Please help me support a hero supporting heroes tomorrow night.


I am auctioning around 35 incredible lots tomorrow night at Newhaven Communications’ fabulous Ambulance House, prompted by the one and only Gareth Howells.

It’s for a guy called Billy Strathdee who had his right leg blown off as an acting soldier in Ulster.

He is fitter than a butcher’s dog and is about to set off on an incredible adventure wherein he swims the English channel then cycles to Grangemouth before running to John O’Groats.

On a prosthetic leg.

All funds go to a charity close to my heart; Poppyscotland.

Please support this, either by coming along for what will be a fantastic evening. Drinks at 6 and the auction starts at 8.

All of the details can be found here.

And if you can’t make it you can put in an advance bid.

We are probably talking bargains for a lot of photography and jewellery and designer breaks and stuff.

Paranormal Activity 2.


There’s a fair bit of sequel snobbery being talked about PA 2.

“The original was made for £20 – this was £2 million and what’s the difference?” That sort of stuff. When really the answer is quite simple. The original was what it was; a super-creepy, lo fi masterpiece that was low on special effects and relatively high on fear, but not that much in the way of real jumps.

PA 2 whilst it cost more (but hey, £2m? hardly a fortune in cinema terms) also has very few special effects but has a lot more in the way of jumps. But much more significantly than this PA2 is unbelievably clever in the way that it takes the storyline of PA 1 and weaves around it a story that elucidates both parts 1 AND 2.

The jumps are largely stock in trade but they are played out beautifully and the movie is paced brilliantly. Once again Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat convince with their unHolywood looks and performances and the introduction of Katie’s sister’s family is mostly convincing.

This is turning into a really great franchise. If PA3 (in theatres in October 2011) keeps it up (a big ask) it could even challenge the Godfather for consistency because Godfather 3 was naff.

Now before any of you think I am mad I am not saying PA1 and 2 compare to Godfather 1 and 2.

But let’s be honest few horror franchises to date have delivered their first two outings as consistently as this. Fingers crossed for part 3.

Tinker Tailor Soldier siiiigh…


Even though I did not gawp as Sir Alec Guinness enthralled the great British middle classes in the late 1970’s in the famous BBC adaptation of John Le Carre’s celebrated novel, and indeed not having read the book, I nevertheless approached this much trumpeted British “classic” with enthusiasm.

My anticipation was grossly misplaced.  It is a tedious and turgid celebration of Britain’s Cold War spying fraternity that is so badly plotted that to the uninitiated it has the transparency of a potato.

If anyone can tell me what the hell was going on in this self indulgent nonsense I’d be grateful. On second thoughts, don’t bother, I don’t really care.

We Brits do get so chipper about our occassional foray into big news cinema and so the arrival of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been trumpeted loudly and uncriticaly in the British (mainly broadsheet) press.

The King’s Speech too was credited with far greater quality than it actually delivered.

This is just a mess.

There is little to fault about the acting from a fine ensemble of British character actors who all carry out their duties perfectly well, generally in a half light that occasionally works cinematographically and sometimes just makes the action plain gloomy.

The art department excells however with excellent period details from start to finish.

Director Tomas Alfredson’s first movie, Let The Right One in, is as tight as a drum and is beautifully realised – in stark contrast to this nonsense.

I can’t honestly remember the last time I was quite so bored in a cinema and I blame, principally, the screenplay for this because it assumes its audience knows the detailed storyline and makes no effort to introduce novices to the basic premises of what the story is actually about.

How a film with so many twists and turns, flahbacks (way too many) and references can be boring beats me.  But it is.

Unless you know the book or the TV series well, avoid like the plague.

The Skin That I Live In by Almodovar


I’ve long admired Almodovar and it was with interest that I went to his his latest “horror” film.  To describe it thus is most certainly to misappropriate a psychological study of sexuality because it is most certainly not a horror movie.  Instead we see Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya develop the most unlikely relationship you’ll see in a very long time.

Banderas is electric as the cool and calculated surgeon using Anaya (wow) as his human guinea pig to develop a new kind of indestructible skin as he grieves the death of his wife as a consequance of a car fire.

It’s pretty hard to cover much more of the plot for fear of spoiling what is a tremendous film with perhaps the best twist I’ve ever seen in a cinema.  Almodovar is at his very best hear with an excellent supporting cameraman, Jose Luis Alcaine who makes the pictures zing from the digital screening that I was at.

Interestingly I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy today as well and both were sound tracked by Alberto Iglesias.  This one brilliantly, Tinker, Tailor lamentably.

Scotland’s war of attrition


The match against Argentina this morning was rugby at its most attritional and exciting despite the fact Scotland lost and there was only one try.  However Scotland’s curse raises its head once again and we look likely to fail to reach the quarter finals.  It makes next Saturday’s match against England truly unmissable.  Horrific missed drop goal by Dan Parks right at the death and I suspect a lack of concentration after we’d eked out that six point lead only to concede a converted try less than a minute later.