Stunt Double: The Acid House

the acid housethe acid house 2An Irvine Welsh book set in Edinburgh adapted into a film? It can only mean one thing… Glasgow once again making an appearance as the Scottish capital.

The book The Acid House is a collection of over 20 short stories by Leith’s best known novelist and the 1998 movie adaptation – supported by the Glasgow Film Fund – groups together three of the stories, namely “The Granton Star Cause”, “A Soft Touch” and “The Acid House”.

Trainspotting and Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy offered views of Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle as contrasts to the seedier sides of the city portrayed within those films. However there is no such imagery in The Acid House – just pure, unadulterated bleakness, certainly in the first two stories (funnily enough Glasgow appears most in the third one) which are played out on practically derelict yet still populated housing estates. There’s not much sign of the character redemption that is evident in Trainspotting and Ecstasy either – we are presented with some pretty grotesque characters and indeed some pretty grotesque imagery, from a close up of a fly transplanting matter from a dog’s mess onto a chicken korma in “The Granton Star Cause” to the pretty horrific looking baby “Tom” (a puppet that resembles a Terrahawks cast off and makes Chucky of Child’s Play fame look angelic by comparison) in “The Acid House”.

I may be wrong but “The Granton Star Cause” appears to have been filmed exclusively in Edinburgh – in a panoramic view of the housing estate the capital’s skyline is visible in the background. There is little to suggest to me in which city “A Soft Touch” was primarily filmed, but there is at least one brief scene – in which Michelle Gomez’ character Catriona staggers along a street at night – that is exposed as Glasgow by a glimpse of an “Evening Times” sticker in a shop window. As mentioned above, the third story – “The Acid House” – features some unmistakable Glasgow locations in quick succession. We see Jemma Redgrave’s middle class Mum Jenny and baby Tom inside the Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens, then walking along Dumbarton Road and going into what is in real life The Quarter Gill pub. Coco (Ewen Bremner) and Kirsty (Arlene Cockburn) are meanwhile on a shopping trip, which includes a bit of window shopping at The Diamond Centre in the Argyle Arcade.

Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Charlie Sheen

charlie sheenName: Charlie Sheen

Born: 3rd September 1965 in New York City, New York, USA

Credits include: Wall Street, Hot Shots!, Scary Movie 3

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Charlie Sheen spent time in Glasgow during 1997 while filming the previously featured Postmortem. The film had him shooting scenes in a wide variety of city locations, including George Square, Central Station and the Necropolis. However his “wild man” image that has reached its peak via social media in recent years was on display in 1997 too and there is a host of controversial tales involving the actor’s spell in Glasgow documented, including one that suggests he visited an Easterhouse housing estate to procure some drugs. A Google search of “Charlie Sheen Glasgow” throws up archive newspaper headlines like “I WAS CHARLIE SHEEN’S HOOKER” and “CHARLIE SHEEN IN COCAINE BENDER”, painting a picture of one of Glasgow’s messier encounters with Hollywood.

Starring Role: Pasty Faces

pasty facespasty faces 2pasty faces 3pasty faces 4Picking up the DVD case for this 2000 movie I wasn’t sure what to expect – the slightly cheap looking artwork on the cover and the cast of little-known names didn’t fill me with too much confidence, but it’s actually not bad – if nothing else it’s fun.

A comedy, Pasty Faces opens in Glasgow where friends Mickey (David Paul Baker – also the film’s writer and director) and Joe (Alan McCafferty) are living a pretty miserable existence – slogging away in a fried chicken takeaway instead of pursuing their acting dreams, having disastrous love lives and worse still being pursued by loan sharks.

A slightly exaggerated tale on a postcard from another friend, Steve (played by Gary Cross), sees the two flee Glasgow for Los Angeles where they find that Steve has not in fact made it as a Hollywood actor, but instead has a cleaning job on a studio lot. Picking up other members of their gang along the way, Mickey, Joe and Steve move on from L.A. to Las Vegas and here a film loving casino boss enlists them to carry out a false heist as part of a multi-million dollar insurance scam. In some ways it’s a dream come true for Mickey and Joe – a chance to put their American hard guy acting to good use. And the reward? The casino boss funds a film which – in a case of art imitating life – Mickey directs.

For a low budget Scottish feature this fish out of water (see Joe asking for two potato scones as part of his breakfast in an L.A. diner) film certainly punches above its weight, with Scottish humour moved on to the streets of California and Nevada. There are nods to some of Scotland’s big acting talents and movies, including a Hollywood producer pitching “Braveheart 2” and a Trainspotting-inspired condom advert with the tagline “choose johnnies”.

Glasgow is the setting for the first 15 minutes of the movie only, but we get to see a fair bit of the city in this relatively short time. There are some great panoramic shots of the city and a scene with Joe taking to the stage of the deserted bandstand at Kelvingrove Park. The takeaway at which Mickey and Joe work is on Paisley Road West and we see the pair being chased by thugs through various city centre streets. The use of Argyle Street and other central thoroughfares is interesting – it made me think that many Glasgow films show either grim housing schemes, leafy suburbs or grand historic landmarks, but it’s not often that the shopping streets which Glasgow is well known for are featured on film. And there is a topical and – some might say – poignant scene where the two friends walk out of the Odeon cinema on Renfield Street. Currently the building is being torn down, but in this 2000 glimpse it’s a bustling, fully lit up hub of activity showing Magnolia, Lake Placid and American Beauty among others.

Stunt Double: Salt On Our Skin

salt on our skinsalt on our skin 2salt on our skin 3salt on our skin 4I personally hadn’t heard of this film, never mind its Glasgow connections, until a Google search for something else Glasgow on Film related happened to bring up a link to a Flickr profile with a great set of pictures from production of one of the film’s scenes on Cochrane Street.

Having watched the movie now I’m actually quite surprised that the making of Salt On Our Skin doesn’t feature as strongly in Glasgow’s collective memory as, say, Postmortem or The House Of Mirth. The film is pretty forgettable but the scale of production that appears to have taken place in Glasgow – significant set dressing in one of the city’s main transport hubs, a protest scene in the city centre – must have turned heads at the time.

A 1992 release, Salt On Our Skin stars Greta Scacchi as George and Vincent D’Onofrio as Gavin. George is the daughter to wealthy parents – a French mother and Scottish artist father – who grows up in Paris but pays annual visits to the Aberdeenshire countryside on family holidays. During one such trip in her late teens she falls in love with local farmer Gavin. When George turns down Gavin’s marriage proposal the latter moves on and marries another girl back home in Scotland, where he has moved on from the fields to become a fisherman. But the pair’s lust for each other remains and so follows the longest and most widely travelled extra-marital affair in history – we see the two meet around the world for passionate encounters over the passage of years.

The film is bearable enough to watch – perhaps due to the continued change of scenery – but it does tend to follow a repetitive loop of close ups of faces during sex with the same bit of soundtrack playing, a clash of cultures argument and then a make up kiss. Slightly ridiculous too is that changes in hairstyles alone are meant to represent George’s transition from teenager to middle aged woman (compared to her mother who seems to age dramatically between her first and last appearances).

The film has a variety of settings that would put a James Bond film to shame – Aberdeenshire, Paris, London, the British Virgin Islands, Florida and Montreal. Glasgow appears briefly in numerous guises throughout, namely…

– when Central Station doubles for Paris’ Gare du Nord, complete with French signage and newspaper kiosk.

– when the fictional (from what I can gather) “Cavell College” in the USA is portrayed by the University of Glasgow.

– when Cochrane Street and City Chambers provide the backdrop for a London-set protest against fishing cuts. As with the Gare du Nord scene, considerable effort in set dressing is evident: lots of suitably attired extras, red routemaster buses, London Transport signage etc.

– when the exterior of Kelvingrove Art Gallery is used as the exterior of the St. Lawrence Lecture Hall in Montreal.

Cameo Appearance: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

the curious case of benjamin buttonThe Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is a 2008 Oscar-winning movie, starring Brad Pitt as the eponymous Button and Cate Blanchett as his love interest Daisy. The film’s subject is indeed curious – the story of a man who ages in reverse.

Benjamin Button’s story is told mainly by an elderly Daisy (played very well by a heavily made up Blanchett), who relates it from her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital to her daughter as Hurricane Katrina approaches. In one chapter of the tale she recounts how Benjamin went away in the late 1930s to work on a tugboat (which leads to moments in his life including an affair with a British politician’s wife and a near-death experience during World War II). Daisy’s daughter opens a box full of postcards as the old lady begins to talk… “He sent me a postcard from everywhere he went. Every place he worked. Newfoundland. Baffin Bay. Glasgow. Liverpool. Narvik.”

Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Halle Berry

halle berryName: Halle Berry

Born: 14th August 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Credits include: Cloud Atlas, X-Men, Die Another Day

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Halle Berry was in Glasgow in 2011 to film parts of Cloud Atlas. Among the handful of scenes that she filmed in Glasgow were the dramatic car crash sequence – also featuring Keith David and Hugo Weaving – on Douglas Street and her departure from her San Francisco apartment block, as portrayed by the Premier Inn hotel on George Street.