Posts Tagged ‘edinburgh’

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]

Nanu Maps: Comic Book Shops

Deadhead Comics

If you are new to the world of comic book collecting then you may be unaware that there are a number of destinations around Edinburgh that cater to this very small market. Well I am here to tell you that you no longer have to put up with the very limited range of graphic novels on sale at your local Waterstones.

View Nanu Maps – Comic Book Shops in a larger map

Forbidden Planet

40 -41 Southbridge

Forbidden Planet is Edinburgh’s comic book superstore. You will find all the latest releases and a huge variety of graphic novels on the shelves. If you are looking for something specific, and current, this is by far your best option. Also on sale are a variety of collectibles

Deadhead Comics

27 Candlemaker Row

Walk into Deadhead and you feel like you are on the set of an American slacker film vertureplica from the 1990s, which is the shop”s biggest draw. This laidback indie feel is embodied in the owner Gav. Deadhead has a very impressive selection of back issues, with long boxes with covering the shop hours could be spent navigating the stock. The shop also stocks all the latest releases and a selection of graphic novel, and anything they don’t have that is currently being published can easily be ordered to arrive with the next week’s shipment.

Oxfam Bookshop

116 Nicolson Street

This charity bookshop is filled with a wonderful changing selection of books. You won’t always find a massive selection of comic books but it is worth checking back regularly for some rare and interesting finds. There are also regular comic book events held in the store.

Elvis Shakespeare

347 Leith Walk

This shop may not specialise in comic books but it has a good selection of second hand comics alongside a vast collection of books and records. For fans of vintage and second hand entertainment this store is a haven.

Heroes & Idols @ Games Hub

101 Lauriston Place and

A new destination for Edinburgh based nerds Games Hub has joined up with Edinburgh based online retailer Heroes & Idols to offer some comic book merchandise. This café and gaming environment is evolving into something quite brilliant for all those interested in table top gaming and now with the addition of comic books and collectibles

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hard core collectors should be checking this place out. Perhaps not the best place if you are just starting out.

Nanu Maps: Pubs


Bored of warm lager and LADS in Teviot? If you want to get under the skin of the city, then trying out some of Edinburgh’s pubs for a taste of real beer is a good place to start.

The city has a hidden trove of watering holes, each with their own character, charm, and unique selection of drinks. Tucked away in the secret parts of town, some can be hard to find, but are always worth the trip.

The best places to go for a pint in Edinburgh are mapped by Sam in the third edition of Nanu Maps.


Brougham Place

Nestled into the old vicarage of St Michael’s church in Tollcross, Cloisters is always busy. Alongside prints of Edinburgh landmarks and old maps of the city, you can pull up a stool and enjoy the finest ale selection in town in a completely unique setting, for a really good price.

You won’t find your normal IPA range here; the bar keeps guest ales that change regularly along with a cast of gorgeous bitters and microbrewery-sourced beers, as well as a fine set of specialist whiskies. The crowning jewel in their collection has to be ‘Holy Grale’, a microbrewery ale that is not served anywhere else in the world – though it’s also worth trying the lighter ‘Trade Winds’. If that’s not enough, the welcoming atmosphere, log fire and homemade food should be temptation enough.

The Abbey

Nicholson Street

There’s not much to do in Newington past seven o’clock, but the Abbey is a good bet. Good solid pub food, a huge selection of local ales and bitters and comfy seats. It’s always packed with locals – a good sign of a healthy establishment – and it’s far enough off the beaten track to avoid the wide-eyed tourists who are always so thrilled to have ‘found the real Edinburgh’.

Additionally, they always show sports – so you can watch the football with a pint and friends, without being annoyed by the boorish crowd that hang around sports bars.

The Blue Blazer

Spittal Street

An oasis amongst the strip clubs and bookies of West Port, the Blue Blazer is on a back street pokies online just off the main road. With a great selection of local ales, their IPAs are some of the best in the city. And being a local’s pub, it has the right mix of bookbinders, football fans and students to make for a friendly atmosphere.

Pull up a pew or barrel and have a pint, or get cosy in the tap room in the back.

The Blind Poet & The Pear Tree

West Nicholson Street

Owned by the same proprietors, these pubs have managed to retain their distinctive senses of character despite being located next door to each other. The Pear Tree shows sports and occasionally live music in its large open air beer garden, serving a selection of pale lagers and the usual selection of local beer (Deuchars, Caledonian you know the drill). It also keeps a guest beer on rotation.

The Blind Poet is smaller and cosier, and with a more niche range of beers. It also plays better music than the Tree, even if it can be hard to get a seat. In the Fringe, both of these pubs act as comedy venues, as does the Counting House upstairs – the third pub in this beery triumvirate, which is usually only open for functions and private events.

The Guildford Arms

Rose Street

One of Edinburgh’s best preserved Victorian public houses, the Guildford hosts a month-long folk festival during the Fringe. With a large gallery bar in addition to the main bar, this place is pretty huge, and the interior is beautiful.

Even with its prime New Town location, the Guildford is surprisingly cheap, and in this part of the city its selection of cask ales is unrivalled – highlights include the Flying Scotsman (a brew named in honour of the famous locomotive) and Merman.


Lauriston Place

Doctors is rarely less than packed; situated on the corner of Lauriston Place it serves a fine range of beers and snacks, amongst idiosyncratic surroundings. On first sight it might look like a normal pub, but delve a little deeper and you’ll find some curious features – for instance, the drawers of old medical documents and the forceps framed on the wall. Doctors is a unique pub, and its handy location near campus makes it perfect for post-class drinks (or pre-class drinks. Or mid-class drinks…).

Sandy Bells

Forest Road

Tucked away on Forest Road, not many people know about Sandy Bells, but it’s an experience that’s hard to forget. Inside it’s a nice pub – good beer, good food and always a friendly atmosphere. In the evening though, there’s live folk music every night, either from guest bands and artists or from the regulars. So if you want some traditional, live folk to go with your pint and chips, this is the place to be.

Cuckoo’s Nest

Leven Street

Located in Tollcross, across the road from the King’s Theatre, The Cuckoo’s Nest is bigger than it looks. Downstairs from the main bar area there is a whole other room to sit and have a pint in, on some really comfy chairs. Alongside the bitters and ales, the bar keeps a pretty good wine selection. Its real advantage though, lies in its location – close to both the arthouse Cameo Cinema and the King’s Theatre, the Nest offers special food deals if you show them a theatre ticket, and stays open late so you don’t have to go far for an after-show pint.

The Brauhaus

Lauriston Road

Between ECA and Tollcross, the Brauhaus has a huge selection of European and international beers and spirits to choose from. Although it’s a way off the main strip, it’s worth the trip, for the huge range of choice, and it’s always comfortingly busy with students, hipster locals and people who just like beer.

What’s Going On In Comedy: Cry Baby Comedy Present Airplane


Comedy in Edinburgh outside of the festival is currently undergoing some way of transformation.

One of the freshest and most exciting of these changes comes in the form of a new night at the Cameo hosted by Cry Baby Comedy. The idea of the night is to use the wonderful venue for live comedy, with performances provided by some of the best Scottish Talent emerging today, headlined by a classic movie of mirth, with both elements fused into an interactive experience to liven up the usual and, comparatively dreary, cinema experience.

I have a rule: when you are offered a life jacked and greeted by a nun playing a guitar, you know you are in for a good night. Cry Baby Comedy did not disappoint.

Cry Baby and Leslie Nielson: The new face of comedy in Edinburgh.

Guests on the bill for the debut Airplane special were magnificent, with well known names if you have been keeping your ear to the ground, including Chortle Student Finalists Hari Sriskantha – who effortlessly and intelligently juggles with expectation and race using some well written observations and one liners – and David Elms. Elms brought the house down with his subtle intonation and Basden beating guitar-scapades, has clearly grown in confidence with the festival, and will doubtless soon be a household name, mark my words.

The ladies themselves are developing their own sassy voice as part of the Edinburgh scene. Compère Cat Wade can”t help but enjoy herself as she manages to balance a genuine, edging on excessive, enthusiasm for life with a sharp wit and natural badinage with the audience that would be the envy of most professional compères.

One of the highlights of the night came in the form of another of the Cry Baby organisers Gemma Flynn, who has become a regular favourite at another comedy venture for Academic Performance the “Bright Club” – here she is performing with them at the BBC tent during the festival, with the same Gangster”s Paradigm routine that went down so well at the last Cry Baby Show:

Alongside this remarkably astute comedy, variety was provided with some poetry and sketches. Clearly inspired by acts like Dan Le Sac, poetry was a welcome incorporation, and although this didn”t quite match the standards set by the other acts (by his own admissions, he wasn”t a stand-up and hampered slightly by technical problems) one can see this going down well with a bit more polish and stage presence.

Similarly, although not all the sketches were as well received as could be, the Edinburgh Revue provided some welcome respite with a section of solid skits. Having clearly grown as a troupe from their well received Festival outing, all of the performers working together admirably, perhaps most exciting of all were glimpses of sharper writing suggested this group had plenty of potential yet to be fulfilled. Between these, Adam Todd, doubling as both sketch and stand-up, is another act who, like Elms, is growing into his character with remarkable ability – a surreal man child who chooses whimsy over hate – and I cannot wait to see how his unique way of thinking develops as more material and ideas inevitably drip-feed into his routine.

At most gigs, this would have been more than enough for an enjoyable evening, but to top it all off, the headline act just happened to be one of the funniest movies of all time – the always hilarious Airplane. Despite being broken up by some technical problems – the film stock almost inevitably falling apart being now thirty years old – nothing could hamper the enjoyment of a clearly buoyant audience that left.

This is what live comedy should be – everyone together, involved and enjoying the night for what it is, a whole heap of fun. If this is the new face of comedy, then you”d best get used to seeing smiles all round.

Follow @CryBabyComedy on twitter to find out about

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their next outing.

Nanu Maps: Tea Rooms


Hello, is it tea you’re looking for?

In this edition of Nanu: Maps, Ellie and Elyse go in search of Edinburgh’s finest tea rooms. From the quaint and traditional to the modern and chic, Edinburgh does tea rooms very well. Unlike coffee shops which adorn the streets of Edinburgh in quantity, tea shops are much more sparse in the city, but uncompromising in variety and quality. Tea is a staple of the British diet and can be enjoyed to the maximum in the following establishments.

View Nanu Maps: Tea Shops in a larger map


Mon – Sat 08:30-16:30; Sun 09:30-16:30

Clarinda’s is a proper tea room. Antique china plates adorn the walls, doilies abound, and there’s a cake trolley laden with the day’s fresh homebakes, made on the premises. The instant you open the door there’s a welcoming whiff of thick soup, and the homely atmosphere continues with the small, “granny’s kitchen” style tables – which you will often find yourself sharing with other customers. Compared to many Royal Mile cafes, Clarinda’s is reasonably priced – only 90p for a cup of tea! There are a few specialist tea options, as well as a wide array of sandwiches (served with a handful of crisps, of course) and baked tatties. A lovely, quaint little establishment, which is popular with tourists and older locals alike – though due to its popularity, don’t expect to be able to hang out long after you’ve finished your cake.

Frederick Street
Mon-Tue 08:00-17:00; Wed-Fri 08:00-19:00; Sat-Sun 10:00-19:00

If you’re looking for a modern, sleek version of the traditional tearoom, head straight to Eteaket. The décor is lovely, with bold pink and blue detailing as well as some kitsch accessories. There’s a substantial sandwich menu and a glorious selection of homebakes (a word of warning – their portions of cake are literally slabs). However, the stars of the show here are certainly the teas: from the classic English and Scottish breakfast teas to an exotic cranberry rose chai tea latte or milkshake, with a whole spectrum of black, green, rooibos, herbal and “speciali-“teas in between. If you prefer your cuppa to be a builder’s brew with a bacon roll for a couple of quid, Eteaket is not for you – but for an elegant afternoon tea, it can’t be faulted.

Loopy Lorna’s Tea House
Mon-Thur, Sun 10:00-18:00; Fri-Sat 9:00-18:00

With a specialty tea menu as long as your arm and a groaning table of homemade cakes, traybakes and cupcakes to ponder, it’s no surprise Loopy Lorna’s has been voted the best tearoom and coffee shop in Edinburgh. Located in Church Hill theatre, it’s a cosy little place with mismatched china, friendly staff and whimsical tea cosies. A wee bit more pricey than your average, but you do get what you pay for in quality and quantity. It’s also well worth the extra stroll into Morningside. You’ll be glad of it after you’ve polished off a slab of Lorna’s chocolate cake. Get onto the website for tea facts, tea essays and tea poems.

Clerk Street
Fri-Sun 11:00-19:00

Walking into Anteaques on Clerk Street is like walking back in time. A mustachioed waiter, clad in 1900s attire, welcomes you into the shop and maneuvers around customers to show you to a tasting table. The tea menu is a comprehensive read, with all kinds of teas on offer, as well as the traditional accompaniments of scones and cakes. Old-fashioned brewing paraphernalia, antiques and curios are squeezed into the tiny space of Anteaques and create a unique and memorable atmosphere, unlike any other tea shop in Edinburgh. The slight snag is that it’s only open three days a week; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And be prepared for a very polite waiter to ask you back in half an hour when a table is free. It’s worth the wait.

In Session Interview Mindmap


In Session

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Interview Mindmap

Nanu Maps: Vintage

vintage image

No matter how much purse strings tighten, vintage boutiques in Edinburgh are bustling. Vintage shopping allows the buyer to invest in classic, one-off items that will be worn over and over again; completely in opposition to the vacuous world of fast fashion.

Spread all over the Capital, vintage shops are a bit difficult to find if you don’t already know where they are; this only makes the discovery of a fantastic vintage piece even more satisfying. Vintage is the alternative way to shop and with bargains around every corner, it’s hard not to see the appeal.

The best places in Edinburgh to search for something unique, wearable and affordable (not to mention distinctly stylish) are mapped by Ellie and Elyse in the first edition of Nanu Maps.

View Nanu Maps: Vintage in a larger map

Those Were the Days Vintage

St Stephen Street

Situated in a surprisingly light and airy Stockbridge basement, TWTDV is a luxury, high-end vintage boutique. Each item is meticulously looked after – covers ensure beautiful beaded dresses remain in their best condition, while their extensive bridalwear collection is available to view up close by appointment only. As well as a fantastic selection of dresses and women’s tops, TWTDV stands out in terms of their accessories. Vintage handbags, which can often look worn, are pristine, and there is a wide range of jewellery – including the star attraction, pairs of Chanel earrings. A gem in Edinburgh’s vintage crown.

Chic and Unique Jewellery

Deanhaugh Street

Another high-end Stockbridge store, Chic and Unique has some stunning piece of vintage sparkle. Time periods from the 1900s to the 1980s are covered – and from regal jewelled brooches to fifties Bakelite plastic designs, you’re sure to find a special piece here. Each cabinet contains notecards, explaining the history of the designer, its consumers, and when the style reached the height of its popularity. This is a lovely touch, and exemplifies how much care has gone into finding jewellery for the shop . For something a bit more fun, Chic and Unique carries a beautiful selection of masquerade eyepieces – setting the tone of the shop perfectly.


Grassmarket; Teviot Place; Clerk Street

Armstrong’s is probably Edinburgh’s most famous vintage shop, having been established in 1840. A word of advice: for a first time vintage shopper, the enormous selection in their Grassmarket store could be a little overwhelming, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest having a look at one of their smaller shops first! In all three stores, retro inspired pieces sit alongside truly vintage items from every era. Dresses, kilts, coats and shoes are in ready supply, but it’s really their selection of cashmere that stands out, a wonderful pastel rainbow of jumpers and cardigans. Armstrong’s is the original place to go vintage in Edinburgh, and it remains one of the best.

Herman Brown

West Port

Herman Brown has the look and feel of a boutique. Its pieces are kept in excellent condition, from their 1980s t-shirts and sweaters to more luxurious eveningwear, resplendent with sequins. Their menswear collection is also kept in good shape, with cosy lumberjack shirts and denim jackets – often forgotten about in the world of vintage. As well as this, Herman Brown also places a lot of focus in their accessory collections. Clearly this is paying off, as their selection of clutch bags and vintage hats is the perfect accompaniment to their well-chosen clothing range.


Nicholson Street and Stockbridge

Dispelling the image of the traditional charity shop, Barnardo”s dedicates significant shop space to genuine, quality vintage clothing; the recent revamp of the Nicholson Street branch includes a casino online gorgeous window display of some of the best pieces. The vintage section of the shops boasts everything from 60s dresses, sequinned tops, velvet jackets and woolly cardis, the odd vintage dress pattern and curios. Barnardo”s has mastered the art of not looking like a charity shop which makes your good deed of the day feel even better.


Bread Street

This wee shop is an unimposing vintage boutique, close to Edinburgh College of Art. Neatly laid out pieces and welcoming staff create a comfortable and pleasant shopping environment. Garments ranging from the genuinely vintage to retro pieces are well priced and if you”re looking for something special, the shop assistant will be able to help you. A well stocked vintage men”s section towards the back of the shop with pristine shirts and woolly jumpers is one of the biggest draws for stylish boys and androgynous girls.



Striving against “the soul sucking monotony of fast food fashion” Godiva is an independent fashion boutique dedicated to producing, reworking and sharing unique clothing for men and women. Located far away from the high street, Godiva is aimed at the discerning fashionista, searching for one off, quality items. The boutique keeps the inviting feel of a vintage shop with suitcases to rummage through and a section of classic vintage-wear towards the back of the shop. However, it is the creative design aspect of Godiva which really makes it stand out from the crowd.

The Frayed Hem

Cockburn Street

One of the new kids on the block, the Frayed Hem hasn”t been open for too long but fits in well to Edinburgh”s vintage fashion scene. A good mix of vintage, retro and restored items are handpicked and lovingly cared for by knowledgeable staff. The walls are decorated with everything from winter coats and jumpers to kitsch brooches and handbags. A good selection of men”s tweed jackets and waistcoats keep the boys entertained, while stylish ladies peer over the cashier”s desk to examine a lovely selection of jewellery.


In Session, nice to meet you

In Session 500x333

Hey, you”re listening to In Session live on with me, Christian Illingworth, and beside me, Lily Higham. Today we”re welcoming…

The usual introduction won”t cut it this time as In Session is leaving its nest in the airwaves and branching out into the densely populated world of blogging. One more vessel launching with fleeting fancies of being virally tumblogged or retrended at the risk of being snuffed out by overcrowding or dwindling enthusiasm. How will In Session fare in the blog jungle? Heck knows but it is without question that we”ll be passing questionable judgement on music and the arts whilst creating unique content with a lot of little help from the Scottish music scene.

See, In Session is a passion project which caters for the presenters” self-indulgence by inviting one of their favourite musicians to sing a few songs and tell a few tales to them in the studio each week. Over the last twelve months, since the show began broadcasting on Fresh Air Radio, In Session has been fortunate enough to meet the likes of The Twilight Sad, Meursault and Frightened Rabbit with gleeful expressions even if the subject matter of their songs encourage otherwise. 

It was so much fun for the presenters that, in February, they did their bit to restore order in the universe by releasing the In Session Series 1 Mixtape which compiled session tracks from every musician that performed for the show. It was released for free back then and remains free now via so do check it out as it”s a great sampler of the Scottish music scene featuring session tracks from Endor, Broken Records, and long-awaited new material by There have taken care of immediately the Nj Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), and casinos Control Commission (CCC), responding towards the petition for participation which was filed through the American Gaming Association (AGA), with regards to the Rational Group’s application for Interim casinos Authorization (ICA). Will Be Fireworks. The mixtape also also boasts, through watery eyes, unique performances from Aerials Up and Loch Awe who sadly decided to call it day in the last six months.

In Session, however, has been going strong since February, scooping a Best Radio Show nomination at the Scottish New Music Awards,  and continuing to record sessions on the road and in the studio. It won”t be long now, a fortnight perhaps, before the second mixtape drops and reminds everyone that, “hey, Scottish music is thriving right now, isn”t it?” You can look forward to an alarmingly eclectic compilation this time around as Scottish powerhouses Frightened Rabbit and Meursault will be alongside a plethora of the show”s favourite newcomers such as Kaiho, Zed Penguin, and Michael Cassidy. The release of the second mixtape will coincide with the announcement of In Session”s Winter broadcasting schedule on Fresh Air Radio which, to let you in on a little secret, may be our strongest guest booking run to date. That may look like PR hype 101 but, rest assured, the line-up is tremendously exciting.

And so ends this pseudo-third person introduction. Until the radio show resumes sometime in late October, In Session”s weekly updates on Nanu-Nanu will be discussing the week in gigs, if we go to any; or profiling bands new and old which have caught our attention. Between each post you can follow the show on Twitter @InSessionRadio for more updates plus myself @RadioBlagger and Lily @Lily_Higham for free-formed musings.

EIFF 2012: Killer Joe


You may never eat fried chicken again after watching William Friedkin’s opening film of the 2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival. The tone of the film is set straight away as we open on a disgusting looking trailer park in the pouring rain, a desperate and angry man hammers on a trailer to eventually be met by Gina Gershon naked from the waist down. This is a darkly funny film that can be shocking in parts, sad in others and everything feels dirty. Starring a strong ensemble cast with Matthew McConaughey at the centre in a creepy and sometimes scary performance. McConaughey is better than he has ever been as Joe with the rest of the cast also putting in stellar performances; Juno Temple plays the perfect balance of unstable and innocent, Thomas Haden Church and Emile Hirsch are a brilliant double act as dense father and son and Gina Gershon plays a wicked step mother. The plot of the film is a sort of bleak fairy tale about a hateful family trying to solve their money issues. Chris (Hirsch) needs money fast and so goes to his father with a plan to murder Chris’s mother and collect her insurance money. This is where Joe comes in; being a cop who kills people on the side. The one catch is that Joe wants his money up front or a retainer and unfortunately Chris’s sister Dottie (Temple) is Joe’s desired retainer. This film is worth watching for the acting alone, but see Killer Joe for trashy fun, a grotesque family drama that is extremely difficult to watch in parts but trashy fun none the less. Just

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don’t plan to eat at KFC afterwards.

EIFF 2012: Rent-A-Cat


I like cats, let’s get that out the way right at the start here. Rent-A-Cat does not disappoint on the cat quota, if cats are your thing then this film is for you. However this film is more than just a feature length viral cat video. Sayoko (Mikako Ichikawa) is the wonderfully quirky lead of the

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piece who strongly believes in the power of cats to fill the holes in people’s hearts and by the end of the film so will you. The film is split into four episodes, each focusing on a different lonely person but the overarching story belongs to Sayoko and her search for companionship.

Cats may be everywhere in this film but loneliness is the main theme. An old lady, a business man and an employee at a car rental company all turn to Sayoko and her odd cat rental cart for help. Unfortunately all the cats in the world don’t seem to be able to cure Sayoko’s own loneliness. Sayoko’s is brilliantly played by Ichikawa, instantly likeable and charming the audience connect with her at once.

Unfortunately there are a number of problems with the film that let it down. Though I was charmed from an early point, the episodic structure and deliberate repetition throughout the film began to drag. The film repeats dialogue, metaphors and even structure in each episode of the film, it’s an interesting idea it just didn’t work to great effect other than to make the film feel longer than it actually was. The film has a run time of only 110 minutes yet it feels much longer.

The main character is engaging, it looks great and there are cats everywhere. This film has the potential to be great but unfortunately the structure lets it down.