T2 Trainspotting Short Review

Following a film like Trainspotting, which is held in high regard by all film fans, was going to be difficult for anyone. If anyone was up to the task, it was Danny Boyle – national treasure and Oscar-winning director of the original.

T2 Trainspotting begins with a typically stylish round-up of the main characters’ whereabouts 20 years since we last saw them.

Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is in exile in Amsterdam where he has seemingly replaced his addiction to smack with the fitness bug. Daniel ‘Spud’ Murphy (Ewen Bremner), however, is still seeking help for his habit. Robert Carlyle’s Francis Begbie is in prison. And Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) is scratching a living running his aunt’s pub … while also blackmailing rich men with videos of them being done up the arse by a mysterious woman wearing a strap-on dildo.

Once all of the main characters have been reintroduced with gusto, it comes as a huge relief when it dawns on you that this is definitely a Danny Boyle film, and you are in the safest of hands.

Despite Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie being plastered everywhere on posters for the T2 promotion campaign, the plot actually revolves around a new character. It is Veronika – both Sick Boy’s girlfriend and the girl with the strap-on dildo – who holds all the cards in T2.

Renton returns from Amsterdam and is immediately smitten by the beautiful Bulgarian (played by the relatively unknown Anjela Nedyalkova), leading him to become embroiled in one of Sick Boy’s schemes. Which is, of course, to start a brothel on the second floor of the pub for his lovely lady to run.

So begins the daring scam to drum up the money for the business. Begbie, meanwhile, is on the loose and wreaking his own personal brand of havoc.

While all this is happening at what seems like the pace of one of Sick Boy’s coke-fuelled nights in, T2 plays out as a painful lament to lost youth.

Boyle is undoubtedly an expert film maker, and he makes no mistake of driving home the sheer agony of growing old and having nothing good to show for it. It is so excruciating not because the tone of the film is sombre throughout, but because the bursts of cheeriness are so incredibly bright and bold … and yet fleeting. What is more, they always pale in comparison to the joys the characters felt as young lads growing up together. Memories of their youth appear frequently as wonderful dreamlike scenes from which the harsh reality of adulthood always quickly jolts them awake.

This gives the Renton and co. much more depth than they were afforded in Trainspotting. Whether it is light touches such as Begbie’s erectile dysfunction or more important developments, each role is beefed up.

The greatest thing about T2 is its faithfulness to its genesis. Not only does it look back on Trainspotting with fondness and direct references, it is true to everything else about what made the first film great.

Edinburgh plays a much bigger part in this movie. That includes not only the setting of scenes in the city centre and the scenery overlooking it, but also the decision to have Edinburgh hip-hop group Young Fathers provide the thumping heartbeat that keeps life flowing through T2.

One of the main talking points of the first film was of course its incredible soundtrack. It’s usually the first thing anyone says about Trainspotting whenever it comes up in conversation. So, as expected, music plays a big part in the sequel.

There are times when that seems uncomfortable, such as during the somewhat forced club scene when a big crowd on the dancefloor is strutting in sequence to Radio Ga Ga and then It’s Like That by Run-DMC vs Jason Nevins for no apparent reason.

T2 is not the perfect film, but it is the sequel that fans of Trainspotting wanted. It is bold, brash, disgusting, and violent. Yet it is also tender, sweet, and comforting for every adult watching it who can empathise with the pain each character feels about life failing to live up to expectations.

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T2 Trainspotting Full Review

The week that T2 Trainspotting was released, director Danny Boyle and the films stars – Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, and Ewen Bremner – were guests on the Graham Norton Show. On there, Boyle told a story about a warning he received from a member of the public when they were filming T2 Trainspotting …

While shooting a scene atop a high-rise, an impassioned fan pointed at the Oscar-winning director from an adjacent set of flats and said: “This better not be shite, Danny.”

Such was the nervous anticipation surrounding the sequel to Boyle’s 1996 cinematic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel, Trainspotting.

The first film began as a breakout indie hit, grew into a cult classic, and is now considered as one of the best British movies of all time. So the pressure on T2 has been huge. Fans of Trainspotting were understandably apprehensive about the sequel. Especially because we live in an age of sequels and reboots made for nothing other than feeding bovine fans with nostalgia to milk them of their money.

Sick Boy: “Nostalgia. That’s why you’re here. You’re a tourist in your own youth.”

Following a film that is held in such high regard by film fans is difficult enough, but T2 was made all the more difficult to produce by two other factors.

Firstly, the written sequel was released in 2002, when Irvine Welsh’s Porno was published.

Set 10 years after the first instalment, the title of Porno is not subtly drawn from an old story involving the main characters as Trainspotting is. No, Porno is about Sick Boy enlisting his pals to break into the pornography industry and, therefore, involves a lot of graphic sex scenes; making it less than ideal material to convert to film for mainstream cinema viewing, even with an 18 certificate.

Secondly, after Trainspotting, Danny Boyle and his muse Ewan McGregor had a big bust up over the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role of Boyle’s fourth feature film, The Beach. It was the first from the Bury-born director that did not feature McGregor in the lead role, despite him originally being led to believe it would be his. The two did not talk for years afterwards.

To navigate around the difficulties of Porno, Boyle reenlisted his faithful screen writer John Hodge, with whom he has worked on films from as long ago as Shallow Grave to as recently as Trance.

Irvine Welsh had a hand in T2 as well, as an executive producer. The novel writer and DJ also reprises his cameo role as drug-peddling low-life Mikey Forrester, who has gone up in the world. No longer is he dishing out opium suppositories among other things, he now has a warehouse space filled with stolen televisions and fridge freezers filled with Viagra.

So, once Messrs Boyle and McGregor were able to reconcile, the sequel was on. And reconcile they did. Obviously.

T2 Trainspotting begins with a typically stylish round-up of the main characters’ whereabouts 20 years since we last saw them.

Having stolen £16,000 from his ‘best mates’, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is in exile in Amsterdam where he has seemingly replaced his addiction to smack with the fitness bug. Daniel ‘Spud’ Murphy (Ewen Bremner), however, is still seeking help for his habit. Robert Carlyle’s Francis Begbie is in prison. And Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) is scratching a living running his aunt’s pub … while also blackmailing rich men with videos of them being done up the arse by a mysterious woman wearing a strap-on dildo.

The reintroduction of the old gang is explosive. An unrecognisable Renton is running on a treadmill while the blistering Shotgun Mouthwash by High Contrast powers into your ears. Of course, Trainspotting began with Renton running (to the legendary Lust For Life by Iggy Pop), only that was away from security officers trying to catch him for stealing goods to fund his drug habit; so Renton has come a long way.

That is then juxtaposed with Begbie’s entrance. Two decades of reflection in prison have only reinforced his violent tendencies. He hasn’t changed at all; still every bit the mustachioed menace we remember, only now he is trapped inside.

Similarly, Spud is still the guy we remember – a shambolic junky. His clownish antics continue to provide comic relief in T2, but he is given much more depth this time round as he tries desperately to do something good with his messed up life.

Sick Boy carries the greatest air of frustration at how things have turned out for him. After all, he was the member of the group who seemed to talk, walk and dress with the greatest confidence. Yet his life has come to nothing. He has failed at every sordid venture he’s put his name to and as a father too.

Once all of the main characters have been reintroduced with gusto, it comes as a huge relief when it dawns on you that this is a Danny Boyle film, and you are in the safest of hands.

Despite Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie being plastered everywhere on posters for the T2 promotion campaign, the plot of the film actually revolves around a new character. It is Veronika – both Sick Boy’s girlfriend and the girl with the strap-on dildo (NOT a Stieg Larsson book, by the way) – who holds all the cards in T2.

Renton returns from Amsterdam and is immediately smitten by the beautiful Bulgarian (played by the relatively unknown Anjela Nedyalkova), leading him to become embroiled in one of Sick Boy’s schemes. Which, as you would assume, is to start a brothel on the second floor of the pub for his lovely lady to run.

So begins the daring scam to drum up the money for the business. Begbie, meanwhile, is on the loose and wreaking his own personal brand of havoc.

While all this is happening at what seems like the pace of one of Sick Boy’s coke-fuelled nights in, T2 plays out as a painful lament to lost youth.

Boyle is undoubtedly an expert film maker, and he makes no mistake of driving home the sheer agony of growing old and having nothing good to show for it. It is so excruciating not because the tone of the film is sombre throughout, but because the bursts of cheeriness are so incredibly bright and bold … and yet fleeting. What is more, they always pale in comparison to the joys the characters felt as young lads growing up together. Memories of their youth appear frequently as wonderful dreamlike scenes from which the harsh reality of adulthood always quickly jolts them awake.

This gives the Renton and co. much more depth than they were afforded in Trainspotting. Whether it is light touches such as Begbie’s erectile dysfunction (small and apparently inconsequential, in more than one way), or key developments like Spud writing down all of his and the gang’s stories from down the years, each role is beefed up.

The greatest thing about T2 is its faithfulness to its genesis. Not only does it look back on Trainspotting with fondness and direct references but it is true to everything else about what made the first film great.

As well as Danny Boyle at the helm, every surviving character is back and all played superbly by the actors who played them first time. Even Kelly Macdonald features as a much more mature and sensible Diane, albeit briefly.

Edinburgh plays a much bigger part in this movie too. That includes not only the setting of scenes in the city centre and the scenery overlooking it, but also the decision to have Edinburgh hip-hop group Young Fathers provide the thumping heartbeat that keeps life flowing through T2. With three songs on the official soundtrack and another three featured elsewhere in the film, they were given the role of vital organ, similar to what Underworld did for Trainspotting.

One of the main talking points of the first film was of course its incredible soundtrack. It’s usually the first thing anyone says about Trainspotting whenever it comes up in conversation. So, as expected, music plays a big part in the sequel.

The sound of T2, like the film itself, acknowledges just how great its predecessor was, but it brings it up to date. The Prodigy remix of Lust For Life and Underworld’s reworking of Born Slippy into the new track Slow Slippy are the greatest examples of this. Underworld’s Rick Smith actually said of the music: “The brief wasn’t to copy the past, there was a lot of experimenting. Echoing was the idea, using music ideas from the first film looking forward through time.”

Other new(ish) music comes from Mercury Prize nominees Wolf Alice, Fat White Family, and the aforementioned High Contrast. Then there is the track from the ludicrously barmy Irish double-act Rubberbandits, whose video for My Dad’s Best Friend is played in part of the film too. They put their appearance down to joining the Freemasons, where they worshipped an owl and sacrificed ferrets to get the gig. As you do.

They are interlaced with classic 80s tracks like Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax, Blondie’s Dreaming, and Radio Ga Ga by Queen, along with the slightly more modern dancefloor classic It’s Like That by Run DMC vs Jason Nevins. The latter two songs appear to be a little misplaced among a club scene that feels forced though.

Perhaps the most striking musical moment in T2 is in the nod to David Bowie. Bowie was apparently influential in making the sound of the first film happen. He was a fan of Danny Boyle’s first feature, Shallow Grave, and was famously friends with Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, so he was able to sort clearance for their songs to be used in Trainspotting. Boyle could not decide on one Bowie song he wanted to use as a tribute to the great man in T2. Instead he chose to turn all the sound off while Renton is flicking through his vinyls and reveals Bowie’s immortal place in our music collections, as well as our hearts and minds.

Then there are subtle nostalgic nods to the Trainspotting soundtrack. Like with the piano version of Perfect Day playing gently when Renton passes out in the gym and sees flashbacks of his childhood. And when Deep Blue Day by Brian Eno lulls him gently back into consciousness on another separate occasion.

T2 is not the perfect film, but it is the sequel that fans of Trainspotting wanted. It is bold, brash, disgusting, and violent. Yet it is tender, sweet, and comforting for every adult watching it who can empathise with the pain each character feels about life failing to live up to expectations.

Renton: “So … we all get old, we canne hack it anymore, and that’s it?”

Sick Boy: “Yeah.”

Renton: That’s your theory?”

Sick Boy: “Yeah … beautifully fucking illustrated.”

 

Hell Or High Water Review

Released in September 2016, Hell Or High Water has been nominated for four awards at this year’s Oscars, including ‘Best film’ and ‘Best original screenplay’. And it really isn’t difficult to understand why.

As Scottish director David Mackenzie’s first feature since the brutal prison drama Starred Up, this arrived carrying the burden of great expectation. Thankfully, it does not disappoint. Instead it is both a modern western to rival the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men and also a gripping heist thriller with its crosshairs fixed on Michael Mann’s classic Heat.

Set amidst the soaring temperatures of west Texas, two brothers – Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) – embark on robbing a series of local bank branches to save their recently deceased mother’s oil-rich land from being seized by the very bank from which they’re stealing.
Hot on their heels is retiring Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham). Bridges is typically brilliant as the weary yet wily cop, hence the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar nomination for his performance.

Pine and Foster are excellent as the criminal siblings too. Pine’s Toby is a divorcee with no love left from his ex-wife and their two boys, for whom he will still stop at nothing to save the family home as their inheritance. He is the softer, kinder brother to Foster’s brash, ex-convict Tanner. Foster gives the eldest of the two such a volatile energy that you feel his every interaction with anyone other than his ‘baby brother’ could result in bloodshed.

The interplay between the two characters is laced with a perfect blend of sweetness, gentle ribbing, resentment and bitter fury towards one another to portray an entirely convincing brotherly love. That gets us on board with their plan to save their mother’s ranch, even if it is by violent means.

From that we know they are not the villains in this film; they are the anti-heroes; although the waters are muddied as lives are lost when the cat and mouse game with the police reaches its inevitable crescendo. Yet, the real enemy remains as the faceless corporate ineptitude and greed that led to the global financial crisis, which is the driver behind the brothers’ crime-spree.

Even the police know the real criminals are wearing suits and ties. When Marcus is teasing Alberto about his Comanche heritage, his partner points out that Marcus’s ancestors stole the land around them from his people 150 years ago, and now it is being stolen from the thieves by the banks.

Spanning the western and heist movie genres could easily have made this a clichéd shell of a film – Bridges’ retiring cop makes you raise an eyebrow for starters. But, instead, the subtle political message running through Hell Or High Water makes it a smart, fresh take on two classic styles, sewn together seamlessly.

 

All hail Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney has signed a five-and-a-half-year deal with Manchester United reported to be worth £85m (£300,000 per week) and we should love him for it.

Well done: Rooney deserves applause of his own for what he has achieved in football
Well done: Rooney deserves applause of his own for what he has achieved in football

Upon hearing/reading this news, the knee-jerk reaction of numerous football fans (and, of course, those who despise the game and are glad of any opportunity to criticise it and its participants) will be to lambaste Rooney for his apparently boundless greed and reel off the clichés about football selling its soul to the devil.

It’s ironic that Rooney has actually sold his services, not his soul, to the Red Devils, and for a princely sum.

Souls are, after all, just a work of fiction designed to make you feel superior to other animals while simultaneously scared that the apparently benevolent spectre lurking within you (like a kinky Casper) will probably be trapped burning in hell for eternity, all because you nicked a cola bottle from the pick and mix as soon as you could reach them.

Anyway, if souls did exist and a deity happened to bestow one upon football when he/she created it on the eighth day, the devil was outbid for it by Sky.

Thanks to that ‘deal’ the game was irrevocably transformed from being just that, a ‘game’, and into a hugely lucrative entertainment business.

Rooney, a man often ridiculed for lacking anything resembling intellect, has the nous to understand the new nature of the business and his value within it. Either that or, at the very least, Rooney has surrounded himself with people to do the maths stuff for him, which is even smarter if you think about it.

Some of the finest entrepreneurs in the world have tried and failed to secure long-term financial stability for themselves, their children, and their children’s children as expertly as Rooney has. He’s not even the best player in the world.

Now the fans who claim the England striker to be a moron are angered by his success and the wealth it has brought him and his family. Leading us, inexorably, to one conclusion: these reactionaries who fail to grasp the evolution of football are the real idiots.

Yes, it would be lovely to live in a world where doctors, nurses, soldiers, police officers, firefighters and the like were paid £300,000 per week for their invaluable services, but no one will pay £40-plus per week to watch them work and another £50 to wear replicas of their uniforms, will they? That’s the brutal purity of our culture combined with a capitalist economy.

Another economic aspect overlooked by Rooney haters is taxation.

Earning the amount he will earn from this deal, Rooney falls into the highest tax band in the UK and should, therefore, pay 50p out of every £1 in his wage packet to the British government before he even sees it. There is every chance, of course, that Rooney will do what many footballers do and set up a business based in a remote tax haven to effectively ‘launder’ his earnings and ensure he sees more of them. And why shouldn’t he? Almost everyone looks at their payslip and thinks that tax deduction is a bit hefty. And, although few would admit it, most people would do what they could to keep more of their wages if it were possible. Regardless, the more Rooney earns the more money there is to boost our economy as it continues to recover from a global recession that brought it to its knees.

If anything, we could do with more Wayne Rooneys.

So all hail Wayne Rooney, the Titan of the working class rubbing shoulders with the gods.

Another embarrassing chapter in West Ham’s recent history

The way West Ham demanded a review of the FA’s decision to uphold Andy Carroll’s ban and threatened to take legal action over the striker’s red card is yet another embarrassing chapter in the club’s recent history.

The owners are constantly saying they are West Ham fans and, in this case, that is exactly how they reacted. David Gold and David Sullivan are supposed to have the presence of mind to make careful, calculated decisions about what is best for West Ham as a club and a business. Instead, they often let their hearts rule their heads and go rushing in with rash decisions like fools.

Marching orders: Howard Webb shows Andy Carroll a red card against Swansea
Marching orders: Howard Webb shows Andy Carroll a red card against Swansea
There is no way West Ham would have won any second appeal or legal case after the first appeal of Carroll’s red card was thrown out. If the FA had reversed their decision at that stage based on the Hammers’ threats, it would have compromised the entire decision-making process in the English game. Every ruling a referee made on the pitch could then have been questioned again and again by the club feeling a negative effect as a result of that decision, and there is always one.

Luckily, the FA again upheld Howard Webb’s decision to send Carroll off against Swansea and West Ham (finally) accepted it, thereby ensuring that the referee; not the players, managers, fans, or club owners; remains in control of football matches in England.
The FA statement said: “An independent arbitration tribunal convened under FA Rule K has dismissed a legal challenge brought by West Ham United and Andy Carroll in relation to the red card received by Carroll in the match between West Ham United FC and Swansea on 1 February 2014.
“The independent tribunal resolved that there was no serious issue to be tried and also awarded The FA its costs.”
West Ham’s own statement, released on the club’s website, said: “Whilst West Ham United are obviously disappointed at the decision, as we have made clear throughout, we respect the rules of football and shall abide by them.”
It was more than understandable when West Ham appealed Carroll’s sending off the first time due to the harshness of the red card given by Howard Webb. Carroll did seem, after all, to only brush Chico Florres’ hair with the back of his arm after they had become entangled following an aerial challenge. However, the brashness in the way Carroll swung his arm around was seen as violent conduct by Webb and the England striker was given his marching orders.
Of course, Carroll’s superb performance against Swansea, up until the card, was reason enough for West Ham to appeal the decision to ensure he could remain available for selection in the upcoming games against Aston Villa, Norwich and Southampton. The England international was a menace to the Swans’ defence and brought the best out of his teammates, none more so than captain Kevin Nolan, who bagged a brace. Sam Allardyce and his men will certainly miss Carroll while he is serving his ban.
But another negative aspect about West Ham’s desperate scramble to reverse Howard Webb’s decision was the message it must have sent to the players now responsible for filling Carroll’s position spearheading the Hammers’ attack. All it would have just said to Carlton Cole and Marco Borriello is that they simply do not measure up to the number 9.
Hopefully, now that the Hammers have accepted Carroll’s fate and confirmed he will serve his ban, all of West Ham’s players, staff, and fans can focus all of their attentions on staying in the Premier League this season – no mean feat given their league position (18th) and poor form.

Sack Big Sam before it’s too late

It is safe to say that West Ham have been awful this season. Although there may have been a few glimpses of brilliance to lure us into believing that perhaps everything will be okay in the end, there have not been nearly enough of those and now the Hammers are once again flirting with relegation.Blowing Bubbles #27

With poor tactical choices and shoddy summer signings, Sam Allardyce has led his side down to where they currently sit, slumped in 17th place, just above the relegation zone with only Fulham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland below them.

Now the owners should act swiftly in relieving Sam Allardyce of his duties and bring in a replacement capable of avoiding relegation from the Premier League.

Follow the link below to issue 27 of Blowing Bubbles fanzine to read the full article (pages 8 and 9).

http://issuu.com/blowingbubbles/docs/27_bbw/9?e=5896029/5984143

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