Author: Frankie Boyle Nationality: British (Scottish!) Year: 2009
So having concluded January’s theme of “published in 2015” with the ordeal that was A Brief History of Seven Killings, I was faced with the decision of what to do for February. Being interested as I am in many areas of popular culture, I settled on “entertainment biographies” to give me a little more insight into some of the figures who rule our screens. I happily already had a store of these to delve right into, with the intention of alternating male and female personalities (soon to become difficult).
The first book of the month turned out to be Frankie Boyle’s My Shit Life so Far. My mother bought this for me for a present many years ago, convinced as she is that I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy. I started reading it at the time, but for whatever reason I stopped about half-way through and promptly forgot everything I’d read so I thought it best to start again from the beginning this time. After fighting to the end of Seven Killings I was after a much easier read to rest my poor brain, and this was an ultimately successful mission. Frankie Boyle, for those of you who don’t know him, is an oft-controversial comedian best known for his appearances on topical panel show “Mock the Week” and his expletive-laden rants against political correctness, the nanny state, etc. etc. (hence My Shit Life So Far). He announced his departure from the show which made him a household name the day after the publication of this book in 2009 and has since faded into relative obscurity; such is life.
As it turns out I’m finishing this review a long time after I read the book. I guess I’ve been busy. Anyway, it’s pretty much a chronicle of Boyle’s life up until joining “Mock the Week”, from his moderately-poor Glasgow upbringing through the early stages of his stand-up comedy career at dingy bars and on strange tours. It also discusses his use, abuse and subsequent disavowal of alcohol and other illicit substances along the way. I might be forgetting some of the content but I suspect there wasn’t an awful lot more to it.
It’s worth a read if you know who Frankie Boyle is, if you’re a person who reads autobiographies, and if you’ve got a couple of days to spare. I put it in my work’s book-swap box when I finished it at the beginning of February and it’s still there. But hey, I’ve read worse. Go figure.
Year: 2010 Director: John Landis Stars: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher IMDb
This past weekend I wasted the vast majority of my time playing games, and dedicated very little of it to my pop quest. I also started a new job today and will have far less time to play with than I’ve been used to. I did however manage to squeeze in (over two days) Burke and Hare, this “historical” “comedy”, with a surprisingly star-filled cast. It’s not a film I own, but I was relatively interested in watching it; my girlfriend was in agreement, so that was settled. Simon Pegg’s a funny guy, and Andy Serkis is… er… sometimes recorded moving.
The film, framed by the narration of Angus the Hangman (Bill Bailey) is an interpretation of the tale of the titular Williams Burke and Hare (Pegg and Serkis respectively). When a client dies in their lodging-house, they sell the body to Dr Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson) and realise that there is a desperate shortage of fresh bodies for medical experimentation, and therefore money to be made. Of course they can’t rely on old men continuing to leave bodies lying around, so the two turn to procuring their corpses by… other means. Meanwhile ex-prostitute Ginny (Fisher) comes up with a plan to propel herself into stardom by producing an all-female performance of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, because Scotland. She is however short of the startup cash, until she meets Burke, a man looking for sex love and a way to spend his new-found blood money. Burke invests in this unsurprisingly-successful show, while Hare and his wife Lucky (Jessica Hynes) decide to invent the funeral parlour, because logic. However, the titular duo are unable to keep their nefarious activities under wraps, and are caught, along with their respective female partners, by lawman Captain McLintock (Ronnie Corbett) and chucked in jail. The establishment, wishing to avoid the indignity of a trial, offer them a deal: if one confesses, the rest will go free. Burke heroically gives himself up, because love sex.
To be frank, this film wasn’t very good. It was a little funny at times, but this was overshadowed by the wild historical inaccuracies, which involved shoehorning in as many historical medical figures as possible and going as far as to add on a “this is what happened to the characters” scene at the end containing roughly no true information. The general plot bears almost no resemblance to historical events, and is really “Burke and Hare” in little more than name and broad premise. It’s also difficult to identify with any of the characters when the “heroes” are creepy murder-perverts (Andy Serkis? Ew). The performances are decent but nothing special (I assume Fisher was cast due to the colour of her hair), and it’s not hard to see why the film only made back less than half of its £10m budget at the box office.