harry brown


Ah. So that's what the bloody state pension pays for.

The movie is set in The Elephant and Castle where I, as a 17 year old, went to a strip joint in a well dodgy pub during a visit to London. If I’d have seen this film beforehand I’d not have gone within a mile of the area, never mind into its seedy interior.

Apparently Michael Caine is from “The Elephant” so this was probably quite a nostalgic road trip for him. In the movie he plays a vigilante gradually becoming more and more determined to avenge the brutal murder of his old mate (fast on the heels of his wife’s death) at the hands of a bunch of local scum who terrorise the neighbourhood.

This is no ordinary vigilante movie and, although I haven’t seen it, it must bear considerable comparison to Grand Torino where another fine actor in his latter years dominates a movie.

The casting is wonderful and the thugs that terrify the local community are entirely believable. But from start to finish this is Caine’s movie. He plays his part with massive pathos. We feel deeply sorry for him as, first, his wife and, then, his only chum pass away leaving him quietly tormented and then incredibly angry as he learns that his mates death was mockingly filmed on a mobile phone to the accompaniment of raucous laughter.

The brutality of this movie is searing and really shocking at times.  The riot scene is entirely believable, which is difficult to achieve on a low budget but certainly hits the spot.  It plays an important central role in undermining the police and showing them off as the useless and uncaring force that director, Daniel Barber is keen to establish .

Two things make this movie a real stand out; Caine and the pacing of the action.

It starts brutally slowly and gradually winds up in pace and tension but never to Hollywood proportions.  Don’t forget that Caine is a pensioner! Amazingly it holds your belief throughout – not an inconsiderable achievement in a genre that tends to become overblown and ridiculous.

I expect Michael Caine will get a BAFTA nomination for this (at the very least). He might even win because his performance is stunning. I certainly hope so.

His best performance? Arguably.

A great film?  Definitely.

tight tussles


Awww. The lovely little deer. Wonder what they taste like?

I’ve played twice on The Queesn Course at Gleneagles so far this week.  Both times against my Glenmor neighbour and friend, David Low.  He’s been for lessons because we’ve had two right good scraps so far.  and he is unbeaten.  Yesterday I took it to the 18th before losing a ball on my drive.  Today though I came back from 3 down to sink a par putt on the 18th to half the match.

He was delighted!

My score improved by ten strokes in much better weather this morning and I shot a nett 69 which I was pretty pleased with.

But the storm clouds are gathering and the rest of the week looks a bit unsettled, certainly for golf.

We saw a Buzzard (I think) yesterday and two deer were right in front of us on a sodden, but still frosty, first fairway at 8.15 this morning.

Cheerio then


I am not, and never have been, a fan of George Burley.  The performance by Scotland against Wales on Saturday defied description in the first half.  At 3-0 down we gave away a stone wall penalty that wasn’t given and Marshall, the goalie, should have been sent off.  So that would have been 4-0 with ten men.  We’d no doubt have shut up shop at that point and sloped off with a four goal defeat.  As it was we lost to a bunch of schoolboys by three.

He had to go.  And go he has.

Our game is a mess.  I mean, let’s face it, Hibs are within a win of topping the league despite a makeshift team in parts and having sold 11 internationalists in five years.  How is that possible?  I’lll tell you how.  Because everyone else is dreadful.  And if you want proof of that look at Rangers’ and Celtic’s positions in their European groups.  Both bottom, neither with a pot washed.

Investment in Scottish football’s youth (outside of Easter Road) is lamentable and that’s why that old saying “There’s no easy games in international football” is true once again.  Scotland is an easy game.  Falkirk went out of Europe to a team from Leichtenstien.

Lichstentsien!

In the past, had a Scottish team drawn a team from Lichstentsien we’d have needed a calculator to work out the aggregate score.

So back to Burley.  Cheerio and good riddance I say.  We’ve had two clowns in charge (Burley and Vogts).  It seems remarkable that the rose between those two thorns was dour old Walter Smith who got the team playing again, reaching unheard of heights.

He leaves?  Splash, right back in the poo.
Smith is sitting in the Ibrox ejector seat so I suspect the SFA will make the predictable decision to send him a parachute.  Indeed this may all be part of a “plan”.

By the way.  Check out 60 Watt’s topical Scotsman.com ad in  The Scotsman.

the white ribbon


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This is the new film by Michael Haneke; enfant terrible of the art cinema world and not to everyone’s taste.  He doesn’t exactly make action movies.

But the movie did win the Palme d’or at Cannes this year so certainly the critics liked it.

It’s long and it moves at a slow but steady pace.  It’s black and white (often dimly lit) but beautifully realised. In fact at times the cinematography is so beautiful that it’s like a moving Ansell Adams.  It is variously graded throughout with the merest hint of a cream or a brown creeping in from time to time that creates some variety.  It’s mesmerising.

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This is the classic still from the movie. The kids all walking in a row like a phalanx of Nazi warlords approaching a concentration camp inspection. Creepy.

And it’s weird.  Really weird.

Apparently, and this is not blindingly obvious it is an allegorical take on the birth of fascism.

It’s yet another movie where the heavy hand of religion gets the blame for most evil.  The pastor of the remote German village that it is set in, in the lead up to the First World War, is a central character and is the sort we’ve seen many times before (The Magdalene Sisters being a good example).  Outwardly pious; inwardly, and to his family, a callous and viscious bastard.  Quick to blame, shame and moralise.  His presence throughout is powerful and visceral.

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The dawning of fascism is  subtly portrayed because no politics enter the film overtly at any point.  Class wars and sexual poilitics do though in what is clearly a male dominated culture and one where sexual transgression is rife (child abuse, domestic abuse, illicit masturbation and secret affairs are all featured).

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But it’s the children (spookily played by one and all in a sort of village of the damned way) that steal the film.  They appear to be forces of evil and if not (the plot is never explained and the strange occurrences left to hang – it is Haneke after all) they are certainly victims of it.

Haneke seems to be saying that the rise of fascism came out of this age of suppression and a sense of revenge – after all the destruction of the Jews is often taken as a form of revenge for their post WWI success.

Haneke makes films like only Haneke makes films.  Some people find them slow and boring.  I think he follows in the style of that French New Wave of the 60’s but with a better grip on audience manipulation.  He makes thought provoking masterpieces and this is another one.

Simply wonderful.

My best ever medal score


It’s been a long time coming.  But I finally posted a sub par score.  Six under par in fact and when I left the course I was lying second overall by one point, having missed a birdie putt from five feet on the 17th.

The fact is, I had a lesson three weeks ago and it corrected my grip which meant I drove better than ever before in my life.

But all credit to Chris Rough – one of my playing partners.  I was six ahead of him after four holes but he then shot nine (net) birdies in the remaining 14 holes to lead by one on 43 points.

\Scorecard