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Talk Review: Sean Connery presents The Hill, Sunday 24 August, Edinburgh Filmhouse

25 Aug

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to be in the audience of a sell-out screening of 1965’s The Hill, a fantastic film at the best of times but made even better by the presence in the cinema of its star, Sir Sean Connery.

The event took place at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse and was the start of a mini-season of Connery movies being shown to mark the publication of his new book, Being a Scot and his appearance at Edinburgh’s famous Book Festival today.

At just after six o’clock in the evening Mark Cousins, film writer, producer and director (and host of the BBC Scene-by-Scene documentary I mentioned in a post on Adventures in Primetime), took to the stage, clearly as excited to be there as the rest of us, to introduce Sir Sean.

With August 25 Connery’s birthday it seemed only right for Cousins to suggest that we welcome him on stage to the tune of Happy Birthday. As the crowd, numbering somewhere in the hundreds, tried to stay in tune, the one and only Sean Connery appeared on stage, waving and smiling as the song ended and the clapping started and continued for a couple of minutes.

As the welcome ended Cousins began to discuss the film, asking why Connery, who was at the time partway through his stint as James Bond, took on such a different role here. Admitting that he was trying to show another side to his acting, Connery went on to praise the script and its powerful message as well as the directorial style of Sydney Lumet.

Connery also acknowledged that he had some problems with the sound of the film – apparently some prints in the USA added subtitles.

Sadly the talk only lasted fifteen minutes or so, but it was enough for the actor’s enthusiasm for a film made over 40 years ago to shine through. Commenting on the great performances from Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry and Roy Kinnear, it was soon time for Connery to be led off stage, again to much applause.

A fine event followed by a stunning film, its intensity leading a friend to comment that it almost felt like you were in the cell with the characters at some points, so intense was the staging. Another friend had sat in the front row and noted that his close proximity to the screen meant the shots of the men going up the hill were even more harrowing – who needs 3D when you’ve got a talented director such as Lumet?

Review by Jonathan Melville

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Talk Review: Celluloid Sinatra, 2 June, Filmhouse, Edinburgh

2 Jun

Think of Frank Sinatra for a few seconds chances are you’ll conjure up images of the Rat Pack in their prime: Frank, Dean and the boys in 1960s Las Vegas. That’s a fine image to have, but there’s so much that gets forgotten and that Adrian Wootton did a fine job remembering in his illustrated talk, Celluloid Sinatra, tonight at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse cinema.

A small audience – I suppose a bloke standing at the front of a cinema screen discussing an old film star is what could be described as “niche” – gathered to be introduced to the life and times of Francis Albert “Frank” SInatra.

From his birth (a difficult labour caused baby Frank to be scarred by the forceps and for an eardrum to be punctured) through to his days as one quarter of the Hoboken Four and onto his burgeoning film career, Wootton was a fine, informative host.

Continue reading

Talk Review: Alan Grant, 28 January

30 Jan

It was a surprise worthy of a cliffhanger in any issue of 2000AD: former Judge Dredd scribe Alan Grant is a fan of Barbie. Island Barbie to be precise.

This bombshell came near the end of last night’s talk with the comics legend, held at Surgeons’ Hall in Edinburgh.

A question from the audience on which comic Grant would recommend to a 10-year-old girl led to the revelation that he had watched an Island Barbie DVD last week with his granddaughter and was impressed by the quality of the script. Continue reading

Event Review: Malcolm McDowell at EIFF 2004

14 Jan

Malcolm McDowellI’m cheating with this one.

This is actually a review of an event that took place in Edinburgh back in 2004, but as I was at the one-man show mentioned, and it did partly inspire me to start this blog, I’m going to link to this article by Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) programmer Niall Fulton anyway.

The show itself, Never Apologise, was mesmerising and I seem to remember it overran on the night – the man just had so many memories to share.

It’ll only take you a minute or two to read…

Welcome to it’s on…it’s gone

12 Jan

Have you ever flicked through the newspaper, read a post on a website or spoken to a friend about some film, talk, theatre production or gig that sounds right up your street but which was on last week and for some reason you haven’t heard about it till now?

Annoying isn’t it? Well that’s the main reason for this humble little blog.

I’ve been to some great one-off events over the last few years: Malcolm McDowell at the Traverse for two nights doing a fantastic, powerful and moving talk about his friend Lindsay Anderson; a screening of Charles Laughton Directs Night of the Hunter, a chance to see a DVD commentary-style version of the film narrated in the flesh by a film restorer who had spent years splicing it together; a screening of a classic Doctor Who story from 1979 at the Filmhouse in the presence of one of its stars (and James Bond and Indiana Jones baddie) Julian Glover…the list goes on. And on.

This blog is a chance to bring these sorts of gems together in one place. I’ll search out the best films, plays, book launches, interviews and musical events taking place in Edinburgh and add them here. I can’t promise I’ll get them all – it’s a big old town and I’m just one person – but I’ll do my best. And if I can review them, all the better.

So enjoy the blog, add your comments to the posts and let me know if I’ve missed anything…it should be fun.

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