Kick ass. By name and by nature.


DO. NOT. MESS. OK?

Kick Ass starts from a promising point of view.

What if anyone could take to the streets and exact protection or retribution in the role commonly associated with superheroes?

Hmmm.  Nice.

What if most of these were kids?

Hmmm nicer.

What if some of them were ultra-tooled-up-mafia-hunting-vigilantes?

Hmmm.  Excellent.

That’s what you get with Kick Ass.  It’s a Smorgasbrod of superheroes from Dark Knight-esque Batman (in 11 year old girl’s clothes humming along to a Tarantino soundtrack) to a young Steve Martin in The Jerk-like loser role.

And that’s what makes this film ROCK.  It really does.  Its bad language is at times shriek out loud funny.  “Is that all you C**** have got?” yells 11 year old Hit Girl as she pumps lead into more brains than an episode of University Challenge.

“Take that you Mother F******.” When she gets angry.

Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) is the movie-stealing find of the decade.  She is gobsmackingly in your face as she DESTROYS hundreds of armed thugs (think O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill, or even better her teenage sidekick Gogo Yubari).

DO. NOT. MESS. OK?

It’s completely out of order, off the scale, outrageous and freakin’ hilarious.

Nicolas Cage is great as a scheming and revenging madman.  The scene where he practices firing pump action bullets into Hit Girl’s chest is unique and remarkable.

This is a great movie.  It sags a touch in the second act but opens and closes like a wounded rhino.

See.

At all costs.

Alice In wonderland


First off.  Go see the 2D version.  The 3D adds nothing.

Tim Burton is my favourite unpredictable director.  Sweeney Todd and The Nightmare Before Christmas are both works of genius, but most of the rest have deep flaws.  Alice in Wonderland is nearer the former than the latter (although my fellow viewers erred towards the latter).

Tim has thrown the kitchen sink at this one.  The effects (putting aside the 3D) are at times jaw dropping and some of his little vignettes are a delight (the Red Queen’s guilty frogs in particular).  And Mrs Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, can surely never have been better in a completely show-stealing role.  She is hilarious.

But it’s too long and it’s overloaded with ideas to the point that it begins to wash over you.

I like Johnny Depp in this, but my wife didn’t.  He’s mad.  But then, he plays a mad hatter.

7/10.

Every One by The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company


So much that excites in theatre and cinema is ultimately down to the writing and Mark Thomson has mounted (and brilliantly directed) a show that is, in parts, written with such skill and sophistication, and humour, that it takes the breath away.  However, at others it seems to go AWOL.

The first act of this new play, written by Jo Clifford, is very convincing, moving and utterly absorbing.  It is staged imaginatively and it’s all going in the right direction.  In act 2, however, the show seems to hit choppy creative waters as it steps up its ambition.  But it left me, and my wife, confused.

It’s about death.  Full frontal, no holds barred death.  The great universal.  If we all die let’s not pussyfoot about the issue, let’s just play it straight and that’s exactly how Clifford tackles the subject.

A 50 year old wife and mother suffers a massive stroke and dies soon thereafter.  How it affects her nearest and dearest is one aspect of the show but the greater one (and a less often visited side of the equation) is how it affects the cadaver.  And that makes for great theatre in act one as we build the back story (often hilariously) and reach the momento mori.

The cast is led by the peerless and stunning Kath Howden and ably supported by her “late” husband Jonathon Hackett and death himself in the guise of Liam Brennan.  But they get most of the great lines and all of the power plays.  Less satisfactory for me were the parts for the son and daughter and trickiest of all is the role in the play of the family matriarch, Howden’s mother, who is suffering from senility.  Her part takes us down the most confusing plot alleyways and do not, in my view, always help the narrative.  What I expected was to see Act 2 focus more on grief, instead it becomes more and more obtuse, before coming together in a satisfying climax.

The staging is magnificent.  Philip Pinsky, yet again, pops in with musical magic. ( The point of death being captured in a single electrifying piano chord; once in each act.) And the whole is, overall, very satisfying.  I just wish act 2 had a bit more narrative conviction and storytelling.

Should you go?  You bet.

Three really great advertising talks


Over the last year I have been in the priveleged position of being able to attract great creative speakers to Scotland thanks to STV’s engagement with the advertising creative community and my role in facilitating it.  My next speaker in April is Alvaro Sotomayor, Creative Director of Weiden and Kennedy, Amsterdam.  But before that I have attracted a great (no legendary) bunch of speakers including Mark Waites (Mother), Trevor Beattie (BMB) and Sir John Hegarty (BBH).  In addition Gerry Farrell was kind enough to speak for us in both Glasgow and Aberdeen about creating ideas.

Most of these talks are now on STV’s website and here are the links.  I urge you to watch them.

Mark Waites.

Gerry Farrell.

Sir John Hegarty.

Shutter Island


I don’t want to be cast asunder for words of herecy but is Martin Scorsese losing it?  I only ask because Shutter Island is a load of old claptrap. The reviews I’ve read seem to be unable to make their minds up about it and IMDB seems to have lost its marbles a little by awarding it 8.1 and a place in the coveted all time Top 250.  Surely not for long when common sense kicks in and people review it for what it is.  A mess.

The movie really is a tram smash of ideas, styles and plotting.  There’s a neat twist in it but the utterly gratuitous Dachau strand to the movie is verging on the disgraceful.  Parts of the film, certainly in the first half flashback to Di Caprio’s experiences as an American GI liberating the Dachau concentration camp would be, you’d have thought, central to the plot.  Not a bit of it.  This strand hangs about meaningfully but without meaning.  But that’s the issue with this whole movie.  It seems to want to inject meaning into a genre that really is just about entertainment.  In doing so it lifts ideas from The Shining (some brilliantly), Silence of the Lambs (unconvincingly) and Hitchcock (at his worst) but they go nowhere.  The cinematography flits about from the stunning, the scene in which DiCaprio and his young bride embrace during a fire is mesmerising, to the laughable – again DiCaprio is featured driving through a forest as a passenger with the Asylum’s head warder in front of a blue-screened background that could have been shot in 1954 (the year the movie is set) –  I suspect the latter was deliberate.  If so it was another misguided idea.

The grading leaps about from 21st century hi-def to 1950’s colour-noir and can’t seem to decide what it is that it wants to be.

Di Caprio is unconvincing, so too Rufallo and Sir Ben Kingsley?  Well, he is actually lampooning himself.  Awful, truly awful.

Do not waste your money on this rubbish.

4 out of 10

More recent listening


Two very different but very wonderful albums in their own ways are the new ones by Fourtet and Gil Scott Heron.  I advise the purchase of both.

Heron’s is largely a spoken word format but don’t let that put you off.  The music he uses is young, funky and really adds up to a quite a moving reflection on his life.  Fourtet’s is an electronic, almost dancey, certainly trancey masterpiece.  His best yet.

recent listening – Midlake


On Metacritic’s review page the Marmiteness of this album is clear to see with reviews ranging from 3/10 to 10/10.  I am firmly in the latter camp.  This album is utterly stunning and beautiful.  A real grower and although it lacks the jaw dropping stand out songs of Van Occupanther (esp Roscoe) it , as a whole, holds together perfectly.  Be warned, it is a different sound to Van Occupanther.; it feels like a folky trip to the 70’s.  That is no bad thing.  Trust me.