Looney Tunes return to Filmhouse

My column from this week’s Edinburgh Evening News has slipped through the cracks in the digitial floorboards and not made it to the website is now on the website. I’ve also published it here instead, so if classic cartoons are for you then please read on:

There’s a chance to relive your youth this weekend at the Filmhouse as the cinema screens a series of classic cartoons featuring the exploits of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and my favourite, Daffy Duck.

Created as a result of Warner Bros needing to promote their music back catalogue, the first Looney Tunes short was 1930’s Sinkin’ in the Bathtub starring the long-forgotten Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid.

Continuing with characters such as Buddy and Beans the Cat, Porky Pig became the series’ first major star following his first appearance in 1935’s I Haven’t Got a Hat. Porky started out as a young child in this cartoon and it’s interesting to see how minor a role he has among characters such as Ham and Ex and Oliver Owl.

Of the ten shorts being shown on Saturday and Sunday, perhaps the most famous is 1953’s Duck Amuck, directed by Chuck Jones. In this one, Daffy Duck is tormented by an unseen animator who keeps changing the background and his own image as our hero becomes increasingly exasperated.

It’s bizarre even by Looney Tunes standards, making Daffy and the viewer question his existence, something we don’t usually see in cartoons. Duck Amuck has remained popular over the years and in 1999 it was selected by the US Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry.

Daffy’s back with Porky in 1941’s in The Henpecked Duck, where the pair go to court as Daffy tries to save his marriage.

It’s not only Looney Tunes represented in the line-up, with the Merrie Melody A Corny Concerto (1943) and MGM’s Bad Luck Blackie (1949) also showing.

The cartoons can be seen from 1pm on Saturday and 11am on Sunday.


Film Interview Newspaper Online Writing

Brave coverage on ReelScotland

I was in London a few weeks ago to attend a screening of the first 30-minutes of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated movie, Brave, a film that Scottish tourism bosses hope will repeat the success of Braveheart in the mid-90s.

I wrote about the film’s European premiere in Edinburgh this June for the Evening News but had an opportunity to write a feature for my own site, ReelScotland, this week. I’ve also added a clip of my question to director Mark Andrews that has been repeated on many other sites, that of what other Scottish films the animators at Pixar watched while making the film.

Brave is out in the UK on 17 August.

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Putting the accent on Scottish film roles

This week’s Edinburgh Evening News column found me commenting on the new trailer for Guy Pearce’s upcoming sci-fi feature, Lockout, specifically the attempts by two of the actors to affect Scottish accents.

Was I wrong to pick on them? Or are the accents more impenetrable than the prison in space? Judge for yourself:

Film Newspaper Talk

Brian Cox column in Edinburgh Evening News

Brian Cox at the NLS
Brian Cox at the NLS

Last week I attended a talk by Scottish actor, Brian Cox, at the National Library of Scotland, covering it for my Thursday Edinburgh Evening News column. While the following article was published in the 10 November print edition of the paper it didn’t make it online, so I’ve published it here instead:

He may have appeared in a string of Hollywood hits, counting Matt Damon and Hugh Jackman as co-stars, but Dundee-born actor Brian Cox has a special place in his heart for one particular leading lady: Edinburgh.

Speaking at the National Library of Scotland on Tuesday evening, the Braveheart and Bourne Identity star was vocal in his love for the city.

“I look upon Edinburgh as my spiritual home,” he said. “This goes back to when I was two-years-old and my auntie Jean ran away to Edinburgh to marry a Protestant. She lived in Leith and Granton, and I remember years later walking over the Mound and the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.”

Cox spoke about his memories of attending the cinema in Dundee when he was a boy, deciding that acting was for him as Spencer Tracy and James Cagney filled the screen.

“Edinburgh is where everything came together for me as an actor,” continued Cox. “Working at the Lyceum with actors such as Duncan Macrae and Fulton Mackay.”

Mackay is also the star of one of Cox’s favourite Scottish films, 1952’s The Brave Don’t Cry, with the work of directors Bill Forsyth and Peter Mullan also high on his list.

When I ask Cox if we can expect to see him filming on Edinburgh’s streets he’s unsure, though one project may come to fruition in 2012.

As he plans to head back to the USA to shoot Will Ferrel’s latest comedy, Dog Fight, can we expect to lose him to Hollywood? Cox shakes his head: “The weather is beautiful and I love going there, but after a while it gets boring.

“Edinburgh’s always meant a lot to me, it physically charges me whenever I come back here.”

Interview Newspaper Online Writing

Yuki 7 infiltrates the UK

Before I go any further, please turn your speakers up and press play on the trailer below – I’ll see you in 2 minutes 22 seconds:

How cool was that? As a spy fan, and someone who appreciates a decent homage, I was bowled over by Yuki 7 when I first heard about her. She’s the creation of US illustrator Kevin Dart, a man with a love of the movies and a finely tuned sense of humour (he likes Jim Henson, who I may have mentioned on this blog a few times).

After watching the trailer I got in touch with Kevin regarding the possibility of running a feature in my Edinburgh Evening News column, with an associated interview on the Reel Time blog. I’ve not read about Yuki 7 in any UK press up to know, so I’m not sure how widespread her fame is on this side of the pond.

For someone working on the release of his second high profile book, Looks That Kill, Kevin was generous with his time. The feature ran today in the paper and I duly tweeted about it, but it’s impossible to get across just how gorgeous this book is until you see it. With a bonkers, Avengers-ish, plot and some truly eye and mouthwatering illustrations, this is a book for anyone who misses those 60s spy movies that jumped on the Bondwagon back in the day.

Looks That Kill cover, courtesy Kevin Dart
Looks That Kill cover, courtesy Kevin Dart
Inside the pages of Looks That Kill, courtesy Kevin Dart
Inside the pages of Looks That Kill, courtesy Kevin Dart

I’m hoping a few more people now sample the world of Yuki 7 and the Gadget Girls and I can’t wait for the promised short film he mentions in the interview and the third book in the series. In the meantime, head over to the Yuki 7 website and find out what all the fuss is about.