Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Years day.

It's raining, it's cold, it's windy and there is a thick fog.

Last night I watched the film Shallow Grave - first time since it came out - in 1994.

It always amazes me just how good my visual memory is, I thought at the time that it was a remarkable film and a visual treat, but every tiny detail seems to have embedded itself somewhere in my head. Obviously, the main actors look much older now - and there isn't a single person in the film who hasn't gone on to become a major star (even the pale faced boy working in the Travel Agent is Tony Curran - who is quite a big star himself now but shall be ever immortal for this one role). I remember reading at the time that they tried very hard to make the apartment where most of the action takes place into a character in the film - and I think they succeeded.

It was remarkable because it was full of striking, angry, vivid colours (all of which are now desperately fashionable) but at the time, in a world of rag-rolling and mushroom and biscuit sponged dado rails - it was quite shocking. The appartment, a huge mansion flat in Edinburgh - is beautiful beyond belief and exactly where I have always waned to live - I can still recall seeing it and thinking to myself - 'that's where I'm going to end up, eventually - in a home just like that'. There are a number of well placed bits and pieces of very good contemporary art scattered around the flat in the background - including a number of paintings by the Scottish artist Stephen Conroy - another favourite, and the script, plotting and characterisation is still as brilliant, savage and disturbing now as it was then. It could quite easily make an exceptional stage production.

What struck me now - that I couldn't possibly have understood at the time, was that it was also an observation on the people of the times. How selfish, greedy, gloating and stupid the 90's were. It was all about money, power, possession and winning, just taking what you wanted, regardless of the consequences for anyone else. They were what we now fatuously refer to as 'Thatcher's Children'. I remember that the girl who gave me a lift to the cinema (a really lovely girl called Ingrid who had a Swedish Mother and was an excellent social worker) was in a relationship with a staggeringly wealthy hedge fund manager at the time - he was a complete cock) and I was seeing someone who worked as a political lobbyist for Ian Greer Associates, the company that collapsed after it was investigated for very dubious actions in the lead up to the Blair government - it was a short relationship, because despite presenting himself as a hard working Labour party member - he was probably the most corrupt person imaginable. Every at that time seemed obsessed with wining and money - and I'm afraid we're reaping the rewards of that one now.

If you get the chance to watch it again - do. I know quite a few people in film and have a very different eye now - so I can look at detail, technique and the astonishing craft that went into that film in a very different way, it's full of discovery. At one point - you are in a scene set in Christopher Ecclestone's office, all the other chartered accountants are wearing sleeveless pullovers, the focus pulls through a row of 5 young men and you see in astonishing detail that each one is wearing the exact same quite beautiful hand knitted sweater, just in different colours, it's just an aside but a wonderful detail. One thing I've always questioned. I could never decide (and I still can't)  if Ewan McGregor was actually dead in the final scene and talking/laughing to camera seen only by the audience - it makes sense, but I'm still not sure. It still has the very best 'payoff' shot in any film I have ever seen - I honestly didn't know what was going to be in that suitcase at the end - I didn't see that one coming, which is probably the point of the whole film. At every stage there were a thousand things they could have done differently, and still won - but their greed and stupidity drove them down to hell.

I also watched 'Sean Of The Dead' to cheer myself up and it really reminded of living in London in my 20's, and feeling free and without anything holding my back or any responsibilities (not including the whole 'end of the world' subplot etc )

One thing I didn't mention over Christmas (yeah, I know I've posted a lot - I needed to clear my mind a bit) was that I had a quite substantial outbreak of Psoriasis on Christmas eve, all over my face, head and neck - it's now gone, but I had to shave my head and beard to deal with it, something I hate doing. Partly because now that my face has 'calmed down' I have quite a substantial and noticeable droop to one side of my mouth where most of the repair work was done - which never closes properly now and having a beard helps. Another reason to stay at home over Christmas. It's OK now - and thanks to eating properly, staying quiet, not drinking and refusing to be stressed out too much for 10 days - I actually look pretty good.

Here I am doing my 'Singing detective' act - frankly - shaving all my hair off is worse than the psoriasis. Those are my 'at home' glasses - the ones I wear for work are a lot less heavy. I clearly wasn't very happy when that photograph was taken. The paint is peeling off the bathroom wall behind me because next door refuse to repair the flashing on their roof.


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