Movie: The Program

November 5, 2015

An all to rare trip to the movies tonight took us to the GFT to watch The Program.  Firstly this was the first time I’ve been in screen 3 at the GFT, which was small, but nice, very clean and with the well behaved audience you expect at the GFT –  only it was very cold!

movieSo, to the movie.  The Program is about the legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong. Seven times winner of the Tour de France and the iconic figure at the head of the sport when I, like many others, discovered how fascinating this race is.  However he is also one of the worlds best known sport cheats taking and making normal the use of performance enhancers and bullying anyone who didn’t agree out of the sport.

This movie is supposed to be based on the work of Irish journalist David Walsh (played by Chris O’Dowd) who pursues Lance and others in the sport involved in drug taking.  Personally I would like to have seen a lot more of his story, but predictably the film focuses on Lance and tries to squeeze far to much into too short a time – in one seen we see him meeting a woman, exchanging a few words cut to them leaving a church as bride and groom – then we never see her again.  For those of us who know the Lance Armstrong story there isn’t much new in this.  The cycling scenes are ok but there isn’t enough.

The most interesting story (perhaps because I wasn’t aware of it) is that of Floyd Landis, a fellow rider on the team who has to struggle with not only lying to the public and to his Pennsylvanian Amish community.

If this is shown on TV it’s worth a watch, or if you are interested in cycling but don’t know the recent horrible history then it’s a place to start.



Movie: Paddington

December 3, 2014

moviesVery simple to review this movie – it’s great!

It doesn’t spoil anything you already know and love about Paddington and adds a great deal.  The animation with live action is excellent making the movie believable and all the acting just on the edge of being over the top but holding it together.

Having grown up with the 5min cartoons it was great to see this as a full length movie.  Will be fine on the small screen eventually, but worth watching on a big one.


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!

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!

movie: Arbitrage

March 8, 2013

According to the excellent (and free) Collins online dictionary Arbitrage is “the purchase of currencies, securities, or commodities in one market for immediate resale in others in order to profit from unequal prices.” fortunately the movie has nothing to do with that and the worst thing about this film (IMHO) is its title!

movieRichard Gere plays the part of a successful businessman who is selling his company, we don’t initially know why, this is just the point at which we the audience enter the story. He has grown up children and grandchildren, devoted wife (Susan Sarandon), servants, etc. obviously a family of great wealth.  Quickly we discover that he has to sell the company to cover up something, he may loose all the money, he may go to jail.  We also find out that he is having an affair and trying to keep everyone in his life happy and all his secrets in place.

That is when things start to go wrong.  He crashes a car killing his mistress and walks away from the accident.  His daughter, who works for the company, discovers some financial problems and confronts him.  An audit is taking place leading up to the sale of the company, but is being delayed by someone for some reason.

Gere just appears to have dealt with one potentially devastating situation when the next one happens, and as viewers we are confused about his motivation – is he a good guy in a bad situation or a bad guy trying not to be found out?  Does he keep his daughter in the dark to protect her or to deceive her?  By running from his mistresses death is he looking after number one or protecting the investors and employees who will suffer if he is found out and the sale falls through?  When someone else is going to go to jail for him will he let it happen or confess?

Gere’s performance is truly exceptional.  He is on screen almost all the time being torn between humanity and sucess at all costs.  But everyone in the cast is shine, Tim Roth is great as the detective out to discover the truth.  Susan Sarandon isn’t on screen too much but when she is you know all about it.  Also worth mention is Nate Parker who plays the son of a former associate of Gere’s character who he turns to for help – his performance is really impressive.

This is a very engaging film that makes you care about the characters and really keeps you guessing right to the end credits.

BTW: watched this at the GFT – excellent cinema with no popcorn, hotdogs, noisy clientele, etc. a pleasure!

movie: Jack Reacher

January 3, 2013

Without doubt the best movie I’ve seen this year!  Obvious joke, but I couldn’t resist it.

Finally this character has made it onto film, and it really is an excellent movie!  The basic plot is that there is a shooting in an unidentified city, there is overwhelming evidence leading to an ex-military sniper who is arrested within hours.  The suspect simply says “Get Jack Reacher” however the DA and detective in charge have no way of getting in touch with Reacher.  We soon find out that as soon as Jack saw the suspect on news reports he made his way to the scene – not to help but to make sure he was found guilty.

movieSo why would the suspect ask for an investigator who wants to find him guilty?  Why did these random killings take place?  Who carried out the shootings?  Why are people trying to throw Jack Reacher off the trail?

I have been a fan of this character since I read Lee Child‘s first novel Killing Floor back in 2006, since then I have read all of the published Child novels and eagerly awaited each new release (and written about each one here).  Jack Reacher is a great character because he is the quintessential drifter, breezing into a situation (usually in a small town somewhere) helps out those in need then wanders off.  Reacher is an investigator, ex-military police, no ties, no baggage, with the sole aim of staying off grid.

There is some controversy about the casting of this movie because the physical description of Jack Reacher across all the novels is summed up as 6′ 5″ tall with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 210 and 250 pounds. He is exceptionally strong, has a high stamina, and looks imposing and intimidating.  So Tom Cruise (5′ 7″, 150 pounds) isn’t the first person that comes to mind to play the part.  But this is a movie – a different thing from the book – in the movie he isn’t described as 6′ 5″ etc…  he is shown as Tom Cruise.  It’s as simple as that for me.  This is a different thing from the book and the important thing is the skills of the man – and Tom Cruise really pulls this off.

I thought the movie was excellent, that Tom Cruise plays Reacher very well.  It is very close to the book, the investigation keeps you guessing, the action scenes are fantastic, just a really good action film.