Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” the drug addled “T2 Trainspotting” and the no-holds-barred “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”
Twenty-one years on from the full on frontal assault that was “Trainspotting,” the old gang is back together but the only things that truly binds them is a shared past. “You’re a tourist in your own youth,” says Sick Boy/Simon (Jonny Lee Miller).
At the center of it all is Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor). The last time we saw him he was a wastrel and double-crosser who cheated his friends out of £16,000 in a drug deal. After hightailing it to Amsterdam he’s now a fitness freak who spends more time running in a treadmill than running from the law.
His former friends, now all in their forties, are in various states of personal disrepair. “The wave of gentrification has yet to wash over us,” Simon quips.
Sick Boy/Simon is still a dodgy dude with a King Kong size Coke problem, who makes ends meet by blackmailing the wealthy customers of his prostitute business partner Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).
Spud/Daniel (Ewen Bremner), still an impressive mash-up of ears, teeth and gangly limbs, is now a pathetic creature that chooses heroin addiction over a life with his wife Shirley Henderson) and child.
The fourth member of the group, Begbie (Robert Carlyle), he of the bad attitude and broken pint glasses to the face, is indisposed, locked up but with a way out and a gut full of hate for Renton.
Loosely based on author Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting” follow-up novel “Porno,” the new film from Danny Boyle, asks if it is ever possible to go home again—in this case Edinburgh—especially if home involves a dangerous psychopath with a grudge and an ex-BFF who wants revenge.
“T2 Trainspotting” does something quite remarkable. It places nostalgia in the rear view mirror while, at the same time, celebrating bygone days. To see Mark confront his past complete with the emotional attachments and entanglements that come along with it feels like a universal reckoning, a reminder that the world changes even if we don’t.
That’s the beating heart of the film, the rest is window dressing, It’s fun to hang out with these almost lovable villains for a couple more hours, to catch up on old times, immerse ourselves in their down-and-dirty lives and even get a new Choose Life riff but a heavy air of regret hangs over the proceedings. It reinforces the idea that we can’t relive the glory days no matter how hard we try. It’s a middle-age truism brought to vivid life by Boyle and cast.
In revisiting the past the director does, however, put an intimate spin on the story with clever visual integration of past memories—present day characters mournfully share the screen with their younger counterparts—and a melancholy sense that no matter how hard we try to move forward ultimately our lives are simply a continuation of everything that came before. As Renton says, “choose history repeating itself.” It’s not a thunderbolt revelation but revisiting these characters—particularly the tragicomic Spud—puts a face to those anchored in the nostalgia.
For fans of the original film “T2 Trainspotting” will be an enjoyable ride. It is as good a sequel to a classic film as you could hope for. It’s a shame the returning female characters played by Kelly MacDonald and Shirley Henderson are relegated to cameos and the original’s sense of infectious anarchy has been dulled somewhat but the film’s mix of redemption and regret are ample replacements.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. This week Robert Carlyle gives us news on the upcoming Trainspotting sequel while Canadian news legend Peter Mansbridge tells us how he joined the ranks of Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket and Aladdin and became a Disney character in Zootopia.
The Legend of Barney Thomson is a movie Robert Carlyle was almost destined to make. The Once Upon a Time star not only plays the lead character, he directed the Scottish black comedy about an awkward barber who unwittingly becomes a serial killer.
“I was offered this four or five times purely as an actor over a period of five or six years,” he says. “I was over here in Vancouver working and a friend of mine said he had a Scottish script that I might be interested in. I said, ‘Of course I’ll read it,’ and it was that again. I can’t get away from it.”
The script is based on The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson by Douglas Lindsay, a novel The Scotsman described as “gleefully macabre.”
Carlyle, a Maryhill, Glasgow native, liked the screenplay but says, “there were certain aspects of Glasgow culture that were missing from it.”
“In Glasgow we have a way of speaking to one another that is kind of harsh. That was missing.”
He drew from personal experience to find Glasgow sites that “fitted in with Barney’s life.”
“A lot of the locations you see in the film like the Barrowland Ballroom are places that are kind of dying and might not be around for much longer so I thought this was an interesting way of documenting some of these places.”
Initially he signed on only as an actor but soon found himself doing double duty.
“Believe me when I say, it certainly wasn’t my idea. I don’t know if (the idea) came from the financiers or not. I can’t remember but from whichever source it came from it seemed to be an interesting hook to hang this on that not only was I going to be in it but direct it also. That enthused the financiers.”
The first time feature film director says he took his lead for the tone of the movie from the book and the script.
“Let’s not have the camera moving around and spinning around in circles. Let’s spend the time on the performances and not the camera angles, which you end up cutting anyway.”
He recruited an all-star cast, including Sir Tom Courtney, Ray Winstone and his old Trainspotting cast mate James Cosmo. In a casting coup, he hired two time Oscar winner Emma Thompson to play against type as Barney’s monstrous mom.
“Many, many years ago at the beginning of my career she did a piece on Scotland TV called Tutti Frutti,” he says. “She’s played a Scot in that, from Glasgow. I thought, ‘She’s remarkable. I thought she was English.’ Then suddenly I realized, she is English and just did this terrific accent. There’s not many English people who can do a Scottish accent that well.”
The Legend of Barney Thomson has already won Best Picture at the Scottish BAFTAs and Carlyle is keeping busy on the small screen as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin on Once Upon a Time.
It’s his next project, however, that has the Internet buzzing. In May he’ll reprise the role of the pint glass-wielding psychopath Francis Begbie in the sequel to Trainspotting alongside the film’s original director and cast.
“We were all very emotional when we read it,” he says, “even Danny (Boyle), because these four characters have followed us around for twenty years. Where ever I go people are talking about Begbie. It is very close to us.”
28 Days Later was a full-blown Halloween flick, a scary story complete with drooling angry zombies that so unnerved my P.M.C. (Preferred Movie Companion) that we had to go see Finding Nemo immediately afterwards to settle her jangled nerves. Five years on the sequel, 28 Weeks Later, doesn’t offer much that’s different or better than the original, but will likely inspire the same kind of nightmares that only Nemo can soothe.
We pick up the story you guessed it, 28 weeks after the outbreak of the rage virus which turned the citizenry of Britain into red-eyed brain chompers. Don (Robert Carlyle) who survived the zombie holocaust, and his two children who were vacationing outside the country at the time of the outbreak, are among the first survivors to be relocated in a safe zone run by the US Army.
Don stayed alive after cowardly abandoning his wife, leaving her to become zombie food while he ran to freedom. When she returns he is remorseful and contrite, and doesn’t notice that her eyes carry the tell-tale sign of the virus—they’re bloodshot. She either has the illness or was drinking with George Clooney the night before. Soon it is determined that she carries a dormant form of the deadly Rage virus, and before you can say, “Run for the hills!” hordes of newly infected bloodthirsty creeps are roaming the streets.
28 Weeks Later is written like a big American action film—loads of clichéd dialogue, cute kids in peril—but is shot like a European art film. Taking a note from the original, director goes handheld for most of the film, shooting on grainy film stock which gives the movie a documentary feel. His frenetic editing builds tension, but since the movie mostly takes place at night, or in darkened settings it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what exactly is happening on screen. More than once I found myself wondering, “Who’s eating who?”
Stylistic quibbles aside, 28 Weeks Later tries hard to unnerve the audience. When the going gets “wet” (as they call it in the horror biz) it’s gory enough to keep the hardcore zombie fans happy, while those looking for something more will find some social commentary tucked in amongst the blood and guts as they draw parallels to the very real US presence in Iraq and their fictional, heavy-handed efforts to rebuild London.
28 Weeks Later is an effective, but given the success of the original, slightly redundant, piece of speculative fiction that pushes the zombie myth to the next level. Although in the wake of the American government’s lame attempts to rebuild both New Orleans and Bagdad, the idea that they could be instrumental in rejuvenating the British Empire in just 28 weeks is perhaps the most far-fetched thing about this movie.