Movies, music and a little light rain

Last night I went to see Top Gun: Maverick, nothing unusual there, I am a regular cinema-goer; the thing is, I’ve never particularly liked Tom Cruise and I’ve never watched Top Gun all the way through (even on telly, the bits I’ve seen have never enticed me to sit and keep watching). I still don’t get the guy’s appeal, but Top Gun: Maverick was an enjoyable watch even if it was fairly predictable. Yes, yes, the flight scenes were great but that’s only as expected from a Tom Cruise movie.

I saw a much better film on Sunday afternoon, I was dragged along for company (why are some folk unable to go to the cinema on their own?!), certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it I as much as I did. The movie? Good Luck To You, Leo Grande a film about a retired widow who hires a sex worker so that she might finally experience all the things she missed out on through her very unfulfilling marriage. It helps that the widow is played by Emma Thompson, who once again turns in an amazing performance; and Daryl McCormack as Leo, he’s well grand, acts as fine as he looks (in his case I can see the appeal).

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is intelligent, funny and frank, hats off to Katy Brand for creating and writing such a great grown-up film. All the self-doubts, fears, overanalysing of Emma Thompson’s character will be well recognisable to many, myself included; oh, to have been more gungho and fearless through life. The denouement of the film was perfect and completely satisfying (he said with a wink), of course I say this as a moose, what older human males will make of it I really couldn’t say.

The cinema wasn’t my only outing on Sunday, in the evening I went along to La Belle Angele for the launch of Nicole Cassandra Smit‘s debut album Third In Line (that’s Nicole as in the one with the back up crew). Tonight the crew weren’t backing her, instead they were all out front in the audience. Wow, she sure gave a captivatingly awesome performance with a fine brass section on the side. The album will be released on 8th July, there’s already a single off it on Spotify. Yeah, I really should get on and book a ticket for her show at the Jazz Festival.

Let’s just go back one day further to Saturday, a fine afternoon – until I trotted along to Waverley Bridge to see if The Kennedy’s Project were playing. They were, with extras, and they kept playing through the shower, it went on for a good (or bad?) ten, fifteen minutes or so, but it was fairly light. Lucky for me the person behind put up a brolly which nicely sheltered me from much of the precipitation. The band retaliated against the weather with Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (I’ve put a clip of it on Instagram, you can indeed see the rain on it). The extras? Dara Watson trying to keep her harp relatively dry (yes, she from Whistlebinkies a few weeks back with Bart from TKP) and Jay Supa (frontman for Supa & Da Kryptonites).

Even after the sun came back out during Hound Dog, the rain refused to give up for a while, not that anyone was driven to seeking shelter elsewhere, most stayed to watch. Finally the band outplayed the rain and finished the set in glorious sunshine. Ah, the joys of a Scottish summer!

was it something I said, guys?

And I was looking forward to a midnight snack too

It’s Saturday evening, thought I’d probably get an early(ish) night after being out socialising for most of the day but Facebook tells me that Whistlebinkies will be serving up an exquisite snack late on tonight. So I thought I’d write a few lines before I head out….

I’ve made good use of my cinema unlimited pass this month with four films seen; a fifth too, at the Filmhouse, which only cost me a fiver as I went to see it on a Sunday. Let’s start with that one, Boiling Point; this was recommended to me by a friend, I hadn’t heard much about it and what I had heard didn’t sound like my thing, but my friend nudged it into the hmmm pile. Would I have bothered if it hadn’t been on for cheap? Not sure, the draw was Stephen Graham along with the intrigue of it being a one take film – I’m glad I saw it, even if I did feel pretty raw, like I’d been dragged over hot coals by the end of it. It’s ninety two minutes of building tensions during a busy evening shift in a restaurant kitchen, Stephen Graham is brilliant as a chef trying to keep it together while his life falls apart. The film becomes quite claustrophobic as it reaches its boiling point, and it occurs to me that watching it alone at home in a dark room could be a tad overwhelming for some (inducing traumatic flashbacks for restaurant workers). You may feel more kindly disposed to restaurant staff after seeing this!

And at the other end of the movie-going experience Spider-Man: No Way Home. Three Spider Men, Doctor Strange (I’m still at odds with Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent) and baddies a-plenty, it’s fun, snappy, full of action but for me, well, not as awesome as I was expecting. I may well see it again though before it disappears from the big screen, just because I can. I kinda feel the same way about The King’s Man; a great film, not as comically violent as the first two, almost somber at times in comparison, not as brilliant as I was expecting. Still, I reckon Matthew Vaughan should have a crack at a new version of Royal Flash, if anyone can make a good job of it, it’s him. Whilst I love the 1975 film directed by Richard Lester starring Malcolm McDowell, Flashman was played too much as a buffoon for comedy purposes. Flashman is a cad, a coward, a scoundrel, a rogue but not a buffoon. Give old Flashie another chance, I say!

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Benedict Cumberbatch being very British in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. Louis Wain was the eccentric artist famous for his pictures anthropomorphising cats. It’s really quite a poignant tale beautifully narrated by Olivia Colman; though Wain was extremely talented as an artist, he sadly lacked any business sense, was poor most of his life and had increasing mental health problems (he spent the last fifteen years of his life in psychiatric hospitals). A sweet, sad, compassionate film.

Late Wednesday evening I saw Nightmare Alley the latest Guillermo del Toro film. More like Desolation Alley for me, an uneasy, uncomfortable watch through the life of a rather unpleasant chap. Oh, visually the film is a treat but it’s rather cold and my lack of empathy with most of the characters didn’t help. Oh well.

Anyways,its nearly midnight, time to head out to Binkies for The Buccaneers. Well, they were rather good the other night at Stramash. I’ll leave you with a pic of the very talented Carl Marah doing his thing….

Aaaand the moose is soon home again, somewhat deflated. No buccaneering going on tonight! That’s the second time now (the first time was before Christmas but the band had to cancel ’cause of a case of Covid). Mind, I think Binkies need to get someone else to do their Facebook updates, yesterday afternoon they put up a post advertising the evening’s entertainment, as usual with pics of each band – one was the new pic of The Buccaneers, by elimination they were now called Size Queen?!? When I looked again later neither The Buccs nor Size Queen were playing, it was yet another band!

So ends another Saturday night. Toodle pip!

The clock is ticking…

….2021 is nearly over, just enough time for one more little drama – a fire came up from the bowels of the earth in Holyrood Road, just outside what was the Apple shop many, many years ago (back when Apple was a sweet little thing). Okay, maybe not from the bowels of the earth, just a few feet down, dramatic enough to close the road for five hours or so, anyway.

Meanwhile in Chez Bruce I was polishing off the rest of last night’s Chinese takeaway for brunch. My, it was good after a hard day travelling back up in rather dreich weather, don’t reckon I’ve ever have a duff dish from Silver Bowl on Leith Walk in, oo, thirty or so years. They do their own deliveries rather than allowing the delivery companies to pick up from them, I like that.

The evening’s entertainment? Well, after playing Hedwig and the Angry Inch up and down the country (on looking properly it’s the Stage Musical Cast CD not the film soundtrack – I have both) what else could I watch?! There was time to unpack, warm up the old cave and sort some drinks before the delivery guy buzzed up. OMG! It really is as good as I thought it was. But, woah, it’s now twenty years old! What? Yes, it came out in 2001 when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Dramatic Directing Award and the Dramatic Audience Award. Also, a quick check on Rotten Tomatoes shows 92% and 93% scores – so it’s not just me!

John Cameron Sinclair is incredible as Hedwig, a point really underlined when I watched the dvd extra Whether You Like It Or Not: The Story of Hedwig (you can find it on YouTube). This documentary tells how John Cameron Sinclair (director, writer, Hedwig) and Stephen Trask (music, Skszp) met and went on to develop the idea of Hedwig as a character in a stage musical and then the movie; it was some process, these guys were on a mission, definitely worth a watch especially if you’ve seen Hedwig, the movie or a stage production.

I saw the stage musical at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004 at Greenside Church on Royal Terrace. It was so, so good and just to carry on the party a little longer the band would do a few more numbers at the end for everyone to get and dance to, the likes of Suffragette City and The Jean Genie. Utterly awesome! There have been other productions of it on the Fringe since but I”ve not seen them, not sure they could measure up to the one I saw. Mind, I would have loved a chance to have seen Neil Patrick Harris or Michael C Hall when they played Hedwig, oh my!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – funny, uplifting, wickedly delicious, heartbreaking, a revelation. A great film for the end of a year ❤

Three movies and a couple of rats

As the evenings draw in, it can be too easy to accidentally cocoon oneself at home, so this week I’ve been catching up at the cinema again, three films seen so I’m already quids in for the month on my Unlimited card. This was the final week for Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch so I started with that on Tuesday evening……

The French Dispatch is a sumptuous, visually stunning film to wallow in, if you like Wes Anderson films, be warned this is a very, very Wes A film. As usual he has a large returning cast, does he write characters with people in mind, or think who he wants and writes for them? The French Dispatch is a magazine supplement produced in Ennui-sur-Blasé (a fictional town in France, Angoulême was used for the location shots) for an American newspaper; the film has a beginning, an ending and three feature articles in between, like I said, it’s very Wes. There’s a lot in there but personally I found that whilst it was sensory overload in many ways, it lacked something for me, the whole was less than the sum of the parts. Hmmm.

Next up was Venom: Let There Be Carnage and there was, indeed! Well, it is a Venom film so violence is part of the territory, accompanied by lots of fast quips and dark humour, of course. Again, a film to enjoy, but for me, not quite up to the first one. Tom Hardy is very watchable as always, and Woody Harrelson has a whale of a time! I was thinking back thirty years and more, to when he played Woody (the dopey bartender) in Cheers, who would ever thought that same guy would go on to do so much and win awards?! In Venom: Let There Be Carnage he plays locked up serial killer Cletus Kasady, who by managing to bite Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets a piece of the alien symbiote, which makes him even more psychotic and he becomes Carnage. I have a few niggles about plot holes and bits, but it is a very entertaining watch, just don’t think about it too much.

Then, last night I went to see Last Night In Soho, Edgar Wright’s latest film. Oo, he’s good. Great story, script, cinematography, atmosphere, soundtrack, and wow, the actors! Sixties iconic actors, Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham, former Dr Who Matt Smith and two of the best young female actors around, Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie (plus a number of other recognisable faces). This is a beautiful stylish film right from the first scene when modern day wannabe fashion designer Ellie (McKenzie) is dancing around, wearing a dress made from newspaper, to A World Without Love, in her room which is plastered with posters from the sixties. She’s soon heading to London and college; overwhelmed by student life (and a bitchy, shallow roommate), she moves into a room on Soho (oh, and we know she has some kind of spooky gift), and so it begins……

Everything is so brilliantly realised, the fashions, the clubs, Ellie sleep-watching Sandie’s world, slowly becoming most absorbed into it. The lightness at the start of the film gives way to the darkness, the seedy sordid side of the swinging sixties. Scenes like Sandie’s (Taylor-Joy) audition as she sings Downtown, and the dream dance sequence are mesmerising. I can’t actually say too much more that wouldn’t spoil the slow reveal of the film, oh, but Matt Smith as the sleazy charmer, Jack, is really excellent and quite unnervingly scary. There’s plenty to think about from watching this film, the attitudes and morals of the times, the victims. I think I need to see Last Night In Soho again, and seeing it a second time, knowing all the truths from the start could be quite fascinating.

This was Diana Rigg’s last film, in some ways a good film to finish with, a bookend to her start in The Avengers tv series as Emma Peel in a somewhat surreal swinging sixties. Rigg was also an early Bond girl (reader, she married him!), but filmwork didn’t entice her away from tv and theatre work, she was a very busy lady! Of course, many now know her as the magnificent Lady Olwen Tyrell from Game of Thrones, and some may remember that she appeared in Doctor Who during Matt Smith’s time in the tardis. I wonder if Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham shared any stories of their younger sixties selves with their young co-stars, bet they have some good ones!

No cinema tonight as The Scat Rats were playing Stramash, so still sticking with the sixties vibe! A number of Beatles covers amongst other songs from the sixties, and of course, a few of their own. Carl waxed lyrical about their old haunt, Babylon Cafe, which was sadly a victim of covid, before breaking into In The Morning. I’ve put a clip of this ode to a fried breakfast on my Facebook (that’s Bruce T Moose), the ending is a running joke of who can hold the note longest. Oo yeah, exciting, there was a brand spanking new song too!! It promises to be another cracker from the lads.

Crikey its late. Sweet dreams, mes amis!

A marvel, a spy and a little bit of voodoo

I finally got round to seeing Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings on Wednesday night – the last evening showing of it at Cineworld. It’s only been showing for about, oo, five or six weeks! I actually knew nothing about it, hadn’t seen any adverts or previews, I hadn’t even noticed it was a Marvel film, yeah! How? I know! Just the poster and the title pulled me in and I’m so glad I went.

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is not a brilliant film, but it is really enjoyable (great fight scenes) and, as I had only just found out it’s part of the Marvel-verse, a tad befuddling when Trevor the Scouser turned up in it. If you’re now wondering who Trevor the Scouser is, you either haven’t seen all the Marvel films or you weren’t paying attention when you did. I recognised him straightaway and my brain was whirring trying to remember the details, thankfully he gave a long flashback exposition to fill all the blanks. There’s a number of long exposition speeches with accompanying flashback scenes in this film, possibly annoying to some; the lead-ups to them are a tad trite, but then I came to the conclusion that it was intended that way and went with it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, it is quite unusual these days to see a mainstream film without being aware of any of the plotline beforehand. I wish now I’d seen it earlier so I could have gone back and watched it again; and how good to see Michelle Yeoh on screen, such serenity! The actress playing Shang-Chi’s friend Katy was bugging me as she seemed familiar but, no, it wouldn’t come. Turns out it was her voice I knew, she played Sisu in Raya And The Last Dragon that I saw back in May, she is Awkwafina an American actor and rapper and I reckon she’d be a great laugh on a night out!

The following evening saw me back in the cinema for the latest Bond movie, No Time To Die. Well, its a Bond movie with all that entails – great villains played by class actors (Rami Malik and Christoph Waltz), beautiful ladies (I particularly liked Paloma played by Ana de Armas), the team back in Blighty (including of course Miss Moneypenny played by, the more beautiful than ever, Naomie Harris), a great theme song and musical score with an added bonus of We Have All The Time In The World woven through it. Oh, and a plotline that necessitates plenty of international travels, of course! I liked it, one of the better recent Bond movies for me, though I’m not sure about where the franchise will go next!?

Last night (yes! out three nights in a row!) I was in the Voodoo Rooms to see The Eclectic Electric Ukulele Blues Band, I was intrigued by the name and had to check them out. The fact that Willie Dug and the Cosmic Gents were the Support may have nudged my decision to go. Just as well the support were excellent, ’cause the EEUBB were rather uninspiring. Oh, the main guy had some fancy electric ukes but they were just an average pub blues band, nothing to write home about! If they didn’t have the word Ukulele in the name it would hardly have registered that two of the band were playing ukes, but I guess it helps intrigue the punters in, like it did me.

A lovely surprise bonus to the support band was one Carl Marah! Didn’t see that one coming! I hope he didn’t feel too comfy there, to lose a drummer or bass player is one thing but …….. Nah, he wouldn’t. But he would promise, and I quote, “a big ol’ bauble banger Xmas bonanza”, yay! A Logan’s Close Yuletide Special, can’t wait!

I shall leave you with pics (taken with my new phone, I’m sorry!) of The Scat Rats doing their thang…….

Bags, uke, that’s me ready!

Just time for a quick catch up before I head off for a wee while, bags are packed, ukulele by the door so I won’t forget it. Yay, I did get to see Free Guy again! Still great on second watch. I also got to see the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, like wow, WOW!! Jennifer Hudson is sooo good. The film ended at the time when she recorded the live album Amazing Grace, the recording of which was filmed, a film I saw two years ago in the Filmhouse, sweet!

This week I luckily spotted that The Green Knight was on at the Filmhouse, a “last chance to see” Facebook post . It’s a re-telling of Gawain and the Green Knight, in this version Gawain is played by Dev Patel (the reason I wanted to see it, he’s getting better and better as he ages). Sumptuous and kinda arty, lots to enjoy, but I did feel it lacked a bit towards the end.

Stramash have very kindly released a lot of gig dates for October and November, so there’s Jed Potts, the Kennedy’s Project and Willie Dug to look forward to, and yay, the Scat Rats (aka Messrs Marah and Rough) will be back, and, double yay, not until after I’m back in toun. Ah, thinking of the Close, I recently went on a coastal meander and popped by Dunbar, look what I found, yay!

Just a jog away from Dunbar is Belhaven Bay, plenty sand, sea and surf. Oh yeah, the surf was up! A great place just to idle a while, shame I didn’t discover it midsummer, ah well. Beach Boys songs swam around in my head as I strolled across the sand; it struck me that it could well have been the Beach Boys sound that heavily influenced the Scat Rats if they’d spent more time on the beach…..

Toodle pip!

That turned out pretty damn fine!

Last night wasn’t a good Friday night, it was a great Friday night! Oh yeah, I finally got round to seeing Free Guy and I think I may have to go see it again on the big screen before it disappears, I ❤ Ryan Reynolds. There’s a lot that I love about this movie – RR, Jodie Comer, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, great choices of music for some of the big scenes (especially the scene using Mama Cass’s Make Your Own Kind of Music), it is sooo visually stunning, a wickedly funny, witty script and, for me, great ideas and layers all delivered with a weirdly gentle innocence and charm.

I didn’t actually know much at all about Free Guy but it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it so that’s enough for me. I had heard stuff but had forgotten the details, like that Jodie Comer is in it. When Molotov Girl first appeared she made me think of Danni Minogue, then when I saw Millie, oh yay, it’s Villanelle, ah, yes, when you need someone who can do accents! The opening sequence with all the “sunglasses guy” stuff was such fun, and Channing Tatum too! Something of the premise came back to me, Free City is an online open-world video game and Guy is a background character who somehow breaks from his programming, game world and real world interactions ensue …. As I’m not a gamer at all I floundered a little, er, NPC? A non-player character? Ah, a background character within the game, yeah, I don’t play these games at all.

So, Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller, living a regular life, doing the same things every day, happens to spot the girl of his dreams – not part of his daily routine, it triggers something and he starts being more than he should be, he does the unexpected, he takes a pair of sunglasses off a bank robber, wow, the sunglasses let him see things he didn’t know were there (bit of an unwitting Matrix blue pill moment there). What Guy doesn’t understand is that the glasses are showing him what a game player sees, with them on the NPC becomes a game player and he moves away more from his programming, which causes Millie and everyone in the real world to think he’s a player/hacker. Guy finds Molotov Girl but she tells him he must level up to above 100 if he wants to speak to her again and shows him how to click the side of the sunglasses to see his level. He doesn’t really understand it but he really wants to see her again, how to level up? Take guns and money, she tells him, but he’s a good guy, and so begins the ascent of Blue Shirt Guy.

No more plot for you, just that Guy helps Molotov Girl in his world to help Millie in the real world fight the bad guy Antwan, played deliciously by Taika Waititi. Guy’s fight to be free to do whatever he wanted made me think of Wreck-It Ralph (another great film imo). There’s plenty in this film that sparks thoughts about other films, oo, a fresh one, remember Chris Hemsworth’s dancing in Ghostbusters and Bad Times At The El Royale? Channing’s moves in this made me think of how good he was in the tap-dancing sequence in Hail, Caesar! We need a film with the two of them in a dance-off – Mr Waititi, if you’re not busy?!

Yes, I need to see it again, there’s also Respect to see this week before it finishes, possibly Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings too. Thursday sees the new Bond film oot, that looked pretty good on the trailer. Oh yeah, I saw a trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage too, really looking forward to that!

You may be thinking that was my Friday night done, oh no, I hoofed it quickly down to Stramash to catch Willie Dug and his band (not the Cosmic Gents as seen at the Voodoo Rooms a couple of weeks ago). This was Willie on guitar and vocals with a drummer and a guy on harmonica, nothing more needed to make sweet sounds! Willie Dug is one magnificent hound, oozing style and charisma, shades of a young Malcolm McDowell, especially when he stripped off his shirt and put on a faux leopard fur jacket that was lying on a barrel just in front of the stage.

The Stramash crowd were really up for dancing, the band delivered and then some. For me the best of the bunch were Come Together (I notice it’s become a popular one to cover since the lockdowns), Roadhouse Blues and the final, one more song, Not Fade Away, ah, a song with many fine memories for me. The minimalness of the band recalled Bluefinger for me, Not Fade Away was a fitting number to head out into the night air on. To paraphrase from Free Guy.….

I may not be real, but for a couple of hours there I felt pretty alive

Three films and a lot of haar

What a cracking weekend it’s been! I don’t think the weather gods realised it was a bank holiday weekend, way too sunny! Well, sunny once the sun burnt off the haar each day. Sunday morning I enjoyed a ramble up into a haar swathed park, no sign of Arthur’s Seat at the top, total white, er, grey out. It was almost noon before the Seat was visible and the sky blue, even then, looking down at Portobello the haar was still clinging to the coastline.

Joys! The cinemas are open again. Just as well I had a ganders last Wednesday evening, Judas and the Black Messiah was showing just one more day, phew, ticket booked. Two more films caught my attention, Raya and the Last Dragon and Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, tickets booked, god, I love having an Unlimited pass. So, just like the old normal I had to trot quite smartly to get to the cinema on time on Thursday afternoon! Even with the social distancing of empty rows and seats, as I often go when films have been on a while it looked almost normal to me – apart from all the masks.

Judas and the Black Messiah is a stunning film, so glad I caught it. Daniel Kaluuya was brilliant, now I see why he received so many nominations and won many awards for his portrayal of Fred Hampton. Lakeith Stanfield as Bill O’Neal had me constantly wondering how he’d play the situations O’Neal found himself in; the use of the real Bill O’Neal in interview and other historical from the time really brought up how real this all actual was. I found it a rivetting and chilling film, so much to take in and digest.

Saturday morning I was back in for Raya and the Last Dragon, a very different movie! I actually knew very little about it but hey, it’s Disney and there’s a dragon. There’s also a strange creature called Tuk Tuk, a giant armadilloey type thing, useful as a mode of transport for our heroine Raya and also her cute animal sidekick (a Disney staple); and in a quick googling sess, I discovered he’s voiced by the excellent Alan Tudyk! That guy has done so much stuff, looks like he’s Disney’s new version of Pixar’s John Ratzenberger, just more animal noises! The dragon’s voice wasn’t what I expected but my initial surprise was soon forgotten as I sat back and enjoyed the visuals and some fairly quick, funny dialogue. There were a few gripes but overall it was a fine film; the whole “trust” thing running through it may really confuse some kids, parents may find themselves in some tricky discussions afterwards.

Saturday night and back again for Demon Slayer: Mugen Train and this time I knew nothing, except that it’s anime and according to a couple of reviews it wouldn’t be too tricky to pick up without seeing the previous tv series. They were right, I just went with it, the best way with Japanese films in general! Another visual treat, very different for a newcomer to watch. I’d gone to a subtitled showing as dubbed versions are generally not as good in my opinion. Would I go see more anime films? Yeah, probably.

By the time I was walking home from the cinema the pubs were shut obviously not long shut as there were plenty of folk about, many steaming drunk! The Grassmarket was seeming more like it’s old self, only, it seemed to me there were more streams of piss running from doorway corners, like even more men than would be usual had forgotten the art of taking a piss before leaving the pub (well, it has been a while). I was surprised then when The Three Sisters was still open, and with a queue waiting to get in! Brewdog next door was closed and all locked up for the night.

Oo, I just noticed the time, and there was me planning to have an early night! I’ll tell you the latest on the Fringe next time. I shall leave you with a couple of pics of the Meadows on Sunday morning. Toodle pip!

At ten on Sunday morning there weren’t many about except sporty types.
The Meadows with the rooftops of Marchmont peeping through the trees.

Y’know, 2020 wasn’t all bad….

Saw yet another strand of tinsel as I downward dogged this morning, that’ll be the twelfth since my last blog post! It lay there glinting mockingly at me, bold as brass it was, well not any more. Oh, and we didn’t get the promised snow, so I closed the curtain again and went back to bed. There has been more snow outside of Edinburgh but nothing in the city, just freezing temperatures.

Listening to the news, it’s sounding like we’ll be lucky if we can do anything at Easter nevermind Mothering Sunday here in the UK. That’ll be another of my annual trips to the old country cancelled, I’ll have forgotten the way down soon! Yeah, 2021 isn’t looking that much better than 2020 so far. How depressing! So, to brighten the mood I decided to look back through 2020 and find my highlights, surely there were some?!

First off, Esther – our wee beastie o’the loch. I reckon she’ll be a highlight for a few Edinburgh folks grateful for the distraction. It’s been so good to watch this beautiful wild creature so close by. Hopefully she’ll be okay after all the recent weather, Dunsapie Loch has been frozen over a fair bit this last month. From otters to rabbits….

Way back last January I went to Jojo Rabbit three times at the cinema. Those were days, open cinemas, me with my unlimited card going to see two films in one evening, Nando’s chicken wings in between (will Cineworld reopen at all now?). Jojo Rabbit is such an outstanding film and a proper cinema film too. God, I miss going to the cinema, that sense of occasion (as a young moose a trip to the cinema was an event, that feeling has never quite left). The whole cast of Jojo were brilliant and Taika Waititi cemented his place as my favourite director and all-round amazing film person.

Thinking about it, I guess all that time spent in Holyrood Park, walking around, lying in sunny nooks reading, that was pretty special. We did have long spells of great weather in 2020, I did most of my reading outdoors. Highlights bookwise, finally reading Errol Flynn’s autobiography (an amazing glimpse at another time and place) and John Robertson’s The Little Town of Marrowville, I expected it to be good and darkly humorous but wow, it exceeded all my expectations! Yes it’s a kid’s book, but it’s a damn fine one.

Not Eurovision 2020 was a day of Eurovision treats for the fans on radio and tv. In the evening Graham Norton guided us through the main Not Eurovision Show, which just felt like one big love-in around the world (as Australia is now in it, yes I make that around the world). I thoroughly enjoyed a day of reminiscing, music, dancing, oh, and prosecco with pear juice.

2020, a shorter but sweetest year yet for Strictly Come Dancing. Bill Bailey with Oti was a worthy winner, confounding the initial assumptions of so many viewers with his capacity to learn and ability to dance. Their routine to Rapper’s Delight will go down in Strictly history. I learnt you could video chat on WhatsApp in November – yeah, Strictly brings out that need to share!

Fringey goodness was found online. April and May saw the magnificent Will Seaward online re-telling his Spooky Ghost Stories sometimes with live accompaniment courtesy of Jam With Humans. Yes, it was back in the early lockdown days, things went a bit wonky, not always online just somewhere in the vicinity, but no matter, it was great to see the maestro weaving his wondrous tales again.

The nearing of the NonFringe saw me checking to see what the Sleeping Trees were up to, if anything. Oh bugger! I’d missed getting to see MAFIA? by about ten days! Joys, I did get see SCI-FI? again. So is there a recording of WESTERN? somewhere? I’d love to see that again. Pretty please?! I could read MAFIA? by purchasing a copy the recently published Sleeping Trees at The Movies – Blueprints for Devised Comedy, but it just wouldn’t be the same as seeing it. But the best was yet to come – a Christmas Living Room Adventure! Oh yay, The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington was the highlight of my Christmas, yes, even above my Christmas Lunch Roll! That first sighting of the great white whale will stay with me forever.

Anything else, Brucie? Well, there was the small matter of Logan’s Close at the Caves for the release of their latest opus Lost In You at the end of February, like, a truly epic night! Best I’ve seen them yet; there was a gig planned for the end of this month but it has, of course, been cancelled. Lead guitarist and singer Carl Marah took to singing Bob Dylan to his washing machine in April, strange behaviour but captivatingly beautiful.

My top highlight of 2020? The Close’s Lockdown Cover of Fantastic Man by William Onyeabor. Having since put the original on one of my Spotify playlists, I love what the lads did with it even more; they’ve taken the best parts, condensed and Closified it into a summer classic of their own. Their video is rather fine too, and usually if I leave YouTube running afterwards it goes to a film of roller dancers skating to the original with some seriously cool moves (yes, I’ve watched both plenty of times after I’ve done online exercises – hey, its good cool down music).

So, wow, 2020 wasn’t all bad, and I did two seasons of Preacher and three of Lucifer, plus my uke playing is slowly coming on. Dear reader, I hope you too can look back and recognise your own highlights of 2020, to paraphrase Aidan Goatley, What made you happy in 2020?

Toodle pip!

Is it just me?

I’ve never seen June go so fast before! Is she speeding up or is Corona slowing time down so June just looks to be sprinting away? It’s Friday evening again, last Sunday I was brimming with ideas and good intentions for this week – I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before Sunday bedtime. Umm, can I blame my lack of impetus (aka bone idleness) on the current situation or am I actually this crap but just never noticed before?

Of course, any other year the full Fringe programme would have come out in the last week or so, I should be poring over it page by page, marking up potentials, big squiggles in the top outer corner of any page of note. Any other year I’d be looking forward to the Film Festival imminently starting, if it hadn’t already. Oo, he says after a quick dive into his files, ten years ago today I saw two films in Filmhouse One, The People vs George Lucas (primarily Bud’s choice as a big Star Wars fan), then just time for a quick pee before going back in for Monsters. 

Yeah, having a big Star Wars fan for a friend, I was well aware that many fans were feeling rather disillusioned by Mr Lucas (that was more than a few nights in the pub I can tell you!) Luckily for me, it was a smart, entertaining documentary (so it was a tad one-sided but these were passionate long time fans), enjoyable and thought-provoking (more pub chat!) even for the ambivalent.

Quick aside, Buffy has just come on the telly – it’s the first appearance of Spike and Drusilla!! Oh yay! And on that note….

Monsters but this time of the sci-fi genre. The film is obviously low budget but just how low was not appreciated until the Q&A afterwards, one of the best Q&As I’ve ever been at. Gareth Edwards, the director, writer, cinematographer, production designer and visual effects guy, came across really well with plenty great stories about the making of it; it was filmed in just three weeks in some pretty scary places, often without permission, using any locals hanging around who were willing to be extras. Edwards then spent months in his bedroom on his computer creating all the visual effects using just Adobe software. It all paid off – in 2011 Gareth Edwards was announced as the director of the new Godzilla film.

I saw ten films at the EIFF in 2010, Boy by Taika Waititi being my favourite followed by Monsters, then in third place Evil – in the Time of Heroes a Greek zombie horror film (yup, really!). One of my ticket stubs bears a film title that I have no recollection of whatsoever, nope, nothing.

And back to 2020, where the EIFF and Curzon Home Cinema have come up with #EdFilmFestAtHome, an online festival of cinema. It will run from 24th June until 5th July, there’ll be a new film each day (which then shows for between two and twelve days). I have had a quick look at this year’s selection but nothing stands out on first glance. Mind you, in a full year I may not find many films I wish to see, so I wasn’t really expecting my types to make the cut in such a slimmed down affair. I’m glad that something has been worked out, there’s even going to be live online Q&A after at least one of the films! Modern technology, eh!

Night all!