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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The story behind the best British horror film in years

Video nasties and censorship are tackled head on in the sinister Sundance hit. Jacob Stolworthy speaks to its star Niamh Algar and director-co-writer Prano Bailey-Bond about the process from inception to fruition

Sundance Film Festival’s Midnight section has long been the holy grail for any burgeoning horror director. It’s where The Blair Witch Project (1999) kick-started the found-footage phenomenon; where Saw (2004) launched one of the most successful franchises in history; and, more recently, where It Follows (2014) and Hereditary (2018) were first unleashed, reinvigorating modern horror. Censor, which received its world premiere at this year’s virtual Sundance on Saturday (30 January), is a worthy addition to that list. In fact, it is one of the best horror films in years.

Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond, Censor tells the story of Enid (Niamh Algar), a young woman who makes a living tucked away in dingy screening rooms, watching depraved and gory films. In her notepad, she scribbles down the timings of the cuts she thinks need to be made before they’re viewed by the public.

For Enid, this fastidiousness doesn’t stem from a love of film but a sense of duty. During a tense dinner with her parents, she rebukes her father for suggesting otherwise. “It’s not entertainment,” she snaps. ”I do it to protect people.”

Like any psychological film worth its salt, nothing’s as it seems. The arrival of video nasty supremo Frederick North’s new film (creepily titled Don’t Go in the Church) sends Enid spiralling. Before long, she’s on a mission to find a sister who went missing years before. It’s here where the film kicks into gear leading to one of the most memorable climaxes for quite some time.

The idea of the film germinated “ages ago”, says Bailey-Bond, after she read an article on Hammer Horror, the London-based company known for its gothic films featuring the characters of Dracula, Frankenstein and more. Continue reading

‘The Dig’ and five other culture recommendations if you love ancient discoveries

If you are endlessly fascinated by ancient history, Netflix’s new movie “The Dig,” starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, should pique your interest.

Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Caches of unopened sarcophagi found in Egypt. Eight miles of Ice Age rock paintings discovered in the Amazon rainforest. An intricate Roman mosaic floor excavated in northern Italy. These are just some of the major archaeological finds of the past year.
If you are endlessly fascinated by these discoveries, Netflix’s new movie “The Dig,” a historical drama starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, should pique your interest.
Based on a true story, “The Dig” retells the story of how a widow and a self-taught archaeologist unearthed an Anglo-Saxon burial ship on a private plot of land in Suffolk, UK, in 1939. The incredible find, which occurred as the specter of World War II loomed over Europe, became one of country’s most important treasures and helped dispel the notion that the British Isles were culturally and economically siloed during the Dark Ages.

Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown, the self-taught archaelogist who uncovered Britain's greatest treasure.

Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown, the self-taught archaelogist who uncovered Britain’s greatest treasure. Credit: Larry Horricks/Netflix
“The film is about time and the fragility of our existence,” said screenwriter Moira Buffini, who adapted the script from John Preston’s book of the same name, in a video interview. “It’s about the brevity of life and what endures — what we leave behind us.”

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Filmmaker Tom Gilroy Talks About  “#WaynesvilleStrong”

With the rallying cry of its hashtagged title, Tom Gilroy’s #WaynesvilleStrong is a darkly comic and scarily plausible vision of a very near future in which low-wage work, enforced patriotism and the panoptic powers of the internet combine to create a pandemic hellscape that one laid-off meatpacking worker must delicately navigate, one videocall prompt at a time. The short was made quickly, in May and during quarantine, with everyone appropriately socially distanced, and to its great credit that what was political satire just two months ago is now turning into, with the current battles over “reopening,” political reality. The short stars Orange is the New Black‘s Nick Sandow, and the slow burn of his impatient anxiety as he subjects himself to the merciless probing of the government’s AI-fueled videochat adjudication system will create a frisson of recognition for anyone who’s been stuck on hold trying to receive their stimulus check.

Gilroy has been making independent films since the mid-’90s, with features including Spring Forward and The Cold Lands. In the conversation below, fellow director Jim McKay discusses with him the work’s relation to science fiction — particularly 1984 and J.G. Ballard, how the short was produced during quarantine with a iPhone 10, the influence of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, and what it means for a work to be political today.

McKay: This film was conceived about a month into stay-at-home and made about a month later and finished a month after that. The world changed radically in those three months but the story stayed very relevant and at times is even more in-the-moment than when it was conceived. Can you talk about its inception and then how current events effected the work, if at all?
Gilroy: The impetus in writing it was to respond in real time to the government roll-out of yet another unprecedented and mismanaged disaster. I never thought about what the script could be or where it could go. I’d just reached a point where there was no holding back; it was an almost unconscious act. This impulse was of course pressurized by the inability to leave the house, and some kind of “producer brain” must’ve instinctively kicked in where I realized quarantine dictated the piece would be a monologue.

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