Tartan celluloid

Alex and I off to another freebie junket. Again in the vaults under South Bridge, sandwhiched between a massage parlour and the ghosts of the haunted Undercity where we were for the Iain Banks whisky book launch. Hosted by the List – a what’s on mag for Glasgow and Edinburgh – it was to mark their free supplement on the top 50 Scottish movies. Myself being a big-style movie buff and someone who studiued film at college am intrigued to see what they have as I doubt there actually are 50 great Scottish movies!

Of course there was much twisting of what was actually Scottish to make some round peg movies fit into a Caledonian square hole. Obviously Trainspotting, Whisky Galore and Restless Natives were in there. Rob Roy and Braveheart too, although both are actually mainstream Hollywood productions and neither features a Scots actor in the lead role and both mangle Scottish history, but what the hell. There were others in there that I wont go into that were really just clutching at straws. Nice to see some classic documentaries in there too though, such as Watkin’s 60s classic Culloden (which I watched recently aftger bumming a copy off Alex) – the same man who gave us the equally classic and groundbreaking War Game. Also mentioned John Grierson. Who? The Scottish film-maker, especially active during the 30s who is now viewed by many film academics as the father of the modern documentary.

Unusually there was no presentation. At any launch there is always a moment where some brief speeches are made or a presentation given to highlight the supposed reason we’re all gathered there. Not last night though, oh no. Nice big plasma screens showing loops of Scottish films, but no talk, no presentation, just lots of folk in the stone-lined vaults drinking free booze and eating free hors d’oeuvre. Which ain’t bad! I tried to persuade Alex to create a diversion while I slipped one of these slim screen TVs udner my huge winter coat (a grat 1940s cut black heavy black wool number, perfect for Scottish winters and for lurking in shadows in the Old Town), but he wouldn’t go for it.