Tag Archives: Danny Boyle

Leon Syla on T2: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 2017)

Choose reading this review. Following the success of the 1996 Trainspotting, Danny Boyle chose to direct a sequel based on Irvine Welsh’s Porno. After decades of planning and rewrites, T2 Trainspotting was finally released in 2017. Rather than simply recreating the aesthetic and conventions of the first film, the sequel provides a fresh and contemporary take on the beloved characters, without tarnishing the legacy of the original. T2 Trainspotting sees Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie return once again to the silver screen after they have created new lives for themselves following the fallout of the first film. Following a heart attack in Amsterdam, a divorce, and imminent redundancy, Renton moves back to his hometown of Edinburgh to visit his old friends. With each character, we see how time and anger have ravaged them, and how they attempt to fit in with the ‘new’ age, a pressing theme of the first film. By contrasting the old with the new, Boyle creates a relatable yet unfamiliar world that the characters inhabit. Boyle expertly explores how time has affected the characters through various narrative and editing techniques. Despite time moving forward and the constant sense of urgency through the film, the four men desperately try to cling to the past by committing crimes and re-enacting situations from the first film, in an attempt to relive their youth. In one scene, Renton and Sick Boy steal bank cards from everyone in a bar, and while this is done through a quick montage to The Prodigy’s remix of ‘Lust for Life’, the two hark back to their memories as children, using the past to slow down time and recapture their childhood. In another attempt to preserve time, Boyle also employs multiple freeze frames to immortalise certain moments, as well as have the audience focus on these parts. Boyle also guides the audience through the ‘new’ world that the men must become familiar with, given their distance from it. As the audience sees the four attempt to re-inhabit their old world, he expertly uses mirroring and clever shadow play to hark back to iconic moments from the original film, signalling that the past will always be there. What made Trainspotting so memorable when it first came out was its amazing soundtrack, and the sequel’s soundtrack holds up just as well. Linking back to the concept of time, T2 Trainspotting features old and new songs, as well as songs that have been remade or remixed to highlight the new era and sound of today. As mentioned earlier, The Prodigy remixed ‘Lust for Life’, providing a fresh take on an old classic and Underworld created ‘Slow Slippy’ specifically for the film, to show the progression of music, while still retaining the elements of the past. T2 Trainspotting manages to uphold the legacy of the original and craft a new legacy for its sequel by not only honouring what came before, but by using the past to create new criticisms and interpretations for the contemporary world.

 

Leon Syla

The Class of ‘92 (Benjamin Turner, Gabe Turner, UK, 2013)

The Class of 92

For the few who might not know, The Class of ’92 was a group of kids who loved football, were recruited by Manchester United at an early age, rose up the ranks of the youth teams, and finally made the first team. In 1992, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville won the FA Youth Cup. Paul Scholes was an FA Youth Cup finalist in 1993 and Phil Neville, Gary’s brother, captained the team to the FA Youth Cup in 1995. Collectively they’re referred to in this film as the Class of ’92 that went on to win the Double (FA Cup and the League Title) in 1996 and the Treble (the double plus the Champions League ) in 1999. The central narrative is to prove how wrong Alan Hansen was when he asserted that ‘You can’t win anything  with kids’ and to show what good friends these kids were and continue to be.

 

The film is an unabashed exercise in nostalgia and mythmaking. Tony Blair appears to praise the achievements of the players but also to big up the Blair Years in which those achievements took place. Danny Boyle who know a thing or two about legends, iconicity and the mobilizing of imagery into myth-making, speaks here about what Man U meant to his family and what the success of the club meant to the city. Mani of The Stone Roses and Primal Scream waxes nostalgic about Manchester in those times and lyrical about the players’ achievements. It’s like mixing Louis VIX’s search for ‘la gloire’ with some ‘I was born in a schack’ US narrative of success brought about by will and work and discipline.

 

As a movie, it’s not much. As an analysis, it’s pretty basic – we don’t understand anything any better than we did at the beginning of the film. Plus I’m pretty sick of all the bloody nostalgia for the ‘Hacienda’ days which to me is just old men kidding themselves that their youth was better than anybody else’s. However, it’s a very enjoyable watch for football fans. These icons speak to each other like the friends they are and seem human and knowable in their interactions.  Moreover, we get to see some of the great moments in football of the last two decades and get the perspective of those who created them. Cantona, who’s now acting in movies, appears in order to praise. Zinédine Zidane, more glamorous and charismatic than all the rest of them put together, also pops up to eulogize. As a movie, it’s something one might have expected Sky Sports to quickly paste up for endless replay. But it must be said that the reason these types of films re-play is because we simply can’t get enough of them.

 

Zidane on Paul Scholes
Zidane on Paul Scholes

José Arroyo