Creative Edinburgh, Creative and Corporate Love tonight in Leith


Creative Edinburgh Logo

I bet you’d enjoy this.  But you can’t, because you were too slow off the mark.

It’s the latest Creative Edinburgh event tonight on The Leith Agency’s Mary De Guise Barge.

As our membership grows (it’s well over 500 now) our events are getting more and more popular.  That’s why this one’s sold out.

Ed Brooke (Ed of Leith) will share the speaker’s podium with award winning photographer Jannica Honey and Arts Learning Specialist and Drama Artist Fi Milligan Rennie.

Keep an eye on the Creative Edinburgh website for our future evens (we’ve planned hosting and curating of over 50 already this year)

Better still.  Become a member.  It costs very little.  Or pop along to Creative Circles at Brew-Lab.  it’s free.

Advertising’s new “way”


I’m looking at a lot of interesting advertising at the moment because I’m teaching a module at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s BA Digital Film and TV degree course.It’s required me to look for examples of old classics and new.

I’ve been struck by what’s winning the gongs these days.

Nothing, but nothing is short.

And a lot of it frankly isn’t really that good.

The most awarded ad in the world last year was this one for Canal +.

It’s OK. And it’s only 60″  (that’s short)

This is good mind. The Guardian’s 3 Little Pigs (120″)

This is great.  It’s for Chipotle (and their sustainable/organic farming approach to sourcing – if you believe it) and takes a Coldplay song and covers it by Willie Nelson.  It’s 2 minutes 20″ long.

Metro Trains from Melbourne have made this 3 minute monster. And it’s garnered 38million YouTube hits so far.

But this is the one.  This is the absolute king of the pack.  It’s for Expedia and it brought a tear to my sorry old eyes.  It too is a beast weighing in at 3 minutes 20″

What though, happened to 30″ spots?

 

Gangster Squad


Pish.

Pish.

Oh dear.  Why did I go to see this when one could see very clearly that it was likely to be guff?

I know, it’s because my wife and daughter wanted to drool at Ryan Gosling.  They needn’t have bothered.

But I can help you, dear reader, to avoid the same mistake.  If you’re reading this after its theatre release and preparing for an evening viewing it on TV, don’t, watch a programme about paint drying instead.

It’s awful.

Shot throughout as if it’s an Instagram it’s very obvious that style is more important than substance,  yet Zombieland, Ruben Fleisher’s, 2009 movie debu,t was cracking and hilarious.

This is neither.

Why Sean Penn (who nearly pulls off the role of “ruthless mob king, Mickey Cohen” in 1949 LA) chose to take on this role is anyone’s guess.  It’s certainly not a career high. and Ryan Gosling has finally blotted an almost pristine CV by camping it up as a very dodgy philanderer.

Avoid at all costs.

Django Unchained.


Yes, that really IS Samuel L. Jackson.

Yes, that really IS Samuel L. Jackson.

I’m not qualified to comment on the historical authenticity of Quentin Tarantino’s fully committed depiction of black American slavery in 1858 but I’m as qualified as anyone else to share with you why I, personally, think  this is another significant contribution to one of the greatest movie directing careers of all time.

With Django (the D’s silent you know) Tarantino cements his position in the top 10.

This is epic, just as Kill Bill (1 and 2) was, and proves that long movies don’t have to be padded out indulgences.  It grows in its impact with every scene and ends up a classic.

Spike Lee has problems with the depiction of slavery and I have to respect that as I, like Tarantino, am Caucasian.  At times it does seem to mock the plight of America’s black slaves but I feel sure that Samuel L Jackson (virtually unrecognisable) and Jamie Foxx saw more than a wage in choosing to star in it and I’m sure too that the judges of the Black Reel Awards which have given it six nominations are qualified to judge it on its merits as opposed to its politics.

Although described as a (spaghetti) western this is really a movie about slavery and not since ‘Roots’ has African American slavery been so prominently featured on screen.  Tarantino does not shy away from the subject matter or the vernacular of the time.  “Nigger” is used over 100 times in the script and not just by the slaves.  I had to refer to my copy of Filthy English: The How, Where, When and What of Everyday Swearing by Pete Silverton to establish whether or not MotherF@£$%er was currency in 1858 but there is evidence that points to its validity.  Just as well, because Samuel L J can’t really get through a movie without saying it repeatedly and he does so again, liberally.

There’s an early scene in which predecessors of the Ku Klux Klan hunt down Jamie Foxx, the freed slave and “black man on a horse!” who is bounty hunting with ex Dentist, Dr King Schultz (played entirely idiosyncratically by Christoph Waltz), their depiction is so funny that one has to question whether or not it’s really acceptable to laugh so uproariously at a subject matter so taboo; but that’s Tarantino’s gift.  It’s also his gift to spoof genres, mock convention (and history) mount lavish killing sprees and generally have a grand old time no matter the subject matter and that’s why we love him so.

Django is great fun, some say it’s too long but for me the movie simply got itself into a place (a little slowly I’d say) that fans of Tarantino would want to stay for hours.

Leonardo Di Caprio has not been this good since The Departed, (strangely not an Oscar nomination) and Jamie Foxx acquits himself well in a low-key, black Eastwood type performabnce.  But it’s Waltz that dominates in the acting stakes and his Oscar nod is fair reward.  There’s only one Chrisoph Waltz that’s for sure (and there’s plenty of it if you care to look – 101  acting roles to date to be precise.)

So, a little flawed (the start fails to quickly engage in gear) but unique and brilliant.  Go see it and forget the politics.  It’s a movie.

How to lose weight. The easy(ish) way.


I’ve been asked a fair bit about my diet and how it works so effectively.

Here’s what I wrote earlier today.  I hope it helps because it most certainly works for me.

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OK. It’s really simple. And involves calories.

You consume as many as you burn and you don’t lose weight. Simple.

So, start from your normal daily burn which for men my size is about 2,500 calories. Cut that by 1,000 and do 1,000 cals of exercise (an hour vigorous workout) and you are at a net 2,000 calorie debt per day. It’s 3,500 calories to lose a pound so I reckon this equates to half a pound a day or 3.5 – 4 lbs a week.

Now, to what to eat. You need to go for slow release foods on so few calories (but you can have lots of them). Alcohol is a total no no.

No simple carbs like bread, cereal, pastry, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, potatoes, fruit juice, white rice and pasta – absolutely none at all

Instead swap those, if you must, for complex carbohydrates like brown rice and wholemeal pasta (in moderation).

Eat lots of pulses (beans and lentils) and protein (lean meat and eggs preferably).

DO NOT go on an Atkins style Protein diet.  THEY DO NOT WORK.

Eat breakfast. An absolute MUST. I have 50g of high fruit and nut muesli (my preference is for Dorset Cereals – the dark green box) supplemented with a lot of fresh fruit in it like melon, blueberries and strawberries and skimmed milk (400 cals approx).

Do not go to Starbucks.  Or if you do, only have an Americano with skimmed milk.

For lunch I have soup and fruit (2 apples usually) – no bread with the soup – or, if at home, a two or 3 egg omelette, no fat in the cooking (just that spray stuff). (300 cals approx)

For dinner I usually have things like stir fries with chicken or prawns or fillet steak. Loads and loads of veg and only a handful of brown rice or 70g of wholemeal pasta. If I’m hungry later on I have those roasted monkey nuts you get in shells at Tesco or another apple. (700 cals approx).

If I cycle in and out of Edinburgh and walk the bridge I’ll burn 4,500 calories and will have lost a pound in a day.

The theory is called food combining (and it’s about managing your blood sugar levels effectively). The book above is magnificent. I swear by it. The Food Doctor Everyday diet by Ian Marber.

Forget the recipes, just read the theory over and over till it sticks.

Do not get in a rut eating the same things every day.

I promise you, you won’t be hungry on this ‘diet’ – although it’s more than a diet, it’s a regime.

The worst bit is the no booze rule but an important principle in the diet is what Marber calls the 80:20 rule in which 20% of the time you relax the regime (for me that means you can have a bev!)

That’s it.

(For the record I lost 64lbs in 138 days last year.  I’ve started it again this year and have lost 11lbs in the first 16 days).  I lost 6 inches round my stomach and 8 from my chest.  My trousers went from size 40/42 to 34 and heading towards a 32  if I keep it up for another month.

Les Miserables


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I’ve seen Les Mis twice on stage.  It’s too long.  Fact.

But I was interested in what would happen on screen and hoped that Tom Hooper’s horribly fussy direction of the King’s Speech would not follow him into this.  I hoped but my wish was unfulfilled.

Tom Hooper puts the blown into overblown in everything he does.  The Damned United wasn’t a patch on the book, The King’s Speech is simply the most overrated movie of the past few years and this, well put it this way, if Anne Hathaway hadn’t been in it I’d have been asking for my money back.

Let’s deal with the positives first (shouldn’t take long).

Anne Hathaway’s performance, as Fantine, is mesmerising, especially in her death scene at the end of the first reel.  It’s a shame because the movie dies with her.  And it’s all the more remarkable that Hooper will have two Oscar winning performances under his belt from two lousy movies.  As I said; remarkable.

In places (Hathaway’s death scene in particular) the hand held camera work with a LOT of focus pulling (necessary because of the narrow depth of field and low light) works magically.  It’s incredibly intimate, yet at others it’s just plain annoying (and repetitive).

Next the sound.  I could hear every lyric from start to finish which meant that, unlike the stage play, it was easy to follow the (turgid and unlikely) story easily.

But the sound is actually one of my biggest gripes.  Yes it was brave, and in parts very good (Hathaway) to make the actors perform the numbers for real, but by focusing on clarity of audio the incidental sound had to be dropped with the result that almost the entire movie sounded like it had been recorded in a recording studio and consequently appeared entirely fake.

Now the rest of the bad news.

The sets are horrible.  Entirely unconvincing from start to finish.

Hugh Jackman is unbearable to watch (his singing voice is unlistenable).

Russell Crowe is appalling, but not as bad as the double act that is Helena Bonham Carter (surely her worst performance ever) and Sacha Baron Cohen who just plain sucks.

Eddie Redmayne left me totally cold but I’m sure the ladies will like his boyish good looks.  But nah.  He sucks too.

The direction is mawkish in the extreme which makes the child parts nauseous and heavy handed.

I could go on but I don’t want to bore you and I know that nobody will like this review on IMDB because nobody likes critical reviews on IMDB.  Ah well.

Sunshine on Leith


Advertising supremo, Iain McAteer, of The Union was climbing Arthur Seat on a chill but not Arctic New Year’s day.

The hike was an attempt to wash the bitter taste of the defeat (and too much red wine) of his beloved Chips’n’cheese-eating, potato picking, football team to the (ex) purveyors of the beautiful game, the mighty Hibernian FC from his mouth.

He turned to take in the glorious view and was rewarded with this stunning vision.

Easter Road

You can’t argue with the Metacritic poll of polls


Unless of course you don’t respect music critics.

Whatever you think I usually find Metacritic’s year ending poll of polls pretty reasonable evidence of what was best in a year and there is some sort of science to it.

Here it is…

metacritic albums of the year copy

By a country mile the Princely/Stevie Wonderey Channel Orange by Frank Ocean has won followed by another American Dance record (they do tend to dominate thanks to the profusion of rap magazines that have a vote).

Top of the rockers is Australian Beatles throwbacks Tame Impala and very good it is too (it won the NME poll).

Surprise of the year (to me anyway) has to be the showing of little talked about Fiona Apple’s fourth album  “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.”

My own personal favourite “Django Django” languishes in joint 23rd place without a single poll win.  Weird.

They do the same with movies…

meta movies copy

This too is interesting.  I’ve not seen the winning film, Katherine Bigelow’s Obama capture movie Zero Dark Thirty but I hear amazing things of it.  The Master (which I adored but divided audiences and critics alike) takes more winning slots but loses by a fair distance by virtue of being totally excluded from too many lists.

Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson’s latest, hasn’t made it to the UK yet I don’t think.  If it has it passed me buy and comes in third.  Likewise Lincoln ain’t here yet but it looks like a straight shoot out for the titular character’s portrayal by Daniel Day Lewis and Joaquin Pheonix for best Actor at The Oscars.

I actually only saw 6 of the movies on the list albeit at least 6 are unreleased so far in the UK.  My own favourite?  Argo, closely followed by The Master and then Beasts of the Southern Wilds.