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Claudio-Simonetti-s-Goblin-No-logo

As part of the Glasgow Film Festival horror fans are in for a real treat thanks to soundtrack legends Goblin, or more accurately Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin* are providing a set filled with their perverse sounds to mixed audience of film buffs, metalheads and me.

Claudio Simonetti shuffled onstage appearing somewhat dishevelled in stark contrast to that of his smoothly and immaculately decked out backing band**. Claudio holds court to the side of the stage entrapped in a cage of keyboards and synthesisers, which is how everyone wants it I imagine.

What followed was a selection of some of Goblins finest pieces of work, more a less conducted in chronological order and each introduced by our leader leaving no mistake in what we were listening too which left little to surprise with.

Taken out of their usual context of providing a soundtrack to (normally gruesome) images it is quite revelatory to hear the scattershot approach of the music which seems to encompass everything from prog, funk, disco and metal***. And for all of the jokes that can be made about the backing bands appearance****, they were more than capable of providing the bombast and technical prowess required from their Claudio in order to recreate these fevered compositions.

But though these tracks were created as technically as they had been on record, which is no mean feat, it really put into contrast that Goblins music, or more accurately their better known music, is designed for the screen and without this the set becomes incoherent and out of place. It is valiant to see a band concentrate on getting everything right on target when it comes to the tunes but when this means there is little energy on stage***** due to this concentration then it lacks something for the audience to connect with.

Despite this there was still entertainment to be had and I won’t lie and say it wasn’t a thrill to see the music of ‘Susperia’ brought to life. Also it’s the first time in years I’ve seen a guitarist mouth along to the noises his instrument is making****** and it was amusing to see Claudio’s attention focused on two young goth clad ladies near the front of the stage, should these be the highlights of the night though? I’m glad I went, and would be more than willing to see them again but only when providing a live soundtrack to one of the many gorgeously horrible films where they made their name.

*Don’t worry; refunds were available on the door if this fact did not please you… only time in my life where I found refunds to be so freely available.

**Seriously, these guys were pretty… like girl pretty.

***You know… all the cool genres… yeah?

****Well, the jokes that I made anyway.

*****Except for the occasional metal horn thrown out there.

******More than worth the price of admission.

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A safer choice of opening gala for the Edinburgh International Film Festival than last year’s Killer Joe, Drake Doremus’ Breathe In is a close knit, slow burning drama centred around piano teacher Keith (Guy Pearce)and the impact the arrival of exchange student Sophie (Felicity Jones) has on his family.

Keith and wife Megan (Amy Ryan) seem to have an idyllic lifestyle. Theirs is a world of stable employment, of large houses in the outer suburbs. A world where there is enough free time and energy to indulge in and follow their passions – Keith’s part time orchestral cellist position and Megan’s cookie jar collecting. A world in which their marriage is envied by friends surrounded by divorce parties, and they have the luxury of gifting a car to swim team champion daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) for her eighteenth birthday. On the surface they are – like the family portraits they pose for – perfectly happy.

It becomes clear with haste that all is not as rosy as outside eyes are led to believe. Megan refers to Keith’s love of music as a hobby, drawing his ire and causing him to retreat inward with daydreams of bands past and what may have been. He longs for city life and seeks solace from those who are supposed to be his ‘favourite people’. He appears to show little interest in the pursuits of his daughter, and displays an underlying hint of resentment as to how family life has placed restrictions upon him. Watching this unfold, Sophie becomes drawn to Keith. Quiet, and with a maturity beyond her years, Sophie is able to see the papered-over cracks in his marriage.

Holding similar viewpoints on life, music and creativity, a bond develops between Keith and Sophie. A bond which alienates his wife, and rips apart the already tense relationship Sophie had begun to form with Lauren. A bond which Doremus goes to great lengths to portray as having been less sparked by lustful desire but instead conceived through sensitive longing and the recognition of a kindred spirit.

For all the tender moments though, it is hard to see Sophie as anything other than a way out for Keith; a reason to be excused from his commitments. His decisions and actions seem too quick, selfish, and almost unbelievable. There are no sexual advances, but is this wistful doe-eyed reaction to Sophie really more than a midlife crisis caused by boundaries and restrictions imposed by marriage and fatherhood? Perhaps he falls more for what Sophie represents – freedom, choice, and escape – than the girl she is.

Guy Pearce gives a thoughtful and understated performance as Keith, connecting well with Jones as Sophie, but their relationship is lacking in charm. It is hard to feel sympathy or empathy for either of them, not because of their actions, more through an emotional stiltedness. Which applies to the whole film as – with the exception of Lauren – emotion often becomes replaced with quiet acceptance. There is outfall, there are repercussions, but the consequences of Keith’s actions are never truly explored to their full potential, with Amy Ryan’s role as Megan being relegated to an afterthought.

The musical pieces and score by Dustin O’Halloran prove to be a highlight. There is much beauty to be found in its cinematography, also in its messages and themes of freedom and choice, but with a slightly ambiguous ending, Breathe In follows in the footsteps of Keith’s treatment of his wife. Becoming cold and emotionally distant, it starts to forget the viewer who invested their time in watching it, and flees off as soon as it can, avoiding confrontation.

There are solid performances throughout, but it just isn’t enough.
Bloody good beard on Guy Pearce, though. Damn fine beard.

(Review originally posted on Live For Films)

Colin MacNeil Judge Dredd

Due to the recent resurgence of interest in the character of Judge Dredd*, thanks to the recent reboot of the franchise with Dredd 3D hitting our screens** and the back catalogue of stories presented in 2000AD being published in compendiums, the patrons of the Glasgow Film Festival were treated to a conversation with his creator John Wagner & famed Dredd artist Colin MacNeil.

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Arriving sharpish at the Glasgow CCA to find that a large queue had already scurried into the auditorium, disappointingly there seemed to be more than enough room for everyone and that this was far from a sold out event***. Greeted by our host John McShane who explained that the set up would be the usual for these events (he asks questions for a while and then it’s open to the floor), we welcomed on stage the men we were here to see.

What we were treated to was a bit of history on the character, the situations that he has found himself in and the inspiration behind these creations, as well as Wagner’s tendency to argue with his employers. Of course the subject of Dredd 3D took up a large portion of the conversation, covering the Stallone incarnation of the character…

 “I can’t say a bad word about Sylvester Stallone, the film would not have been made without his involvement, but because of his involvement this led to the problems with the movie”.

 …to Karl Urban’s**** portrayal. This led to the gentlemen stating their favourite incarnation of the world they have created to be the fan film ‘Judge Minty’ – which was being shown a couple of days later*****. However, the discussion on movie adaptations of the character led to the revelation from both men that they do not really watch films, the irony of which was lost on no one.

Judge Dredd was not the only topic of conversation, John Wagner’s ‘A History of Violence’ was covered in detail, both the comic and the Cronenberg adaption, Colin MacNeil’s inspiration for his visuals and working conditions, and other related 2000AD characters. This heralded the questions from the floor, which covered the recent American comics’ adaption of the character…

“I haven’t read it, is it as bad as the DC version?”

 To the recent indication that Dredd may be gay…

 “It doesn’t matter!”

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Once several questions had been attended to, we were at the end of our event with the points of our attention doing some signage for afters******. This was a fascinating discussion with some nice revelations on the films and how the comics were written/drawn, but not too much focus on the Judge himself, as we more or less know everything we need to know about him through 30+ years of reading his cases.

*He is a hard bastard, what’s not to like?

**All 10 people that saw it in the cinema.

***Due to a general lack of interest in British comics or the quality selection of alternative events at the GFF?

****Eh, fucking ace!

*****Nae time off to go and see it.

******Later moved to the café due to other performances taking place.