This year’s Glasgow Film Festival kicked off – virtually, of course – with a real blast from the past. Nick Moran’s Creation Stories tells the life of Alan McGee, the Scottish music impresario who launched Creation Records, the indie label behind Primal Scream and Oasis. McGee is played by Ewen Bremner, who featured in Danny Boyle’s seminal 1996 movie Trainspotting, taken from the novel by Irvine Welsh. Boyle is an executive producer here, while Welsh just so happens to be one of the co-writers. Little wonder Moran has called it ‘Trainspotting set in Britpop.’
While Creation Stories isn’t about heroin addicts in Edinburgh, McGee does consume industrial amounts of drugs before suffering a breakdown – just as he signs Oasis, who go on to become the biggest band of the Nineties. Moran conveys all of this with real brio – with the help of a cool British cast that includes Thomas Turgoose, Richard Jobson and Jason Isaacs. Some of it is cartoonish – particularly McGee’s fraternising with Tony Blair at the epoch of Cool Britannia, but Moran captures the chaos and possibility of the era quite marvellously.
Equally unique is Undergods – the directorial debut of Spanish-born director Chino Moya, who has been working in the UK these past fifteen years. Set in a dystopian Europe, it’s an anthology of interweaving tales written by Moya that really defy explanation or categorisation; influences range from George Orwell to Franz Kafka as the writer-director conjures a world of failure and bleakness underlined with a grim humour and fairytale aesthetic.
Starring a diverse cast, including Tanya Reynolds (Fanny Lye Deliver’d) and Burn Gorman (Torchwood), it’s one of those films that’s almost impossible to summarise, as a vortex of stories unfold. Shot in Belgrade and Tallin, Moya makes great use of the Brutalist architecture there – something that fans of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet will recognise. The film is co-produced by Scott Free, Ridley Scott’s company, and you wonder if Scott saw something of himself in Moya – a visual stylist with a cast-iron aesthetic.
Also playing this week at GFF is Kyle Rankin’s Run Hide Fight, a thriller that inevitably caused consternation when it premiered in Venice last year. Isabel May plays Zoe, a student who uses all her cunning when her high school is overrun by her own classmates, who are brandishing weapons and live-streaming their intended massacre. Taken as a pure genre exercise, Rankin’s film works well enough, but given the issues of gun control in the U.S. and the frequent high-school shootings, this seems like a hugely insensitive and risky work.
Finally, for those who love a bit of Scandi drama, Jeanette Nordahl’s Wildland comes recommended. Borgen’s Sidse Babett Knudsen stars as a toxic matriarch of a criminal family, taking her niece Ida (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) into the fold after Ida’s mother dies of a drug overdose. It’s a slow-burning drama, but one that’s punctuated by moments of shocking violence that are all the more effective because of the restraint on show.
The Glasgow Film Festival runs online until 7 March. For more details, click here.