Friday, January 25, 2013

Pick O' the Week - January 25

This week in entertainment news, JJ Abrams was hired to direct Star Wars Episode VII (and the internet was immediately awash with lens flare jokes), the trailer for the new Coen brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis was released, and it was announced that Adele will perform her most disappointing (yet somehow Oscar worthy) song at this year's ceremony.

In other news, Kathryn Bigelow defended her freedom of speech and interpretation of the events in Zero Dark Thirty on the Colbert Report Tuesday, saying that while she finds torture reprehensible it would have been, "whitewashing history," not to include the enhanced interrogation techniques that were used.  And finally, HBO has confirmed a Bored To Death movie is in the works, much to the delight of Ted Danson.

Oh yeah and since it's Robbie Burns day today I have to honour my Scottish heritage and pick 4 choices from or about the best I can.

In Theatres: Unfortunately pickings are a little slim in this category so you have two options if you want a "Scottish" film in theatres: 1) Skyfall, takes place partly in Scotland to showcase Bond's Scottish heritage which IS from the original novels  2) Brave, a cute and perhaps a little sappy Disney film about a princess who wanted to just be herself.  Special mention goes to Kelly MacDonald for playing the lead in this one (she'll show up later in the picks).

At Home: Rob Roy (the film my cousins like to say SHOULD have been bigger than Braveheart). It follows much of the same themes: family, love and honour, while leaving out much of the historical events that were occurring at the time.  Lauded for its beautiful scenery and treatment of the highlands this film was billed as an action adventure rather than a historical drama.  Starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lang, Eric Stoltz and Tim Roth (who won a supporting Oscar for this one) it's worth having a second look.

On TV:  This one was emailed around by my family for awhile but did you know that voice recognition software has a SUPER tough time with Scottish accents?  Who knew?  Well this guy did, but anyway this little skit is from a show called Burnistoun which plays a little like Little Britain but with a distinct Scottish twist.  I'm sure there are better shows coming out of Scotland but this one makes me giggle.

Retro Re-Watch: It's hard to believe it's been 16 years since Transpotting was made into a film and it's still just as hilarious and raw and touching as it was when I first laid eyes.  The novel was shortlisted for a Booker Prize but apparently offended two judges on the panel.  The film stars a young (and VERY skinny) Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller (Elementary), Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Once Upon A Time), Kelly Macdonald (No Country For Old Men, Boardwalk Empire) and even the authoer Irvine Welsh himself.  Contrary to the novel's tenuous position as both praised and reviled material, the film garnered almost exclusively praise from critics and was even nominated for both a BAFTA and an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

Special mention?  Brigadoon.  I realize it was entirely shot in Los Angeles and is a ridiculous portrayal of Scotland but I do love Gene Kelly.  And there's something exciting about big musical numbers with kilts ;)

Now keep in mind this list is based on a lot of nostalgia and there is acclaimed cinema coming out of Scotland all the time.  Particularly Angels' Share has been much talked about this year, winning the coveted Jury Prize at Cannes.  Older films such as Local Hero and Gregory's Girl are also quite well regarded within industry (though I've not had the pleasure as yet).

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