Home crowd at the Hydro: Kevin Bridges Review

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Fans gathered at the SSE Hydro for the 14th night of Kevin Bridge’s sell-out tour. Credit to Guy Percival.

“That’s my sermon for the Sunday crowd!”–mild Kevin Bridges spoilers to follow. 

I recently went to see Clydebank comic Kevin Bridges on night 14 of his 19 sold out dates in a row at the SSE Hydro as part of his Brand New tour.

Selling out the nations biggest venue, 19 nights in a row is an achievement enough, but beyond that – after 3 sell-out UK tours – Kevin Bridges is still really funny.

In his warm Glaswegian brand of observational comedy, Bridges tackled a range of topics from Brexit and Trump to social media addiction and simply ordering Chinese food. Playing to his home crowd, he related international events to the sketchier of characters everyone in Glasgow, or Scotland for that matter, will know all too well.

None of this is to say that Bridges only goes for the topical, or dances around the fact that he is by this point a household name. Refreshingly, he talks a lot about the fame and fortune he has enjoyed, and how inconspicuous it makes him when trying to do things as simple as go for coffee in Glasgow’s West End.

And with that his persona has changed, he’s not really Clydebank anymore, he’s Byres Road. Years of success and a change of environment haven’t stopped Bridges from picking apart the human condition in his signature style, both as he sees it in Glasgow’s people and in world events. If anything, I’d say he’s getting better.

Despite going on his 14th night, there was still a buzz and sense of excitement in the crowd, and that is not something I’d expect Bridges to lose anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Review

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Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Image property of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

 

“This time, the chick ain’t losing”

Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson & Sam Rockwell

So far from Martin McDonagh we’ve had a hitman’s Christmas holiday, followed by a soul searching road movie with legitimate psychopaths. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is a huge tonal departure from these eccentricities however, in favour of focusing upon social commentary. A shift which darkens the tone past any of McDonagh’s previous works, moving from black comedy to outright tragedy.

In terms of plot, this is the strongest piece of work from the Irish director yet. His multifaceted narrative gracefully introduces each new player, while tackling difficult topics in a unique way. Watching the A-list cast, led wonderfully by Coen Brothers favourite Frances McDormand, unravel this engrossing tale of retribution is stunning. The emotional nuances of nearly every character lending sympathy to many different figures, exposing internalised flaws in each. For example, Woody Harrelson’s police chief Willoughby, whom we first meet through the titular billboards is painted as a brutal and unsympathetic man. Soon after though, we learn just enough to not completely excuse him but understand his logic and empathise with his reasoning. There are a lot of redemptive arcs throughout ‘Three Billboards,’ and while Willoughby’s and Mildred’s (Frances McDormand) are near perfect, there’s one which is very misjudged. To say which character would be a spoiler, but he’s never shown as anything but abhorrently violent and racist throughout, so the sudden change to hero in the final moments feels very bizarre. The argument McDonagh makes of it being an examination of nature or nurture doesn’t excuse it either.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURI

Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Image property Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The treatment of certain issues, including police brutality against people of colour, is equally haphazard. Several scenes are played for laughs at the expense of minority figures- including a wasted use of Peter Dinklage, where he appears to serve no purpose but being the butt of several height jokes. The case could be made that this is dark comedy, so risky content is par for the course. This however feels more like lazy writing. McDoangh believes it’s enough to be cruel about a grouping of people, and then claim it’s showing awareness to social issues. The constant torrent of discriminatory slurs doesn’t help either, resulting in several scenes feeling childish instead of uncomfortable or darkly comic.

Overall, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is an infuriating film which could be brilliant. For every moment of great character development or intriguing plot direction, shallow representation or questionable scripting choices get in the way. If you are used to McDonagh’s style, you’ll find a lot to love here. But, it may be a little too on the nose for the uninitiated. It’s interesting to see this film taking so many awards nominations this season, because it is going to be highly controversial upon release.

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is released Friday 12 January nationwide.

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