fiction, short fiction, women

As God Loves

I love the poetry of science and some of the concepts lend themselves well to story ideas. Here was what started as a series of puns then some amusement in imagining a cinematic experience in a world dominated by women. The idea of cruelty being solely a male province does a disservice to everyone.

Heaths obsession and the lengths he goes to fulfilling it are part of pop culture and always good story material.

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The wig made his scalp itch like an addiction, and the lipstick tasted of something extracted from a marine life form, but Heath looked up at the gold statuette with its mother-goddess curves and blank face and bit back a shudder of vulgar joy. He would get away with this, he thought, as he followed the media people down into the auditorium.

He had practiced with heels, but they had delivered their punishment by instalments. Walking the length of the laboratory had been one thing, but hours spent waiting to get in whilst the nominees and celebrities stood for photos and interviews with the press. He wouldn’t risk talking to one of them although it would be quite something to ask Melissa McCarthy about playing Winifred Churchill in Her Darkest Hour or Mercedes Carrera as Connie The Barbarian.

Heath loved the cinema of this world the way God loves: from afar.

Security ushered them to their seats. Heath sat down in a way which appeared feminine but he felt awkward, already sweating under his arms and at the small of his back. There are whoops and cries from the audience, a hubbub of chatter which swells like an orchestra before the lights fall down and the presenter comes out. Something pinched the back of his ankle and he cursed the shoes he had chosen but he wanted to fit in with the beautiful people.

It was controversial this year because a man was hosting, which made Heath chortle when he read about it, but as Michael Gyllenhaal walked towards the microphone, Heath felt a foreboding bubble in the pit of his stomach.

They were the only men in the building. He wished there weren’t restrictions on sharing his work. The department guidelines on contact and interaction were enforced with a rigour which verged on the pathological. A Latin woman, in a black suit walked down the aisle, shot Heath a look which raised gooseflesh before she moved down the aisle. Michael made a few jokes about men, and the audience cackled with a fierce glee. He was playing to the crowd, Heath thought, and good on him. Men had it tough in this parallel universe, but the politics didn’t interest him because he was here for the culture, which was always upriver of politics, anyway. His throat was dry and he rubbed his tongue against the roof of his mouth to generate saliva.

The first guest hosts were the stars of Bitch, Where’s My Car?, stunning despite the goofy smiles and snapback hats, heavy bracelets and midriffs carved from wood, scarred with tattoos which made Heath stir in his seat. He had taped everything back and had to take a deep breath to control his reaction. When they announced the winner as a supporting actress in Thora Gump, Heath tutted and shook his head. An elderly woman shoot him a look, and when Heath uncrossed his legs, she scowled with a cautious suspicion before she returned her attention to the show. His mouth was like the skin of a baked potato and he had a headache building at his temples.

Thora Gump was awful. Heath suspected Zemeckis knew enough story structure to adapt the best parts of the book, and Hanks was subtle enough to avoid going full retard, which he’d been saying long before Tropic Thunder came out, but here Jodie Foster had suffered under Nora Ephron’s affectations to create a saccharine clown show which felt like a cheap satire of the original.

Heath loved the cinema of this world. For every Thora Gump, there was a Saving Private Rachel. Joan Allen was amazing as the determined school teacher and Greta Gerwig as Rachel provided an intense, but brief introduction in the final act. Their failures and successes held the same allure for Heath, but here he was indulging his appetite for novelty and risking his life to do it.

His money was on The Running Woman, Karyn Kusama had done an amazing job on the direction and Saoirse Ronan had proven a ballistic and credible lead. He had friends back home, who would have rated Frances McDormand’s role as Killian the equal of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight but he couldn’t share it with them. He shook with pain as his mouth cracked and bled with thirst.

The speeches. The tearful calls for action to the faithful. He needed the bathroom but his legs had gone numb and his calves were hot coals grafted to his bones as he struggled to his feet. The old woman scowled at him and he avoided her piercing gaze as he staggered from his seat. The Latin woman looked at him with frank interest as she walked towards him.

His leg shook and he remembered the pinch on his ankle. A subtle display of tradecraft as good as anyone in the department. Culture was upriver of politics, but as he pitched forwards onto his knees and watched the Latin security guard walk towards him, he marvelled how his story had turned out.

Small but capable hands lifted him to his feet.

He knew where he was going. A room outside any jurisdiction where he would be asked questions. He hadn’t come to watch The Olivias as his work, but his passion. As he focused on the blank, beautiful faces, his knees bumped against the step as they loaded him onto the van and shut the door. He wanted to tell him how much he loved this world, its achievements and tragedies, how terrible and beautiful a world of women was, but they lowered the hood over his face and someone thrust a fist into his trachea before throwing him to the floor of the van as it sped away from the auditorium.

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beauty, compassion, courage, creative writing, emotion, experience, grief, hunger, inspiration, life, loneliness, man, masculinity, nature, poetry, stoicism, strength, Uncategorized, wisdom, writing

Ghosts of Celluloid

He sits at the back of the theatre

Recalls how it was all new

Once

No colour, no computer generated effects

Not even sound.

He looks at people hunched over their phones.

People move so much faster

He doesn’t get why people

Wear their hair the way that

They do

Why the news is always bad

He knows that the day he wakes up

Without pain

Will be when he’s dead.

Stopping to make conversation

But there’s no time for that

People too busy

He looks out

Wishes not that he could go back

He treasures every precious mistake

Nor does he seek to disappear

No, what he asks for,

As the music swells

Is that things slow down

To the point

That we could all stop

See one another

And start to talk

She moves from the screen

From a time before

The world broke her spirit

Her lips press against his cheek

Not caring that his hands shook

Too much to shave

His chest grows tight

And he follows her

Leaving everything behind

Missing every frustrated second

As he lets the world go on

Without him.

 

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Shogun Assassin

I hope they never remake this.

That’s the thing about remakes, they seldom understand what makes the original so transcendent. A lot of it is the film stock, the dialogue, the clothes and the hair styles. The choices that were made, rooted in the time that the film was made in.

Modern remakes have a standard of beauty in the casting that negates the power of the original. All the technology does not necessarily equate to a better film.

In Shogun Assassin, he’s slightly overweight, mourning his wife and trying to keep his son alive. He looks like classic middle management and he has that look that I’ve felt as a man, the sense of ‘ffs’. His hair is unkempt and he looks tired throughout.

The son’s voiceover, normally a device that’s really lazy, is perfect.

The way he says that he counts his father’s kills and then pauses between the words three hundred, then forty five, is lovely, an amusing touch.

The matter of fact way that people just die and they just keep walking. Even

Why mess with that?

Money obviously but that goes to some further thoughts I’ve had on pop culture and audiences.

They’re smarter than the business model would suggest. Why don’t we trust that?

People are drowning in choices for entertainment, from the most base obvious work to the stuff that’s so subtle and exclusive that you’re not even aware of it’s impact until it’s done. There’s room for everything.

Anyway, Shogun Assassin is perfect as it is. Sprays of arterial blood, balletic violence and a grim deliberate poetry to it all, set in a time that shows that history is simply a story of being human in the face of impersonal events.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

OK, so imagine you’ve written a screenplay and Ridley Scott wants to direct it.

Open the champagne because you’ve made it right?

Wrong. 

Ridley Scott has made some amazing films, Exodus looks to be the latest in a downward spiral for him after Prometheus, which looked gorgeous but felt disjointed.

Usually you imagine “sexism” as a pervasive institutional power directed top down against you, oppressing you with sexist jokes or heels at work, but it’s much more illuminating to understand sexism as just another tool to increase consumption.  An obvious example:  it costs women more to dress professionally, even though they get paid less.

This article is brilliant. It nails a number of sacred ideas in the culture and does so with a lot of considered insight.

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Down and Dirty Pictures

Although ostensibly about the rise of independent pictures alongside and because of Miramax and Sundance,  it’s the personalities and the conflicts that make this book compelling.  The films that fail are fascinating for the small decisions both artistic and financial and the egos are as ferocious as anything in film.  Biskind writes with tongue in cheek but ensures you’ll never see Robert Redford or Quentin Tarantino in the same light again.

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