In the shadow of all the King’s speech “the British are coming” claptrap there are a couple of overlooked gems.


It’s actually an Australian/UK co production driven by the Australian See Saw Productions/Films but I don’t want to be a pedant here.

And it’s pretty good too.

In fact in some ways it has become something of a phenomenon with applause ringing out across the land after each screening.

But it’s not all that is good about British cinema right now.  Putting to one side NEDS let’s focus on two Oscar nominees that I have read not a jot about in the past two weeks; Banksy’s Exit through the Gift Shop which I have yet to see but rates very highly on IMDB and Silvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.

Edinburgh is the star of this delightful movie.

Closely followed by the Highlands of Scotland

Lovely period detail

Whilst I liked The Illusionist more in my heart than my head, the fact that it has garnered an Oscar nomination should not be overlooked.

From a selfish point of view I wish it well because I know the producer, Bob Last, pretty well as he was our landlord when we established my first company, 1576.

It’s a charming, whimsical tale by the director of Belle Ville Rendezvous and it was largely created in Scotland (Edinburgh and Dundee). However it’s deeply disappointing that of the 33 production partner companies listed not one of them is Scottish.  In fact of the 26 funders not one of them is British and yet it was made here.

It only faces two competitors; How to Tame Your Dragon and – bugger – Toy Story 3.

It’s already won best animated movie at The European Film Awards but it’s dissapointing that it did not gain any recognition at The BAFTAs.

Anyway, it’s highly unlikely to beat off Toy Story 3, but maybe we should take a moment on Oscar night to toast Bob and Sylvain.

Cheers chaps.

5 thoughts on “In the shadow of all the King’s speech “the British are coming” claptrap there are a couple of overlooked gems.

  1. Well said Mark. Bob Last is something of a genius when it comes to spotting talent and allowing it to flourish. As well as being heavily involved in the film industry he managed The Human League whilst in their pomp and released the Dead Kennedy’s first single ” California Uber Alles”. Legend.

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  2. The Illusionist is a beautiully drawn and coloured film with tremendous power to move your heart as it carries you through the lives of the characters and their stories.

    I have seen it several times and also enjoyed the journey through some of my favourite places, Paris, the Scottish Highlands and of course Edinburgh.

    It should win awards for it’s beauty alone. Then there’s it’s charm, pathos, humour and humanity.

    Loved it. Genius.

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  3. The Illusionist is a moving work of art.

    I’m biased of course; I love Edinburgh and Jacques Tati.

    I remember reading your review around about the time I’d been to see it with my Mum.
    I agree that not much happens but that’s missing the point. I could watch 90 minutes of Jacques Tati not doing much.

    The paternal relationship with the girl reflects Chomet’s experience of Edinburgh with his (similary aged) daughter as well as the sad tale of Tati and his own estranged daughter. Knowing that as I did beforehand helped I suppose and meant I had none of those “slight air of seediness” uncomfortable moments.

    Sometimes you need to know the background first to appreciate the art. Tracey Emin is a case in point. Anybody tells me they appreciate her Unmade Bed without knowing her or her past is talking shite. With this film though, I don’t think it matters either way – like the brushstrokes in a field of golden wheat by Van Gogh, you can see art of the highest calibre at face value. Just enjoy how fortunate you are to get to just LOOK at it.

    It’s a shame Scotland turned into such a ballache for Chomet. They had a shitload of arty illustrators contracted into that film but had very little support from Scotland (as you’ve rightly pointed out). It could’ve been Edinburgh’s answer to Bristol’s Aardman.

    Best actor of the year for me was on TV – Johnny Harris, Lol’s Dad in This Is England ’86. Scary convincing. Said at the time he must get the BAFTA. A guy who can make you sick to the stomach by acting is special. Now THAT was uncomfortable viewing!

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