There’s nowhere quite as good as Greyfriars Cemetery for a few Hallowe’en shenanigans. There are more pics on my Facebook page, that’s Bruce T. Moose (and no the T doesn’t stand for what you might think it does).
Happy Hallowe’en 👻👻🎃
So Hi anyone looking at this. Never done anything like this before but have been musing on doing a fringe blog for, oo, the last four years. So finally I’m taking the plunge! The first fringe show I saw was way back in 1985, The Bald Prima Donna at Buster Browns on Thursday 22nd August for £2. That Prima Donna keeps coming back every year, still bald as a coot. So if you fancy a stroll along the byways and alley ways of my Fringe experiences, feel free to drop in.
Like I said, I’m new to this so there’s gonna be plenty mistakes (though at least my typing seems ok for a moose) as I’m not really up with this modern technology stuff. So wish me luck and do check in again!
So back in April Logan’s Close played the Voodoo Rooms with a new addition of a keyboard player – fine. Next thing, the new pics on FB only show four guys, four plus one should be five? Was it an aesthetics thing – sorry only four to a photo, five would be too much!? The drummer with the great sideburns seems to be oot of the picture, literally. The Close have a new single out soon, no doubt they’ll play Edinburgh to herald it’s arrival, and we’ll see who’s in or out. Same drummer, new drummer, drum machine?!?
It’s reminded me of one of my favourite Fringe acts, Dead Cat Bounce. They wrote a rather magnificence song about the day they fired the drummer, performed at the end of the show literally as though the other three had just agreed earlier that day to fire him. Nine years later I still laugh when I hear it, absolutely brilliant, but then Dead Cat Bounce were top class comedy writers and performers as well as being great musicians. They would most definitely be one of my Desert Island Fringe Acts!
Ironically it was the keyboardist who left the band just over a year later. Sadly the remaining trio only played the Fringe one more time in 2012, it wasn’t quite the same without Mick; and it put Outsized Orthopaedic Shoe and Four Lads off the playlist, shame. In 2013 they called it a day, well, playing live, until in 2017 they apparently did a 10th anniversary reunion show, and there’s a DVD of it!! I must hunt one down. I shall keep on with the occasional stalk to see what they’re up to, in case they reform proper!
The Penny Dreadfuls, particular favourites of mine, were originally a four-man sketch show when my buddy and I first came across them in their Victorian sketch show Aeneas Faversham. It was our favourite show that year, silly, surreal, clever, witty, and thoroughly British! The following year they pulled it off again with Aeneas Faversham Returns, by George, even Bud’s elderly maiden aunt loved it, especially the Invisible Man sketch – the one part we feared she would disapprove of! Why? Specimen 626 had escaped from the lab and they had to find him, he was invisible, at least to them on stage, we could all see Specimen 626 who was stark bollock naked! He was prancing around, jiggling about between the others talking trying to put them off, he even did a cartwheel across the stage! By the following Fringe Jamie (aka Specimen 626) had left them. Had the naked cartwheels been too much for him? So 2008 saw the Penny Dreadfuls down to a trio for Aeneas Faversham Forever, and they’re still loosely together, every now and again popping up on Radio 4 and Radio 4extra, besides following their own solo careers, occasionally popping up at the Fringe. David Reed is up for four nights with Inside the Comedian and of course, Thom Tuck is up as usual doing lots of silly things with lots of silly people.
Just to show you there were originally four Penny Dreadfuls and also what an awesome act they are……
behold, the Penny Dreadful playing cards! Yes, they didn’t just do badges, they had decks of playing cards! Three years in a row! The chap at the back of the middle card is Jamie. I wonder what became of him? And can he still cartwheel?
Yay! Today those lovely people at Assembly finally announced that their Edinburgh Locals £5 Tickets offer was back on again this year. I wasted no time in re-checking my cuttings and making a decision which six to go for (there’s a maximum of six and up to the end of the first Sunday night). I quickly got it down to nine, but which other three to drop? Ummm.
As it’s his final tour ever (so he says), Stewart Francis: Into the Punset would have been a definite contender but that 8pm timeslot knackers up so many other shows so no; plus he’s doing a full run and is on the Friends of the Fringe 241 list, so I may get to see him later with a chum. Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds was a thought. Yes, I saw it last year but it is really good – and at only a fiver! On the other hand my cuz may pop up for a few days and he’d love them, and I’m already going to their Garage Party show.
Also dropped for now as it would be the wrong time of the Fringe, much more suited to be a final week show (no, I don’t know why, it just is) is the magnificently titled John-Luke Roberts: After Me Comes the Flood (But in French) drop splosh splash drip BLUBBP BLUBBP BLUBBPBLUBBPBLUBBP!!
So what has made it into my Fringe diary? The lovely Sarah Kendall with Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes, and it’s just occurred to me, yes, indeed, same time same venue as two years ago! Also from Oz The Long Pigs claiming to be “spine-tingling original theatre” showing at the Roxy, very few duds seen there. Staying antipodean, Laser Kiwi a surreal sketch circus troupe, at a fiver it’s worth a shot.
Fringe regular Guy Masterton is directing The Shark is Broken, apparently a true story set during the filming of Jaws (what else with that title?) It is at eleven on the Sunday morning which could be hard after Saturday night, but I’ll just have to force myself to go straight home after Nick Helm’s I Think, You Stink, a musical comedy horror at the Roxy. And finally those Silly Funny Boys the Sleeping Trees, I wonder if they know what it’s about yet?!
Ha, who needs 241 Monday and Tuesday? If I knew how to spell it, I’d spell a long, fruity, loud raspberry. Yeah, I’ll be well into my Fringe before they even come round (bitter? moi?)
So, on to my top three films from this year’s EIFF. Err, actually not quite, see those two South Korean action movies, Unstoppable and Extreme Job? They’re now my joint 3rd place, on reflection I did enjoy them more than The Mystery of Henri Pick, which is not to say it wasn’t enjoyable.
There’s plenty to like about Le mystère Henri Pick especially the TV literary critic character Jean-Michel Douche, pompous, self-important and arrogant, determined to prove to everyone that he knows better. See everyone else accepts that a manuscript found in the “library of rejected books” was written by one Henri Pick, a deceased pizza restaurant owner in Brittany, but Douche is convinced otherwise; having lost his job over comments made about the author he has time to investigate further and forms an uneasy alliance with Henri Pick’s daughter who has her niggling doubts that her father could have written a book. Together they unravel the mystery of who Henri Pick the author really is. An intriguing, lighthearted whodunnit that keeps one guessing til the end. Also, at the end there was a Q&A, yay! Interesting, and amusing (to me anyway) that of the foreign directors I’ve seen at this year’s EIFF only the french guy has had an interpreter.
I have finally decided that I can’t decide which is my top film this year, so I’m having joint top films! Top End Wedding and Chippa are both too charming and wonderful to pick one over the other.
Top End Wedding is a great Aussie movie. Miranda Tapsell (I remembered her from The Sapphires) not only stars in it as Lauren, she co-wrote it too, so gorgeous, funny and clever! Her boyfriend Ned is played by Gwilym Lee (recently seen playing Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody); Ned is an unhappy prosecutor, decides to quit his job and propose to his girlfriend. Lauren, just promoted at her job, says yes, but insists they get married in Darwin back where she’s from, her boss gives her ten days off to get it done. Road trip!
Up in Darwin it turns out Lauren’s mum has up and left her dad, who’s taken to shutting himself in the pantry and playing Chicago’s “If you leave me now” on a little cassette player (I guess you have to be a certain age to feel a glow of bittersweet nostalgia for that track and the gadget, whilst I did laugh I felt his pain too). Lauren won’t marry without her mum so calls off the wedding but only to Ned, Ned doesn’t mention this to anyone else, instead, yay, road trip to find mum! I reckon you can figure the rest, it is a romcom after all.
This film is playful and delightful, but also, as Lauren looks for her mum there are deep feelings and issues brought up that are quite touching, almost needed a tissue at times. The road trips were great for showing off Oz, it quite made me want to go back seeing all those places again, the redness of the Outback, Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park; oh yes, I visited them many years ago, I paddled my own canoe up Katherine Gorge, you know! I hadn’t heard of the Tiwi Islands before, but if I make it back to Oz I shall pop up, that’s truly Top End!
And last but definitely not the least is Chippa, an utterly charming film from India, set in the streets of Kolkata; Chippa is given a letter from his long-absent father on the eve of his 10th birthday, unfortunately it is written in Urdu which he cannot read, so after yet another scolding from his great aunt who he lives with, he decides to set out to find someone who can read the letter to him. And so begins his adventure….
It really sets the tone for the nighttime escapade when Chippa sneaks on to the grass garden roof of a taxi and rides it like it’s a magic carpet carrying him through the night. Through the night he meets all kinds of fascinating characters, a taxi driver, a policeman, an old tea seller, a street football game, a band, a newspaper delivery man, oh and a loveable stray pup he befriends and calls Pippa. With each encounter he gets another perspective on life, but does he find out what the letter says? Not telling, but I will say on encountering the policeman again in the morning, he has decided to go home “because life has only just begun”. Almost another tissue moment there.
Chippa is played by the very talented and already charismatic Sunny Pawar, the kid will go far! He was previous in Lion which I didn’t see at the time but I may well now look up. Chippa is set in the area that Safdar Rahman, the writer and director is from, and it’s very clearly a love letter to his home and roots, even before he admitted it at the Q&A after the screening – and what a lovely, charming guy he is!
All in all, a pretty good EIFF this year. I do enjoy seeing so many varied films in just nine days and feeling the buzz around the Filmhouse. Definitely one of my annual highlights and another reason why Edinburgh is a great place to live!
No Bob, that wasn’t a drunk post, I was merely overtired and feeling ranty (my tablet wanted to change that to Randy, yes with the Capital, either way, I wasn’t). Unstoppable was a great action movie, fast-paced and didn’t take itself seriously.
Also from that neck of the woods was Extreme Job, another action film but with plenty comedy helping it along. The plotline was instantly recognisable and I have absolutely no problem with that – they did something really fun with it. Useless team, about to be disbanded, mocked by their fellows, last-ditch try, come out winners; blundering police narcotics team determined to prove themselves, realise the best way to keep surveillance on Mr Big is to take over the fried-chicken shop directly across from one of his “businesses”, becoming successful selling fried-chicken rather disrupts their plan, then, well, let’s say, karma plays a hand, and it all ends happily ever after, after some great fight scenes.
I love that what makes their takeover so successful is the recipe they use for the sticky chicken, which (if I remember correctly) is the nominated chef’s grandmother’s recipe for spare ribs, the only thing he knows how to cook. The looks as they contemplate putting a pork recipe to chicken! It tickles me that there are people who wouldn’t allow such a thing (there are you know, I’ve met them). Necessity once again the mother of invention! Oo, and I do like the idea, sounds very tasty.
From the tasty, to something you’d push around your plate with a fork while asking what exactly it is for the third time. Volcano looked intriguing from the programme blurb, “splendid black comedy” and “a gleeful sense of the absurd”; it was intriguing but as in I was never too sure what was going on. I dunno, I did sort of enjoy it, pondering, some beautiful cinematography, quite Kafkaesque; chap gets misplaced in the border region of Ukraine, is befriended by a local (with a lovely daughter!), tries hard to get back to civilisation without much success. Ah, yes, there was a Q&A after it, the director is more of a documentary maker apparently and like How to Fake a War they used a lot of locals in acting roles. Volcano‘s ending wasn’t with an eruption but a perplexing “I think I know what just happened, but don’t my word for it”. I think I would watch it again if it ever appeared on telly, just out of curiosity.
For those counting, you’ll know there are just three films left!
It’s late, I should be sound asleep by now, but I’ve poured myself a glass of wine so it would be rude not to drink it. It’s been a pleasant midweek evening, meal out, a few drinks, catching up with chums. Ah, how summer evenings should be.
I really should be asleep but I’m not. Liam Neeson, really don’t like him, I don’t know why, I just don’t! The voice of Aslan?! Really? That one thing spoilt the Narnia films for me – as a moose brought up on the Narnia books getting Aslan right was very important, they failed. And now Liam Neeson is the big boss of MIB in London? No, didn’t trust him one inch. A moose knows, you know.
Apart from Mr Neeson I did really enjoy the new MIB movie, Hemsworth and Thompson are on fine form together, loved Pawny and I recognised Kayvan Novak from What We Do In The Shadows ( tv show and film are both worth seeing).
Anyways, Liam Neeson, did Taken. The first South Korean film I saw at this year’s Film Festival was Unstoppable, directed by Kim Min-Ho, was very similar, but really fun; it was Taken but better, with humour. Mild-mannered fish vendor (no, not janitor) turns out to be someone not to be trifled with, at least, don’t try to kidnap his wife for your sex-trafficking business. Unstoppable has great comedy and action scenes in it. It does top Taken, sorry but tis so (in my humble opinion). And with that, I bid you,
Aaaand that’s the Film Festival for another year. I did mean to get back to you before this, but what with work, late nights and a lurgy trying it’s best to lay me low since Thursday, well, you know.
Anyway, I was going to tell you about the Spanish films. Oh boy, to have these films in a section called Once Upon A Time In Spain sums them up, fantastic, surreal, dark tales (thankfully with comedy, very black, very odd comedy). I started with the daddy of them all, Acción mutante……
Wow. I had heard of it and picked up that The Last Circus was by the same director (a film I saw when it first showed at EIFF years ago that’s also in this retrospective), which was a good forewarning. Acción mutante was Alex de la Iglesia’s debut film and he went for it, bonkers, surreal, funny, grotesque, I think I need to see it again. In brief, a terrorist group (made up of disabled people) kidnap a wealthy heiress in the middle of her wedding, escape in their spaceship, crash land on a planet full of crazy sex-starved miners, set up a ransom drop in a bar; a lot of people die.
Bizarrely, the anti-hero of the piece, Ramon, really reminded me of Jason Statham (especially his reaction when the girl develops Stockholm Syndrome), which kinda added to the hilarity of it all. That and the fakest dead siamese twin head I’ve ever seen! (well, it’s the only one I’ve seen, but it makes Zaphod’s second head on the HHGTTG telly series look state of the art). Yes, I need to see it again.
Next Abracadabra, and joys, we got a Q&A with the director Pablo Berger afterward the screening. A woman’s boorish, thuggish husband is possessed by a ghost after taking part in a hypnotist act at a wedding reception. Antonio de la Torre (who was previously in The Last Circus) is excellent as the two men in one body with the ghost taking more and more control over it. His wife, with aid of her cousin, slowly figures out what is happening, but how to stop it? does she want to stop it? Since thinking about the wife’s actions, I’ve spotted a great solution that was overlooked, shan’t tell you what it is as it would give away too much. Mind, my solution wouldn’t have made for such a good ending.
My final Spanish adventure was Timecrimes on at a very late hour the evening the lurgy appeared; so did the plot get totally confusing at the end or was it me? No, I don’t reckon even the good Doctor could explain the last twenty minutes of Timecrimes, he’d just say it’s timey-wimey stuff. Simply, a man keeps going back through time, just within the same day, over and over and over again, in an attempt to sort things out – yeah, that was never gonna end well! Oh, and that man with all the plans is played by Karra Elejaide who appeared in Acción mutante; the director went on to make Colossal in 2016 with Anne Hathaway, I loved that film but seem to think that had unexplained wibbly bits too.
But did you actually enjoy the films, Brucie? Yes, I enjoyed Acción mutante and Abracadabra, erm, Timecrimes, I didn’t dislike it but if it was ever on telly I wouldn’t watch it. And the other two had great endings for me, I at least understood them!
But none of these have made my Top Three.
Next time, peeps.
I’ve decided I should record Gotham and fill you in on how my Film Festival is going so far. So far it’s going well, I say well, this evening’s film didn’t really do much for me sadly. Bulbul Can Sing from India is a story about a teenage schoolgirl in rural India; it certainly showed teenagers are teenagers the world over. I did feel for Bulbul and wanted some happiness for her but towards the film seem to meander to a slow stop and I have no idea how Bulbul was feeling or coping at the end. Shame because I wanted to like it more, having said that it was a enlightening insight into a country, culture and life so different from my own, not wasted time by any means.
Back to Thursday evening and my first foray was to see Happier Times, Grumpy from Finland. (A quick pause to hum the old Python tune😊) Ah, that’s done. So, grumpy old man makes his own coffin, self-centred son plans to put him in a home, pregnant granddaughter runs away from her life to hide at grandad’s. There’s plenty more too it, plenty humour, though I wondered about the subtitles at times. I get that it may be a toss up between how much of a literal or colloquial translation is given; a different manner of speech may not make sense when truly translated but neither will it do the original line justice if it’s altered too much. I don’t think the subtitler of this film wanted to commit either way (that or it wasn’t a great script anyway – or again, that may be how they like it in Finland?!) Enjoyable? Yeah.
Bodies at Rest was set in a Hong Kong morgue on a very wet Christmas Eve. I went into the film not remembering any of the blurb in the programme, so on seeing the dark wet night, skeleton staff, morgue, jumpiness, I thought it was going to be a zombie movie (all those cadavers in body bags, fat man being autopsied, I was so convinced one was going to move) turned out to be an action movie. An entertaining action movie, plenty fighting, good comic moments, reasonable plot and a sweet pair to root for against the baddies. Oh wow, just noticed that the director is Renny Harlin of Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and Cutthroat Island, among others (I am one of the few who loved Cutthroat Island).
Blimey Charlie, it’s rather late, better wrap it up. I shall tell you about my Spanish adventures next time, but I will mention How to Fake a War, an Irish/ Georgian production; rock star gets his PR to fake that a war is still ongoing so that his peace concert can look like it brought about peace between the warring nations. Yeah, some of the plot was really stretching things (like a lame Radio Four comedy) BUT the Georgian parts and the two female leads were great. Katherine Parkinson was just marvellous (as usual) and Lily Newmark was a joy as her character became more feisty and inventive. And there was a Q&A afterwards with the director Rudolph Herzog and, omg, Katherine Parkinson (looking gorgeous) both very delightful and interesting.
Okay, so if you’ve read previous posts you’ll know this film is just teetering on the edge of inclusion, but hey, I saw Katherine Parkinson 😆
I was too tongue-tied to speak to her, such a big fan, but being close enough to snap this pic was a thrill ❤
Actually it’ll be myself going to the bar between shows 😊 Yes, the full Fringe programme is out! An intense first check through over three days, eighty two cuttings, several G&Ts and some of teeth gnashing later, I have bought my first batch of tickets: twelve previews and the Sleeping Trees’ Christmas Special. Yay!
First preview night this year will be Nick Helm: Phoenix From The Flames, Ben Pope: Dancing Bear, and Alice Snedden: Absolute Monster. Nicely spaced over the evening and not too late to bed afterwards. Nick Helm, just because! Ben Pope, umm, is it the bear thing? I have seen previous good reviews for him (and who didn’t smirk on seeing the words pope and bear so close together?!). Alice Snedden I know nothing about apart from the blurb in the programme but she’s a kiwi and that’s enough in my book to warrant a preview ticket.
And on kiwis, I’m off to the Modern Maori Quartet’s Garage Party on the Thursday night, looking forward to seeing them again (that’s yours truly with three quarters of them last year)
I don’t have a ticket yet for the wonderful Sarah Kendall, but as her previews are £8 I’m holding off in the hope that Assembly will do the locals’ tickets for a fiver thing again (just up to the end of the first weekend I think). There’s another five or six shows in that particular queue; if Assembly don’t come through for me they’ll all go into my Half Price Hut hopefuls pile.
The Sleeping Trees: Christmas Special is just on for one night so I had to, had to, had to get a ticket! Well, actually I got two, the show has the Fringe Friends’ 241 offer on it, so at £15 for one ticket (yikes), it made sense to get the second ticket – I’ll sort out a chum to chum me later.
Oo, I’m starting to get a bit excited now. Only fifty days to go!
Yes, there’ll be bears and a fox and a pair of socks at the Fringe this year, yay! After a year off Goodbear are back with Dougal, no, not the dog, it’s the name of their new show. Oo, I might even make that a first night show, it’s always good to start well and I’m sure Mr Barnes and Mr Perryment will not disappoint me.
The Abbott and Costello of the sock world, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are back with Roll Up! I’ve been following their show development throughout the year on Facebook, bits have come and gone, and there’s plenty of video footage. I expect it honed to perfection by August!
And the Fox? Why, it’s my childhood hero Basil Brush! Apparently he sounds slightly different these days, but it was forty plus years ago when I was watching him on the telly. If only he’d come to the Fringe in 2015 – he could have met up with his old pal Rodney Bewes (this tablet wants to make him Rodney Beers! No, tablet demon, it’s Bewes). Mr Rodney was Basil’s side-kick in 1968, he’s the first one I can remember. After that there was Mr Derek, he stayed around a few years and was very good, but my favourite side-kick/straightman was Mr Roy, I loved it when he would grab Basil’s snout in exasperation to shut him up (while trying not to laugh).
Turns out Basil first appeared on telly as a support act to a magician before getting his big break with his own tv show. He was very influenced by Terry Thomas, he liked the charm and droll wit, and was always seen wearing a cravat (and comparing his clothes to now, he definitely had a better tailor back then, probably Saville Row). The stars were all queuing up to be on his show, Lulu, Cilla Black, Demis Roussos, to name a few, all eager to duet with him. Yes, Basil was so popular he even made a cameo appearance in The Goodies Rule-OK?
Indeed, I shall have to go see the Fox, why, I learnt all my wit, humour and sarcasm from him (and Dougal, yes, the dog, and Brian). I wonder, will he still talk about Dirty Gertie from Number Thirty?! Does he still have that laugh? He must still use his catchphrase. Until next time, my friends,
Yay! I have my film festival tickets, all thirteen. Oo, hope it won’t be unlucky, ummm. Only two are at the dreaded Vue and I’ll have to be sure to leave my ukulele class sharp to make one of my films (yes, I’ve just started ukulele lessons!) but apart from that all’s well.
From Finland to action in Hong Kong, to faking a war in Georgia, to singing school girls in India, a wedding in Australia (not that one), to more action in South Korea, a few trips in amongst to Spain, another tale from India, a surreal comedy from Ukraine before ending with a mystery in France. Phew!
And that’s takes me to the Saturday evening. On the final Sunday there’s the annual Best of the Fest, which is a selection of the best and most popular films of the festival for just £5 a ticket. So, if I spot something else, there’s always the chance it could be on then.
Ah, I’ve just remembered, umm, that unlucky thirteen. The Filmhouse seems to be having a few problems currently with heating and work being done to screen one….. No! I’m sure everything will be ticketyboo in time, yeah, I’m sure.