Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alba Gu Bragh

In preparation of the upcoming worthless holiday, when every college co-ed claims they are part Irish (regardless of their actual heritage), I’ve prepared an anti-Patty list of sorts. Whether you are a slighted Scot suffering  a St Patty’s day slump, a non-Scot looking for a bit of culture, or you simply need a film to watch while munching on haggis and swilling some whiskey, this list is sure to hit the spot. I’ve tried to pick a little something for everyone, but I do have a life and thus did not feel the need to include every movie located in Scotland. These are just a few films I’ve enjoyed for one reason or another.
Without further ado and in no particular order or rank:
·         Braveheart (1995) Mel Gibson, James Cosmo, Angus Macfadyan, Catherine McCormack, Brendon Gleeson, Sophie Marceau, David O’Hara ( plays the Irishman but is actually Scottish!)
I couldn’t very well talk about movies set in Scotland without paying homage to Braveheart. Some may sneer and make snide comments that Braveheart is historically inaccurate and therefore does Scotland an injustice. I dis-agree, I see this movie as a story meant to remind every Scot how great it is to be Scottish, and every non-Scot to long for a heritage so rich and meaningful. Regardless of the truth behind the story of Braveheart, William Wallace is a national symbol of perseverance and pride. I weep every time I see this movie at the love he had for his country and potential he saw in underdog Scotland to rise up against Longshanks’ and England’s tight grip.
I’m not providing a summary of this movie’s content, cause I’d rather you watch it and find out for yourself, and perhaps invite me over to watch with you! I will caution that this movie is quite bloody, if you have a weak stomach you may want to stare at your toes during the battle scenes.
Quotes:  Young William Wallace: “I can fight”
               Malcolm Wallace: “I know. I know you can fight. But it’s our wits that make us men.”

·         Local Hero (1983) Burt Lancaster, Peter Reigert , Fulton Mackay
This film is so incredibly good! Please find a way to rent it, it isn’t highly available, but is worth the effort. McIntyre, a man who works for a Texan oil company is chosen to fly to Scotland to buy quite a hefty bit of land along the Scottish coast. He is basically picked because his boss thinks he is of Scottish origin, when in actuality his parents had changed their last name when they emigrated from Hungary because they thought it sounded American. But what will really keep you watching and what makes the film stand apart from other films is the beauty of MacIntyre’s journey from a materialistic Texan blow hard to one who falls in love with the simple things of life (by way of Scotland’s endless charm). When McIntyre returns to Texas, he is not the same man, Scotland has forever changed him. Lovely, this film is quite lovely.
Quote- MacIntyre:Where's the door here?
Urquhart: There is no door. Just knock on the window.
MacIntyre: How do you do business with a man who has no door?
Victor: The ethics are just the same.

·         Mr. Foe (Hallam Foe) (2007) Jamie Bell , Sophia Miles , Claire Forlani
Hallam’s mother commits suicide. Hallam misses her and becomes obsessed with people watching. He is especially drawn to Kate who bares a strong resemblance to his deceased mother, an awkward relationship ensues.
This is one of those kooky dark indie films filled with eccentric drama-ridden characters that a lot of viewers can’t stand. I happen to love this kind of off kilter cinematic experience that makes a person a bit uncomfortable and pushes boundaries. I can’t say that I sympathize with Hallam, but am extremely aware of his humanity. Hallam is in a world that no longer makes sense to him, his particular circumstances may not resonate, but this sentiment certainly does.
Quotes- Kate: “I'm a real live human being Hallam. Sometimes I want sweet; sometimes I want sour. Sometimes I don't know what I want. My sh** stinks. I'm going to die someday. If I look like your mother, it's just a coincidence. Am I telling you anything you don't already know?”
·         Trainspotting (1996) Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller , Robert Carlyle  

Renton is on Heroin, he is trying to not be. Lots of withdrawal, lot’s of bad trips. Dirty, dirty toilet. Pooping in bed, accidental sex with a minor, aids, dead babies.  Yikes this movie has it all.
Some people say Irvine Welsh writes for shock value.  Trainspotting certainly contains some pretty dicey subject matter, but if it is shocking, it’s because it is real, it happens. Welsh takes a tell all/show all approach to the world of heroin and Scotland’s youth and it is brilliant. If you don’t like foul language or lewd acts…don’t watch this or anything else written by Irvine Welsh.
Quotes-  Mark Renton:  “Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONIZED by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to be colonized by. We're ruled by effete a**holes. It's a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won't make any f**ing difference!”

·         The Acid House (1998) Lots of people you’ve never heard of. Irvine Welsh makes a cameo appearance.
Like Trainspotting? Looking for something even seedier? Here is a lesser known Irvine Welsh piece that should make you feel better about your own existence. Acid House is actually composed of three smaller stories. All politically incorrect and offensive. Good to watch if you are feeling extremely cynical and want to see life as a heap of garbage that will continue to stink and rot. This sounds like I hate the film. I don’t, it’s well written and has the distinct Irvine Welsh attitude and vocabulary laced throughout that I am comfortable with by now but it is lewd and cringe worthy,  it acknowledges the things in life most people would rather not think about. Quite dark. Oh and not surprisingly for Welsh, it’s main topics are sex, drugs and misery.

·         Greyfriar’s Bobby: The true story of a dog (1961) Adorable dog, the actors don’t matter!
A step back in to the wholesome after all that debauchery listed above. Greyfriar’s Bobby is a touching family movie (Disney no less) about a shepard and his dog a Skye terrier named Bobby. After  making a trip to Edinburgh, the shepherd dies and Bobby remains fiercely loyal to the point of sleeping on the shepherd’s grave. So heartwarming! Watch out it may make you (and the kids) cry a biteen.  Overall it’s pretty hokey, but tells a great story and has pretty decent acting to boot. It’s a shame they don’t make family movies like this anymore.

·         Tunes of Glory (1960) Alec Guinness , John Mills, Susannah York
Oscar Nominated for Adapted Screenplay. Two commanding officers, one battalion. Loyalty, hurt feelings, tragedy. Who will reign supreme? Not exactly one that you’ll put on your favorites list, as it drags at it’s start. However, once it picks up the pace, Tunes of Glory is pretty darn hilarious (albeit somewhat predictable). Watch it for Alec Guinness if for no other reason, he was one of the greats.
Quotes- Major Sinclair: “Whisky for the gentlemen that like it. And for the gentlemen that don't like it - Whisky.”

·         Dear Frankie (2004) Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Jack McElhone, Sharon Small
I rented this movie despite my general dislike of Gerard Butler and was pleasantly surprised to find that it combined two things of great interest to me; sign language and Scotland!  While the plot is a bit all over the place and the time line is at times inscrutable, the story is sweet and the scenery absolutely breathtaking. Oh yeah, the acting doesn’t stink either (previous conceptions of Butler be darned). Here is the gist of what you need to know.  A Mother tells her deaf child (Frankie) that his father is out to sea. Frankie tracks the ship and finds out the ship will be docking in their small Scottish town. Mom needs to find someone to pretend to be dad (enter Gerard butler). Saying anymore would spoil it, but I will tell you it is definitely a chick flick, no bones about it.
Quote- Lizzie “Frankie wasn't born deaf. It was a present from his daddy.”

So there you have it. A short list of Scotland based films. Have any favorites you didn’t see here? Feel free to leave a comment and share.

1 comment:

  1. Scotland rocks! Of course, I'm a tiny bit Irish, English, & mostly Welsh & Scots. I think my body got the idea that since all my heritages were at war with one another, esp England, they'd all fight a war w/ each other in my body & that's why I have all these crappy auto-immune & other diseases! Hey, it's a theory...
    Nice reviews!