Archive for Colin McLaren

X-Ray! X-Ray!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2011 by dcairns

It’s positively Boris Karloff this time!

The most pertinent possible film in light of the continuing News of the World tabloid phone-hacking shitstorm has to be FIVE STAR FINAL, which shows how the drive for circulation drives out any other human impulse and destroys any other purpose journalism might be expected to pursue. I screened it for a couple of lucky students at my workplace last week, and have now written about it for The Chiseler, here.

In other news — HUGE congratulations to my friends Colin and Morag, whose feature DONKEYS won the Big Prize at BAFTA Scotland, and to their leading man, James Cosmo, who won Best Actor.

Pets Win Prizes

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on October 25, 2011 by dcairns

Naturally, my first posting published from Hollywood concerns… Scotland.

The BAFTA Scotland awards are doled out in November — so this is a shameless “For Your Consideration” type notice plugging my friends Morag and Colin’s DONKEYS, the best Scottish feature film I’ve seen in recent years. Of course I’m biassed, and I haven’t seen NEDS or PERFECT SENSE, so my word isn’t of much value here — I just wanted to remind anybody who has seen the films and who’s planning in voting — DONKEYS is REALLY GOOD, remember?

Remember how you laughed, were moved, laughed and were moved at the same time, resulting in a strange holographic emotion that doesn’t have a name? Remember how Morag drew sensitive, convincing and funny performances from her actors, including James Cosmo and Brian Pettifer, both of whom are BAFTA nominated? Remember how Morag’s acute eye for humorous detail made a surreal wonderland of Glasgow? She’s nominated as best director. And remember how Colin’s BAFTA-nominated script interwove tangentially related characters into a tight, compact tragi-comedy?

James Cosmo is a Scottish legend, an incredible figure for whom the word “rugged” was invented and then discarded as pitifully inadequate. His long career encompasses the cult horror DOOMWATCH, plus HIGHLANDER, BRAVEHEART and TRAINSPOTTING. In other words, he’s the man they call on when they want a Scottish film or a pseudo-Scottish film to have a bit of integrity. And in DONKEYS he gives a career-best performance of previously unseen vulnerability and comic skill.

Brian Pettifer’s been a fixture in British cinema for even longer. He’s in all three of Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis films, IF…, O LUCY MAN! and BRITANNIA HOSPITAL, as well as AMADEUS and THE HOUSE OF MIRTH. Often cast for his distinctive features, here he has the meaty role of a lifetime as the Laurel to Cosmo’s Hardy, one-half of a co-dependent double act of tragic no-hopers.

A conclusive set of wins for the film and filmmakers would send a nice message, I feel, about the kind of Scottish cinema we want to see.

Speaking of which, saw WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN just before leaving, but notes on that’ll have to wait until I come back.

Doing Rude Things

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on March 12, 2011 by dcairns

To Glasgow, and the Aye Write book festival, in the company of Mr Colin McLaren, ace screenwriter. Our chosen event was a Q&A with Graeme Garden, star/writer of The Goodies, our favourite childhood TV show next to Dr Who.

As part of the packed ninety-minute discussion, Garden screened three clips, chosen by each of the Goodies as their favourite moments from the show. This was his ~

“The closest thing we did to a sketch,” was how he described it (although the show featured excellent spoof commercials that might qualify.” In the show, the boys are commissioned by a thinly-veiled parody of renowned bluenose Mary Whitehouse to make a sex education film with no sex in it.

Whitehouse had no official position as censor, but was just a horrifying busybody member of the public. Her organisation, the Viewers and Listeners Association (now MediaWatch), campaigned against smut, getting a lot of attention in the seventies. An elderly retiree member led the obscenity case against LAST TANGO IN PARIS, seemingly under the impression that the film was a documentary showing real events. This delusional mindset seems to haunt the organisation’s members. Actual dialogue from one TV documentary (two little old ladies, formerly active members) ~

“Sex seemed to be the biggest problem in those days.”

“Sex always leads to violence.”

“And the crime that goes with it.”

My most treasured moment of Mrs Whitehouse madness came on a discussion show where she took exception to PSYCHO II: her critique appears at the end of this piece, and I feel it grants special insight into the confusions inherent in the would-be censor’s thinking.

The Goodies always claimed that it was their life’s ambition to offend Mrs Whitehouse, and they were mortified when they discovered they’d received a letter of appreciation from her after their first series, which she deemed suitably anodyne for televisual broadcast. The episode parodying her (with the great Beryl Reid as Mrs W) didn’t manage to offend her, but finally the image of Tim Brooke-Taylor wearing a pair of underpants with a picture of a carrot on the front provoked the required shock and outrage.

For Morag.