Stone of Destiny (2008)

This is the true story of the daring robbery by 4 Scottish students, in 1950, to return the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in London, to Scotland.  The Stone of Destiny is a big hunk of stone that was used for hundreds of years in the ceremonies when kings were anointed in Scotland.   It was stolen by the English in 1296 and built into a chair that has been used ever since in coronations of English Queens and Kings, with the last time it was used for the current Queen of Britain, Queen Mary in 1953.

The Stone has been long held as a symbolic token of the hold the English have had over the Scottish.  So when nationalist pride raises its head, the Stone is often cited as unfinished business.   In the late 1940′s early 1950′s Scotland was going through an anti-English period (these happen frequently) and after a raising speech by John MacCormick (Robert Carlyle) a student,

Ian Hamilton,   decides enough is enough and he can go down to London and steal the Stone from the English and return it to Scottish soil.

Along the way he persuades 3 other students, including Kay Matheson (played by

Kate Mara from the Martian) to help him out.   There is a number of smaller incidents that happen along the way but let us not spoil the story here.

The movie is well written, but done in a more humorous way than serious drama.  Due to that, you get the feeling that the story isn’t true.  Such an iconic symbol of Scottish history wouldn’t be boosted by 4 students surely?

But it is true, with the odd artistic license here and there granted, the story stands largely to the truth.

The movie is filmed around Paisley and Glasgow, including a few streets where yours truly had his flat during university.  It was fun to see those streets transformed to the 1950′s look.

The movie is fun and interesting enough to hold your interest for the time, but fails to really detail the significance of the Stone to the viewer.  There are also some sub-plots that don’t make a lot of sense and get in the way.

Overall, not too bad.

#92 in the series


Viewing Date
Wednesday, 18th November 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Sunshine on Leith (2013)

I resisted this movie for a long time. A musical based on the songs of the Scottish twins, The Proclaimers.   It just sounded like it could be naff and I really didn’t their music spoiled.  However, I resisted, and with a due sense of caution and trepidation I pressed PLAY.

Within the first 5 minutes, I knew I was wrong in my reservations.  That feeling never ended until the credits rolled at the end.  This was a fantastic homage to the Proclaimers huge back catalog.   What Mamma Mia (another great movie) did for Abba this does for our Scottish boys.

The story centers around two lads coming back from the war zone and them settling back into normal civilian life, juggling family and romantic lives.  Of course it is Edinburgh, Scotland the story is set (Leith is an area of Edinburgh by the way). 

There isn’t a huge story line going here, just a series of small events that are tied together with some real toe-tapping, belting songs.   Some of the words have been slightly changed to fit the scenario, but by’n’large they are untouched and fit absolutely perfectly.

The cast is by’n’large unknown outside of Scotland, but we have

Dexter Fletcher taking the directors chair to make this stage version come to life on the silver screen.  He has done a fantastic job, including weaving in a cameo from the boys themselves without it feeling contrived.

This is one that will compete for my Mamma Mia time for sure.  That movie you reach for when you have maybe had a little too much to drink and you want a good sing’a’long for 90 minutes.

#90 in the series


Viewing Date
Monday, 16th November 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

The Angels’ Share (2012)

This was one of those movies that you would have had to seek out.  It didn’t make the cinema and went straight to DVD release obscurity.   Yet this, amusing Scottish comedy, about a young Glaswegian man who finds himself on just the wrong side of the law, escapes a prison sentence decides that he isn’t going to have his new born baby live the same life as he.

So while doing his community service, he discovers he has a unique talent for determining the quality of whiskey through taste.  He can tell the difference between the top of the line single malts and the cheap supermarket tripe.

When whiskey is distilled and aged through the years, a significant portion is lost through evaporation.   This is known as the angels’ share.  Whiskey, or at least good whiskey, is sunlight trap in water.  This movie captures very well the essence of the mystic and beauty in a single malt without Hollywood’ising the experience.

The fact the cast is largely unknown disallows the actors ego not get in the way of this wonderful story.  The opening scene, with the drunk staggering around on train station, with the station announcer telling him to step back, is laugh-out-of-loud.  If you don’t find that scene (voiced by Still Games

Ford Kiernan) funny, then I advise you stop viewing at that point.

Ken Loach is the director behind this little gem.  Loach, for my generation was the man that brought us the emotional rollercoaster that was Kes.  Loach, like

Bill Forsyth, has the ability to show a real depiction of life without over glamorizing and pulling out the natural comedy from the situation we find the characters.

Angels Share, is another one of those movies, that sadly finds it hard to win an audience outside of the UK, or even dare I say, Scotland.  I found myself howling at some of the scenes, wondering how you even script the lines, because it feels so familiar and natural that I can’t imagine anyone having to


write the lines.  Doesn’t it write itself??

There is some harsh violent scenes for sure, playing on the hard Glasgow image.  But the setup allows us to follow the transition from bad guy to good guy, with the help of Harry.  Harry is the community service officer who takes a shine to our hero and helps him transform.  Harry is that character that everyone in life needs, but at the time, don’t realize you do need him.  Someone that believes in you, but isn’t going to take any of your nonsense and kicks you into shape and helps you.  We all have our Harry.  The trick is, knowing who Harry is.

The story here, while weaved around whiskey and Glasgow, is a classic redemption story.  The mentor taking the sibling through its paces and inspiring.

If you could stick through

Trainspotting then you will manage this one with no problems.  If you couldn’t, then use this one as a warm up to Trainspotting.

Viewing Date
Tuesday, 27th October 2015 (San Francisco Marriott)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Filth (2013)

How do you describe a movie that is quintessential Scottish to an international audience?  Based on the Irwin Walsh book of the same title, we chart the journey of a corrupt, drugged fueled detective, who is manipulating his situation to gain promotion in order to win back his wife.

If you are wondering the style here, then think back to the 1996 when Trainspotting hit the silver screen (complete with subtitles for the American audience).  If you enjoyed that style of story, with its colourful wit and dialogue then Filth is the unofficial followup you have been waiting for.

Bruce: See, every time a woman drops her trousers: promotion. Every time a man drops theirs: disciplinary action. Where’s the equality in that?

Those native to UK, will recognize every actor that pops up in Filth, as they are well known for various things that don’t necessarily find an audience outside of the UK.  

James McAvoy is one of the big names however, playing the leading role of Bruce.  Pretty much every scene has Bruce in it, as the story is told through his eyes.

Though those eyes will confuse you as there are many a drug induced trance that we get to see his fantasies and nightmares play out with him.  We see Bruce through his kinky sex games, including strangulation (or erotic asphyxiation for those wishing the correct term).  McAvoy throws himself at this, because that scene the rope was definitely cutting off his airways – what an actor will do for their art.


There are some seriously belly laughing scenes that see’s Bruce attempting to get the upper hand.  For example, at a Christmas party with his work colleagues, they talk themselves into a game of that well known Scottish work game spot the cock.  They all photo copy their cocks and the ladies have to guess who’s is who.  Bruce, sneakily raises the magnification on the photocopier to win the contest and bag one of the ladies in the cupboard.  Her face when she realizes she was duped is classic.


What made you join the Force?
Bruce: Police oppression, brother.
Bladesey: You wanted to stamp it out from the inside?
Bruce: No, I wanted to be a part of it.

Filth has a lot going on and I am not sure most of its humour will hit home outside of its home market.  Which is a shame, because it is a wonderful dark comedy that should be given a chance.   As noted, if you found Trainspotting funny, then you will enjoy Filth.

The movie title is very clever on a number of levels.  Filth can of course refer to the state of Bruce’s life and how he lives with his drugs, drinking, vomiting in the street and waking up in his car after failing to get home.  Filth as we see the under belly of Edinburgh and all that if can offer.  Or Filth, the nickname that the Police are known as.

If you are up for a movie with rapid fast talking Scottish characters, clever dialogue, a dash of kinky sex with a liberal helping of sarcasm then you can’t go wrong with Filth.   


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 1st September 2015

7 out of 10

IMDB YouTubeTrailer