The House Of Mirth is a period drama released in 2000 – filmed largely in Glasgow it brought a formidable cast to the city, including Gillian Anderson, Dan Aykroyd, Eleanor Bron, Terry Kinney, Anthony LaPaglia, Laura Linney, Jodhi May, Elizabeth McGovern and Eric Stoltz.
On this occasion Glasgow takes on the role of New York City during the first decade of the 20th Century. Based on the 1905 novel of the same name by American Edith Wharton, The House Of Mirth follows the doomed love life of Anderson’s character – socialite Lily Bart.
Some well known Glasgow locations feature throughout the movie – various rooms and staircases in the City Chambers double as opulent New York apartments and mansions, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum takes on the guise of a train station and the Theatre Royal takes on the not so dramatically different role of an opera house. There is also a scene involving Anderson and LaPaglia where the stairway at Kelvinbridge subway station is surrounded by some not totally convincing CGI imagery that transforms the existing buildings and has a steam train sitting where Great Western Road is in reality, while other locations include Devonshire Terrace and Kelvingrove Park.
Viewing of this film requires something of an acquired taste – it is certainly not everyone, including Glasgow on Film’s, cup of tea, however it is worth a one-off glance to see Glasgow locations at their finest and witness a number of well known Hollywood names working in the city.
Eminem – real name Marshall Bruce Mathers III – is best known as a rapper, record producer and songwriter. He also played the central character – Jimmy ‘Rabbit’ Smith, Jr. – in 2002’s critically acclaimed 8 Mile therefore this (albeit brief) movie experience combined with visits to Glasgow qualifies him for a feature on Glasgow on Film! It is also worth noting that he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song with “Lose Yourself”, which featured in 8 Mile.
Events organisers and promoters DF Concerts today announced that they are bringing Eminem to Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park on Tuesday 20th August for the first in what they are planning to be a series of “Summer Sessions” concerts. The rapper has visited the city to perform on a handful of occasions before, sometimes with controversy not far away. In 2001, when he played at the Gig on the Green festival at Glasgow Green, 45 fans were treated for minor injuries when the crowd surged forward leading to a crush – to his credit the performer appealed to the crowd from the stage to calm down and was praised by police for doing so. Two years later in 2003 the Arthouse Hotel (now Abode) on Bath Street appeared on websites and newspaper pages across the world when Eminem dangled a baby doll from his room window, throwing it in the air and catching it – this was done in parody of Michael Jackson, who had some months before been heavily criticised for holding his real-life infant out of the window of a Berlin hotel for photographers to see.
This 2011 film just scrapes on to Glasgow on Film, as the city’s presence is very fleeting. Yet again Glasgow is on stand-in duty for Edinburgh, however on this occasion the capital has more genuine screen time. What sets Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy apart from the likes of Trainspotting and the forthcoming Filth is that this movie is a Canadian production and therefore nearly all the interior scenes and some exterior scenes were filmed in Ontario.
Something that strikes the viewer about Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy is that the majority of the cast in this Scottish story are clearly not Scottish – natives lead actor Adam Sinclair and Billy Boyd aside, the rest of the cast appear to be Canadian. Sadly Canada’s strong Scottish roots do not guarantee a natural talent for Scottish accents here – the speech of major and minor characters seems to drift between Ireland and all regions of Scotland, with shades of Welsh comedian John Sparkes and the two “Foreign Guys” characters from Family Guy even creeping in at points. Failure for an actor to carry off a foreign accent is not an unforgivable thing (good grief, Sean Connery can hardly be praised for his efforts in sounding Russian, Spanish etc), but it does feel off-putting when nearly everyone in Edinburgh seems to talk so oddly. The film should not be written off on this basis however – particularly as some internet searching threw up a Daily Record interview with Billy Boyd in which he confesses his frustration with the lack of Scottish input to the feature, but states that director Rob Heydon had been trying his best for some years to make it a Canadian-UK co-production and that lack of funding from this side of the Atlantic led to him grudgingly taking so much of the production to Canada.
For their part, Adam Sinclair and Billy Boyd do the story justice – Sinclair in particular appears particularly comfortable as the central character Lloyd, a young man submerged in the world of chemical drugs and looking to break free from it. Canadian Kristin Kreuk, as Lloyd’s love interest Heather, is good too – shining perhaps as she is playing the part as a Canadian and not having to attempt a Lothian accent.
The film has a decent vibe about it – a good pace, although some sped up sequences feel like they have been borrowed from Trainspotting. Edinburgh looks pretty good throughout.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary appears in exterior footage for a hospital scene, while there is a very brief glimpse of Lloyd carrying out an exchange on the steps of what was Borders book store (soon to be a Zizzi restaurant) on Royal Exchange Square.
The past week (week commencing 21st January) saw the news announced that two well known Hollywood names are going to be visiting Glasgow shortly.
John C. Reilly is an actor, singer and comedian whose movie credits include Cedar Rapids, Step Brothers and the forthcoming Wreck-It Ralph, which – incidentally – Glasgow on Film is looking forward to catching at the forthcoming Glasgow Film Festival. It’s not on film business that Reilly is coming to Glasgow however – it’s the singing part. Together with Becky Stark and Tom Brosseau, Reilly is part of music act John Reilly and Friends, specialising in country and bluegrass sounds. The group will be performing an intimate gig at Glasgow’s St. Andrew’s in the Square venue on Tuesday 12th February.
Eli Roth is a writer, producer, director and actor. He is the man behind horror favourites like the Hostel series and Cabin Fever, while his front of camera performances include roles in Inglourious Basterds, Rock Of Ages and Death Proof. He has writing and acting duties in new release Aftershock, which sees a group of individuals try to deal with a society gone to hell in the aftermath of an earthquake in Chile. Aftershock is featuring at FrightFest, a strand of the Glasgow Film Festival, on Saturday 23rd February. Roth, co-star Lorenza Izzo and director Nicolas Lopez will be attending the screening. The actor has tweeted directly to the Glasgow Film Festival, stating “We’re so excited!”
Name: Brad Pitt
Born: 18th December 1963 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA
Credits include: Se7en, Inglourious Basterds, Fight Club
Reason for visiting Glasgow:
Brad Pitt’s first recorded visit to Glasgow was in 1994. At the time the actor was filming Interview With The Vampire in the UK and made a point of travelling to Scotland to do some sightseeing around the country – as an architecture and design enthusiast, a tour of Glasgow’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings was high on his agenda. In a December 1994 issue of Rolling Stone magazine there is an in depth interview with Pitt partly conducted in the city by writer Chris Mundy, who accompanied him on the trip, while Scottish newspapers have also made frequent references to his visit – including the Fight Club star’s apparent liaison with the girlfriend of a Glasgow gangster and the words of warning he received as a result. A 2010 article in The Scottish Sun quotes Pitt as saying of his 1994 visit “Edinburgh and Glasgow are special – the architecture is something there”.
The 1994 visit may have slipped under the radar of most of the city at the time, however it was a different story in 2011 when Pitt returned to Glasgow to film World War Z – with equally famous partner Angelina Jolie and the couple’s children accompanying him on the visit. From the moment the specially chartered Virgin train carrying the family and other members of the film’s crew pulled into Central Station from London to the point when the cameras – which had been filming primarily around George Square, but also partly in Cardonald – rolled out of town there was a lot of hype about the actor’s presence. From themed T-shirts to specially named sandwiches and newspapers offering “Brangelina” guides on what to do while in Glasgow, Brad Pitt was – for a couple of weeks – at the centre of the city’s attention.
Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, multiple Scottish BAFTAs, rave reviews packed with words like “magnificent”, “classy” and “enticing”… Red Road is a must see for thriller aficionados. Yet it is done in a style that perhaps Glasgow can deliver best in terms of both its location and its talent – it is a thriller without races against time, melodrama and Psycho-style music strains; it is a thriller with pedestrian settings, down to earth but still first class acting and a story that keeps the viewer curious and then rewards them with a big reveal.
The film stars East Kilbride born Kate Dickie as Jackie, a CCTV operator watching over the streets of Glasgow from the small and dark confines of an operations centre. Jackie appears to be someone with a void in her life – starting with a slightly awkward encounter with her father in law, we gradually learn more about her family life as the story develops and it becomes clear that she is someone who has suffered loss. She is also having an affair with one of her colleagues.
Early in the film Jackie becomes interested by a man she spots on one of the monitors and this begins to develop into an obsession to the point that she heads to the area on which she has seen him on screen – Barmulloch and the Red Road flats of the titles. Spying on him initially from afar, the seemingly quiet and inward Jackie even lies her way into a party in the flats to come face to face with the man. It is at the party that we are introduced to the other main characters: Clyde, the object of her interest, played by Glasgow’s Tony Curran; his friend Stevie, played by Martin Compston; and Stevie’s girlfriend April, played by Natalie Press.
Jackie spends more time with the three Red Road residents, leading to passionate scenes involving her and Clyde. But sex has not been her aim and ultimately we discover what has been fuelling her obsession. The character of Jackie is likeable and – as mentioned earlier – down to earth and therefore it is satisfying to see the woman finish the film as a happier and more relaxed individual than she is for most of the feature.
As for Glasgow’s role in the film – it is not an image of grandeur that is painted, but the area of the city most prominently featured is presented with realism and without resorting to negative caricatures.
Name: Morgan Freeman
Born: 1st June 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Credits include: The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, Driving Miss Daisy
Reason for visiting Glasgow:
Morgan Freeman spent time in Glasgow in 2004, filming the previously featured Unleashed. Freeman played the role of Sam in the movie. Locations at which he was present for filming include the Botanic Gardens and the Broomhill branch of Spar.