Film Review: T2 TRAINSPOTTING (UK 2017) ****

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T2.jpgDirector: Danny Boyle
Writers: John Hodge, Irvine Welsh (novels)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly McDonald

Review by Gilbert Seah

T2 TRAINSPOTTING, the 20-years after sequel to TRAINSPOTTING, is so-called after the filmmakers got the rights to use T2 (hasta la vista baby to T2 standing for TERMINATOR 2) arrives with all the characters as well as the actors and director/writer after ageing a full 20 years. Hopefully, the elapsed 20 years have made each person smarter. Judging from the movie, they certainly have.

The original can be remembered (even after 20 years) for its catchy beginning sequence when Renton runs at full speed on the street only to stop with the camera right in front of him. A reverse of that effect is achieved brilliantly at the start of T2. Renton (Ewan McGregor) is now running on a treadmill at full speed, trips and falls flat on the gym floor. The camera is neither stationary nor the character but ends with both in motion before the final shot.

Boyle is directing in top form with all the energy and innovation as his first films. I have been a Boyle fan for his early films like SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING and 28 DAYS LATER and not too keen on his later ones like his over talky STEVE JOBS (there is an extended talky sequence in T2 when Renton rants about ‘choosing life’), SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and not especially with his 2012 summer Olympics opening ceremonies.

Though it is not necessary to have seen or be familiar with the original, it is recommended to view the fist film in order to appreciate T2. All the four characters have gone on in life, though their personalities have remained intact. Renton leaves Amsterdam to return to Edinburgh. He meets up with Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) who still blames him for ripping him of with money from the first film. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has broken out of prison while Spud (Ewen Bremmer) is still hooked on candy. The villain of the piece is Begbie, who is as violent as ever, seeking to kill Renton for stealing his money.
All the actors are nothing short of perfect in their roles including Kelly Macdonald as Sick’s Boy’s girlfriend, Diane.

The film is much an action film as a character driven piece. The action sequences are well executed (the car chase/escape where Renton jumps on the roof of a car; the fight in the dilapidated building; the club scene) as well as the dramatic confrontations. Audiences should expect and be warned of the excessive violence, swearing and drug use in the film.

Boyle also dazzles the audience with his fancy camerawork at the start and also in the unforgettable sequence when the camera pulls back from Renton’s room into a abysmal corridor.

But T2 delivers – as each actor, director and writer demonstrates. The film is impressive in all departments but most of all, it brings closure to what Boyle celebrated – the use of heroin. This mature film displays the characters now mature and grown up with the drugs perspective put well in place, artistically and less graphically.



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Happy Birthday: Robert Carlyle

robertcarlyleHappy Birthday actor Robert Carlyle

Born: April 14, 1961 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

dir. Stefen Fangmeier
Ed Speleers
Sienna Guillory

28 WEEKS LATER28 Weeks Later
dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Robert Carlyle
Catherine McCormack

dir. Boyle
Ewan McGregor
Ewen Bremner

2008 TV Movie
Directed by Jon Cassar
Kiefer Sutherland
Cherry Jones

The Beach
dir. Boyle
Leonardo DiCaprio

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGHThe World is Not Enough
dir. Michael Apted
Pierce Brosnan
Robert Carlye

Movie Review: THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (UK/Canada 2015) ****

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legendofbarneybaTHE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (UK/Canada 2015) ****
Directed by Robert Carlyle

Starring: Robery Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone

Review by Gilbert Seah

The film THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON arrives with zero fanfare but is a film that should be taken seriously. A film that could be alternatively titled THE DEMON BARBER OF GLASGOW, the film is based on the book “The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson” by Douglas Lindsay. The film begins when barber Barney accidentally scissors to death his boss, Wullie (Stephen McCole) in the barber shop that leads to another death, thus classifying him a serial killer. Barney becomes a Scots Sweeney Todd with several inept Glaswegian cops on his case.

The film takes quite a while to get a solid footing. The first third of the film muddles around with little humour, ingenuity or direction (and those unable to decipher the Scots accent might leave the cinema) but Carlyle slickly gets the action in gear and keeps the film moving during the next 2/3 of the film, leading it to a climatic mother/son confrontation and a Mexican stand-off. But the main plot of the reason Barney Thomson becomes a legend is still in effect, a comical farce that finally succeeds.

For a film entered on grisly murders that include chopping up of body parts, the film is free from violence. But the film is not without queasy scenes that include a severed penis and other assorted boy parts bundled up for the Royal Mail. The language is also particularly foul, especially the words coming out of Barney’s mother, oddly called Cemolina (Emma Thompson).

Three strong British actors headline the film. Carlyle himself, Thompson and Ray Winstone are thee actors I would pay serious money to see on screen. Thompson who is barely two years older than Carlyle, plays Barney’s mother with all the wicked relish she can muster. Her make-up by Oscar Winner Mark Coulier makes her look the part. Hissing out most of her lines with a fag always hanging from her mouth, this is Thompson the complete opposite, not the Thompson HOWARD’S END audiences know. The funniest part has her dipping biscuit dropping into her tea and then remarking: “I now have to fish it out with my spoon.” The mother/son confrontation in which she reveals how much she has done for him, including providing him dolly mixtures when he was a kid is priceless.

Carlyle is a Scots actor best known for his role in Danny Boyle’s TRAINSPOTTING. Carlyle’s debut directorial feature has the occasional feel of a Coen Brothers film (BLOOD SIMPLE, RAISING ARIZONA), but Carlyle who has worked with great English directors like Ken Loach (RIFF-RAFF, CARLA’S SONG), Boyle (TRAINSPOTTING) and Shane Meadows (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS) and the influences of the three directors are evident here. The atmosphere of small town mentality of Meadows is the most obvious.

THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON opened at the Cineplex Yonge and Dundas Toronto last week and continues with an added opening at the Carlton Cinemas. The film arrived with zero publicity and no press screenings, the only reason I can think due to is the film’s macabre nature. But this is a awesome little gem, that is a must-see!

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