T2 Trainspotting (2017) Film Review

Twenty years since Renton (Ewan McGregor) ripped off his mates and now he’s had to come back to Edinburgh from his new home in Amsterdam. Back to Sickboy (now known as Simon, played by Jonny Lee Miller) a wanna be pimp, small time drug dealer running the least successful pub in Scotland. Back to Spud (Ewen Bremner), still often a junkie who is trying to get clean and spend time with his kid, with little luck. Back to Begbie (Robert Carlyle), the psychopath with a score to settle. Well, let’s face it, they all have a score to settle. It’s not going to be a trip down memory lane.

But yet, that’s kind of exactly what it is for the audience. In many ways, this is the perfect sequel  – non perfect characters searching for some resolution, with much of the black humour and ridiculousness of the first film. It’s great. The soundtrack is not as good as the original, but it was always going to hard to beat that for me.

Trainspotting (1996) Film Review

It was 1996, I was living in London, listening to this soundtrack and loving this film. It’s one of those films that I’ve been fearful of revisiting in case it wasn’t as good as I remember…. But it really is. Thank goodness!

So, Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a heroin addict living in Edinburgh and hanging out with his mates: fellow users Spud (Ewan Bremner) and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), health nut Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and psycho Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Sometimes they are using, sometimes they aren’t. But they are all just trying to get through life and eventually find their way to somewhere. Or not.

It’s a strange film, kind of daggy in ways. I found re -watching that it was far filthier and grosser than I remembered, but it really is a great film. To show how amazing drugs can be and then how terrible an experience using drugs can be with really no strong judgement. And it’s funny and sad and has the most amazing soundtrack. Certainly brought out my nostalgia.

Trainspotting was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published)

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Film Review


You know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk? Jack is dumb and poor and trades his cow for a handful of magic beans that his mother throws out the window and in the mornign a beanstalk has grown to the sky, and so Jack climbs it and steals a whole bunch of stuff from them and then he cuts it down and the giant dies. Well, let’s rewrite this a bit. First, the giants have attacked the world once and were driven off by a king wearing a magic crown and have remained above the clouds for a really long time. But now, due to a couple of silly mistakes and the scheming of the nasty Roderck (Stanley Tucci), there is the chance for the giants to return. It ends up being up to the kings men, notably Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Crawe (Eddie Marsan), helped by Jack (Nicholas Hoult) who was saving Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) to kick the giants’ butts.

I totally should have loved this more. Apart from Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult and Eddie Marsan, all of whose performances I generally really enjoy, there was Ewen Bremner, Ian McShane and Warwick Davis. The story should have been good enough to carry me along. Yet there was something lacking. Something that I just didn’t love. Was it that yet again, there was only one female character? And that while she had a bit of personality, essentially she was just another princess waiting to be rescued? Or did it all just feel a bit forced?


Mortdeci (2015) Film Review


Mortdeci (Johnny Depp) is a rich art collector who is facing bankruptcy, whilst trying to keep his beautiful wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) out of the arms of his old schoolmate, Martland(Ewan McGregor). Then there is an artwork that’s gone missing and… yawn.

I don’t understand this film. I just don’t quite get it. It is funny at times, but it is mostly just odd. It’s almost as though someone remembered how the whacky Austin Powers films were and wanted to recreate that success. So, they got some big names, made some crazy characters, threw in a plot and figured that was that. But instead, it just felt empty and ridiculous.


Little Voice (1998) Film Review


LV (Jane Horrocks) is a painfully shy girl living with her horrible, shouty mother Mari (Brenda Blethyn). LV escapes into the world of her the records that her now-dead father left her – all the classics, Shirly Bassey, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday – all the greats. When her mum hooks up with local talent scout Ray Say (Michael Caine) and he hears LV singing, a plan is cooked up for her to become a star. Not that she wants it. Meanwhile, she has met equally shy pigeon fancier Billy (Ewan McGregor) and he has lit something in her.

I love this film. It’s one of those great little British films that tell a decent story with strong scriptwriting and fabulous performances. Jane Horrocks is just so fabulous in it, especially once she is in the spotlight! Bam! But it is a tough film to watch. So much awfulness. The one bit that falls down for me is the role of the unattractive neighbour Sadie, played by Annette Badland. Her character is mostly silent and acting like a moron like a poor clown. The thing is, the film didn’t need a clown – it was such a tragic film and Sadie was not an appropriate inclusion. Annette Badland would have done a lot better as a strong supporting character.

Little Voice was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Brenda Blethyn).


August: Osage County (2013) Film Review


Beveley Weston (Sam Shepard) an alcoholic academic goes missing, and the three daughters he had with pill-popping wife Violet (Meryl Streep) return to support her. But each have their secrets and problems leading to a massively volatile time.

I saw this as a play by MTC a few years ago and loved it. I especially loved the set, but seemed to recall that the script was very impressive. Hence, I was concerned about watching the film; would it hold up? Would it be overwhelmed by the big names in the cast? (Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin and Benedict Cumberbatch as the main names)

I think it held up extremely well. It’s certainly not a happy film; if you are ever feeling that you are taking your family for granted, watch this. You will love them so much more. So many horrible people in one place.

It is surprising that the film has only been nominated for awards for acting in the Oscars and Golden Globes. With such a strong story and excellent performances, I would have expected it would at least be nominated for Best Film. It’s a far better film that The Wolf of Wall Street. But then, it wasn’t directed by Martin Scorsese, and the main performances are by women. It seems to be a bit of a pattern for the awards I’ve noticed; the films that have been nominated for best performances by actresses are less likely to appear in the best film category than the films nominated for best performance by actor. Sexist? Or are women just not getting leads in good films? Are male stories better? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Interestingly, just after I wrote this, I was sent a link to an article about sexism in the film industry featuring Olivia Wilde. Here it is. She took part in an experiment with some male actors reading aloud from the script of American Pie, only swapping male and female parts. The ladies got the laughs, the guys got bored. Interesting. (I should note that I don’t know anything about PolicyMic. It’s just the link I read. Lazy journalism? I’m not a journalist. FYI)

August: Osage County was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Julia Roberts), for Golden Globes for Best Actress in A Motion Picture,  Musical or Comedy (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Julia Roberts) and for a BAFTA Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts).

Perfect Sense (2011) Film Review

perfect sense

Ooooh. What an idea. The world is suffering from some kind of a plague that affects everyone, sweeping across the world in huge waves. It begins with a wave of euphoria followed by loss of the sense of smell. People were confused, but quickly recovered. But when the next wave passed through, and the next, and people lost more of their senses, the world changed. Suddenly and totally. The film is told from the perspective of Susan (Eva Green) and Michael (Ewan McGregor) who meet and fall in love amongst all of this drama.

At first, I thought it was going to be one of those films where, despite some fairly major events, it feels like nothing happens. There are lots of long, slow and quite beautiful shots with dramatic music, and I was enjoying this enough, but wasn’t sure that I’d get through a whole film. And then things started to go crazy, and it became just fantastic. Quite confronting. Almost depressing. But genuinely excellent; I want everyone to see this film. Still, I’ve really got to stop watching films and reading books about the end of the world. It’s not healthy for my head space.


The Impossible (2012) Film Review


The Impossible is based on the true story of a Spanish family who were holidaying in Thailand when the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 hit. There was no warning, just a sudden wall of water that destroyed everything in its wake. Hundreds and thousands of people were killed and displaced, and those who survived were often on their own, separated from friends and family and unable to contact their families back home.

The film feels so true. It is emotionally traumatic, but also horrific; the images of the devastation and disaster, the physical pain, the desperation. I cried the whole way through, really feeling the emotions as the characters on-screen felt them.  It feels like it has been a long time since I’ve seen Ewan McGregor at his best – and this is him at his best. The pain of the father searching desperately searching for his wife and son, it hurt. Naomi Watts was amazing as a woman in extreme pain still trying to keep herself going for her son. And Tom Holland was marvellous as the oldest son, Lucas.

Naomi Watts has been nominated for a Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) Film Review


I can’t remember what this was nominated for. I’ll have to check. Surely, it couldn’t be the acting. The acting was so appalling at the start of the film, it even seemed like Ewan McGregor was struggling with a Scottish accent, which given that he is a Scot, is shocking. It wasn’t the accent. It was the stiltedness of it all, which gets explained later, but just seemed bad at the start. Somehow (given that I’m aware that films are shot non-sequencially), the acting overall seemed to improve as the film went on.

Ewan McGregor is Dr Alfred Jones, a socially inept bureaucrat in the department of fisheries and wildlife in the UK who is approached by a wealthy businessman to set up Salmon flyfishing in one of the rivers in the Yemen. It seems ridiculous to him given the different climates and various other factors, but when the British government (represented by the wonderfully fouth-mouthed Kristen Scott Thomas) needs a good news story from the Middle East, all stops are pulled out to get the project happening.

It’s actually not a bad little story. Cute, a bit quirky, with a bit of drama and some decent sub-plots. It just didn’t quite work for me.

Emily Blunt nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture –  Comedy or Musical

Ewan McGregor nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture –  Comedy or Musical

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical