Have you seen Jojo Rabbit? I have.

Goodness, I have been remiss in my blogging, nearly two weeks, where does the time go?! Umm, well some went by in the cinema. I did go see the latest Jumanji film, loved it; not quite as much as the last one, but adding grumpy old blokes into the mix was fun and I thought the avatars were great portraying the various players. I do hope they stick at that one though – I suspect another outing would jump the shark.

I’ve also been to see Jojo Rabbit, three times, yeah, I like it, a lot. Taika Waititi has such vision and humanity, I love all his stuff (ok, maybe not Eagle vs Shark, that’s an oddball but everyone’s gotta start somewhere). There’s so much about this film that’s brilliant, I decided I should see it a third time to before sharing with you and how good was that idea? Wow, last night I picked up on the cinematography more, seeing bits I hadn’t noticed before. Well worth multiple viewings, my friends.

WARNING, A FEW SPOILERS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS FLUNG OUT WILLYNILLY.

Johannes Betzler is a good little german boy who wants to be the best Nazi he can be; the film starts with him and his best friend Yorki attending a Hitler youth camp, both ready to serve the Fuhrer. Oh dear, straight away he is spotted by the camp bullies as a target for their malevolence (from the moment I saw the older youth look down at him my heart sank), this film does not shirk away from showing how nasty and weak humans can be; when Jojo is ordered to kill a rabbit the other kids join in the “kill, kill” chant, some from the thrill, others would be protecting themselves, glad it wasn’t them, too scared to do otherwise. Poor Jojo runs off into the woods where he is comforted and advised by his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (a ten year old boy’s version of what he thinks Hitler is like, remember this) to “be the rabbit”. Much later towards the end of the film Jojo is out collecting wood and sees a rabbit, the shot lingers, the poignancy of the moment is beautiful.

A lot of the film’s humour comes from showing how scary but ridiculous things can be at the same time (one review I read called it an “absurdist dramedy” which sums it up well), Rebel Wilson’s Fraulein Rahm is a great example, we laugh at her but the reality of such a person, umm. Fraulein Rahm is pure Mel Brooks to me, I can’t be the only one who thought this. The “Heil Hilter” scene with the Gestapo officers is another Brooks/Python moment. Stephen Merchant’s Gestapo agent Deertz is absurd and sinister in equal measure, a jumped-up little man who relishes the fear he can instill.

Against these types we have Rosie Betzler, Jojo’s mother, a lioness protecting her cub. Scarlett Johansson is brilliant, as all her award nominations will attest. Rosie is smart, sassy, stylish, fearless and ever hopeful; she is distributing “Free Germany” messages and harbouring a Jewish girl, Elsa. Elsa is living behind the panelling in Jojo’s deceased sister’s bedroom (Elsa and Inge had been friends). Elsa has a calm, stoic quality and she isn’t afraid of a little boy spouting Nazi dogma. She sees through Jojo’s bravado and recognises it as naivity, when he angrily blusters,  “I like swastikas!” she retorts, “You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten year old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.”

Then we have Captain Klenzendorf (Capt K from here on in), a German soldier in charge of the Hilter Youth camp (embittered that he was taken off the front line after he lost an eye), later demoted to office duties after an incident at the Camp involving Jojo and a hand grenade. Capt K knows the war is all but over, he knows Germany won’t win, he admires Rosie, recognises her as a good person. The captain and his second in command turn up at Jojo’s house shortly after the Gestapo have arrived; part of my third visit was to watch this bit more closely. I surmise that either he knew that Rosie was in trouble or he recognised the Gestapo car parked outside. Either way he was trying to protect Jojo and showed us his true colours by aiding Jojo and Elsa in their deception.

Sam Rockwell is always great but Capt K is a great creation, it reminded me very much of Hugo Weaving’s Sergeant Farrar in The Dressmaker. The two are gay men with a flair for flamboyant design but have to hide in plain sight, only revealing more when they know it’s over; Farrer as resplendent in his matador’s outfit, Capt K in his “accessorized” uniform. In The Dressmaker Farrer implicates himself as the hashcake supplier to save Tilly; Capt K pulls the army jacket off Jojo and lashes out calling him a filthy Jew, the captain’s expression as they drag him away says it all.

Jojo Rabbit and his friend Yorki are brilliantly played Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates. Roman’s performance will move you to damp eyes at the very least, and Archie gets some of the best lines in the film. It struck me that the pair would be great as Ralph and Piggy if someone were to remake Lord of the Flies just now.

Anyways, I’ve rabbited on quite enough. There’s loads more I can say about his mum, Hitler, Jojo’s desperate lie to hold on to Elsa, the music, the dancing, bathing suits, amongst other things. It’s a beautiful, funny, tender, irreverent, life-affirming, thought-provoking film. If you haven’t already, go see it!!!

It also reminded me of my favourite German word.

Tschüss  💛

 

 

It’s cold, it’s dark, I’m lurgied – it’s Telly Time!

Hello there! I’m a little hoarse still, so have taken to medicating myself with black cherry mead. It’s rather good! There’s a chap who dresses up like a monk and sells all sorts of mead at a stall in the Grassmarket on Saturdays, it’s rather fun tasting all the varieties! The black cherry mead is reminiscent of a lovely soothing medicine from childhood.

So, hands up who watched Dracula on telly at New Year, wasn’t that fun?! Claes Bang was excellent, his performance and the wit made me think of Tom Ellis as Lucifer, but with less of the camp. And surely I wasn’t the only one who thought Sister Agatha was like Delenn from Babylon 5?? Admittedly, I was a little sceptical after recovering from the wtf ending of the second episode, Moffat & Gatiss up to their tricks again! But, I thoroughly enjoyed the final episode and Mark Gatiss’ cameo as Dracula’s lawyer (well, if you can’t write in a part for yourself!) was a bit of cheeky genius. Some folk probably won’t be happy with all the liberties taken with the story, fair enough, the padding out of the voyage of the Demeter made sense to me (except the moustache they stuck on Sacha Dhawan).

Talking about Sacha Dhawan, did you see the new Doctor Who? No moustache this time (thankfully – not his best look), he’s rather good in it, one of the better parts I thought. I hate to say it, but Doctor Who is not what it was anymore. No, it’s not Jodie Whittaker, I’m fine with her take on it, it’s the writing, just not as good as previously. Oh, I’ll no doubt still watch it, but not with enthusiasm.

Oh, but, how pleased was I with His Dark Materials? Very. I finally got round to watching it all as I wallowed lurgiefied in front of the fire. Dafne Keen is such a brilliant wee actress, she makes a perfect Lyra Belacqua, and Ruth Wilson, wow, stunning as Mrs Coulter, do not mess with this lady! Just so many wonderful actors perfectly cast in a beautifully realised TV adaptation, and yay, the dulcet tones of Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby (one of my favourite characters from the book). Let’s not forget the bear in the room, Iorek Byrnison, he was truly magnificent, wherever did they find such a talented bear 😆 The only casting I was slightly at odds with was James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, mind, I never really got the character in the book either.

Still lying in front of the fire, I caught the original Jumanji film starring Robin Williams on the telly, which I followed up with the second on dvd. Now I’m all set for the latest instalment in the cinema. Yes, I had to spend a lot of time in front of my fire to recover from my lurgy, but needs must when the devil drives!

Nitey nite!

 

Happy Not-Quite-New Year!

Hello, dear friends! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay wherever you are! My family Christmas was fine, thanks, until a nasty little coughing lurgy attached itself to me somewhere amidst all the farewell hugs in the last days before I journeyed back North.

I soldiered on, went back to work to earn my crust, ignoring how my whole body shuddered at each cough. Hogmanay was spent by the fireside with a hot toddy watching the telly til after the bells, well, there was no point going to bed earlier – those fireworks are very loud and they went on longer than ever this year!

New Year’s Day morn I rose with one mission, to climb the Seat That Belongs To Arthur, no lurgy was going to hold me back. And, by George, Andrew and Murgatroyd, it didn’t!! My adrenaline pumping, my dander up, I was gonna scale that Seat or die in the attempt. Dear reader, I nearly did! (thank goodness I had my emergency hipflask of Laphroaig to revive me)

Since then I’ve been confined to bed and fireside, but am starting to feel much better now, so I thought I’d drop you a line. Expect stuff soon on Dr Who, Dracula and Dark Materials, also some Tuck and squirrels’ nuts.

Yours truly on reaching the top…

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And after a reviving glug or three of Laphroaig…..

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Merry Christmas!

It’s just gone midnight, oo, it’s Christmas! I’m back in the family fold in dankest Yorkshire. If I survive in one piece, I have my homemade Christmas cake waiting for me back in Edinburgh, only a small one. Cousin Edgar announced a few weeks ago that he intended to make the family cake this year, great, well, not as great as mine! I was round at his yesterday, offering tips on how to do the icing. Tomorrow we get to try his attempt, mmmm! Better get my head down or Santa won’t come.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas wherever you are 💛

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Close call at The Jazz Bar

There’s a bar/music venue next door to Richer Sounds on Chambers Street, well, the door’s there, then lots of steps heading downwards. It’s been there as long as I can remember, though it’s probably gone through a few reincarnations since I last went in one time in the, ooo, late eighties, early nineties?! The Jazz Bar is it’s current moniker and it’s rather a fun place.

Last Saturday night had Logan’s Close in the midnight slot, so I thought I’d trot along. As I had time to kill I headed to the cinema to see Knives Out, I’d liked the look of the trailers and folk had said it was very good (I had some reservations as an all star cast does not by any means mean a good film!)  Daniel Craig got to have fun with an odd accent – not as odd as the one in Logan Lucky though. Knives Out is actually a fairly cracking film and doesn’t feel as long as it’s length, it’s keeps up a good pace through to the end.

Anyhoo, I meandered back and headed down into The Jazz Bar about quarter to twelve. A bit of red velvet round the place and I’d swear I’d walked on to some Lynchian-type movie set! Cool, hip, young things were bopping around, I was almost expecting to hear the word “Daddio” yep, there was some vibe going on. Then I noticed, near the entrance, a certain bass player tapping madly on his mobile, this went on a while, til almost midnight, hmmm, a whole set of bass solos,  nice!? Slowly over the next fifteen minutes or so, the rest of the band appeared (though it wasn’t til much later when I realised they were sans keyboards).

The Close made up for their tardiness with two long, cracking sets, including in the second Love me two times by the Doors, rather good, it was! Great to hear What d’I say as well, I’ve been playing the Bluefinger recording recently, that has a seriously lonnngg intro, lads, they probably have a good couple of minutes on you. You may have noticed in a previous post that I have a problem in gigs with tall guys getting in the way, but here there was a slight variation on this; whilst in rock/blues gigs the tall guys tend to be seriously broad too, these were all skinny, easier to peer round!

Indeed, the crowd were undulating, seemingly strange currents moving bodies around and about; I felt I was Sheldon Cooper playing at Spock, it was fascinating to watch, almost like….wow, was this the modern version of what we used to call a “cattle market”? I guess in this new “me too” environment it’s trickier for anyone to express any interest in another without risking any offence, so subtlety is to the fore. It makes a fun spectator sport, watching from the sidelines.

I have to mention the white t-shirt, I have no recollection of anything else the young lady had on, just her white t-shirt, which become pinker and pinker as the time went by. Even her back had two great splodges of red wine on it by late on, huh?

The Jazz Bar was fun, the people friendly; bar prices pricey but no more than you’d expect; entrance was £6 but that was anytime of the evening, I could have seen another two bands for the same amount had I gone in earlier. I like it, definitely a place to keep an eye on.

Toodle pip!

Strictly speaking, he should be oot!

Yes, this is a post about Strictly, all about Strictly, you’ve been warned! It’s just before the Sunday dance-off show. Who’ll be in the dance-off? Who won’t make it to next week’s Final? Can Chris Ramsey defy all the nay-sayers and go all the way?

Nah, I don’t reckon so. Even if his fans keep him out of the dance-off, I don’t think he’ll have enough voting for him in the Final. Or, maybe getting him to the Final would spur on his fans even more to get him the Glitterball. If Chris and Karen make it through, the fans of whoever goes out tonight will be fuming and probably determined to vote just so he won’t win. Let’s not forget the Anton factor – this would be his first ever Final in the show and there’s a lot of love for him out there. I think the voting masses will keep him and Emma out of the dance-off, which could lead to an even bigger groundswell in their favour. And the other two pairs? Both excellent, clearly the best dancers, usually I would want one of them to win, but this year? Hmmm.

I like Chris Ramsey, I liked that he was happily doing a thank you for his time on Strictly even before taking part in the quarterfinal dance-off last week, he reckoned his great run was at an end (I could have told him foxtrot v samba, my money would be on the foxtrot). I liked his quick comeback to a comment on his face during his rumba “I was thinking of that mistake in the viennese!” Yes, he comes across as a lovely chap, why have I never been to any of his fringe shows? Why?

On checking back through my old fringe programmes, I clearly missed the window! It maybe didn’t help that he was often next to Chris Martin in the programme. No, not that Chris Martin, the comedian Chris Martin, but, well, I have a bad aversion to that name so would have quickly turned the page. Looking back, Ramsey did have very odd hair styles, I could snapped a few to show you but, well, I like him, we’ve all had bad hairdos.

Chris Ramsey burst on to the Fringe in 2010 with Aggrophobic at the Pleasance Courtyard, performing every day from the first preview night, no middle week night off for this lad, right through to the final Monday night. He was back at the Courtyard again for full runs in 2011 and 2012, I say full but he only went up to the Sunday night. Obviously things were going awfully well for him because he’d made it by 2013, just three nights of Feeling Lucky at the Underbelly Bristo Square at £15 a pop! Chris returned again in 2014 and 2015 to big venues, Pleasance One and Assembly George Square Theatre respectively, each time in the latter half of the Fringe so no cheap previews and no 241 days.

Yes, I didn’t pick up on Mr Ramsey in his initial Pleasance runs and by 2013 he’d done a Noble and priced himself outside my range. Come back again, Chris, do something odd and fringey! Come back, you have my attention now, and my admiration for getting so far n Strictly. It’s the first time I’d be happy if the best dancers didn’t lift the glitterball!

 

 

 

The natives are revolting!

Finally, it’s over, November’s done for another year, yay! Christmas is already old hat in the shops and the ever-expanding Christmas Market is causing the usual ruckus with locals. Yes, not everyone loves a Christmas Market! The local evening paper’s Facebook following have been pouring out vitriol by the bucketload about the council and the Underbelly (aka the Plunderbelly!). Some paint the Underbelly as the evil villain and the council as dumb, some just hate the council as totally money-grabbing and/or inept (they have a point there).

Probably a lot of local papers have similar followers on Facebook, i.e., people who love to complain and will at very opportunity.  This brings me to the point of Facebook’s “Top Fan” status; I assume this is bestowed purely on the number of times a person has responded to posts, I wouldn’t really call the Edinburgh Evening News top responders fans! The latest news stories (or often non-stories) are often “Suggested” for me, and like a guilty pleasure I succumb to the Comments where I’ve found that the Top Fans are the top lambasters and rather entertaining to those of us who don’t take it seriously.

A few weeks ago everyone become construction experts as the city was shocked by a picture showing part of the lower scaffolding holding up the market. The scandal grew when it was reported that Underbelly were going ahead without planning permission, meaning that when the market collapsed (deemed inevitable by all these new experts) it wouldn’t be covered by insurance. Many were threatening never to set foot on such a dangerous deathtrap!

I grew bored of it all. Quite obviously the construction was fine, the Underbelly are now a very big, successful company, like they’d risk everything by cutting corners on something THAT important, seriously. The planning permission thing, well, that is dodgy and in my opinion is all about the council being happy to cut corners, being lazy and inept, and only being interested in looking after big businesses rather than the local population.

Will I set hoof on the Market of Doom? Sure I’ll go for a meander round one weekday evening, I’ll even take a few pics pics for you. Will I buy anything? Most likely not, I’ve seen all the same stalls every year and have already bought anything I liked a few years ago. The market, like the Fringe, is a victim of the premise BETTER=EXPANSION, but too many stalls and none will make enough money.  Also the fact is that many people go to the Christmas Market like it’s an art gallery – great to wander round looking at everything feeling all christmassy, maybe have a mulled wine, but not to actually buy anything.

The council claim that Edinburgh needs a Christmas Market to compete for tourists. Oh yeah, Edinburgh has nothing to offer tourists without it, actually the council probably do really believe that, they seem to be totally blind to what tourists love about Edinburgh (like the history, architecture, scottishness). Every city seems to have a Christmas Market these days, maybe I’ll pop down to Durham or York, beautiful old cities, spend an hour in the Christmas market, then enjoy the ambience of a grand old cathedral city.

Hope you have a great December wherever you may be!

Wuss not woose

So, Logan’s Close were great tonight, Mr Marah is growing a rather dubious moustache for Movember and I’m a woose for not wanting to go out in the rain, so I’ve been informed by a friend. I say friend, a Facebook friend, would a friend call you a woose? Is that even how it’s spelt? Ha, not it’s not, it’s wuss (ok, I goggled it).

I may have stayed in, I may have dozed in front of the fire, but I also, luckily, flicked through the telly channels and spotted The Frighteners was on the Horror Channel. A most excellent film by Peter Jackson starring Michael J. Fox, there’s also Jeffrey Combs as a manic FBI agent and Jake Busey (the spit of his dad) amid a great cast.

I remember seeing The Frighteners at the cinema when it first came out in the mid ’90s. I wanted to see it for Michael J Fox, the comedy element and it’s New Zealand connection (having been there just a few years before), Bud was more about it being a horror film by the chap who made Bad Taste and Braindead (he was a fan). We both loved it and raved about it, but it seemed to slip under the radar for most. If you enjoy a good comedy horror then do check The Frighteners out; it is by the chap whose next thing was The Lord of the Rings!

It’s late, I shall bid you a goodnight and leave you with a glimpse of Mr Marah’s Movember moustache. Oh, and the floating head of the new drummer 😆

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Wet does not suit mooses

It’s a miserable, wet day here in Edinburgh, typical November. It’s so soggy oot there that even a set by Logan’s Close in Stramash can’t tempt me to leave the moose cave! Maybe if  I’d had more notice about it my mind could have been set on going no matter what, but I just spotted it on the board as I squelched past at lunchtime.

I was quite surprised as Facebook usually informs me of such things (and then tells me again and again and again….) but not a peep. Had a quick ganders at the Close and Stramash’s pages – nothing! The Pianodrome at Leith Theatre would appear to be the Close’s next outing (Friday 6th December, annoyingly I’m otherwise engaged that evening) and the Stramash events bit mentions two bands on tonight but not the lads.

Hmmm, usually there’s three bands playing on a Saturday night. So I checked it with the Close and indeedily they are playing, just seen on Facebook that Stramash have finally mentioned them this afternoon. Is it, like, really uncool to do the 7pm slot? Like, Yeah, we’ll do it but let’s not mention it to anyone, okay?!

Of course, Strictly is on telly tonight too, oo, soon. A good reason to stay in by the fire. 

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I shall leave you with this marvellous pic of the lads. Hmmm, what’s going on in those heads……..

– That’s it! We’re taking them down!

– Uh oh, I’m gonna keep sitting quietly and hope no one notices me

– Shit! Better protect the family jewels!

– Aw, hell! Here we go again. Why do I let myself get into these situations?!

😆😆