Cameo Appearance: Time After Time

time after timeOne wonders what old school sci-fi writer H.G. Wells would have made of this tale – in which he himself is unveiling a completed time machine to a group of friends, only for one of them to be revealed as Jack the Ripper. The Ripper then steals the machine and leaves 1893 London for 1979 San Francisco, to where Wells follows him to stop him wreaking havoc on what he expects to be ‘utopia’.

Time After Time is a curious film – juxtaposed with David Warner’s Ripper going on a fairly grisly killing spree in the City by the Bay is Wells’ (Malcolm McDowell) humorous getting to grips with the futuristic world and his romance with an American bank employee, played by Mary Steenburgen in a role not a million miles from her later part in Back to the Future Part III.

A little mention for Glasgow comes early in the movie when Wells is explaining his invention to his incredulous visitors. He tells them that a rotation to the west takes them back in time and a rotation to the east takes them forward, when one guest exclaims in response “Balderdash! Go north, you get to Glasgow.”

Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Justin Timberlake

Justin TimberlakeName: Justin Timberlake

Born: 31st January 1981 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Credits include: Inside Llewyn DavisSouthland TalesIn Time

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Justin Timberlake arrived at movie acting after an entertainment career that had already seen him feature in television’s The Mickey Mouse Club as a young “Mouseketeer” and then lead boy band ‘N Sync, before going on to enjoy an incredibly successful solo music career that continues to this day. His acting career has been more successful than that of many of his musical colleagues who have made the leap onto the big screen too – important roles in critically acclaimed dramas like The Social Network and Inside Llewyn Davis are on his portfolio alongside comedies like Bad Teacher and animation voice overs such as Yogi Bear.

Timberlake has brought his solo tours to Glasgow twice in the past decade. In 2004 he played three consecutive nights at the SECC and more recently he performed for two nights at the neighbouring SSE Hydro in April 2014. His 2004 visit included an additional impromptu concert at the Barrowlands just hours after an SECC performance and an appointment at Hampden Stadium organised by tour sponsors McDonald’s, who arranged for him to meet Scottish footballing legend Kenny Dalglish and a number of schoolchildren as part of their community partnership with the SFA.

Cameo Appearance: Highlander III: The Sorcerer

highlander 3For anyone who has never seen a Highlander film, here’s a brief summary of what’s going on… Christopher Lambert plays Connor MacLeod (of the Clan MacLeod), an immortal born in the Scottish Highlands during the 1500s who by the first instalment of the movie franchise was living in contemporary New York. Throughout the main film trilogy and its associated television and movie spin offs MacLeod finds himself in confrontation with a variety of villainous immortals at different points through time.

In Highlander III: The Sorcerer, MacLeod is up against an old adversary from 16th Century Japan – Kane, portrayed by Mario Van Peebles with the type of bad guy voice you just don’t hear in films any more.

It’s quite a globe spanning film, jumping from olden times Japan to contemporary New York via MacLeod’s new adopted home of Morocco (also in the present) and with some flashbacks to 18th Century France. At one point in the movie MacLeod takes a phone call at his New York apartment and we hear the voice on the other end say “Mr MacLeod, this is Janet at Supertravel. I’m calling to confirm your reservation on the Newark-Glasgow flight. Your ticket is pre-paid and waiting at the counter.”

A visit to the Highlands, where MacLeod steels himself for battle against Kane, follows. His return to “Newark Airport” (where set dressers thought to hang two star spangled banners, but not to alter the big “BIENVENUE A MONTREAL” sign immediately beneath them) coincides with his adopted young son’s arrival from Marrakesh and Kane’s scheme to kidnap the child from the airport. We are shown a flight arrivals board with both Marrakesh and Glasgow displayed on it.

Movie Glaswegians: Tommy Flanagan

Tommy FlanaganBorn in Easterhouse on 3rd July 1965, Tommy Flanagan today resides in Malibu, California, and plays one of the main characters in major American television series Sons of Anarchy.

Unlike the roles taken on by many of his compatriots in American shows, Flanagan’s character is a Scot – complete with Glasgow as the place of birth in his biography. The character’s name is Filip ‘Chibs’ Telford – the nickname a reference to the scarring on his face and the Scottish slang “chibbed”, meaning stabbed.

It would appear that the turn of events that resulted in Flanagan’s real-life scarring is what ultimately lead to his acting career – one that has seen him amass a number of roles in major film productions. In the early 1990s Tommy Flanagan was leaving a Glasgow nightclub where he DJ’d when he was attacked and viciously stabbed in the face by a man trying to steal his records.

During his rehabilitation following the attack, Flanagan’s friend – actor Robert Carlyle – suggested that he get into acting. He took his advice and joined the Raindog Theatre Company, which had been co-founded by Carlyle.

His membership of Raindog was to act as a springboard to the screen, landing parts in television series including Taggart before making his first film appearance as the rebel Morrison in Braveheart. Since then he has gone on to enjoy a successful career in both television and film. As well as the aforementioned part in Sons of Anarchy Tommy Flanagan has appeared in the likes of 24 and Peaky Blinders, while film credits have included GladiatorSmokin’ Aces and The Saint. He also appeared in Glasgow set features Ratcatcher and Strictly Sinatra.

Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett JohanssonName: Scarlett Johansson

Born: 22nd November 1984 in New York City, New York, USA

Credits include: Lost In TranslationAvengers AssembleThe Prestige

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Scarlett Johansson spent time in Glasgow during both 2011 and 2012, as she filmed scenes for Under the Skin – which was released this year.

The filming of the movie itself took her to a myriad of locations across the city, sometimes filming on foot and other times behind the wheel of a transit van. The dark haired wig which Johansson donned for the role stopped the very well known Hollywood actress from being instantly recognised, and therefore remarkably she was able to walk among crowds in locations such as the Trongate and Buchanan Galleries shopping centre without passers by batting an eyelid – something that suited the hidden camera approach to filming that director Jonathan Glazer had opted for.

And in her free time she was spotted around the city too – the media reported eyewitness accounts of her at venues including the Nice N Sleazy bar on Sauchiehall Street and Cafe Gandolfi restaurant on Albion Street.

The promotional duties for Under the Skin saw Scarlett Johansson asked regularly about her experiences in Glasgow, by journalists from both Scotland and beyond. In an interview at the 2014 Venice Film Festival she said that the most Glaswegian thing she tried was “that orange soda that they drink” (Irn Bru), and previously in 2011 on The Late Show with David Letterman she told the host that “Glasgow is a great city.” In March of this year the Daily Mirror reported that Johansson was planning to move to Glasgow to live… a story that to date has gained no further momentum.

Stunt Double: Beautiful Creatures

beautiful creaturesI’ve classed this 2000 film under the “Stunt Double” category as – despite no location being named on screen and some of the backdrops clearly being Glasgow – I got the impression that the city is not the intended setting for the story. Instead there are references to the generic “Eastern Infirmary” and “Eastern and District” police, although at one point “Corstorphine” – the Edinburgh suburb – can be glimpsed on an address written on an envelope. Wherever Beautiful Creatures is meant to be located, the film-makers have set out to portray a rather dismal environment – sets such as offices and train carriages looking dated for the turn of the millennium and ominous “Curfew After Dark” posters are displayed around town.

beautiful creatures 2Glasgow locations that appear in the film include the Red Road flats and the Robert Biggar pawnbrokers shop on Argyle Street, while the city’s skyline can also be seen in the distance from the Erskine Bridge at one point.

The story itself focuses on two abused women – Dorothy (Susan Lynch) and Petula (Rachel Weisz) – who find themselves teaming up and carrying out an elaborate ransom plot after Dorothy saves Petula from an attack by her boyfriend Brian (Tom Mannion) and accidentally kills the man in the process.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the film has a not very subtle “all men are bastards” subtext to it – as well as dealing with their evil and twisted boyfriends, Dorothy and Petula have to contend with Alex Norton as a pervy and corrupt detective inspector that’s a million miles from his straight laced Taggart character and Maurice Roëves in typical menacing form as Brian’s older brother. Even minor characters – the old man giving weird chat to a child on the beach and the garage attendant who spends his days looking at porn – are flawed individuals.

Even as a male viewer though I did manage to appreciate some genuinely funny lines which, combined with the bleak surroundings and plenty of blood and violence, successfully earn Beautiful Creatures its dark comedy tag.