With updates to this blog slowing down in 2010 and coming to a complete halt in 2011, the time has come to admit that I no longer have the time to devote to updating this little corner of the Internet.
Since I started the site back in 2008, the number of Edinburgh entertainment sites has grown, with most of them latching onto the same events and shows and trying to cover them in their own way, to varying degrees of success. Quite whether the paying public is as interested in our reviews as we are is a subject worth debating.
Increasingly I’m looking for original features, interviews and other coverage of plays or films rather than yet another 350 word review, but those are few and far between.
So, I’ll keep writing for the Edinburgh Evening News for the moment, along with film site ReelScotland and my Twitter feed over at @jon_melville, and I’d love to see some of you there.
If you’ve read any of the reviews or previews on this site over the years then thank you, if you’ve enjoyed them then that’s even better. I’ll leave the site online as a kind of archive, and perhaps it will return in some format or other in the future, but for now, itsonitsgone.com is, well, gone.
Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that updates, in particular film updates, have decreased in recent weeks – but it’s not just because I’ve been watching too many DVDs.
I’ve just set up a brand new website, ReelScotland, which takes elements of this site and adds a whole lot more, with more interviews, reviews, previews and articles about cinema events around Scotland.
I’ll still be adding theatre and the odd film event to this site, but if you’d like to broaden your Scottish cinema horizons even further, please head over to www.reelscotland.com to find out more – I hope you enjoy it.
A freshly staged and newly revised version of I Was a Beautiful Day opens at the Tron on 14 April, running until 17 April. First commissioned by the Traverse Theatre in 2005, the play has been called funny, moving and utterly compelling.
Confined to a hospital room, Dan obsessively maps the terrain of his island past. When a fellow patient hits crisis point, Dan is forced to acknowledge that life cannot be contained by lines drawn on paper.
Anne works for the Ordnance Survey. There is only one man in Scotland who can help her complete the map for a forgotten part of Lewis. But can she convince Dan to confront the terrible secrets of his past?
Perhaps best described as the “anti-Bond”, David Callan was for six years one of the more unique portrayals of the career spy on British television, an embittered man for whom bloodshed was to be avoided where possible and loyalty to Her Majesty was almost a thorn in his side.
Professional killer Callan (Edward Woodward) stalks the shadows of British espionage in these remaining episodes from series one and two, including the atmospheric pilot, Magnum for Schneider.
Sent on each mission-of-the-week by the mysterious Hunter and both helped and hindered by fellow spy Meares (Peter Bowles and Anthony Valentine), Callan is drawn into the sort of situations where a conscience is left at the door.
Update 1 March 2010: This giveaway has now ended
This week sees the release of two classic films from Masters of Cinema that demand the attention of cinephiles everywhere: Fritz Lang’s 1931 thriller M and Douglas Sirk’s 1956 drama There’s Always Tomorrow: and I’ve got copies of each to give away on the blog. Continue reading
Photo by Alan McCredie
In The Beauty Queen of Leenane, coming to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre from Fri 19 February – Saturday 13 March, Martin McDonagh delivers a twisted and comic tale of a mother and daughter trapped in a small village in Galway.
Maureen lives a lonely life, with only her mother Mag for company, tending to her every need, putting up with years of insults (and doling out a few of her own).
When a chance comes along to find love and make a new life for herself Maureen sees an opportunity to escape. Mag has other ideas though, and her interference sets in motion a chain of misunderstandings and betrayals, heart- breaking tragedy and dark, dark humour.
Fans of the 1960s spy genre rejoice: The Avengers Complete Series Three is out now on DVD, a chance to relive the early years of the programme which in many ways defined Sixties television and still stands up today as the epitome of cool.
Over in my review of the series I noted that, while the programme may be best remembered for its later John Steed/Emma Peel episodes which took the world by storm, these Honor Blackman-era adventures show glimpses of what was to come and deserve a place on any discerning genre TV fan’s shelf.
With Patrick Macnee as John Steed and Blackman as Mrs Gale, the world of espionage never looked better.
Thanks to those nice people over at Optimum Home Entertainment I have two copies of the series to give away. Retailing at £42.98 online, as well as 26 episodes, the set comes with commentaries, photo galleries, episode introductions, scripts for every episode and various other goodies. And they look gorgeous.
To be in with a chance to win just answer the following question:
Finally settling into its groove after a bumpy first two seasons, The Avengers hit its stride with series three, Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman’s rapport, along with some of the most interesting scripts in the programmes long history, making it must-see TV circa 1963.
Best remembered for its glorious colour episodes and mad-scientist-of-the-week stories that would typify the later Emma Peel years, in this third series The Avengers was still being made in monochrome and harked back to the grittier tales told in series two, though elements of its future oddness start to creep into the frame.
From Steed being put on trial for murder to the creation of double agents, nuclear weapon theft to mind games for Mrs Gale, the plots veer from the mundane to the strange on a regular basis, episodes such as The Man With Two Shadows, Mandrake and Don’t Look Behind You typical of the style the production team seemed keen to replicate in later series.
Stars Macnee and Blackman have a certain swagger about them this year, no doubt buoyed by the programme’s success in the real world which would soon see them just as much a part of the Sixties scene as The Beatles and Carnaby Street.
Updated 17 February: this giveaway is now closed
Following our preview of this Saturday’s one-off screening of über-cult movie The Room at Edinburgh’s Cameo cinema, you now have a chance to receive two free tickets to witness “the world’s best worst film”.
Released in 2003 by writer/director/producer and actor Tommy Wiseau, The Room cost $6 million to make and centres on Johnny (Wiseau) whose girlfriend is cheating on him with best friend, Mark.
I’ve not run too many giveaways on this blog…and this is no exception as it’s actually being carried out via Twitter. I have a copy of Pontypool, one of my favourite films of 2009, to give away on DVD and Blu-ray.
Set in the small, snowy Canadian town of Pontypool, the movie centres on radio DJ Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) as he and his colleagues battle zombies from the confines of their underground studio.
In my review I said “Pontypool is something of a grower, an always entertaining little film which stays in the memory long after you’ve seen it and improves with age, which is more than can be said for some of its flashier counterparts.” I also quoted a few other reviews when it seemed Pontypool needed help at the box office.
Search for Shangri-la courtesy BFI
I have something of a soft spot for the legend of Shangri-la, the idea that there’s a mystical city nestled somewhere in the Tibetan mountains where man can live an eternity in peace appealing to that little bit of Indiana Jones hidden somewhere inside me.
Never mind that the “legend” was invented in 1933 by author James Hilton for his novel Lost Horizon: it’s an enduringly romantic idea that still gives travellers inspiration today.
So I was pleased to see that the BFI (British Film Institute) are currently touring a new film around the country, one which this week offers film fans in Glasgow to take a trip back to another time, and another continent, to witness life in Tibet between 1922 – 1950 in The Search for Shangri-la.
Footage, shot by British explorers and dignitaries who passed through Tibet in the years leading up to the area’s occupation by the Chinese in 1950, has been pulled together into a stunning film which is part history lesson and part travelogue.
Starting with the first filmed record of Tibet, taken during the 1922 attempt to climb Everest, the British party responsible were permitted by the Dalai Lama to travel through Tibet en route to the fabled mountain.
Accompanied by a new score, evoking the music of the region, we watch as the explorers traverse crevasse and river in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the locals, always careful to respect their customs.
Update 20 February: This event has been cancelled
5…4…3…2…1! Sylvia Anderson is go! Or at least she will be come 26 January when she arrives at Edinburgh’s Queens Hall to promote her new book, My FAB Years.
Covering her years working with husband Gerry Anderson on cult TV series such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, Sylvia will be appearing with song writer David Courtney to discuss her career and impact on 20th Century culture.
Expect an appearance from Lady Penelope at some point of the evening, and keep an eye out for a pink Rolls Royce nearby – Parker might just be giving Sylv a lift to the venue.
You can read more about the book and tour on Sylvia’s website and buy your tickets over on the Queens Hall site.
Mabuse. That name, pronounced Mab-ooz-a, may not resonate with present-day moviegoers, but in the 1920s it struck fear into the hearts of those lucky (or should that be unlucky?) enough to witness the two-part German epic Dr Mabuse, The Gambler (Dr Mabuse, Der Spieler) and the birth of a criminal mastermind.
It was in 1922 that young German director Fritz Lang, perhaps best known today for directing the seminal sci-fi classic Metropolis, brought his version of Norbert Jacques’ novel detailing the exploits of criminal mastermind Dr Mabuse (Rudolf Klein Rogge) to the screen.
Made at a time of great upheaval, both politically and socially, in Lang’s home country, the two-part Der Spieler was a visually hallucinatory attempt to tell the story of a man determined to destroy the economy and legal system of Germany in various dastardly ways.
Using mind-control, violence, con tricks and illusion, this master of disguise would stop at nothing to ensure dominance of the criminal underworld.
Lang’s singular vision, much copied but rarely equalled, ensured that audiences of the time were treated to visually stunning set-pieces and camera tricks the equivalent of today’s computer generated effects, generating gasps in auditoriums as Mabuse’s head detaches itself from his body in one standout sequence.
Following the release of Scottish director Bill Forsyth’s first film, That Sinking Feeling, on DVD, I have my say:
“Bill Forsyth blethers” by jonathanmelville on audioboo.fm
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Punk rockers don’t die, they just put on weight, have midlife crises and wish they were 19 again. That’s the premise of Al Gregg and David Schaal’s new play which drops in on the reunion of ageing London punk band Sonic Generation, a group who haven’t played together for decades but who have been summoned by Plod (Lloyd Morris) for old times sake.
As the boorish, sexist and semi-racist crew reacquaint themselves with each other, mutual distrust the one thing they have in common, the real reason for the gathering becomes clear. Will it take a tragic event (or two) to bring them together again?
Right from its opening breaking-the-fourth-wall address to the audience, the cast of Reality Chokes seem to revel in the fact they are mere feet away from their public.
Exciting news for fans of Bill Douglas/Scottish independent filmmaking/great films: August’s Made in Edinburgh screening at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse will be a three hour showcase of the visionary filmmaker from Newcraighall, the three short films known collectively as The Bill Douglas Trilogy, will be shown on 19 August at 5.45pm.
The Bill Douglas trilogy My Childhood (1972), My Ain Folk (1973) and My Way Home (1978) provide a stark picture of a childhood marked by poverty and isolation.
The films were made over an eight year period in and around Newcraighall, a mining village to the east of Edinburgh. As tribute to the filmmaker a plaque has been erected to commemorate him.
Bill Douglas reputation is one of an innovative and uncompromising filmmaker. He shot far less footage than many other film makers but everything he made showed passionate feeling as well as artistry. His filming style was fiercely unsentimental and often bleak with sparse use of dialogue and camera movement.
Out today on DVD is Tutti Frutti – my review is up now on this site’s sister blog, Adventures in Primetime.
Here’s a brief quote:
Watching the series today, it’s obvious that a crime has been committed in the BBC keeping it locked up for so long.
This isn’t just television, this is art: time and money may be spent trying to keep paintings and statues in the country for future generations, but we’ve been sold a pup – the release of Tutti Frutti from the archives is what we should have been fighting for all along.
Visit Adventures in Primetime for the full review.
In today’s Edinburgh Evening News I devoted my Reel Time column to the work of Edinburgh director Bill Douglas, his much lauded trilogy set in Newcraighall and 1986′s near-forgotten Comrades.
You can read the full article on the Evening News website.
If you’re not still in shock after last week’s epic Torchwood Week on BBC1 (and if not, where were you?) this DVD release of all five episodes is all you need to help you catch-up on perhaps the finest reversal of fortune for a TV series since…well, ever.
A normal day for the Torchwood Cardiff gang, led as ever by Captain Jack Harkness (the omnipresent John Barrowman), soon goes awry when the world’s children all stop in unison and start chanting the same phrase of “We are coming.”
Meanwhile in London, Government ministers, led by John Frobisher (Peter Capaldi) and Prime Minister Green (Nicholas Farrell) are reminded of past misdemeanours when contact is established with the mysterious alien race known as the 456.
Soon Torchwood is facing the full might of a Government keen to cover-up its secrets, the team raising their game far beyond the reaches of Cardiff Bay as the planet edges ever closer to chaos.
Back in November 2007, in a DVD review of BBC Three’s recently aired first season of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, I was less than kind to the new arrival.
Criticising the series makers’ rush to get the programme on air barely a year after it was publicly announced, I commented that it was “a schizophrenic series that annoys as much as it entertains, the perceived need to justify its post-watershed slot meaning that what at times seems to be a treatise on what it is to be a thirty-something in noughties Britain…is often lost in a mire of soft-core titillation and half-baked plots.”
Who would have thought that two years on the BBC would not only have promoted the programme to BBC Two for its second season, but that they’d be stripping it across five nights on primetime BBC One for a truncated third mini-season?
And who would have believed that Torchwood: Children of Earth could be so much fun?