Sunday 27 July 2008

The Plattitude

A good friend of mine had started up a blog. There are billions of blogs out there, where we all talk about our lives to varying degrees of interest. Frankly, a lot of is is about the mundane and a lot of it is about getting things off from one's chest, in an attempt to make our lives seem that it less complicated or maybe alleviate stress. My friend's life is far from mundane and far from easy right now and is going to be getting more difficult as time goes on as he was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease at the beginning of this year. He got married a few years ago and he and his wife had their first child last year. And then four months later came the diagnosis. Slap in the face doesn't quite cover that one. But he always had a suspicion that it would appear one day as it claimed his dad in the past and is a genetic disease.

But the thing is, everyone is blown away by the way he is dealing with this progressive and incurable condition. A few weeks back, he held a party to celebrate his birthday. And far from being a dour or morbid affair, it was about as close as we could get to the old days of mayhem in Edinburgh. There was laughter and beer flowed. And that was what counted. He's not the kind of guy to start to feel sorry for himself and would slap someone for doing the same. Just getting on with it and having as much fun as possible with friends and family. I don't want to use the word "brave" as it can sound condescending and it would equally be something he'd slap me for as well.

The word is "Strong". MND takes away your strength and your movement, while thoughts and emotions remain intact. I like to think of that strength partly in the form of a huge middle finger, raised aloft in the face of the disease.

Put it this way, when someone gets cheeky, the response is "Don't make me get out of this chair".

He has started his own blog about his life right now, with his wife contributing, and the least I can do right now is to at least point people in that direction to show some support and maybe educate themselves a little about this incomprehensibly cruel disease. You can find out all about my mate Neil, his wife Louise and their son Oscar (possibly the happiest baby I've ever met) here at The Plattitude.

Neil takes no shit and I hope he continues to do so.

Thursday 24 July 2008

London After Midnight - Found At Last?

Could it be possible? Has it been found at last?

For the uninitiated, London After Midnight is/was/may continue to be the most celebrated and hunted lost film of all time. Made in 1927, it was directed by Todd Browning (Lugosi's Dracula) and starred the great Lon Chaney as a top-hatted vampire stalking the streets of London, wearing one of the most creepy and terrifying faces to ever be captured by a camera. Save for a re-creation made using stills and the odd clip (I believe), the film has been lost, some considering it lost forever. And now, there is a report over at Aint It Cool News that a print may indeed finally have been found, only to be placed back on a shelf and then moved by the owners. The story links to another website where the guy who says he found the film has made everything as clear as he can at his site.

Now, the most obvious thing to do is, at the very least, raise an eyebrow and call BS on the whole thing, but this seems very credible to me - perhaps the fact that I want to believe it influences my reaction, but I smell no fish here. Well, no strong, oily ones at any rate. The most immediate questions springing to mind are why this guy didn't come out and say he found the film back when he did. While he was obligated to place the film back with it's owners, he should at least have said something at the time. Consequently, the print has been moved to an unknown location, but it can't be that hard to find. I hope they find this and do it the justice it deserves.

Lon Chaney was a cracker. I've seen several of his classics; my wife an I saw The Phantom of the Opera on the big screen a few years back and when he did his big turn and revealed his disfigured face for the first time, my wife (who already knew what he looked liked) grabbed my arm and exclaimed "Fucking hell!", which is surprising as she is very definitely a lady and swears rarely. That's the power his make up had. Or not, as he did not wear make up, or prosthetics at least. He would insert metal hooks and loops to pull at his face, widening his eyes and pushing his nose to create some of the strangest and horrifying visages in film which are still as effective today. The League of Gentlemen even site Chaney as an influence, avoiding as much prosthetics as possible for their characters - Edward and Tubbs' upturned noses are done with tape! I don;t know how far Chaney went with this approach; some of his characters must have had some form of prosthetic, like morticians wax or nose putty, but the eyes and noses were all his own.

I hope this is true. I really, really do.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

London and a Note to Myself

Note to myself: try not to post in blog after consumption of alcohol. See previous, muddy post for example. Its heart was in the right place, but the text was...rubbish. This is how points can be missed. Lesson learned.

Anyway, I popped down to London for a two nights last week. The Tuesday evening was beautiful as my wife and I strolled through St James' Park after she finished work. Beautiful.

The next day, however, was a different story. A stroll along the South Bank to the new BFI resulted in a sodden fleeing to the nearest cafe, while London and the Thames stood on, grey and unmoved.

The highlight, however, was the David Lean exhibition at the BFI South Bank. While I wasn't able to see any of his films on show there, there were some fabulous storyboards and concept art from his unproduced Nostromo. I should have snuck my camera out to grab a few shots but I'm too much of a good boy sometimes. What was also worth seeing was the coat worn by Alec Guinness in Lean's Oliver Twist. Brilliant to see a piece of genuine cinema history right before my eyes. I'm not sure how long the exhibition is on for but I'll be down there again soon want to check it out again.

Also, I'm told that the hotel I was staying at, the Rathbone Hotel, was the very same place where some of Peeping Tom was shot. I should look that out. The lovely view from the window really puts you in the place.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

That Obama Cartoon and Modern Media Stupidity

So, this controversy about the Barack Obama cartoon emblazoned on the front cover of the latest New Yorker.

Some are saying that it is offensive. Offensive to the presidential candidate, his wife and their entire cause. It would be easy to say this if the New Yorker were a right wing, conservative magazine

But it’s not.

And some would say, including the editorial staff at said magazine, that it is intended as a piece of satire, aimed squarely at the right wing of US politics who have levelled said false charges at Obama. Well, this is easy to see and may well have been the original intention. After all, this was the explanation given by those who placed said image in the world view.

And here lies the real problem. It has also been said, by those who fall into the first camp as described above, that this image plays to the US voters who are, frankly, uninformed (not all of them, just a scary proportion). To me, the observing but interested non-American, this could very well come to mean not just the “uninformed” but the downright uneducated and those biased towards the US right without really knowing what goes on outside the borders of their own towns.

Now, it can be said that the New Yorker caters to a particular taste. Basically, the politically informed and those interested in US politics 365, all 4 years of the term, on the Diplomat side. But I feel that the New Yorker has missed something terribly obvious and important in this day and age (trying to avoid the clichés but…US politics…struggling…to…). This is the age of the internet (yes, another cliché, but stay with me). There is very little in terms of news and contemporary image that is not made available to anyone with a connection. Anyone. Therefore, plastering this image on their front page, in an age where any image is fair game for distribution, they are either asking for trouble or courting controversy deliberately. Personally, I’d go for the latter, but I’m shocked no one has pointed this out (unless they have…). It is perfectly apparent that any image connected to the US presidential race can and will be made available to anyone with the least but of interest. And this includes the 13% of Americans who believe that Barack Obama is in fact a Muslim. Which he is not. They might not be New Yorkers buying Americans, but they have views, however ill-informed in their genesis, which can only be bolstered by this kind of journalistic naïveté. Perhaps if this image had remained within the magazine itself, to illustrate the point they are trying to make, then perhaps this potential subtlety might make their point a little more sharper. They might be preaching to the converted, but at least they wouldn’t be writing the hymn sheet for the worst of the other side.

This just reinforces a belief of mine: many people are stupid – this is easy to forget – and it is all too easy to increase their stupidity at the cost of one’s own gain.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Shame and Cat Drool

I'm off to London for two nights to see my wife, who works there most of the week, even though she actually lives at home with me. As a result, our two dogs are out at her parents for the next week. As another result of that, our two cats have carte blanche on the house. Which means, as I type, I am wiping chilled-out cat drool from my arm. They get so chilled out, especially when our youngest dog isn't trying to herd them (they're both Border Collies). And so he's perched on my lap and interfering with my arms as I type. But he's a cracker. Indy. Not as obvious as some would think. My wife wanted a ginger tom (which he is) called Jones, after the cat in Alien. Due to the fact I like to sleep, this would not proceed, with me. So we reached a compromise, as I love that old hat wearing archaeologist.

But the shame comes from something else. I still haven't been able to see The Mist. Which kind of pisses on my previous post, especially as I think it'll be gone in a week, which would strengthen my theory that it's being fucked in theatrical distribution in the UK. The other bit of shame is that I've only just bought Songs for the Deaf, by Queens of the Stone Age. Why? How? I've not quite finished listening to it, as I type, but it's a monster and is taking on Ten and Slave to the Grind for me. Whether it overtakes or comes close is another question. It'll likely lose, but I've not heard a better album in a long while.

But another question remains: How the fuck did I miss this?

Friday 4 July 2008

The Mist lost in a fog of number crunchers

Tonight, hopefully, I will finally get to see Frank Darabont's The Mist. And one question lurks in the equally fog bound no-mans-land of my mind: why has it taken so long for this film to be released in the UK? It came out in the US last October and, while it didn't do too well at the box office, was still able to cultivate a cult following. A lot of people who love movies (geeks like me) rave about it and monster fans like me have been waiting with baited breath / protruding anticipatory eyes to see the damn thing. So why has it taken so long for it to be released, and with relatively little fanfare? The main reason I know it's out today is because Empire published their review of it online at the beginning of this week. I've seen no adverts, no trailers. Nought. Nada.

I'm not a big reader of Stephen King but when I couldn't get to see The Mist I did something I usually never do - I read the book. Great stuff. Full of proper monsters with no explicit explanation. And even though I know what happens now (and yes, I really do know how the film ends - such is what happens when this kind of mess occurs), I still can't wait to see the film.

I just strikes me as sad and defeatist when a movie with obvious genre appeal is released in such a way that suggests that those issuing it seem to have no faith in it. Do they think that they'd rather just release it quietly and hope it goes away, as though to prove a point to those who think it might do some business? It seems odd that a film like this wouldn't be marketed at least a little better. If so, there might be a chance that it would make that little bit more money, which surely is the point from a studio's point of view.

Another consequence of this strategy - if it can be called that - is that this process does the studios absolutely no good in their fight against piracy. If folks want to see it and are denied that by a studio, then of course the thing is going to turn up online. While it will anyway, as is par for the course these days, they are almost giving it away to a portion of people who would rather see it on the big screen as opposed to a wee, grainy screen. While it's not OK to do that, it's idiocy not to realise that this is what happens anyway. Release the thing properly and reduce the need or desire of some to watch it illegally. Hell, it's out on DVD in the US, and can be bought easily and legally online.

But I'm a sucker for the big screen and am looking forward to seeing monsters up there again. I don;t think we see enough monsters on the big screen these days. Yeah, we've had quite a few this year; Cloverfield, Hellboy 2 (which isn't out here yet), Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (Burn my eyes! Dash them out!); but there's always room for more as far as I'm concerned.

So I end with a question: where are all the British monster movies?

Thursday 3 July 2008

For the foolish among you...

For the foolish among you...

I thought I'd provide a link to my previous blogs on MySpace. I never use the site anymore but hell, I might push up the content here a little. And there are still a few things on there either of vague interest of of actual importance to my fragile/inflated/akintoaspentnortherncomedian ego.

My Previous Crapola.

Is this cheating? Ah, who cares. I'm trying hard not to swear (coughs). Because I'm a coarse fool in person.

(raspberry sound)

Coughs once more...

Wednesday 2 July 2008 I doing it right?


My first "proper" blog. As it were.

I've peddled my pish on MySpace before but felt it was about time I did it "properly". Or maybe in a way that might actually get read, and not by caffeine fuelled teens. If they ever did look, which I highly doubt.


Ok, I might as well introduce my no good self. My name is Brian Robinson and I'm supposed to be a screenwriter. I say supposed as, even though I'm working on a paid screenwriting job right now (my first!), it still feels like either not working or cheating as I'm working from home, shouting at two dogs and trying to re-assemble my general motivation. Don't get me wrong - this job is a good one right now. But...ah, I've no excuse, Maybe this blog will be a record of defeating the nature of laziness. God, I hope so.

Well, I'm presently engaged in the beginings of my first proper rewrite at the moment and it's getting interesting. I looking at my own work from a supposedly dislocated POV (fellow writers will know the meaning of that abbreviation. All others - this is the internet - Goooooooogle is fffryeend. You know. Like Sarah and Ludo. Whhaaaaaagh!).

Er, I seem to have lost my train of thoughwghwgh (and it goes on. Really, it does. You've no idea about this guy. One minute, he's about to deliver some profundity, the next he's wondering how Hayden Christensen might have benefitted from better direction, before realising how vain the whole endeavour is).

If you've come this far, you may yet endure the tosh yet to come as I try and do something ith myself.

Right. Now I have "Heads and Tails" by Derek Griffiths in my head.

On a loop.

Help me.