T2 Trainspotting (2017)

T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: Irvine Welsh’s Porno
Sequel to: Trainspotting
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan, Shirley Henderson, James Cosmo, Irvine Welsh
Seen on: 13.3.2017

Plot:
Twenty years after the events of Trainspotting, the now clean Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland for the first time. He wants to see his family and to catch up with Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), though he’d rather not see Begbie (Robert Carlyle). He suspects that Begbie is still very angry with him from when he left. Simon is angry, too, but once they get over the inital anger, they are back to making plans of how to make their lives more than it is. But the past can’t be left behind that easily.

T2 Trainspotting captured most of the mood of Trainspotting perfectly, although it does lack some of the inescapable energy of the first one. That being said, I’m very content with this sequel so many years later.

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Re-Watch: Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: Irvine Welsh’s novel
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan, Shirley HendersonJames Cosmo, Irvine Welsh
Seen on: 12.3.2017

Plot:
Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Tommie (Kevin McKidd) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) are friends. At least as much as you can be friends with anybody you share a heroin addiction with. And don’t necessarily like each other all that much. As they tumble through Edinburgh, alternatively looking to buy the next hit and to kick the habit altogether, their paths cross with the same people over and over again, people like the violent Begbie (Robert Carlyle). They all struggle with their own problems but at least they are not stuck in the wheel of capitalism. Or that’s what Renton tells himself.

It’s been many years since I saw the film (although some images have burned themselves into my retina, they are that present in my head). Re-watching it now, I’m still very much taken with it. It’s a really great film, despite a couple of weaknesses.

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Porno (Irvine Welsh)

Porno is a novel by Irvine Welsh; the sequel to Trainspotting.
Finished on: 7.3.2017

Plot:
Ten years after the events of Trainspotting, Sick Boy inherits a pub in Leith from his aunt, so he leaves London behind where things haven’t been going that well for him anyway, hoping to be on the winning side of gentrification for once. But before things take off in that direction, Sick Boy finds himself hosting an amateur porn shoot in his pub. But Sick Boy isn’t the only one returning to Leith: Begbie is being released from prison and even Renton returns from his exile in Amsterdam, hoping to avoid pretty much everybody he knows from back then, except maybe for Spud who is desperately trying to stay clean.

Porno was an excellent continuation of Trainspotting, but also different in many ways. It’s a strong book, looking at some of humanity’s worst traits without losing all hope entirely.

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Re-Read: Trainspotting (Irvine Welsh)

Trainspotting is a novel by Irvine Welsh.
Finished on: 23.2.2017

Plot:
Renton, Sick Boy and Spud are friends. At least as much as you can be friends with anybody you share a heroin addiction with. And don’t necessarily like each other all that much. As they tumble through Edinburgh, alternatively looking to buy the next hit and to kick the habit altogether, their paths cross with the same people over and over again, people like the violent Begbie or the drunk Second Prize. They all struggle with their own problems but at least they are not stuck in the wheel of capitalism. Or that’s what Renton tells himself.

Trainspotting is at times funny, at times simply disgusting and it has surprising moments of senisitivity and clarity buried along the way. It’s not the best book ever, but it is very strong.

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Filth (Irvine Welsh)

Filth is a novel by Irvine Welsh. [I reviewed the movie adaptation here.]

Plot:
Bruce Robertson is every bad stereotype of a police man: he’s a misanthropic, sexist, racist, power-obsessed asshole who is supposed to investigate the death of a black journalist. Instead he’d rather think about how to get the promotion to Detective Inspector, even though he doesn’t actually like doing his job. But Bruce is not only an asshole, all is not right with him in general. As his convoluted intrigues become ever more complicated, his mental state continues to deteriorate.

Bruce Robertson is an intriguing character and Welsh really gets inside his head. Which meant that it wasn’t always easy to read Filth, but it was a rewarding read.

irvine-welsh-filth

[SPOILERS]

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Filth (2013)

Filth
Director: Jon S. Baird
Writer: Jon S. Baird
Based on: Irvine Welsh‘s novel
Cast: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Shirley Henderson, Iain De Caestecker, Gary Lewis

Plot:
Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is every bad stereotype of a police man: he’s a misanthropic, sexist, racist, power-obsessed asshole who is supposed to investigate the death of a Japanese tourist. Instead he’d rather think about how to get the promotion to Detective Inspector, even though he doesn’t actually like doing his job. But Bruce is not only an asshole, all is not right with him in general. As his convoluted intrigues become ever more complicated, his mental state continues to deteriorate.

Filth isn’t always easily stomached and the ending didn’t blow me away, but other than that I really liked it. It was well-made, well-acted and kept you on the edge of your seat.

Filth

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If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work (Irvine Welsh)

If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work is a short story collection by Irvine Welsh. There are five stories in it, almost all around the length of fifty pages (The last one could actually be called a novel, it’s got almost 190 pages).

And you can not believe how many stupid looks I got in the subway while reading, just because the cover looks like that:

Or maybe you can believe it. Thinking about it, I probably would have given myself surprised glances as well…

What I like most about Irvine Welsh is the way he can – seemingly without effort – include dialects in his writings. He usually writes from a third- or first-person point of view and he really knows how to nail a character’s voice. The language and the dialect is always perfectly in tune with them. In this short story collection, where he changes from a young American guy, to a middle-aged English man and then again to a very posh Chicago woman etc., this is especially obvious.

All the stories had me hooked, although it always took me a couple of pages to get into them, to get used to that sudden change of voice.

Rattlesnakes

In the Nevada desert, two young men and a young woman are stranded, after attending a rave. And as if things weren’t complicated enough without that, one of them gets bitten by a rattlesnake.
The story is funny, but in a “I rather laugh than think about that” way. It builds up to a big explosion in the end and delivers (not literally, though) just that. The end’s open and in this case, I would have liked it to go on a bit more and show us what happens next.

If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work

On Fuerteventura, an English bar owner is torn between the women in his life: his ex, his daughter, his lover, his sometimes lover and his next conquest.
The story is divided in five parts and each part concentrates on one of the women, but it’s still a stringent story. Mostly, he talks about sex, in a direct way, and with pretty frank details. I like that.

The DOGS of Lincoln Park

Three yuppie girls meet regularly in an Asian restaurant, where they talk about guys and bitch about each other, at least inwardly. When the chef of the restaurant moves into the same apartment building like one of them, worlds collide.
The way the girls treat each other strongly reminded me of American Psycho, even though the story goes into a different direction. The DOGS… kind of takes the yuppie lifestyle as a given, and does not explore that, but our prejudices. It’s funny, but the ending seems a bit uninspired.

Miss Arizona

A director/writer sets out to write a biography about a recently deceased independent filmmaker. For that, he interviews his widow, the former Miss Arizona, by now old and washed up, who lives alone in the desert.
The story is meant to be surprising, I think, but it utterly fails to do that. But I enjoyed it anyway, especially the way the relationship between Miss Arizona and the writer unfolds slowly.

Kingdom of Fife

A young, unemployed man more or less stalks a rich horse rider. The horse rider’s best friend struggles with her family and place in life.
The story takes place in Fife, Scotland and is written alternatively from the man’s and the best friend’s perspective. When the young man’s talking, the book looks like this (that’s the first paragraph):

Ya hoor, sor; the conversation in this place wid make a pornographer blush. — You ken Big Monty, it’s no as if eh isnae well hung or nowt like that. Eh’d goat a hud ay that crystal meth fae some boy in Edinbury n it wis up like two fucking cans ay Tennent’s, yin oan toap ay the other; his words no mine, the Duke ay Musselbury says aw sagely, liftin the pint ay Guiness tae ehs lips n takin a swallay. Thir’s a ridge ay foam, or cream as the Porter Brewery chaps in Dublin wid like ye tae think ay it, hingin fae the dirty ginger mowser oan ehs toap lip. Early Seturday n we’re the only cunts in the Goth, wur local boozer. Great place, the Goth, an awfay warm howf, wi aw thon mahogany-coloured wood everywhaire. Thir’s a big screen oppposite the bar for the fitba, usually just Scottish (borin, only two teams kin win), or English (worse, only one team kin win), bit they sometimes show Le Liga or the Bundeslegia. Thir’s a big partitioned pool room at the side, surrounded by gless, makin aw the bams in thaire look like goldfish.

Admittedly, writing in dialect like that, slows the reading down at first. A lot. But that’s all made up by the cool-factor, and my obsession with Scottish. And you get used to it pretty quickly, so the tempo goes up again and the coolness stays the same.
The story is really sweet, sweeter than I’m used to, coming from Irvine Welsh. I really liked the two main characters, always a good thing. I think it’s my favourite from the collection.

Stories

If you follow Neil Gaiman’s blog, like I do, you already know about this. If you are in the UK and regularly hit a Waterstone’s (like I would, if I was there), you’ll know about it as well. If not, man, have I got news for you! :)

Waterstone’s asked 13 authors (or maybe they asked more, but only 13 answered) to write a short story on a postcard, which were auctioned off yesterday (all the profits went to the English PEN and Dyslexia Action). The stories are online now, and if you feel inspired, you can write your own (until June 19th). The best three stories will be published along with the professional authors’ stories in a book.

Oh, yeah, and the authors are: Neil Gaiman, Irvine Welsh, J.K. Rowling, Doris Lessing, Nick Hornby, Margaret Atwood, …

Cool thing.

Movie News

There’s a new, German version of The Wave by Morton Rhue/Todd Strasser (Die Welle) coming to the movies. A book probably every child in school in Europe and the US had to read. Let’s see if that improves the popularity.

Christian Bale has a lot of interesting projects coming up – Killing Pablo (together with Javier Bardem), Public Enemies (together with Marion Cotillard, Johnny Depp and Giovanni Ribisi) and – I’m not sure what to think of that one – Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins.

Motherless Brooklyn will finally be out some time this year. Directed and written by as well as starring Edward Norton. Should be good.

Alice in Wonderland has a real revival – first there’s the Tim Burton version, then the Marilyn Manson version with Tilda Swinton and finally the Marcus Nispel version with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Will be interseting to compare them.

2008 is also a Chuck Palahniuk year – Invisible Monsters and Choke are being made into movies. Also, Bret Easton Ellis can rejoice: he gets The Informers, Lunar Park and The Frog King. And another one of my favourites – Irvine Welsh – gets The Meat Trade.

I bet I could find another hundred movies to come out this year I want to watch but I need to go to bed now.