Later on, that same evening …..

Hello again! And it’s still Friday the 13th, so more happy returns of the day to George MacKay, the remarkable star of the Not So True History of the Kelly Gang. I found both him and Orlando Schwerdt, who plays the young Ned Kelly, very watchable and believable. The performance of Essie Davies as the family matriarch Ellen is really powerful and a tad scary, shades of Lady Macbeth (interesting as director Justin Kurzel made his own telling of Macbeth in 2015); but Nicholas Hoult as Constable Fitzpatrick quite mesmerised me, such a charm and ease, and cold hardness (hmm, it just struck me that Hoult could make a rather good Flashman).

Sergeant O’Neil bugged me as I couldn’t quite place the actor; then I reckoned it was just that he’s like a cross between Tom Hardy and Heath Ledger; much later I realised I’d seen him just a few weeks ago in The Gentlemen, Charlie Hunnam, doh. It was lovely to see Thomasin McKenzie again (Elsa in Jojo Rabbit) and Russell Crowe (another born in Wellington like Thomasin) gave a rather good performance as the bushranger Henry Power (I have to admit I’m not particularly fond of the man).  Also, a mention for Earl Cave (indeed, son of Nick) as the feral Dan Kelly, he was really good; and, as I checked out as soon as I got home, a deadringer for a young Malcolm Young on the cover picture of Highway to Hell!

The Not So True History of the Kelly Gang is an atmospheric,  on-edge film, it gripped me from beginning to end. Visually it is brilliant, the cinematography is awesome, but then Australia is kinda awesome for a backdrop. One thing, it’s not so much about the Kelly Gang, more the personal (fictionalised, remember) history of Ned Kelly with the Gang thrown in as part of it; it’s Ned against his father, against Sgt O’Neil, Henry Power, Constable Fitzpatrick. For me there were shades of Peaky Blinders not only in style but that, like Thomas Shelby, Ned is driven by family loyalty and responsibility (and lost in it too?).

If one was to watch THotKG on such as Netflix, it would make a great double bill with The Proposition or Lawless. Or you could precede it with Captain Fantastic from 2016, in which George MacKay plays the eldest son to Viggo Mortensen, great performances from both. If you prefer horror, there’s The Secret of Marrowbone, another stellar performance from George, I caught this at the EIFF in 2018; horror as in suspense not gore, and an ending that may cause some sniffles.

I expect a great future for George MacKay, I’ll be watching.

Toodle pip!

 

A Post of Two Films

This week I finally got around to seeing 1917 and True History of the Kelly Gang at the cinema; it’s interesting how long some films will stay showing in multiplexes these days while others still disappear after only a short window space. Mind, burying a film in one early afternoon slot after just one week isn’t, to my mind, a good way to encourage more folk to see it.

1917 is an epic film and worthy of all the awards and accolades it has received. I’ll admit I didn’t see it earlier because I didn’t think it would be my thing, but as a few friends have raved about it having seen it, I thought I’d give it a bash. So glad I did, though glad possibly seems to some an odd word about seeing the horrors of trench warfare. It is an incredible but very sobering film of humanity in extreme circumstances. I found myself noticing the cloth puttees (cloth strips wrapped around from ankle to calf to give support) and remembered the moving Echoes of Villers-Bretonneux at last year’s Fringe.

As well as friends’ acclaim, I decided to go see 1917 because the cast includes some of my favourite actors, and one George MacKay, who has popped up on my radar the last few years.  (OMG, just noticed on IMDb on my phone – it’s his birthday today! Happy Birthday, George!) George is also the reason I  went to see True History of the Kelly Gang, as he plays Ned Kelly (that and my predilection to things antipodean). Personally, I seriously enjoyed THoftKG, the cinematography, cast, performances, the style and feral feel (akin I felt to Peaky Blinders), I say personally as there are many who hate it for many reasons, I mean, really hate it. Why? Well……

In the film Ned Kelly is beardless, this alone has upset a lot of people! Maybe if I was Australian I’d be quite protective of one of the most iconic Aussie images too, but maybe, it was, possibly even subconsciously, a very visual way to show that this is a fiction NOT a factual re-telling? The film is based on a novel of the same name by Aussie writer Peter Carey; the novel won the Booker Prize in 2001. See that word novel? It’s a fiction, a story. Crikey, if you want to complain about films that are historically inaccurate (yes, I know, me included), British historians have waaay more to be upset about!

Another element that greatly offended many was the “cross-dressing” outlaws. Erm, either those offended haven’t actually seen the film or weren’t paying attention when they did. It’s clearly said that they wear the dresses to freak out people and wrong foot them. One critic wondered where they’d get so many dresses, well, dur, they are thieves! The premise of acting crazy to appear more dangerous and unpredictable is very sound (let’s not forget Klinger in Mash). On top of that the “homo-erotic” moments were too much for some!

I can guess at some of those “moments” that offended, nowadays we’re all so tuned in for spotting the “offensive” even when we ourselves take none. The long-held stares between Ned Kelly and Constable Fitzpatrick (Nicholas Hoult) are quite a thing, but hey, two alpha males and all that; then there’s Ned and Joe’s (Sean Keenan) relationship, apparently too close for some, oh, get over it! Two people of any sex can be close emotionally and physically without it being sexual (and if more folk were capable of realising this it would save a lot of misunderstandings and broken hearts down the way), and again, this is a fiction, why would you care either way?!

In recent times Lord of the Rings Frodo’s and Sam’s relationship has been put under the same skewed microscope. These relationships are not to be viewed under 21st century lens, and isn’t it a shame that close platonic same-sex friendships can’t be perceived as just that? By now some may be jumping to the conclusion that I’m being homophobic, that I’m arguing against these guys being allowed to be gay (really, you must be olympian-standard long jumpers). Yes, you who want to be offended, nay, demand to be offended, and often on behalf of someone else who couldn’t give a rat’s arse.

Really, behave! To each his or her own, I say. And here endeth a slightly ranty post. Next up, more on THoftKG and the birthday boy.

Toodle pip!

 

 

If I had a time machine…..

….. I’d go back to 8.30ish tonight and go back to the Caves to see Logan’s Close again, this time I’d go right to the front (I was about a third of the way back the first time), it’s  something I very rarely do, dunno why, but I want to see the gig again at the front. After that I’d go back again and trot up to the balcony bit, to witness the awesomeness that is Logan’s Close from a new angle.

I’m thinking after three times I could go again and just have a real good boogie at the back of the room. Hey, then a fourth time to get some cool pics, I’d know the shots I’d want and could anticipate them. Yeah, no pics tonight, the music was waaay too good to bother with the faff of photography. See, that’s why a time machine would be so useful, and as I don’t want one for any nefarious activities I think it’s fine.

How was the gig? Immense, just totally wow. Hence wanting the time machine. Plenty new stuff – why just a single, guys? Surely an EP (in solid form) of your new goodies? Oo, yeah, one of them, about the seventh number in (a long weird intro but with oo-ing) really made me think of Fur, a band the lads supported at Sneaky Pete’s last year. Another newbie had the sound of a Northern Soul floor-filler.

Listen To Your Mother was shifted to penultimate number and they finished with the reason we were all there, their new single Lost In You, available now on Spotify along with plenty other gems and diamonds from the Close.

That truly was the best I’ve seen them yet.

 

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…

20200101_122621

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

20200101_141459

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 💛

2019-12-22 21.49.47

 

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!