Bill Forsyth’s “Comfort and Joy” (1984) remains a holiday gem

Bill Forsyth’s slice of Glasgow noir never received the praise showered upon its predecessors Local Hero and Gregory’s Girl. The bonus interviews included on this disc hint at the reasons why: Forsyth admits that his script could have been tightened up, and Claire Grogan suggests that the film’s payoff doesn’t feel like a proper ending.

Comfort and Joy is still a treat, though, its dry humour a return to the style of Forsyth’s zero-budget debut. Bill Paterson’s Alan “Dickie” Bird is a Partridgesque local radio DJ whose life starts to unravel when his kleptomaniac girlfriend leaves him. Buying a 99 from an ice cream van he’s chased because he fancies the serving girl (Grogan) unwittingly involves him in a turf war between rival Italian ice cream vendors. The news items we hear on Bird’s car radio are full of African coups and Middle Eastern peace negotiations, foreshadowing his decision to act as a mediator between the two firms.

Cinematographer Chris Menges gives the mean streets of Glasgow a warm, twinkly glow, despite the city’s northern latitude limiting the number of exterior shots. The visual jokes are brilliant: we see that Bird’s problems really begin when he, Alice-like, follows a Mr Bunny ice cream van into a dark tunnel. Alex Norton’s Trevor, reeling from a baseball bat attack on his van, turns out to be relatively unharmed: the blood pouring down his face is actually raspberry sauce. Bird’s prized BMW literally disintegrates as the film unwinds, the victim of bird shit, ice cream and physical violence. As things escalate, he uses his early morning radio show to broadcast coded messages to the warring tribes, prompting boss Rikki Fulton to refer him to eccentric psychiatrist Arnold Brown.

Forsyth elicits predictably winning performances from his large cast, including a convincingly Glaswegian-sounding Patrick Malahide as Bird’s best friend, and Roberto Bernardi as the charismatic “Mr McCool”.

Robert Buchanan has a blink-or-miss-it cameo, and even Claire Grogan’s atrocious Italian accent doesn’t derail proceedings. This restored print looks and sounds excellent; Mark Knopfler’s moody soundtrack adding much to the atmosphere. And, as already noted, the interviews with Forsyth, Paterson and Grogan are a delight, revealing that the idea for the plot was suggested to the director by a young Peter Capaldi.

Source: DVD: Comfort and Joy | The Arts Desk

Sturgeon demands Scottish independence referendum powers after SNP landslide 

First minister tells Boris Johnson she has renewed mandate after winning 47 of Scotland’s 59 seats

Nicola Sturgeon has challenged Boris Johnson to give Scotland the powers to hold a second independence referendum after the Scottish National party won a landslide in the general election.

The first minister said she had won “a renewed, refreshed and strengthened mandate” to call for a fresh independence vote after winning 47 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats, 11 more than in 2017.

n the most dramatic result, the SNP unseated Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, in East Dunbartonshire by 149 votes, leaving the party leaderless.

Sturgeon said on Friday the Conservatives had focused their campaign in Scotland on opposing a second referendum but had been roundly defeated, hit by a series of losses at the hands of the SNP in seats including Stirling, Angus and Gordon.

“I don’t pretend that every single person who voted SNP yesterday will necessarily support independence, but there has been a strong endorsement in this election of Scotland having a choice over our future; of not having to put up with a Conservative government we didn’t vote for and not having to accept life as a nation outside the EU,” she said.

SNP strategists said the significance of its victory, which has echoes of its remarkable landslide in 2015 when it won 56 seats, was given greater weight by the contrast with the election result in England where the Tories won a significant overall majority.

By comparison, the Tories in Scotland had a very difficult election, holding only six of the 13 seats they won in 2017. Labour was humiliated, losing six of the seven seats they held to the SNP, belying the party’s confident claims in the final week of the campaign it would hold those seats and win several more.

The only surviving Labour MP in Scotland was again Ian Murray, who held Edinburgh South with a significant 11,095 majority. Murray, an arch-critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s, was Labour’s only Scottish MP after the SNP landslide in 2015.[ . . . ]

Continue reading at THE GUARDIAN Sturgeon demands Scottish independence referendum powers after SNP landslide | Politics | The Guardian

Outlander triggered more interest in Scotland than ‘any other cultural artefact in recent years’ 

Outlander

The historical roots of the hit television series Outlander and its cultural impact on Scotland will be examined in the first major academic conference of its kind next year.

The University of Glasgow will host the Outlander Conference 2020 in June with the history, customs, politics, culture, clothes and music featured in the phenomenally successful television series which is based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon [ . . . ]

Continue at THE SCOTSMAN: Outlander triggered more interest in Scotland than ‘any other cultural artefact in recent years’ – The Scotsman