The end of the world as we know it??

These are strange times we are living in. I think I would much less surprised if our local extinct volcano came back to life now than I would have been a few months ago. This coronavirus thing is bad, I’ve seen less scary zombie films; and like in zombie films there’s the dumbass “cool” guys, all showing off flexing their muscles, reckoning they’re somehow immune to the dangers. Newsflash: You’re Not!!

Being a moose, I, like cats and dogs, can’t get Covid-19, but just to be on the safe side no more hugging until we can ALL hug together again. I did see a worrying post on Facebook the other day, it asked folk not to abandon their pets as they can’t spread coronavirus. What?! Please people, do not abandon your pets, it’s times like this the affection and solace of a animal companion is to be cherished. In a way I can understand the consuming, confusing fears some owners will feel; but I also know that some folk are callous, heartless bastards. Sad but true.

I’m almost surprised there’s been no apocalyptical, doomsday cults popping up out of the woodwork. Or is this just too real and immediate a situation for them to create fantasies from?

If you’re wondering about the picture, it’s by Peter Standen, originally from Surrey but he’s lived in Edinburgh for ages . For some years now he has been at the West End Craft Fair during the Fringe, showings his etchings and postcards. I bought this one just last year (I have three others bought in previous years along the same destruction of Edinburgh vein). When I saw it I actually initially laughed with delight; from when I first learnt that Edinburgh was situated on an old volcano (as in the picture, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat are two of it’s vents) there’s been a scary, fantastical What If? in my head and here it was in front of me. No, it’s not framed yet. I’m happy to wait for the perfect frame, I just haven’t seen it yet. No worries.

Stay safe, peeps, and as my father used to always say “Be good.”

 

 

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.

 

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…

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!