. Check at Box Office for details.


Miles Ahead
Don Cheadle’s directorial debut also finds him playing the lead role as Miles Davis in, what could be termed, his wilderness years. At times the film feels as if it is trying too hard to create something of the impressionistic nature of Davis’ best music but at other times the whole thing coalesces into something quite cohesive even if it feels the film tries to say a lot without saying very much at all.
Unfortunately much of Cheadle’s good work is almost undone by an over enthusiastic Ewan McGregor as a fictional Rolling Stone journalist Dave Braden out to get the scoop on Davis-laughably dubbed ‘The Howard Hughes of Jazz’- troubled times and new recordings which his public has been eagerly awaiting for five long years. At first I thought McGregor’s all over the place accent was a bad Scots impersonation of an American one and then it transpired that his character was in fact Scottish which means it became a bad impersonation of Scottish accent from a native Scot! The accent aside McGregor was as unconvincing as ever and a particularly jarring note in an otherwise well executed film.
As I said before the story focuses on Davis’ wilderness years- the early to mid seventies- but it has flashbacks to his earlier successes, the beginnings of his marriage to Frances and the subsequent breakdown of said marriage as his career, womanizing and drugs took hold and pushed the relationship into the background.
The main story itself seems to focus on Davis’ troubled relationship with his record label who desperately wanted some new product to sell and other dodgy opportunists who steal said unfinished product from Davis’s home during one of his many impromptu parties. At this juncture the film degenerates into predictable farce with shoot outs and car chases all to little effect.
In fact the main thing which holds this film together is Cheadle’s exceptional performance and Davis’s music, which at certain points articulates certain scenes better than any dialogue ever could.
Admittedly I have only started to appreciate Davis’ music over the last few months and although I love ‘A Kind Of Blue’ and ‘Sketches of Spain’ I am still struggling to get to grips with ‘Bitches Brew’ although there is enough there to tempt me back for repeated listening. I don’t know whether that could be said of this film which aims high often and gets there but then lets itself down again.
It was also hard seeing this the day after the news of Prince’s death broke. It was perhaps easy and a little too convenient to see something of the troubled genius in Davis and somehow relate it to Prince although they had nothing in common apart from their exceptional talents, originality and longevity in a notably fickle music scene.