Sunday, 30 November 2008

Adventures of last weekend...

...finally got a minute to finish off the post I started in the week, but first off there is another Poundland entry here with a good observation about Michael Crichton that had never occurred to me.

Also, here is the Ten Dead Men US DVD artwork made bigly:

I guess it's not as bad as I first thought, and it is mainly the fact that it's not Brendan's body that makes me think it looks weird. I would've preferred something more subtle but I know, subtle doesn't sell DVDs.

Anyway, this happened last weekend when Brother Pete came to visit. Saturday we watched films and I recommend the hat system when choosing which film to watch when there are a number of you present. This was developed during a similar weekend in Cardiff with Geraint where we were overwhelmed by the selection of films available on-demand and required a fair and efficient selection process. I tried to make it more exciting with a kind of Russian Roulette element, choosing only films that sounded terrible. So I suggested the same tactic on Saturday night. This lead to the bizarre yet enjoyable triple bill of Contour, Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Death Sentence. Perhaps not the most consistent in tone but I think at least everyone present got to see something they wanted to see and a good time was had by all.

Sunday I’d got tickets to see The Dark Knight on IMAX and since it takes about three years to get anywhere by train on a Sunday I decided we’d make a day of it. Rather do the usual touristy things we went further afield to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. It’s a weird little place full of stuff you’d expect to find in the attic of a mad scientist’s house, but it’s also clearly had a lot of money spent on it so the weird displays are quite well-kept. I recommend it to anyone who likes pickled dead things in jars. Other highlights were the oversized insect models, the wall display of stuffed dog heads and a rather well-preserved fake mermaid. It’s not quite as good as the Booth Museum in Brighton though – doesn’t give you the same sense that the Ark of the Covenant could be sitting in a box in a backroom.

Then we went to see Dark Knight which was awesome, although cheats a bit as only the sequences shot with the IMAX camera are projected in IMAX. That sentence makes me sound thick, but what I mean is the aspect ratio is all over the place because it’s 4:3 for the IMAX shots then goes back to widescreen for normal shots. This is fine when lengthy sequences are shot in IMAX, but less good when there’s a brief IMAX shot of a cityscape that then cuts back to widescreen, like you’ve got your TV on the wrong ratio setting and it keeps flipping back and forth. Anyway, it’s still my favourite film of the year and it was cool seeing it massive with decent sound. Also, it's the only film I’ve ever paid to see three times.

So we head back to the tube only my London geography is way off as I haven’t been for ages and I walk in the wrong direction. When I realise this and we get to the nearest station we find that there’s no trains going anywhere near where we want to go. So we decided to walk to Victoria, despite it being 9.30pm on a Sunday and freezing cold. It turned out to be a good decision – we saw all the sights lit up and the streets were practically empty. It made London seem like really nice place full of cool big things, instead of a crazy, busy place full of annoying angry people. Not sure I’d recommend sight-seeing on a Sunday night in winter as I don’t want to be responsible for anyone getting mugged, but if circumstances allow it is a cool way to see the city.

Monday Andrea was off work and we all went to a Garden Centre. We don’t have a garden. However, we thought it might be like the magical Christmas garden centre in Stafford where there are crazy lights and animatronic Jedi. But it was just a normal garden centre and therefore a bit rubbish. We did find a cool country pub though, and sat listening to two posh-sounding old ladies talking about ghosts and headless babies.

The only other thing of note was watching Dead of Night when we got home – an excellent film that I’ve had on DVD since last Christmas and completely forgot about until now. It’s probably the best portmanteau horror film, probably the best English horror film and certainly has one of the best and genuinely horrifying endings in horror film history. You have to ignore the comic relief in the middle though – an unfortunate side-effect of being produced by Ealing Studios.

Since I’m rambling, I’ll mention writing even though I haven’t been doing any. Various scripts are being sent out to various people so I’m waiting for various responses. There are potentially exciting things on the horizon but until they come close enough to become actual things I’m deliberately not getting excited at all. And I have been taking in some of the Dark Room feedback and think I’ve found a few ways to sort it out in the next draft. The writing it as a novel idea actually really helped as it made me stop thinking about the script as the definitive version of the story which made it easier to contemplate losing some of the things I’m attached to. So a second draft is more of a possibility now, but there is also a rapidly expanding document on my computer with notes for the novel.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Von Trier rant hijinks...

Loads going on at the moment. Not much I can talk about. There is more Ten Dead Men news which I will blog about properly when I get chance and am on a computer that lets me add pictures and stuff. But for now you can check out the details here.

My blog may have to do some time travelling shortly. I drafted an entry about my weekend adventures with Brother Pete, but didn't have time to finish it and it's saved at home. I'm now at work and have blogging withdrawal symptoms. And I've fallen into the trap of thinking if I don't update this every few days I will cease to exist. Or something.

Anyway, just got back from a dubious 'business' trip as part of the day job. Our mission was to pretend we worked in another office in another part of the country (yes I am being vague on purpose) for reasons too convoluted and probably top secret to mention here. So four of us from Brighton took a four hour train journey to the other office, stayed overnight, perfected our best accents, memorised some local knowledge and went ahead with the ruse. Hijinks ensue.

Except hijinks didn't ensue - it was rubbish. Our efforts to mislead were not even tested. But it was one of those moments where real life almost becomes a film. It reminded me of the recent Lars von Trier film The Boss of it All where the manager of a small company can't face telling his employees any bad news so hires an actor to do it for him. Hijinks ensue. It's actually really funny, although suffers from von Trier's usual habit of not filming anything properly so all the framing is off. I have a love/hate relationship with von Trier's films - loved Element of Crime, hated Breaking the Waves, loved The Kingdom, hated Dancer in the Dark, loved Europa, hated Dogville, loved The Five Obstructions, hated The Idiots...although funnily enough The Boss of it All was the first one I didn't have an extreme reaction to. It was just okay.

Special mention must also go to Dear Wendy which von Trier wrote and is ace.

Once again I'm saved from an end to my internet existence by a random film rant.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Some films...

Being a bit less busy means I get to watch more films, and I've seen some pretty good ones this week. This having a break from writing thing does make it difficult to maintain a writing blog so it may become a films and random stuff discussion blog for a month or so.

Wednesday night I did a bizarre double-bill of Dragon Wars and The Tracey Fragments, and I really enjoyed both. Dragon Wars should be terrible, and from what I've heard most people think it is. It has lots of imdb comments titled 'worst film ever made' and so on (I'm not looking forward to the day they start appearing on Ten Dead Men). But I really enjoyed it. It is rubbish - the characters are pretty much given names and some vague motivation then get on with it - but I still found myself getting into it, and the effects aren't bad. Plus there are some epic battle scenes in Downtown LA - for a South Korean film this is impressive because no one films in LA these days. And at the end of the film (which takes place in a random CGI desert with no explanation as to how they got there) I realised that despite the obvious rubbishness, I'd actually quite enjoyed watching it.

The Tracey Fragments could not be any more different, except for also having lots of 'worst film ever comments'. It's one of those miserable teenager films, and has the added bonus/annoyance of being shot mostly in split-screen. The split screen is annoying at first (it's either the same shot from different angles, or the same moments repeated, or just random shots of sky or body parts) and it had a horribly pretentious feel to it. But in the end it won me over. It's a film that starts out as if it doesn't have a story and it's just going to be a rambling, miserable mess. But actually it does have a story, and quite a good one. So after the split screen becomes less annoying and more fun, I really wanted to find out what was going on and the final revelation does not disappoint. I am, however, scared by how good Ellen Page is in everything. I think she may well have sold her soul in exchange for acting talent and is making the most of it before the deal runs out.

Finally, I think part of my current disillusionment about writing may have come from watching Ivansxtc in which Danny Huston plays an agent who gets cancer and realises nobody in Hollywood cares. Directed by Bernard Rose who also did Candyman (good) and more recently Snuff Movie (bad, and unfortunately not a Scary Movie type spoof of popular snuff films), it's as miserable and nihilistic as it sounds, but Huston is brilliant as always and there's good support from Peter Weller. But yeah, it aims to put you off a career in Hollywood for life and does an excellent job, particularly with the writer/director character in the film who is the most manipulated of them all and at the same time comes off as the most pathetic.

So that's all I did this week. Brother Pete is coming to stay this weekend so we'll probably end up watching lots of daft films. Am also planning to go exploring in London which I haven't done for a while.

Dark Room feedback and changing direction...

I got my second lot of Dark Room feedback last night and seeing as I vowed to tell all about what happens with this script to make up for not being able to say anything about the others I thought I’d share some of it here.

First off on the feedback form I always ask for good things in the script. This is not just to make me feel better – I often find that this is the question that provokes the widest variety of responses and it’s always interesting to see what different people relate to on a purely personal level. There’s no point me discussing everything in detail as it will mean nothing unless you’ve read the script, but one thing that came from this feedback that I’m happy with is that the ambiance of the Dark Room nightclub was strong. This is a good thing as it needs to work to sell the premise of the film. If that place isn’t interesting no one will care about the people in it. 

The main bad point was to do with exposition and the fact that the story wasn’t integrated with the characters. I was expecting this one. As I’ve said before, this script was a case of taking characters from older scripts that I liked and forming a story around them. Now I’ve done that I can work on integrating them.

The other bad point was the action/violence getting in the way of the story, and that there was so much of it you become desensitised. I think this is something I was aware of but I was hoping to achieve something else. My ideal SFX person for this film (in a magical world where it gets made and I can choose anyone) is Screaming Mad George, the genius behind the effects in such classics as Society, Mutronics and Faust. I really wanted to create that kind of fleshy, rubbery reality where horribly violent things become spectacle rather than realistic to attain a sense that anything can happen. I think that would work great if Screaming Mad George did some test footage but in a script it's hard to get across and I was always aware of the risk of it taking something away from the impact of the violence. I think part of the problem is that I have such a strong visual idea of the film in my head. Compared to my usual scripts, this one has about three times the amount of scene description. Probably something that needs cutting down.

In terms of characters the three good guys all got the thumbs up which is good, but the bad guys did not impress. Which is kind of the opposite of the first lot of feedback I got. The main point about the bad guys was that there wasn’t a clear central antagonist – something I both agree with and am going to find difficult to change, but also realise I’m going to have to. It’s an inherent flaw in a script in which all of the heroes are anti-heroes and the villains are only marginally worse. There is an overall evil entity but this is the part of the script that needs the most work. Also, the character I consider to be the lead villain was written for a specific actor that I know and I think that’s maybe caused some problems. But in my previous feedback he came out as the strongest character. It’s one of those issues that requires more feedback before I make any more decisions. I also wonder if I'm going to end up with one of those scripts that divides opinion.

Overall the premise and the opening (which you can download on the right) got good scores, the ending, story and pace got average scores, and the dialogue got a really low score which is a shame but not unexpected – at the moment it exists mostly for exposition. Funnily enough, the title got a really good score, and despite my plans to change it a few weeks ago I think I may stick with it after all. I certainly haven't come up with anything better.

So it was fairly positive overall, but I am starting to wonder whether writing this script was such a good idea. I'm finding it much harder to take criticism on this one than on my previous scripts. I know it's far from perfect - it took me two weeks to write and it suffered from me never planning it out - but it's made up of characters and ideas that have been with me since I first starting writing and while I'm aware that doesn't automatically make it brilliant, it does make me want to try and explain the things that aren't coming across - stuff there isn't really room for in a 90 page script. The thing is, I started it as a reaction to the scripts I had been writing this year, and a need to do my own thing for a while and create something new and interesting. I got that out of my system, but what I've ended up with is something that's unfinished. This will sound horribly pretentious but I wanted to create some art - something that people would look at and appreciate for what it is. But a script can only ever be unfinished art which can be incredibly unfulfilling - especially in a year when I've written six of them. Also, I kind of know this won't ever get produced - it's big budget and a bit alternative same time. And I'm not sure I want to make it less alternative.

So this has been bothering me since last night, but there are options. I am going to do a second draft. I still think it's a good example of my unfiltered writing and from the feedback I've got so far it seems like people are enjoying it, it's just going to be a bugger of a second draft. What I'm wondering is whether I should look into telling the story some other way, like a novel. Back when I first announced the project I expressed a fear of going that way with it. But now I've planned out the plot and I know how the characters fit into that plot it seems less scary. I'd have to get good at writing prose again though, which is the scary part.

Anyway, that's something to think about in the new year. I'm blogging about it so I do actually think about it and I can look back at this and think 'oh yeah, I was going to try that'. For now I could do with a break from writing until after Christmas. I'm setting the Ten Dead Men release date as my deadline for getting my samples together to start writing off to agents. Currently that means doing second drafts on three scripts, which is a lot, but I'll worry about that in the new year. Speaking of the DVD release, there's no mention of any commentaries on the website so I've been thinking about recording my own to download from here. Something else I will probably forget to do unless I write it down here.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Some funny links...

Not much going on at the moment so thought I'd post some amusing/interesting links.

First off, I am obsessively checking the MTI website for news of the Ten Dead Men US DVD and we now have a release date of 27/01/09, some badly photoshopped cover art (which the website insists is not final - let's hope not!) and optional Spanish subtitles! Still, it feels a lot more definite now and I'm glad that the release is not too far off. There's no direct link to the page but we're in the release schedule under January.

The always excellent Poundland website has been updated here with a genuinely creepy glimpse at the Poundland version of Johnny Depp.

Brother Pete posted some excellent trailers in response to my previous post here. I am considering constructing some kind of meme around good & bad trailers, but mainly because I keep thinking of good ones. Although none of them beat the Hills Have Eyes 2 trailer.

I finally got around to listening to the AMR Commando Special which you can download here. It's impressive stuff and worth listening to whether you're a fan of the film or not as there are some fantastic insights into 1980s Hollywood from Commando stars Vernon Wells and Rae Dawn Chong.

Finally, I should probably refrain from posting Adam & Joe songs every week or it will turn into a fan page, but this song is a) the best Bond theme ever and b) sums up Quantum of Solace perfectly:

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Best trailer ever...

So I was making myself angry by watching the Friday 13th remake trailer - can we have a rule whereby if you say in the trailer 'from the director of _____' and _____ happens to be a remake, (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for example) that you have to specify which version you're talking about? For a moment I got excited thinking Tobe Hooper had directed the Friday 13th remake, which wouldn't make it okay but at least would mean that the genre Hooper helped to start is actually getting him a paycheck.

Anyway, I was thinking about how trailers are rubbish and tracked this down from a few years ago (in German for some reason). This is the trailer for The Hills Have Eyes 2. Don't be fooled into watching the film - it's rubbish. But whoever was doing marketing that day was on the ball as I really think this is the best trailer for a film ever put together. In an age when most trailers just tell you the plot from start to finish (usually including twists) I wish there were more like this. Who'd have thought you'd ever hear Devendra Banhart on a horror film trailer?

Friday, 14 November 2008

AMR Movie Show...

So I did that, technology did permit just about. I sound like I'm beaming my voice from another planet due to my rubbish computer and crap microphone but stick with it. I am a PC that wants to be a Mac. You can download the show here. Or you can go to the archive here:

My episode is episode 60.

Speaking of episodes, this is blog post 100. Once again I will request a hat but I'm not sure who gives them out. Maybe at post 500 I will be contacted by the powers that be and they will bestow such a hat. Until then please note that this is post 100. Well done me.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

On the (internet) radio...

Technology permitting I will be appearing on the AMR Movie Show at 9pm tomorrow (Thursday 13th - today technically since it's past midnight):

You can listen to the show live on the website or download it afterwards. I'll post the links tomorrow.

You may remember I was on the show before a while back. It was appearing on this show that spawned the idea for my short-lived podcast. At the time my performance was hindered by a) having not seen any films for ages and b) the fact that there were four of us on the show and I'm not the most chatty person at the best of times.

This time I'm guest co-host and I've seen a whole three of the films in the UK top ten, so hopefully it will be better.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Table etiquette…

Not much going on at the moment. I’m waiting for stuff to happen. I could be doing lots of useful non-writing things like…I don’t know…building stuff. I could actually be writing – I’ve got stuff to write, but I’m being sort of half-hearted about it. Part of me is all like must write more, the rest of me is like haven’t you written enough this year? In pages I’ve written enough. In being showered with cheques I haven’t. Still, I’m just hanging around, waiting to see what happens when people get back from LA and hoping I’m not setting myself up for a disappointment. And distracting myself from that thought by writing about stuff that happened in real life.

So Friday we (that’s Andrea and me) went to the pub to meet some friends. The pub in question was packed but we’d chosen to go there because it’s next to a train station and some of our friends were coming by train. We were stuck there is what I’m saying. Point of no return and all that. So we get a drink and go looking for a table we can fit six people round and naturally there aren’t any. The only thing close is a really small table under and upon which are a number of bags of varying sizes. None of the large groups of people sitting at the surrounding tables seem particularly attached to these bags. This seems rather odd. We stare at the bags for a bit then decide sod it, if the bags belong to some people they’ll soon tell us when we sit down. So we hijack a couple of chairs and sit awkwardly either side of the table of bags. And no one says anything, or even glances across with an ‘they’re sitting round our bags’ look. So now I’m thinking maybe there’s a bomb in the bags.

We sit there for about ten minutes, still just the two of us, feeling very awkward and wondering if our lives are in danger from the potentially exploding bags. Meanwhile the table in front of us, currently occupied by six people starts to empty out. A couple of people go out for a smoke. Then a couple more join them. Then another guy leaves, meaning there’s just a girl left. She sits there alone on a huge table for a bit, then she gets up and leaves too. The table is empty!

We stare at the table a while. Some of the people are still outside smoking. But surely they wouldn’t leave the whole table unattended if they were going to come back. And surely risking a possible confrontation is better than death by exploding terror bags. We discuss this, watching the table intently, weighing up our options, then a waitress comes over and cleans the table! So now it’s not only an empty table, it’s a clean table, and it’s right there in front of us, its gleaming, polished surface just begging to be leaned upon – something we cannot do on the table piled high with exploding bags. We stare at it a moment more. Then we see another couple eyeing up the same table. We’re not having that. We move in and sit down triumphantly. Let someone else take the exploding bag table, we got the big one – room for all our friends and more!

That’s the problem. The table’s too big. Huge in fact. It looks ludicrous with just the two of us sitting there. I move across one seat and put my coat over an empty chair to make it look like my imaginary friend has gone to the loo. Andrea does the same, but it’s not very convincing. We’re hoping our friends turn up soon.

Then things start to go wrong. The last guy to leave comes back to the table – he’d just gone to the loo. He walks towards the table then does a double-take when he realises that neither of us are the girl he left there. This makes me wonder about that girl – she clearly isn’t coming back. I wonder if maybe she made the same mistake we did – sat down thinking the table was empty and was then trapped here, forced to make awkward conversation with five random men. She saw a chance to escape and she took it, leaving some other poor fools to fall into the same trap.

Luckily double-take dude doesn’t come any further and instead heads for the bar. I breathe a sigh of relief, thinking the ordeal over with. It’s far from over.

A second man comes in from outside. He is older and looks a bit like Alice Cooper in Prince of Darkness:

He walks over to the table, and also does a double-take when he realises his prisoner girl has escaped and the other bloke isn’t there either. Instead two randoms have taken their place! So he goes to the bar and complains. It’s too loud to hear, but we can see him ranting at the barmaid and pointing at us, getting more and more animated as he does so. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

‘Excuse me, good lady. It appears two young rascals have taken our seats.’

‘Oh yes, how terrible.’

‘Would you be so kind as to go over there and eject them for us?’

‘I’m afraid I couldn’t do that, sir, it’s not in my job description. Might I suggest an alternative? The table with the exploding bags perhaps?’

And so on…

So now we’re sitting there starting to fear for our lives again. Is being knifed by Alice Cooper and his mates worse than being blown up by terrorist bag bombs? I consider urinating on the table to mark our territory. Andrea helpfully points out we would then be sitting at a table covered in urine. Is this worse than death by explosion/stabbing? If only our friends would turn up. There is strength in numbers, and it would look slightly less ridiculous with six of us sitting round the table. Now Alice Cooper dude is outside talking to his friends – Burly/Beardy Red Cap bloke (Fred Durst crossed with Bluto?) and Severe Undercut guy (who doesn’t look like anyone but has a severe undercut). And Severe Undercut guy is giving us an evil look from outside. This is getting worse. I suggest moving back to the table with the bags – maybe death by explosion wouldn’t be so bad after all. But Andrea is ready to fight for the table, insisting we are in the right for taking what was clearly an empty table in a packed pub. Which we are, but they are bigger then us.

After much worrying on our part and looking at phones/watches for any sign of our friends, I look to the door hoping to see them walk in at that moment and instead see the table occupiers walking through the door instead. It’s too late for retreat now. They know we’re sitting at their table. They can see us. They’ve complained with no success. They’ve followed all legal avenues but justice has failed them. They would have to make their own justice now.

Thankfully, just as they’re about to head over to the table, a large group of people leaves, vacating a much nicer table around the same size. And this one has comfy sofas – a marked improvement over the one we now occupy. They sit there, happy with their new turf, us happy with ours. Some time later our friends arrive and we laugh about the whole thing, forgetting the terror of those horrifying twenty minutes when table etiquette nearly led to our deaths.

Okay, being an ex-smoker myself with occasional relapses I have complete sympathy with the plight of the post-ban smoker. But seriously, if the whole group smokes surely you go out in shifts, you don’t leave an empty table in a packed pub knowing you won’t be back for another 5-10 minutes. If you do, then you just might find me sitting there, possibly cowering, possibly weeing in your pint, but there I’ll be and your only alterative is the table with the exploding bags. Or something.

Also, I found this very funny on the way home from work, but perhaps only because of the Stoke-on-Trent reference. This is Joe Cornish re-working the theme from Antiques Roadshow:

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Brother Tim's New York diary...

I've been meaning to post this for a while and seeing as I'm feeling pretty optimistic about America at the moment due to a) the election result and b) my career hopes relying on how certain meetings go at AFM, I thought now is as good a time as any. So youngest Brother Tim went travelling round America for a few weeks before we met up with him in New York. The whole time he was sending e-mail updates and he eventually got round to doing a New York one last week. Being much more concise yet all-inclusive and more interesting than my poor attempt to document the trip I thought I'd reprint it here:

'It was a pretty tiring journey...made worse by New York's silly subway system, but I eventually found the hotel and met Chris, Pete and Andrea in the reception. We were all pretty shattered, so went on a mission to find a diner before heading straight to bed.
In the morning, we set out to Coney Island, though when we got there, everything look pretty much closed. We clung to the hope that everything would open a bit later, and so headed to the aquarium for a couple of hours. By the time we came out, we found a little more to do around the place, such as going to see a freakshow, riding the Wonder Wheel (Andrea was a bit scared of that....bless), and having a go on the funniest ghost train I think I've ever been on. For some reason, you go around the whole ride sitting sideways, whilst being violently jerked about and screeched at by rusty machinery.....I've never laughed so much over the whole summer.
We ended our first proper day in New York with a walk along Brooklyn bridge, and a meal at a pizza restaurant...where the waitress had suggested to us that we order a large salad instead of a small....and continued to re-visit our table every few minutes to rub it in that she was right and the large salad was better...she obviously had way too much time on her hands that night.
Feeling a little full after having pizza and doughnuts for breakfast...nice....we spent the day visiting the Natural History Museum and taking a walk around Central Park. But, by far the best thing that happened was in a bar later the same night. After failing to find a cinema, we decided to go out for a few drinks and found this little sports bar. When we had ordered a pitcher of beer, the bartender came over to give us 2 raffle tickets each, saying they were drawing them at the end of the football game on the main screen. We decided to stay and see how it all played out, and as more and more people left, the bartender kept giving us their tickets. By the end of the night, we'd accumulated 7 each in total. And even with 28 tickets on the table, and only 4 other people in the bar who weren't in our group, I was both shocked and outrageously excited when he called out one of our the point that I shouted "WE WON!!" in a really high-pitched voice...and proceeded to crack up.
Nonetheless, we still came away with a CD player...hurrah!
The next day we hit all the main tourist sites; the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, and Times Square. But, all the while, I was looking forward to the evening. For my birthday, Chris and Andrea had bought tickets for us to go and see Hairspray on Broadway. When we had found the theater (let's keep it American) we headed to the closest restaurant, which just so happened to be Cosmic Diner. And as the name suggests, it was a bit weird in there; mainly because of the waiter. I'm sure he was a nice guy, but he did have a habit of just standing at our table, waiting, at all the worst times. I hadn't read the menu but I just ordered the same as my bro because he was just looming over us after giving us the menus. When he came back to take the others plates, I ended up wolfing down the rest of my fries because he was standing over me, waiting for me to finish. Strange...but all part of the experience :o)
Feeling full and perhaps a little freaked out, we went to the see the show, which was incredible, but the night wasn't over yet. Before heading back to the hotel, we climbed to the top of the Empire State Building (well, we went in an opposed to doing a King Kong) and saw a great nighttime view of New York City. We probably spent an hour trying to take photos that would actually come out, before finally calling it a night.
We'd decided that, on our last day, Chris and Andrea would spend the day together, and Pete and I would go off and do something different. As it turned out, our separate days were pretty much exactly the same. We both went to the Museum of Modern Art, we hit the same shops, and we both decided to go to the cinema to see the same film. But all at different times.  The surprise highlight of the day, mainly because it was such a surprise, was bumping into Taylor and Carson in the street. They were two good mates from camp, who had just moved from Canada to get jobs in New York. Never expected to bump into anyone from camp, especially in such a busy city, so it was great to catch up.
And that pretty much concludes my New York, and my whole American adventure.'

Monday, 3 November 2008

Ten Dead Men USA...

This is very recent news, as in I was sent an e-mail 2 hours ago and no one else seems to have mentioned it yet (by no one else I mean related blogs, not the BBC or imdb or something, although imdb do have some random stories so you never know...), but our Sales Agent has apparently closed a deal with MTI Home Video for DVD and TV rights in USA and Canada. You can check out MTI Home Video here. I had a look through their back-catalog and although most of their films are ones I've never heard of (which for me is quite rare), they did release The Bunker - a not perfect but perfectly reasonable British horror film that I quite enjoyed. They also seem to cram the discs with Special Features which is good, considering we have loads of that stuff (most of which you can see on YouTube). And the main point of this is that assuming all goes well the film will come out on DVD in January/February next year and people will actually get to see it. I will post more news as I get it.

Oh, hang on it has now been officially announced here.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

James Pond...

…was a game on the Amiga in which you played a secret agent goldfish. It was followed by a sequel, Robocod, in which you played a bionic goldfish. Both of these games were infinitely more sophisticated than the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace. Yes, I am using my blog as a platform to rant to about a rubbish film that will make billions of pounds – not very original I know. But I feel duped and would like to share my frustration with the world. Don’t read this if you’re planning on going to see it.

I never liked Bond films. Sure, From Russia with Love is good, and I kind of like GoldenEye for Sean Bean but mostly I’ve never been a fan. I never liked the character, I never liked the villains, I could never get on with the gadgets and the stupid plots, I hated the theme tunes and ultra-camp intros…I could go on and on. But every time a new one came out I’d somehow be convinced it might be alright and go along with a big group of friends and sit there, seething as everything I disliked about those films was repeated with very little variation. And then Casino Royale came along.

Casino Royale isn’t perfect – it’s too long and the structure is a bit off. But it felt like a proper film. It was interesting, the plot made sense, and it was about characters. Finally they took the James Bond character and did something interesting with him – they made him fallible. Plus I’ve always liked Daniel Craig and thought he did excellent job in both the performance and making the action look convincing. For the first time in ages I was watching an action film and thinking I really want to see how this character gets out of these situations – the action was part of the story, not the other way around. And Jeffrey Wright was in it – one of my favourite actors ever since Basquiat (also good in the Shaft remake – the film with one of the best bad guy team-ups ever in Wright and Christian Bale).

So I was actually quite excited about Quantum of Solace. And in a year of really good films my hopes were high…and then crushed. This is not Casino Royale. This is every Bond film before that – everything I hated about the franchise rolled into one. Except worse than that, because there is an attempt here to somehow combine the silliness of the old films with the seriousness of the new ones. But that’s not even the problem – it’s just a badly made film. It opens with a car chase in which there is a cut every half-second meaning you have no sense of space or movement and no idea what’s going on. With the exception of a fight in a hotel room all the action is as nonsensical as this. But that’s not the worst thing either – the script is terrible! There are three writers credited included Paul Haggis (who wrote Crash which I thought was too preachy but everyone else in the world loved). There are probably also three scripts going on at the same time. There is the revenge script which they have to keep reminding us about because it doesn’t really fit in at all. There is the bad guy taking over the world plot which never really makes any sense – surely Rule One in any film like this is to make the motivations of the bad guy clear. They really aren’t clear – Mathieu Amalric just keeps making speeches about oil and water and stuff. And one of the writers clearly did an action pass at the script, meaning there is a chase/fight every ten minutes whether you want it or not. Presumably one of them also decided this would be a return to the old Bond we all knew and loved only they just pasted it on top of the new Bond. In short, a mess.

I could go on forever. The climax takes place at a hotel inexplicably built on top of highly explosive fuel cells where the bad guys are meeting up for no discernible reason - guess what happens to that? Olga Kurylenko's Bond girl whom we were told was a new take on the character who would give Bond a run for his money (like they say with every film) ends up being pretty rubbish and needing to be rescued just like the others. Although as Andrea pointed out she does get to wear trousers which is a first. Andrea did however have a problem with the hair in the film which looked bad on everyone – thought I may as well add that while I’m listing criticisms. Was it as bad as Saw V? No. But I felt betrayed by this film so it’s badness hurt even more.

There are two good things in the film. There is an opera set-piece which is very well done. And Jeffrey Wright is in it.

The thing I always used to hate about seeing the new Bond film with friends in my youth was that we’d come out of it and everyone would be like ‘Wow, that was the most amazing film I’ve ever seen’ and I’d be all ‘That was rubbish’ and they’d say, ‘You read too much into films, you should just enjoy them for what they are,’ and I’d say ‘You are idiots’ except I wouldn’t because they were my friends so I’d just think it. Thankfully I now have much more intelligent friends, all of whom found the film just as terrible as I did which did lessen my frustration a bit.

Right, that’s out of my system. To end on a nicer note, we watched Wait Until Dark on Halloween in the end, which was excellent and something I would definitely recommend. Audrey Hepburn is great in it, Alan Arkin is amazing and terrifying and despite only being set in one room it had me hooked from the opening right up until the end.

And I enjoyed Dead Set - if you've seen any zombie film ever it does feel a bit unoriginal, but it was still pretty impressive work for British TV and better than all the recent zombie films I've seen.