Monday, 29 September 2008

Back in the UK...

...but not quite back in reality yet, not helped by the fact that I got addicted to Fable on the Xbox over the weekend (yes, I am about ten years behind the rest of the world but the Xbox is on loan from brother Pete so much cheaper than buying a next-gen thingy). So at the moment my jet lagged head is somewhere between New York and a fantasy world, which isn't a bad place to be, just not a very productive one. September was a bit of crazy month with all the travelling and holidays and stupid amounts of work that had to be done in between, but as a result I've come out the other side with a much clearer slate than I had before. Which won't last, but while I am a bit less busy than usual I will try and update the blog with full details of the New York trip and might even have time for another podcast episode later in the week. Depending on how long it takes me to complete Fable.

I'm also sad about Paul Newman. Too many great films to list here but I've always been a huge fan of The Hustler and Butch Cassidy.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Busy week...

Far too much going on to write about here this week. Nothing that exciting, just desperately trying to finish things off before I go to New York on Saturday. I did finally finish the second draft of Hit the Big Time though which I'm pretty happy with. It still needs some work, but it's very nearly there.

Had a fantastic time in Bristol last weekend watching films with mates. We chose the route of only watching films that looked terrible for their entertainment value, and entertaining they most certainly were. I learnt that Cole Hauser is an amazing actor, especially when he doesn't actually appear in the film he is being amazing in. And Fred Williamson has a flying car.

Proof that I'm not alone in my madness, check out the Cool Target reviews of the following:

The Destroyer

Black Cobra

Black Cobra 2

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Conventions of cinema that bother me part 1

By conventions of cinema I mean things like people never paying for taxis, needlessly racking shotguns cos it sounds cool, cars exploding for no reason - the stuff we know isn't realistic but accept anyway. Only this one I have real problems with. So last night I'm watching The Counterfeiters (great film, by the way, and August Diehl is one of my new favourite actors despite only having seen him in this and Tattoo) BUT they did that thing where one of characters coughs fairly early on and you just know he's going to die. I guess that's a spoiler, but what I'm saying is when they do that in films, it's not subtle foreshadowing, it's a spoiler within the film! People don't cough in films unless they're going to die later on. It's like when Nic Cage's dad has a smoke in Ghost Rider then gets cancer in the next scene - these days if a character smokes in a film he has to get cancer the next day. Sorry, back to coughing - I'm sure I've seen this in a dozen films but the only other one I can think of right now is Moulin Rouge - please let me know if you can think of anything else where a character coughs then dies later on, they are out there. The thing is, I understand why it's there, it usually achieves the intended foreshadowing purpose, but it's just so obvious! Come on, people - let's work out a new way to signify illness in the first act!

In other news, I seriously recommend you go to and download their Godzilla podcast (Episode 42) - funniest thing I've heard in ages.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

'essentially the same'

This was on today:

'Spielberg Accused Of Ripping Off Hitchcock

8 September 2008 6:35 PM, PDT

Movie mogul Steven Spielberg has been charged with stealing his Disturbia plot from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window in a new Hollywood legal spat.

The moviemaker's DreamWorks Studio and Universal Pictures have been accused of copyright infringement by the current owners of author Cornell Woolrich's short story, which inspired Hitchcock's 1954 classic thriller.

James Stewart, who starred in that film, bought the rights to the story, Murder From a Fixed Viewpoint, and representatives at the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust think Spielberg should have done the same before making his film, which starred Shia Labeouf.

According to the lawsuit, filed in New York, the plots of Disturbia and Rear Window are "essentially the same".

Top critics noted the similarities when Disturbia hit cinemas in 2007, with one reviewing calling Spielberg's movie "a rip-off".'

When I first saw the trailer for Disturbia I thought 'oh, it's Rear Window with teens, not a bad idea'. As it turned out, it was a terrible idea and a really awful film, mostly due to the script which stretches the first act out to an hour thinking we'd rather hang out with Shia Lebeouf and his mates than get into the story. And despite David Morse being great in everything, his character makes a really stupid mistake at the end when he's practically won. But the quality of the film is not the point here. The point is, of course it was a rip-off of Rear Window! That was obvious!

But that's all it was. It wasn't an unauthorised re-make, it wasn't a Rear Window fan film, it wasn't anything that a million other film-makers haven't already done in the past and often with better results. You know what? Reservoir Dogs is 'essentially the same' as City on Fire, but I don't think Ringo Lam ever sued Quentin Tarantino. And even though the similarities between Doomsday and Escape from New York are universally recognised I doubt anyone would call for John Carpenter to sue Neil Marshall. And what about straight-to-DVD distributors like The Asylum who even bothered to rip-off Snakes on a Plane with Snakes on a Train. Speaking of Snakes on a Plane it was preceded by Tail Sting which was practically identical only with giant scorpions, and followed by Flight of the Living Dead - zombies on a plane! I don't remember anyone getting sued.

Yes, it does annoy me sometimes when directors and producers blatantly steal ideas from other films. But even then I rarely think it calls for legal action (if you can think of any examples where that's justified please let me know). It doesn't annoy me half as much as legitimate remakes - they're the things people should be complaining about! The point is, Disturbia clearly took Rear Window as it's starting point and tried to do something different and interesting with it. It failed, miserably, but it most certainly was not 'essentially the same'. And no one deserves to get sued over it because if we start suing over things like this the whole copyright issue is just going to get more complicated and restrictive than it already is.

Sorry, I've been angry about that since lunchtime.

Monday, 8 September 2008

I'm back...sort of...

So I'm back from my tour of the Midlands which was fantastic. Even more fantastic was having a proper week off where I didn't reply to any e-mails or answer my phone, although it was probably quite annoying for people trying to get in touch with me! And the person who's party I missed (sorry about that!). 

Anyway, having been really slack in August (justifiably so considering how much I've written this year) I'm now ultra busy and having to finish off a load of work before I head off to New York in a couple of weeks.

The podcast will have to be put on hold for a while as I don't really have time to do it at the moment. But if there are any new listeners who've found their way here from iTunes or Google Reader or something, please stick with me, I will do another one at some point. For now you will have to put up with plain old text updates.

By the way, the picture on my last episode, which I still can't get to appear in iTunes, is not meant to be serious. It is my paranormal investigator face, in that if I ever happened to write a book on paranormal investigation that is the picture that would go on on the back. I thought it was funny, then Andrea pointed out people might think I go around pulling that face all the time. I don't, but if I could get away with it I probably would.

Being very busy I have a lot to moan about but rather than taking up your time and mine with a lengthy rant I will summarise my current gripes here:

1) Second drafts are no fun at all.

2) Arranging meetings around a full time job is really annoying.

Also, something I really recommend if you like films but never get chance to watch any - put aside a whole day, lock yourself in a room with a tv, get plenty of snacks and drinks and run your own one-day film festival (i.e. watch as many films as you can back to back). Got the idea from brother Pete who discussed it in his blog and did it myself on Friday. I got through five which isn't bad going. Did start to lose my grip on reality by the end but that was kind of the intention.

Anyway, too much to do, especially having spent a whole day watching films instead of writing, so I'll leave it there for now. I'll try to update the blog when I can!