Monday, 9 July 2012

Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Right, lets get the facetious bit out of the way first. The title's wrong. Yes I know it's taken from the comic book and it's a big fan favourite but it's just misselling the film. It really should be the quite good spiderman, the enjoyable spiderman, the better than average... you get the point. There's lots of good things about this. Emma Stone is as watchable as ever. (Even though she is obviously too old for high school.) She has an ability to let personality come through what is essentially a cartoon character. Sally Field and the non more Uncle/fatherly Martin Sheen are strong back up. Sheen's new teeth are a little disconcerting though. Andrew Garfield is likeable and between him and stone there's hardly a conversation that gets finished intelligibly (in a good way). Garfield also looks the part in the suit and more importantly for the modern hero, he has great hair (the way it stands up is the one truly amazing part of the film.) Rhys Ifans is solid but isn't given the time and space to become a truly threatening villain and this is part of the film's problem. It doesn't have a climax, well it does but it comes half way through and then runs at a level from there. It's an enjoyable enough film don't get me wrong but it misses out on the rousing finale that you'd expect from a superhero flick. There are another two on the way though so hopefully the next will tighten things up a bit. Stick around through the credits for a shadowy hint to the big bad behind the next film.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Early morning mental meandering.

Sometimes your mind just wanders, do you find that? Mine does, all over the place. for instance this morning I ended up wondering if Alanis Morissette is cleverer than she's given credit for. Bear with me on this. When she wrote and sang 'Ironic' she was rightly derided because most of the examples she warbled about weren't true Irony, more just bad luck. However, to write a song about irony and then give these wrong examples is surely about as ironic as it gets, so my theory is that maybe she did it on purpose. What do we think?

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

So, apparently, Abraham Lincoln; in addition to being one of America's best loved presidents, slave abolitionist and liberal, spent his nights hunting vampires (at least in the early part of his life). He gives it up to concentrate on getting elected but, like Arnie, can't stay away from his true vocation for too long. It's giving nothing away to tell you that as a yong man he witnesses his mother being murdered by a local vamp and goes out for revenge, not really knowing what he's going up against. Fortunately a friendly vampire hunter happens along to rescue him and take him under his wing. Cue 80's style training montage and then we're thrown into the thick of the story/action.  After my initial concerns Benjamin Walker settles into the big hat and actually improves as he has to play older and older, he makes a convincing later life Lincoln. If anyone was ever born to play a young Liam Neeson it's this fella I've never really got along with Dominic Cooper on screen but he's ok in this and for the most part the rest of the cast hold their own. The star of the show is the visual style, particularly when vampires abound. Director Timur Bekmambetov is the man that brought us the atoundingly good Nightwatch and the reasonably good Daywatch both films showcased his visual flair to an extent that he hasn't really been able to match since. This foray back into the world of the undead has brought him as close to that initial promise as we've seen. It also features one of the best set-pieces (on the train) I've seen in  along time. So the action is thrilling and stylishly done, the acting is exactly what you'd expect from this kind of thing. The pacing however is a problem. The opening third is good, the final reel steams through like the train most of it is based on, the middle is a little flabby. Unfortunately, as with real life, politics raises it's ugly head to ruin everything and all you can do is wait for the big man to pick up his axe again. The political angle is intrinsic to the storyline but what could have been another interesting montage to mirror the vamp hunting one form earlier is simply whitewashed over. This doesn't detract from the fact that I came out of the cinema with a big grin. It's not going to win many favours amongst the critics but, really, what do you expect from a film called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Me and the Queen.

I've just finished Ema works for the OU. (Last week). And now another deadline looms. This time for Cafe Three Zero. We'e starting work for our third collection of stories called Random. We've each been given a stimulus for the story by a randomly selected other writer. At the minute therefore, I am trying to put myself into the midset of a single, female teacher. This could be interesting. Am currently trying to assimilate all the things I've learned fromt the course I've been doing the last nine months. Quadruple check punctuation is one. Secondly I've decided I need to let the characters lead the story and not the other way round. Once I've got used to that then I can start putting some twisty plots together and filling them with believable characters. Tha main thing, though, is just to keep writing and writing, so here I am doing just that.
P.s. The Jubilee weekend has just passed. I'm no royalist per se but this weekend Her Maj showed why many many people are. When I'm sure she'd rather have been at her husband's side and celebrating was probably the last thing on her mind, her duty told her she had to go sit in a coach . A big gaping hole at her side where the loony old bugger should have been and has been all these years. And still she waved and smiled for the thousands upon thousands that lined the streets when she must have been soooo tempted just to say bugger this I'm the Queen dontcha know, I'm going to stay here with Phil and look after the racist old sod, you lot can just bugger off. She earned my respect for that. ( Might have got more if she'd actaully cancelled, who knows?)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Exciting times.

Hello everybody. Just a quick note to let you know that the second book from Cafe Three Zero is available now featuring a dark little story by me. P.s. That ink will also take you to a voucher to get the book half price. Hurry 'cos it won't last forever.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A response to the Bovine Love story

On the student Cafe forum of the creative writing course I'm doing on the OU I received this response to the stroy I'd posted up 'A tale of Bovine Love' which I posted previously on here. I had to share it with as many folks as I could because it just made me laugh and then smile for hours. Here you go then.

Hi Richard

I'm standing in a wilderness here, looking for a cow, and there are none to be seen. I have to tell you Richard that that there have been times in my life when I have been so desperate and low, that any old cow would have done; I fortified myself with the notion that I didn't even have to love the cow, because Richard I can confide in you that love is a concept that has brought chains to my soul. Love stands you on the edge of an abyss and says jump these chains will hold you firm. But RIchard the number of times I have hit the bottom of that abyss breaking myself into a thousand bloodied pieces of grizzle, bone, and torn skin, and yes, vomit, and I'm not ashamed to admit that, and yet the only thing that was still in tact, still gleaming in the few rays of daylight that filtered down, were those chains. They were untouched by the fall. They still cut into my broken heavy soul, and Richard I knew that the weight of those chains would never let me climb back up to the sunlight. I knew that if I was to save myself I would have to abandon my chained up soul. I would have to leave it where it lay, in chains, in the dark, abandoned forever. It had become too heavy for one person to bear alone.

Richard I have been inspired by your allegoric tale of Sapphic Love. However by the posts I fear that you may have encoded it a little too much because a lot of people really do think that you are writing about cows. Yes Richard I know what you are thinking, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. And I am sorry to have introduced new elements of the bovine, which may confuse them even more.

However I digress, I note with delight that not content two test one of the sexual taboos of middle class England, you have successfully catered for the sado-masochistic community with your description of barbed wire cutting deeply - I reread that line several times as I found it deeply satisfying, thank you.

Your next triumph was the metaphysical reference to the futility of birth, bravo. With your natural economy of language you have encapsulated one of lives great mysteries; why are we born? By turning the van into a womb, from which new life is disgorged, and that new life is already close to disgorging its own new life you have squared the circle of life, excellent.

Finally you have had the courage to comment on the pathos of Sapphic entanglements when you took the moral high ground and demonstrated that true love will only ever be achieved in hetrosexual communion when you symbolically had the Man walking off with the cow/sapphic partner and in a perfect biblical flourish you write of silence as man and cow are reunited in perfect harmony. Richard take a bow.

Strangely, your best line was not to be found in your piece, but consigned to a post script. I prefer cows to people you get into a lot less trouble eating them. I could not have put it better myself.

Regards John

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A bovine love story

This was written for cafe three zero as a bit of an excercise, don't ask where it came from I have no idea.

The silty streambed pulls at my feet, I have to pull hard against the vacuum to keep moving. It feels as though the ground itself is trying to stop me getting through. A loose strand of barbed wire snags my shin, pulls a deep cut but the only thought I have is to get to her, look into her eyes and know I am loved.

I use the term love so you can understand some of what we feel. I heard the Man and his Mate talking about love a few moons ago. They had been by the gate, on the other side. She had stopped her car and stood, a defeated look about her. The bond between them had been growing steadily weaker over the last few weeks, you could see it in the way he didn't follow her with his gaze any more. You could see it in the way she followed him with hers but it was his back that bore the heavy weight of her silent need. Sometimes the soul becomes too heavy for one person to bear on their own, she longed for some lightening of her load but he didn't see it.

She stopped the car and stood waiting, he finally acknowledged the power in her stare and was drawn to her, she said something and it was as if the weight she had borne was transferred to his back. She wasn't happy yet but she was unburdened. She drove slowly away down the hedged lane, his eyes never left her.

Since then he has treated us differently. The care has gone from his heart, replaced by that image I think. She had said 'You don't love me any more. You say you do but... but I don't think you still know how to, or why.' Love was what she had called the bond they used to have. We don't name it, we just know it.

She had arrived the day after the Man's mate left. She'd stumbled into our field from the van, already pregnant and obviously terrified. I'd run over to her to give her the usual tour; 'That corner has the sick grass, this bit of the bank by the stream is slippy, the farmhouse up there at the top of the stream is where the Man lives. This is where our food comes.' but as I reached her I looked into her eyes and was lost. We were sistermotherdaughterloverfriend. I took the weight of her fear and she looked back into me, thanking me silently. From then on we were together. We ate, lowed, played and slept together. Her children were mine and mine hers, we were the same cow and our lives were so much the lighter for it. The others understood. It is rare for this to happen but it does and no-one could be unhappy for us. Except the Man. I think he felt it and was jealous. Over many months he treated us gradually more and more differently to the others, we were always the last to be fed, first for tagging. Finally he seperated us. Put us in adjacent fields. If anything it strengthened our bond. All we ever needed was to be able to look into each other's eyes and we were bouyed up again.

This afternoon he took her.

He came for the Annual collection and took her. It wasn't her time. They only take the old ones but he couldn't live with the love we had and he took her. We all know where they go. The shed by the stream. We hear them lowing until we don't hear it any more. This time he left them for hours. I could hear her over the others. My one spark of hope. One by one the other voices stopped. All the while I ould hear her, comforting me. I called back. Eventually hers was the only voice left. He came out and looked over the fields and I know he was looking for me. I called to let him know where I was, to tell her we would always be joined. He turned his back and walked to the shed.

Now I'm walking up the stream, calling, calling so as not to hear the silence. The others watch silently knowing I only see her eyes.