A new venture. Spotted by Locals; Edinburgh.


Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 09.52.47.png

Look out for my impending travel writing.  I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals.  A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.

It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.

Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start.  Looking forward to it.  If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.

Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart at The Lyceum.


wind-resistance.png

It’s simply impossible not to go over the top about how wonderful this magical piece of theatre/music/storytelling is.

A standing ovation on a Saturday afternoon from the resolute “we will not give performances a standing ovation at the Lyceum” audience pretty much sums up its brilliance.

Joyce MacMillan’s 5 star review (I nearly always concur with this doyen of Scottish Theatre) supports the case.

My tears in act two (a rare thing in the theatre) closes it.

This is live performance at its very finest.  A beautiful brew of environmentalism, motherly love, medicine and football delivered through stories and song with a simply astounding soundscape and visual technology making for theatrical magic.

Polwart’s performance draws breath again and again.  I could hear sobs and sniffles all over the auditorium as the tale of life near a peat bog in Fala, in the Scottish Borders, drew in strands that connected the nearby ‘beautifull’ (I concur Karine) wind turbines, bird life and tales of birth in 1919 and 2007 with a beautiful symmetry that makes the conclusion achingly beautiful.

Whilst Polwart has published the script and invites others to perform it, it is hers.

100% hers.

Nobody has the range and skill to deliver this monumental (but understated) piece of Scottish theatre like Karine Polwart.

Bravo.

Hats off too to David Grieg for persuading Karine to turn an idea into a thing.

A thing of truly great beauty.

Blade Runner 2049: Movie Review


blade4

Someone needs to get Ridley Scott in check.  His recent Alien movie was awful and overindulgent.  This is far from awful but it has his stamp all over it and at two and a half hours long is really quite indulgent.

Ryan Gosling may also need to go to some acting classes because his one trick pony is wearing rather thin now.

Having said that, the bad stuff, there’s a lot to like about this movie.

Roger Deakins is in fine form with a simply gorgeous cinematographic experience.  The yellow city and the green biodome actually take your breath away.

The CGI is universally excellent.  The opening aerial sequence draws your breath and there’s a love scene in which a hologram juxtaposes the body of a replicant hooker that is one of the most imaginative things I’ve ever seen in the cinema.

Indeed this movie is RAMMED with great creative ideas.

I mostly didn’t mind how slow it is until perhaps the third act when, even with the excellent introduction of Harrison Ford, it began to outstay its welcome.

Clearly it’s a little Marmite as I’ve rarely seen so many of an audience leave, and its length certainly tested many a bladder.  Not mine thankfully.

The plot has its challenges and I’m not going to go there as it would be too easy to spoil for you, but it’s interesting and quite clever.

The score by Hans Zimmer is simply brilliant.  All booming, crashing percussive synth punctuated by little moments of Vangelis (echoing the original).  He’s on fire just now, what with Dunkirk under his belt.  He’ll have more than one soundtrack Oscar nomination come February.

I liked the way director Denis Villeneuve dwells on scenes, allowing you take in the mastery of Deakins’ and the technical team’s work but when he dwells lingeringly on Gosling again and again and again you do wish it would push on a bit.

So, overall, a good, but not great, movie.  I wouldn’t want to see it again actually given its drawn out editing.  But I liked it much more than I didn’t.

 

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile. Separated at Birth.


This is outrageously great; both as a meeting of songwriting minds with its resultant musical output, but also as a video.

It’s genius.  “Hey guys, you look like each other.” let’s swap your voices and dress Kurt in all white and Courtney in all black then mirror all your moves in black and white in the countryside.”

“Dude, done!”

(I wonder if one’s shot in Oz and one in USA? That would seem to make sense as they never actually come together.)

Boom! what a fucking result.

Extraordinary.

(And there’s an album to come.  I canna wait for that.)