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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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Benedick & Beatrice

Benedick & Beatrice

So you have more or less all your TV projects cancelled at some point or another, you work on different films where your vision isn’t fully realised* and eventually you make the third highest grossing film of all time**. Now science fiction provocateur and all round nerd god Joss Whedon, has hit the heights of Hollywood power with Marvel geek fest ‘Avengers Assemble’ how does one follow up this mighty and well deserved success… well you get a load of your pals together to film an adaption of William Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ round your house when you’re on holiday, apparently so.

Suave bastard.

Suave bastard.

Returning from success in battle, Prince Don Pedro (Reed Diamond – Dollhouse), with his loyal soldiers Benedick (Alexis Denisof – Angel) and Claudio (Fran Kranz – Cabin in the Woods) by his side, seek shelter with nobleman Leonato (Clark Gregg – Avengers Assemble) and his family. Benedick, the egotistical gentry immediately heads into another battle, of words, with Leonatos’ niece Beatrice (Amy Acker – Angel) – hinting at a past that no one is mindful of. Claudio, immediately rekindling his love for Leonatos daughter Hero (newcomer Jillian Morgese), proposes and the wedding day is set. In order to amuse themselves throughout the preparations – Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio set themselves a challenge – to make Benedick & Beatrice fall in love. Behind the scenes, Don Pedro’s bastard brother Don John (Sean Maher – Firefly) is looking to cause trouble for all in attendance. Will Beatrice and Benedick get together? Will Claudio and Hero get hitched without a hitch? Can, against all odds including himself, Inspector Dogberry (Nathan Fillion – Firefly) stop the disreputable Don John? ***

Dogberry at work...

Dogberry at work…

Before watching this movie I must admit that I had trepidation on how Whedon could handle such a low key endeavour without his usual wit and pop culture**** littered dialogue to fall back on. It would transpire that I had no need to worry as Whedon handles the play expertly with the respect it’s due and the main reason for this success is – casting. Denisof & Acker***** rekindle the chemistry displayed previously in Whedon’s ‘Angel’ and it is through this intelligent casting that the film rests on and ultimately succeeds. The whole ensemble bring their A game****** and look like they are having a ball doing so. Everyone is cast to their strengths whilst also displaying a side of their work which we have not seen before hand. Maher is positively treacherous as Don John, Diamond displays some fun and playfulness not seen in previous roles and Fillion shows that he can still be hilarious whilst performing 19th century prose. It is evident throughout that the cast are having a ball in this picture and thankfully this feeling is contagious to the viewer.

Beatrice, sneaking much?

Beatrice, sneaking much?

Whedon has picked the material intelligently as the characters fit nicely into the archetype characters of previous accomplishments. Especially Beatrice, who would not be out of place in Dollhouse or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One could argue that the characters in ‘Much Ado’ fall into the categories in the Whedon co-scripted film ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, the Virgin (Morgese), the Jock (Denisof), the Fool (Fillion), the Scholar (Beatrice) and the Whore (Don John)*******. It is a testament to the source material and to Whedon’s tight and reserved direction that the performances of the cast really shine through; making what could have been a visually bland snooze fest into a heart-warming and frequently hilarious film.

Yes ladies, bearded Denisof... CALM DOWN!

Yes ladies, bearded Denisof… CALM DOWN!

It seems that what got this film attention (how it was filmed) seems to be what has made this truly special. This is a picture of love from its Director and the fact that it was done independently meant that no compromises needed to be made. Don’t be put off, yes its Shakespeare but it’s a hoot. Quite possibly this is Whedon’s greatest triumph and it now displays that he is not just the snappy dialogue guy but a serious Director that can handle all types of material.

I genuinely can’t wait to see this picture again.

*Except Serenity…

**And it was good too!

***A lot happens, a slight nightmare trying to explain the plot of this.

****It is interesting that he is now such a high profile pop culture icon now.

*****These two need to be in more things!

******Get it?

*******Admittedly I may be reaching a bit far with this one.

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.