Film Review: “Creation Stories”

Nick Moran’s biopic of Alan McGee, the infamous head of Creation Records, takes a fairly conventional narrative approach to this highly unconventional man. It’s a rags-to-riches tale, tracing his journey from a drab and dreamless life in Glasgow all the way to the very centre of the UK music industry.

The film takes most of its stylistic cues from the holy text of narcotic-infused Scottish stories, Trainspotting (perhaps not surprisingly so: Irvine Welsh is on script duty). McGee’s drug-addled adventures are brought to life with the same bag of distorted lens, haphazard angles and scenes of weird hallucination. In an attempt to match the frenetic pace of his life and mind, it moves at a rapid clip, letting the audio spill from one scene to another, stitching the whole thing together with a lot of oddly matched shots and strange transitions. The resulting effect is often disorientating and not always in a particularly effective or purposeful way.

The quest to cram in as many needle drops, smash cuts and cute voiceover gags makes the whole thing feel a little manic, and its frantic energy often means that the big emotional beats get lost in the noise. Still, even if it’s playing a lot of other people’s songs and relying more on volume than skill, Creation Stories is anchored by a magnetic lead performance from Ewen Bremner and an overriding love for its subject, making for a hugely enjoyable jam even if it likely won’t become a classic.


Creative Stories has its world premiere at Glasgow Film Festival, screening 24-27 Feb
Released 20 Mar on Sky Cinema

No monsters under the bed in ‘Saint Maud,” but many in trenches the of her own mind

The pious British poet and artist William Blake once famously referred to organized religion as an “ugly distortion of a true spiritual life.” The more humankind attempts to put measures, limits, and analogues on the divine, the farther we got away from the undistilled truth of the unknowable.

by Piers Marchant 

The pious British poet and artist William Blake once famously referred to organized religion as an “ugly distortion of a true spiritual life.” The more humankind attempts to put measures, limits, and analogues on the divine, the farther we got away from the undistilled truth of the unknowable.

We are humans, we don’t so much like to truck with feelings alone, they are too intangible, resistant to description and predictability. It makes us uncomfortable to float in that pool of undefined spirituality, so we work feverishly hard to write scriptures and edicts of God’s word, and make symbols out of all the things we can’t possibly touch.

Blake’s courageous brand of self-attenuated spirituality seeps in throughout “Saint Maud,” Rose Glass’ commanding feature debut, about a young woman who believes she has found her divine path after a lifetime of feeling lost, and couldn’t be farther off the mark.

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Why biopics go so wrong

Johnny Flynn
Johnny Flynn as David Bowie

Stardust, a new movie about a young David Bowie, has been widely mocked. It’s just the latest example of a real-life icon making for a disastrous film subject, writes Nicholas Barber.

By Nicholas Barber

Released in 2018, the hit Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody had its producers singing We Are the Champions: it won four Oscars and took close to $1bn at the box office. The following year, Rocketman, a musical based on the life of Elton John, did well, too, making enough money to keep Sir Elton in designer specs for decades, and nabbing two Oscars of its own. And now Stardust, featuring Johnny Flynn as a young David Bowie, thus completing a trilogy of dramas about exotically stage-named, sexually adventurous British glam-rock legends. The film is released in the UK today, so presumably its producers are just waiting for the trophies and the profits to roll in.

Or maybe not. There is no doubting the sincerity of its Bowie-phile cast and crew, but unlike Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, Stardust is a low-budget indie movie with some unavoidable flaws. The director made the curious decision to cast actors in their thirties, forties and even fifties as people who were in their twenties at the time. And because Stardust wasn’t approved by the late singer’s estate, it has to do without any of his songs.

Unsurprisingly, the trailer was mocked on social media when it was unveiled in October, and, when the film came out in the US in November, the AV Club’s critic dismissed it as ”a junky biographical drama that doesn’t feature any music by Bowie or his contemporaries and stars a guy who doesn’t look or sound anything like the man”. That was one of the more enthusiastic reviews.

The risks involved

The lesson is that the celebrity biopic is the most high-risk of genres. When it goes well, it fills cinemas and wins awards, especially in the 21st Century. But

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