This weekend's cinematic viewing: A BITTERSWEET LIFE is a South Korean film set in the Korean underworld in which Sun Woo - a smart, young mob guy - is given the task of checking up on his boss' young girlfriend while the boss is out of town. A really good start - what happens when Sun Woo decides to act morally in an immoral world - but then he turns into some unbelievable Duracell bunny. He's a one man army wearing a cloak of invincibility. Next up was ANIMAL KINGDOM, an Australian crime film (apparently based on a true story). When 17 year old Josh's mother dies of a heroin overdose he turns to his estranged grandmother for help. She takes him in, and he discovers that she might be his gran, but she's no sweet little old lady - instead, she's the matriarch of a violent criminal family, and she's not really bothered when Josh's uncles get him involved. Tense, chilling, and nicely low key. Finally, and most impressively, BALLAST. Set in a depressed part of the Mississippi Delta, Ballast focuses on three marginalised characters - a man whose twin brother has killed himself just before the film starts; the dead man's 12 year old son, who hasn't seen his father for years, and is heading in a dangerous direction; and the boy's mother, who is barely managing to make ends meet. Not much happens and it's shot in a documentary style, but it's a totally gripping film. Completely understated, subtle and nuanced.
In other weekend news - we booked tickets to see Killing Joke in Glasgow next March (yippee!), and I have 27 midge bites (which, given that these are Scottish midges, and the bites have a propensity to evil swelling), means that I am now just one big midge-y bite and I'm trying to restrain myself from clawing myself to death. I even used Avon's Skin-So-Soft before we went out, but the little buggers seem to love it. Either that or I taste so good that they are prepared to risk it. Yes, that's it - I am good meat.
An interview with the lovely Chris Ewan, in which he shares some wonderful and well-deserved news.
Over at the excellent Guilty Conscience blog, Luca Veste has been busy with Scottish crime writers. First of all, an interview with the lovely Chris Ewan, in which he shares some wonderful and well-deserved news, and, just for good measure, a review of Chris' THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM (and yes, for those of you who were wondering, the Isle of Man is a satellite state of Scotland). an interview with Helen Fitzgerald. And a review of her new book THE DONOR.
Talking of Helen Fitzgerald, please don't go and see her stand-up comedy routine.
Tony Black's TRUTH LIES BLEEDING is out in paperback on August 3rd. Here's Tony reading an excerpt.
The Guardian, with an article on Josephine Tey.
Fancy a role in the Edinburgh Fringe production of Alexander McCall Smith's THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BERTIE? Hmmmmm, think I might go for this myself. Are you calm? Yes, yes I am. Enthusiastic? Oh, very. Have a very waggy tail? Ummmmm, no. Is that vital? Are you a Border Collie? Well, no, actually. I'm more like a very out-of-shape St Bernard who's been at the brandy in her little barrel.
Happy one-month birthday to Allan Guthrie's TWO-WAY SPLIT, in which the very accommodating Mr Guthrie does my job and rounds up all the Allan Guthrie news that's fit to print.
John Dingwall interviews M C Beaton.
The Telegraph tells us that, in a menacing world, we flee into thrillers. Condescending, much?