No offence intended with the title to today's blog post but there's no other way to describe Robert Carlyle's directorial debut The Legend Of Barney Thomson which we saw at the wonderful Ipswich Film Theatre today. As liberally scattered with four letter words as any film you are ever likely to see, it's not for the audibly squeamish but if you enjoy black comedy of the highest order this is unmissable. Carlyle plays the eponymous hero, a fifty year old loner who has worked in a gents' hairdressing salon for twenty years. The barber's shop with its 1950's decor and faded Brylcreem posters took me back to my childhood as did Barney's haircutting repertoire "Short back and sides - or sides." Barney is no conversationalist and the waiting customers prefer to wait for another barber to finish rather than risk going under his razor (a very true observation - we used to watch with horror as one of our barbers made a train wreck of a friend's hair and would "just remember something we had to do" if we were next in line for his chair).
Glasgow is under the shadow of a serial killer whose modus operandi involves sending dismembered bits of the victims to their loved ones. Ray Winstone, a cockney detective who moved to Glasgow years ago and remains a fish out of water, is set the task of bringing the killer to justice. Barney finds himself wrapped up in the investigations and the plot develops into a very dark, grotesque and extremely funny farce. There are fabulous performances from Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ashley Jensen and Winstone and a brilliant cameo from Tom Courtney as the equally foul mouthed Chief Superintendent. You'll ****ing love it.
Carlyes' film wasn't our only cinema trip this week as we went to Cineworld on Tuesday to see The Man From U.N.C.L.E Guy Ritchie's latest offering. If you are familiar with and enjoyed Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films you will like this. Having grown up watching the original TV Series I have to say that Arnie Hammer is nothing like David McCallum in the role of Ilya Kuryakin although Henry Cavill is a little closer to Robert Vaughn's original suave Napoleon Solo. The story is typical 60's cold war stuff with Russian agents, Checkpoint Charlie and nuclear warheads. It's beautifully shot and there's plenty of action, some fabulous period fashion and, for those who are old enough to have seen Vaughn and MacCallum. plenty of nods to the TV series. It's all hokum of course but, on the huge IMAX screen it's spectacular and hugely entertaining hokum.
We've also been watching a few movies on TV. Sky Movies is showing The Judge starring Guy Ritchie's Sherlock - Robert Downey Junior and co- starring Robert Duvall as his ageing father. It's a great opportunity for the charismatic Downey to showcase his acting skills and it's refreshing to see him grabbing the role with both hands and presenting a gripping and moving portrayal of a lawyer who returns to his home town for his mother's funeral after a very long absence and finds himself involved in defending his dying father (the local judge) against a hit and run charge. It's rare to see the actor in a role outside the action genre (even Sherlock relies on plenty of action) and it's good to see that he is much more than a one trick pony.
After one film about a dying patriarch we found another on Netflix. What We Did On Holiday comes from the same stable as TV's Outnumbered and there are plenty of similarities to that show, especially in the performances of the children. Billy Connolly is approaching his 75th birthday and a huge celebration party is being planned by his son Gavin (Ben Miller) at the palatial family home in the Scottish Highlands. Gavin's brother Doug (David Tennant) and his estranged wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) drive north from their London home with their three children determined not to let Granddad Gordie (Billy Connolly) know that they are living apart. Gordie is suffering from terminal cancer and chooses to spend the day of his party with his three grandchildren at his very favourite spot. It's a lovely film - very much in the mould of Bill Forsyth's great Scottish films like Gregory's Girl and Local Hero. As you would imagine Billy Connolly's Granddad is not your pipe and slippers type of granddad and his grandkids make sure that he goes out with a bang and not a whimper. With fabulous Scottish scenery and lots of cameos from famous Scottish actors, it's a very Scottish affair and tremendously enjoyable to boot.