Archive for Robert Carlyle

Here comes Johnny Yen again

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2018 by dcairns

Finally caught up with T2: TRAINSPOTTING (funny title!) — I’d had mixed feelings about the original, though Danny Boyle and company did do a lot to break Scottish cinema away from pure social realism, for which I’m grateful. I would say that both movies energize social commentary with black comedy, gross-out gags, surreal images, and an appetite for style at all costs. (I met some Spanish filmmakers who could quote reams of dialogue from the original by heart. “It’s shite being Scottish,” really meant something to them.) They take place in an unreal conurbation of Glagow and Edinburgh, evincing a merry contempt for geography as well as law and order. As realism they frequently stumble badly, being quite willing to contrive situations the mind rebels against —

Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edingow after twenty years, decides randomly to visit his old friend Spud (Ewen Bremner), arriving, by staggering coincidence, just as he’s about to die of asphyxiation in a suicide attempt. The movie has a tendency to “redeem” itself at these moments by offering something entertainingly horrid: here, Spud throws up in the plastic bag he has on his head, transforming it into a mucky orange sphere which he rips apart in order to be “reborn,” slathered in puke, into the ghastly world of bodily functions he was trying to escape.

Or: Renton and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) rob an Orange Lodge pub in Glasburgh, swiping wallets from coats that have been hung up. Which is silly: people keep their wallets on them in pubs, so they can buy drinks. But then the aging boys get caught and are forced to improvise a sectarian song on stage to prove they belong, which is pretty funny, and then they use the punters’ stolen bank cards, which all have 1690 as their PIN number — the date of the Battle of the Boyne. A grand joke that kinda justifies the ripping apart of the fabric of reality necessary to get to it.

John Hodge is on script again, creating much of the plot from whole cloth while patching together bits of Irvine Welsh’s follow-up novel Porno with a bit of the original novel, which allows him to finally explain the title. Ah, the derelict Leith Central Railway Station (now demolished for a supermarket — only a bit of wall remains in the car park. I crawled through the gaping fence gap as a teenager, but never saw any junkies, or another living soul. It was a big, eerie expanse with incomprehensible stone age graffiti (a towering humanoid figure in rusty dried blood hue) and an aura of hushed sorrow.

Shot by Anthony Dod Mantle in saturated shades of neon and acid stained glass, the movie looks lovely, though ADM brings his penchant for meaningless line-crossing and confused jumping around, showcased in his Von Trier joints. Which I hate, you can probably tell. I think Boyle and his editor have embraced this hopped-up jerk-off style in an effort to look young and vigorous, and like all such efforts, it comes off a bit strained and sad. This viewer, rather than feel like an invisible observer in the scene, following the action with insight and a strange ability to also be in the right place to see what I’d like to see, felt like I was being wantonly teleported about the room, an instantaneous pinball with no control, the resulting disorientation a poor substitute for involvement in the drama.

I enjoyed all the actors. Kelly Macdonald gets, basically, nothing to do (there’s more on the cutting room floor, apparently), and Shirley Henderson is photographed looking glum at a distance, a horrible waste of her massive talent. Anjela Nedyalkova provides the movie’s injection of actual youth, so of course she’s the leading lady.

MacGregor still has his boyish charm, which acquires a kind of pathos as we see how little his character’s changed (not entirely a good thing when you’re a junkie and crook); Bremner still has funny bones, and having failed to escape the shadow of Spud (please, someone, find a showstopping role for this demigod) he dives back into it with jittery glee; Miller’s now-cadaverous features glower with malevolence and pique and I realise I’ve missed him (I don’t watch Elementary). Robert Carlyle’s Begbie is morphing, somehow, into Fulton Mackay, seeming a generation older than his mates (there’s a line to explain this — he was held back at school, making him at most a couple of years older. Jokes about him being stabbed in the liver and OD-ing on Viagra, both promising body-horror gross-outs, go nowhere. But it’s all about energy, eh? And Carlyle exerts a furious force that turbo-charges the movie through some second-act doldrums.

I do kind of like the way the script splits up aspects of Welsh’s post-Trainspotting life among the cast, with one character hanging out in Amsterdam, one becoming a writer… Welsh has become a filmmaker himself, and I suppose Sick Boy is making moves in that direction when we first encounter him as a blackmailer… Welsh himself appears, as is his wont. Cannae act.

 

Hodge’s scripts tend to plunge from wild flights of fancy back into conventional genre tropes at the end (all those bags of money), and this one does the same in a new way, combining a fight in a gutted pub with a reprise of the original’s betrayal twist, which makes things feel a little bit less than you hoped for. But it’s still somewhat satisfying, and has the best closing shot I’ve seen in a while. Let’s do this again in twenty years.

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Shave and a Haircut

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2015 by dcairns

15.06.14. LM Barney Thomson Ltd. The Legend of Barney Thomson, 43 INT BARROWLANDS BINGO Barney spots Charlie at the bingo * Cast approved flagged in Green only Production Office Suite 1:09, Red Tree Business Park, 33 Dalmarnock Rd, Bridgeton, Glasgow Graeme Hunter Pictures, " Sunnybank Cottages " 117 Waterside Rd, Carmunnock, Glasgow. U.K.  G76 9DU.   Tel.00447811946280 graemehunter@mac.com

I can’t really review THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON because I’m very good mates with the screenwriter, Colin McLaren. One drunken evening in 2001 we watched five Scottish state-funded short films back to back, got a bit cross about them, and wrote CRY FOR BOBO as the farthest possible opposite we could conceive of to Scottish miserablism.

And, frustratingly, I can’t give you any gossip either, because I don’t know very much and I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone. I mean, I know who modeled for the prosthetic severed penis, but I just can’t tell you. (His name does not appear in this post. But there’s a clue for you — it’s a man.) And I know whose mum Thomson’s performance is partially inspired by, but I don’t think I should go into that either.

Robert Carlyle, making his feature debut, directs and also stars as the titular Barney, a put-upon barber in Glasgow. And the city has never looked better — Glasgow has its own mythic sense of itself, and the film taps into that with expressive, red-soaked visuals. Carlyle seems like a real director, not just for the strong performances he elicits, but for his visual sense and narrative control.

Barney Thomson 6

Chief among these is Emma Thompson, barely recognizable in startlingly convincing old-age makeup and a gravelly Glaswegian accent, swearing her head off as Barney’s appalling mum. When Barney accidentally kills a fellow barber, it’s to mum he turns, at which point the plot’s grisly black comedy really starts to ramp up, with rival detectives Ray Winstone and Ashley Jensen closing in on the nervous hairdresser and mum being perhaps more a hindrance than a help.

Oh, there’s also Stephen McCole (the bully from RUSHMORE), and a trio from Colin’s previous feature, Martin Compston, James Cosmo and Brian Pettifer (having a very good year, what with his turn in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell). And Tom Courtenay, who’s HILARIOUS. His timing

But you can’t really trust me on any of this, since Colin’s a mate. So probably you should just see the film for yourself, right?

The Adams Family

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2015 by dcairns

The-Legend-of-Barney-Thomson

“I feel like I’ve joined a family!” burbled Fiona, who is now a submissions editor at Edinburgh International Film Festival.

“The Adams Family,” suggested Diane Henderson. Mark Adams being the new creative director, you see.

Anyhow, one film Fiona spotted in her viewings was BEREAVE, which got programmed and now she’s hugely looking forward to meeting the filmmakers, Evangelos and George Giovanis, and their stars Malcolm McDowell and Jane Seymour, who are all coming. The latter two are doing an In Person event each. Also In Person: Ewan McGregor, Johnnie To, and Seamus McGarvey interviewing Haskell Wexler, which is unmissable.

Also of interest to me: FUTURE SHOCK! a documentary on 2000AD, the comic book that warped my young mind; seasons on Walter Hill, American TV movies of the seventies (Michael Mann, Steven Spielberg, Tobe Hooper, Sam Peckinpah), and Mexican cinema, featuring a few revivals of classic cine dorado offerings MACARIO and MARIA CANDELARIA.

Fiona and I are equally excited about Neil Innes, whose The Rutles is showing.

I’ve written four reviews for the program this year, on MISERY LOVES COMEDY, IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG, THE CHAMBERMAID LYNN and, um, something else. Maybe more on that later.

The long-awaited new Peter Bogdanovich, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY appears! Which I think used to be listed on the IMDb under the title SQUIRRELS TO THE NUTS, a CLUNY BROWN reference which indicates his heart is in the right place. The cast is a VERY exciting medley of P-Bog favourites, including Tatum O’Neil, Cybill Shepherd, Colleen Camp. Austin Pendleton, Joanna Lumley, with leads Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and Imogen Poots. I’m going to give it a shot.

COP CAR stars Kevin Bacon but second lead is Shea Whigham, and that’s enough to get me seriously stoked. Whoh!

They’re showing ROAR! That’s the one WTF decision. Otherwise, you get revivals of THE THIRD MAN, WATERLOO, THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, DREDD (3D), THE BRAVE DON’T CRY and the newly-restored, de-Weinsteined director’s cut of 54. I saw the original release version, about the popular disco for heterosexuals. I’m assuming the new cut will be about 89% less heterosexual otherwise I’m still not going to be satisfied.

Animation: Barry Purves, possibly the best stop-motion artist in the world, is attending with his oeuvre. And from the sublime to Ralph Bakshi: three of his seventies features are screening. Plus Pixar;s INSIDE OUT and three shows of shorts (not enough, in my view).

I always pick a random smattering of the Black Box screenings, which is the experimental strand. I never know what I’m going to get, because it’s not really my area, but I’ve learned to trust the programmers there.

Most exciting, for us: though this is the first time in two years we don’t have a film in the fest, our great friend Colin McLaren, who wrote DONKEYS, does, and it’s the opening film. Robert Carlyle stars and directs with an unrecognizable Emma Thompson in THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (see top). More soon…