Great night at the cinema 1920’s style

To celebrate Halloween Jeana and I went to see the 1920’s original production of Jeckyl and Hyde made by Paramount and starring John Barrymore.

It showed at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall foer one night only and was accompanied by the collosal Usher Hall organ.

To be honest it was hilarious in places and certainly bnot scary but some nice special effects, mainly achieved through double exposure.  Here’s a few stills from the movie that I managed to capture on my G11.  It was kinda dark as you can imagine so they could be better but you’ll get the general idea.

Screen with organ behind

They didn't exactly hold back on the subtitling

Barrymore as Jeckyl

Jeckyl falling into the hands of temptation

The experiment

Hyde pounces

I think I would like to take part in this

Zombieism is an art form.

Let’s face it.  Making a zombie movie is so easy on the face of it that you’d die laughing.  Until you try. Then you might DIE.

There is some utter zombie shit out there and the genre needs protection as much as it needs celebration.

So, this initiative, to live the (un)life must be applauded, albeit with hands that break up on contact.

Be there or be alive.

The Social Network

It’s not hard to imagine that a biopic of the creation of facebook – a project that isn’t even complete as its rise to world domination continues unabated – could be monumentally bad.  For a start all of the characters in the movie are real, alive and known litigation junkies.  In fact the structure of the film is built around litigation.

What’s more, it’s set in geek land, and it’s populated by America’s landed money generation; a class of kids who are not exactly imbued with likeability.  Add to that the layer of egotism of successful entrepreneurs, that has to be applied if this is going to be a true reflection of the situation.  And early on the movie dwells on a scene where the two key characters get off on the creation of an algorithm in a Harvard dorm and we’re in a place that has to be bad; does it not?

Well actually, no it doesn’t, in fact I can’t recall a biopic with such historical realism that betters this magnificent creation.

David Fincher is a director of some impact.  Fight Club and se7en, to name but two of his grisliest creations, typically hit you hard from the off and keep on hitting.  Not the sort of director you’d expect to be behind a successful exploration of coding in the Ivy League’s finest Halls of residence.  But what Fincher does is dial back the excess and zone in on a cast of young people that somehow creates a magnificent and fully fleshed ensemble whilst giving Jesse Eissenberg the star vehicle that at its core it has to be.  His portrayal of Mark Zuckenberg has to be seen to be believed.  And believe me you’ll believe it. This is direction and acting of the highest calibre.

The establishing scene of Eissenberg in a College Union bar being dumped by his lifetime love Erica Albright (played gently and beautifully by Rooney Mara) is jaw-droppingly good for three reasons; the camera work (subtle and gorgeous throughout especially the tilt shift effect later in the movie in England’s Henley), the dialogue (well what did you expect, Aaron Sorkin wrote the script) and the acting.  And that’s it.  We’re off and running for nearly two hours where the action never stops for a second and yet,; not a swear word is heard, no fights, no sex, no nudity, no special effects – so how can this be an action movie?

And yet it is, it’s hilarious (but there are no gags, no slapstick) and it makes you think from start to finish.  Because what Fincher and Sorkin have achieved is a morality tale for our time; not with the big crass in-your-faceness that Wall Street revels in, but in the intellectual ethics of Intellectual Property (IP).  Wherever you look in the movie you’re challenged to think who was right and who was wrong.

IP changes hands and evolves at a dizzying speed – one wonders whether it was it the germ of the idea or its evolution that created Facebook’s value.  Was Napster creator and serial entrepreneur Sean Parker (slyly played by Justin Trousersnake) a bandwagon-jumping opportunist or the real creator of Zuckerberg’s ultimate wealth?  Was Zuckerberg an impressionable but loveable innocent or a self-centred traitor to his only friend Eduardo Severin (also played sympathetically and at times the axis of the movie by Andrew Garfeild)? Was Severin a philanthropist or a pariah and were the Winklevosses (I lied, there are special effects in this movie) real? I particularly liked the fact that Sorkin and Fincher avoided the temptation to rip into these ridiculous stereotypes and, in so doing, gave them at least a shred of dignity by the film’s end.

Oh, did I mention the stunning soundtrack by Trent Reznor (NIN)?  Well, if I didn’t I should have because I’m going to buy the CD as soon as I’ve finished this review.

This is a very good film indeed.  It most certainly justifies a ten rating and I urge you to see it.

PS.  My pal did a show during the festival with this hilarious song in it.  I leave it for you to enjoy.

This incredible year of music.

What in God’s name has gone on in the music world this year?

In October alone we’ve had a major return to form from Belle and Sebatian and also by Sufjan Stevens. As well as a great new album from Robert Plant.

We’ve had album after album after album that continue to amaze. And yet 2008 and 2009 were, relatively speaking, deserts.

Next week we have a new Kings of Leon and before the end of the year a new Radiohead and, if Metacritic is to be believed, a new, wait for it, Kraftwerk album.

Oh my sweet Jesus.

There’s a new Norah Jones too. (I know, lacks credibility, but I love her music. Sorry.)

And just wait till you hear the crazy brilliance that is Sleigh Bell. Mama Mia!  On Spotify as we speak.  Please enjoy.

We’ve had Fourtet on fire, Massive Attack on fire, Hot Chip on fire.  The National on fire.

Wild Beasts, Midlake, John Grant, and of course, Arcade Fire. (On fire!)

Each and every one a gem of the highest lustre.


The Plain in Spain stays mainly in Rutherglen

Flamin' 'eck. We only lost 3 - 2. At home.

The headlines will proclaim Braveheart!

The truth is, in my view anyway,  Scotland huffed and puffed tonight.

Spain were not in top gear.  Need they be?  They were playing a team who had just lost to a team who had  just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.

They gradually worked out a way to get through against the great blue wall.

Two up.

Job done.

Tools down.

And then; oops.

A wee Spanish banana.

Could the worst happen?

Could they really lose to a team who had just lost to a team who had  just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.

Don’t be daft.


3 – 2.

Cue Lionheart.  Cue whatever.  It’s always like this.

Some good performances (Naismith, Fletcher, Bardsley) and a corker of a baddie.  Whittaker will want to erase tonight from his memory forever.  Run ragged, 100’s of mistakes, gave away the penalty just before halt time, got sent off.  Doh!)

This was not a new dawn for Scottish football.  It was just another close defeat to a huge team that nearly took their eye off the ball.  But it was at least exciting.

Araucaria araucana

Have you ever planted a Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana).  Worse; have you ever dug up a monkey tree and then re-planted it.  Worse still; have you ever dug up a 7 ft Monkey Puzzle tree that has firmly established itself in the middle of a gorse bush?  But worst of all; have you ever dug up a 7 ft Monkey Puzzle tree that has firmly established itself in the middle of a gorse bush and then had to remove the roots and stump of a 20ft apple tree before you can replant the aforementioned Monkey Puzzle Tree in its place?

Well, that’s what I did this weekend.

Did I mention to you that Monkey Puzzles have razor sharp leaves and that Gorse has needle sharp leaves and that together these make for a very uncomfortable combination?

No?  Well they do.

However our communal garden area, just across from the house now has a lovely (slightly lopsided) 7ft Monkey Puzzle tree.

I suppose this makes it seem worthwhile…


£250 nicker for a jaggy tree? Ours is bigger than that too!


Antichrist by Lars Von Trier


They're behind you!


I’ve had the DVD for a while now and not viewed it but it was shown on Sky Indie last night so we watched it at last.  I’m not sure if it was edited for TV because it wasn’t as shocking as I expected.  I like Lars Von Trier although he has a rather variable output.  Breaking the Waves is surely his masterpiece, the Idiots, well, a bit idiotic.  This falls squarely in the middle for me.  Full of self importance and symbolism but stunningly filmed.

My 16 year old son arrived home just at the most graphic moments of “real strong sex” and proclaimed “What on earth are you watching!”

I found the acting a bit too mannered for my liking.  Charlotte Gainsbourg just seems to be trying a bit too hard throughout with her breathiness and Willem Dafoe is so desperately earnest that you entirely fail to engage with him.

The “torture” aspect of the movie is actually a bit hilarious if the truth be told.  What’s it all about?  Ach who knows, who cares really.  Female and male stereotyping?  The lack of god in the couple’s grief?  I couldn’t really tell you and that’s a pity because I think it is trying to desperately connect at some higher level.

The scene where Charlotte Gainsbourg visibly cuts off her clitoris with a pair of scissors does make “Stuck in the Middle” during Reservoir Dogs seem rather light-hearted.

Last night I watched the death of Scottish football.


And this is before last night's results have been taken into account.


For a Jambo, Craig Levein is a nice bloke but that in no way exonerates him from open and outrightly hostile criticism in the wake of last night.  It was so embarrassing that I forsee no future at all for our ‘national game’.  We turned up to play a team ranked 37th in the world who had just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania and we failed to play with a striker.  In other words the limits of Levein’s ambitions was a 0 – 0 draw. To a team who had just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.  The formation was 4 6.  have you ever hard of that?  Apparently Spain play 4 6, but that’s 4 defenders and 6 strikers! And this was to a team who just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.

If we had a chance I do not recall it, and yet after we went 1 0 down with 20 minutes to play he reverted to a 4 4 2 formation that, whilst unsuccessful, at least put the Czechs under some pressure which is hardly surprising because they are a team who had  just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.

OK, Rangers have ground out two good results by playing ultra cautious tactics, but they played a striker at least.  The same striker that is in the form of his life and only came on as a sub to create the aforementioned formation to a team who had just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.  Rangers’ tactical decisions are fair enough.  They were playing one of Europe’s finest – not  a team that had just lost a European Qualifier at home to Lithuania.  (That said, the Turks they played had never made the Champion’s League before and had just been humped at home by Valencia – but it paid off).

Levein looked sheepish, but unapologetic, after the game.  I anticipate that the media will rightly go on a field day and, for once, I support them.

It’s very, very sad that our national game, one that only 30 years ago we were considered amongst the finest in the world at, has become a joke.  A laughing stock.

How anyone could forgive us taking 96 minutes to pip Leichtestein (a country with a population of 34,000) is beyond me.

This result and this formation in particular, sets out our position in stark relief.


And unambitious ones at that.

God help us on Tuesday night.  Although.  Although.  Although. You can just see it can’t you.  A backs to the wall Braveheart performance.

(And an unlucky 1 – 0 defeat.)

Bertie's back!

Romeo and Juliet – Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh

It’s the thing these days to reinvent Shakespeare to the point that the Shakespeare inside is barely recognisable. The Lyceum don’t do this.  Two year’s ago the Lyceum’s Macbeth was heavily criticised for this but I really enjoyed it.  This year’s Romeo and Juliet by contrast has been lauded by the critics, partly for its lack of denial.  Again I really enjoyed it.

What this production does is, for the most part, let Shakespeare’s language wash over you like a spa treatment.  Enveloping you in a warm bath of language that’s part familiar, part alien.  It’s a very compelling and quite riveting experience.

Blessed with a cast of great quality, director, Tony Cownie makes them sing from the off.  Liam Brennan stands out as a monumentally great actor and Will Featherstone is superb as Romeo.  Others I cared for to slightly lesser degrees and sadly Juliet was, for me, a bit of a disappointment – not that Kirsty Mackay didn’t put her heart and soul into the performance, she just didn’t engage me.  It’s a difficult call as act two is an endless lament on her part and so it’s very easy to overstep the mark to the point that Juliet wails once too often.

She did.


Aside from that, this is a truly beguiling theatrical experience.  Pjhilip Pinsky’s music was, as ever fantastic , and I thought I recognised the central motif which I’m sure was a nod to Craig Armstrong.  Like I said earlier, one feels drawn into a different world that doesn’t need a “message for today”.  And it hasn’t got a great deal to say metaphorically, politically, socially; it’s just a great piece of theatre deftly and engagingly handled.

Highly recommended.

The Gang Show

Andy Johnston, an FCT alumni, does an incredible job in amateur theatre in Edinburgh.  Amongst other things he directs the Gang Show which celebrates its 50th birthday this year.  I was browsing the Gang show website this morning and stumbled upon a cast photo from the first ever in 1960- which I know, for a fact, featured my Dad.

I think this is him.

But it might be my Uncle Chris.

Any ideas?


Chris or Pego? You decide.

And this is the cast of 61.

Pego? Click on the image for a closer look.



The werewolf

I had the great pleasure of seeing Grinderman live on Tuesday night at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow.  Nick Cave was electrifying, Warren Ellis insane and the “other two” held it all together with aplomb.  It is a unique experience (and my first) watching and listening to Nick Cave in action.  He has an intensity that I’ve never seen any act match in my history of gig going and Warren Ellis as his stooge is quite awe inspiring.  At one stage Ellis was smashing, and I mean utterly battering the fucking life out of, a Hi hat with a pair of marracas that looked life threatening to the front row of the audience.

So lupine is Cave’s performance that you expect him to gorge on the flesh of one of the few female members of the audience at any point in the show.  Howls and roars whilst looking for the moon through the Barrowland’s hallowed ceiling are frequent.  He was honoured to play here as one of his legends, the (not so sensation in my view) Alex Harvey had strode these boards in his youth.  Cave is in his 50’s now, but acts as though he is in his 20s.

Grinderman’s songs are tongue in cheek misogynistic maelstroms.  Women are disparaged, objectified, lusted after, loved, hated, disparaged; you name it.  This is not balladry this is death metal on acid.  But, as I say, it’s tongue in cheek.  It’s full of humour and it’s priceless.  No pussy Blues, an anguished cry for some pussy action despite every form of wooing known to man sums the band up and it was performed brilliantly.  The highlight of the night for me though was the eponymous Grinderman that echoed Jim Morrison set to a hypnotic bass and drum rumble that could easily have been the Doors.

It was wonderful, loud, musical extremism that had my ears tingling with Ttinitus well into the morning hours.


Booking Glastonbury tickets

hippy tossers

I have been online since 9am running 7 tabs in Firefox, 4 in Opera, numerous in Google Chrome and numerous in Safari.  After 90 minutes I got through on three different tabs on Firefox to the queue but already two of these have been dropped. So I have one remaining chance to get through to the booking form. The phoneline is a joke.  It just comes up with a BT warning.  This system is a pile of fucking shit.  Apparently it’s some fucking carbon friendly server.  ie IT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.  Hippy Bastards!

Ryder cup weekend

Having missed most of the four ball play I’m now looking forward to a lazy weekend of viewing the biennial orgy of continentalism. The very loud “oggie oggie, oggie” from the Welsh stands certainly got things going this morning.

It is, of course a strange decision to play such a weather dependent event in the short days of October in one of the wettest countries in the world, but looks like they’ve gotten away with it.

Monty’s early rhetoric (winding up Woods and claiming Europe was already one up after the 4 ball draw) showed what an arrogant fanny he can be – Woods won and Europe are one down!

Harrington should not be here. He looks out of sorts and down on himself. I’d certainly have picked Casey or even Sergio. But ho hum, that’s the way it is.

My prediction is a very narrow European victory.

By the way, you might enjoy the comments just posted by an anonymous contributor on my previous post.