This sequel to Grant McPhee’s Big Gold Dream had its world premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival last Thursday 22 June, the final cut apparently only arriving in Edinburgh just before midnight in 21 June…
Big Gold Dream was a big hit at the festival two years ago and I think may have won the best film award at the time. That surprised me, because the night I saw the film, it seemed more like a good 40-minute TV documentary padded out to feature film length. Nonetheless, it went on to much success and plaudit, so what do I know?
So I wasn’t eagerly waiting on the “sequel,” directed again by Grant McPhee.
As it turns out, Teenage Superstars is much more captivating that Big Gold Dream; maybe it’s just a more interesting story of more interesting people. As can be gleaned from the title, this film is about the Glasgow scene of the 1980’s and concentrates on The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, The Soup Dragons, The Pastels and BMX Bandits. The interdependence of many of the bands and individuals in the scene is stressed over and over – often one band would have a high percentage of common members – and the influence of Stephen Pastel, Duglas T Stewart and Bobby Gillespie as taste-makers and facilitators is presented cogently with many interviews with the first two, but not, frustratingly, with Gillespie. Frustratingly, as he is cited on many occasions for his influence.
I really enjoyed the first hour and thought that the issues I had with Big Gold Dream had been illusory, or maybe the result of seeing a very early edit. The second half really slowed down though and the continued repetition of the same pieces of footage and still pictures began to jar. There was something a bit weird with the music as well, which I assume is due to clearances – sometimes a piece of music under discussion was not what was being played on the soundtrack (Primal Scream) or a band’s music was presented solely through TV or film appearances.
Still, I woke up the next day in a fantastic mood, which I was sure was due to this film, for the most part a fine and cheering story of a bunch of people with enough self-belief to obviate failure. I expect it will do better and be more fondly remembered than its predecessor.