Sunday, January 28, 2007

Immortality Is The Theme This Weekend.

On a different day, in a different mood, The Fountain would have absolutely irritated and bored me. It's the kind of film that normally does my head in. As it was, seeing it today, I was mesmerised by it. You'll rarely, if ever, see a film like it. I don't feel like I can talk about it as I would most other films as it is simply unlike most other films. The biggest complaint being levelled against it is that it's self indulgent. Well that and that it makes no sense whatsoever. Is it self indulgent? I can see that argument. But for me what it's doing is taking big themes of love and death, treating them in an admittedly grandiose manner and asking to be taken completely seriously in the process. Really, more films could do with taking a lesson out of that page book. Big themes, dealt with intelligently and seriously. Even if it fails, The Fountain is trying to be about something. That alone makes it stand out. It's trying to do it in a unique way, in a unique story. Is it nonsensical? Well, I understood maybe 40% of it and am hoping subsequent viewings will bring me up to 60/70%. But it's a film for some reason I really felt, even if I didn't always understand why I was feeling what I did. I suppose in the end for me the film comes down to a story about the power of love. Done well, there's no better theme for a film. Also it's simply one of the most beautiful films I've seen in a very long time. Visually arresting, some amazing images that often last for long stretches when there is no dialogue. The Fountain is absolutely not to everyone's tastes and frankly I'm amazed it fits into my own which is why I would qualify my recomendation. But I was enthralled by it. And it confirms Darren Aronofsky's place as one of the most exciting and interesting directors working today.

The only downside to The Fountain is that it definately isn't the greatest underdog story ever told. Thankfully I saw another film this weekend that does fit that bill. Rocky Balboa. The 6th installment tells us that it's not about how hard you hit but how hard you can get hit. Well I was hit pretty hard watching the train wreck unfold on screen before me. From the opening where he sits on a deck chair by Adriane's grave, wandering around Philadelphia, Pauly in tow, going around the old places he and Adriane used to go (culminating in a truly hilarious shot of her from the first film superimposed like a ghost into a shot in the present) to the wonderfully pointless scene of him in a dog pound choosing a dog with an equally pointless character for no real reason, to the speech where he tries to convince the boxing commission to give him a licence to box and he seems to use the word "do" about 275 times. "When you gotta do what you gotta do and you wanna stop me doing what I gotta do, how can I do what I gotta do?" But it's so bad it's absolutely genius in its own way. At points it had me crying with laughter. It's just too bad Stallone isn't in on the joke as he delivers awful speeches, shuffles around amiably and clambers into the ring to prove there's life in the old dog yet. Yet maybe the joke's on me. As that music comes on, as the training montage kicks in and Rocky runs up those steps one last time, as he takes and delivers the blows against a stronger opponent, you can't help but want to punch the air and hope your arm holds there in an everlasting freezeframe. There is a reason these films have endured and there's a reason this film has been a decent success. But this is sentimental claptrap. And anyway it takes a long time to get to the fight. A VERY long time. Scene follows scene follows scene with no apparent consequence. Really if any of us tried to hand in that script on the course we'd be thrown off. And quite possibly deported. Still at least this seems to be the last one. All I want now is Rambo 4...

I also saw Blood Diamond. It's decent, probably the best film Edward Zwick has done in a long time, but it's way too long and falls between the two stools of trying to be both a serious issue film and an action thriller. Leo's lovely though. I mean he's good. He's very good. Performance wise.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Homo In The Congo

I'm just throwing out ideas for the title of my script...

Maybe Tomorrow I'll Wanna Settle Down...

There's simply nothing better than a person going after what they want, making something happen for themselves, regardless of what it is. So many people talk and that's all they seem to do. I don't mind admitting I'm the worst in the world for saying I'm going to do something (join a band, exercise, make another short film, edit my previous one...) and then not doing it. I'm not the worst but I'm far from the best. The person that prompted this post is similar to me in this way. Her reasons for procrastinating are different and often more genuine but we do have this in common. Anyway she's done it. She's gone. Left the humdrum and gone off to do something amazing. And I'm so happy for her, worried for her (well they are all foreigners after all) and excited for her.

Making something happen for yourself is one of the great things you can do. That may sound obvious or trite but so many people, myself included, often neglect this idea so it's worth pointing out. Going through shit, working, saving, whatever it takes, and ending up where they want to be. What's so great in this case though, is that it's so very far from the end. It's a brand new beginning. Will she "find herself?" I'm not really sure that's why she has left. Certainly self exploration is part of it but I do believe anyone travelling attempting to solely "find themselves" is somewhat doomed. I admit that's the voice of ignorance on the matter, I have never travelled significantly. And of course until truly tested, you don't know what you are made of. Tests take all kinds of forms though. And they occur in the Far East, Western Australia, Delhi, Prague and New Cross. The reasons for travelling are varied. But in this case they're the right ones as far as I can tell.

It's such a great time and though the selfish part of me misses my friend, it never fails to make me smile to think of her meeting whomever she's meeting, doing whatever she's doing, and most importantly as far as I'm concerned, knowing she has created something for herself that she has always wanted. Given herself this opportunity to do something great and maybe life changing but most of all fun. When you put the work in and reap the reward who can argue with that?

I'm so very proud of my friend today.

What The Fuck Is A Step Outline Anyway?!

I don't have much more to offer beyond that question really. Currently we're producing our step outlines that will provide the blueprint for the entire script. They will "give us power" over our scripts. Allow our creativity to flourish under the control of a structure. But how in the name of all that's good do you write one? You must distinguish between dramatic moments and scene description, you must create set up, event and consequence for each "step" (of which there are on average between 60-100 per step outline), you must...

Oh fuck it. It's a complete pain in the tits. And I really haven't got a handle on what it is I'm doing.

How the mighty have fallen!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Out Of The Bag Baby! Out Of The Bag!

Firstly if anyone on my course is reading this, I can only hope you won't mind my revealing my true feelings about our Tuesday session. Gone is the false modesty and deflecting self deprecation! Instead here comes the big bouncing ball of ego!

This Christmas was completely shitty. My Dad was taken into hospital Christmas Eve with what turned out to be pnemonia. He was only discharged last Saturday. My Mum was sick with a chest infection, she reacted really badly to the antibiotic and was put on a second. Only this week has she started to make real improvement. Christmas was spent going in and out of the hospital, cooking dinners, shopping, saying the same things to a million people on the telephone every day and generally getting zero time to do anything but worry, basically. I ended up staying an extra couple of days as a result. The upshot of all this was that I got no work done whatsoever on my script. The first draft of the treatment was due in on Monday of this week, to be emailed by 6.00 Sunday night. I got back from Dublin New Year's Eve, went straight out, got back to my room around 5.00pm New Year's Day and did a little work but, being quite hungover, didn't do very much. The real work began on the Tuesday.

Now, I had a pretty good feeling about what I produced. It was definately promising. Given how much time I had lost over the break, it was better than it had any right to be. Plus, many of the lessons that had been drilled into us over the last term, it felt like, were starting to sink in. But the Monday sessions (held on tuesday this week as we had a guest lecturer on Monday) are invariably very painful for one reason. You think you've done well. You've worked hard, feel like you've improved on the week before, and then have your work summarily executed by our course leader with whom you can't argue because you know he's right. So despite my good feelings about the work, the overiding feeling was, why would this week be any different? He began the session by saying we had a long way to go, our work was nowhere near distinction level, he wasn't despairing because we had produced good characters but the stories were all over the place. He then went through each of us individually in front of the group as he does every week, the idea being that we can all learn general points from specific mistakes made by individuals.

And then it came to me. And he told me it was good. That my synopsis actually read like a proper synopsis (which was interesting because I felt and still to a degree feel that I don't have my story fully yet and so therefore can't properly synopsise it), that the dramatic points were all present and accounted for, that my central character had a clear goal and a visible objective correlative and that it was well written. He then made me read it aloud to the class as it was essentially a brand new story no one was familiar with. And it got a round of applause. You have to understand, everyone gets crucified on the Monday class. It's simply how the world works. One or two others have had good Mondays. I had never had one. Until the last one. The best part was how supportive and genuinely full of praise the rest of the class was. I was so worried going in and so sure I'd be shot down that it was all a bit of a shock. We had short personal tutorials in the afternoon and when I walked in for mine, he smiled and told me I had pulled it out of the bag.


So it would appear my big gay drama in the Congo (working title The African Queen) is off to a good start, probably because I actually care about the story and in fairness because I've been turning it over both consciously and subconsciously in my head for a few weeks now so when I came to put pen to paper I had something to say. On Friday afternoon I'm going into the London office of Medecines Sans Frontieres to meet with an aid worker who has spent time in Darfur and who is actually heading back there next week so it'll be great to do some proper research and meet with someone who has lived the life I'm trying to describe.

In the meantime I'm just enjoying the fact that for the first time since I started the course I appear not only to have learned something valuable but have applied it to my work. I appear to be on the up!

Until next Monday.

Monday, January 01, 2007


A very Happy New Year to one and all!

I'm always interested in these end of the year lists that the world and his wife seem to write, summing up the cinematic highs and lows of the preceeding 12 months. So never being slow to jump onboard a bandwagon I thought, why not do something similar? 2006 was generally a good year at the cinema. It started with a bang, died in the middle and slowly picked up again. Some films, like Munich or Flags Of Our Fathers had alot of buzz but ultimately disappointed. Some were critically and commercially mauled like Lady in the Water and turned out to be really quite good. The Oscars were going along rather predictably until the retarded Crash apparently became the best film of the year. Penguins marched, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest became the 3rd film in history to take over $1 billion at the box office. It was a busy year. So here are the 10 best and 10 most miserable cinematic experiences I had throughout 2006. Some films like The New World for example, would have made the list but I'm only including films I saw on the big screen. Others like Ultraviolet or The Shaggy Dog would doubtless be on the list of drek had I made the effort to see them. Some films look too bad even for me to waste my time going to see. Anyway enough introduction. Here are the films, not presented in any particular order...

The Best.

1. Capote.

What a great film Capote is. A fascinating central character, a phenomenol central performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman and most surprisingly, a really great script. Capote is what most biopics tend not to be. Interesting. By focusing on one period of his life, rather than the standard birth to death approach (I'm looking at you Ray and Walk The Line) the filmmakers were able to illuminate Capote's key traits, fears and flaws. Very little screen time felt wasted, scenes were economical yet powerful, unshowy direction, outstanding supporting cast, a really great film.

2. Brokeback Mountain.

The big gay cowboy drama proved to be that rarest of things, a film deserving of the hype. So wonderfully understated, powerful and an important film. When Walmart bans sales of a DVD, that is saying something. Why the controversy? Simply because here was a film taking gay people, gay characters, their relationships and the treatment of those relationships by sections of society, seriously. No camp comedy foil or safe best friend of a female protagonist here. Simply real people trying to find a way to survive. And who can't relate in one way or another to that? A phenomenol performance from Heath Ledger, aching scenes between he and Jake Gyllenhaal and indeed he and Michelle Williams, beautiful cinematography and a fascinating deconstruction of one of America's greatest cinematic icons, the shepherd. Sorry, I mean the cowboy.

3. The Proposition

Bleak, bloody, brutal. This film came out of nowhere somewhat and completely blew me away. Dripping with atmosphere, its central hook, one brother must kill his older brother to save the youngest, draws you in. But after a while you forget that's why you're there as the characters and setting pin you to your seat. After a few wrong turns, it's nice to see Guy Pierce in a good role but Danny Huston steals the film with Ray Winstone not far behind him. A strangely unsettling film, it stays with you long after the cedits have finished.

4. Pan's Labyrinth

What a film. The only film this year to make me cry at the cinema for all the right reasons, it's a wonderful piece of film making from start to finish. The reason it works so well is because the real world elements are more frightening than the fantasy world little Ofelia finds herself in. The design, the cinematography, the music, the script and story, a fantastic villain, simply a joy from frame one. A great piece of imagination, though to describe it just as a fantasy film is to undersell it. A strong contender for film of the year.

5. Children of Men

I had enormous hopes for this film when I first heard about it. The central idea, women have mysteriously stopped giving birth and the population is dying, is fantastic. And though I hate Clive Owen, I was really psyched to see the film. When I saw it, I didn't think it was the classic I had hoped for. It bizzarely drops the ball at times, Michael Caine's air guitar, in fact his character generally annoyed me, Clive Owen and Julianne Moore blowing ping pong balls into each other's mouths, their whole history was totally unconvincing and Clive Owen's character was very underwritten I felt. But when the film hit, it was incredible. The opening scene, the attack on the taxi, everything in Bexhill, the film is remarkably well made, its setting of London in 2029 is totally convincing, its depiction of the treatment of imigrants, frightening and resonates with what's happening in the world today. In the end I wanted to give this film 10/10 and have it on my all time top 10 list. I'll just have to make do with 8/10 and the top ten of the year.

6. The Prestige

This was another film I had very high expectations for. Christopher Nolan makes interesting, diverse films, Christian Bale is always worth watching even if Scarlett Johannson isn't and I really loved the story and setting. Walking out I was initially disappointed because the ending which everyone had been talking about as being an incredible surprise, for me was (most of it at least) predictable from about a half hour in. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised the film was so much more than that. Two great characters, each willing to do anything to beat the other, an intricate structure of flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks, yet done with such confidence and clarity. Plus this was a film about magic. Nothing else. And I really liked that the film simply was what it was and didn't apologise for that. This really was a director working at the top of his game. Shame then that he'll be now going back to Batman...

7. United 93

Watching World Trade Center this Summer, I felt like I was buried under hundreds of tonnes of rubble. I may have even preferred that. The first film however to deal with 9/11, specifically the eponymous Flight 93 which crash landed in Virginia, was a different matter. Utilising non actors in key roles, people who were really there on the day, gives the film a more immediate resonance. But United 93 is a fantastic film for many reasons. Cross cutting between events on the ground and events in the air, in much the same way director Paul Greengrass did with Bloody Sunday, achieves an enormous level of tension. Edgy handheld camerawork, great performances, even knowing the doomed plane's outcome doesn't spoil the experience of the film. Difficult viewing certainly, but essential viewing also.

8. This Is England

I admit this is something of a cheat as the film isn't out yet. I saw it at the London Film Festival but I saw it in 2006 so it appears on the 2006 list. When it opens in cinemas, seek it out. The latest film from Britain's best film director Shane Meadows, sees many of the director's trademarks. Handheld camerawork, naturalistic performances, an uneasy mix of humour with the ever present threat of violence. This Is England has elements of both A Room For Romeo Brass and Dead Man's Shoes but is its own film absolutely. At times hilarious, at times unbearably tense, the film is seriously accomplished and had to be included on this list. And it's yet another film that uses a different time to comment on our own time, and does it expertly. Politics really seems to be returning to the multiplexes.

9. Good Night, And Good Luck

Ah Gorgeous George. Who knew he had it in him? Good Night, and Good Luck (Am I putting the comma in the right place? I'm not sure.) is a wonderfully classy, literate film. Shot in beautiful black and white by DP Robert Elswit, fantastically performed by the entire cast, especially David Strathairn, wonderfully written by Clooney and Grant Heslov (the guy who played Arnie and Tom Arnold's buddy in True Lies. How random is that?) and superbly directed by Clooney who thankfully ditches the ticks and indulgences of his first directorial effort, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, the film is relevant, gripping and expertly combines shot material with archive footage to create a cohesive whole. Clooney won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars this year because, well, they couldn't ignore him and had to give him one of three he was nominated for. Though he was never going to win Best Director, I honestly believe a Best Screenplay award would have been way more appropriate.

10. Casino Royale

I really, really, really want to love the blockbusters of today as much as I love the blockbusters of old. Alas, most of the time they suck. So when one comes along that is in any way good I leap on it and so, completely undeservingly but hey, what are you gonna do, I offer Casino Royale as the last of the year's best films. I say it's undeserving but Daniel Craig has never been better, the pre-credits sequence is great, the free running sequence is great, the fight in the stairwell is great, the airport sequence is great, the torture scene is great. Okay it runs out of steam and ideas but it's fun and exciting and it succeeds for the most part in what it sets out to do which is
more than can be said for most films of the genre, indeed most films full stop. Bond is back. And it's only taken him 30 years to get here. I do not recognise Roger Moore as Bond and never will.

Honourable mentions go to The World's Fastest Indian, Inside Man, The Departed, Lady In The Water, Borat, Syriana, Brick, Shooting Dogs, The Wind That Shakes The Barley and The Three Burials of Malquiades Estrada.

The Worst. As always, there was plenty to choose from...

1. Match Point

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is gorgeous. No doubt about that, I could look at the guy all day long. But I defy anyone to watch Match Point and think the guy can act. It's horrible to watch, wooden, mannered, superficial and they're the good points. This film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay which, given that there's precisely nothing original in it, left me somewhat mystified. Unconvincing, boring, unintentionally hilarious, its depiction of London where everyone lunches at The Tate and emerges from designer shops carrying little cardboard bags grates on the nerves. Woody Allen apologists may say this is simply the romanticised view of London he's been doing of New York for decades. Perhaps, but at least many of those earlier films had wit, character, story. Basically, they were good. Plus often the city of New York was a character in itself. In Match Point, London is not a character, rather a trendy location offering tax breaks. If Match Point had been set in Ireland there would have been Guinness, fiddles and dancing at the crossroads. This film needs to curl up under a rock and die.

2. Superman Returns

It's now official. The Usual Suspects was a one off. Brian Singer is the greatest working one hit wonder. Superman Returns was painfully, excruciatingly, horrifically boring. If directing means sucking the life and entertainment out of whatever it is you're filming, then Singer can rest knowing he has done his job. The writers too need to stand up and be counted for providing one of the flattest, dullest, excitement and adventure free scripts for an adventure film ever written. In a Summer that disappointed time and again, Superman Returns still managed to stand out as bad. Such a non event. Here's hoping the insufficient box office prevents sequels and Brian Singer can maybe try making a film that doesn't involve alien heroes or mutant heroes. You know, something with a story. Imagine that Brian!

3. Basic Instinct 2

I suppose the real question here is, what was I doing at the cinema when this was playing? A fair and reasonable question. No, I wasn't there for the sex. I thought it would be a laugh. It wasn't. At all. Sharon Stone, doing her best to tell us that women in their late 40s can still be sexy, seemed to forget that they can also have dignity. Michael Caton Jones also gave us Shooting Dogs this year, a very powerful, well made film. One can only hope that this pile of steaming cow shit was what allowed him the freedom to do that film. Why Lord? Why?

4. An American Haunting

There's an absolutely hilarious moment in An American Haunting when Donald Sutherland walks out of his house into the woods and the ghost appears, accompanied by the predictable screech of violins to try and make us jump. Instead of acting scared, running away, in fact instead of reacting in any way at all, Sutherland simply stares at it blankly and walks away as if to say, "I was in Don't Look Now. You'll have to do better than that if you want to frighten the Sutherland." One imagines that was a genuine reaction to the director's efforts at generating fear on set and not a directed piece of acting. Quite what he and Sissy Spacek were doing in this God awful joke of a film is mystifying. My mate and I were the only two people in the cinema the day we saw this. We were two too many.

5. Thank You For Smoking

There is nothing more annoying than crap films getting good reviews and this is one of those times. In every way, this film fails. It's satire is as weak as piss, its characters wafer thin, its jokes unfunny. This film is so dull that thinking about it is making me... zzzzzzzzzzz

6. Miami Vice

Even the Farrell mullet billowing in the wind while its owner drives a speedboat couldn't make this film interesting. The worst films of this year were deathly dull and Miami Vice may be tied with Superman and Thank You For Smoking as the dullest of the lot. Beautiful to look at, certainly, but cat shit with diamonds on it is still cat shit. This film made Collateral look like a masterpiece. Hell it makes one or two films on this list look like masterpieces. Foxx and Farrell look more like undercover cops than any undercover cops ever in the history of cinema. Worth seeing for the scene where Farrell takes a shower and his hair simply explodes, only to be towel dried by Gong Li a little later, as if she's towel drying her poodle. This is a sad, sad moment for one of the great modern directors.

7. The Omen/The Wicker Man

Two films in one entry is a bit of a cheat but fuck it it's my blog, I'll do what I want. The double whammy of "Let's take a classic 70s film, shit on it, shove it through the Hollywood grinder and serve it to the public", The Wicker Man and Omen remakes were simply awful. The Wicker Man may just have the edge over The Omen but it's tough to say. So utterly pointless, so badly executed, quite how these films could get it so badly wrong is almost impressive. Almost. In The Omen, little Damien is reduced to a simpering, spoilt, irritating child with all the menace of the Easter Bunny, Liev Schrieber is no Gregory Peck, the deaths are ruined and despite the film retaining the original's London setting, not one member of cast or crew set foot in old England. I know this because many of the road signs visible in the film were written in Czech. As for the Wicker Man, the most frightening thing in that film was Nicolas Cage's stretched skin and weird teeth. Dire.

8. The Matador

"Pierce Brosnan completely reinvents himself" they cried. "You'll forget he was ever Bond" they shouted. "A revelation, a great performance" they cheered. "A monkey who can't say hello convincingly and manages to ruin what few good lines the film has" I say. Another one of the bad films with generally good reviews, The Matador was a waste of time from start to finish. One of those films that thinks it's very funny and clever, the film is made all the more irritating because you just know Brosnan is loving the fact that everyone will think he's reinventing himself just because he swears a bit, grows some stubble and walks through a hotel in his underpants. Newsflash people, HE'S EXACTLY THE FUCKING SAME AS HE ALWAYS IS!!! This is Brosnan, he's not the great chameleon of acting, it's Brosnan. BROSNAN! I don't care if he's calling himself Bond, Julian Temple, Thomas Crown or Larry the fucking Leper, he's always the bloody same. The Matador is tedious, unfunny shite.

9. Crank

A reviewer of the Jennifer Lopez film Enough wrote possibly my favourite review of any film and I'd like to use it now to describe Crank.

Watching it is like being bitch-slapped out of a coma.

I have nothing more to say.

10. Firewall

I was torn between about 5 films for the last spot but in the end I went with the latest nail in the coffin of Harrison Ford's career. Just when you thought Hollywood Homicide was as bad as things could get, along comes a "thriller" that offers us Ford sitting in an office chair shooting a fire extinguisher at a baddy as an action sequence. "We really must consider Mr Ford's arthritis when planning the action for Firewall. What does everyone suggest?" "How about we sit him down in a swivel chair, spin him around and have him take out a baddy with a fire extinguisher?" "Oh you're good. You're good!" Worthy also of a mention is the bit where, the kidnapped family having carried the pet dog with them all throughout the film for no discernable reason, Ford, hot on their trail, remembers in the nick of time that they put GPS in the dog's collar as he kept running away and is then able to locate them. GPS in the dog collar. Someone give that writer an award. I had alot more fun at this film than I did at any of the others on the "worst of" list but thrillers are not supposed to be this funny. The most tense bit was watching old Harrison run and fight like he wasn't 63. And with Indy 4 officially announced and ready to begin shooting in May...well who am I kidding? I'll be there on opening day. The point is Firewall blows like a starving hooker.

Honourable mentions go to Stranger Than Fiction, V For Vendetta, The Sentinel, The Da Vinci Code, Snakes on a Plane, World Trade Center, NightWatch.

And so roll on 2007. Babel, Rocky, The Fountain, Transformers... yes that's right, I'm mildly excited about Transformers. Oh who am I kidding, I can't wait! I'm not ashamed to say it. In the end I'm sure I'll end up ranting about God knows what on here throughout the year. I love it really!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's Not Procrastination If It Really Needs To Be Done

How long can a person avoid writing an essay on the narrative breakdown of a 30 minute section of The Remains of the Day? Quite a long time it would appear. I wonder if that can be my approach to the assignment? You know, Charlie Kaufman couldn't figure out how to adapt The Orchid Thief so he wrote Adaptation about how he couldn't figure out how to adapt The Orchid Thief... Maybe my essay is about how I couldn't write the essay and instead called pretty much everyone listed in my mobile, cleaned my bathroom and watched way too much of season 2 of House in an effort to avoid writing this stupid, bloody thing. I even wrote a post about it and made you all read it. Misery loving company and all that. Of course I go home for Christmas in a couple of days and while I'll bring some work with me, I won't get as much done as I'll need to, the few days around New Year are already pretty full, suddenly it'll be January and, with the deadline approaching faster than Mel Gibson to a boobytrapped bar mitzvah, Remains of the Day will remain undeconstructed. Is "undeconstructed" a word? Can you negativise any verb in its future imperfect tense by adding "un"? Is "deconstructed" actually in the future imperfect tense? Is "negativise" a word?

Wouldn't it be easier therefore to simply write the essay, I hear you cry. Yes of course it would. If I didn't have such a full mobile phone, a hideously unclean bathroom (that now gleams) and that darned Gregory House wasn't so witty in his angst and misery. Really folks, do watch it if you aren't already. I now however find myself out of excuses. So, for tomorrow, the alarm is set for 8.00am, the books are ready, the DVD is in the DVD player and, well I think that's all I need. Though I am getting a sudden, inexplicable and completely unrelated urge to do some volunteer work...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Stick Man and Little Chief

I realised a few weeks ago that I hadn't posted anything on my two ex housemates. Having lived with them for so long our break up should have prompted a post before now, even though this blog is supposed to be about me in all my narcisism. Also I did only recently start blogging again. Anyway...

I lived with Kev for the last 8 years. I lived with Karen on and off for 6. We all met in Uni, at the educational wonder that is the Surrey Institute of Art and Design. Karen and I were studying the beautiful medium of film. Kev was studying animation. I don't feel like I have a huge amount of friends, (though as a little aside all but two of the people I invited to my 30th birthday were able to go and I have way more friends than I actually realised which was cool) but those friends I have really mean alot. So very much in fact. And few mean more than Kev and Karen. Moving out of my beloved flat in West London was so hard because of the sense of home we had created. Flat sharing is inherently temporary, but we had managed to prevent it feeling as such. Shared interests (Karen's football and Kev's animation aside) helped enormously. Our collective DVD collection ran into the many hundreds and as film buffs we could always rely on at least that one thing to bring us together. Be it watching something dodgy from our collection, ("I feel like something light tonight" as if we had had a Tarkovsky marathon for the previous week) or else walking to Blockbuster to fetch something equally dodgy. But the one constant was that, if we happened to be in, we would always be together in the living room, not sitting in our rooms on our own like so many people flat sharing have told me they do.

So many small pleasures but they raise a smile now when I think of them. Emailing each other during our work days to see who fancied having take away and a few beers that night (and that night could be Monday through Sunday) and invariably the emails would degenerate into the most brutal piss taking until someone got insulted or bored or, God forbid, would actually have to stop emailing because they had to do some work. Enjoying each other's oddities and idiosyncracies. Kev's flat panics, my favourite still being the day it started to rain heavily and, while I was in the loo, he was banging down the door trying to get in because he heard me pissing and somehow thought that sound was the rain getting into the bathroom. If you had seen his panic you'd know how funny it was. With Karen, well it would have to be her tendency to combine opinion with ideas and dreams to make "facts." Sprinkled in fairy dust and bearing no relation to anything in the real world, she would nonetheless tell you with such a straight face that, even though you know what she was saying simply made no sense, she would be so invested in it you couldn't help but get sucked in...! For my part, well I know I contributed many a story to our little threesome. From my naked wandering up and down the hall on a day I thought no one was in except that Karen was, to the night I, half asleep/half drunk wandered into the lounge thinking it was the toilet and pissed on the couch, to the simple fact of me not being particularly good at the practical things in life with bills going unpaid for some weeks, important calls not being get the picture. My bad moods they could take with a pinch of salt, my playing the same songs on my guitar over and over again that would drive them a bit mad but which they knew meant alot to me and so would put up with. What can I say? I'm not sure how the cosmic forces aligned to get me together with the two of them but somehow and for some reason they did and I was rewarded with their patience.

This post should have happened weeks ago. And what brought it into my mind and what made me sit down and write it is the fact that, of all the things we did together, our various trips to Barcelona, to Holland and various cottages in Devon and Cornwall, settling down to watch 24, our many meals out and drinks nights with the gang, my favourite time of year in the flat was Christmas. The flat would be decorated from the end of November with the most tacky decorations we could find, not always Kev's pleasure but that was part of the fun. Karen and I pretending to annoy him with it all, Kev pretending to be annoyed. From the Christmas Tree Angel with Down's to Santa and Mrs Claus singing in the bath to the inumerable singing trees/hats/snowmen/whatever I could lay my hands on, the decorations were mercilessly camp and tacky and it was pretty funny. We would have the gang over for a Christmas drinks night and would have our own "Christmas Day" which was hands down my favourite day of the year. Exchanging presents, cooking the biggest Christmas dinner you've ever seen, sherry or port in the afternoon, beers in the evening, chat, laughs, great times with great people. This year I miss that tremendously.

But life goes on. It was me after all that had a major hand in breaking our little home up. And in truth it was probably time. Kev is now living with his girlfriend, the lovely Michelle, and they are building a life together. Karen is about to embark on a pretty wild adventure around the world as she heads for South America in January for four months and then around the rest of the world for over a year. A braver person than I for sure, it will be phenomenol. And you all know where I am and what I'm doing. We left the flat at a point that was good for each of us, even if Karen had a bit of a wait before she jets off. In the end what I hope is that I've been able to help in some way when that was necessary, been a source of comfort or advice maybe when needs be but to be perfectly honest more than anything I hope I made you guys laugh, both intentionally and unintentionally, I don't care which. I don't mean to sound like one of us is dying or something. It's just this really is the end of an era. A really special era. I had such fun living with you, you're my best friends always, and I'm alot better for knowing you.


Friday, December 15, 2006

It Really Does Wait For No Man.

We had our last day before Christmas today. The first term is officially over.

Fuck me, that is an insane sentence to write. Time really has sped up, there is absolutely no way this year can be coming to an end. 2006 started with so much uncertainty, so many big decisions (well I think they were big decisions!) to make. I spent the first half of the year making those decisions and sorting out the practical implications of them. The second I spent anticipating them and then living them. The point is, it feels like the year started with much uncertainty and it's ending with as much. The uncertainty of what I'm doing has never bothered me before and part of me is surprised by that. I am naturally cautious by nature and the fact that I've been living month to month financially all my life, and am now putting myself in greater debt, aswell as the inherent uncertainty of getting into the film industry at all, should have weighed more heavily. I guess the only trait within me as strong as my being cautious is the fact that I have to be true to myself. That might read a bit wanky but it really is true. The second I try and bury something or try and pretend it isn't there I fuck myself completely. I can pretend to other people no problem but not to myself. And so, I know that I want to write and if I gave up on that I'd hate myself for it and would be instantly miserable. But these last few weeks/months I'm finding the uncertainty of it all begining to get on top of me a little. By uncertainty I mean uncertainty about what I'm writing, my ability to write it, and assuming I do pull it off, the chances of the industry wanting it. As I've indicated, I really feel like this course is giving me an opportunity and I honestly feel like as long as I put the work in I really could get somewhere with it. So why the negative thoughts?

Part of it is that, once I was accepted into Goldsmiths, I felt that this was going to be me for the year. Suddenly the first term is over and a year seems like a very short period of time indeed. When I finish here I'll be 31. Does that matter? Probably not. It's not like the industry is particularly ageist. Yet turning 30 does put psychological pressure on you. Or at least it has done on me. Suddenly I REALLY want to start getting somewhere. I don't think I've changed really. It's not like I've woken up and am now suddenly all serious, my stupid jokes and love of annoying my friends replaced by social awareness and political commentary. Perish the thought! That would require some reading, if nothing else. Reading of something other than Empire Magazine. I just mean that, your twenties seem to be about trying to get somewhere, figuring out who you are etc etc and your thirties and beyond are about living that out rather than continuing the search. On the one hand the logical part of me knows that's horseshit. I don't believe you ever really stop learning or searching. Plus, if everyone followed the same path we'd be in a pretty devestatingly boring world. God that sounds like an add for Orange or something... I would honestly much rather be where I am now than worrying about getting a mortgage for example or doing alot of what it seems you're supposed to be doing at my age. That's not to imply superiority of lifestyle or flippancy towards how difficult those things are and the commitment it involves, not at all. Particularly as some of my closest friends embark on those journeys. It's just that at this present time, that's not for me. This is what I want. More than anything. To express myself through writing films, to shape the story, to have that validated by an audience and to make a living in the process. And to do that I need to learn and improve and cultivate a process and expose my soul and give it to the world and have it judged. I know how that probably sounds. I'm not up my own arse, at least I hope I'm not. I simply feel that's how things are for me. Yet, while I know it's horseshit, I don't necessarily feel that it is. I guess maybe I had just hoped to be nearer my goal by now. Starting the course gave a promise of a great push towards the goal, but I'm soooo far from having a coherent story and today we finished our first term.

My need for security is pretty strong. Along with my cautious nature and having to be true to myself I would add my need for security as significant trait number 3. That would make for the worse dating profile in the world if that's what it was! Goldsmiths, the course, living in halls, this was going to provide the security for a while. And it will. It is. It's just that today is the last day of term, bringing the post around full circle, and that has brought home just how temporary this current round of security is. Maybe that's why I've felt weird all day, why the negative thoughts have been circling like vultures and why (most tellingly) I didn't go to the pub with some of my classmates after our group meal tonight. It's funny how it takes me writing loads to finally realise what it is I want to say. This happens alot with this blog. I blather on and then I hit upon where it's all going. Or my subconscious finally allows me to understand what I'm feeling and why. It's not that my thoughts are negative necessarily. I'm simply scared tonight. Scared of how quickly time goes, scared of what I'm doing with it, scared of what this path I'm on, and the future it'll bring, holds. And in some ways, scared most of all that I live for a hypothetical future rather than for a real present. I do enjoy my life. It's not perfect. Whose is? I do feel like sometimes though I forget there's a here and now. Life won't start when I become a screenwriter. It'll be 30/40/50/whatever something years old by then. It's just a weird thing because, you simply have to put so much time and energy into writing if you're going to do it properly and that can sometimes (like tonight) make you feel like you're not living for the now. I don't know. I started this post at 11.10 and it's now 12.50 and I'm not sure exactly where I've gotten to in that time. Round in a rather large circle methinks.

All I want to say is that all day, and tonight, for whatever reason, I feel scared. And for the first time since I moved here, it's not because I live in New Cross.