Sexy Durga

Opening with an extended, reportage-style sequence following a group of men preparing for an Indian religious ceremony – activities which include skewering cheeks and applying hooks to the skin so participants can be dangled from a low-loader and driven through crowded streets – Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's taught film is set over the course of one long night and, if nothing else, will put you off hitch-hiking for life. Unfortunately for his two leads, the titular Durga (Rajshri Deshpande) and her boyfriend Kabeer (Kannan Nayar), hitch-hiking to a railway station in Kerala at midnight is the only way they can elope. But when they're picked up by two young strangers driving a gaudily decorated minivan and listening to what sounds like Indian death metal, they start to realise the wrath of their parents is the least of their worries.

Sasidharan worked with no script and little in the way of story other than that basic outline, so it's all improvised. The film was also shot in a single night, which gives it a frantic feel that only adds to the tension. Twice we return to the religious ceremony and its sadomasochistic practices – in the middle of the film and at the end – and, though completely unrelated to Kabeer and Durga's journey, the ritualised violence and barely-contained frenzy seem to underscore it.

At the heart of this extraordinary film is Durga's experience. All we really learn is that she and Kabeer are an item, that she's ill – she doubles over at points, coughing and being sick – and that she speaks Hindi, rather than Malayalam, the Keralan language spoken by Kabeer and the strangers (who number four after a stop to deliver some unseen packages). Crammed into the back of the van with them, she is eyed, leered at and referred to in explicit sexual terms, as Sasidharan pulls no punches in his laying bare of the attitudes to women which still prevail in parts of Indian society. But it's the director's image-making which is most remarkable, especially in a closing scene in which everyone dons horror masks and barrels along a desolate country road with the van lit up and shaking with that hellish-sounding music.

Tonight (June 23), Vue Omni (8.55pm)

Teenage Superstars

Grant McPhee's music documentary Big Gold Dream was one of the hits of last year's Edinburgh International Film Festival and for good reason: it was a love letter to the bands which emerged in the capital in the late 1970s and early 1980s – groups like The Fire Engines, Josef K and The Scars – and to a scene which (briefly) put Edinburgh on the music map.

For his next trick, McPhee winds the clock on a few years and turns his attention westwards, to look at the people and the bands who picked up the baton from Edinburgh and helped turn Glasgow into the musical powerhouse it still is today. Quite properly, given that remit, it's essentially a hymn to Stephen McRobbie, aka Stephen Pastel, who was the first out of the blocks with his band The Pastels and who remains one of the mainstays of the city's music scene – or, as Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore refers to him here, “kind of the mayor” of Scotland's rock underground.

Aside from The Pastels, McPhee's primary focus is the trio of bands which came out of Bellshill (BMX Bandits, The Soup Dragons and Teenage Fanclub), the associated musicians they picked up along the way (such as Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee of The Vaselines, great favourites of Kurt Cobain), East Kilbride's The Jesus And Mary Chain and, of course, Primal Scream. There's no Bobby Gillespie to talk to for some reason, so instead it's left to Bellshill boys Norman Blake, Duglas T Stewart and Sean Dickson to do most of the reminiscing, alongside McRobbie (who seems ageless), Kelly, McKee and the always entertaining Alan McGee, who knows all of these people and at one time or another either signed most of them to his label Creation Records, or tried to.

One of the few disappointing aspects of Big Gold Dream was the lack of archive footage – it's not a problem here, a fact which adds a rich visual texture to the talking heads. All in all, a real treat for music fans and, though it's a shade under two hours, it wouldn't feel overlong at twice the length.

July 1, Odeon (3.25pm)


Part road movie, part stylishly violent crime caper, part black comedy, this fourth feature from Taiwanese writer-director Chung Mong-Hong pairs docile drug courier Nadow (Na Dow) with down-on-his-luck taxi driver Old Xu (Hong Kong comedian Michael Hui) for a heroin delivery run that should be as humdrum and routine as always, but doesn't quite pan out like that: in a departure from the script, Nadow and Old Xu are caught up in a gangland hit.

Overlaid onto that plot is the story of Nadow's unnamed boss (Leon Dai), who we encounter in the film's opening scenes almost losing his life in Thailand, a story he recounts to old friend and business associate Brother Tou when they meet to talk shop and (in just one of several Tarantino-esque asides Mong-Hong throws into the script) discuss the pros and cons of leaving the plastic covers on sofas. Some episodes are shown in flashback, meaning Mong-Hong drip feeds information about his characters, tinkers with their various chronologies and plants neat foreshadowing devices such as an underling being examined by a doctor after experiencing blackouts. But there's a straightforward enough denouement in which revenge is meted out in typically baroque and macabre fashion – at one point using a crash helmet, a hacksaw and a short jemmy: cover your eyes – and there are enough characters left standing to breakfast on pork dumplings once it's all over. Hard-boiled but not po-faced, Godspeed treads a balanced line between action and arthouse.

June 24, Vue Omni (1pm)