Tag Archives: Billy Connolly

75 years of Sir Billy

What can I say? There is a lot of stuff about Billy Connolly wherever you look. I started reading his Wikipedia page and it seemed to go on, if not forever, then for quite some time.

There’s obviously even more in his wife Pamela’s book about him. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read. It would have been interesting even if I’d never heard of Billy.

Although, it’s difficult not to have heard of Billy. He’s done so much and for so long. And what’s amazing is that he turned out so decent, after all that happened to him during his childhood.

Since his health problems in recent years, there’s been fewer opportunities to see Billy. I reckon my last ‘encounter’ was in the film What We Did On Our Holiday, where he died in the most dignified manner.

What we did on our holidays

What to say?

Happy 75th Birthday, Sir William!

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Tom and Billy at Cornerhouse

Quartet Q&A - Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood

Thank you, Northern! If you hadn’t locked your passengers in that train at Stockport on Wednesday night, I could have been sitting there in the audience at Cornerhouse with all the others. I might even have enjoyed myself.

It was the Bafta preview screening followed by Q&A with Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay. It sounded like it could be fun.

Quartet Q&A - Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood

As it was, I have no idea what’s being asked here. Hopefully something suitably impertinent for Wilf/Billy. I will just have to treat is as though it was a silent Q&A session. Unlike the film, which is part friendly argument and part music.

Quartet Q&Quartet Q&A - Tom Courtenay at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood  04

Looking on the bright side; these photos are a lot better than mine would have been. I almost feel as though I was there, after all. (Northern – I am not letting you off the hook!)

Quartet Q&A - Billy Connolly at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood

It’s good of Cornerhouse to arrange these kinds of events. Next time I’ll travel in the day before, just to make sure.

(Photos by Paul Greenwood)

Quartet

We need a couple of feelgood films every year, and it is clear that Quartet is intended to be one of them. It has all you need except perhaps for Judi Dench. And maybe actors who are believable singers.

Quartet

Had this film been about almost any former career than opera singing, I’d have bought it straightaway. Billy Connolly plays himself, more or less. Maggie Smith does too. Herself, not Mr Connolly. Pauline Collins is lovely and scatterbrained and Tom Courtenay charmingly restrained and gentlemanlike. But I don’t see retired opera singers in any of them.

The music is lovely and the singing – done by others – is fine. The setting is suitably English countryside and stately home for American viewers. The actors are a treat to watch and listen to. Michael Gambon looks wonderful in a dressing gown. The concept of a retirement home for ancient musicians is a fantastic one, albeit also rather unlikely.

But as in many films, these elderly dears are not so very elderly. Would they really be in a home? Wilf has a stick (walking kind) but moves in such a sprightly fashion I don’t reckon Billy Connolly knows what it means to really need a stick. As for Maggie Smith’s character needing a new hip…

Quartet

The film would have been spot on had this been about truly old and normal inmates in a home. But that would have been less glamorous.

To me the great unknown here is the film’s director, Dustin Hoffman. I’m not sure he was able to squeeze enough out of the grand cast he assembled. They could all do so much more than simply walk – nimbly – around, being themselves. Although that is of course a lot of fun.

(I suspected the supporting actors were the real deal, and the credits told us who every single one of them used to be.)

There will be a Bafta preview of Quartet at Cornerhouse on Wednesday 12th December at 18.10, followed by Q & A with Tom Courtenay and Billy Connolly.

Bourne to be Brave

Much to the disgust of Daughter, I found I didn’t think a great deal of either of the two films we’ve seen in the cinema in the last week. It somehow feels better to watch duds at home. Perhaps because you’ve paid less, and there’s no travelling. Although, colourful Wednesdays make the disappointment easier to bear, financially.

The Bourne Legacy; well I like action films, but this one should have been shorter. I didn’t need to know what had happened before this particular Bourne. They’re all the same, in some way. But they need to be entertaining.

We watched it in atrocious company. Stockport cineworld is usually pretty good at keeping noisy elements quiet, or chucking them out. This time we were several adults, making more than one trip to the foyer to point out they needed to do something about two groups of immature ‘teenagers.’ One group was thrown out after two hours, and that was too late.

Maybe they found it boring, too.

For me it was like a James Bond gone bad. Somehow Jeremy Renner blended into Daniel Craig before my eyes.

So I had some hope of Brave being better, on the grounds that surely one of two films must be OK. It was mercifully shorter, once we’d suffered through half an hour of commercials, trailer and a little something else just to tease us.

I liked Merida’s hair. Very pretty. And you can’t help but enjoy Billy Connolly. But there wasn’t much else in this Disney view of what Scotland looks like. Some light relief in seeing what they wore under their kilts, but…

Don’t mind childish. Don’t mind cheesy. But I need something to tug at my heart (I do have one). The children in the audience liked the pratfalls. But that’s not the same as a good film.

What worries me the most is that fed on a film diet like this, soon no one will know what to demand. Disney films in the ‘olden days’ (not all that long ago) usually had something. Even the ones that got bad reviews tended to have enough to please me and not feel I’d wasted my time or my money.

You can’t pretend to make a good film. You actually have to do it.