Posts Tagged ‘ Martin Compston ’

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

And so begins the never ending cycle of elections.
The big one though has to be the General Election in June which has has seen our glorious leader turn into what I always suspected she was, a Dalek in drag. With the phrase ‘Strong and Stable Leadership’ now her mantra repeated at every available opportunity and which offers as much clarity as her previous ‘Brexit means Brexit’ statement also trundled out when she had nothing clear to offer, which was often and still is it would seem.
I suppose we have until June 8th now to listen to the lies and mantras on repeat and try and sift through them all for a grain of truth and hope. Good luck with that one. Certainly in Scotland there seems to be some form of hope of an escape from a very Dis-United Kingdom although the right wing bias in the national mainstream media seems to indicate we too are set for a Tory takeover.
Hmmm, we’ll see!
The local elections in May will hopefully see that one-off with its tail between its legs.
Elsewhere away from the world of politics- politics are never far away though these days- I have been shocked and saddened to hear of gay concentration camps in Chechnya where gay men are entrapped then held in camps where they are tortured merely because of their sexual orientation. The fact that this is going on in the 21st century is almost beyond belief.
That is until you consider the way the world has tilted over the last few years with the rise of the far right in most of Europe and the still very unfathomable rise of Donald Trump in the US. Surely these factors and what is going on in Russia should be a lesson for us to put the brakes on now.
In times of crisis there is always music to turn to and whilst the live circuit has been a bit drab recently it looks as if things are on the up over the next short while with the likes of Chrysta Belle and Kraftwerk visiting the capital over the next couple of months. Not to mention both PJ Harvey and Jarvis Cocker both making an appearance during the Festival.
However much as I look forward to seeing these acts unfortunately they do little to help the local music scene which is once again floundering and the worrying news that even the Leith Depot which has done a lot to galvanise its local area is under threat of demolition. What with the closure of the legendary Port O’ Leith and The Parlour- both last weekend- things are looking desperate where they were once looking hopeful.
The state of the roads in the town centre are also ridiculous and although the newly introduced speed limits of 20mph-why exactly?- haven’t helped anything at times it feels as if that stupidly low restriction is actually speeding compared to the remaining stationary for an interminable age whilst travelling I have experienced recently.
Never mind at least there is always ‘Line Of Duty’ to keep our minds active whilst we seem to be at a standstill. No-one could ever accuse this drama of moving at a pedestrian pace and there is absolutely no second guessing what is going to happen next with this one. The latest series finale on Sunday looks like being an explosive one and even I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to its outcome.
Until then I am going to content myself with the new albums by The Gorillaz, assisted by the likes of Grace Jones and Mavis Staples, and Mark Lanegan albums-both out today- which on first listening sound impressive to these judgmental ears. At the cinema I aim to catch Park Chan-wook’s erotic thriller The Handmaiden. Now all we need is for the weather to improve and it could be a great weekend ahead.

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

It feels this morning as if spring has truly arrived after winter made a late comeback earlier in the week with icy winds, sleet, snow and general misery. It is Scotland however so make the most of it whilst it lasts as who knows what lies around the corner in April. At least with the clocks going forward one thing that is guaranteed is lighter nights and longer days.
This week the news has been focussed on the terrible situation in London and the attacks in Westminster. Horrific times and the loss of four lives is such a tragic waste however what has shocked me most in the aftermath is the reaction on Social Media with many using this tragedy to spout bile, hatred and misconceptions not only about the attacks but also about the political ramifications.
This is not the time for such debates and cheap mudslinging never solves anything and although many of us are on completely different political sides and have different beliefs it is most certainly not the right time to be turning the unnecessary loss of life into some slanging match while trying to prove a point. Ultimately the only point that needs made is that there has been an unnecessary loss of life and how can we help in preventing it from happening again.
Elsewhere the Indy2 debate rages on with a groundswell of support in Scotland where hopefully the inevitable and sadly predictable appearance of Gordon Brown-why does he even bother after his failure to deliver on his ‘promises’ the last time?- can’t stop it. Certainly Theresa May is doing her damnedest to block it but this may be a miscalculation on her part; one of several it would seem.
Again however it is social media and the constant barrage of posts about the referendum- before it has even been officially announced- which is irritating me somewhat. Yes, I am aware it is important but the constant didactic tone of so many people eating up my timelines becomes tiresome to say the least. Does anyone actually believe they are changing anyone else’s opinion with their constant posts on Facebook? If so they are delusional.
Surely a more effective means of having a positive effect- whatever way you intend on voting- is to actually communicate with people face to face and preferably with those who don’t already share the same views already. That might make more of a difference.
Out at the cinema Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart is worth catching if only for her stand out performance showcasing her immense talents as an actress. A full review can be found here.
Today also sees the release of the first Jesus and Mary Chain album ‘Damage and Joy’ in quite a few years and although I was quite a fan back in the day I must admit to being slightly underwhelmed by this latest offering with its lame, predictable lyrics and lack of musical inventiveness. Much more impressed by the new Gorillaz single Saturnz Barz also out today and the series of tracks from their upcoming album streaming on Youtube.
I must confess I am genuinely excited by the return of Line of Duty for its 4th series on BBC1 this Sunday at 9pm. Seriously one of the best British dramas in years I am hoping that its shift from BBC2 to BBC1 and from a weekday night to a family friendly ratings winner Sunday 9pm slot will not dilute what has always been a programme of detailed intensity and integrity. The loss of two of its most compelling characters –Lindsay Denton and Matthew ‘The Caddy’ Cotton- will hopefully not have an adverse effect either although in its favour Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar are still on board so I think we are guaranteed another full on intense ride with enough distractions and plot twists to keep us enthralled. Definitely one to watch!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation
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Well 2016 is certainly racking up the death count of those who count. First the shocking news of Bowie’s death in the early stages of the year and the toll has seemed to increase weekly since then culminating in the death of Bowie’s spiritual successor and artistic heir Prince Rogers Nelson yesterday and comic genius Victoria Wood only the day before. Whilst I was never a huge fan of Wood- I am no fan of stand up comedy in general to be honest- I always thought she was a cut above the rest and there was immaculate insight and intelligence in her work. Prince however was a huge influence on me and my life and I have been a huge fan and admirer for decades now.
In much the same manner Bowie ruled the seventies the eighties belonged more or less to Prince despite stiff competition from heavyweight rivals such as Michael Jackson and Madonna but even they seemed in awe of his achievements at the time and often followed his trailblazing lead; he stood alone controlling his own image and music whilst they were surrounded by surrounded by stylists, collaborators and advisors.
For me the eighties was probably the most barren of musical decades of the late twentieth century- aside from those already mentioned only The Smiths, Kate Bush, The Pixies, The Cramps and The Fall left any legacy with real integrity or longevity- and in retrospect seems to be the decade the music business focussed more on the business than the music, not just by industry insiders but often by the artists themselves. Hell even Bowie lost himself in big business deals in the eighties, seemingly more interested in playing stadiums and selling records than making interesting and new music.
Luckily Prince was on hand to pick up the Bowie baton and boy did he run with it. From 1982’s ‘1999’- his earlier works are interesting enough but the story really began with this album- through to 1988’s ‘Lovesexy’he was unstoppable and even more than that he was untouchable: ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Around The World In A Day’, ‘Parade’ and ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’ were the classic albums those two book-ended. There was also a brace of singles such as ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Kiss’, ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘Boys and Girls’ ‘Alphabet Street’ and ‘U Got The Look’ to name but a few.
Let us also not forget his hand in works by The Family, The Time , Sheila E and Jill Jones although his Sheena Easton moment is one maybe best overlooked.
Then there were the live shows and for anyone who hasn’t experienced Prince in this setting then I can truly say that you will never see the like again. I was lucky enough to see him three times- Sign ‘o’ The Times, Lovesexy and 1992 tours- and believe me when I say the first two shows in particular were among the best live shows I have ever seen. There is no need for footage- luckily there were no video phones in those far off days- as every moment was absorbed and enjoyed in that moment and as such is indelibly embedded in my memory and minds eye. Fantastic memories!
I was lucky enough to have also seen Michael Jackson and Madonna around this time also and whilst they were also on career highs and consummate professionals putting on outstanding shows they didn’t seem as involved or even as involving as Prince who carried his shows even during those moments he drew others into the limelight.
Whilst at the moment events surrounding his death are hazy, rumours of drug dependency and overdoses are inevitably emerging, I don’t want to focus on that at this time and instead would rather remember an outstanding artist who made life seem exciting, sexy and fun whilst also breaking down barriers regarding gender and race.
The term genius is bandied around a little too often these days- most annoyingly toward every non-entity who exits the Big Brother House and the like, ‘Oh, you were such a genius housemate/ contestant/ whatever’- but Prince was a bona fide genius who not only changed music but opinions surrounding why and how a man should behave as he strutted around in high heels and tight-fitting ever more flamboyant outfits. He was like Bowie in this matter but I always thought his style-visually and to some extent musically- was closer to that of Marc Bolan; both had an impish, effete appeal combined with a real sense of how to boogie.
Prince Rogers Nelson we thank and love you in equal measure!
Elsewhere an over privileged ninety year old who has been waited on hand and foot since birth was being publicly celebrated yesterday and whilst her government is forcing austerity on her subjects someone wisely thought it would be a good idea to gift her a castle from said subjects to add to her already extensive property portfolio in recognition of her surviving this life of privilege we have already paid for.
Yesterday wasn’t a good day for Lindsay Denton in what must be the best series on TV at the moment, ‘Line of Duty’ as she met her unfortunate demise in the latest shocking and brutal twist in this engrossing show. I must say I think the BBC has excelled themselves with this show and every second is compelling. I can hardly wait for next week’s series finale which will probably have more plot twists and turns each one more incredible- but still highly credible- than the one before.
Excellent writing from Jed Mercurio although the cast especially Keeley Hawes, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Craig Parkinson are outstanding also contributing in making the show a very special thing indeed. On top of that any withdrawal symptoms following its finale will be assuaged by the return of Peaky Blinders in the same time slot. Clear your diaries on Thursday evenings for the foreseeable future.
Off out to see the Miles Davis biopic, ‘Miles Ahead’, later today which should be interesting as I am a recent convert to jazz and have been dipping my toe into its waters recently. Davis is proving to be a favourite I must admit and a review of the film will be posted once viewed.
Here to finish off is Prince performing a personal favourite of mine ‘Girls and Boys’.
http://www.jukebo.com/prince/music-clip,girls-and-boys,surs3.html

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.