Upside Down: The Creation Records Story – 8.5/10

Noel Gallagher: ‘The first day going into Creation, scrawled on the wall behind Tim Abbott’s desk in big black felt pen was ‘Northern Ignorance’ and I thought, ‘That kind of describes me, I fucking love this place already, I’ve not been here two┬áminutes’


Following the death of Factory records founder Tony Wilson in 2007 praise was correctly lavished on both Wilson and the effect his bands had on the musical landscape. There is an argument that Creation Records have been just as instrumental. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Ride, Super Furry Animals, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub and of course Oasis all found their feet on a record label that was mostly run out of a tiny office in Hackney by ‘President of Pop’ Alan McGee and a bunch of other lunatics. Upside Down is their story…

When you have such charismatic talking heads as Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Noel Gallagher, Jim Reid (Mary Chain) and McGee himself it would be impossible not to mine some interesting stories. Danny O’ Connor does a brilliant job in piecing all the interviews together to tell what is an incredible story.

Noel Gallagher with label boss Alan McGee

One minor criticism is it would be interesting to have more of an outsiders perspective as Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook only have very brief moments on camera. The flipside to this is having read Alan McGee’s excellent book Creation Stories it becomes clear that Upside Down only tells half the story in nearly an hour and three quarters so to expect even more interviews is perhaps a bit unrealistic.

I must admit I didn’t know a huge amount about the early Creation bands until I watched Upside Down upon it’s release in 2010 but I have discovered so much great music from this documentary and it is safe to say the main draw of this project is the quite frankly astonishingly brilliant soundtrack. Which is how it should be with a film about music.

Fucking mega.

A Horrible Way to Die – 7/10.

Super bleak but powerful horror.

AJ Bowen puts in a charismatic performance
AJ Bowen puts in a charismatic performance

Far away from the seemingly endless stream of found footage movies and ghost stories currently stinking up theatre screens there is an impressive slew of underground horror directors slowly building momentum. Along with Ti West, A Horrible Way to Die director Adam Wingard is at the forefront of this scene following his success with You’re Next and his involvement with both the V/H/S and The ABCs of Death chronicles.

A Horrible Way to Die is an arty but brutal ‘what if?’ story in this case posing the question ‘what if your boyfriend is a serial killer?’. This question is a powerful one as it causes fear and uncertainty to breed in the one place that it never should – in your own home and in the arms of your loved one.

Amy Seimetz as the shell shocked and vulnerable Sarah.
Amy Seimetz as the shell shocked and vulnerable Sarah.

While not particularly high concept the constant extreme close ups and chilling choral score make for a unique and memorable viewing experience. This helps to frame three really top class performances with The Sacrament’s AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg acting as the perfect foil to Amy Seimetz tragic heroine. Bowen in particular is superb as convicted killer Garrick Turrell and a more cynical director could have made a horror franchise off the back of this performance but it is clear with Wingard as with West that the project is more important than the pay check and this is something to be lauded now more than ever.

A Horrible Way to Die is not revolutionary but it is a further example of the direction that horror films should definitely be going. Wingard’s next move will be to remake much loved and critically acclaimed South Korean horror flick I Saw the Devil… No pressure then.

How To Train Your Dragon – 8.5/10.

Dreamworks jewel in the crown.


Despite enjoying huge commercial success with the Shrek and Madagascar franchises plus box office hits like Monsters vs. Aliens, Dreamworks animation still has to hide their envious glances towards Pixar as they have have tied massive profits with universal critical acclaim and adoration.

While Shrek is a decent film and there have been a couple of others on the Dreamworks roster that I have enjoyed, How To Train Your Dragon is the first film that I have loved as much as some of Pixar’s output. In Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig and Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse director Dean DeBlois has assembled some of the finest comic actors currently working today with Gerard Butler adding his gruff, more dramatic voice to sweeten the pot.


The beauty of Pixar is the emotional attachment they make you feel about futuristic robots or lost clownfish and I can safely say I was with Toothless the dragon all the way through this movie and it’s hard not to root for any character played by Baruchel.

Dreamworks output before and after How To Train Your Dragon has been patchy and inconsistent but this is a film to rival anything that either Disney or Pixar have released. Don’t wait five years to see it like I did.

IMDB TOP 250 #150

Rabbit Hole – 7.5/10.

A couple try to cope with their grief following the tragic loss of a child. No actual rabbits appear..

The message of Rabbit Hole is very simple and rather crude being basically SCIENCE = GOOD, RELIGION = BAD. It is hard for me to write an unbiased review based on this as that is pretty much my belief also but here goes.

First off no matter your beliefs there is no denying the acting in Rabbit Hole is extremely strong. A few years ago I wouldn’t have bothered with a film with Nicole Kidman in a starring role but Dogville totally changed my opinion of her and she is absolutely superb throughout this film despite tackling very difficult and emotive subject matter.

Secondly the film is very well written and contains a few excellent and memorable scenes and even a spot of humour buried beneath the bleak exterior. Aaron Eckhart also puts a good shift in and the two together say more with a look or a pause than most actors could with pages of dialogue.

Lastly Miles Teller (who delivers an even better but wildly different performance in The Spectacular Now, definitely one to watch for the future) is a revelation as the poor bastard driving the car that killed the child. It is a quiet but compelling turn from Teller and he ties the narrative together whilst also featuring in the most emotionally captivating scenes.

Rabbit Hole is by no means a fun movie but it is personal and it is touching and if you can cast aside the rather heavy handed message and just get swept away in the emotional tour de force it is well worth it.