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Glasgow Film Festival review

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

CCA, Feb 21, 5pm and GFT2, Feb 24, 8pm

This lovingly hewn documentary untangles the story of seminal Memphis band Big Star, through every misstep, to the legacy central to the legend.

Spearheaded by Alex Chilton – an ungovernable self-saboteur with godlike guitar skills and the voice of a crooked angel – and Chris Bell – introverted, sexually repressed, forever in Chilton's shadow – the band wrote the book on how not to make it in the music business, and here the entire narrative arc is plotted with testimonies from friends, family, colleagues and critics.

The story of the thwarted Bell, who died aged 27 having met almost total indifference from the recording industry after quitting Big Star, is especially hard to witness. As for Chilton, who died in 2010 aged 59, the most telling insight into his psyche comes from his Panther Burns cohort, Tav Falco: "There's a syndrome when Alex is involved – he creates something beautiful, then the next phase is to destroy it." However, as the soundtrack proves, his powers of destruction were mercifully limited.

Sean Guthrie

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