Burns Night, Filmspot style!

Hello Filmspotters!

With Burns Night tomorrow, we thought we’d bring you a blog with some recommended viewing that Rabbie would approve of (maybe…) – so here’s just a few of our favourite films with a distinctly Scottish flavour…

Small Faces [1996]

Set in Glasgow in the 1960s, this coming of age drama came out around the time of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. Gorgeously shot, well written and finely acted, the film stands up well to the test of time – 20 years later, it’s well worth a revisit (or a discovery if you haven’t seen it already!)

Gregory’s Girl [1981]

Our love of Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl has been well documented on this blog before. Uplifting and rather wry in a way you wouldn’t expect from a film about teenagers set in a secondary school. It’s also now deliciously dated – in a very endearing way!

Whisky Galore [1949]

No Scottish film list would be complete without the Ealing Comedy, Whisky Galore! Focussing on a group of wily islanders in the outer Hebrides who have an unexpected windfall in the shape of 50,000 cases of whisky from the wreck on a sinking freighter – a battle of wits ensures between the island inhabitants and a stuffy English captain of the homeguard, who wants to confiscate the loot!

Under the Skin [2014]

An unexpected entry on the list, but Jonathan Glazer’s tale of an alien disguised as a woman, who preys on unexpected Scotsmen from a transit van, somehow captures Glasgow in its vibrant, rackety glory.

Red Road [2006]

Definitely not a film for the faint of heart, but Andrea Arnold’s gritty Red Road is a stark thriller that feels undeniably Scottish. Partially shot on the now demolished Red Road estate in Glasgow, the film was filmed in Dogme 95 style, using handheld cameras and natural light. Although bleak in concept and story, the film ends with a feeling of redemption.

For a bonus, just thought we had better mention Sunshine on Leith [2013], featuring the songs of the Proclaimers, Mrs Filmspot has yet to inflict this upbeat musical on Mr Filmspot.

…and so, with that all that remains is to pour yourself a wee dram and have a very cosy Burns Night!

We’ll be back later this week with a big update – and details of our first exciting Filmspot event for 2016!

Filmspot gets slushy

So, here we go, Valentine’s Day – the day for half the population to go all lovey-dovey and the other half to huff about the former half and their lovey-dovey-ness.

Team Filmspot like any excuse to put together lists of films, though, so beware you cynics – here comes some of the Filmspot team’s favourite romantic films. We usually try to limit ourselves to 5 films, but we’ve come to realise that we’re hopeless romantics here in the Filmspot office, so please humour us!

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Bryan Ferry aside, Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love is an utterly spellbinding romantic melodrama. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung play neighbours who both suspect their spouses are having an affair, only to find themselves infatuated with each other. It is gently paced, dreamy and enigmatic. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography gives a beautifully nostalgic atmosphere, which complements its 1960s setting. Cheung exudes Hepburn-eque elegance – which alone is surely reason enough to watch it!

Gregory’s Girl (1981)

America has a great many films about love-lorn teenagers, but none of them can quite come up to John Gordon Sinclair‘s gawkish Gregory. Bill Forsyth’s very funny romantic comedy, set in a Scottish comprehensive school, is refreshing in that the teenagers aren’t angst-ridden or brooding – they all seem to be pretty nice, well adjusted (although somewhat quirky) kids. Gregory has an incredibly appealing, upbeat approach to life – a nice antidote to the current popular view of teenagers!

A Matter of Life & Death (1946)

One of Powell & Pressburger’s many masterpieces, A Matter of Life & Death is not only one of the great romantic films, but one of the most vivid screen fantasies. David Niven and Kim Hunter’s first scene together (above) is utterly heartbreaking. Niven plays Squadron Leader Peter Carter, who should have died when his Lancaster Bomber went down after a mission in 1945, but his ‘guide’ to the ‘other world’ (Marius Goring) cannot find him because of thick fog. Before his ‘guide’ catches up with him, Carter meets and falls in love with June (Hunter), and has to battle with ‘the powers that be’ to remain on earth with her. Unlikely though it sounds, this is a film that manages to reach its own ambitions!

Chico & Rita (2010)

This animated film, directed by  Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, is a vibrant slice of sunshine, music and romance. Set in the 1940s and 50s, it follows the fate of two promising musicians, Chico, a pianist, and Rita, a singer. The stylish animation and beautiful music make up for the fact that this is a plot line you will have seen before – and by the last scene, there won’t be a dry eye in the house!

Bringing up Baby (1938)

Howard Hawk’s hilarious comedy starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn is pure cinematic genius. If you don’t fall for the nervous, bookish museum paleontologist  Dr Huxley (Grant) or the irritating and eccentric heiress Susan Vance (Hepburn), you surely have a heart of stone! It’s difficult to believe that it received poor reviews on its release, but Bringing up Baby has certainly stood the test of time, and is now justly seen as one of the great screwball classics.

Brief Encounter (1945)

Surely any list of romantic films worth its mettle must include David Lean’s masterpiece? Timeless in theme, but very much of its time, Brief Encounter is an essentially British love story. Everything about this film is pitch-perfect: it will leave even the least emotional amongst us struggling with ‘itchy eyes’.

NB – apologies to those of you waiting to hear of our upcoming Filmspot events. We promised you an update in this blog post, but sadly we are still awaiting confirmation of a couple of dates! We can let you know that there are a number of events planned for the coming months – with our first Filmspot of the year planned for April. More news is forthcoming!