Archive for September 21st, 2007

Hallam Foe

Hallam Foe is a great new movie from David Mackenzie (Young Adam) and really worthwhile getting along to see.  

Hallam (Jamie Bell) cannot get over the death of his mother in unexplained circumstances, leaving him damaged emotionally.   A committed peeping tom, he leaves home and ends up in Edinburgh where he falls on his feet working in a famous hotel and meets Kate Breck (Sophia Myles).   

It is funny, disturbing and difficult story.   Bell and Myles give superb performances and their direction by Mackenzie make the unlikely believable.     The film is very stylish and showcases Edinburgh roofscapes at night.  

 The 18 certificate is a little puzzling, although there is some ‘strong sex’ – though not as explicit as Red Road.

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The BBC decided to broadcast part of the opening concert of the season by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra last night live from their new home in Glasgow.    They used the BBC2 Scotland channel to do this.     It was well flagged up both on Radio Scotland and BBC Scotland TV in the past week, and a genuinely popular (and difficult) work, Holst’s Planets Suite.  

Great, I thought.   This is exactly what the BBC should be doing, and perhaps this is a new venture into classical music for BBC Scotland.

I watched and listened on big speakers, because The Planets has some very noisy music, but also some of the quietest music ever written.

The performance itself was very good, but perhaps not groundbreaking.     The sound balance could and should have been better – there were some terrible gaps, but worst of all, the TV cameras put on a truly shameful show.   We had pictures of trombone players relaxing after a big blast, cuts to cameras still swooping to their next focus, and  shots of musicians at inappropriate times to the music.    Some parts of the orchestra were hardly covered – percussion section?    (OK, we did get tubular bell lady visibly counting bars for all she was worth).   And when the conductor asked separate sections of the orchestra to stand at the end, the cameras simply could not cope – we had pictures of people sitting down, and completely missed out sections – the strings in particular.

And at the end, it is normal for the presenter to round things off after allowing applause for a short time.   We got absolutely nothing.   Nothing about the performance, what the orchestra are doing next, where they can be heard or what BBC Scotland are doing next in the classical music line.    The applause continued, the credits rolled, and with the usual BBC Scotland clunk, the program was cut short by a couple of seconds into BBC Scotland BBC2 programming.

So its full marks for showing the Planets – lets have more please, and absolutely nil points for the technical presentation.    The BBC should do better than this.

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