This weekend's film viewing was a real mixture. First of all, we saw a fast paced thriller called LONDON TO BRIGHTON which was excellent, if sometimes very uncomfortable viewing. A low key British thriller which has a prostitute and a young female runaway fleeing London for the safety of Brighton. The first scene has the young girl - her face tear-stained and make-up streaked - hiding out in a grubby public toilet, while the prostitute - one eye blackened a swollen - goes out onto the street to get some money for their train journey. Right from the start I knew this wasn't going to be easy viewing. And it wasn't. It was brutal, hard-hitting and pretty bloody grim, but not unrelentingly so. Good job we watched it at home, since I cried. The acting was excellent - particularly from the actress playing the runaway (Georgia Groome). If you do see the film, watch the outtakes - it lightens the mood and makes you remember it's just a film.
On Saturday it was off to the Glasgow Film Festival to see two films. The first of these was ATTENBERG - a Greek film from the same director as the weird and wonderful DOGTOOTH. It's about a naive young woman - Marina - who tries to make sense of the world around her by watching the animal documentaries of David Attenborough and listening to the band Suicide. She has one friend - Bella - who she practises kissing with, as well as spitting out of windows and doing weird walks. The only other characters are Marina's father, who's dying of cancer, and a man visiting the town who Marina drives around. I quite liked bits of it but there were a lot of scenes that seemed pointless and only there for padding. There was no real plot, and not enough other stuff to replace a plot, if that makes sense. It doesn't have enough soul. OK, but not as good as Dogtooth.
The second film was an altogether much more satisfying experience - a Danish film called NOTHING'S ALL BAD. Like Attenberg, it focuses on four main characters - each of them has their own problems, all of them have experienced pain and their wounds are raw - be they physical, psychological or emotional, all of them are lonely and isolated, and all of them have needs and desires. Their stories really draw you in, and none of them are as you expect. Funny, touching, sad, compelling, witty, understated. It's sometimes shocking, sometimes grim, sometimes hilarious - I really loved this film. Dad - it's not one for Mum. There's a fair bit of sex in it. In fact, you'd better not watch it either.
Onto the crime fiction news. Loads of reviews today. First of all, Publisher's Weekly review Gerald Hammond's ILLEGAL TENDER, oneregard enjoyed Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG and The Guardian liked Charles Cumming's THE TRINITY SIX, relishing the 'tweedy warmth of an old school spy thriller'
Peter May is getting lots of ink - both print and virtual. Lovereading reviews THE BLACKHOUSE, as does The Scotsman, while the LitWitch reviews BLOWBACK.
The Scotsman has an article on Gordon Ferris' THE HANGING SHED - apparently a Kindle hit. I downloaded it to my lovely new Kindle last week and am looking forward to reading it.
Join The Pelican Post for An Afternoon With Alexander McCall Smith on March 3rd. And Itchy Coo, publishers of Alexander McCall Smith's Scots language books, are to close.
Talking of events, I was gutted to discover that both Women On The Dark Side events at Aye Write, with Karen Campbell, Denise Mina, Caro Ramsay, Louise Welsh, Alice Thompson and Alex Gray are sold out. However, on the plus side, my friend Twenty-Seven and I have tickets for this event with Allan Guthrie, Denise Mina and Louise Welsh, and I'm hoping to go to this one with Doug Johnstone.