beauty, culture, film

The Hateful Eight

Tarantino is the only writer/director who would make a three hour single location western murder mystery chockful of violence,  profanity at a Shakespearean level and a cast of character actors. 

Thank god for that.

I love his movies.  He’s an auteur and even his excesses are crimes of enthusiasm rather than any lack of ability.  His missteps are, at least bold ones and that’s what I love about him.
It’s a jaw dropping movie.  Uncomfortable and leavened by bursts of coal black humour as it descends into a final act that is garotte tight in execution and still capable of genuine warmth and humanity.  It’s probably his best film.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is incredible,  playing an ugly, irredeemable woman with a low cunning and a powerful sense of herself.  She has a serpentine sensual brutality and a willingness to go for the moment that makes her riveting to watch.
Walton Goggins is superb, more than holding his own with the likes of Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.
Samuel L Jackson has a monologue about halfway through that is one of the most uncomfortable and disturbing things I’ve seen and yet he still radiates an amused mastery of space and performance that makes him the de facto hero of the piece. 
Go see it. It’s important to support original film in a time of reboots and remakes because we need art that pokes us in the uncomfortable places and this film does that.

film, Uncategorized

Star Wars – The Force Awakens (contains fake spoilers for amusement)

I like to support new, independent cinema so yesterday I demonstrated that by seeing the new, avant garde film from cinema’s enfant terrible J J Abrams called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

So when Disney brought the rights, I held a moment of caution. However, that was misplaced as we all forget that above all else, Disney seek to entertain. Not mission statements, not polemics that should have you running into the streets to start the revolution. Two hours of solid, aesthetically pleasing grand entertainment that make you forget about this world and visit another one.

It was a trip backwards, a curation of what was best about the original trilogy and it’s ‘future is past’ aesthetic. Beautifully filmed, great dialogue and a sense of the epic about it. A respect for the audience who are walking encyclopedias as well as those who aren’t but want to see a good movie.  Star Wars is not science fiction, it is science fantasy, it is Saturday Morning Cartoons wedded to chambara and western morality plays. Good guys and bad guys. It has the best soundtrack in film (John Williams’ score is so moving, and the new one is fantastic), it survived three anodyne toy commercial movies that should have broken it’s potential entirely. It is not a franchise prone to sabotage unlike The Matrix, which fucked itself in it’s second movie.

I’m not going to post details because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I thought I would make up some spoilers instead.


  1.  The ewok orgy was disturbing.
  2. Jar Jar being the big bad behind the First Order was a surprise.
  3. The musical duet between Miley Cyrus and the Sarlaac was oddly touching.

See it or not. It understood itself as few movies do, all white teeth and bright eyes, spectacle and instant friendships, a child’s morality but so earnest and heartfelt that you buy in entirely or don’t. When Han Solo turned up, looked at Chewbacca and said ‘we’re home.’ my eyes prickled with tears and I nodded to myself in the dark of the cinema.

The old man was right. We are.


OK, so after a month, some issues came to mind that have soured my experience of it. It felt a little bit too smooth for my liking. A touch too anodyne compared to the original trilogy especially when it came to the idea that Rey feels a bit too perfect compared to Luke. His earnest, farmboy naivete is part of his appeal, and ties into the hero journey, the mythic cycle that came direct from Joseph Campbell. Still, it’s a kid’s film and now that the nostalgia has faded, I liked it less than I thought. In the same way that McDonalds tastes pretty good and then you feel bloated and crampy later.

comics, creative writing, film, masculinity, men, television, writing

On Joss Whedon and social media

This isn’t done to mock Joss Whedon or feminist activists who took umbrage with his latest film Age of Ultron.

This is about whether or not you should,  as a creator, separate art from politics,  especially in these times and with the increasing outrage and partisanship.

I like to keep my art and politics separate.  That doesn’t preclude me from feeling and supporting compassionate and progressive causes but like faith, it’s become a private matter. 

Refusing to bear an insult or injury is the bedrock of activism but when you look at political activism and social networking, there’s a lot of people who are so quick to dismiss or celebrate that you can get whiplash just watching. 

Such mercurial judgements and absolutism aren’t healthy for the artists who court them.  This applies whether you court any group at all.  Look at how Buffy and Firefly were heralded as progressive icons and now being lined up like cattle in a slaughterhouse. 

And for what?

Joss owes us nothing personally.  Only whatever work he does that you’re willing to pay for.  Same as with any artist.  That he’s not going to be a paragon of your perceived virtue is a given and he wasn’t especially vociferous about it. Yet he’s had threats and character assassinations, and all he did was make a fucking movie. 

If you’ve ever sent a threat online,  I pity you.  I used to troll after a fashion and it’s a short hit of adrenaline and a slow,  ugly comedown. 

Joss will be back but, like a lot of creators, probably won’t engage with his audience in the same way as before.  Perhaps that’s for the best but I think that every time someone gets the lynch mob,  that we’re throwing away something that we craved pre internet. I get it though,  focus on the work and those who love you and your work. 

books, creative writing, film, Uncategorized, women, writing

E L James and The Emperor’s New Movie

Bearing in mind that Gawker Media is an outrage machine, it does have some funny articles.

What’s interesting here is that this is playing out to be something interesting for all of us as writers who want to be authors, and I don’t think that it is a shining example.

I don’t think she’s a writer as much as she’s a marketer. Someone who’s not very good at acknowledging the collaborative efforts put into the original fan fiction that later formed 50SoG.  Someone who’s not perhaps conducted themselves with any degree of dignity. Mara Wilson is lovely in her online interactions and didn’t deserve the insult that was directed at her.

Screenwriting is a different animal, less forgiving than a novel in some ways and more prone to interference.  The director and original screenwriter don’t want any part of future sequels, leaving the cast held hostage until negotiations reach a conclusion.

I know you can’t argue with success, and I don’t begrudge her at all. However, you hope that someone might at least have a word and warn her that this has all the potential of being textbook hubris coming back to bite her.

There’s no news on a new book.

Success can be as paralyzing as failure, can’t it? The weight of expectation is as much a form of resistance as when you can’t write at all.

I wonder what she’s like as a person, how she feels about what’s being reported and whether it worries her at all. I don’t dislike her and we can all look at what fame does and if we’re careful see what pitfalls there are and what we would do.


Didn’t go there, so I won’t be going back either

I haven’t seen any of The Hobbit films at the cinema.

I went every year with Lord of The Rings, have brought the extended editions and will upgrade to the blu ray at some point.

I feel that the Hobbit trilogy bears the same relation to LOTR that the Star Wars prequels did to the original trilogy. Overblown, stale, and magnifying the flaws of the original trilogy.

It’s a shame because I love Peter Jackson’s work. It’s strange because it’s essentially the same crew with a different cast and yet it doesn’t work for me at all. For so many reasons.

If you love it, I get why but for me, it just felt like one great film bloated into three of them, and I’ve not seen the third because I don’t want to hatewatch anything for 144 minutes.

It has it’s moments, but they have all the kineticism of a videogame, without the emotional stakes of the original. I had read LOTR several times, and yet I was invested in the characters in a way that the Hobbit doesn’t manage.

Still, age might be kinder to them than it has to the prequels.

creative writing, film, poetry, television, writing

Future Ambitions

Things/projects I aim to do (not a complete list):

Write a play.

My daughter acts, I used to, I love the thrill and intimacy and it’s something I plan on creating and engaging with because it’s so utterly traditional and modern at the same time. You’re engaged in a conspiracy with the actors and the playwright and the audience. 

An epistolary novel. 

I didn’t recognise the term at first, but it’s basically a story composed of letters/correspondence. I like that because you can play unreliable narrator, which is a fun challenge. 

A screenplay.

Yes, me and a million other people but fuck it, I would like to try because even failing at it would teach me something valuable.

A television pitch. 

Television used to be the abysmal cousin you hid in the attic, but the last few years there’s been some amazing stuff. I am interested in the form and what you can do with it.

Comic books.

I have written comic book scripts, in fact it was what led me to the acquaintance of Magnus who in turn introduced me to my agent, and it is something that I have plans to return to. It’s words and pictures, you can’t really go wrong with that, can you?

More poetry.

I write quite assertive, masculine erotic poetry. People seem to like it although I never can tell if anyone reads it or likes it, but I enjoy writing it and I intend to do more of it. 

Write a lot more books.

In an age of flash fiction, blogs and tweet based literary endeavours, it seems almost quaint to me, but I love the process and the challenge of it. A book is a commitment, both to write and to read, much like a stage play, it’s ancient and modern and above all else, I love writing. 

Or more importantly having written. 

John Guillen posted a stirring and brusque assessment of the chances of success in mainstream publishing, I’ve seen missives about the worth of self publishing and the whole Amazon/Hachette conflict continues without anyone realising that both parties have issues they’re not addressing and it’s the artists, as ever, who are getting the rough end. I want to play in the big leagues, whether I get there is as much luck as hard work, all I do is work hard enough so that when I get to that point, I’ve got some steel in my spine to face the next set of challenges.

I wrote a book, that was the first hurdle. Then I got an agent, and they’re helping me climb to the top of that mountain. Once I am there, then it will be negotiating that series of peaks, and it’s the same forever. It took courage to take that first step, and I keep finding the courage to keep going, in the face of a million distractions, I still write everyday. Wanting is not enough, you have to do things to get there. I think about marketing but I genuinely don’t have a clue where to start, or when or if it’s just dancing around trying to look important. 

Anyway, lots to look forward to, all of it two pages a day, because it takes embracing the grind to make things happen. 

Thank you for following me. Interact with me, I don’t bite and I am not fragile. Let me know you exist because we are all just apples on the same tree.