Category Archives: Film

Creation Stories (Nick Moran, 2021)

The spirit of executive producer Danny Boyle looms large over Creation Stories, a biopic of Scottish businessman Alan McGee, whose influential Creation Records label launched such acts as Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis. Trainspotting seems a conscious influence on director Nick Moran’s film, from the editing style and frenetic pacing to Irvine Welsh being one of its screenwriters. The presence of Ewen Bremner as McGee only hammers home the connection.

But there’s another filmmaker looming over Creation Stories. Someone who also made a largely comedic, self-reflexive biopic concerning a British record label head who was inspired by seeing Sex Pistols perform, which covered a similar period of time: Michael Winterbottom. Speeding through three decades’ worth of events but lacking any actual momentum, Creation Stories is like a version of 24 Hour Party People gone horribly wrong…

Full review for Little White Lies

What to watch at the Glasgow Film Festival 2021

Last year’s Glasgow Film Festival was one of the final film festivals in the world to proceed as planned as an in-person event, concluding just 3 days before the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. In the 11 months since, British film festivals have shifted to largely online models, with some physical cinema arrangements depending on their timing in relation to eased restrictions. 

GFF 2021 – taking place from 24 February to 7 March – was planned to be a locally physical and nationally digital hybrid in the spirit of last October’s London Film Festival. In light of current lockdown measures that hasn’t been possible, yet Glasgow’s now fully online programme remains an exciting prospect. The selection may be much smaller in quantity compared with a traditional edition, but the quality in the curation is still there in spades…

Full feature for the BFI

Where to stream the best Scottish films

From homegrown filmmakers who’ve gone on to international acclaim to features that make evocative use of its towns, cities, communities and landscapes, Scotland’s cinematic output has always been particularly rich. Excluding movies that you can currently only watch digitally by renting or buying them (sorry to The Wicker Man, Whisky Galore! and most of Bill Forsyth’s efforts), here are some of the best Scottish films you can stream right now…

Full feature for the BFI

Rose Island (Sydney Sibilia, 2020)

Relatively early in 2020, one video game became a phenomenon as Nintendo Switch players looked to simulate some sort of structured existence in the context of quarantine. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sees your customisable character move to a deserted island, decorating the place and developing it into a community of anthropomorphic animal residents. Selling the most units of any title in 2020, it has already cracked the top 30 list of the best-selling video games of all time.

All the specific factors for Animal Crossing’s success would merit a deep-dive article, but one thing appears clear: with the world in the grip of a pandemic, vaguely whimsical explorations of forming start-up communities during a period of global unrest are hot right now. By sheer luck of timing, Sydney Sibilia’s Rose Island, based on the real-life story of an island being created and bringing people together, looks set to capitalise on this…

Full review for Little White Lies

Murder Me, Monster (Alejandro Fadel, 2018)

Appreciators of Amat Escalante’s The Untamed and Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux – Latin American social dramas that toy with horror to varying degrees – may find a new work to admire in Murder Me, Monster from writer/director Alejandro Fadel. It’s a Spanish-language international co-production set around the Andes Mountains, and features a similar fusion of libidinal imagery and arguably Lovecraftian terror to that of Escalante’s film, in particular…

Full review for Little White Lies

Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)

Director Kelly Reichardt’s 2008 drama Wendy and Lucy was concerned with the tribulations faced by a young woman setting her sights on a new life in Alaska, travelling with limited funds and supplies. Meek’s Cutoff, her 2010 follow-up, retains similar narrative elements for its tale of settlers in 1845 travelling through the Oregon Trail that guided wagon trains through dangerous terrains to the remote Pacific Northwest. It retains Wendy and Lucy stars Michelle Williams and Will Patton, who deliver fine performances in this unusual Western, as do Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Shirley Henderson…

Full review for VODzilla.co’s MUBI Mondays column

Fokus: Films from Germany 2020 Preview

As with almost every film festival in 2020 since the start of March, Fokus: Films from Germany, presented via a partnership between the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, is moving online for its sixth edition. The now fully-digital festival, running from 3 to 17 December, will be shorter and smaller than in previous years, moving from its usual late-November start. But despite the (hopefully) one-off format that won’t involve any cinema screens, the event should still offer an exciting snapshot of Germany’s contemporary film scene…

Full feature for The Skinny

I can remember it for you wholesale: The making of ‘Total Recall’, 30 years on

Total Recall was one of my favourite experiences. When was it released? 30 goddamn years, my god.”

Michael Ironside may not immediately remember just how long ago it was that Total Recall was released, but few have been able to forget Paul Verhoeven’s slippery sci-fi action blockbuster since it came out in 1990, nor his memorably intense performance as Richter. The primary heavy in this adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’, Richter is in constant pursuit of amnesiac protagonist Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) across both Earth and Mars, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake.

One of Canada’s most prolific actors, with more than 260 screen credits to his name, Ironside is perhaps best known to a certain generation for various antagonist and authority figure roles in fondly remembered films from the 1980s and 90s, including Verhoeven reunion Starship Troopers (1997), Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986), David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981) and Charles Burnett’s The Glass Shield (1994). 

Ahead of the release of a new 4K restoration of Total Recall, Ironside spoke to us via Zoom about both Verhoeven collaborations; his own lifelong affinity for science fiction; the on-set experience of making one of the last massive-budget movies based around mostly practical special effects; and how he thinks Cronenberg’s scrapped adaptation of the story might have turned out…

Full interview for the BFI

Charlatan (Agnieszka Holland, 2020)

The Czech Republic’s submission for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Oscars, Charlatan comes from Polish director Agnieszka Holland, a veteran filmmaker known for movie and TV work made across wildly different countries and cultures. Her previous feature, the largely English-language Mr Jones, followed a Welsh journalist uncovering an international conspiracy in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Charlatan is also inspired by a real-life figure falling foul of forces in power, this time self-taught herbalist and faith healer, Jan Mikolášek…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Tape Crusader: The Bizarre Brilliance of ‘Batman Forever’’s Soundtrack

In Spin magazine interview marking the 20th anniversary of his band’s 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic, The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was asked about their involvement with the soundtrack for Batman Forever, an album described by interviewer Dan Weiss as, “Even by ‘90s standards… one of the weirdest batches of artists.” Coyne – reportedly not a fan of the finished film itself, though he enjoyed his group’s aural appearance – had this to say:

“I think it set up a blueprint that you could really have an interesting soundtrack that really doesn’t have that much to do with the movie and people would accept it. It was just a record that had another branding that went with it. I thought that was really a cool move, that it didn’t always just have to be a group of popular artists doing something to promote the movie. It really was a weird mixtape collection that had a movie with it too.”

Wayne Coyne, The Flaming Lips

A packed film soundtrack of popular music wasn’t a concept born in the 1990s, nor is it something that’s completely died out since, but various factors have led to that decade being the peak ‘music from the motion picture’ era, and how Coyne describes the Batman Forever soundtrack is reflective of why. And in the year 2020, Batman Forever’s album stands out as one of its decade’s most emblematic musical artefacts for how it both followed trends and also bucked the system in a way that arguably influenced the construction of soundtracks going forward; Entertainment Weekly ran a non-review article the summer of release on the extent to which the soundtrack was an outlier among its field…

Full article for The Companion