13th November 2019
Written by Aidan Reid, Associate
Edited by David Gaffney, Partner
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” So opens Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese’s 1990 glamorisation of the timeless American film trope, the mob. Featuring breakout performances, famous scenes aplenty and a soundtrack to die for, it is forgotten now that this was a relatively small-time release. Making only $41 million at cinemas, its evolution into a cultural touchstone came primarily through the ability of films to have second lives via film rental stores and award ceremonies. Now the industry is a very different beast, and Scorsese is mad as hell about it. He became the first of a series of directors, including fellow mafia enthusiast Francis Ford Coppola, to criticise the flood of comic book films which have come to dominate our cinema screens in recent years. At the start of the decade, the film industry seemed uncertain about how it could keep attracting audiences to cinemas with so many other entertainment options available. Using well-established brands and mythologies such as comics and space westerns has been a large part of their answer. These films and franchises can be made on a scale and with such a large core audience that they have continued to best their predecessors for global revenues, attracting broad audiences across a range of communities with diverging cultures and languages. This success, while good for the multiplexes of this world, is felt by Scorsese to come at the price of originality. Critics have commonly argued that attempting to reach the widest audience possible leads to a sanding down of different cultures, influences and artistic ideas into tried and tested formulas. The launch by Disney yesterday of its own streaming platform is only likely to increase the sense among Scorsese and his ilk that film is becoming a homogenised product. However valid those views, they tend not to recognise that there are potentially more opportunities than ever for the next generation of innovative film makers. Scorsese’s latest eulogy to hoodlums in pinstripe suits, The Irishman, comes to cinemas this week. It was produced not through a traditional film studio but by Netflix, which will soon release it worldwide on its streaming platform. It and other new global content providers are also supporting locally made or independent films and giving them the opportunity to be seen by a global audience. So for all that our multiplexes are often filled with rehashed tales of heroes and villains, the industry does still appear to have room for a wise guy or two.
The majority conservative members of the US Supreme Court have indicated they do not object to president Donald Trump revoking protections for the children of illegal migrants under the DACA regime. During evidence heard from government officials, there was a presumption of support indicated by all five, meaning the protections will likely be removed when the court makes its final decision in June next year.
The Scottish Government’s justice secretary, Humza Yousaf, announced in a statement to the parliament at Holyrood yesterday that there would be a public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh while in police custody. The decision follows confirmation on Monday that no police officers involved in the incident would be subject to prosecution.
Following further clashes yesterday in Hong Kong, the city-state’s police spokesperson warned that the rule of law was now being pushed toward “the brink of collapse”. Protests have continued today, with much of the local transport system shut down amid a series of clashes between university students and police.
Business and economy
UK staff at several McDonalds franchise stores walked out in solidarity with fellow company workers in the US, who were striking in protest at a series of failures to handles employee complaints of sexual harassment. The workers have also called for improved working conditions for all company employees and a £15-an-hour minimum wage.
The Royal Mail has failed in its attempt to overturn an Ofcom decision to fine the company £50 million for uncompetitive practices. The fine relates to efforts back in 2014 to raise prices for wholesale mail delivery in a bid to force new rivals like TNT out of the market.
The ONS published its latest update to unemployment and wage growth figures. While both were on a positive trajectory, there were concerns among some analysts that wage growth slowed to 3.6% in the year to September 2019.
While progress has been made on gender diversity in major company boardrooms, a review published today finds much more work is needed to tackle female under-representation in senior roles. It highlights that only 25 chief executive roles in the FTSE 100 and 250 have been filled by women, with this figure falling further for the chairperson position.
What happened yesterday? As the General Election dramas rumble on, the stock markets quietly showed some signs of growth. Both the FTSE 100 and 250 finished up, by 0.5% and 0.08% respectively. This was attributed to the unemployment figures from the ONS on the back of yesterday’s better than expected GDP figures. Looking at individual companies, Vodafone saw a rise in its share price after raising its full-year profit guidance on the back of a 1.4% increase in earnings.
Looking to the US, the Dow Jones remained slightly off its tenth record close of the year, finishing the day flat. Both the Nasdaq and S&P 5000 saw rises by 0.26% and 0.6% ahead of the US president speaking at the Economic Club in New York, where an update on US-China relations was provided.
What's happening today?
Finals Avon Rubber Interims Renold Speedy Hire SSE Wincanton Q3 Results Georgia H Valeura Energy
AGMs Genesis GSS Hays JPMorgan Emerging Markets Investment Trust
UK economic announcements (09:30) Retail Price Index (09:30) Producer Price Index (09:30) Consumer Price Index
Source: Financial Times
Columns of note
Rory Sutherland talks to the power of joining the crowd in a piece for The Spectator on veganism. He highlights how the vegan movement has made it across what he describes as “the chasm” between a minority interest and a major cultural alternative catered to by major retailers. He argues that ensuring a certain percentage of the population adopts healthier lifestyle choices like veganism is enough to create a cumulative effect behind the movement that will naturally see it recruit more followers.
In his latest attempt to read the runes of polling around the general election, the New Stateman’s Stephen Bush highlights that the potentially big shift in attitudes among the electorate has been a reduction in the unpopularity of prime minister Boris Johnson. He argues that this more favourable opinion, which has improved from near record lows to a similar level of popularity enjoyed by David Cameron during the 2015 election, indicates support for the Conservative Party having reflective benefits for its leader, although Bush says it remains uncertain whether this will translate into poling success. (£)
Cartoon source: The Telegraph
Did you know?
Austrian publication, Wiener Zeitung, is said to be the oldest daily newspaper in the world, with its first edition being published in 1703.
House of Commons The House of Commons is in dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019.
House of Lords The House of Commons is in dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019.
Scottish Parliament Portfolio Questions Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity
Justice and the Law Officers
Scottish Government Debate Artificial Intelligence and Data Driven Technologies: Opportunities for the Scottish Economy and Society
Members’ Business Pancreatic Cancer Awareness – Clare Adamson
TOMORROW Scottish Parliament General Questions
First Minister’s Questions
Members’ Business debate Day of the Imprisoned Writer – Ruth Maguire
Portfolio Questions Government Business and Constitutional Relations
Scottish Government debate Implications of the Imposition of US Tariffs on Scottish Products