Tag Archives: Scotish

T2 Trainspotting

29 Mar
Johnny Lee Miller and Ewan McGregor reprise their roles as Sick Boy and Renton, both a little older but not much wiser

It’s been 21 years since Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor shocked audiences with that creepy dive into a fecal-fleeced toilet in Trainspotting, somehow making being a heroin addict a hilariously biting — albeit tragic — trip along the way. Part gonzo romp, part sad social satire, the stylish weave followed the vein-piercing antics of four Edinburgh junkies, slaves to skag and capable of doing anything to score their next fix — including ripping off their best mates. Not a great lot to throw in with, but a highly entertaining one as the fix-needing squabbles reached the near hyperbolic absurdity of the Three Stooges.

At the end of that 1996 adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s cult novel, one of the four is dead and another runs off with the group’s hard-earned drug money, which leave affairs in a difficult place to pick up, but Boyle and his screenwriter John Hodge, who adapted T1 and has collaborated with Boyle on several other projects, have a real feel for the lads and leverage Welsh’s 2002 follow up, Porno to give the middle-aged blokes a shot at redemption before heading off for the nursing home.

We first catch up with McGregor’s Renton (the guy who stole all the money and — as the film has it — ruined everyone else’s life) now living in the Netherlands and who appears to have made good on his promise at the end of Trainspotting to change, but a small cardiovascular event trips him up (literally) and sends him back to Scotland where he learns his mom has passed. A quick check in with old pal Spud (Ewen Bremner) finds unhappy times for the sweetly pathetic user who’s been unable to shake his monkey. The reunion is cemented by an uproarious eruption of vomit that becomes one of the film’s most lingering images the same way excrement took center stage the last time. Next up on the reunion tour is Sick Boy (Elementary‘s Johnny Lee Miller) who half wants revenge but also needs Renton to help launch a massage parlor that’ll offer happy endings to those in the know. Renton agrees partly out of remorse and old time’s sake but also because he’s drawn to Sick Boy’s girlfriend and house-madam-to-be, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova, who’s sultry, yet knowing presence lights up the screen). Continue reading

Advertisements

Slow West

1 Jun

Here’s something: a Western in which a young Scot is guided by an Irishman through the inhospitable American frontier of the late 1800s. That landscape in “Slow West” is breathtaking to behold, mountainous, verdant, fertile and feral, but none of it is truly American – the film was shot in New Zealand in the same wondrous mountains where Peter Jackson staged much of the “Lord of the Rings” films.

052815i Slow WestThe writer/director, John Maclean, played in a retro-alternative band and is Scots himself, so there’s that with the how and why. He also happened to make a pair of short films with the versatile actor Michael Fassbender, whose broad CV includes sci-fi (“Prometheus” and two “X-Men” films) and collaborations with Quentin Tarantino and Steve McQueen (they’ve hooked up three times, including “Twelve Years a Slave”), so enticing the Irish thespian to take up the role of an enigmatic drifter in the mold of Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” for his feature debut must have been a simple dialup of favors among friends.

The re-partnering pays dividends, but for all the grandiose high stakes and murderous guns that loom at every turn, “Slow West” moves more like a dream than your prototypical western, broken and filled with misty motifs that drift by and never fully weave together. The slow quest west get driven by the misguided passion of one Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee, the young boy in “The Road”), a wayward lad imperiled in a foreign land, unaware and lovelorn for a lass from his homeland (Caden Pistorius) who fled to America (from Scotland) to escape a bloody and unfortunate mishap. Luckily for Jay he is happened upon by Fassbender’s Silas Selleck, more than pretty good with a gun and whose services can be had for a reasonable fee. The great peril in their mission isn’t so much that Jay won’t find his love, but the ruthless bounty hunters seeking the hefty fee on the lass’ head and knowing Jay is the only possessor of the few clues as to where she might be.  Continue reading