Miss Potter

Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellwegger

  The dramatised story of Beatrix Potter, creator of children’s character such as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck, with Renee Zellweger as the Edwardian miss who’s 32 years old and still not married. It’s about a woman struggling against the odds, against familial indifference, social expectation and industry hostility to get her books into print. And the fact that the publisher (played by Ewan McGregor) who eventually helps Potter also becomes the great love of her life, well that’s just double bubble for an actress who is as adept at portraying grown women who still have fluffy toys in their bedroom (see Bridget Jones) as she is those with a core of steel … Read more

Perfect Sense

Eva Green and Ewan McGregor in Perfect Sense

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     1 May   England and Scotland become the United Kingdom, 1707 On this day in 1707, the countries of England and Scotland officially became united in “one kingdom by the name of Great Britain” (according to the Acts of Union). By “England”, the acts included the country of Wales, which had become absorbed legally into England by the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542. Though in terms of monarchy, the English throne had been seized by a Welshman, when Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) defeated Richard III in battle in 1485. This Tudor line persisted in … Read more

The Impossible

Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The Impossible

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     23 January     Shaanxi earthquake, 1556 On this day in 1556, the world experienced the deadliest earthquake on record. At 8.0 (possibly 7.9) on the magnitude scale (the successor to the Richter scale) it wasn’t the biggest quake the world has seen but it did kill the most people, largely because many of the people who inhabited that region in China lived in loess caves. Loess (probably from the same English root as the word “loose”) is a wind-blown silt/clay mix held together loosely by calcium carbonate. It is very easy to excavate but is also highly … Read more

Trainspotting

Ewan McGregor in The Worst Toilet in Scotland

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     27 September     Irvine Welsh born, 1958 On this day in 1958, in Leith, Edinburgh, Irvine Welsh was born. Or was he? After a police arrest in 1996, just after fame had hit him like a heroin rush, the police revealed that he was in fact seven years older, so born in 1951. Or 1961, if the BBC’s Writing Scotland website is to be believed. But 1958 is what the author maintains (I say “maintains” though his own website is silent on the subject), so let’s stick with that. After growing up in nearby Muirhouse, Welsh moved … Read more

The Serpent’s Kiss

Ewan McGregor in The Serpent's Kiss

    A treatise on order and chaos, propriety and lust, hidden inside the convoluted, if a bit TV-ish, story of Meneer Chrome (Ewan McGregor), an 18th-century Dutch (or is he?) landscape gardener. Chrome has been employed to refashion and tame the herbaceous borders of bumptious self-made Thomas Smithers (Pete Postlethwaite) and in the process bankrupt him and seize his bride (Greta Scacchi), if the plans of dastardly fop James Fitzmaurice (Richard E. Grant) bear fruit. This lace-cuffed fol-de-rol of a Sunday afternoon movie is the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cameraman Philippe Rousselot and it doesn’t suffer from bad looks. It also has its odd sly, dry moment – though there are only so … Read more

Velvet Goldmine

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Velvet Goldmine

        In 1988 Todd Haynes made Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. In it he used Barbie and Ken dolls instead of actors to play out the tragic story of the singer with the golden voice whose anorexia eventually killed her off. Karen’s brother Richard Carpenter stamped it out of the record books, claiming Haynes didn’t have clearance to use the music. It has since resurfaced as an entry on imdb and pops up on youtube in various shitty resolutions. Haynes is in pop-music territory again with Velvet Goldmine, moving Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers into 20th-century-boy poses in a story about a newspaper reporter (Christian Bale) in 1984 doing a story on the high point … Read more