comics, television

Suicide Squad/Batman vs Superman – random thoughts

Trailers only show scenes from perhaps the first two acts of a movie.  They’re an art form in and of themselves.  I enjoy them but I’m seldom completely swayed by their arguments. 

So DC are rolling out their attempt to build a cinematic universe around their characters.  It’s not as well thought out as Marvel but come on it’s fucking Batman and if it doesn’t reference George Clooney’s era then it will take box office scalps even if it was ninety minutes of Batman practicing card tricks.
(My favourite Batman in film is The Dark Knight or Batman Returns,  The Penguin’s crew were pure Burton but I loved how Nolan figured out how to make a crime noir with costumes)

Zack Snyder produces lovely but insubstantial movies and he has that eye for spectacle that Nolan or Bay has, although he lacks both the chilly intellectual bent of the former or the earnest humour of the latter. I didn’t enjoy Man of Steel because it lacked warmth and Superman is characterised by his love for humanity as well as a third act that was a wall of noise, darkly lit and just unremitting. 
So now we get to see his Batman and I rate Ben Affleck highly. If you’ve seen The Town or Argo, maybe take in his performance in changing lanes and you’ve got the basis for a solid portrayal. 
Ok does Jesse Eisenberg look like he’s related to the Joker in the same way that Sideshow Cecil resembles Sideshow Bob or is it just me?
I will probably see it if only because I have a deep seated love for the mythology even though the films seem to veer towards a post 9/11 ideology when I prefer escapism with enough plausibility.  Sure, Batman could stop terrorism but I’d rather see him punch an intelligent ape who’s wearing a jet pack.  But that’s because I watch work that’s challenging and visceral but I think that it’s clumsily done by DC. Marvel have a better take but they’ve been lucky as much as good.
David Ayer is a good director and I think  Suicide Squad will be entertaining if overshadowed by Margot Robbie and Jared Leto.  Robbie can act and that matters more than the fact that she’s photogenic for mining a popular character.  Shame the comics are shit and they’re not going with the Timm/Dini character. It’s more like Girl, Interrupted on MDMA but I hope that it’s a good movie.

I love comics and the books I actually read are making their way to other media.  Preacher.  Scalped. 100 Bullets.  Sandman.  All fantastic works but it’ll be the success of properties like Suicide Squad that will determine whether other films get made.
And yet it’s like having an opinion about a mountain as it’ll happen and my opinion is of no consequence regardless of the outcome.  I’m too invested in my own work to worry but I love good pop culture because you can have intellectual stimulation and spectacle and I don’t see why we can’t have both. 

creative writing, television, women, writing

Silence, I’m watching television

The Sacrament

A mockumentary that captures a raw unease and sense of dread whilst using a spare almost dogme approach.  It tells of a visit to a religious commune isolated by choice and the resulting tragedy. 

Orange is the new black

I love this show.  Humane,  funny and with a good edge to it.  It’s a masterclass in showing women as they are not as a platonic ideal. My favourite character is Crazy Eyes who pushes through to become an example of pure id leavened by an unrestrained love and passion for life and people.

House of cards

I loved the original and it’s adaptation to Washington is sublime.  The Shakespearean relationship at its centre is glacial and elegantly phrased yet sourced in a genuine love between two ruthless people. 

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, television, Two Pages, writing

Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere 13/04/2015

It really sang this morning, a little bit of exposition, not hanging too heavily in the moment as I am keen to move things onward but I was conscious of still showing, rather than telling too much. In this process, where I’m emptying my head of everything that the story demands, I’m still also aware that I don’t want to waste any time writing anything that’s there just for the appearance of value.

It worked really well. I wrote quickly and yet I started to more wholly foreshadow the third act climax, show the preparations for a major MMA fight in terms of the physical need to make weight and a level of fitness plus whatever ambient needs the strain of impending competition does to someone and the people around them.

I’m too close to it to say if it works as a book overall, certainly there’s more discipline in terms of not producing too bloated and sprawling a piece, so it’s more improvising over a chord progression and less free jazz.  I can’t even be sure that it works as a story, even though it roughly follows three act structure, although within that, there are subplots and developments, I’m working from within rather than without. I’m more a gardener than an architect, but when it’s working with smaller pieces, I like the space to let things and characters breathe.

See, already thinking of it as something I’ve written rather than something I write. Which means new projects to consider, as well as a solid proof of the second book that I can send to the agent and hopefully start thinking about making the transition from writer to author, an artificial distinction but one that’s important in my larger goals.

Appropos of nothing, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is hilarious, Titus is the breakout character yet Ellie Kemper underins it all with a solid, likeable performance that hints at genuine trauma without it dragging down the simple yet often overlooked concept of being funny. Actual laugh out loud funny, and my laughter is used to frighten local children into sensible bedtimes.



Silence, I’m Watching Television

The teaser trailer for season 2 of True Detective has gone up online, the fifth season of Game of Thrones starts on Monday here in the UK, The Walking Dead has finished with a bit of a whimper and Better Call Saul has just concluded.

OK, so I’ll start this off. I’ve read all the available ASOIAF books, I can and do go full nerd on it and it’s one of my favourite series of books. It’s fantasy as I would love to write it, but Martin has done it and although I do have a nascent idea on it, I would be loathe to approach it because I guarantee there’s a landfill of manuscripts doing exactly that.

I love the show.  It’s superbly written, and the nitpicking aside, it manages to recreate the sweep and horror of the books, rooting it in human motivations and subverting the cliches and tropes of fantasy even as it celebrates them.  It’s event television for me. I’m excited because it is notionally ahead of the books and there’s some awesome developments/changes in place that improve upon the clunkier elements of the book even as it lost characters and situations that I personally liked. Strong Belwas, I hardly knew ye.

True Detective season 2 still has it’s writer, a good cast and it’s not repeating the themes of the first season, which is eight episodes of metaphysical noir and a meditation on masculinity that I took writer’s notes on. Much as I did with Breaking Bad. I don’t know when it will air in the UK but I will be watching it intently.

In terms of what I’ve been watching:

The Jinx. Binge watched it, essentially Serial the tv show and Durst is compelling, his dry reptilian blink and abrasive manner make him interesting although I’m not entirely convinced about the veracity of the final scene although I approved that they simply left it there. It’s compelling and nuanced, and you almost feel a pang of sympathy for him.

Tales of The Grim Sleeper. Nick Broomfield and Adam Curtis are the two documentary film makers who command my attention. Curtis is technically better but Broomfield lets his subjects do the heavy lifting and there’s an amiable amateurish quality that communicates the dissonances and uncertainties. It touches on the disposability of black women and the inertia of law enforcement through the testimonies of women who encountered and survived their encounters, only to be met with profound disinterest.

Patrice O’Neal did a bit where he talked about how the worth of a woman was in how long people would care before she was missing. It’s brutal and Broomfield simply does the honourable and human thing of letting people speak. It’s evocative and compassionate, which is a rarity in a lot of true crime, some of which is murder porn essentially but we forget that these are people with lives and dreams and hopes.

I have season 2 of Broadchurch and the show Fortitude to bingewatch at some point, also I’ve been enjoying Brickleberry which is wrong and not suitable for humans but funny and doesn’t suffer from the cut scene tics of Family Guy.



Matt Watches Television

  • Why does every new vaguely supernatural/science fiction tv show have to be (insert unusual character, such as Lucifer or iZombie) have to have them solving crimes? It’s not like there’s a shortage of the bloody things.

How about a werewolf that becomes a congressman or a zombie trying to get in touch with his ex girlfriend? Drama is drama, and as much as I love crime drama (even the vaguely tweedy Murder She Wrote is bearable when the truth is that Jessica Fletcher is the murderer) come on, play with the format, I dare you.

  • Reality television puts people on your screen that you wouldn’t have in your house. I knew that the likes of the Duck Dynasty people existed but did you have to forcibly remind me?
  • Television has improved, the likes of HBO have pushed the boundaries but it’s still got a way to go as yet. The likes of the Netflix model have changed things and the mainstream channels have yet or are unable to change in time to avoid the wounding that they’ve received.
  • The Better Call Saul episode with Mike has to be one of my favourite hours of television alongside the season finale of Orange Is The New Black.
  • If I were to write for television, I’d want to pitch to Netflix or Amazon Prime, might be a lower budget but more freedom and my President Werewolf pitch isn’t as expansive as I originally thought. Growl, Kevin Spacey, growl.
  • Marvel are winning in terms of quality in reproducing the pop energy of the comics onscreen and continuity, DC aren’t exciting me at all and I say this as a massive fan of their continuity. I want comic book movies of Saga and I’m finally getting my Preacher tv series, which has amazing casting thus far.

Now, silence I’m watching television.