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Far Eastwood

Hollywood isn’t the only part of the world with a penchant for remakes, as the Japanese adaptation of Unforgiven reveals


aziness is the wicked stepmother of reinvention. Why else would Spike Lee unnecessarily remake Oldboy a mere ten years after Park Chan-wook’s classic? And, be assured, it is the film he retreads, not the source manga. Are subtitles so very difficult, or do Asian stars not shine brightly enough for western audiences? Then again, not all updates have such idle intent; I suppose it’s the subtle difference between regurgitation and reimagination. Only James Toback and other lunatics would hold his Fingers above Jacques Audiard’s stunning Parisian retelling, The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Even Michael Mann must admit that his L.A. Takedown is far surpassed by... erm... Michael Mann’s own upgrade Heat. So what then of Unforgiven, a brave Japanese remodelling of Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winner? Well, this particular strand of cross-pollination has pedigree. Toshiro Mifune and Charles Bronson’s square-up in Red Sun (1971) sounded the death rattle of the mixed marriage between cowboys and samurai (ye gods, imagine the sex... Brokeback Bushido). As with all relationships, however, it began so beautifully: The Seven Samurai was plundered and retuned as The Magnificent Seven; Yojimbo got a wonderfully garish Italian paint job by Leone (A Fistful of Dollars); then Walter Hill’s later, lesser Last Man Standing – reheated spaghetti. It works both ways, though, as Kurosawa’s original influence for Yojimbo was Dashiell


Hammett’s 1929 high plains novel Red Harvest. The problem is that with the cultural carpet bagging of opportunistic remakes, subtext is stripped out. The much maligned J-Horror genre, at least in its early flush of youth with such fine shockers as Dark Water and The Ring, mined the loneliness and isolation of modern Japanese life, the breakdown of the family unit and tradition. Their US doppelgängers proved hollow likenesses, offering up simple frights. Those of higher purpose and design, such as the aforementioned Audiard, often apply their own cultural significance to create something fresh and original. When I spoke to Bong Joon-ho at last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival of the rumoured American remake of his matinee monster tale The Host, he pondered over a possible adapted significance: “Maybe monsters from Mississippi? Some black family or something? Morgan Freeman as Grandfather. Will Smith? I don’t know. It’s up to them.” The feedback to Lee Sang-il’s Unforgiven remake has been positive, placing him in that preferred mould of reimagination. A quick concurrent synopsis: an aged gunslinger/samurai of fearsome repute is brought out of retirement by the promise of a thousand dollar/yen bounty for the shooting/slashing of the men who disfigured a prostitute. So while the story moves a continent, from Wyoming plains to Hokkaido hills, and involves a selection of tailored

Words: Alan Bett subplot, the transfer is easy; gunslingers and samurai are cut from the same cloth. They are lone wolves, working within codes of honour and, in a characteristic shared more specifically between the spaghetti westerns and Japanese chanbara (samurai film), possessing an almost magical talent for death. The only variant is bullet or blade. While Red Sun may have killed this particular pairing, it’s been resurrected in recent years: once with that constant cult reanimator Tarantino cameoing in Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django (2007); a year later saw Korean Kim Jee-woon’s title tribute The Good, the Bad and the Weird. Now, at GFF in 2014, it’s Unforgiven. I’ll be watching for sure, for the rumoured beauty of the cinematography, for Eastwood from an Asian perspective (will they skewer the chanbara swordplay myth as he did the wild west?), but more specifically to see samurai great Ken Watanabe (who also starred in Clint’s Letters from Iwo Jima) translate his William Munny, the elder interpretation of the man with no name; the circle of legend complete. “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” Remaking his classic? That might just be forgiven. 28 Feb, GFT 2, 6pm


Reviews The Punk Singer

Director: Sini Anderson Starring: Kathleen Hanna, Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon


Kathleen Hanna claims she started a band because no one ever listened to her. It’s safe to say that changed with Bikini Kill. The Punk Singer takes us back to the era when manifestos were spread in underground fanzines. Although renowned for her chameleonic success with acts as diverse as Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and for her incredible lo-fi solo record, Julie Ruin, it is Hanna’s reputation as a feminist that forms the through line of her biography. Countless peers – musicians and activists – recount Hanna’s role in the formation of the riot grrrl movement, her inspiring presence, and the novel

social experiment ‘girls to the front’, which saw violent mosh pits reclaimed as safe areas for women to attend and enjoy shows without being attacked or molested. Sini Anderson’s film doesn’t present its subject as an icon, instead it humanises Hanna and empowers its audience: a perfect representation of one of the founding riot grrrls, who connected young women in disparate bedrooms with each other using ideas, zines, and record players. [David McGinty] 28 Feb, GFT 2, 9pm 1 Mar, GFT 2, 2.45pm

The Punk Singer

Love Is Not What It Used to Be

Director: Gabriel Ochoa Starring: Aida Folch, Nicolás Coronado, Blanca Romero, Alberto San Juan, Petra Martínez, Carlos Álvarez-Nóvoa, José Coronado


In one Spanish city, three couples of varying ages undergo differing experiences of modern love: elderly former lovers meet again after years apart, a middle-aged pair struggle with their diminishing commitment to one another, and a young man and woman take nervous steps into a committed relationship. The three narratives of Love Is Not What It Used to Be are loosely connected by the males of each pairing all working at the same hospital, though the tales never actually intertwine, despite gelling well alongside each other within the narrative’s framework. Though the middle-aged couple’s ennui-filled story proves somewhat dull, much of the film is amiable and engaging. Aided by warm cinematography and a well-drawn, sparky performance from Aida Folch as the female of the youngest pairing, this is a sweet affair that doesn’t offer all that much thematic depth or lasting resonance, but is perfectly charming in the moment with little to annoy. That being said, a recurring visual tic with arrows scribbled over the film certainly comes close. [Josh Slater-Williams] 28 Feb, GFT 3, 4.45pm 1 Mar, GFT 3, 8.30pm


The Zero Theorem

The Zero Theorem

Director: Terry Gilliam Starring: Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis, Mélanie Thierry


In the vein of Spike Jonze’s Her, Terry Gilliam’s latest sci-fi, like all the best films in that genre, puts humanity under a microscope lens and searches for its meaning in the modern world. In an increasingly digital society where what we see on our screens steadily replaces reality, the questions of what it means to be human and how we connect with others become ever more urgent. Gilliam’s magnifying glass, however, is far grimier than the

slickness of Jonze’s Apple store world; his conclusions are, too. The Zero Theorem is covered in the director’s hallmarks, from dilapidated and derelict cities, to banal bureaucratic figures, to chunky technology that whirrs and bleeps like the makeshift sci-fi of 80s Doctor Who. It’s a visual marvel: a low-fi, old school dystopia that nevertheless feels both contemporary and worryingly prescient. In an advert that plays near

the beginning of the film, a talking head informs us that “the future has come and gone. Where were you?” The questions this film wrestles with, Gilliam is suggesting, are not just for the characters of the film but for everyone watching. The future is here: where are you? [Nathanael Smith] 28 Feb, GFT 2, 11.15am


At Home in The Dark

Today’s Picks

GFF14 might be in its closing days, but this year’s FrightFest line-up shows the thrills are far from over


GFT, 6pm Quick, watch this before a barrage of uninspired reviewers make a play on the title to tell you how good it is. “If you miss this, you won’t be forgiven.” “A remake may sound like a bad idea, but after watching it, all is forgiven.” These things write themselves.

Interview: Chris Fyvie

Place of Work - Margaret Tait Revisited



CCA, 8.15pm Two Scotland based artists, Stina Wirfelt and Oliver Mezger, explore the work of the experimental director from Orkney through adapting her scripts and revisiting her documentary subjects, alongside a screening of one of Tait’s own films. Both Wirfelt and Mezger will be attending the screenings to discuss why her work is so enduring.

Requiem for Detroit?/Carl Craig Almost Human

The Scribbler


here’s an overriding air of the macabre to the festival’s final weekend this year, with Jonathan Glazer’s nightmarish vision of Glasgow, Under the Skin, closing the event on Sunday evening. Before we see an insatiable extra-terrestrial ScarJo guzzling jakeys on Sauchiehall Street, however, there’s the small matter of another FrightFest to get through. Kicking-off today, there’s a number of creepy treats awaiting those whose cinematic tastes lean towards the transgressive. A sink-or-swim opening double of Michael S. Ojeda’s Savaged and Zack Parker’s Proxy look to set an early tone; both sound particularly vicious, with their narratives hinging on women coping with the aftermath of horrific attacks. Ojeda, who cut his teeth on TV’s Deadliest Warrior before producing this feature debut, adds a mystical angle to the revenge fantasy by having his heroine possessed by an Apache spirit before stalking her assailants. Parker’s film appears the more cerebral, if no less violent effort; GFF’s programme states it to be ‘part De Palma, part Lars von Trier, part Martyrs’. If that doesn’t bloody terrify you, we don’t know what will… Later in the evening, John Jarret returns as everyone’s favourite murdering drongo in Greg Mclean’s second chapter of the Mick Taylor saga, Wolf Creek 2. It’ll be a bad day for backpackers as the knife-wielding, slack-jawed low-life runs amok in the stunning Aussie outback, but will this sequel have the same fraught atmosphere of the original, or be played more for laughs now that Taylor’s outrageous persona THESKINNY.CO.UK/CINESKINNY

is established? Time and torment-towisecrack ratio will tell. Master of slow-burn terror, Ti West, is then on-hand to introduce his eagerly anticipated The Sacrament. The second film of the day to feature the ubiquitous Joe Swanberg, who also appears in Proxy, The Sacrament sees a team of journalists head-off to visit one of their number’s sister (Upstream Colour’s Amy Seimetz) in a secluded, secretive commune in South America. Needless to say, things won’t go entirely to plan for the intrepid reporters. Found-footage schlocker Afflicted, where two chaps have their holibobs ruined by a mystery illness, brings the day to a close. A mere ten hours later, audiences are eased into Saturday’s programme with Jake West and Marc Morris’s second documentary on censorship in the UK, Video Nasties: Draconian Days, which covers The Video Recordings Act of 1984 up to the end of James Ferman’s controversial stewardship of the BBFC in 1999. It’s soon back on the hardcore trail, though, with the faintly Cronenbergian-sounding The Scribbler, Hicksville horror Torment, then Mark Strong-starring sci-fi, Mindscape. This head-melter from Jorge Dorado (making his feature directorial debut after heading-up second units for Pedro Almodóvar) sees detectives now poking-about in the psyche of criminals for clues and motive, rather than bother with more traditional, mundane methods of deduction. Take that, CSI. A trend towards the fantastical continues with Almost Human, an alien abduction flick said to echo early Raimi


and not exactly be shy on the gore front. Very mixed reviews suggest this might not be a masterpiece, but a little bit of splatter has never been known to turn-off a FrightFest crowd willing to forgive the most heinous of celluloid crimes should the body count be right. Filling the penultimate spot on the schedule, this could well be a riot. Rounding-off the programme, and arguably its biggest draw, is The Mo Brothers’ (Timo Tjahjanto & Kimo Stamboel) epic psychological shocker, Killers. Co-produced by The Raid’s Gareth Huw Evans (who collaborated with Tjahjanto on V/H/S 2’s strongest segment, Safe Haven), this ultra-violent tale of two serial murderers bonding via a snuff website as they go about their respective rampages will certainly give the crowd its money’s worth with its hefty 140 minute runtime. Going down very well at Sundance, Killers will be a tough, but hopefully contemplative, end to the weekend. Buckets of blood and elegant action sequences combining with comment on the pervasive crassness of internet click-bait, while not exactly original, seems more pertinent with every passing week. The perfect coda to an event built on rewarding those with strong stomachs and open – if slightly weird – minds.

The Arches, 8pm, £20 for party Detroit was a city that went bust, its once thriving industries laid low by worldwide financial collapse. The key to this documentary, however, is the question mark in the title, as hope emerges again. The free screening is then followed by a DJ set from Detroit techno producer Carl Craig; presumably at some point in the evening you will be required to raise your hands for the city in Michigan.

Requiem for Detroit?

The Punk Singer

GFT, 9pm, 11pm Tantalised by our glowing review for this doc? Gutted that tickets sold faster than a film critic runs towards free booze? The wonderful GFF14 team have put on another screening for your delectation at 11pm.

The Summer of Flying Fish

GFT, 6.45pm Could fish be the most popular animal for use in film titles? Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, A Fish Called Wanda, Big Fish, The Fisher King? Tweet @SkinnyFilm if you have a rival answer. But first go and watch this ace sociopolitical drama about land disputes in Chile.

FrightFest takes place at the GFT on 28 Feb and 1 Mar, with additional Best of the Fest screenings at Cineworld on 2 Mar Weekend passes and tickets are still available The Summer of Flying Fish


What’s new online? Stranger Than Fiction

Sean Welsh highlights some of the documentaries that remain to be screened at the festival as part of this eye-opening strand.

Witching & Bitching

The Daily Record’s Gary McConnachie is one of this film’s (many) fans, his review of it praising just how off-the-wall weird it is. “It’s pretty much bonkers on every level.”

Eye for Film

Jennie Kermode’s festival diary includes George Sluizer, agnès b. and potholing, which she is deliberately vague on details about. “It was a spooky experience for all involved” is all she will reveal.


Director: Steven Knight Starring: Tom Hardy


If the close-up is cinema’s most powerful tool, not to be overused, tell director Steven Knight, who focuses intently of the face of Tom Hardy in this thrilling single person piece. Also tell Atom Egoyan, who in similar fashion projected a 30 minute single take of the great Michael Gambon’s crumbling features for Eh Joe on the Edinburgh stage last year. It’s only right to compare Locke to theatre in style, and absolutely necessary to compare it more specifically to Beckett, from which it takes so much (even dropping a Waiting for Godot reference). While the great playwright was haunted by the past, Hardy’s Ivan Locke is by the present. Sealed in the modern isolation of his BMW, speeding down the M9, but as distant as Sandra Bullock in Gravity’s space pod, he navigates domestic and professional situations that take on herculean significance. While Beckett’s Krapp endured his own folly through worn

out, aged tapes, Locke is tormented through his continually engaged car phone, his single link to the outside world. You could absorb this film almost fully with your eyes shut, but Knight adds the visual stimulation of ghostly reflections of Locke, artificially lit

by headlights, like a more mundane version of Drive’s opening scene. This does not quite share the subtlety of Beckett (metaphors of hardening concrete footprints are a little too obvious), or the poetry of language, but must be considered a modern equivalent. [Alan Bett]

Crossing the Line

The Vile Blog gives a comprehensive run-down of the experimental cinema strand at GFF14, featuring synopses, listings and what to expect from “the stuff that won’t really be shown in any other place around Scotland.”


This Glasgow-based collective run by women is presenting music and feminism doc The Punk Singer at GFF14. On their blog they anticipate its first screenings.

What did you think? Six of the best tweets Tag your tweets #CINESKINNY! You may end up featured here... which would be nice @theelusiveshaun


Thursday will be mostly dungeons, dragons, Scandinavian metal, angels and a python. Can’t wait. @glasgowfilmfest #GFF14 #CINESKINNY

Everyone talking about Xavier Dolan’s influences. He reminds me most of Fassbinder for his insight into hetero culture #TomAttheFarm #GFF14 #CINESKINNY



Did anyone at the screening of @DearMrWatterson @glasgowfilmfest not reread their favourite Calvin & Hobbes with renewed love last night? #GFF14 #CINESKINNY

So #Calvary was about as dark as a pint of Guinness. Enjoyable film, touching on difficult subject. Some good black humour too. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY


Great night at #GFF14. Thanks to @glasgowfilmfest for putting on an independence event which didn’t have a side. :D #CINESKINNY


If I see 5 better male lead performances this year than Brendan Gleeson in Calvary I’ll be astonished @glasgowfilmfest #GFF14 #CINESKINNY

Picture of the day

A gamer enjoys the retro arcades at Tron: Off the Grid


Photo: Stuart Crawford

Produced by The Skinny magazine in association with the Glasgow Film Festival Editor Jamie Dunn Designer Ana Hine Assistant Editors Nathanael Smith Patrick Harley Distribution Franchesca Hashemi Graeme Campbell Jennifer Clews

GFF Box Office Order tickets from the box office at or call 0141 332 6535 or visit Glasgow Film Theatre 12 Rose Street, Glasgow, G3 6RB


CineSkinny @ GFF14 – Issue 9  
CineSkinny @ GFF14 – Issue 9  

Hollywood isn’t the only part of the world with a penchant for remakes, as the Japanese adaptation of Unforgiven reveals. GFF14 might be in...