Son of Saul: film Review
April 30, 2016, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, Uncategorized


This movie is not taken on lightly as an audience member.

To classify it as ‘entertainment’ would certainly be wrong because the subject matter is so uncompromisingly challenging.

I wanted to love it unreservedly for the bravery of its content but I’m afraid I was left a little cold.

The film is shot in square format (possibly 4:3) which is immediately disarming and unusual (the last time I saw this was in the veery different Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel) and it’s used effectively because it gives the viewer a voyeuristic look into the mayhem that is Dachau where the movie is set.  It also helps the director from a budgetary point of view because it eschews the need for expensive wide shots.

The opening scenes are astonishingly harrowing as we see the “pieces” of Jewish bodies essentially processed through the factory of death with disturbing, off screen, dog barks, German soldier orders and mechanical noise.  It’s brutal and affecting in the extreme.

In some ways this is what I grotesquely wanted from the movie.  I wanted to be horrified like no horror movie could achieve.

Forgive me for this but it didn’t happen.  Yes, the mood was grotesque thanks, in particular, to the extrordinary sound design, but on screen I felt it shirked its potential too much.

In the end this voyeurtistic cinematography ultimately becomes both tiresome and limiting.

The fundamental weakness of the movie, in my opinion, is in the storyline.  Frankly it’s not that credible and doesn’t stack up.  The main protagonist (Saul) discovers his (illegitimate?) son as a gas chamber survivor and smuggles him out of the situation to seek a Rabbi to give him a proper Jewish burial.

This leads to a sequernce of events that side stories with an undercover camp breakout in which he is also inexplicably involved.

Sorry, it’s not credible.

And Géza Röhrig as the lead didn’t really do it for me.

And so the early wonderment of the movie, it really is very moving, starts to erode and gradually descends into incredibility.

I love what this movie stands for.  I respect every iota of it.

I just didn’t think it was particularly good overall.

Hinterland by NVA review
March 23, 2016, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, gigs, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,


Tonight I was privileged to be in attendance at the opening event in Scotland’s Festival of Architecture.

Hinterland is a site-specific piece to end all site-specific pieces in that the site is essentially the star of the show.

It’s a 50 year old modernist Catholic seminary (St Peter’s) in the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross near Helenburgh – not the most accessible of venues and a 7 hour round trip to gain access to the totally sold out proceedings.

But it was worth every minute of the journey because this is a spectacular ruin despite its youth.


It’s widely regarded as a modernist building of global significance and yet only had a life span of 13 years before being abandoned in the wake of the falling off of seminarian numbers and possibly the fact that it was an intolerable living place in the winter.

In the following 37 years the elements (and a succession of extremely talented graffiti artists) have both ravaged and enhanced its brutal concrete beauty.

What remains is an almost wholly concrete bunker with a rain filled chapel filling the centre of the space with all four sides open totally exposed to Scotland’s weather.

We were treated to NVA’s conceptual piece that was built around a massive thurible swinging majestically in the rain sodden chapel spewing out incense, whilst a trumpet player and The St Salvators Chapel Choir from the University of St Andrews emoted a beautiful, sacred music inspired, tonal piece by composer Rory Boyle. This was complemented by a spectacular, but nonetheless subtle, interior and exterior lighting show.

The combination of canvas, sound and light was a unique and deeply compelling performance that I’ll never see the likes of again.

NVA are famous for these pieces having previously lit the Old Man of Storr and for their spectacular Speed of Light show on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in a recent Edinburgh Festival, plus other locations.

Bravo. Five stars.


Why I love Twitter
March 21, 2016, 10:51 am
Filed under: Arts, creativity, Uncategorized | Tags:


It took me a long time to ‘get’ Twitter.

More than half of its now 10 year life.

At first I didn’t see the point and then I didn’t understand how it worked really.

But now I love it.

I love that it brings audiences together at business events.

I love that it enables me to speak to ‘stars’ – musicians, artists (creative types) that would have previously been unattainable to me.

Only this week I conducted a conversation with Kathryn Joseph, the maker of the current Scottish Album of the Year, about the sound of her piano keys on her record..

It’s a leveller.

It’s free.

The stats are magnificent.

Love you darlin’.



High Rise: Review
March 19, 2016, 8:05 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, Uncategorized


Two thirds of the way, maybe more, into this movie the voice of Beth Gibbons cuts through the mush.

Beth Gibbons is gifted with the voice of an angel.

Her new song, with Portishead, that colossus from Bristol, is a cover of Abba’s SOS and it’s the first time we’ve heard her in many a year.

Eight, to be precise.

So when SOS is delivered, a la Human League’s Travelogue/Reproduction era, with those early doors synthesisers sparkling through the cinema speakers, it’s like God sent us a little gift.

It’s miraculous.  Beautiful.

The song stripped to its bones and crafted back to life outrageously.

The trouble is, it’s set in the midst of an utterly parlous movie.  A film so bereft of greatness that it is pearls within swine.

I love you Beth Gibbons.

But sorry Ben Wheatley – you fucked up.  Big style.

This movie is otherwise shite.


But the poster (the unofficial one) is great.

I suppose it’s not surprising because Jeremy Irons is in it.

The Copper top. Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells.
March 18, 2016, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, music, Scotland, Uncategorized

The best song from one of the best albums of 2014 and an amazing video to go with it.

<p><a href=”″>’The Copper Top’ by Bill Wells &amp; Aidan Moffat</a> from <a href=””>Chemikal Underground</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Truly this is extraordinary. RM Hubbert with Kathryn Joseph.
March 18, 2016, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, music, Scotland, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Both the song AND the video.

I URGE you to watch it.

<p><a href=”″>The Dog – RM Hubbert with Kathryn Joseph</a> from <a href=””>Chemikal Underground</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Couple of nice ones from Sam and Sonya’s wedding.
March 18, 2016, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, photography, Scotland, Uncategorized

sand s.jpg


sam and sonya.jpg


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