After the wonderful SMALL TOWN WISCONSIN, one of the very best of the festival, you would think that Whistler Film Festival is starting to decelerate. But no, WFF is just getting warmed up! Two big additions to Day 8 include Julian Temple’s awesome new rock doc and a tight British drama, both of which were admired by this film buff.
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan (United Kingdom, dir. Julian Temple)
When I think of The Pogues I always look back to my older cousin Kevin who had an amazing record collection when I was growing up. I used to come over for family visits and, with his permission, thumb through each and every album cover. Seeing covers like PEACE & LOVE and RUN SODOMY & THE LASH stuck out to me and I remember spinning these records on his turntable. The Pogues didn’t do many studio albums but I knew Kevin loved them and it was just part of my musical education of the time. So when I got to check out the new CROCK OF GOLD doc, these memories came flooding back.
It’s no surprise that CROCK OF GOLD comes from filmmaker Julian Temple, who almost needs no introduction if you are into music docs. Temple is no stranger to this genre with credits including THE FILTH & THE FURY paying tribute to The Sex Pistols, JOE STRUMMER: THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN as his ode to The Clash along with countless music videos just to tip the iceberg on his prolific career (not to mention he somehow slipped in one of my favourite 80s childhood memories EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY). He kicks it up a notch here with a pure, epic-length tribute to one of the most bizarre talents out there, Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, who always scared me in my formative music years with all of his missing teeth. Here, we get almost his entire life story up until now; not all of it is pretty, but there was a lot that I learned by watching here and it was amazing to see how far he has come.
I feel like we have seen so many rock docs of late, and CROCK OF GOLD thankfully doesn’t fall into the trap of talking heads and clip shows. There are a LOT of vintage photos and videos to be sure, but in such a rich and interesting form as it combines the years of Shane’s upbringing, Irish and British history and even simulating some of his drug experiences. While there are also quite a few interviews which I worried would bog down the experience, Temple is wise to balance all of this as a framing device within Shane having drinks in one of his local pubs (as he has drinks with Johnny Depp, one of the producers, but even he’s mostly off to the side). There are also animated flashbacks from time to time adding to the surreality of it all.
Even at an epic 130 minutes, I almost wanted this to be longer, or a mini-series, as I could listen to Shane talk for hours. Even if you are a casual music fan, CROCK OF GOLD will still resonate and entertain you throughout its running time.
Rating: ***½ out of ****
CROCK OF GOLD is now streaming through December 31st on the WFF virtual site and will have a regular release in early 2021. Thanks to Tom Alexander at Mongrel Media for sending along an advance screener for review.
How To Stop A Recurring Dream (United Kingdom, dir. Edward Morris)
I feel that every year WFF tosses in an indie British drama just to keep the festival nice and balanced…or they just know that I’m into these types of movies. In this case, it’s a family drama that involves older Yakira (the excellent Ruby Barker, known for her work on the TV series WOLFBLOOD) kidnapping her troubled younger sister and taking her on a road trip in the hopes to mend their relationship as their parents are separating. This bizarre road movie gets stranger as it goes along, with dashes of dark humour, weird characters, comments on British surveillance and tracking, and it takes no easy turns.
Opening on a scene where the younger sister gets locked in a movie theater (I personally would not have a problem with this), we get the sense of middle class dread throughout mixed with dreamlike images, random characters and unique use of imagery and sound; there’s an early scene where the younger daughter tips her chair during a family argument which got under my skin…which I assume the filmmakers were trying to do. But it all worked on me; Edward Morris’ “Suburban Odyssey” just gets in and out in 82 brisk minutes and doesn’t linger too long after it ends, but it’s pretty intense and interesting as it goes down.
Rating: *** out of ****
HOW TO STOP A RECURRING DREAM begins streaming today on the WFF Virtual page. As always, thanks to Jive PR for sending along a copy of the movie for review.
#WFF20 is here! Join in celebrating cinematic excellence with 97 fresh films, including 30 features and 67 shorts, premiering through December 20th and available to Canadian audiences online until December 31. Once you order a film, you have 24 hours to watch it. (We at Get Reel Movies recommend the TV streaming box Apple TV or even the Roku app, both of which I use to stream titles this year.) Plus, WFF has pledged to share net online proceeds on a 50/50 basis directly with the filmmakers or Canadian rights holders.
For more information, visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com!