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Aidan Goatley: Top Scottish films

By | Published on Sunday 10 August 2014

If you’re looking for a break from the Festival frenzy, and fancy kicking back for a couple of hours with a good movie, well, how about renting/streaming/downloading something with a Scottish connection?

Aidan Goatley

With him having two film-themed comedy shows at this year’s Fringe, we asked Aidan Goatley to make some suggestions.

In light of me bringing my two film-based stand-up shows ’10 Films With My Dad’ and ’11 Films To Happiness’ to Edinburgh, I’ve been asked to select my top ten Scottish films. I’ve happily avoided David Niven in ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and Mel Gibson in ‘Braveheart’, but I did waver over Michael Caine in ‘Kidnapped’ (if only because he sports one of the best moustaches ever). But with those three rejected, here is my top ten.

10. Whisky Galore (1949)
A ship is scuppered on the rocks of a small island in the Outer Hebrides during WW2. To the islanders delight the cargo is 50,000 cases of whisky that to the alcohol-bereft locals seems like a gift from heaven. What makes this charming film is the game of cat and mouse that occurs between the locals and the ever-so English Home Guard commander in the search for the golden nectar.

9. Restless Natives (1985)
Not as well known as it should be, this film sees two young lads take to highway robbery in the Highlands, taking on coach trips. Their success leads them to become local folk heroes and a tourist attraction in their own right. Add a cracking soundtrack by Big Country and you have an unseen gem.

8. Trainspotting (1996)
Well it had to be on the list didn’t it? I’m a massive fan of the book as well and last summer I passed Irvine Welsh in the street. I wanted to say hello but feared my fawning would make him vomit. The film is an amazing bombardment to the senses. An instant classic.

7. Cloud Atlas (2012)
So not strictly Scottish as it is a three hour film that stretches in time from 1849 to sometime in the 23rd Century traveling around the globe, but it does have one key scene set in Edinburgh. In one of the story strands a young composer runs away to the city. His lover tries to find him and in this heart-breaking scene they almost meet atop the Scott Monument. It also has Hugh Grant as a 22nd century cannibal. Seriously. I’m not making this up.

6. The Wicker Man (1973)
Ooh, if you haven’t seen this creepy tale of Edward Woodward’s naïve cop sent to the fictional Scottish island of Summerisle on a missing persons case, then you are in for a treat. Put it this way. If you arrive to discover Christopher Lee is the Laird of the island, you know things aren’t going to turn out well. Best watched on your own at 1am with the lights out.

5. The 39 Steps (1935 & 1978)
This is a corker of a thriller. Based on John Buchan’s novel, ‘The 39 Steps’ sees our hero Richard Hannay framed for murder and on the run for answers in the Scottish Highlands. The original Hitchcock version has a gripping sequence on the Forth Bridge, which even by the production values of the day still tingles. The 1978 version mistakenly neglects the bridge but makes up for it with one of the most under-rated action sequences ever in its finale, as Hannay is hanging from the Houses Of Parliament clock tower, desperately trying to stop a bomb detonating.

4. Gregory’s Girl (1981)
A coming of age comedy that doesn’t force-feed its audience with crazy set pieces or puerile humour. Written and directed by Bill Forsyth, we follow Gregory and his friends at their school as they negotiate the horrors of teenage relationships. Told with wit and charm this is a five star film that delights and has one of the best endings in a romantic comedy ever.

3. The Last King Of Scotland (2006)
So not actually set in Scotland, it is directed by one Kevin McDonald and stars the ever watchable James McAvoy as a Scottish doctor caught up in the horrors of the dictatorship of Idi Amin. Tense, gripping and pant-wittingly frightening this film will have you on the edge of you seat. Forrest Whittaker rightly won the Oscar for this but is also showed the world what an exceptional actor Scotland has in McAvoy.

2. Filth (2013)
McAvoy again in this recent adaptation of another Irvine Welsh novel. McAvoy plays an Edinburgh cop with enough personality disorders and psychotic tendencies to put ‘Trainspotting’s Begbie to shame. Warped, violent and bloody amazing. A real trip.

1. Local Hero (1983)
Ever so often you get a film where everyone involved is at their peak and never more so than with this brilliant film. Written and directed by Bill Forsyth (national treasure) the plot sees a young American oil man sent to Scotland to purchase a west coast village for his company to drill in. Instead he falls in love with the land and it’s people. Easily the best film on this list, it tells its story with wit and a deft touch that would be lost in lesser hands. Celluloid nirvana.

’10 Films With My Dad’ was performed at The Voodoo Rooms and ’11 Films To Happiness’ at Ciao Roma at Edinburgh Festival 2014.

LINKS: www.aidangoatley.com



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