Saturday, 10 November 2018

Outlaw King.

On the eve of Scotland’s Referendum in 2014 it was alleged that the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron banned the showing of Mel Gibson’s movie Braveheart on British TV. The reason was said to be that the showing of this movie with evoke even greater support for Scottish independence, something that this proud nation had been trying to win back for over 300 years.
The Crowning of the King of the Scots.

After watching the TV premier of Outlaw King on Netflix I would think this movie, far more than Gibson’s 1995 inaccurate portrayal of William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling Bridge, would evoke a far greater feeling of national pride and would be just the right evenings entertainment on the eve of the next Independence Referendum which is sure to follow the Brexit debacle by the English Tory government.

David Mackenzie’s adventurous and well acted movie movie tells how in 1306 Edward 1 of England laid a blanket of persecution across Scotland and its nobility including the future King of the Scots - Robert the Bruce. That was until the news that Wallace’s had been hung drawn and quartered in London. This horrific news again lit the spark of revolution into the minds of the Scottish people. Following the murder of John Comyn it fell to Robert, after being crowned at Scone, to lead his people once more into battle against their evil oppressors. There followed the Battle of Loudoun Hill in May 1307.  The battle is depicted on screen with no regard for the squeamish.
Robert the Bruce still stands guard outside Stirling Castle.

Although not the turning point in the Scottish Wars of Independence it led on to the landmark victory at Bannockburn in 1314 that in turn gave Scotland freedom to rule itself following the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. That was until 1707 when this basic right was again taken away. The rebirth of the Scottish nation is now well overdue.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Hemingway and Gellhorn.


The film covers the affair and subsequent marriage between Ernest Hemingway, the American novelist, and Martha Gellhorn, considered to be one of great war correspondents. They met in 1936 and were married in 1940 for a turbulent five-year period. Together they covered the Spanish Civil War, the war in Europe also they interviewed Chiangmai Kai-shek during the Japanese invasion of China, all of which are covered in this HBO, made for TV, movie.

Nicole Kidman is convincing as Gellhorn, but Clive Owen is the opposite as Hemingway, whereas you only see Owen on the screen rather than the great novelist. Archive footage and the live action are seamlessly knitted together to form some great scenes especially during the Spanish Civil War.

The reason for finally getting round to watching this 2012 movie is due to the fact that I’m reading Lindsey Hilsum’s hard hitting biography of ‘the foremost war reporter of her generation’ Marie Colvin who sited Martha Gellhorn as her heroine and one of her biggest influence’s. There certainly are a great many similarities between these two brave women, the lovers, the drinking but mainly the adrenaline rush of  front line reporting.


Friday, 27 April 2018

120 BPM.

This emotional movie tells about the lives of AIDS activists in early 90s Paris. Its a bold and vivid story based on the directors (Robin Campillo) own life experiences with ACT UP an international direct action group whose aim was “to bring about legislation, medical research and treatment and policies to ultimately bring an end to the disease by mitigating loss of health and lives”

This ultimately is the story of survival, a story of people they were condemned to death because of their sexually preferences and a story of authorities, both political and medical, that had no empathy towards what they saw as non Christian conformity. A brave story that may be forced to shed a tear over.

Monday, 19 February 2018

The War Game.

After you have watched Peter Watkins disturbing vision of a limited nuclear attack on Kent towns in the south of England could you please tell me why some idiots still want to preserve our nuclear weaponry?  Maybe people think there safe because Trident is based in Scotland and not on the Thames, something you should remember that could easily change.

Made in 1965, commissioned by the BBC following the success of Culloden, but banned from TV screens for 20 years, which in it self smells of a conspiracy between the government and the BBC. I would be the first to admit that it’s a very hard watch but that’s no excuse not the to show this very important documentary style movie which is even more relevant today within 2018’s political atmosphere. Perhaps we ‘the public’ could not be trusted with such a horrifying scenario that when a nuclear war takes place we would all die, and not always very quickly and certainly in pain.

In 1966 it was decided to educate the Establishment with a number of private screenings at the National Film Theatre in London but still the mass population was kept well away. That was until public pressure and a parliamentary motion led to U-turn and the film was granted a limited release via the British Film Institute.

Peter Watkins received no monetary reward from the eventual wider distribution of the film or from its subsequent DVD release even though it did win the Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature in 1967.

Watkins film is not an historical artifact and should not be viewed as such, its a warning given out in the 1960’s for what could happen anytime in the future if the authoritarian establishment don’t get their act together - and it certainly doesn’t look that their going too any time soon.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Three and Out

My interest in this British movie came about because it starred Mackenzie Crook who I had enjoyed in the brilliant BBC TV series Detectorists where he plays opposite Toby Jones as one of two metal detecting friends Andy. This award winning comedy has been a great joy to watch and all 3 series are highly recommended.

In Three and Out (2008) Crook plays Paul Callow a dreamer who is a driver on the London Underground system. He wants to move to Scotland (who in there right mind would not want to) and right a novel. But the sticking point is a lack of funds. After he has two fatal accidents, while driving his train, in less than a month he finds out that if he can manage a further fatal accident within the same month London Transport will give him early retirement and 10 years salary, which would allow him to live out his dream All he needs to do is find a volunteer to jump in front of his train!

I enjoyed the rather black humour of this twisted story, but I realise that I am in the minority. The critic hated it and ASLEF the train drivers union organised a protest at the movies premiere accusing the films plot of being ‘insulting and foolish’. They pointed out, quite rightly, that any train driver involved in fatal incidents could be traumatised by it.  Although I can see where the Union are coming from, I don’t agree with the critics.