Tag Archive: Danny Boyle

TRAINSPOTTING 2 directed by Danny Boyle (UK, 2016)

trainspotting2posterI was a big fan of the 1970s British sit com ‘Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads’ in which two buddies meet up again after drifting apart for five years.

When they reconnect, one, Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes) is nurturing nouveau riche trappings and getting settled into a cosy, middle-class suburban niche complete with a conventional, status conscious, fiancé. Meanwhile, Terry Collier (James Bolan) remains stubbornly working class. He is back from Germany after a failed marriage and a wound sustained during military service that he prefers not to talk about.

“What became of those people we used to be”, ran the show’s theme tune and this is also the unspoken question that hangs over Danny Boyle’s sequel to the hugely successly 1996 Trainspotting movie. Continue reading


Micahel Fassbender ponders how he got talked into playing the role of Steve Jobs.

STEVE JOBS directed by Danny Boyle (USA, 2015)

The remarkable life of Steve Jobs cannot possibly be condensed into 122 minutes without making significant compromises. You have to distort events to create a cinematic reality. The problem of Danny Boyle’s movie, however, is that the bounds of credibility are pushed too far.

Scripted by Aaron Sorkin from William Isaacson’s biography, it takes such monumental liberties with the facts that what we are left with is a crude approximation of a complex man rather than a detailed insight into what elevated him to greatness.

His relationship with daughter Lisa may have been significant in real life but it’s hard to believe that she had such a major influence on his working philosophy.

In one key scene, Lisa works alone to ‘paint’ a picture on the early Mac causing Jobs’s hard heart to melt. It’s a touching moment but it never actually happened. It only serves to make you wonder how many other details in the movie are made up. The prominence given to the father-daughter relationship is all the more bizarre since Jobs’s wife and three children don’t figure in the story at all. Continue reading



Tom Carter who, with ex-wife and musical partner Christina, makes up one half of Charalambides had more opportunity than most for self reflection this year but not in the happiest of circumstances.

During a UK tour he was struck down with severe pneumonia and spent long periods in isolation as part of his treatment. Due to the absurd health system, this also meant he faced huge medical bills.

Thankfully, if his prolific contributions to Twitter are anything to go by, he now seems to be on the road to recovery. One of his Tweets was to the effect that, this year, instead of making lists of the best new albums, we should go back to past years and check if those records we raved about have stood the test of time.

While I understand where he’s coming from, for me, one of the key appeals of contemporary music is that it fuels an insatiable desire for something truly radical and fresh. Needless to say, 2012 passed with plenty of good new sounds to enjoy but nothing that could be described as life changing. Continue reading


FRANKENSTEIN  directed by Danny Boyle (UK, 2011)

Film version of National Theatre Production written by Nick Dear.

Many people think the title of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic horror story of 1818 refers to “the creature” but it is the misanthropic scientist Dr Victor Frankenstein who is the true monster.

This becomes crystal clear in Danny Boyle’s impressive stage production which boasts sublime performances in the  key roles from Benedict (Sherlock) Cumberbatch and Trainspotting’s Sick Boy, Jonny Lee Miller.

When this ran at the National Theatre, these two actors alternated between the two roles, a device that emphasises that they are both social misfits – one out of choice, the other through circumstance – as well as showing how their fates as father/son or master/slave are indelibly intertwined. The film version has Cumberbatch as the creature and Miller as his creator.

Who are you calling ugly? The creature making a point with Dr Frankenstein.

There are no elaborate props or fancy special effects; for instance, the stage is practically bare for the bold opening scene where the newly created being struggles to walk and find a voice.

This is a brilliant piece of physical theatre which involves miming movements that can be likened to the first steps of a child and the struggle of accident victims to regain balance and mobility.

The ‘creature’ (he has no name) is befriended by a blind man who teaches him an appreciation of nature, poetry and music. He develops a particular love for Paradise Lost, Milton’s epic poem built around the biblical story of the fall of man.

This shows him to be an intelligent man with a sensitive nature but, as the elephant man knew to his cost, a nobility of soul is no protection against those who are repulsed by his physical appearance and feel justified in treating him as no better than an animal.

The makeup department give the creature some fierce-looking scars but they haven’t gone so far as to put a bolt through the neck. This makes his mistreatment look even more like the result of cruel prejudice on the part of the perpetrators. His plight is therefore akin to the social alienation faced by those born with deformities or disfigured by serious injuries.

I think Mary Shelley’s novel remains poignant and topical because it more than a straightforward horror tale of monsters and men. Nick Dear’s accomplished adaptation highlights the fact that it is also a vivid allegory which explores the ethical dilemmas regarding scientific intervention or experimentation on human beings.

Zealots might even see in it a validation of their reactionary views on abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research. Such an interpretation would be misplaced in my view. It could be argued that any action by doctors to keep people alive and well is to some extent interfering with nature or playing at God. The issue here is really about where one should draw the line and you don’t have to be a religious fanatic to be repulsed by Doctor Frankenstein’s misuse of fresh corpses.

He doesn’t appear to be care or be aware of any ethical issues and having succeeded in making his creation, he callously leaves the resurrected ‘man’ to fend for himself.  This neglect is akin to that of a parent who takes no responsibility for the upbringing of a child. It’s even worse, in fact, because at least a ‘normal’ human being can expect to find guidance, support and friendship from peers whereas this creature is completely isolated. When he tries to integrate he is treated at best as a freak, at worst as a monster.

Yet when asked what it feels like to be in love, the creature answers with a depth of feeling that contrasts starkly with the cold-hearted Frankenstein. The irony, which is not lost in this brilliant production, is that the so called monster is way more ‘human’ than the scientist.

Olympics closing ceremony

Old wild man seemingly reduces young pop star to a state of ecstasy.

Danny Boyle’s inspired Isles of Wonder ceremony which opened the London Olympics had a clearly defined theme and purpose – using music to celebrate the nation’s achievements and to restore Team GB’s standing in the world.

The only brief for the closing ceremony seemed to be that this so-called ‘Symphony of British Music’ should cobble together whatever performers they could get hold of to make an ‘aftershow party’ with a global impact.

Sadly, the vibrant choreography and state of the art lighting  couldn’t mask the lack of genuine substance to Kim Gavin’s show. Lord Seb Coe saying beforehand that “it’s not anything desperately profound” turned out to be a massive understatement.

What was lost amid all this faux-nostalgia was the achievement of the athletes themselves who were shuffled into the stadium  en masse to take their place in Damien Hirst’s gigantic union jack while Elbow sang a couple of songs that sounded more dirgey than celebratory. Once trapped in the arms of the stadium flag they were a captive audience to a show that all but ignored their efforts over the previous two weeks. Continue reading

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