Archive for Tony Curran

Donkey Show

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2008 by dcairns

Say Anything 

It seems appropriate to write about my trip to Glasgow while still hungover from the experience. In brief, my great good friend Morag McKinnon is directing a feature film, ROUNDING UP DONKEYS (there are no donkeys in it), written by my other great good friend Colin McLaren, and with my other other great good friend Stephen Murphy doing makeup duties. Stephen designed my clowns for CRY FOR BOBO, made  my prosthetic uncle for INSIDE AN UNCLE, has worked on all the HARRY POTTERS and CHILDREN OF MEN and transformed Jude Law for SLEUTH.

I met Colin and his lovely partner Anita Vettesse at the home of producer and goddess Angela Murray. Stephen joined us. Absent were Morag, too frazzled from her shoot, and Fiona, who has a nasty cold.

Brian Pettifer

I promised you gossip, but as ROUNDING UP DONKEYS is classified as a Film In Production, much must be shrouded in secrecy. I can tell you that the film stars that impressive chunk of Scottish beef, James Cosmo, whose career takes in both TRAINSPOTTING and BRAVEHEART (as well as voicing Thelonius the orang-utan in the mescaline nightmare known as BABE: PIG IN THE CITY) and Brian Pettifer, who appears in all three of Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis films. The movie is a follow-up of sorts to RED ROAD, but is half a comedy, which lifts (or lowers) it into a different category. The scheme is intended to produce three movies about the same small group of people, slightly like the concept of Kieslowski’s DECALOGUE, but although it works from the same set of character descriptions, Colin’s script might best be considered an alternative universe version — some characters have different careers and families and sometimes personalities.

Morag met Lars Von Trier, founder of the scheme, and asked him what to do if the story evolved in such a way that not all of the characters could be included. “Oh, just use the ones you want and have the rest ride by on a bus,” he advised. Buses being expensive and this being a modestly budgeted digital short, they are having to go on foot.

Prick Up Your Ears

The shoot sounds pretty strenuous, with six-day weeks and 50% night shoots. Some scenes are being shot night-for-night purely for cost reasons — without enough funds to black out the windows of a church, the production was forced to shoot after nightfall. But — and I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true — it also sounds like it’s going really well. One to watch for.

Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on March 21, 2008 by dcairns

 Lava, Lava

OK, admittedly it’s late at night, but Fiona’s safely abed with a cold, there’s no chance of interruption, SURELY I can finish watching Andrea Arnold’s RED ROAD this time. I must be about halfway through it.

In episode three of this exciting serial, Kate Dickie is drawn closer still to the ex-con (Tony Curran) she’s been stalking. In fact, having submitted to a pawing at a party round at his flat, she’s working up to a full-fledged seduction.

The film’s third sex scene is something of a departure for Scottish cinema, since it seems to be both consensual and, to a degree, pleasurable for the participants. Not necessarily for the audience, mind you, but let’s not get carried away with hibernian joie de vivre here. More beautiful photography is deployed (night-time views from a tower block are a gift to digital cinema), though I’m uncertain about the cut-aways to a gently burbling lava lamp during the actual coitus — it seems somehow comical. But the shots themselves are v. pretty.

Mario Lava

The semi-pleasurable sex (very explicit, very unromantic, kind of squalid and horrible to watch, but photographically nice at times) fits in with the general vibe — this is post-RATCATCHER Scottish miserabilism. Lynn Ramsay’s sullen wallow of a film departed from the social-realist vibe of the Loach imitators with flights of fancy, like a mouse landing on the moon by balloon — only a moment, but it lifts the thing out of straight realism. The new flavour is more “artistic”,  in the sense that poverty must be rendered aesthetically pleasing, less political, but just as dour. (Lynn Ramsay = Tarkovsky with deep-fried Mars Bars.)

Curran’s chat-up line, in which he speculates frankly as to the flavour of Dickie’s genitals, and his description of her as “that bird with the nice arse” seem to have won her over, and the sex scene goes off without a hitch, nobody gets beaten or covered with custard (thank you, YOUNG ADAM, for that enduring image of Caledonian loveplay) and everybody seems to have as good a time as they’re capable of, within the generic constraints.

Then Dickie walks out on Curran, goes to the bathroom, and does something horrible involving bodily fluids.

And to think, I’d been invited round to one of my student’s flat to watch an evening of films about MINING.

Time for bed. I’ll finish this tomorrow. I’ll admit I’m intrigued as to what she’s up to, though. But I can’t help feel that by holding back Dickie’s whole motivation, Arnold has effectively shut the audience out of the film. I have more sympathy at present with the rather vile Curran character, because I share his puzzlement. It’s hard to share anything with Dickie as she’s such a closed book. But I expect all this to be cleared up, and that may justify everything.

Songs For Swingin Lavas

Apart from the lava lamp, which needs no justification.

The Thousand Eyes of Dr. MacBuse

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by dcairns

Screen Test 

RED ROAD, chapter two. Good thing the filmmakers helpfully divided their movie into episodes so I could watch it over several days.*

Last seen, Kate Dickie was starting to sort-of-stalk a fellow called Clyde (Tony Curran) newly released from prison. After another 24 minute installment, that’s still all that’s happening, but she is now doing her stalking at (very) close quarters, rather than relying on her security cameras. There’s been more extremely nice, atmospheric photography, and the revelation that while she knows who he is, he’s never seen her before in his puff. So the plot has coagulated just a touch.

The Yellow Wallpaper

Co-stars Martin Compston and Natalie Press have appeared. The latter dumps half a tin of dog food directly onto the kitchen floor for her puppy to chow down on, and I am genuinely impressed by the inventive squalor of this. Almost everybody in the film still seems to be suffering from clinical depression. Kate Dickie is actually one of the liveliest, with Compston bringing some of his colossal charm to bear, and Press has a spasming, out-of-control face that seems to be obeying the dictates of some alien power, which makes her disconcerting yet pleasurable to watch, as she was in MY SUMMER OF LOVE (I do like SOME modern British cinema).

Press the button 

The pace is starting to wear me out — the relentlessly SLOW pace. Not that events are spectacularly drawn-out, or that nothing’s happening, but nothing of clear significance is happening. If we’re heading for an amazing revelation, one feels that it had better be amazingly amazing. My spirits are at a low ebb, and then Kate Dickie throws up in an elevator. Lovely. A basic staple of entertainment, something no truly Scottish film can be without: somebody heaving their guts up in a confined space.

I stop the disc and run off to see Jancsó’s THE ROUND-UP at Filmhouse. More later.

On the Buses

*They did no such thing.

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