{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"whatson","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/theatre/story-of-fife-darts-legend-jocky-wilson-inspires-new-stage-show-1-4341775","id":"1.4341775","articleHeadline": "Story of Fife darts legend Jocky Wilson inspires new stage show","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484697600000 ,"articleLead": "

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341774.1484689413!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jocky Wilson was unemployed in 1979 when he won a darts competition at Butlins in Ayr. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

He was one of Scotland’s most unlikely sporting heroes – who was twice crowned world champion but ended up a virtual recluse. Now the late Jocky Wilson, the Fife-born darts favourite who won the hearts of millions of viewers but had a long battle against alcohol problems, has inspired a new stage show.

The play will be staged exactly five years after the death of Wilson, who retired from the sport in 1995 and was rarely seen in public again.

To be premiered at the Oran Mor arts centre in Glasgow, Jocky Wilson Says will recall an infamous incident when the then 29-year-old was travelling around the United States playing exhibition matches. He stayed up so late in Los Angeles that he was forced to hitch 400 miles through the desert to Las Vegas after missing his bus.

The show – set before Wilson became a household name – is being created by two siblings from Fife – writer Jane Livingstone and singer-songwriter Jonathan Cairney, although it does not feature any music.

Born in Kirkcaldy in 1950, Wilson served in the British Army, worked in a fish processing plant, delivered coal and was also a miner.

But he was unemployed in 1979 when he entered a darts competition at Butlin’s, in Ayr, won the first prize of £500 and decided to turn professional. Within months he was taking part in the World Championships and three years later won the tournament –a feat he repeated in 1989. However, after retiring from the game in December 1995 he retreated from public life and virtually refused to speak about his time in the limelight. He died in 2012.

Ms Livingstone said yesterday: “There was literally a time when everybody in Scotland would have known Jocky ­Wilson’s name, but they possibly wouldn’t have been able to tell you much about where he was from, what his background was like and what motivated him.

“There are very differing views about Jocky Wilson. Some people get very excited about him and think of him as a great Scottish hero. Other people feel his story is very sad and see him as an embarrassing figure. We think of him as a tremendous character, but because there are these differing views about him it made us think that his was a story worth looking at.

“I think the fact we’re from Fife means there’s definitely a lot of empathy and understanding of that type of character. We see him having made the most of his abilities to make the most of his life. We don’t see it as a tragic story.

“We’ve done quite a number of interviews with people who played darts with Jocky in Fife. We had an idea of how we wanted to present a story and what we wanted to say about him.

“We wanted to run that by some people who actually knew him at the time so we’re not that far off. It’s neither going to be demonising or over-romanticising him.”

Morag Fullerton, co-artistic director at Oran Mor, where Jocky Wilson Says will premiere on 20 March, said: “I was just really intrigued by the setting of the play in the desert and the fact it is based on a real-life incident.

“We’re going to hopefully evoke his spirit of his character, tell some of the stories about him, and look at what it was that made him such a winner and a loser.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN FERGUSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341774.1484689413!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341774.1484689413!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jocky Wilson was unemployed in 1979 when he won a darts competition at Butlins in Ayr. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jocky Wilson was unemployed in 1979 when he won a darts competition at Butlins in Ayr. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341774.1484689413!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/national-gallery-revamp-wins-2m-boost-from-scottish-government-1-4341232","id":"1.4341232","articleHeadline": "National Gallery revamp wins £2m boost from Scottish Government","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484643223826 ,"articleLead": "The Scottish Government has agreed to bankroll a radical transformation of the nation’s flagship art gallery - after its display of Scotland’s most important paintings was branded “an institutional embarrassment.”","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341231.1484608994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The revamp for the Scottish National Gallery is due to be unveiled in the spring of 2019."} ,"articleBody": "

Ministers have pledged £2 million for a project expect to tackle long-standing complaints that the work of Scottish artists has been treated as “inferior” by the National Galleries of Scotland.

The securing of the funding means work can now start work to transform “cramped, dingy and unpleasant” exhibition spaces at the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound in Edinburgh.

Less than 20 per cent of visitors to the attraction - the busiest art gallery in the UK outside London - currently venture into the “dead end” spaces to see work by the likes of Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn, Alexander Nasmyth and Phoebe Anna Traquair in recent years.

An overhaul and expansion of the gallery, which dates back to 1859, has already won backing to the tune of nearly £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

However millions of pounds still has to be raised to ensure the £16.8 million “Celebrating Scotland’s Art” project is finished on time in the spring of 2019.

It is hoped an extra 400,000 visitors a year will flock to the attraction, which will boast three times as much exhibition space devoted to the story of Scottish art in future.

A new landscaped pathway and terrace will also be created in Princes Street Gardens to help encourage more visitors to enter from there.

A spokesman for the National Galleries of Scotland said: “We’re delighted that Scottish Government has confirmed its support for our major project to transform the presentation of our historic Scottish collection.

“The invaluable support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Government will enable this exciting project to be realised and we look forward to working with partners and stakeholders throughout the city, across Scotland and internationally to bring the project to completion in the spring of 2019.

“The rest will come from a combination of fundraising from private sources, trusts and foundations and self-generated income.

“We have a number of substantial pledges in place already from private donors and we are extremely confident about raising the remainder of the required funds.

“We’re currently going through the procurement process for appointing the main contractor required and aim to begin work in the next couple of months.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Collection tells a valuable story of our nation’s history and culture, however with only 17 per cent of visitors making their way to the there, it is very much a hidden gem.

“This project will transform access to the Scottish Collection, tripling the gallery space available to present not just the great historical figures of Scotland, but also 20th century art, including the Colourists, showing it in a much more prominent way in architecturally distinguished spaces.

“The newly refurbished galleries will attract an estimated additional 400,000 visitors, ensuring thousands of more people can enjoy the very best of what Scotland has to offer.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341231.1484608994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341231.1484608994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The revamp for the Scottish National Gallery is due to be unveiled in the spring of 2019.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The revamp for the Scottish National Gallery is due to be unveiled in the spring of 2019.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341231.1484608994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/outlander-stars-sam-heughan-caitriona-balfe-filming-in-edinburgh-1-4341485","id":"1.4341485","articleHeadline": "Outlander stars Sam Heughan & Caitriona Balfe filming in Edinburgh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484658688000 ,"articleLead": "

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe were in Edinburgh’s Old Town today to film some scenes for the upcoming third series of the programme.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341483.1484658628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe pictured filming in Tweeddale Court. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The series, based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, focuses on 1940s nurse Claire Randall, played by Balfe, who time-travels to Scotland in the 1700s where she meets Jamie Fraser, portrayed by Sam Heughan.

The series, which airs on the Starz network in the US and is available on Amazon Video in the UK, films many scenes in Scotland including at Doune Castle in Stirlingshire, Glencoe, Kinloch Rannoch, Linlithgow, Falkland and Blackness Castle.

Some locations, such as Culross in Fife, have seen visitor numbers soar by up to 40 per cent since the TV series aired.

READ MORE - Outlander is ‘goldmine for years’ to Scotland’s tourism

In June last year, a further two series were agreed and filming for the third series has been under way since August last year.

Gabaldon, who wrote the novels from her Arizona home and had never set foot in Scotland at the time, said in October that she was ‘surprised’ by the tourism boom since the novels were turned into a TV series.

READ MORE - The ultimate Outlander filming location map

She pored over history books and delved into Scotland’s past to research folklore and the landscape while writing the novels.

She said: “I love Scotland and I feel it’s given me a great deal so I’m very happy if I can give something back, but it was never my intent to raise Scottish tourism.

“It is part of what we call the Outlander effect, which is very strange and certainly nothing I ever expected.

READ MORE - Outlander author ‘shocked’ that show has led to tourism boom’

“It has this very odd effect. People who like the book want to extend their experience.”

Jenni Steele of VisitScotland said last year: “The interest in Outlander around the world is absolutely phenomenal, especially in the US and Germany, and it’s growing a lot in the UK, even though it is not on mainstream TV.

“We’re really lucky that Scotland was voted the best cinematic destination in the world last year. I think we may have a lot of Outlander fans to thank for it as they were continually trying to encourage people to vote for Scotland.

“We beat some very good destinations like New Zealand and America.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341483.1484658628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341483.1484658628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe pictured filming in Tweeddale Court. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe pictured filming in Tweeddale Court. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341483.1484658628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341484.1484658634!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341484.1484658634!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Caitriona Balfe, left, and Sam Heughan were filming in Edinburgh today. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Caitriona Balfe, left, and Sam Heughan were filming in Edinburgh today. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341484.1484658634!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/what-songs-are-on-the-new-trainspotting-t2-film-soundtrack-1-4341406","id":"1.4341406","articleHeadline": "What songs are on the new Trainspotting (T2) film soundtrack","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484653532000 ,"articleLead": "

The sequel to Danny Boyle’s acclaimed comedy drama Trainspotting will feature an eclectic mix of punk and new wave hits, including songs by Blondie and The Clash.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341403.1484653466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Sony"} ,"articleBody": "

The soundtrack also includes more recent rock and alternative tracks, by artists such as Fat White Family and Wolf Alice. T2 Trainspotting will be released in the UK on 27 January.

The 1996 film Trainspotting, based on Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel, follows the fortunes of a group of Edinburgh herion addicts. The film was ranked tenth in the British Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 British films. The sequel, T2 Trainspotting, catches up with the characters 20 years later, and stars the original cast, including Ewan McGregor as Renton.

T2’s soundtrack will include the new wave classic ‘Dreaming’ by Blondie, which peaked at #2 in the British singles chart in 1979. The Clash’s 1978 punk track ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’ will also appear in the film, alongside the controversial 1983 record ‘Relax’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, which was banned by the BBC in 1984.

Current London rock bands Fat White Family and Wolf Alice are also featured on the soundtrack, with ‘Whitest Boy on the Beach’ and ‘Silk’ respectively. Wolf Alice, formed in 2010, have already been nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance.

The first track on T2’s soundtrack album is a remix by The Prodigy of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’. The original version of this song featured in Trainspotting’s opening sequence, during Ewan McGregor’s well-known “Choose Life” monologue.

Irvine Welsh has high praise for another artist on the soundtrack, the Edinburgh hip hop group Young Fathers. Welsh told Gigwise that they have “created their own genre” and that their debut album Dead is among his favourite albums of all time.

Here is the full soundtrack listing:

01. Iggy Pop – ‘Lust for Life’ (The Prodigy Remix)

02. High Contrast – ‘Shotgun Mouthwash’

03. Wolf Alice – ‘Silk’

04. Young Fathers – ‘Get Up’

05. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – ‘Relax’

06. Underworld – ‘Eventually But (Spud’s Letter to Gail)’ [feat. Ewen Bremner]

07. Young Fathers – ‘Only God Knows’

08. The Rubberbandits – ‘Dad’s Best Friend’

09. Blondie – ‘Dreaming’

10. Queen – ‘Radio Ga Ga’

11. Run DMC vs. Jason Nevins – ‘It’s Like That’

12. The Clash – ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’

13. Young Fathers – ‘Rain or Shine’

14. Fat White Family – ‘Whitest Boy on the Beach’

15. Underworld – ‘Slow Slippy’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MADDY SEARLE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341403.1484653466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341403.1484653466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Sony","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Sony","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341403.1484653466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341404.1484653472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341404.1484653472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Sony","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Sony","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341404.1484653472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341405.1484653478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341405.1484653478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Sony","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Sony","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341405.1484653478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/celebrity/george-michael-died-of-accidental-drugs-overdose-1-4341240","id":"1.4341240","articleHeadline": "George Michael died ‘of accidental drugs overdose’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484637339000 ,"articleLead": "

George Michael’s cousin has said he suspects the star died of an accidental drugs overdose.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341239.1484637285!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "George Michael. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Andros Georgiou said the singer had resumed taking “hard drugs” toward the end of his life, but denied his death was suicide.

The 53-year-old was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day.

Police said a post-mortem had proved “inconclusive” and the results of further tests are yet to be revealed.

His death is being treated as “unexplained but non-suspicious”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Mr Georgiou said hard drugs “had been back in [Michael’s] life” and crack cocaine was a “favourite”, but he denied the singer used heroin.

“I just think he took too much of something, mixed with antidepressants and other drugs he was on - with alcohol,” he said.

“I think his heart just stopped beating.”

Mr Georgiou said Michael had taken steps to overcome his use of illegal drugs.

However, after speaking to people who knew the singer towards the end of his life, he believed he had been “dragged back into the dark side”.

Detectives from Thames Valley Police have questioned the last people to see Michael alive as part of their investigation.

Mr Georgiou said he wanted to “get to the truth of what happened” and to know what the singer may have taken and how he could have acquired it.

The former record producer rejected speculation that Michael had taken his own life after suffering from depression.

He said: “I believe he had suicidal thoughts, because his mental health was all over the place. But I don’t believe this was suicide.”

Mr Georgiou worked with Michael at the height of his fame, although the pair became estranged in 1998.

He paid tribute to the “incredibly generous” star who was “one of the nicest people you could ever meet”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341239.1484637285!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341239.1484637285!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "George Michael. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "George Michael. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341239.1484637285!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/cilla-black-statue-unveiled-at-liverpool-s-cavern-club-1-4341087","id":"1.4341087","articleHeadline": "Cilla Black statue unveiled at Liverpool’s Cavern Club","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484594314000 ,"articleLead": "

A bronze statue of Cilla Black has been unveiled in her home city of Liverpool.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341086.1484594257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The post-nose job statue of Cilla Black is revealed in Liverpool. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The memorial, commissioned by her three sons Robert, Ben and Jack, is situated outside the original entrance to the world famous Cavern Club where the late singer and TV presenter had worked as a cloakroom girl.

The ceremony also marked the 60th birthday of the nightclub where The Beatles played in their early years.

Unveiling the statue, Robert Willis said his mother, who died aged 72, “never really appreciated getting old but now she will be forever young”.

He told onlookers: “We were overwhelmed by the incredible support after our mother died from the country but also, and especially, from the people of this great city.

“It was incredibly comforting and it moved us deeply and gave us hope at a time when we didn’t have much hope. It was something that none of us will ever forget.”

He said the sculpture, which was made locally, was not only a memorial to his mother but donating it to Liverpool was “a small gesture of gratitude and thanks to the people of this wonderful city”.

He continued: “What would our mother think of it? I think she would be incredibly proud. She would be flattered. She would have been incredibly honoured.”

He said: “It brings a smile because they have caught the joy. It’s based on a sixties design, the dress is chequered and it enabled us to put little stories like photos and lyrics hidden in there for people to check out.

“I’m just incredibly relieved that it turned out as well as it did. We are so happy with it, and I hope people enjoy it. And they did get the legs right, she had great legs. And also the nose – it’s the post-nose job nose which she would have insisted on.”

Andy Edwards, one of the sculptors, said “it’s the story of the birth of that period in Liverpool’s musical culture” and it was important the city remembered her.

The Cavern was demolished in 1973 to make way for a shopping centre but reopened ten years later on part of the same site using reclaimed bricks from the original building. The Beatles played hundreds of gigs there between 1961 and 1963. Cavern director John Keats said the club had remained relevant and people were “constantly surprised at who has played [here]”.

John Lennon’s half sister Julia Baird, said the role it played in musical history should not be underestimated and she thought Lennon “would have loved” to be part of the celebrations.

Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Liverpool for Black’s funeral after she died in August 2015.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KIM PILLING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4341086.1484594257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4341086.1484594257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The post-nose job statue of Cilla Black is revealed in Liverpool. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The post-nose job statue of Cilla Black is revealed in Liverpool. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4341086.1484594257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/music-review-the-blue-aeroplanes-1-4340703","id":"1.4340703","articleHeadline": "Music review: The Blue Aeroplanes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484569061000 ,"articleLead": "

“This is not a nostalgia exercise,” glowered Gerard Langley. As far as we could tell he was glowering behind the sunglasses he wore throughout, a lone Blues Brother powered by mordant English wit and the propulsive affection of late ‘80s/early ‘90s indie fans for whom The Blue Aeroplanes’ personal impact was in inverse proportion to their lack of fame.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340702.1484569009!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Blue Aeroplanes"} ,"articleBody": "

The Blue Aeroplanes ****

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

The Bristolian group nearly made it big as a kind of West Country REM with 1990’s Swagger album, then faded from view along with its sales figures. Yet they never went away, and this month’s Welcome, Stranger! is their 14th record since 1984.

Fans have wavered slightly over its imperfect recreation of their heyday’s gliding jangle-pop and Langley’s perfectly acerbic lyricism, but most of the new songs played amid this first UK tour in a decade sounded great live, from the pop at hollow nostalgia of Elvis Festival to Nothing Will Ever Happen in the Future’s sinister aside that “the hordes are missing on the border / it’s time to get your house in order / or someone else is going to do it for you.”

Naturally, the nostalgia all came flooding out by the end. Joining Langley, his brother John and their still-feverish dancer Wojtek Dmochowski (here wearing a pro-Jeremy Corbyn T-shirt) were Chris Sharp, the owner of Bristol’s Fleece venue, and Chrissie Hynde soundalike Bec Jevons, and they delivered thunderous, jet-engine volume and an enthusiastically intricate fusion of indie-pop and post-punk through covers of Bob Dylan’s I Wanna Be Your Lover, Tom Verlaine’s Breakin’ in My Heart and their own Yr Own World, Jacket Hangs and …And Stones. To those packing this small room, they were all classics.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Pollock"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340702.1484569009!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340702.1484569009!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Blue Aeroplanes","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Blue Aeroplanes","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340702.1484569009!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/music-review-bbc-sso-the-last-supper-1-4340697","id":"1.4340697","articleHeadline": "Music review: BBC SSO: The Last Supper","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484568693000 ,"articleLead": "

Harrison Birtwistle’s “dramatic tableaux” The Last Supper is a curious and engaging concoction of anomalies. The subject itself, a reunion of its original guests some two millennia on, with review of the Christian project on the agenda under chairman Christ, smacks of Hollywood fantasy sequel.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340696.1484568638!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Martyn Brabbins"} ,"articleBody": "

BBC SSO: The Last Supper ****

City Halls, Glasgow

Over its two-hour course, the disciples regroup one by one, dressed in modern workday clothes; one or two in sharper attire having trod, like Judas, individual courses in life. Jesus appears, expresses his displeasure over the Holocaust etc, with thoughts of “could do better”. Suitably re-briefed and re-blessed, dinner ends and off they go. Date of next meeting? 4000AD?

Despite the subject matter, it doesn’t come over as a bitingly religious piece. Spiritual, yes, at least when Robin Blaser’s libretto could be heard, which was rarely the case in this otherwise compelling semi-staged performance by the BBC SSO, BBC Singers and solo cast under Martyn Brabbins. Note: surtitles needed.

So it was largely left to Birtwistle’s score to make the point, which in its own strange way was a hugely satisfying outcome. His music has a universal quality: literally, in the way it encompasses myriad references, from ancient exoticism to reinvented medievalism to out-and-out modernism; spiritually, in the pungent colourings that illuminate the largely linear narrative of the main characters.

Of that cast, Roderick Williams’s cultish Christ, Daniel Norman’s sinister Judas and Susan Bickley’s Ghost shone like beacons. And I loved the static group tableau recreating Da Vinci.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ken Walton"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340696.1484568638!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340696.1484568638!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Martyn Brabbins","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Martyn Brabbins","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340696.1484568638!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/music-review-scottish-chamber-orchestra-alexander-janiczek-llyr-williams-1-4340695","id":"1.4340695","articleHeadline": "Music review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Alexander Janiczek / Llyr Williams","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484568402000 ,"articleLead": "

I love self-sufficiency in an orchestra – where the body corporate dispenses with conductor and self-governs in a dynamically intimate way that is chamber music writ large. It’s what the SCO does extremely well, even when working semi-automatically with soloist/directors.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340694.1484568349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Llyr Williams"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Alexander Janiczek / Llyr Williams ***

City Halls, Glasgow

This was the latest programme to feature dual soloists Alexander Janiczek and Llyr Williams in Mozart and Beethoven concertos respectively. True, each took charge of their own performances: Janiczek in Mozart’s self-propelling Violin Concerto No 4; Williams in Beethoven’s grandiose “Emperor” Piano Concerto. But they were equally reliant on the SCO’s self-

propelling instincts to go with the flow. Where the connection worked, sparks flew.

Expectations were sky high after a sizzling opener, Mozart’s Overture La Clemenza di Tito, which Janiczek spurred into life from the leader’s chair. This was high definition Mozart, crisp and exhilarating, its sunburst energy thrillingly contained within stylistic bounds, its quasi-

theatrical characterisations charismatically expressed.

The Mozart concerto seemed to be heading in the same direction, Janiczek’s opening movement full of natural sparkle and purity of tone: feel-good Mozart. Somehow, though, his grip slackened after a mid-performance memory slip and, almost infectiously, the magic dissipated. He led the band in Berg’s Three Pieces from Lyric Suite, but the outcome was tepid and colourless.

Williams’ presence in the Beethoven was magisterial and inspirational. It reawakened the SCO. Yet Janiczek’s swashbuckling powerplay seemed to jar with Williams’ more nuanced hand signals, leading to uneasy conflict of ensemble. Too many cooks.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ken Walton"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340694.1484568349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340694.1484568349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Llyr Williams","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Llyr Williams","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340694.1484568349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/music-review-king-tut-s-new-year-revolution-1-4340666","id":"1.4340666","articleHeadline": "Music review: King Tut’s New Year Revolution","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484567593000 ,"articleLead": "

New year, new faces. The budding A&R man or confirmed starmaker could do worse than dip into the King Tut’s New Year Revolution, their annual January run of local band bills, offering four upcoming acts, a DJ and an aftershow gig in the bar each night as a shrewd way of showcasing new talent and getting the venue full of music-loving locals at a quiet time of year (at least until Celtic Connections kicks off).

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340665.1484567537!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Carly Connor PIC: Robert Perry"} ,"articleBody": "

King Tut’s New Year Revolution

King Tut’s, Glasgow

Mid-week, the atmosphere was relaxed and mellow for acoustic troubadours John Rush (***) and Callum Beattie (***), both likeably confident performers of the open mic slot variety. Of the two, Rush has the more interesting voice and songs. There was a hint of Caledonian rhythm’n’blues rasp in his rootsy pop, although it is Beattie’s more prosaic but catchy pop which sounds of the moment.

Jazzy duo Fenella (***) blend the lithe, expressive vocals of Marie Fenella Whittle and the subtle but dexterous backing of guitarist Jack Boyce. Their short set of quirky ditties about dark matter, including a western swing number about colonialism (I think), was influenced by the sounds of the Parisian pavement café as much as the Berlin cabaret club.

The energy and attitude shot right up when Carly Connor (****) and her band stepped up to headline. Connor was first tipped a few years ago; experience has only brought her back stronger. She’s an old school blues belter, who can effortlessly tilt her larynx to soul and rock, turning in a diverse set to showcase those pipes, the best of which was Motown-inspired stomper Who’s Gonna Love You When I’m Gone.

On Friday night, the venue was packed with let’s-get-the-weekend-started intent, not to mention a solid, vociferous fan/friend/family contingent out for each act. Indie rockers Rascalton (***) were confident without being cocky, the latest in a self-perpetuating line of punky tykes stretching back to The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. Their foghorn singer teetered on the brink of tunefulness but emerged victorious for the excited fan who non-ironically proclaimed them “the best band I’ve seen all year”.

Lucia (***) was harder to get a handle on, though that’s no bad thing. There was a strong husky vocal and some sonic strut at the heart of the performance but it felt like the stylist had been brought in too early to shape the product.

The Slits, Tom Tom Club and ABBA pumping over the PA paved the way for The Van Ts (****). Fronted by the unison voices of the Van Thompson twins, Hannah and Chloe, with Joanna Forbes on bass and Shawn Hood on drums, they fit quite deservedly in that lineage of female-led bands, reminiscent of new wavers The Go-Gos and the Bangles in their tougher, sweatier live incarnations. Former single Laguna Babe was typical of their sound – cheerleader bubblegum with a bloody nose and swirling gothic guitars.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Fiona Shepherd"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340665.1484567537!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340665.1484567537!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Carly Connor PIC: Robert Perry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Carly Connor PIC: Robert Perry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340665.1484567537!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/theatre/theatre-review-picnic-at-hanging-rock-1-4340658","id":"1.4340658","articleHeadline": "Theatre Review: Picnic at Hanging Rock","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484567261000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s only 85 minutes long, its visual style is deliberately austere, and its cast consists only of five young women dressed in contemporary school uniforms of the most traditional kind. Yet the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne’s stage version of Picnic At Hanging Rock – co-produced by Black Swan Theatre of Perth – begins the Lyceum’s spring season with an explosion of theatrical power as fierce as it is contemplative, and so original that no-one who sees it is likely to forget it.

There’s never any sense, here, that the whole story of Joan Lindsay’s great 1967 novel will be “acted out”. Instead, in Tom Wright’s adaptation and Matthew Lutton’s production, we see five schoolgirls who exist both now, and in 1900, and at any time between, standing on a deep blue stage – almost bare, but strangely angled – retelling this great Australian myth, the story of three girls and a schoolmistress who disappear completely during a picnic at the ancient aboriginal site of Hanging Rock, on Valentine’s Day 1900.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340657.1484570792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "(L-R) Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Amber McMahon, and Arielle Gray in Picnic at Hanging Rock"} ,"articleBody": "

Picnic at Hanging Rock ****

Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Sometimes, they take on the characters of other figures in the story, and perform key scenes: Elizabeth Nabben plays a key role as the school’s increasingly distraught English headmistress Mrs Appleyard, whose stern life-long mission to “civilise” the young women of Australia falls apart after the disappearance, and Amber McMahon is disturbingly brilliant as Michael, the young Englishman who glimpses the girls at the rock, and becomes obsessed with their fate.

In the end, though, the theatrical impact of the show has less to do with conventional performance than with an electrifying combination of performance and narrative structure, as scenes suddenly fall into black holes of absence full of uncanny sound or dream-like images, and phrases from the novel appear illuminated above the stage, guiding us deep into the strangeness of the story.

Wright’s adaptation gives fierce attention to the novel’s sense of the sheer arrogance and inadequacy of imperial British culture, as it tried to “tame” a land so ancient, implacable, and strange. Yet it is brilliant, too, on the infinitely mutable energy of youth, the huge suppressed erotic power and pressure, in these young women, that feels as if it could literally move mountains, and tear its way through a gap in time. And like Lindsay’s novel, it also asks us to confront the strange, elastic quality of time itself; and the possible existence of the “many worlds” briefly glimpsed by Michael, when he returns to the rock to find one of the girls alive, but the others gone without trace.

*Until 28 January

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Joyce McMillan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340657.1484570792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340657.1484570792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "(L-R) Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Amber McMahon, and Arielle Gray in Picnic at Hanging Rock","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "(L-R) Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Amber McMahon, and Arielle Gray in Picnic at Hanging Rock","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340657.1484570792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/interview-natalie-portman-on-making-her-new-film-jackie-1-4338938","id":"1.4338938","articleHeadline": "Interview: Natalie Portman on making her new film, Jackie","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484565552000 ,"articleLead": "

Natalie Portman gives the performance of her life in biopic Jackie, which focuses on the immediate aftermath of the assassination of JFK. Jackie emerges as a powerful champion for her late husband’s legacy, while struck down by her own grief. Janet Christie hears more

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338936.1484316222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Natalie Portman Picture: Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (7689200aj)"} ,"articleBody": "

Natalie Portman’s face fills the screen as she takes a long drag on a cigarette, then exhales elegant plumes skywards. Portman is portraying Jackie Kennedy in Pablo Larrain’s biopic about the president’s wife in the week after his assassination. Jackie is giving an interview to a journalist, giving him what he wants, a blow by blow account of her husband’s murder, laying herself bare, revealing her shock, grief and anger. Then she tells him he won’t be writing any of this. He won’t even be telling the American people that she smokes. What the public will get is a stage managed state funeral and the idea of Kennedy as an icon that still endures today.

Portman doesn’t smoke, but she did for the film, immersing herself in the role of shattered wife and First Lady who is both at the heart of history in the making, and its manipulator.

“Um yeah, I smoked a lot in the movie,” says Portman, sounding as if she enjoyed it. “They were real, because it’s hard to make fake cigarettes look real.”

Portman isn’t doing a Jackie. When we talk she’s warm and friendly, but there’s a distance because she’s on the phone from New York at the end of a day of press junkets for the film, and this is just one of many interviews she’s given today. Words aren’t wasted, time is at a premium and she’s straight into discussing the film.

“It’s a portrait of a woman and a particular moment in her life that affected history. That’s always impressive, when someone’s private emotional life affects the whole world. The central story of this film is how she was able to grab hold of the narrative and really control it, which is remarkable and very ahead of her time. That she had that presence of mind, when she was going through incredible turmoil, to think about crafting the legacy is quite impressive.”

She adds: “I think this was inspired very much by her being a scholar of history. Even when JFK was courting her, she translated three entire books about Indo-China from French to help him understand Vietnam. She was really impressive in her understanding of history and that it is written much more than it is made. That’s an incredible insight to have when you’re part of it.”

Jackie has already won Portman a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe nomination and the reviews rate her performance alongside co-stars Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, and John Hurt. Produced by Darren Aronofsky, it is Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s first film in English, one he agreed to do on condition Portman played the lead.

“I was really excited by the idea of working with Pablo Larrain because I knew he would bring something very unexpected to it and was able to take it places I don’t think it would have gone on its own. He found emotional, unexpected truths, and he’s not afraid to do things that are controversial or unconventional.

“Because he’s not American he doesn’t have the worshipful reverence about the Kennedys. It’s not disrespectful in any way, just human, and I hope it does a greater service to a person than just worshipful portraits.”

Portman is best known for Darren Aronofksy’s psychological thriller Black Swan, for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress, a Golden Globe and BAFTA in 2010, but she has starred in more than 25 films, from her first role in Luc Besson’s 1994 action thriller Léon when she was 12, Closer (Oscar nomination and Golden Globe award), V for Vendetta, The Other Boleyn Girl and George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels. Stage roles include The Seagull opposite Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Philip Seymour Hoffman, while she also wrote, directed, produced and starred in A Tale of Love and Darkness, based on Amos Oz’s memoir, and wrote and directed Eve starring Lauren Bacall. There are documentaries too, The Seventh Fire, about Native American gangs, and Eating Animals, from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book about the meat industry.

And Jackie is not the only film Portman has due for release this year: there’s Planetarium opposite Lily Rose-Depp, about clairvoyant sisters, Alex Garland’s sci-fi Annihilation, Song to Song, written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring an ensemble cast including Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Michael Fassbender, plus in the pipeline a biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the US Supreme Court judge and gender equality and civil liberties champion.

“The last one I haven’t filmed yet, that will be a long time,” she says.

It will be a long time because Portman is pregnant for a second time, with husband choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who she met on Black Swan and married in 2012. They already have one son together, five year old Aleph, with the baby due in the spring. I congratulate her.

“Thank you,” she says politely. Is her son looking forward to being a big brother? “I don’t discuss my family, I’m sorry,” she says, again politely.

Fair enough, she’s an actor, let’s get back to her work.

Annihilation I’ve finished and Planetarium is out already in France,” she says.

Clairvoyancy, sci-fi, a feminist judge, it’s safe to say Portman doesn’t go for the easy eye candy roles, preferring something with a challenge.

“I always want to try something different so sometimes I make a romantic comedy, sometimes an action movie, sometimes a small dramatic film, all challenging in their own way,” she says.

With a degree in psychology from Harvard, Portman is no airhead. Does she think having an insight into the way we think helps in getting inside the heads of her characters?

“No, I think it’s very much a skill of imagining someone else as in their life. I don’t think you can ever know what someone else is thinking. I don’t think we even know what we ourselves are thinking half the time.”

At this stage in her career Portman has acted, produced and directed and has the luxury of making choices.

“I think I’d like to direct again,” she says. I don’t know exactly what yet, and to keep acting. Producing is not much of a focus for me, because I don’t think it’s necessarily my strongest suit.” She gives a little laugh.

Perhaps she’s thinking of last year’s Jane Got a Gun, which she co-produced, which had a difficult incubation with changes in cast, director and release date delays, but in the end garnered good reviews, not least for Portman as the lead.

“Yeah, it wasn’t… I just realised that that’s not… you know…” She tails off, marshalls her thoughts and starts again. “There are people who are really wonderful at that job and I’m not one of them, so it’s better to entrust someone who is really talented at that and I can focus on my other creative pursuits.”

Given that producing no longer appeals, Portman plans to split herself between acting and directing, counting herself lucky to do both.

“Directing is so all-consuming, you need to know every detail, and in acting you are able to immerse yourself in a character and focus on that.”

As a child Portman studied ballet and practised endlessly for Black Swan, so did she go through a similar process for Jackie in which she’s on screen for almost the entirety of the film? Portman demurs.

“I feel like I really always make myself go back to who I am. It’s important for me to return to myself at the end of the day. But it’s nice in something like this where you don’t have a lot of breaks in filming to just stay in it. You’re really just immersed in the world and don’t get distracted.”

Portman was cast by director Justin Kurzel (Assassin’s Creed) to play Lady Macbeth opposite Michael Fassbender but was replaced by Marion Cotillard when she left to make her directorial feature film debut with A Tale of Love and Darkness which premiered at Cannes and Toronto in 2015.

“Yeah, I had the opportunity to make my film and wanted to jump on that because I had been working on it for about ten years. It was really important to me and was an incredible experience. But Macbeth’s incredible too,” she says.

With dual American and Israeli citizenship, being born in Israel before moving to the US when she was three, then living in France before returning to LA last year, does Portman have a different perspective to that of your average movie star?

“I don’t think there is an average movie star,” she says. “But I feel I definitely have a specific perspective because of being from many places and having lived in Israel and France and the US. But I’m sure there are people with similar perspectives.”

Away from the cameras Portman works with FINCA [Fighting Poverty with Microfinance and Social Enterprise] and teamed up with the Free The Children charity to support improving educational facilities for girls, donating her American Film Institute’s Black Swan premiere dress to raise funds for their initiative in Kenya.

“I think we’re so lucky to have the attention on us as actors and to use some of that for people who are doing really wonderful things to improve our world. It’s part of the responsibility of having a spotlight, so I get a lot of meaning and understanding of the world through these incredible interactions I’ve been able to have, travelling and learning with these groups.”

At this point the PR interrupts. Natalie has to go.

Portman is apologetic, “Sorry, they’re packing up. I’ve got to get on a train.”

With the clock ticking there’s just time to check biographical details, some of them culled from the unreliable internet. Quoting them to well known people is always fun and the interview becomes a rapid fire game of True or False.

Born on 9 June, 1981 in Jerusalem?


Birth name Netta-Lee?

“No! My name is Natalie, always was.”

Mother is Shelley Stevens and father Avner Herschlag, a fertility specialist?


So he’ll be pleased with her at the moment?

She laughs.

Maternal grandparents Bernice and Arthur Stevens from Austria and Russia?


“Paternal grandparents Mania (née Portman) and Zvi Yehuda Hershlag were Jewish immigrants to Israel after Zvi’s family died in Auschwitz?

“I don’t know if it was Auschwitz, but they died in a camp in Poland.”

One of her paternal great grandmothers was born in Romania and was a spy for British Intelligence during the Second World War?

“I don’t know if that’s a family myth, but it’s been said.”

True or not, it would make a great film. She could play the lead.

“Yeah it would.”

Any Scottish connection?

“Yes, I have a very close cousin whom I adore, who lives in Edinburgh with her husband and daughter. They used to live in the Borders and I have lots of memories of visiting them there, where they lived communally, growing their own vegetables and studying philosophy. And I love visiting Edinburgh too,” she says.

Did you keep anything from the set of Jackie?

“Yes, a lighter with the letter J on it.”

All that smoking, pre-pregnancy of course. What’s next for you?

“The baby!”

Is it possible to make films and be a mother?

“Yes of course. But it bothers me to answer that, because that’s a question that’s asked of women so much, whereas I feel my husband equally makes his life around being a parent. So yes of course it’s a big part of making life decisions and the daily choices of how we spend our time, but it’s something for everyone who’s a parent, man or woman and it’s an issue, a joyful issue.”

One more question says the PR.

OK, if you were to make Jackie again, what would you change?

“Oh, good question! But... I don’t know. It was a really amazing experience and I don’t know that I would have changed anything. I really loved working on it and all the people on it. I have to go,” she says.

OK, good luck with the film. If you’re happy with it, it’s a good sign, I say.


And good luck with your baby.

“Thank you. You too,” she says.

“I’m not planning to have one. I’ll try not to,” I say.

She laughs. A throaty chuckle, and she’s gone.

Jackie is released on Friday, 20 January

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Janet Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4338936.1484316222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338936.1484316222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Natalie Portman Picture: Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (7689200aj)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Natalie Portman Picture: Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (7689200aj)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4338936.1484316222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4338937.1484316226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338937.1484316226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Natalie Portman plays the president's widow in Jackie","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Natalie Portman plays the president's widow in Jackie","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4338937.1484316226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/film/boyle-new-trainspotting-about-aging-and-masculinity-1-4339780","id":"1.4339780","articleHeadline": "Boyle: New Trainspotting ‘about aging and masculinity’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484435302000 ,"articleLead": "

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle has revealed that the long-awaited sequel is going to tackle “manhood and disappointed masculinity.”

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339779.1484480126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Director Danny Boyle during a location shoot for the new film. Picture John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The Oscar-winning filmmaker has disclosed that it will “unfreeze” the characters from the first film and deal equally with what they have been doing for the past 20 years.

Ahead of the world premiere of T2 in Edinburgh next weekend, Boyle said it would also look at the “terrifying” process of aging.

Screenwriter John Hodge, who adapted Irvine Welsh’s best-seller for the 1996 original, said the new movie would also look at how employment had become less secure and corporations even more powerful over the past two decades.

He said the film had become “more topical” since Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner agreed to reunite with Boyle for a sequel.

Meanwhile McGregor has described Trainspotting as “the Oasis of the film world” and said he had been “so upset” after watching a documentary about the band, which broke up after a bitter split between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher.

Boyle and Hodge – who were interviewed in the LA Times – started working with Welsh on a sequel three years ago after the director and McGregor resolved their much-publicised differences after the actor was dropped from The Beach.

The sequel will follow events after McGregor’s character Renton returns to Edinburgh for the first time in 20 years since, at the end of the first film, betraying his friends by stealing £16,000 they had made on a drug deal and fleeing to Amsterdam.

Boyle said: “In practice, I knew if the script didn’t deal with them equally, like the first one, they wouldn’t do it.

“So then we had to come up with a movie that did that and also wasn’t ... bad. Then there’s the prism of aging, which is terrifying for a lot of us but really terrifying for actors. You remember them frozen in time and suddenly they’re in the present.

“When we first started making this film, I thought the subject was time. And that the reason we didn’t make it ten years ago is because the actors didn’t look like they’d aged enough. Or I wasn’t old enough.

“And I realised after making this film it isn’t about time – it’s about masculinity, about disappointed masculinity. When we made the first film, everyone said it was about drugs, and I said it was about friendship. But I realise now it was really about boyhood. And this is about manhood.

“Movies have this weird Hollywoodising effect, this glamorising effect, even gritty films like Trainspotting.

“It makes people desirable by freezing them. And if you’re lucky, as we were, you get a chance to unfreeze them – sometimes literally, even, by dropping pieces of the first movie in. You get the past and present simultaneously. And that’s a rare, powerful thing.”

Hodge said: “What are these guys like 20 years on? We change a lot over 20 years, but bits of us remain the same. I think the fact that so much time had passed also liberates the movie. If it was just five years later, we’d just expect more of the same – they’re just going to rob a casino in Monaco. Now, people expect things to be different, for a lot of life to be lived.

“We saw an opportunity there – to show how consumer culture has been inflated and employment is less secure and corporations even more powerful. It’s become more topical since we started writing it.”

McGregor said he had been “slayed” by the Oasis documentary Supersonic when he watched it shortly after filming had wrapped on T2.

He said: “I can’t describe it, I was so upset afterwards. Because I was such a huge Oasis fan. Like, ridiculous, a schoolboy fanaticism, when I was a dad already, you know? Embarrassing. And watching that film, I really wanted to go back. Just being out there and having a great time, and being a part of what the 90s has become in my mind.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339779.1484480126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339779.1484480126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Director Danny Boyle during a location shoot for the new film. Picture John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Director Danny Boyle during a location shoot for the new film. Picture John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339779.1484480126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/celtic-connections-what-to-see-and-when-1-4339601","id":"1.4339601","articleHeadline": "Celtic Connections: What to see and when","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484400064000 ,"articleLead": "

Plotting a course through an ocean of Celtic Connections talent

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339600.1484577037!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laura Marling is a must-see at Celtic Connections. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s 18-day roots music juggernaut, opens on Thursday. From more than 2,000 artists representing a bewilderingly eclectic variety of music genres and cultures across 20 venues, we spotlight ten top-class shows.

Laura Marling with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 19 January

The Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter opens the festival in grand style in the company of the BBC‘s classical house band, premiering Kate St John’s orchestrated settings of Marling’s often starkly delivered and intelligently crafted songs. Expect plenty of surprise special guests too.

A Night for Angus: From Caol to Cool

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 21 January

“Acid croft” pioneers Shooglenifty celebrate the life of their much loved frontman, fiddler Angus R Grant, who died in October. Guests include Angus’s father, Aonghas Sr, members of Capercaillie and musicians from as far afield as Galicia and Rajasthan, a testament to the friendships Angus made along the way.

Inveraray & District Pipe Band & Bagad Kemper

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 28 January

Celtic Connections’ annual pipe band Saturday welcomes the Inveraray band, which has ascended from novice level to Grade 1 in little over a decade, under Pipe Major Stuart Liddell, as well as the renowned Breton band, Bagad Kemper, with its Melezour concert programme, a celebration of Breton culture.

Aziza Brahim

Drygate, 21 January

Spanish-based Sahrawi singer Aziza Brahim is part of this year’s Celtic Connections theme of women’s empowerment through music. She has never seen her Saharan homeland but grew up in an Algerian refugee camp, and she sings with eloquence of her people’s trials and aspirations.

La Banda Europa

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 29 January

Formed eight years ago by composer Jim Sutherland, the 36-strong La Banda Europa is a gloriously eruptive melting pot of pan-European folk instruments, including bagpipes, fiddles, nyckelharpas, flutes and, of course, the belligerent roar of the ancient Celtic horn, the carnyx. The programme includes the premiere of Sutherland’s We Are an Ocean.

Trilok Gurtu & Evelyn Glennie: The Rhythm in Me

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 1 February

Two internationally renowned percussion virtuosi, one Scots, the other Indian, join forces with classical pianist Philip Smith and Indian violinist Kumaresh Rajagopalan for a programme of arranged solo and ensemble pieces, plus improvisational pyrotechnics. Support comes from the acclaimed Irish piper and singer Jarlath Henderson.

Martin Hayes & David Power

Strathclyde Suite, 23 January

The virtuosic US-based Clare fiddler Martin Hayes teams up with David Power, a Waterford uilleann piper renowned for the authority and lyricism of his playing. They’re joined in support by Ryan Young, the young fiddler from Cardross named Up and Coming Artist of the Year at last month’s Scots Trad Music Awards.

Rab Noakes: 70/50 in 2017

Old Fruitmarket, 2 February

Veteran Scots singer-songwriter (and BBC radio producer) Rab Noakes celebrates his 70th birthday, 50 years as a professional musician – and his recovery from cancer. His latest EP is neatly titled The Treatment Tapes. He’ll be lacing what he calls his “21st century skiffle” with songs from sources as diverse as Gillian Welsh and Garbage.

Craig Armstrong & Calum Martin: Salm Music – New Works

Concert Hall New Auditorium, 3 February

A Leòdhasach singer-songwriter who also, as Free Kirk precentor, leads the extraordinary sound of Gaelic psalmody, Calum Martin has generated widespread interest through his Salm project. Here he joins the acclaimed Glasgow-born composer Craig Armstrong, combining psalm-singers with the Scottish Ensemble and such folk luminaries as Duncan Chisholm and Neil Johnstone.

George Monbiot & Ewan McLennan

Mackintosh Church, 3 February

One of the more unusual folk events of the past year was Breaking the Spell of Loneliness, a collaboration between journalist and environmental activist George Monbiot and Yorkshire-based Scots singer-songwriter Ewan McLennan, in a musical follow-up to an article in which Monbiot lamented the “epidemic of loneliness” pervading society. The resulting songs are poignant and telling.

For full listings, see celticconnections.com

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jim Gilchrist"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339600.1484577037!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339600.1484577037!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Laura Marling is a must-see at Celtic Connections. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laura Marling is a must-see at Celtic Connections. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339600.1484577037!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/theatre/preview-wonderland-the-musical-1-4339599","id":"1.4339599","articleHeadline": "Preview: Wonderland the Musical","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484399564000 ,"articleLead": "

When Frank Wildhorn’s plan to make an album of Wonderland foundered, he turned it into a hit show instead. Kelly Apter talks to the composer about the UK tour, which starts in Edinburgh this week, while former Coronation Street star Wendi Peters explains the appeal of playing the Queen of Hearts

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339597.1484399509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The cast of Wonderland the Musical. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

It all started with a broken elevator,” says Frank Wildhorn with a smile, recalling the time he told his young children the lift in their New York apartment building travelled all the way down to Wonderland – if only it was working.

Today, the American composer’s re-working of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is a hit musical – but it took a circuitous route to get there.

“I’m a record guy,” explains Wildhorn, “and for many years I ran a division of Atlantic Records, so my projects always started as records. My other musicals Jekyll and Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel began that way, so I thought let’s do Wonderland as a record.”

It became one of the greatest recording projects that never was. Avril Lavigne was lined up to sing the part of Alice, Bette Midler was the Queen of Hearts and Luther Vandross the Caterpillar. “But while I was working on it, Time Warner and AOL merged – which is considered the biggest disaster in American business – and Atlantic Records wouldn’t allow me to do my crazy projects anymore. So I said well, if I can’t make a record, I’ll make a show – and that’s what we did.”

The recording world’s loss was theatre’s gain, and Wonderland opened in Florida in 2009, moving to Broadway in 2011. Originally set in New York, the show has returned to its literary roots and is now “quintessentially British”, according to the creative team Wildhorn has assembled for the show’s UK tour.

Whereas Alice is more of a bystander in Carroll’s original, in this re-imagining she takes centre stage. Now an adult with a child of her own, Alice goes on a journey to Wonderland to save her daughter – and learns an important lesson about her own life along the way.

“It’s about the child within us all,” says Wildhorn. “And as the lyrics in the title song Wonderland say, sometimes we move too fast and we miss so much. There is a wonderland in all our lives, if we can just take a breath and notice it.

“I think it’s very important that by rescuing her own child, Alice discovers the child within herself. I hope that comes across, because for me that has always been the germ of this show.”

Avril Lavigne may no longer be in the frame for Alice, but most venues on the UK tour will play host to acclaimed West End star Kerry Ellis in the lead role. For Wildhorn, the songwriter behind Whitney Houston hit, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, working with skilled artists has always been a key component of his creative process.

“If you put ten Broadway composers on a project, nine of them would go one way and I’d go the other,” he laughs. “So much of my history is working with great musicians – Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Natalie Cole, Peabo Bryson – and so my process is I write a song, that great singer comes to me at the piano and then we make what it’s going to be. That’s the opposite to other musicals, where you have to sing it exactly as it was written or you’ll get sued.

“I think artists love that collaboration because I give them a lot more freedom. And when you’re working with great artists – like the guys in Wonderland – good things happen.”

Joining Ellis on the stage is Wendi Peters, best known for her long-running role as Cilla Battersby in Coronation Street. For Wonderland she’ll be puckering up her lips and sharpening her claws to play the Queen of Hearts. And watching Peters sing Wildhorn’s song Off With Their Heads at Manchester’s Palace Theatre during a pre-tour concert, Weatherfield feels very far away.

“Coronation Street is the longest thing I ever did,” says Peters. “I was in it for four years, and it got to the point where I thought I’m doing the same thing day in, day out – I need to get back out there and be creative.”

Wonderland provided Peters with the perfect vehicle, because although some aspects of the show have been tried and tested, both the script and some of Wildhorn’s songs have been re-worked for British audiences.

“I just love the process of seeing something on the page and thinking it through,” she says. “And it’s lovely that we have nothing really to copy – which as an actor you shouldn’t do anyway, but you can guarantee if you take on a role another actor has played, you’re going to have a sneaky look to see what’s there.

“But other than a couple of clips from Tony Awards, there’s nothing from Wonderland for us to look at, which I love because hopefully I can bring something new to it.”

Although Peters calls herself “an actor who sings” rather than a singer, she can certainly belt out a tune. And since Wildhorn isn’t known for holding back the drama in his songs, they suit each other just fine.

“Frank’s songs tell a story,” says Peters, “and it’s an actor’s dream to have a song that has a beginning, middle and end that you can complete. When I first heard the Wonderland score I fell completely in love with it – it’s quirky, witty, and when I got to Off With Their Heads I thought it was just brilliant.”

Despite the less than benevolent intent of that song, it’s impossible not to like Peters as she delivers it. But then after four years as Cilla Battersby, she’s no stranger to playing characters who are so bad they’re good.

“It’s always fun to play the baddie, but I think you have to find something within them that makes people like them a bit too,” says Peters. “My comedy heroes are people like Patricia Routledge, Molly Sugden and Peggy Mount, so I try to bring a little of those women into this. If you think about when Routledge played Hyacinth Bucket – she’s a monster but there’s a part of you that thinks she’s wonderful. So hopefully I can bring all those things together and the Queen of Hearts will be loved as well as hated.” n

• Wonderland the Musical is at the Edinburgh Playhouse, 20-28 January; His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 16-20 May; and the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, 3-8 July, www.wonderlandthemusical.com\" title=\"Link to article\">wonderlandthemusical.com

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kelly Apter"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339597.1484399509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339597.1484399509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The cast of Wonderland the Musical. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The cast of Wonderland the Musical. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339597.1484399509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339598.1484399514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339598.1484399514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Frank Wildhorn. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Frank Wildhorn. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339598.1484399514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/regions/edinburgh-fife-lothians/trainspotting-sequel-to-tackle-disappointed-masculinity-of-iconic-characters-1-4339571","id":"1.4339571","articleHeadline": "Trainspotting sequel to tackle 'disappointed masculinity' of iconic characters","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484395747754 ,"articleLead": "

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle has revealed that its long-awaited sequel is going to be about “manhood and disappointed masculinity.\"

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339570.1484395881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The world premiere of T2 is being held in Edinburgh next weekend."} ,"articleBody": "

The Oscar-winning filmmaker has disclosed that it will “unfreeze” the characters from the first film and deal equally with what they have been doing for the last 20 years.

Ahead of the world premiere of “T2” in Edinburgh next weekend, Boyle said it would also look at the “terrifying” process of ageing.

Screenwriter John Hodge, who adapted Irvine Welsh’s best-seller for the 1996 original, said the new movie would also look at how unemployment had become less secure and corporations even more powerful over the last two decades.

He said the film had become “more topical” since Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner agreed to reunite with Boyle for a sequel.

Meanwhile McGregor has described Trainspotting as “the Oasis of the film world” and said he had been “so upset” after watching a documentary about the band, which broke up after a bitter split between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher.

Boyle and Hodge - who were interviewed in the LA Times - started working with Welsh on a sequel three years ago after the director and McGregor resolved their differences after the actor was dropped from The Beach.

Boyle said: “In practice, I knew if the script didn’t deal with them equally, like the first one, they wouldn’t do it.

“So then we had to come up with a movie that did that and also wasn’t...bad. Then there’s the prism of aging, which is terrifying for a lot of us but really terrifying for actors. You remember them frozen in time and suddenly they’re in the present.

“When we first started making this film, I thought the subject was time. And that the reason we didn’t make it 10 years ago is because the actors didn’t look like they’d aged enough. Or I wasn’t old enough.

“And I realised after making this film it isn’t about time — it’s about masculinity, about disappointed masculinity. When we made the first film, everyone said it was about drugs, and I said it was about friendship. But I realise now it was really about boyhood. And this is about manhood.

“Movies have this weird Hollywoodizing effect, this glamorising effect, even gritty films like ‘Trainspotting.’

“It makes people desirable by freezing them. And if you’re lucky, as we were, you get a chance to unfreeze them — sometimes literally, even, by dropping pieces of the first movie in. You get the past and present simultaneously. And that’s a rare, powerful thing.”

Hodge said: “What are these guys like 20 years on? We change a lot over 20 years, but bits of us remain the same. I think the fact that so much time had passed also liberates the movie.

“If it was just five years later, we’d just expect more of the same — they’re just going to rob a casino in Monaco. Now, people expect things to be different, for a lot of life to be lived.

“We saw an opportunity there — to show how consumer culture has been inflated and employment is less secure and corporations even more powerful. It's become more topical since we started writing it.”

McGregor said he had been “slayed” by the Oasis documentary Supersonic when he watched it shortly after filming had wrapped on T2.

He told the Guardian: “I can’t describe it, I was so upset afterwards. Because I was such a huge Oasis fan. Like, ridiculous, a schoolboy fanaticism, when I was a dad already, you know? Embarrassing. And watching that film, I really wanted to go back. Just being out there and having a great time, and being a part of what the 90s has become in my mind.

“I loved that documentary. I mean, I loved it and I hated it. Because it made me so sad and it made me so happy.

“That time has gone, it can never happen again – but it changed our whole existence.”

T2 is released on 27 January.

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339570.1484395881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339570.1484395881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The world premiere of T2 is being held in Edinburgh next weekend.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The world premiere of T2 is being held in Edinburgh next weekend.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339570.1484395881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/interview-rab-noakes-prepares-to-celebrate-50-years-in-music-at-celtic-connections-1-4339314","id":"1.4339314","articleHeadline": "Interview: Rab Noakes prepares to celebrate 50 years in music at Celtic Connections","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484352750000 ,"articleLead": "

He walked away from success with Stealers Wheel, missed out on a solo hit due to ‘silly’ planning, had tonsillar cancer – but Rab Noakes is smiling as Celtic Connections hails his 50 years as a professional singer, writes Fiona Shepherd

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339313.1484577905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rab Noakes played his first professional show 50 yearss ago. Picture: Carol Ann Peacock"} ,"articleBody": "

Rab Noakes has been a familiar figure at some of Celtic Connections’ biggest productions over the last few years, appearing as a performer in Greg Lawson’s massed, dazzling celebration of Martyn Bennett’s Grit in 2015 and helping to curate some of the festival’s acclaimed tribute concerts to the likes of Bob Dylan and, most notably, Noakes’ old friend and associate Gerry Rafferty.

This year, however, the focus is on the man himself as he marks a couple of anniversaries. Noakes turns 70 in May. In the same month, it will be 50 years since his first professional shows, hence the billing for his Old Fruitmarket headline concert, Rab Noakes 70/50 in 2017.

The Fife-born performer – he prefers that designation to “musician” – is one of our more underrated talents, championed by the likes of John Peel and Johnny Walker in the early 1970s and poised for commercial success which never materialised (there’s some great footage online of an Old Grey Whistle Test appearance from 1974).

He never entirely gave up on playing and writing, even when a complementary parallel career in radio beckoned, and has been more musically active over the past few years than he has been in decades – save for a notable blip in 2015 when he was diagnosed with tonsillar cancer and the music, including the release of his I’m Walking Here album, went on hold while he underwent intensive, 
gruelling treatment.

“It just became all-encompassing,” he says over tea and mince pies in the living room of his Pollokshields home, with his wife and creative partner Stephy Pordage at his side.

“My mouth was just wrecked with ulcers and terrible, thick, toxic saliva that I had to spit up. The first couple of weekends were a wee bit dark. We all get those times when there’s a blue tinge around everything. But I got through that. There’s a terminology around cancer – battling it, defeating it – which we didn’t really buy into. It was more ‘it’s here, how do we deal with it?’

“As soon as it became clear that the voice was going to be there, I just got in the music room and started strumming and singing as much as I possibly could until it started to get to a more acceptable noise.

“I still have slight pronunciation on things – it’s not thick lips but I do notice it – and there’s a couple of notes on the top that are occasionally hard to reach. I’ve learned to navigate that.”

Next week, Noakes releases the fruits of those initial forays back into songwriting, an EP impishly titled The Treatment Tapes. You can hear the voice is slightly altered, a little lower and coarser on a couple of tracks, as Noakes sang his voice back to health with his guitar tuned a tone lower.

Noakes has been singing “since I was a wee laddie”, learning songs he heard on the BBC Light Programme and Home Service. “I like to think that something was being implanted in me of what the song could be.”

He attended Miss Neilson’s local singing class and remembers his first public performance as a rendition of Westering Home.

“I found performing at the Christmas parties, all those other mothers would be watching young Bobby Noakes with tears in their eyes and I thought ‘this is not a bad thing to be able to do’.”

Noakes formed a skiffle group while still at primary school but, as with many of his peers, hearing Bob Dylan was the watershed moment. “This whole vista opened out – he was the gatekeeper who introduced my generation to folk music and even your own indigenous folk cultures.”

He began playing floor spots at folk clubs while working for the civil service in London. On moving to Glasgow in 1967, he formed a guitar/banjo duo with Robin McKidd and played that first professional show at the Glasgow Folk Centre in Montrose Street.

“It was an interesting place at the time,” he recalls, “because Billy Connolly and the Humblebums were around, Iain McGeachy who became John Martyn, and the older guys like Hamish Imlach who we learned a lot from.”

Noakes further honed his craft during a 1969 residency in Denmark, releasing his debut album Do You See The Lights? the following year. “In those days, someone else decided when it was time for you to make a record,” he notes.

Around the same time, he teamed up with Gerry Rafferty in an early incarnation of Stealers Wheel, even meeting the clowns and the jokers who inspired their best-known track, Stuck In The Middle With You.

“I was there that night,” he confirms. “We were in one of those downstairs places on the Kings Road. You had the managers and Jerry Moss [the M in A&M Records] on one side of the table. On the other side were some producers we weren’t going to work with but who came along to the free dinner anyway. We were this team in the middle drinking and having fun. That was the scenario out of which came that song that’s had so many lives . . .”

But Noakes opted to leave the band before their success kicked in. “I’ve never known whether I made the right decision or not, but I made the decision that I would rather do some more performing myself.”

While other acts, including Lindisfarne and fellow Fifer Barbara Dickson, recorded his songs, the solo breakthrough hit remained elusive. Noakes continued gigging regularly on the fertile university and club circuit but by the end of the 1970s that audience had inevitably changed and opportunities started to dry up.

Looking back, Noakes remains philosophical. “I had my time as someone who was getting played and you devote yourself to it, but there were a couple of strategic errors.

“When Branch [the lead single of his 1974 album Red Pump Special] was out, which was probably the one that had the most chance – it was a Radio 1 Record of the Week – they had me away in the States making the follow-up record, so that was silly planning.”

Instead, he moved into radio, presenting somewhat reluctantly on Radio Clyde in the early 1980s (“I never managed to adopt that performance skill”) before moving over to the production side for BBC Radio, first in Manchester and then as Head of Entertainment at Radio Scotland, managing 70 hours of output a week.

“I think of it as more of a continuation, it wasn’t a sharp turn,” he says. “I was still involved in pop music and it had a lot of performance skills – putting a running order together shares a lot with putting a setlist together.”

Both strands now happily co-exist. His independent radio and television production company Neon, founded with Pordage in 1995, has now spawned Neon Records, transforming his output in recent years with a schedule of re-issues, rarities, live recordings, tribute albums and new original material including I’m Walking Here, which was eventually released in late 2015.

Noakes is already on to his next batch of songs, some of which will make it into his Celtic Connections set beside material from throughout his 50-year repertoire.

“Everything you do, every noise you make, everything you listen to does filter its way into your output at some point,” he says.

The Treatment Tapes EP is released by Neon Records on 20 January. Rab Noakes 70/50 In 2017 is at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 2 February, www.celticconnections.com

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Fiona Shepherd"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339313.1484577905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339313.1484577905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rab Noakes played his first professional show 50 yearss ago. Picture: Carol Ann Peacock","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rab Noakes played his first professional show 50 yearss ago. Picture: Carol Ann Peacock","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339313.1484577905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/plans-for-new-8m-music-centre-in-st-andrews-to-be-unveiled-1-4338983","id":"1.4338983","articleHeadline": "Plans for new £8m music centre in St Andrews to be unveiled","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484317589000 ,"articleLead": "

Plans for a state-of-the-art music centre in the heart of St Andrews are to be unveiled later this month by the university.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338982.1484317539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The new music centre will be opened at the University of St Andrews. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

It intends to host a public exhibition outlining plans and designs for the new £8 million centre which it hopes to build on a site in Queens Terrace bordering the historic St Mary’s Quadrangle.

The new centre will offer practice, rehearsal and teaching spaces needed by student musicians and will also incorporate a dedicated rehearsal studio, a music technology and recording suite, and a library.

It will provide sound-proofed practice and rehearsal spaces – which must be suitable for bands using amplified instruments.

St Andrews University aims to fund the project entirely through philanthropy and has already raised over £5 million thanks to the generosity of several lead donors.

To offer the public an early opportunity to browse the plans and give feedback, it will stage an exhibition at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews from January 22 to 27 between 10am and 6pm.

On Wednesday January 25, members of the project team will be in attendance between 3.30pm and 7pm to discuss the proposals with any interested parties.

A spokesman said: “As the existing music centre at the Younger Hall has close links with other departments in the arts and humanities and a strong community focus, the university was anxious to ensure the new building should be in the heart of town, allowing members of the public, staff and students ready access.

“The site chosen on Queens Terrace is currently occupied by temporary buildings and a car park.

“The new building will restore a historic quad and preserve the features of St Mary’s Quadrangle, while complementing the neighbouring St Regulus Hall student residence and the Bute Building.”

The university announced in late 2016 that it had appointed award-winning architects Flanagan Lawrence to design the purpose-built music centre.

Subject to a formal application for planning permission, the university hopes to begin building before the end of this year.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4338982.1484317539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338982.1484317539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The new music centre will be opened at the University of St Andrews. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The new music centre will be opened at the University of St Andrews. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4338982.1484317539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/odd/henrik-larsson-wins-two-contestants-the-pointless-jackpot-1-4338277","id":"1.4338277","articleHeadline": "Henrik Larsson wins two contestants the Pointless jackpot","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484241164000 ,"articleLead": "

A contestant on the popular TV quiz show Pointless scooped the jackpot thanks to a ‘random’ Henrik Larsson answer

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338276.1484243820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tasha Smith (left) and her sister Jo wait nervously to see if they have a Pointless answer. Picture: BBC"} ,"articleBody": "

Tasha Smith won £2,250 after naming the Swedish striker when asked for a footballer who scored in Euro 2000.

The teaching assistant credited her victory, which she shared with her sister Jo, to her Celtic mad boyfriend who had told her to answer “Henrik Larsson” to any football question.

Ms Smith said: “My boyfriend Alex is a massive Celtic supporter and he knows that I’m rubbish with names and things like that so he said, anything football-related - he’s played for Man U, he’s played for Celtic and Barcelona, I think.

“He just said go for Henrik Larsson. And it’s paid off.”

The object of the BBC quiz is to find the most obscure correct answers to a series of questions.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SAM SHEDDEN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4338276.1484243820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338276.1484243820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tasha Smith (left) and her sister Jo wait nervously to see if they have a Pointless answer. Picture: BBC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tasha Smith (left) and her sister Jo wait nervously to see if they have a Pointless answer. Picture: BBC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4338276.1484243820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/reese-witherspoon-quit-movie-due-to-terrible-scottish-accent-1-4337879","id":"1.4337879","articleHeadline": "Reese Witherspoon ‘quit movie’ due to terrible Scottish accent","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484240198000 ,"articleLead": "

Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon has admitted that her Scottish accent is so bad that she had to quit a movie.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337878.1484239736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Reese Witherspoon. Picture; contributed"} ,"articleBody": "


The Oscar winner, 40, made the confession on Lorraine Kelly’s ITV programme on Thursday.

Reese was sitting alongside Matthew McConaughey during an interview with Ross King when the discussion turned to difficult accents.

Immediately, the Legally Blonde star said “South African” is tricky before disagreeing with Matthew McConaughey that Russian is hard.

Presenter Ross King, who originally hails from Glasgow, then suggested Scottish.

And Reese Witherspoon responded by saying: “Scottish is really…I was supposed to…I don’t want to talk about it.”

The actress stops herself from continuing until the interviewer pushed her to explain further.

She said: “I tried to do a Scottish accent once. It was bad. I had to quit the movie. It’s not my finest moment. I don’t want to talk about it any more.”

The trio, who all have Scottish roots, shared a hearty laugh over the confession.

It is not known which film it was that she quit due to her inability to speak with a convincing Scottish accent.

But she was originally going to be the voice of Princess Merida in the Disney-Pixar family favourite Brave which is set in Scottish Highlands.

She was said to be “sounding great” before quitting the project and being replaced by Trainspotting actress Kelly Macdonald.

At the time, co-director of Brave, Mark Andrews, said: “We did have Reese Witherspoon when we started the project and she was on for quite some time.

“She was getting her Scottish accent down, she was working very hard and it was sounding great but as we were continuing with the movie she had other movies lining up, so unfortunately we were unable to continue with her and had to get a replacement.”

The actress, who won an Oscar for portraying June Carter in Walk the Line, has a family tree which can be traced back to East Lothian.

She is a descendant of Scottish-born John Witherspoon, a signatory on the United States Declaration of Independence.

The founding father of the United States was born in Gifford, East Lothian in 1723 and emigrated to the United States in 1768.

He was the only clergyman and college principal to sign the declaration.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "FINDLAY MAIR"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337878.1484239736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337878.1484239736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Reese Witherspoon. Picture; contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Reese Witherspoon. Picture; contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337878.1484239736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/film/film-reviews-la-la-land-manchester-by-the-sea-live-by-night-1-4337621","id":"1.4337621","articleHeadline": "Film reviews: La La Land | Manchester by the Sea | Live By Night","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484216853000 ,"articleLead": "

There are some dazzling set pieces in throwback musical La La Land, but it tries too hard to make us love it. Meanwhile Casey Affleck is a revelation in heartbreaking drama Manchester by the Sea

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337620.1484216801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land"} ,"articleBody": "

La La Land (12A) ***

Manchester by the Sea (15) *****

Live By Night (15) **

True to its title, La La Land seems to be inspiring the kind of head-over-heels reverie usually only displayed by those who have either fallen in love or joined a religious cult. Presented in the style of an old-school MGM musical – with a dash of Umbrellas of Cherbourg-style Nouvelle Vague cool – Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash has already collected multiple accolades and is now the bookies’ favourite to clean up at the Oscars next month. It’s not hard to see the appeal – or indeed admire the ambition of Chazelle, who’s still in his early 30s (La La Land is only his third movie). Yet for those not immediately swept up in this love story about an aspiring actress (played by Emma Stone) and a wannabe jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling), its charms aren’t always immediately apparent and it can irritate as much as elate.

Kicking off with a ten-minute song-and-dance opus on a traffic-jammed bridge in the middle of the Los Angeles freeway, it sets its sunny and nostalgic tone from the off, expanding its shot-in-cinemascope frame to reveal the sort of choreography that, if not exactly on a par with the old movie musical masters, is at least a welcome step-up in proficiency from all those Mamma Mia-inspired free-for-alls that have brought the musical into disrepute in recent years. Still, it’s a bit of a litmus test and as the film starts running Stone’s character Mia and Gosling’s character Seb through rote professional setbacks in their efforts to follow their showbusiness dreams, it tends to overplay the cutesiness of its set-up with lots of self-referential gags about its own status as an unapologetically joyful heart-on-its-sleeve throwback to old Hollywood in an era of cynical franchise filmmaking.

The thing is, it’s hard to think of a movie that wants to be loved more than La La Land and this becomes a little problematic. In its desire to make us fall for its protagonists, for instance, it sees nothing wrong with literally presenting Gosling’s character as the saviour of jazz while setting up the film’s one black character of note (played by musician John Legend) as an artistic sell-out. To be fair to Chazelle, he does make a token effort to address this with a scene in which Legend’s band-leader Keith lectures Seb on the need for innovation to prevent jazz “dying on the vine”, but it’s clear from the look of bewilderment on Mia’s face when she watches her jazz-purist beau play with Keith’s band that we’re supposed to share her disappointment in his decision to endure success in a gimmicky fusion outfit instead of following through on his dream of opening his own club – a dilemma responsible for much of the lagging middle section.

Still, the film’s own original musical numbers are pretty decent and there’s a sweetness and melancholic edge to the way Gosling and Stone perform them. Both are rawer and less polished than professional Broadway hoofers, but that only enhances the genuine moments of cinematic magic that Chazelle does conjure up, moments in which his stars’ chemistry breaks through all the artifice and ensures the characters’ connection to one other becomes undeniable. We get a sense of this early on in a lovely scene in an old movie theatre during a screening of Rebel Without A Cause, but Chazelle reserves his knock-out blow for a phenomenal finale that begins with the sort of intense look between Gosling and Stone that great movie moments are made of. That it proceeds to upend the entire film before landing the sort of an emotional punch that leaves you floored is a true testament to Chazelle’s talent. For these 15 minutes alone, the film almost deserves everything that will likely come its way.

Another of this year’s other big awards contenders is also out this week. Manchester by the Sea is the latest from Kenneth Lonergan, whose work rate seems almost Malick-like in its infrequency, though not through his own doing. An acclaimed playwright turned screenwriter, he made his movie mark with the much-loved indie hit You Can Count on Me, but his follow-up, the ambitious, 9/11-themed Margaret, became embroiled in a nightmare lawsuit that delayed its release by six years. That’s why he’s only now delivering his third feature, but it’s very much been worth the wait. A contained story about grief and redemption, it’s as ambitious as anything he’s done – and also properly funny as well, something one wouldn’t necessarily expect from a story about a troubled man (Casey Affleck) who is reluctantly forced to become a guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. From this simple premise Lonergan weaves a wrenching drama about the complicated ways tragedy reverberates through the years, with Affleck giving the sort of unshowy performance that gradually tears you apart. He’s complemented by heartbreaking support from Michelle Williams as his ex-wife, but also from young up-and-comer Lucas Hedges, who gives a sly, multi-layered performance as his hormonally charged nephew, scoring big laughs from his character’s honest interactions with his uncle. It’s a film that quietly subverts expectations at every turn – and Affleck really is a revelation.

Affleck’s brother Ben is also in action this week in the disappointing Live By Night. Like his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, it’s based on another novel by Boston crime writer Dennis Lehane, but Affleck – directing for the first time since Argo – just can’t quite make it come alive on screen. He’s fine in the lead, but the story’s period setting – Prohibition era America – makes it feel very staid. ■

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alistair Harkness"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337620.1484216801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337620.1484216801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337620.1484216801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/drastic-cuts-looming-for-edinburgh-s-christmas-and-hogmanay-events-1-4337438","id":"1.4337438","articleHeadline": "Drastic cuts looming for Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay events","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484182579731 ,"articleLead": "

Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay festivals face being dramatically scaled back this year after city council chiefs decided to slash their backing for the events.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337437.1484182785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh's Christmas & Hogmanay festivals are said to be worth more than 240 million."} ,"articleBody": "

New contracts to run the official festivities, which are said to be worth more than £240 million to the economy, propose swingeing cuts to programming budgets.

Insiders say key elements of both events may have to be scaled back or dropped completely as a result of “bewildering” changes enforced in tenders which are been issued to events companies.

The three-day Hogmanay festival faces losing up to 50 per cent of its £1m budget due to a cut in its current subsidy and a demand to foot policing and licensing costs.

This may lead to the capacity of its street party – which was first held in 1993 – being cut from 75,000 and stages being dropped from the event arena, which has been expanded to the Royal Mile in recent years.

Edinburgh’s Christmas festival, which has just reported record visitor numbers to the city centre, has been completely stripped of public funding for the first time since official events were staged in 1999.

Would-be producers may have to pay for the right to create popular rides and attractions in Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square.

It is thought the free “Street of Light” event, which has drawn more than half a million people to the Royal Mile and George Street over the last two years, may have to be axed.

The Christmas and Hogmanay festivals have been run for the last four years under a joint £1.3m contract with two firms, Unique Events and Underbelly.

Tender documents reveal the council would now put in just over £800,000, which would be ringfenced for Hogmanay, while a separate Christmas contract would be issued.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “While the reduced budget means that the format for Hogmanay and Christmas may require some reimagining, the industry is being asked rise to these challenges and deliver a world-class programme for Edinburgh.”

Richard Lewis, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations are world renowned, providing the city and Scotland with unrivalled promotion and a great boost to the economy.

“Over the last three years, the festivals have gone from strength to strength but the costs incurred of policing Hogmanay and pressure on the council’s budget has continued to increase.

\"As we take these events to market, our priority now will be to ensure best value for the city while retaining Edinburgh’s position as a fantastic winter destination.

This is an exciting opportunity to build on the huge success of the winter festivals to date and identify new, creative activities and events to refresh and enhance the programme.”


Edinburgh’s festivals may be celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, but the staging of events over Christmas and Hogmanay is a relatively modern phenomenon.

The first Hogmanay festival was instigated in 1993 after the success of an events programme held to coincide with the staging of a European summit in the city the previous year.

In the run-up to the Millennium it was joined by a Christmas event, including an ice rink in Princes Street Gardens.

The cost of paying for the Hogmanay celebrations has been a growing headache ever since the cancellation of the street party in 2003-4, which did not have any insurance cover. A shake-up the following year saw the introduction of a £2.50 administration charge for tickets. The cheapest “early bird” tickets cost £20 for the most recent street party.

Uunderbelly, a leading Fringe promoter, was brought in four years ago to help revitalise the Christmas programme amid complaints the line-up had become too outdated and tacky.

However the festival faced immediate criticism over the increased cost of attractions, which were reduced the following year.

A major new free attraction, Street of Light, was launched in 2015 on the Royal Mile and was relocated to George Street for the most recent festival.

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337437.1484182785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337437.1484182785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Edinburgh's Christmas & Hogmanay festivals are said to be worth more than 240 million.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh's Christmas & Hogmanay festivals are said to be worth more than 240 million.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337437.1484182785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/new-species-of-gibbon-found-in-china-named-after-luke-skywalker-1-4336948","id":"1.4336948","articleHeadline": "New species of gibbon found in China named after Luke Skywalker","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484139865000 ,"articleLead": "

A new species of gibbon identified in remote forests in China has been named after Star Wars character Luke Skywalker.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336946.1484139809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An adult Skywalker hoolock gibbon or Gaoligong hoolock gibbon. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Scientists studying hoolock gibbons on Mt Gaoligong, along China’s border with Burma, have concluded they are a new species of primate following examination of features including their eyebrows and genetic analysis.

It was previously thought they belonged to one of the two already-known species of hoolock gibbons, a type of primate found in Bangladesh, India, China and Burma, where they live among the trees, feeding mostly on fruit as well as leaves and shoots.

The scientists have called the new species the Skywalker hoolock gibbon or Gaoligong hoolock gibbon (Hoolock tianxing).

The name was chosen in part because the Chinese characters of its scientific name mean “Heaven’s movement”, but also because the researchers are Star Wars fans.

• READ MORE: Brexit threat to Game of Thrones and Star Wars filming

In response to the news, Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted: “So proud of this! First the Pez dispenser, then the Underoos & U.S. postage stamp... now this!”, referring to other things which have featured his character Luke Skywalker.

But with the animals facing illegal hunting and destruction, damage and fragmentation of their habitat, the scientists, writing in a paper published in the American Journal of Primatology, recommended that the Skywalker hoolock gibbon is categorised as “endangered”.

They said: “The discovery of the new species focuses attention on the need for improved conservation of small apes, many of which are in danger of extinction in southern China and Southeast Asia.”

Mt Gaoligong is a hotspot for discovering new species, according to the scientists, who include researchers from China, the US and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), with other primates and amphibians among the creatures newly identified in the difficult-to-access region.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336946.1484139809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336946.1484139809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "An adult Skywalker hoolock gibbon or Gaoligong hoolock gibbon. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An adult Skywalker hoolock gibbon or Gaoligong hoolock gibbon. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336946.1484139809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336947.1484139812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336947.1484139812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mark Hamill playing character Luke Skywalker. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark Hamill playing character Luke Skywalker. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336947.1484139812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/interview-philip-glass-on-scottish-opera-s-new-production-of-the-trial-1-4336081","id":"1.4336081","articleHeadline": "Interview: Philip Glass on Scottish Opera’s new production of The Trial","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484055714000 ,"articleLead": "

Love him or loathe him – and there are plenty with strong opinions on both sides – US minimalist Philip Glass has done more than most contemporary composers to bring new audiences to serious music. He’s no stranger to Scotland, either: he’s played to sell-out crowds at Glasgow’s Minimal weekends, and also – memorably – at the Edinburgh International Festival with Patti Smith. His supporters are sent into raptures by his unmistakable rippling, arpeggio-laden textures. His detractors, however, say Glass just writes the same piece over and over again.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336080.1484055667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Philip Glass PIC: Stewart Cohen"} ,"articleBody": "

They might be surprised, though, by The Trial, and by the sheer diversity of music and styles that Glass explores in this new opera – all of which make that “minimalist” tag, which Glass has always hated, even less relevant. Remarkably, The Trial is Glass’s 26th opera, unveiled to broad approval in London a couple of years back, and now getting its premiere north of the border from Scottish Opera, who co-commissioned it.

Where did Glass’s surprisingly eclectic approach come from? “I gave myself permission to do that,” says the composer. “This particular opera does have a sound – it doesn’t have anything in common with my early operas Einstein on the Beach or Satyagraha, for example, and nor should it. I’ve done quite a few operas that are really very different from each other now.”

And the sound world that Glass conjures – bringing together the acid sarcasm of Kurt Weill’s Weimar cabaret, a bit of jazz, a touch of klezmer, and a few of his distinctive repetitions, of course – serves as a brilliantly appropriate backdrop for the opera’s dark tale by Franz Kafka. In it, Josef K (a stand-in for Kafka himself, we presume) wakes one morning to discover he’s under arrest for an undisclosed crime, then finds himself sucked ever deeper into the bureaucratic machinations of an arcane legal system that seems reluctant to divulge what he’s done wrong, let alone what his punishment will be.

“You might call it a black comedy,” says Glass, “and there’s a lot to be said for that.” Certainly Glass and his librettist Christopher Hampton – a respected playwright and director, best known for his Oscar-winning script to Dangerous Liaisons – stress the dark humour in their fast-moving creation. It’s full of gags, but undercut by a serious sense of threat and danger, too. “Christopher and I have worked together a number of times,” continues Glass – this is in fact their third opera together. “He’s very experienced at writing for singers.”

Anyone more familiar with the opulent expansiveness of some of Glass’s earlier work – not least the five-hour indulgence of his first opera, Einstein on the Beach – might also be surprised by how focused, punchy and small-scale The Trial is. Glass has spoken about his chamber operas being like “neutron bombs – small, but packing a terrific punch,” and that’s certainly the case here. “It’s very good training for a composer to write chamber operas,” Glass asserts – although you might wonder at how much more training the 80-year-old opera veteran needs. “In fact for most opera composers, that’s how they begin, because you’re simply not given a big production when you start out. Well, that’s not strictly true – I had a very big one as my first opera!” And he lines up The Trial’s relatively small scale with its humour, too: “In a comic piece like this, apart from our main character, everyone has to play at least two or three parts – but it’s part of the fun when you dress them up differently and send them back out on the stage again.”

This isn’t the first time Glass has tackled Kafka. “I’ve known his work since my teens,” Glass says, “and my first Kafka opera was In the Penal Colony, back in 2000.” It may not be the last, either. “You know, I have a penchant for trilogies. I’ve been wanting to do a third Kafka opera – he has a bunch of fragments called America, but I’m not sure there’s enough there to put it on stage.”

We’ll have to wait and see whether the third part of Glass’s Kafka opera trilogy ever materialises. But the second installment, at least, is trenchant, very funny and strangely moving, too. ■

*Scottish Opera perform Philip Glass’s The Trial at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 24, 26 and 28 January and at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, 3 and 4 February, www.scottishopera.org.uk

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Kettle"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336080.1484055667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336080.1484055667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Philip Glass PIC: Stewart Cohen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Philip Glass PIC: Stewart Cohen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336080.1484055667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/album-reviews-el-hombre-trajeado-the-blue-aeroplanes-louise-mcvey-cracks-in-the-concrete-1-4336067","id":"1.4336067","articleHeadline": "Album reviews: El Hombre Trajeado | The Blue Aeroplanes | Louise McVey & Cracks in the Concrete","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484055301000 ,"articleLead": "

Collaborations abound as stalwarts of Glasgow’s music scene come out to play with El Hombre Trajeado

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336066.1484055255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "El Hombre Trajeado"} ,"articleBody": "


El Hombre Trajeado: Fast Diagonal ***

Chemikal Underground

The Blue Aeroplanes: Welcome, Stranger! ****

Artstar Records

Louise McVey & Cracks in the Concrete: Under The Heart ****


Glasgow’s grassroots music scene in its current enviably fertile form started sprouting in earnest in the mid-1990s from a number of the city’s nascent small venues, most notably The 13th Note, spawning the likes of Mogwai, The Delgados and, ultimately, Franz Ferdinand. This thriving DIY period is shortly to be celebrated in the documentary Lost In France, which will premiere in February at the Glasgow Film Festival.

Most of the main players from that tight-knit community still live in or around Glasgow and remain active participants on the scene, including the members of math rock intrumentalists El Hombre Trajeado whose frontman Hubby – better known now as SAY Award-winning solo artist RM Hubbert – will join members of the above named bands in a Glasgow indie supergroup to accompany the film screening.

El Hombre themselves have reformed after a decade apart but it’s remarkable how the years fall away when you put the band back together in a room and they pick up where they left off, firing off lopsided rhythms, low-slung guitars and fluid time signatures on the evocatively named Fast Diagonal.

Hubbert has been used to collaborating with guest singers in his solo career so this time round the group offer an even mix of instrumental and vocal tracks delivered by a trio of guests. First off the blocks is electronica composer Ela Orleans, a prolific solo artist in her own right, who adds a wistful, androgynous vocal to Darkest Sea.

Visual artist Sue Tompkins, who fronted an outfit called Life Without Buildings in the early 2000s, speaks and squeaks more than sings in a gauche little girl tone, but her rhythmic style proves a happy marriage with the band’s lithe and playful bass, tom and synth blend on Do It Puritan!

Chris Mack, now based in Sao Paolo, is another former stalwart of the 13th Note scene, as a member of indie rockers Eska and solo as The James Orr Complex. He adds a deadpan cool to hectic Krautrock number Hearing Those Ears.

Meanwhile, the core line-up – completed by Stevie Jones, who also fronts the soothing Sound of Yell, plus Stevie’s brother Ben on keyboards and Stef Sinclair on drums – have brought their experience over the intervening years to bear on the electro jazz of Half Cab, a blithe instrumental with surges of rock energy. Which is not to say they are entirely rid of their slightly navel-gazing tendencies on a couple of the more meandering numbers.

There is another happy return and more jittery, off-kilter tunefulness from cult Bristolians The Blue Aeroplanes, who first prospered on the 80s independent scene, when quirks and kinks were heard as a musical virtue. They get off to a flying start with the propulsive Looking For X’s On a Map, then deliver some good old-fashioned crunchy rock guitar on Sweet, Like Chocolate. Dead Tree! Dead Tree! is as excitable as its title and there will be the opportunity to see how the band’s idiosyncratic dancer Wojtek Dmochowski interprets the whole lot when they tour of Scotland over the next couple of weeks.

Louise McVey & Cracks in the Concrete are a Glasgow duo with a strong grip on atmosphere. The self-released Under the Heart is a wintry gothic showcase for McVey’s alluring alto and the noir soundtracks conjured by instrumentalist Graeme Miller. There are shades of Nick Cave’s dread declamations on the stealthy prowl of Seventh Son, with its baleful voiceover, while sultry torch song Flamingo is pure yet twisted in best David Lynch style.


Ewan MacPherson: Fetch ****

Shoogle Records

A seasoned player of mandolin, guitar and much else, Ewan MacPherson is known for his work with such bands as Fribo, Salt House and Shooglenifty. The gleeful energy of this album, in which he’s joined by a host of musical compadres, is exemplified by the “fetching” hound caught in mid-leap on the sleeve. The tone is set by the exuberant skitter of the opening Brutus the Husky, MacPherson’s mandolin ringing in tight partnership with Alasdair White’s fiddle and Aaron Jones’s bouzouki, while the drifting Scandinavian string harmonies of Saltus, with Sigrid Moldestad on Hardanger fiddle, contrast with the snappy swing of The Cherry Tree Reel or the contemplative As April is to Winter, with Lauren MacColl on fiddle.

Though the tunes are largely MacPherson’s own, it’s nice to hear Derek Hoy’s Holding the Whippet sounded out by his daughter, Sarah Hoy, on fiddle before Fin Moore’s pipes usher the album to a close.

Jim Gilchrist


Beethoven: Complete Sonatas and Variations *****


It’s worth taking time to listen to Beethoven’s five Cello Sonatas in a single sitting, an opportunity this double-CD set by cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and pianist Shai Wosner offers. The playing is probing yet unaffected, thoughtful yet delivered with a simplicity that lets Beethoven’s lyrical succinctness shine through the maelstrom of emotions that flavour the sonatas’ expressive twists and turns. They divide neatly into the two early sonatas (the Op 5s), two late ones (the Op 102s), and in between, the straightforward enchantment of the 1808 Op 69, with the opulent opening theme of its initial allegro, the capriciousness of the scherzo, and carefree virtuosity of its slow-quick finale. Kirshbaum brings effortless maturity to all these works, supported by the poetic solidity of Wosner’s pianism. Beethoven’s Variations for cello and piano duo sit in between the sonatas as natural, easier-going palate cleansers.

Ken Walton

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