Labor Day

In Josh Brolin, Kate Winslett, Reviews on July 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Depressed single mum Adele and her son Henry are coerced to offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Labor Day, starring Kate Winslett and Josh Brolin  is a slow paced drama where the threat of a violent escaped criminal demanding a lift gradually recedes to be replaced by a man who takes an interest in Adele and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). The story is told from Henry’s point of view but as he is a boy on the cusp of adolescence his narrative is at times unreliable. That the recall is being romanticized is made obvious visually by the sunlight fading the screen to white during the baseball lesson. Sexuality is replaced by making pastry and filling for peach cobbler and getting squishy with sugary juices. Frank ties up Adele – just in case she needs to look as if she didn’t harbour an escaped criminal – and he feeds her chilli he has made from ingredients she had around the house anyway. He proceeds to feed her in a nurturing way she hasn’t had for years. When he then begins to fix up various signs of neglect in her home, it is easy to see why both Adele and Henry begin to feel an affection for him that isn’t entirely appropriate. Gradually through the use of flashbacks we see what led Adele and Frank to this point and his criminal past is something that can’t go away no matter how much either of them might wish it.

The ending isn’t quite the ending however as we get the adult Henry’s round up of what happened through the years but the Labor Day weekend is what shapes all of their futures.

$18m to make and earning $19m at the box office. It is slow but well acted and you may well wipe away a tear at one point.

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Hangover Square – Patrick Hamilton

In Reviews on July 26, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Hangover Square is set in 1938 London’s Earl’s Court and the main characters are a group of functioning alcoholics with nothing better to do than get drunk. The main character is George Bone who has very little confidence in his abilities or intelligence. He is large and lumbering and in some ways comes across as a slightly brighter version of the Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men.

He was thirty-four, and had a tall, strong, beefy, ungainly figure. He had a fresh, red complexion and a small moustache. His eyes were big and blue and sad and slightly bloodshot with beer and smoke. He looked as though he had been to an inferior public school and would be pleased to sell you a second-hand car.

Unfortunately for George, he has access to money which he uses to fund his fondness for drink. The group he runs around with are Netta, a failed actress who is beautiful on the outside but completely lacking in any sort of compassion or gratitude towards George who settles her bills and Peter who is a former convict. Alcohol is at the route of their friendship but there is real malice in Netta and Peter as they use and abuse George in increasingly vile ways. What they really want is his money, but not his company. Netta has sex with men but not with George. He sees himself as her champion and even wants to marry her at the start of the novel. Eventually he wants to just have sex with her like all the other men but she deliberately lies to him and keeps him at arm’s length to keep him on a short leash. 

Unfortunately for Netta, George has “episodes” where he snaps into a different persona. This darker version sees Netta for what she is and plots her murder.

A silent film without music – he could have found no better way of describing the weird world in which he now moved. He looked at passing objects and people, but they had no colour, vivacity, meaning – he was mentally deaf to them. They moved like automatons, without motive, without volition of their own. He could hear what they said, he could understand their words, he could answer them, even; but he did this automatically, without having to think of what they had said or what he was saying in return.

The two sides of George snap in and out of the narrative and one murder attempt is foiled when George snaps back into his more affable self.

George is a reader and when he is sober is also a pretty good golfer. A sober George also doesn’t have the dark episodes and although Netta and her cronies  are encouraging his drunkenness they don’t like either good guy/bad guy George, they only want his money for more drink. No-one works which means there is a dissolute lifestyle all afternoon and evening and hangovers every morning – hence the play on Hanover Square becoming Hangover Square. 

There is an irony that Netta who is without money and does nothing all day still employs a char and expects George to pay her rent, char bills and drinking tab. Moreover she wants him to treat her and her hangover hangers-on to holidays in Brighton.

Her thoughts, however, resembled those of a fish – something seen floating in a tank, brooding, self-absorbed, frigid, moving solemnly forward to its object or veering slowly sideways without fully conscious motivation.

She has only one desire and that is to use her looks to try and get more parts in films and on the stage. Her acting ability is slight and although she pursues Eddie Carstairs to help her out with her career, ironically it is George that Eddie sees the good in. 

There is one section – around page 250 – where good things happen to George but generally there is no-one likable in the novel. We can feel sorry for George but his unwillingness to move on and stay sober makes it difficult to like him and feel sorry about the inevitable conclusion.

I found it to be unremitting awfulness apart from the one redeeming section. If it hadn’t been for the Book Club I wouldn’t have finished it. Reading about mental illness and alcoholism is just not for me.

Glasgow Games Opening Ceremony

In Diary of events on July 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Party like it’s Glasgow!

Scotland gives a glorious show – From the sublime BBC intro graphics into the segue of Billy Connelly’s talk of the Clyde as a ribbon weaving through the great city we knew. We felt the excitement of being part of a united, unbroken whole, united by a passion for sport. Sport is the new shipping lane replacing our heavy industrial heritage – you’re most welcome, come on in!

People make Glasgow, and even the sun played ball. This joint was buzzing.

You can do something special and not miss a moment. Any opening event is an opportunity to say something about Scotland’s people, character, traditions, culture in a very important year. Scotland was on a much more limited budget than the 2012 Olympics and the only thing both events had in common were their reliance on volunteers to perform in the ceremony. Much was made of the Queen’s baton’s relay through all the competing countries. It was clearly an epic trip that allowed most of our own country to go out and see the baton being carried aloft on our own doorstep. 180,000 miles of unification. Free and equal. The friendly games – seriously friendly.


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Let Glasgow Flourish! The modern Glasgow is the Science Museum and huge venues for music, sport and performance. Warmth and heartbeat and a billion pound’s worth of investment in the South side of Glasgow – a hope of a sporting legacy, an enthusiasm for the opportunities on offer.

Mad cap  – Irn Bru holding up the Forth Road Bridge. Playing the stereotype card with Ayrshire and Burns, Gretna and elopement, inventions and Tunnock’s Teacakes, carpets representing heather and fake storms and Nessie.  Oor Wullie and trouserless Donald leading into a ceilidh and golf. No wonder blowing up the Red Road flats seemed like a good idea. Welcome to Scotland. What a play to stereotype. Was it dreamt up by primary children?



Thankfully things improved with Amy MacDonald, the people of Glasgow and Rod Stewart belting out ditties. After a hiccup Susan Boyle recovered to sing Mull of Kintyre against images of the Queen throughout her reign. The Scottish Regiments were represented as her majesty was introduced, accompanied by her husband. The Red Arrows flew overhead and it was magnificent imagery. Queen and country. I wonder how many other God Save the Queen moments we will get to have?

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500 Miles and ballet when you could tell the spectators just wanted to belt it out. 


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Glasgow joined with Unicef to make the Games opener a fund raiser for impoverished children around the world.  Text FIRST to 70333.




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