Lost false teeth are no laughing matter…


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My blog, Is this Yours?, has turned up another mystery.

Half a set of gnashers, unencumbered by their owners.

It reminds me of a story about my pal, Ian Sutherland, who once lost his teeth when he sneezed out the window of his delivery van half way down the A1 on the way to Berwick on Tweed.  His choppers lie, waiting to be discovered, on a verge to this day I suppose.

Maybe these are his?

I think it unlikely though, unless deliberate relocation has been actioned by a stranger.

So, who lost theirs on Dalmeny Beach?

Indeed was it on the beach itself that the loss initiated?

Were they vomited down a loo in Fraserburgh and made their way down the East coast of Scotland on tidal streams?

Were they the result of a violent orgasm in the darkness on that very beach, immediately interrupted by an approaching stranger as two middle aged adults sought gratification and had to scarper before they could retrieve their conjugal misappropriation?

Perhaps they simply slipped out of a mouth, unnoticed, during a gentle stroll.

They may have been overboarded by a passing trawler in high seas.

Are they male?

Are they female?

I’ve tried them on, but my own clackers made estimating size a tricky exercise and, besides, they tasted a little brackish.

Do we have any forensic dentists willing to carbon date them for me?

Can the media help me here?

 

 

 

Logan: Movie Review


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In which I see my first X-Men movie in a franchise that is now 10 episodes old.  So I know nothing of the back story.

I also have  no real fondness for Hugh Jackman after the disaster that is Les Miserables.

And I don’t much like superhero movies full stop, unless they have a twist.

So, that’s what made this an excellent evening’s entertainment.

The twist.

It’s no spoiler to reveal that the twist is Wolverine (Jackman) is losing his powers.  He’s an OAS (Old Age Superhero) and, as such, it doesn’t take much for his superpowers to run out long before the Duracell Bunny would like.

And that opens up a depth of storyline that is seldom seen in these franchise affairs.

It requires, and is given, a quality script and a complexity of performance that makes it both engaging and sustaining throughout.

It won’t be my movie of the year by a long shot (and it fails to breathe the sort of life into an old vein that Mad Max Fury Road did two years ago) but it’s an excellent evening’s entertainment and I’d recommend it.

Elle: Movie Review


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Paul Verhoeven has a track record that would not immediately make you think he could make a movie that would empower a strong central female character, particularly one where sexual politics (and sexual violence) are key to the narrative.

He’s the man behind Showgirls and Basic Instinct and, errr, Diary of a Hooker after all – essentially exploitation movies to a greater or lesser degree.

And it’s highly debatable whether Elle succeeds in its goal, if indeed that is it. Because, despite the incredible central performance by Isabelle Huppert (rightfully Oscar nominated) it takes her from rape victim to rape fantasist over the course of its two hours.

Or did I misread it?

The opening brutal rape scene knocks you back on your feet and Huppert, as Elle, a succesful career woman, recovers from the ordeal remarkably sanguinely and continues her active lifestyle whilst setting out on a revenge mission of sorts.

But that mission is deeply twisted and her horrendous experience seems a little ironic perhaps when we discover she is the owner of a games design company that produces games with dubious sexual morality.

What’s more her father has a deeply unpleasant past, also wrapped in violence in which she was implicated as a child.  This only serves to complicate the morality message of the film as a whole.

I found it gratuitous overall.  I didn’t think Huppert (despite an excellent performance) advanced female rights and I think the whole thing turned out to be verging on tawdry and certainly too ambiguous to make its point effectively.

 

Personal Shopper: Movie Review


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Personal Shopper is very French.

It has the languid pace of the French New Wave, letting the movie breathe gently as its story of loss and identity gradually unfolds.

But it won’t be the average horror (even ghost) movie fan’s cup of tea.

It has no shocks for one thing, although a lot of tension.

It’s a movie that completely embraces Kristen Stewart in all her glory.  She is superb throughout with a highly naturalistic performance (that, as is her way, includes little in the way of humour and very few smiles).

Glum.  That’s the way to describe her.

She’s barely off screen and acts with mobile phones, deserted buildings and the odd human.

If you like action avoid at all costs, but for an intelligent supernatural story with brilliant acting and a highly original premise this should be just your cup of tea.

Well, it’s La La land all right. Seems the Tellytubbies were event managing the Oscars last night.


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If ever the phrase “You couldn’t write the script” applied it was at 11pm last night at The Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

This was the ultimate in ‘Fake News’.

As Jordan Horowitz and his team whooped for joy and emptied their hearts to delighted audience with La La Land picking up its seventh Oscar of the evening a podgy producer bashed onto the stage and had a rather ungainly exchange with Warren Beatty, essentially accusing him (sotto voce) of being a fucking blithering idiot and giving the Oscar to the wrong movie.

Jordan Horowitz, the movie’s writer,  and his team, handled this farcical ignominy with incredible humility.

Warren Beatty looked, of course, like a fool.  And that’s because, he is.  The envelope read “Emma Stone, La La Land’ not “La La Land , Best Picture” but in his confusion he hospital-passed the envelope to Faye Dunaway to read it out through her veil of blithe ignorance.

What a gentleman.

He should, the consumate professional that he is, have called to a stage producer to explain the unexpected contents.

But now he will go down in history as the man that was too vain to ask for help.  Someone should write a song about it.

It was left to Jimmy Kimmel to wrap a great presenter’s performance (I only saw the beginning and the end of the show) by personally taking the blame and thanking the audience for his ‘one time only’ presenter role.

Bravo Jordan Horowitz and Jimmy Kimmel.

And well done Moonlight.

Fences: Movie Review


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I feel a little mean criticising a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony winning play that has now become a movie.   In the 2016 stage revival of the 1983 August Wilson play, both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the movie’s stars,  picked up best actor awards for their performances, alongside fellow actors Stephen Henderson (Bono), Mykelti Williamson (Gabe) and Russell Hornsby (Lyons).

But, and here’s the rub. This is very much a play.  Not a movie.

Ever seen a good movie version of All my Sons, A view from the Bridge, Death of a Salesman? (A minor success of the latter hit our screens in 2000, winning a couple of Golden Globes, but nothing of significance from the Miller pen has made the cut in the last 50 years.)

That’s because Miller, like Wilson, wrote for the stage.  Long, often deeply allegorical speeches populate both of their plays about life, the universe, family, honour, duty, human fragility and responsibility.  Meaty subjects that work in the intimacy of theatre where you can almost smell the actor’s vulnerability.

Hats off to Denzel Washington for taking a modern theatre classic, crafted very much in  the style of Arthur Miller, and attempting to recreate that dramatic tension on the screen. Incidentally it has taken 35 years to reach us because August Wilson strictly instructed that this ultimate of ‘Black’ plays could only be directed on screen by a ‘black’ director.

But, my overall criticism is that, from the opening extended and overly vernacular scene (for my ears) which is a dialogue between Troy (Washington) Bono (Henderson) and Rose (Davis), this feels like a stage production with a few wide angle shots and locations thrown in.

(As an aside, in the first scene the continuity person needs a rocket as the levels in the very obvious ‘pint’ of gin that Troy shares goes up and down like a yo-yo.  A criminal mistake given that the prop is central to illustrate Troy’s dependence on alcohol.)

The play’s title is a full-on allegory about the role of the fence that Troy laboriously builds throughout the play (something Donald Trump might surely prick his ears up to).  On the one hand it’s a physical and protective barrier (Trump’s not much cop at complex allegories so that’s him out of the way now) on the other it’s both an emotional barrier representing Troy’s inability to accept his sons’ affections and a shield to the Grim Reaper who stalks his life.

Both Washington and Davis are excellent in their roles, as are the supporting ensemble, but I could not escape, almost at any point, the fact that this felt a cheat. A pirate movie for those of us who couldn’t see it (like me) in the theatre, where it should be seen.  It made me distinctly uncomfortable.

It’s like watching pop stars mime in film studios.  Somehow fake, unreal, unworthy.

For all its strengths I’m reminded of a quote by a former Hibernian FC manager, Bobby Williamson, a dull and forgettable man in any other scheme of things.

He uttered the immortal sentence, after another 0 – 0 draw,  “If you want entertainment, go to the theatre.”

That’s how I saw this production.

Toni Erdmann: Movie Review


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Naming German comedies could easily be a substitute parlour game for naming famous Belgians in the rather snooty middle class homes of the British Isles.  I confess my list would consist of Toni Erdmann and… Deutschland ’83 (well, it has funny bits, doesn’t it?)

And as you leave the film theatre 162 minutes after the opening of a spectacularly soundtrack-free Toni Erdmann you’re left reflecting on the fact that it was funny, and when I say funny I mean screaming out loud as part of a cacophonous melee of filmgoers, but was it REALLY a comedy?

You see, it’s also deeply moving and actually the underlying sadness of the whole thing, the painful loneliness of the two extraordinary leads (both of whom should be Oscar nominated), makes your unrestrained laughter feel like a betrayal of their fragile mental health.

Father and daughter, Winfreid (alias Toni Erdmann) and Ines, are a dysfunctional 69 year old and 40 something.

He’s a semi retired music teacher with a practical joker streak.  She’s a hard as nails management consultant who’s idea of a good time is to take a client’s wife mall-shopping, anything to succeed in her high stress work environment where she’s willing to trample over people to the top.

She has eliminated emotion from her life and that’s hurting no-one more than her dad Winfred (Peter Simonischek).

On a flying trip home from her temporary workplace in Bucharest, Romania she stages fake phone calls so as to distance herself from her family and friends group who are hosting an early birthday party for her.  Her father can’t bear it and so springs a surprise trip to Bucharest, only days later, to see if he can win back her stone cold affection.

Sandra Huller, who played Ines, is magnificent in her role.  She engages in filthy hotel room sex with her underling but completely without love or desire. She attends conventions on weekends, she socialises with a girl group but it’s a veneer of enjoyment as she sips unenthusiastically from half full drinks glasses – letting drink overwhelm her would be a DISASTER -and she has seemingly lost the ability to even FAKE smile.

She is a world class cold fish.

Arriving in Bucharest, her dad tracks her down and starts following her having assumed a persona, Toni Erdmann, Life Coach,  in a long brown wig and oversized false teeth and somehow inveigles his way into her work group.  That’s where the humour really kicks in, as he pursues a series on ‘did he really do that’ set pieces that contain a variety of comedy tropes including mime, slapstick and pathos.

It’s devastatingly funny in places.  Most notably when he attends Ines’ actual birthday party which has already assumed levels of absurdity never before seen on screen.

This is an absurdist comedy at the end of the day.  In places completely surreal.  That’s why it’s certainly not for everyone. The reviews on IMDB range from awestruck to awful so I hesitate to say you’ll love it, but me and my wife both did.

It’s glacially slow but stick with it.

It rewards patience and stamina, but is engrossing from first frame to last.

This truly is a comedy classic.

You may need hankies.