Archive for the ‘Arts: Feature’ Category

Fringe Preview: The Stand

Wow, it’s barely even April – am I really already writing a preview for the Fringe? That’s ladies and gents, Tickets have already gone on sale for August Festival shows taking place at the Stand – probably the première venue for comedy in the UK. Jumping the gun by quite a significant margin this year it seems only right to approach these shows now while the digital ink of their announcement is still fresh – and some of these shows are likely to be sold out soon, so well worth getting in there while you still can!   Big Names As usual, The Stand will play host to some of the most well respected names in comedy. Top of the list this year, as with most, will be Stewart Lee’s “Much a-Stew About Nothing” which will be working on material for Series 3 of his Comedy Vehicle, while his former double-act partner Richard Herring will once again be hosting his daily podcast from the venue. Simon Munnery returns from his curious and genre defining show last year “Fylm-Maker” with what one can only assume is the more; last year’s attempts to use live video as part of his performance was a delightful experiment in a new medium which, although still genuinely brilliant, felt like a peek into a genius trying to work out what they can do with a new toy; like an alchemist carefully measuring comedy and art there might never be the guaranteed outcome, but it will always be worth being part of just in case. Alexei Sayle, who you should recognise as the landlord from the Young Ones if nothing else, is the act this year returning from years in the comedy wilderness with his first, and much anticipated, full length stand-up hour in 17 years. Tony Law too is now a big name among those in the know, and fast becoming a recognised face from bits of TV – and is easily deserving a position alongside these greats.   Future Brilliance   Local Acts     Newer Names Katie Mulgrew and Tony Jameson both debut (I think) with shows this year, and are already regular hosts and acts at the Stand throughout the year – and important members of their recently launched Newcastle branch. Jameson’s premise this year, the equally agonising and joyous experience of Championship Manager, has already struck a chord with audiences, selling out at the Glasgow Comedy Festival, and is likely to perform equally well; I’ve not, but he is a very. Similarly, Mulgrew’s stage presence is always at home with audiences

#EdFringe Survival Guide

It’s the most wonderful, tiring and rainy time of the year! To have maximum fun at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013, follow these simple steps. Guaranteed to ward off Fringe Fatigue and Fringe Flu.

Have a wee

Before going in to see a show, a well timed wee is essential. Fringe venues aren’t made for inconspicuous exits and if you do slip out, you immediately become susceptible to audience interaction.

Freeze some dinners

It’s such a good idea. But making a cottage pie and not eating it straight away is tough.

Put something proper on your feet

Like any festival, the Fringe involves lots of walking and portable toilets. A covered and supported sole is best to avoid blisters and seeping liquids.

Allow 10 minutes for the tourist slalom

The streets are congested and slow with street performers, tourists and tourists watching street performers so allow a few extra minutes to reach your destination.

Plan…but not too much

If you don’t have an idea what you’re aiming for at the Fringe it can all be a bit overwhelming. So book a few things you really want to see but leave plenty of gaps for impulse buys.

Don’t let FOMO ruin your life

Fear Of Missing Out is inevitable at the Fringe because you are going to miss out because you need to go to bed. But if you repeatedly succumb to FOMO you will, at some point, end up sitting on the toilet, sobbing.


Have a great Fringe!

Interview: Raconteur Edinburgh


Storytelling nights are all the rage right now, and none is more welcome to the scene then the fantastic Edinburgh endeavour Raconteur. We

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grabbed one of the organizers Satnaam Dusanj for a quick chat ahead of their next event, to find out more about this innovative night. If you fancy the sound of yourself as a bit of a storyteller and reckon you have a story to contribute, all you have to do to get involved, is get in contact with Raconteur on their facebook page or drop them a tweet @RaconteurEd and they will be able to give you all the information you need.

Exhibité: Oliver Benton, The Third Man Cafe

Table In "The Third Man" cafe

Artist Of The Month, The Third Man Cafe (14 Queensferry Street)

It”s always funny trying to take a picture of someone who works in photography. Obviously, one is suddenly more aware of the photo they are about to take – and wary of the expertise with which they take it, or lack there of. But so often, and far more

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significantly, it becomes clear that the artist themselves aren”t fully prepared to become the subject of an image – despite the fact that they are incidentally have been the subject of their work so long. Oliver is no different, and shuffles a little uncomfortably when I take out my camera to take a few throwaway snaps for the article.

Exhibition of Ollie Benton

Exhibition of Oliver Benton”s Photography in the Third Man

Oliver and I have been working on some filming recently as part of my academic stuff I do, and so he approaches our very brief interview with an open-ness and honesty that might otherwise be dominated with a nervous insecurity – not because he is a nervous person, or insecure, but because unfamiliar with this kind of exposure, and not one to blow his own trumpet, it is only natural to be insecure. For our meeting however, with some reasonable prodding and a bowl of delicious butternut squash soup, he overcomes this because, dare I say it, we are friends.

But inevitably in such a situation, his work speaks with much more clarity than his mouth; one thing that strikes you is that he works with clarity. Hardly considered an exhibition, this meek installation on two walls of a smart café towards the west end of the city, is more a display of some of Oliver”s more easily accessible photography than a coherent demonstration of artistic sentiment or some provocative gesture that Oliver is equally able to create. Wonderfully composed, many of the photos show intimate experiences with friends and family, or else capture the simple beauty, and occasionally mistakes, from moments captured of his time in Edinburgh. In a similar display elsewhere, the perfectly geometric grid of images became reminiscent to some of the mechanics of social networks; walls and digital galleries, For over 40 years NUS Business has offered a rigorous relevant and rewarding business education to outstanding students around the world. collections of holiday snaps and perfectly filtered instagrammed lunches are the main stay of intimate, personal, on-line experiences – but Oliver is very quick to point out that this collection of work isn”t affiliated at all with that side of his interests, and never once had this been an intention of the style in which his work is displayed. If this were the case, he would appear to have a lot of friends who are animals, but this is unfortunately not the case.

However, as so often true with any body of work shown in volume, something is revealed that isn”t intentionally told. In this instance, it is Oliver”s sincere and individual style; he is one of those artists who sees the word as a visual aesthetic, and with every glance you can almost see him composing a shot. As such, this work demonstrates an artist maturing in how he presents the world, and is reminiscent of his recent foray into a weekly video diary, managing to capture something beautiful in the everyday but without ever being contrived, or artificial. Each shot, never linked through theme or narrative, are a collection that are coherent of Benton”s style and worldview.

This small exhibit runs throughout February and into March at the Third Man Cafe, just off the top of Lothian road, and as well as supporting local art, do a smashing bit of lunch. If there are exhibitions, whatever size, be sure to get in contact and Nanu will do our best to cover them for you. Finally, for those who are interested, here are my three pathetic attempts to capture Oliver as he sits beneath his public portfolio.

Artist: Ollie Benton Artist: Ollie Benton Artist: Ollie Benton



If you”d like to find out more about his work, or if you want to purchase a print from any of his works on display, grab a card from the display, and visit

Angus Strikes Back (passive aggressively): Take this France or Edinburgh’s cultural highlights for a visitor


Edwin Starr once sang “War /Achooo/ Yeah/ What is it good for?” a valid question, his answer of “absolutely nothing” is completely wrong. I am at war ladies and gentlemen and it is both noble and in all likelihood good for lots of bloody stuff.

I must apologise for my French, which seamlessly brings me onto the key issue my passive aggressive war with a French stranger (which he is unaware of). Today as I pottered around campus, hackeying some sack, uking some lele, I overheard the following conversation from a French chap

“Yeah Glasgow has lots of great galleries and stuff”

So far so true France, Glasgow does have some great galleries and is indeed well endowed with stuff. Continue

“You could easily spend a week there doing culturally things and clubbing”

Also true, many people have spent a week in Glasgow in actual fact lots of people have spent their whole life there. Do go on monsieur

“It’s not as pretty as Edinburgh”

You flatter us, you charming French gent

“But Edinburgh only really needs a day; see the castle and the palace. Not much more to see culture wise”

Sorry what?

At this point my sweet pickup game of ultimate Frisbee was derailed. I was struck dumb, gob smacked and flabbergasted all at once. I roared with a rage so erotically charged I almost passed out. Who does he think he is? Who? One day? I’ll show him one day.

As I summoned my nerve to give him a piece of my mind I swiftly turned on my heal and wandered off. But if I had given him a piece of my mind, it would have sounded like this;

What I would be doing if I were in Edinburgh right now (or in the near future).


The National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street

The recently reopened National Museum is treasured by all. You can’t go into the museum and not become giddy, there’s a plane on the wall. The exhibitions are now all state of the art and there is more of the Museums ludicrously large collection on show than ever before.

I love the museum upstairs are excellent far eastern and Egyptian exhibits, these are slightly calmer than the somewhat manic downstairs. I wouldn’t say this when I was selling it to the French fellow, but the museum is more kid friendly than ever and you may have some philistine parents launching there kid on every surface going. Sadly there has also been a dumbing down in some areas, but not all over and I only say that because I am nit-picking. Overall the museum is amazing; completely refurbished everything is exciting and state of the art, but more importantly the substance and size of the

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overwhelming collection will keep you there for days.

Van Gogh to Kandinsky | Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880-1910

Scottish National Gallery

Ends 14th October

An Exhibition I was thoroughly excited about but completely failed to go and see. If I was a French chap in Edinburgh I would be super jazzed to go to this highly acclaimed show. Frankly I have never been a big fan of Munch but on display were some Gauguin that I was rather keen on seeing.

Picasso & Modern British Art

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

4th August to 4th November

Somewhat of a coup for the gallery of modern art. Taking an extensive collection from a very various periods in Picasso’s career and tying them together with various British pieces. It is an interesting idea but more importantly the Gallery have secured some veritable masterpieces including the 1925 painting, “The Three Dancers”. A really interesting exhibition opened in August, which has been

The Scottish Colourist Series: SJ Peploe

Modern Art Two (Dean Gallery)

3rd November 2012- 23rd June 2013

The stranger made no reference to when he might be in Edinburgh so I would have recommended this show for the trips of the near future. I have been excited about this since last year’s Cadell exhibition in the same series. Peploe is arguably the most famous of the Scottish colourists and looking at his work there is scope for a really interesting exhibition. Fingers crossed the gallery manage to curate as comprehensive an exhibit as they have for each artist in this series so far. Personally I am a fan of the colourists I don’t know how popular they are with French men on my campus.

Now take that French stranger and get yourself to Edinburgh, because this is just the tip of the ice berg. I’m talking literally the tippy top of the ice berg, the bit you see and think hmm I wonder where the rest of that ice berg is.

War, what is it good for? Well in this case my victory I have won the war, I defeated a stranger in passive combat and wrote about him behind his back. I have proven him wrong and gained the upper hand with an evidence based argument I thought of after the fact. Now all I need to do is find him and give him this article.

[NB if you want to show a stranger whose boss, post some of your top Edinburgh cultural events and places in the comments]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt? more like Joseph Gordon Love-It.


On Sunday the 30th of September 2012 a theft took place. A crime so heinous it has taken me until now (5 days later) to speak of it. It started, as it always does, with a dame…

Dame Judy Dench was informing James Bond that his 00 status was to be revoked, he had been tortured by Madonna’s theme tune in North Korea and they believe he had gone rogue. It was around this time that I thought, “no, no sir. A man can only be pushed so far” and so I resolutely switched off “Die Another Day” and turned over to “10 things I hate about you”. I’m quite sure you will agree that it was a damned good choice, what’s not to love? Heath Ledger is both funny and charming and Julia Styles looks like a ghost. This has long been a favourite of mine, chiefly because there is an impromptu musical number, but also because it is one of the best high school comedies emerging from the 1990’s.

This film is often overlooked, for example on this very website’s “Back to School: movies” article [full disclosure I wrote and take full responsibility for this viscous oversight]. In what was becoming a frankly cruel streak in my character, I had also completely disregarded Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance in the past. In fact I was surprised he was even in the film, whilst I

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watched him take on the Shakespearean task of trying to bone Julia Styles sister I decided to make a list.

Fans of lists will no doubt be excited by this decision; the list in question is Joseph Gordon Levitt’s finest films. The problem I had however is this; JGL’s films have also been some of the highest grossing of the last 5 years. This means that any list is pretty irrelevant as the majority of people have seen them or heard about them and chosen not to see them. There are very few Gordon-Levitt pictures that I can recommend which would make this article even vaguely practical.

I spent this mild September afternoon dealing with the quandary of digging a relevant piece out of a) a thoroughly overused article structure and b) an actor whose filmography is pretty widely known. As I dealt with these issues and began composing my list, the thieves struck.

Horrifying I”m sure you agree, to see such a graphic scene of crimes against my own brand of mediocre pseudo-journalism. I struggled to come to terms with it myself, somehow the Huffington Post had managed to steal my article before I had even written it. How they did it? I may never know. How it made me feel? I know only too well. Not that its any real consolation after the grievous violation of my mental privacy that occurred but here is my list of Joseph Gordon-Levitts best films;

1) Beethoven (1990)

What? Beethoven? I know, I know we were all thinking it. Obviously he’s one of the kids or something. Nope a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt began his career as “Student 1”. Many will try to argue he really started his career with the excellent 1990’s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. Those people are liars and you shouldn”t listen to them, Beethoven is a great family film which I fondly remember and so am frankly reluctant to rewatch in case it’s a total stinker. If a cuddlier John Hughes film exists, ill eat my hat. The only possible flaw in it is the minimal Gordon Levitt time.

2) 10 Things I hate about you (1999)

I have already talked about this film, and it really is excellent. Of the two late 90’s modern
day adaptations of Shakespeare (the other being Baz Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet) 10 Things is the sillier but this doesn”t diminish the film in any way. Heath Ledger’s rendition of “Cant take my eyes off of you” had the opportunity Preparativi ad un mondo di continue sorprese grazie alle promozioni che star Casino mette a disposizione di tutti giocatori che amano passare il tempo sulla sua piattaforma di gioco. to be a horrifyingly awkward experience instead it was handled with charisma and wit something that high school monstrosities like “Grease

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2” and “She’s the Man” could learn from

3) [500] Days of Summer (2009)

Looking back now at this totes-indie flick we might find it somewhat cringe worthy. However in those heady days of 2009 it really was a stand out film. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt react so well off each other and frankly the non-linear structure blew our small ‘09 minds (a simpler time). It’s easy to make fun of the maniacal love of the Smiths and Deschanel”s many totes-indie quirks but at its heart this is a very strong and surprisingly funny film. To be fair the Smiths are also a pretty OK band.

[Levitt probably listening to “The Smiths” in [500] Days of Summer, in case you didn”t know what he looks like]

4) Inception (2010)

Like a circle within a circle, or a wheel within a wheel. Inception is one of the major blockbusters of our generation. This is heartening because it is also one of a new Nolan inspired bread of blockbusters that assumes you aren”t a total imbecile. While the usual idiot fodder like “Avatar” is still churned out, Inception proved to studio bosses that a film with substance can really make some money. Stand out moments in Inception for me (and probably everyone else) is Gordon Levitt’s gravity defying fight scene in the hotel room corridor and when Tom Hardy said and did things.

5) The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Hooray more Nolan/JGL/Tom Hardy, only this time its longer, fatter and you cant hear Tom Hardy. I appreciate there are a lot of Dark Knight Rises fans out there and frankly I am with you. In a vacuum it’s a sickeningly good blockbuster, held up against Begins and the Dark Knight? Its flabby, long winded and frankly a bit crap. The fight scenes are nowhere near as good as I had hoped, the plot was somewhat see through and the weird fascist overtones were just too evident. I know I am being a nit picking twat when I moan about the disappearing stab wounds and magically reappearing batmen. It is a strong blockbuster and that is why it is on this list, I liked it but it was long and not as good as the other two. More importantly to this article Gordon-Levitt wasn’t in the preceding films and he was brilliant in Dark Knight Rises.

[NB “Joseph Gordon-Loved It”was (to my knowledge) originally used by Rob Delaney. An American comic who you should already be following on twitter @Robdelaney.

Also if fans out there arent already using JGL as shorthand, you are welcome]

Steve Martin is Funnier than you


I’m sorry you may be extremely funny, I just doubt you are funnier than Steve Martin. Watch this wild and crazy guy”s Happy feet.


See he’s funnier than you. His work in the seventies was revolutionary, he made deconstructing the scene, a scene. His work on Saturday Night Live was legendary; watching him face off against Bill Murray or John Belushi is the pinnacle of American comedy in an oversaturated market. But sadly, for the greater part of our generation we see Steve Martin as the sweet buffoon from Cheaper by the Dozen or Bringing Down the House. I’m not saying these are monstrosities or even particularly terrible, I’m just trying to communicate that Steve Martin is so much better.

LA Story is an incredibly personal film, about a man pushing against LA phonies despite being a phony himself. This same joke, this same thought process is shown in his stand-up performances throughout the ‘70s. I say this because while LA story, the Jerk and Planes Trains and Automobiles are easily accessible and popular with our generation, his years on TV are not. Martin left stand-up to pursue a career in film throughout the ‘80s and many of the early performances on SNL and other shows were left to nerds like me. This is a shame, because they were ludicrously funny.

It occurs to me that this is reading like an obituary, incidentally here is an obit Martin wrote for the New Yorker . Anyway, this is not Steve Martins obituary he is alive and well, more importantly he is releasing a collection, “Television stuff”, which compiles his early material across three DVDs. Arguably, the funniest and the most important period of his career, it will be wonderful to see on something other than YouTube.

Watch Steve Martin in Planes Trains and Automobiles and LA story and you see a wickedly funny but thoughtful performer. Read his many essays and articles and you get a feeling for his sharp intellect. Listen to his bluegrass and you hear him playing bluegrass. Most importantly watch this DVD and you will see he is funnier than you.

Steve Martin: Television Stuff has been released in America and is available to order on Sadly, there is no UK release date as of yet, but really what is the cost of a region free DVD player compared to the misery of not seeing this.

Back To School Part 1: Comics

Back to School Comics

It”s that time of the year, doesn”t matter how old you are summer ending is bullspit. End of the summer means end of the Olympics, end of good weather and, for those of a certain age, back to school. Well cool off, I am here to brighten up even the worst summer hangover. Over the next couple of days I will be aiming you towards stuff that should keep the September blues at bay

I know what you”re going to say “Angus I”m going back to uni”, “Angus I spent all my money in the fringe”, “Angus I”m scared the leaves are changing”  well quit moaning I”ve got some comics for you.

Morning Glories Vol: 1-3

Image comics has recently released the third volume in this expansive series and there has never been a better time to pick it up. Until a week ago I hadn”t heard of Nick Spencer”s interesting take on High School, I have since inhaled all three volumes.

Morning Glories is set in one of the worlds leading preparatory schools, classrooms stocked with the best resources and all other available space stuffed with unresolved mystery. Following a group of pupils providing a Breakfast Club-esque cross section of the high school society. This group”s initial excitement at being accepted to this prestigious school is soon replaced with horror as they realise the Orwellian arsenal of despair and torture the staff utilise to achieve their unknown goal.

Spencer draws on influences from across the board, whether its room 101 or John Hughes. The key influence on the overall style however are the JJ Abrams” shows Lost and Fringe. Extensive backstory all tying into one mystery, each issue drifts in and out of flashbacks and/or flash-forwards? (wibbly wobbley timey wimey). This style of narrative is infuriatingly compelling but possibly to0 grand for the comic format. I read the series in three volumes and this was very enjoyable, however I cannot see myself enjoying the single issues to the same extent. The story can be slow and convoluted, waiting a month for an issue which ends up a flashback that won”t be relevant for another four issues (months) would drive me to the edge of insanity.

It”s a testament to the writing that I am only now discussing the art of this series. Morning Glories has consistent but frankly muted art. It”s functional but not much more, the only stand out feature I felt are the expressive characters. This means one of two things 1) they wanted to create an atmosphere of mundane drudgery in the school while aiding character development with expressive close ups or 2) they spent all the budget on a decent writer and got stuck with an average artist.

The size and ambition Casino games paid for for any mere 11% (individuals online slots can’t be introduced rapidly enough) while bingo notched a 4% share. of this project is infuriating but enjoyable. I was excited to read the third volume, I want to know what happens. It”s more compelling than a lot of content currently produced, especially when read in trade paperbacks. However if Spencer so much as thinks the word purgatory when writing the ultimate payoff, I will riot.

Freshmen Vol: 1

What if a group of college freshmen suddenly got superpowers based on what they were
thinking in one split second in 2004?

I”ll give you a minute to mull that mammoth question over.

You”ve just read the first issue of Top Cow”s Freshmen co-created by Seth Green and Hugh Sterbakov. Penned by Sterbakov, Freshmen aims to capture the fresher experience utilising super powers and a talking beaver. It”s a simple comic from a simpler time, it”s a super powered “Undeclared”. This simplicity however plays to the relative strength of Sterbakov”s writing, silly humour (one character”s power is to make people drunk and the Beaver talks) is used to mask a fairly strong arc of character development. There are some gaps in development later in the series, however this is more due to the unusual size of ensemble.

Volume one does a good job combining a standard super-hero origin story with a college freshers group dynamic. A pared down story which focuses entirely on characters is pleasant relief after the heavy “Morning Glories”. It is a funny book which handles an overly large ensemble well, the bad guy is menacing if a little basic and Freshmen set itself up well for a second volume. Overall I would recommend Freshmen Volume One, its funny, silly and provides some good action with a fun group dynamic.