I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.

“Everybody loses the thing that made them. It’s even how it’s supposed to be in nature. The brave men stay and watch it happen, they don’t run.”

Winding down from a busy weekend plus one of those Mondays put me in kind of a grouchy mood tonight. Thankfully when choosing my cheer up music my random but fortunate choice hit the nail bang on the head.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an absolutely sublime film which I watched a few weeks back. The most captivating, inspiring piece of work I’ve seen in years, and the soundtrack encapsulates not just its jauntiness but the fighting spirit the film has you lusting for. I’m going to leave the description at that and scrap down some choice quotes.

“I’m recording my story for the scientists in the future. In a million years, when kids go to school, they gonna know: Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub.”

.

“When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me flying around in invisible pieces.”

.

“I hope you die and after you die I’ll go to your grave and eat birthday cake all by myself.”

.

“I see that I’m a little piece in a big, big universe.

And that makes things right. When I die, the scientists of the future, they’re gonna find it all.

They gonna know, once there was a Hushpuppy, and she live with her daddy in the Bathtub.”

Skateboarding therapy

So the last few days my brain’s been a dazed mesh thanks to hectic cross country travelling moving boxes, applying for jobs and keeping on track with current projects, among other crazy things. One night a couple days ago I was drained of coherent logic, the kind of feeling I get when I’ve been up all night and my actions are tinged with eccentric mind wandering (I actually get more creative during times like this so I’m yet to establish how preferable it is to normality).

In this moment of confusion and disorientation I turned to:

1) The relaxing but uplifting music of Mr. Shambles Miller, and

2) A session of watching non-stop skateboard videos. It turns out skating is a brilliantly therapeutic watch. Probably because it’s awesome as shit and easy to watch despite taking incredible talent to produce.

Latvian skater Madars Apse

Latvian skater Madars Apse

Sebastian Linda’s short The Revenge of the Beasts is arguably the most well made and creative skating video I’ve ever watched. It’s superbly shot and edited, and its approach to and portrayal of skating as a highly skilled expressive art form is a welcome diversion from the cool but standard format of other skating videos.

Revenge of the Beasts is part of a three-part series of awesomeness. You can watch the rest of it at Linda’s Vimeo.

Here’s a cheery wee short featuring Latvians, John Lennon and harmonicas. I don’t need to say anything about this Madars Apse video, so I won’t.

If ever there was a video comprising all of my favourite things, this is it. Timelapse travel footage, skating, and Future Islands (let’s just say this isn’t the first time Future Islands have helped rebuild my fragmented mind). This video features US skater Austyn Gillette, and as taken from the YouTube video’s bio:

This is more than a video part—it’s an epic journey showcasing the talents of one of the best skateboarders on the planet. Take the trip…

Dylan Rieder is a fantastic skater. Other than a great choice of soundtrack, there’s not much else to describe here. Watch in awe.

I actually watched this one a few weeks back, but it would be blasphemy not to include it in a skating video post.

What I love about skateboarding is the authenticity, the core DIY roots which manifests itself as an activity which is impossible to recreate. Every single skateboard trick and jump and move is somehow unique, whether it’s in the body movement or the subtle kicks or the execution of the landing.

This Bob Burnquist video however is none of this. This is some of the most extreme skateboarding you will ever see. Elegant, high octane, thrilling to the bone skateboarding.

I’m a relatively reserved person but I was shouting in awe watching this and my eyes were watering from staying wide open for so long. The climax is extraordinary and you’ll struggle to believe it even weeks after when you’re writing a response blog post trying to convey quite how mental it is. Watch.

My one consistent strong feeling after watching all of this is that I NEED MY BOARD BACK. I absolutely suck at skating and the 200 miles between me and my 15-year-old rusty-wheeled cracked wooden board feels like a universe away.

If you need any more converting to the wonders of skating, give this excellent Medium piece by Rob Curran a read.

Curious Joe at the Fringe: Best of 2013

So that’s me done for the 2013 Fringe. The last show I saw was, to me, a perfect Fringe finale of Whatever Gets You Through The Night at The Queen’s Hall.

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

★★★★★

Curious Joe interview / Website

I won’t say much for fear of trivialising what is an incredible live audio-visual-theatrical experience, but what I will say is how much of a phenomenal achievement this project is. Bearing in mind that this brought together a massive host of Scotland’s top artists, including Withered Hand, RM Hubbert, Meursault, Errors, Conquering Animal Sound, Alan Bissett, Swimmer One, Wounded Knee, David Greig, Rachel Sermanni, Eugene Kelly and Bigg Taj (and those are just the ones I’m personally a big fan of), what it creates is an amazing celebration of Scottish culture. The mix between projected film and live performances using the entire theatre creates a fascinating dimensional divide between artistic expressions.

It might seem like hyperbole to include the words incredible, phenomenal, amazing and fascinating in one short paragraph, but it applies. Cora Bissett deserves a massive congratulations for pulling off this project. Such an exploration of various forms is is an excellent example of what any creative community needs, and of just how great the Scottish one is.

Snakes! The Musical

Website / Twitter

Now for arguably the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. Quite Nice Theatre’s Snakes! The Musical is a musical adaptation of Snakes on a Plane. Staged as three performers pitching their £50 million West End vision to a crowd of producers, it features no props or costumes, but it does have an album’s worth of Broadway-style musical numbers and a hilarious chemistry between the three characters. The minimal stage production actually does a great job of highlighting their brilliant stage presences and energies.

I implore you, even if you don’t see it at the Fringe (its last show is tomorrow night), to follow Snakes! The Musical show so as to catch any other chance you might have to see it. Maybe it’s just my stupid sense of humour (that’s what happens when you’re raised on a comedy diet of Alan Partridge, pantomimes and Leslie Nielsen films), but if I wasn’t skint from a month of cultural debauchery, I’d be going along religiously.

Other shows:

Death Ship 666! (★★★★) at The Free Sisters, showing as part of the Free Fringe, is a fast-paced adventure parody where Titanic meets Airplane in a seamlessly flowing series of events where performers switch characters in seconds. The ambition and execution of this Box Step production has a sense of theatrical wonder rarely matched in any other free show.

In my last post, I gave Stuart: A Life Backwards at Underbelly a four star write up, something I heartily stand by. I’m digitally repeating myself here but Fraser Ayres’ performance as a troubled and violent homeless man with muscular dystrophy was nothing short of astonishing, something the majority of folk around Edinburgh have agreed upon.

I interviewed the writer behind the Godot-inspired Nothing To Be Done (★★★★) at theSpace on North Bridge, a deeply witty play centered around a Groundhog Day-esque scenario, which is both intriguingly and subtly philosophical.

Last of all is Kubrick³ at Pleasance Courtyard, which I gave a five star write up here. A show with remarkable energy, this play about Alan Conway, the man who pretended to be Stanley Kubrick and reaped the advantages of the acclaimed director’s name, is non-stop laugh after laugh. As I said in the review, my perfect show is one I never want to end. Kubrick³ is exactly that thanks to its comic consistency.

Curious Joe at the Fringe: Stuart: A Life Backwards / BLAM!

Stuart: A Life Backwards

Will Adamsdale, Fraser Ayres, John Cummins, Mike Goodenough, Sophie Russell, Kirsty Woodward

Underbelly Bristo Square

★★★★

Stuart: A Life Backwards, adapted from the biography of the same name (which was also used for a TV film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy) tells the true story of Stuart Shorter, a homeless man with muscular dystrophy who went through life from an innocent enough young boy to a career criminal and sociopath. Stuart’s story is told from the perspective of his, much more middle class, friend Alexander Masters, the author of the biography.

This play is a hard hitting drama on the control we have of ourselves and of other people. Alexander constantly tries to search for an answer as to how Stuart became the man he did and what put him down his path, all the while unknowingly struggling to keep himself and his own life goals together.

Fraser Ayres puts in an absolutely stunning performance as Stuart, while the surrounding ensemble support his acting well, and Will Adamsdale’s showing as Alexander provides a good accompaniment and audience surrogate (of sorts, maybe that’s just because I’m a lot closer to Alexander than I am to Stuart) to his personal relationship with Stuart and the political campaigning they undertake together.

This is a play you could struggle to merit with any less than four stars, just given the sheer amount of well executed social dialogue at the backbone of it, not to mention the aforementioned strong performance from Ayres.

Stuart: A Life Backwards is showing at Underbelly Bristo Square every day at 3:30pm, excluding the 12th, until the 26th of August.

BLAM!

Lars Gregersen, Joen Højerslev, Kristján Ingimarsson, Didier Oberle

Pleasance Courtyard

★★★★

Mental, absolutely mental.

BLAM! is an adventure, one you can’t really comprehend while it’s happening but one you know for sure is an adventure. Most likely the biggest word of mouth hit at this year’s Fringe, the Danish production starts slowly, slowly enough that you need to force yourself to be patient. But it takes off, first at intervals and eventually full on explosively.

Meddling between 9-5 mundanity, 80s movie inspired action, stunning choreography, and very minorly on office politics, BLAM! is an unexplainable ride. It takes its time, we see hints at what everyone’s been talking about (that is, the mentalness), and it seems like everything’s ticking along kind of unsatisfyingly. The hints are fitting though, as the show unfolds around massively ranging film references and a precise, well planned, timing between all of the actors. Its lack of dialogue points to the slapstick nature of silent films, which plays brilliantly into the ridiculousness of the action scenes.

BLAM! is something you just have to watch to even geige a vague understanding of. Even when you leave, your understanding might not be any higher but your enjoyment and testosterone levels will be through the roof.

BLAM! is showing at the Pleasance Courtyard at 17:55pm every day, excluding Tuesdays, until the 26th of August.

Just a quick note, I’m also covering the Book Festival for National Collective. Check out the rolling blog here.

Her – trailer for the new Spike Jonze film with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson as a sexy bodyless voice machine

Short post this but just caught this trailer off Reddit and thought I’d share it. The premise couldn’t be more Spike Jonze if it had Charlie Kaufman getting inside Andrew Garfield’s head and awkwardly falling in love with a dog in a somehow romantically portrayed way which ends with the dog giving up its human-likeness to teach us a lesson about life and dogs. Plus, good cast and that.

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