Enter the dragon

Re: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon feature (issue 405)

I went to see the much-hyped film Crouching Tiger. . . last night, mostly on the back of all the five-star reviews it received which basically pointed to little less than ’Film of the Year’ etc, etc. Have film reviewers gone mad? The film was bland, boring, pretentious rubbish. The characters were dull, expressionless, lacking in any believable passion or energy (apart from the ludicrous fighting scenes). The ’plot' was practically non- existent and completely pointless. The photography was indeed beautiful but so what? It's not enough to sustain any kind of interest.

By the end of the film I’d lost the will to live, it was such a waste of time. It’s not just a question of taste; why does such a poor film get such high recommendations? As the ’action sequences' were clearly derived from computer games I imagine that this film would appeal to my eight-year- old nephew and his age group. However, surely a film for adults should be judged more on intelligent dialogue, a decent storyline and/or characters we can believe in and care about - or at least one of these! Lynne Arnold via emai/


Re: Why the musical hang-up? (issue 404)

My theory about the lack of support for indigenous music in this country is that it’s a deep-rooted problem that goes way back to the battle at Culloden, after which it was illegal to play ’rebel’ tunes on ’rebel' instruments. So the music went with the people to America and Canada.

As a musician who sings around Scotland, I have had first-hand experience of the various attitudes to anything Scottish.

Too many people have an identity crisis, especially in the Central Belt of Scotland and, sadly in this modern day, sectarianism is still rife throughout our society. A good example is a certain gig where the barman said, ’Just as well you didn’t bring your fiddle player son, we won’t be having any of that fenian music in here!’ and ’What school did you go to?’ being a popular question.

Look at Rangers and Celtic supporters, you have one side singing Irish songs and the other singing English (British) songs. Over the years, this country has been controlled by the English (British) government using ’divide and rule'. This has led to a lack of identity, bitterness and self- confidence, so we take it out on the booze, etc, and are now the capital in Europe for almost all the wrong reasons eg heart disease, cancer, crime, child poverty etc.

But there is a new-found confidence that can be seen in the growing popularity of the Celtic Connections

Write to:

React, The List, 14 Hi h Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE or React, The List, McLe Ian Galleries, 270 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3EH or e-mail reactOlist.co.uk

l festival, the studying of Scottish

histOry and in the interest we have in Our new government, oh sorry, ’parliament'.

I believe things are looking brighter for the future, so get out there and support your indigenous music even if they did go to a different school from you.

The singing Jacobite via e-mail

Fringe benefits

The Gilded Balloon and the Edinburgh Fringe

’Jim Rose claims rules are killing the ange/

’Gay Jesus brought tears to my eyes says pot-smoking bishop’

’The Gilded Balloon has collapsed - is this the beginning of the end for the Fringe?’

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world‘s largest arts festival, with its open access, all-gate-crashers welcome policy, is an easy target. So headlines like those listed above and all the controversy and hype that surround them are part of the rough and tumble of the Festival. The last quote, however, from The Scotsman (24 January), is the most recent prediction of disaster for the Fringe, behind which an orderly queue of statements has formed for the last 54 years.

It's inevitable that when a major Fringe venue, such as the Gilded Balloon, hits hard times, the whole fabric of the event comes under the microscope. But while there’s no doubt that its present troubles are much regrettable, the rise or fall of one venue out of over 150 is never going to be an accurate barometer by which to judge the whole event.

And just what is the ’whole event’? The heart that beats at the centre of the Fringe is the desire of actors, dancers and comedians across the world to make the trip to Edinburgh and stake their claim for stardom.

Only when this desire ceases would anyone be in a position to predict a real beginning of the end. And I know that this desire is as strong as ever, judging by the number of groups wanting to perform at this year's Festival.

But is their loyalty to Edinburgh being taken for granted? Many think so. Over the years, performers have had to dig deeper in their pockets to pay for accommodation and venue hire. Audiences too, who, at the last count, bring £42m in their wallets to plough into the Edinburgh economy, are becoming wise to the agencies’ mark-up on flats to rent or the ’Festival' car-parking rates which bring a whole new tax on a visit to the ange.

What I hope the current debate brings into sharp focus is the long- overdue need for investment in the infrastructure that supports the Fringe. Little of this wealth goes to the performers, programmers, venue managers and risk-takers of the

Festival, which is why the problems faced by Gilded Balloon are not unique.

If we were to start again from scratch, the Fringe would present the same problems that would occur should Edinburgh choose to host an international sponing event every August. Those that are trying it for the first time, such as the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, (whose predicted figures of 5000 athletes and one million spectators are comparable to our own), do not question the need for multimillion pound investment. They recognise the benefits, both social and economic, that events of this size bring to their city.

Paul Gudgin


Edinburgh Festival Fringe High Street

In it for the money

Re: Arts awards in the firing line (issue 405)

Doug Johnstone wrote a good article, but I don’t see a problem with saying something is crap or good. As The List reviews things, I don't imagine you do either.

I agree that the representational ability of mainstream awards is very limited, but they do mean something to some people, ie people that like Sir Rice or Alan Davies. A lot of people do; more than read The List. Mainstream awards do not represent you, hence your recommendation, via KLF, to treat them as irrelevant and self-important. But, I would argue in a market economy, any idea of aesthetics will get used to sell things, as long as it makes enough money.

Awards ceremonies claim a monopoly on aesthetic standards which The List would never be able to, except perhaps for cool Central Belt people. This is what I think you’re getting at with the KLF thing: break up the monopoly. Fine, but the ’charade’ is a fact of life, in The List as well as the Whitbread.

Rod Sanchez-Ruiz via e-mail

Traveller's tales Re: Seville liberties (issue 406)

Lordy Lord! Good to see the spirit of gonzo journalism is being kept alive by ’hedonistic bum’ Paul Dale, whose piece on Seville offered an unconventional but honest view of the city.

Having travelled there several years ago, he illuminated a few distant memories, since faded by similar pleasures mentioned in the piece, and made an old man very happy. With a bright mix of the factual, interwoven in descriptive smokey late night activities, and day time pursuits, a real traveller’s view that escaped the Judith Chalmers School of Package Deal schpiel. Top pics too.

'Found sounds'

via e-mail


Publisher & General Editor Robin Hodge

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