Movie: What We Did on Our Holiday

October 8, 2014

We got to the cinema!!

Son away overnight so a lot of pressure to have a good time, in this case to choose a good film.  Without a great deal of research we choose to see What We Did on Our Holiday, based on the cast and team behind it..  Billy Connoly, David Tennant, Ben Millar, Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkins.  All I knew about this was a soundbite from Andy Hamilton saying that the film is what they might do with Outnumbered given the pace of a movie.

movieThis is a lovely little film showing family life – how the grown ups talk in front of children and when they think they aren’t listening, how the children react and their understanding of what is going on.  For example, the ‘grown ups’ hide from the children that the grandfather (Connoly) is dying, but when he simply tells them they understand and accept what it means.

I have to admit I was expecting a fairly formulaic movie but with these stars it would still be worth watching.  However, it took an unexpected turn which threw things in a different direction and made it far from formulaic.  The cast are as you would expect fantastic.  The unscripted scenes with the children are fantastic not just because of what they say and do but also the adult actors reaction to what is happening.

This is a really nice film that covers some difficult topics it was nice to watch it on the big screen (Scotland always looks great on a big screen) but I don’t think you would be missing out if you waited to see it on a TV.

PS I can also recommend Empire Cinema in Clydebank for their “Saverday Tuesday” (£3.60 each) but also for the excellent staff who sorted out the row of 8 loudly chatting, phone using, over excited teens.  Have they not heard of the Code of Conduct!

Books: Lee Child “Never Go Back”

June 16, 2014

A long time fan of Lee Child I’ve read all the Jack Reacher stories, when on form there is no better thriller writer.  There have been a couple of books that were a bit dud (in my opinion) and I’m afraid that’s how this one ended up for me.

bookIt started really strong with all the features we look for in a Reacher story plus the twist of him going back to his old command.  In fact the story is really strong for at least half the book with the usual pace and cliffhanger or twist at each chapter change, but as the book draws in there really isn’t any substance to the plot.  He is on the run (or chasing down leads) but with no real reason to anything.  When the final reveal happens and we find out what has been going on all this time – who the bad guys are and what they are up to – it is fairly week and I just thought ‘oh is that all’

In the end it felt like a bit of a waste of time, which is a shame when the first part of the book was ok but the pay-off wasn’t very interesting or as clever as I’ve come to expect from Lee Child.  Still a great character and worth a read but not his best story.

Theater: Wicked

May 20, 2014

I love live shows!  From a school production to a KISS stadium show, I just love the act of humans coming together to create something at a specific time and place.  No matter how rehearsed and managed a live show is each time it is performed it is unique.  Last Wednesday I was reminded just how much I love live shows by going to see Wicked in the Kings Theater, Glasgow.

Wicked posterWe bought these tickets over a year ago, and to be honest I wasn’t that bothered about seeing this particular show.  I knew it was the back story of the Witches of Oz, but other than that I hadn’t paid much attention to Wicked in all the years it has existed on Broadway and around the world.  But I do like live shows!

The Kings is an excellent theater and when you take your seats the stage curtain is a map of Oz with a glowing Emerald City at its center, above the stage is a massive mechanical dragon since the whole story could be said to take place in flashback inside the “Clock of the Time Dragon”.

From the opening number it was obvious that a big part of the evening would be the sound.  I know a little bit about sound engineering (really not being modest – just a little bit) enough to be aware of how technically difficult theater sound can be.  The sound at Wicked was unbelievable!  The balance between orchestra and actors was perfect, not a single line or note was missed, the music was powerful when needed or simple, quiet and unobtrusive, the performances from everyone on stage, and behind the scenes was incredible.

Having ignored this musical never thinking I would see it I was intrigued by how exactly it would fit into the plot of the Wizard of Oz, I thought that it was very cleverly woven together with that story, so intertwined that now that we know the story of Wicked, the Wizard of Oz makes a lot more sense.  It is (sort of like) watching Fight Club once you know the big twist at the end – the same story but you can see it from a totally different point of view.

Wicked was fantastic.  Brilliantly performed, staged and produced.  A very good night out!


Movie: American Hustle

February 14, 2014

Our wedding anniversary gave us the opportunity and impetus to go to the cinema for the first time in many months.  We went to see American Hustle at the Odeon, Braehead, and even though it was Orange Wednesday the theater was almost empty.  Because we have to wait till Lewis is settled we missed the early showings so didn’t get in till after 9, with adverts, trailers, and a movie that was too long for its own good we didn’t get in till nearly midnight – which in the past wouldn’t have been worth commenting on but now with sleep interrupted most nights it is much more of a challenge.

movie poster

movie trailer

So, the film?  Irving Rosenfeld (played by Christian Bale and a lot of makeup) is a conman who partners and falls in love with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams).  They get caught by Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) an FBI agent who offers them a deal of working for him rather than going to jail.  The deal is that they will con (or entrap) corrupt politicians by offering them bribes.  But while the crime caper story is engaging, at times funny and provides the main narrative this film is all about the central characters and the fantastic performances that make them so captivating.  I read a review somewhere that this was a 3 star film with 5 star performances, I would rate the film higher than 3 starts but the it is true that the individual performances are much more memorable than the overall story.  Particularly given that, according to press interviews, much of the performance was improvised.  There are certainly a number of intense scenes that look unscripted and that the actors were reacting rather than acting.

Another massive feature of this movie is the look and sound of New York in the late 70s, the costumes, hair-styles (every review seems to mention the hair, but it really is an integral part of the movie from the very opening scene), and above all the superb mix tape from the 70s soundtrack which brings the era to life. -long black road-

Like many films IMHO this could have been shorter, it was a little self indulgent, lingered and lost pace towards the end, but other than that a great movie.

Review of 2013

January 17, 2014

Previously: review of 200920102011, 2012, here is the summary of my blog posts 2013… as ever please note this is only to help me remember things I really don’t know why anyone else would be interested:

MOVIES (cinema)

RESTAURANTS, blogged about (I don’t blog about every restaurant anymore)…

BOOKS read this year….


  • June: Isle of Lewis
  • November: Crieff Hydro

Other Highlights:

  • April: Son
  • July: Started Cycling to Work
  • Sept: Lewis Dedication

Running Totals:

  • 2009 – 23 books – 6 Movies – 4 gigs
  • 2010 – 33 books – 13 Movies – 10 gigs – 6 restaurants – 4 holidays
  • 2011 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 3 gigs – 1 restaurants – 3 holidays
  • 2012 – 16 books – 7 Movies – 3 gigs – 3 restaurants – 4 holidays
  • 2013 – 8 books – 2 Movies – 0 gigs – 1 restaurant – 2 holidays – Plus 1 son who is wonderful!

Books: Peter May “The Blackhouse”

January 4, 2014

Still trying to catch up on stuff I should have posted last year, I read this around August / September time.  My reading habits have changed a lot with the birth of Lewis.  The times when I used to read have been taken over by other more important things meaning for now I just wont be getting through as many as I used to.

bookThat said I picked up this murder mystery for the obvious reason that it was set on the Island of Lewis a place I have a lot of connection with and have some knowledge of.  The story opens with a murder in a small village on the island, and the Police computers assign the case to DS Fin MacLeod currently in Edinburgh but originally from this village (coincidence?) because the murder resembles a case in Edinburgh he is already working on.

So Fin finds himself back on the island he left 20 years before and had never intended to return to.  The book then starts to switch between the present day investigation and Fin’s past growing up on Lewis with the two stories gradually coming together with many twists and surprises along the way.

I really enjoyed this story and the characters involved.  Peter May’s description of the scenery and the ways of life on the island ring true with me and brought the place itself to life as an integral part of the plot.  This is the first book in a trilogy of this character and I look forward to reading the others.

Catch up (part 3)

January 1, 2014

Lewis attended his first book signing…

Julia Donaldson book signing

Julia Donaldson book signing

children’s books have become a big part of our life – usually reading 4 books to Lewis each night.  Toddle Waddle is always the last book and Lewis seems to take it in like it is some kind of religious creed which is so important to his future that he must strive to understand it and take it all in.

It wasn’t till we went to this signing by Julia Donaldson that I actually realised how many of the books we read to Lewis and look forward to reading to him all come form this one author.  I had heard of the The Gruffalo before Lewis came along but never had cause to read it – its a really nice wee story.  And the first time I read the snail and the whale I totally choked up.

I look forward to reading these same books for the next few years as there will always be something in the story or illustrations to talk to Lewis about.  Whether he ever appreciates a few of them being signed by the author, only time will tell.


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