Monday, 24 June 2013

World War Z

Now I wouldn’t normally be drawn to a zombie movie.  Honest.  But this is the Glasgow Zombie Movie , the one where George Square and its environs were used to film scenes of violence, mayhem and panic.  So a bit of a disconnect there, but apparently in the time the film-makers were there millions and millions and millions were poured into the local economy, and locals got to play the part of the zombies.  We’ve heard all the jokes about that so let’s get on with the film.

It’s actually very good.  For some reason, and we are never told why, millions of people have been infected with a virus which is passed on by biting.  They are uncontrollably aggressive and are capable of overcoming the best efforts of armies all over the world.    It largely avoids the ‘yuk’ factor so prominent in most zombie movies and brings a heightened sense of the helplessness of humanity when faced with nature at its most red in tooth and claw.  

At one point a scientist likens nature to a serial killer who has a powerful urge to get caught, and at her strongest sometimes reveals where she is most weak.  Whether this happens, you will have to find out yourself.  

Brad Pitt is great as Gerry Lane, no Man Of Steel, but courageous, sensitive and insightful.  There are no other big name stars but they all work together to produce a tense, quality entertainment.  

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Man Of Steel

The Glasgow premiere of the first Christopher Reeve ‘Superman’ movie was on a Thursday night in 1978 at the Regal Cinema in Sauchiehall Street.  I was there with my wife of three months.  We cheered - at least I did - when Clark Kent  ripped open his shirt to reveal the famous ‘S’; we chuckled - at least I got the joke - when he decided not to get changed in a perspex telephone booth; and our hearts soared - and I think the ‘we’ is appropriate this time - with John Williams’ majestic music.

And here lies the problem with this attempt to tell the old story in a new way.  It just doesn’t touch you at any level.  It was a good idea to tell something of the Krypton back-story and the circumstances which bring Kal-El to the earth but it goes on too long.  We learn about Clark’s early life in flashback and the problems he had coming to terms with his special powers and his alien identity.  This was promising but we didn’t get enough of it.   What we get more than enough of for the last third of the film are migraine-inducing special effects: buildings imploding and exploding, roads being ploughed up, fearsome weapons bringing death and destruction.  I was glad I went to the 2-D version.   

No cheers, no chuckles, no triumphal chords.  One thing though.  From my first encounter with her in a DC comic I have always thought Lois Lane to be a pain.  Amy Adams has made me think again.  

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Kid With A Bike

Having missed this when it was running in the cinemas I was grateful for the chance to see it on BBC 4 last Sunday.  

It’s a very simple story in many ways about Cyril, a boy in care, and his attempts to connect with his father.  The film opens with Cyril on the phone to his father but continually getting the message that the number has been disconnected.  His father has moved away but not told Cyril or the care authorities.    What’s worse Cyril eventually discovers that his father has sold his precious bike.

When eventually Cyril finds his father working in a restaurant he is told that things have moved on, there has been a new beginning and Cyril should not attempt to contact his father again.  Cyril then turns to a local hairdresser Samantha  who is willing to care for him at the  weekends and later takes him into foster care.  This is done at considerable sacrifice since her boyfriend does not approve and later Cyril tests Samantha to the limit when he becomes involved in a robbery at a local newsagent.  Her perseverance proves to be the turning point in Cyril’s life.  

All through the story the bike is a constant.  It is sold, damaged, stolen, used to lead Cyril astray but in the end it is a symbol of his resilience and his commitment to move on.  

Compassion, redemption, hope.  It’s all there.  And great performances from all involved, especially Thomas Doret as Cyril. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

In Praise Of Bibliomania!

I have written about this pathological condition before and its problems.  This morning, however, I had cause to bless my compulsive hoarding of books.  A book I had not opened in over a decade and seemed destined for the charity shop gifted me with an insight which has been invaluable for a sermon which will be delivered tomorrow.  I don't know much about Otto Borchert but I am grateful that in 1933 an English translation was made of his work: 'The Original Jesus.'

Make every book a prisoner and in time it will disclose its riches.