books, film, television, women

The Value of Archetypes

(In which I rant about storytelling, immature art and editing. If this isn’t interesting, then skip it because I won’t be mad)

SPOILERS BELOW FOR LOTS OF SHOWS AND MOVIES.

Anyone else feeling vaguely dissatisfied with the state of big entertainment?

A vague sense of betrayal and frustration?

Now, this goes into the weeds a little but stick the kettle on and allow me to explain.

There are structures to stories, which have existed in particular forms for thousands of years. You recognise them, not consciously unless you happen to be someone who writes and studies them, but even then, if you’ve picked up a book, watched a film or a series then you are as much a student as I am.

But these days, there are works out now which feel immature and unsatisfactory on an intuitive level. To quote Plinkett from Red Letter Media, your brain knows something is wrong.

Take, for example, season 8 of Game of Thrones, the order of the two climatic events, the way Arya kills the Night King rather than resolve the personal tension between the King and Jon Snow and how Dany turns from well intended saviour to genocide amongst others.

Things like this don’t anger me, more a benevolent literary chauvinism. It’s bastard hard at times writing, and what’s perfect in your head seldom ends up that way. Glimpses, and of course, I’m not subject to the pressures of full time professionals.

But I’m right about wanting more work which respects the archetypal forms of the story. Not the petulant, immature kinetics or melodrama we get too often.

How do you feel?

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

Until She Sings https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_e9pLDbMJNZQ4E

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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books, film, television

Press F – Horror and Technology

Press F To Pay Respects – Horror and Technology – https://t.co/9Ca50F7B8A

My first article for Haunt Jaunts.

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television, writing

Silence, I’m Watching Television

Here’s some thoughts about what I’ve been watching:

Goliath, Amazon Prime.

Two seasons with Billy Bob Thornton in a show created by David E Kelley. The latter created Ally MacBeal and Boston Legal, which were crisp, entertaining and arch legal dramas. Here the combination of the two talents has led to sixteen episodes of a man’s slow crawl from exile and the forces of antagonism he faces both within and without. The dialogue is great, and it’s all performed with genuine verve and insight. Yet for all the quality which lends itself to reserve, there’s a gleeful invention and boldness of execution which reveals some disturbing and intense scenes throughout the show. By the end of season two, you’ll never hear the H R Puffnstuff theme tune in the same way.

Thornton is one of my favourite actors. He carries a mercurial ability to inhabit space and demonstrate a consistent, wounded masculinity alongside the practiced and insightful intelligence which doesn’t shield him from his own demons.

I hope there’s a third season.

Deadpool 2.

Enjoyable but not as good as the first one. I wonder if there’s a market in making trailers for films which don’t exist. I felt I saw all the big moments in the trailer and wasn’t given anything for my tickets investment. The Domino sequences were remarkable, Final Destination style chains of coincidence which are a visual delight.

Four Lions.

A cell of jihadists bumble through training, planning and execution of an attack in the UK. It’s hilarious, warm and insightful even as it swandives into a third act of unbearable tension between comedic moments of shock and disbelief.

The Witch

It’s a harsh, raw horror movie and the internal, emotional story resonates with primal, chilling refrains as it descends into chaos and madness.

Its A Wonderful Life

Yes it’s a Christmas film but the central conceit resonates with me, and it came up as a recommendation. What a man contributes, and how it seems menial and disposable but actually the smallest gestures touch lives and matter. Some films are timeless and I think this is one of them.

Evil Genius

Tom Wolfe said non fiction is more difficult to write than fiction because fiction has to make sense. Here is a dizzying cheese dream of a crime and it’s all true. Fantastic and full of reversals yet suffused with a humane strangeness.

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blogging, book reviews, books, creative writing, film, music, reading, social media, work, writing

2016: BOOKS, TV AND MOVIES

BOOK OF 2016:

I read a lot, and of the books I’ve read that have been released this year, there are two that I felt warranted particular mention.

THE FIREMAN by JOE HILL.

I have this on audiobook and on the Kindle. Joe Hill has been a writer whose work I will always gravitate towards. He has a powerful voice, manages to combine science fiction, horror and fantasy concepts aligned to strong characterisation, a lovely tone, a wry sense of humour and an earnestness that endears me to anything he puts his name to. The Fireman was not my favourite Joe Hill, that honour probably goes to NOS4R2 but of the books in 2016, this is one that I return to, and find something different each time. In it’s lead Harper, he shows that a protagonist can have doubts and flaws, and can pursue their desire without losing their humanity or morality. The central conceit of the spore that causes spontaneous human combustion is wonderfully realised and the book moves towards a clear-eyed assessment of how people behave in a crisis, and within a group. Some of them become monstrous, whilst others show courage and hope in a situation that strains the capability to raise it. I found myself relating to John Rookwood, the fireman of the title and its a book I have returned to, throughout the year, and found new insights within it.

THE GIRLS by EMMA CLINE.

This is a deceptive book, it captures the ugliness of cult-related behaviour, the rebellion of teenage girls and the cumulative damage of history on the psyche. Ostensibly a retelling of the Charles Manson story from a peripheral perspective, it is a book that took my breath away. It seethes with a clear-eyed, raw honesty and the subtlety of Cline’s prose is that she takes you by the hand into some dark places and you go willingly, before realising that it’s a deeply uncomfortable book awash with ambiguities, and all the more powerful for how spare the prose gets, only to explode into washes of exquisite prose.

GIRLS ON FIRE by ROBIN WASSERMAN.

This serves in theme as a companion piece to THE GIRLS, although more explicit and raw than the other book. It goes deep into the tormented psyches and social rivalries of a pair of teenage girls, skipping between multiple narratives without losing track of the central themes and story. It is a charged, erotic book without feeling exploitative. It has a feral heart and was all the more beautiful for not skimping on the insights. A gut punch delivered with a kiss and certainly one that stayed with me long after I finished it.

TELEVISION

WESTWORLD

I fell in love with the juxtaposition of the Wild West and its inherent savagery against the slightly decaying high tech amusement and corporate intrigue. The performances heightened the quality of the material, notably Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood who essayed characters of complexity and confusion. It never quite fulfilled its promise but with subsequent seasons, I hope that it develops the narrative into something complex and robust. Certainly it is beautifully shot, edited and handles nudity, sex and violence with a mature eye and a calm hand.

NARCOS

I’ve read several books about Pablo Escobar, and this show manages to juggle the sheer comic book scale villainy of his rise and fall with capturing the humanity of the man, much like Breaking Bad managed with a fictional protagonist. It does this through the sweaters that Pablo wears, which is a lovely visual touch. Season 1 was a touch meandering and ponderous but the second season is all pay off, and intense as anything else I have seen this year.

GAME OF THRONES

Oh do I have to? OK, it’s moved on past the books and it manages to work with the constraints of television to great effect. I won’t join in on the call for GRRM to finish the books, they’re massive pieces of work and also he’s not anyone’s bitch, as Neil Gaiman said to great acclaim. Still brilliant, and event television for me. Winter Is Coming, and it’s having a fine time getting there.

MOVIES

DEADPOOL

It’s had a hard fight getting to the screen but it revelled in it’s underdog status to become the highest grossing superhero movie of all time. Well, at least until M B BLISSETT: CYNICAL ROMANTIC ENGLISHMAN makes its debut, but until then, I loved this film. Breaking the fourth wall, consistently funny and made the use of its limitations to great effect. Ryan Reynolds has been absolved of Green Lantern related sins forever.

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

It’s quintessential Tarantino. Take that as you will.

DON’T BREATHE

A simple, claustrophobic thriller that makes the best use of darkness and a limited setting. It ratchets up the tension to almost unbearable levels and essays itself in a bravura performance by Stephen Lang.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

I won’t spoil it for you but it was a fantastic thriller that again makes the use of a closed setting and hammers you with it.

MUSIC

CHILDISH GAMBINO – AWAKEN, MY LOVE

A late and overpowering contender in 2016, it is rooted in the socially conscious, dirty soul of the 70s with swooning vocals, sensual, heady instrumentation and a boldness that grabs you by the heart and crotch at the same time. Like being stoned on heartbreak and passion, this album has demanded repeated listening.

 

Share your highlights in the comments below.

 

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comics, Uncategorized

Deadpool

deadpool-movie-colussus-negasonic-warhead

Synopsis:

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing down when the evil Ajax (Ed Skrein) tortures, disfigures and transforms him into Deadpool. The rogue experiment leaves Deadpool with accelerated healing powers and a twisted sense of humor. With help from mutant allies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Deadpool uses his new skills to hunt down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

At some point, the comics industry needs to come out and accept that kids aren’t reading comics in the same numbers that they did back in the golden/silver age. Especially superhero comics and what was wonderful about Deadpool is that it’s cheerfully and openly adult in it’s humour, scatological and awash with dark jokes, sight gags, continuity references and fourth wall breaking observations that had me giggling when the film did not have me open mouthed with surprise and delight.

Ryan Reynolds is a classic leading man, handsome and self aware with an independent sensibility and an awareness of the ridiculous that fits perfectly within this milieu. Even his voice performance is wry and amusing, his chemistry with Morena Baccarin is brazen and sensual whilst having an endearing sweetness that makes it palatable.

The film works so well because it understands and embraces the spectacle of the comic books, fights and gore that defy physics and biology like a live action Looney Tunes. It’s a million times better than the grim-dark earnestness of Man of Steel and the upcoming Dawn of Justice. It has Gina Carano in it, TJ Miller as a comedic sidekick is wonderful and Alex Skrein as a physically appealing and morally reprehensible antagonist.

Go see it, because I want a sequel. It’s funny and appealing in all the ways that matter.

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film, Uncategorized

Alan Rickman

It’s always the ones who go quietly that you miss the most. He was memorable in everything he did.

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beauty, culture, emotion, film, grief, inspiration, love, music, poetry

The Goblin King Returns

He opened his eyes
to a ragged
Chorus of cheers
All his subjects
Looked upon him
Their ugliness alleviated
By their love for him
Still beautiful
And with each breath
Restored
‘Your highness’
‘Welcome home, we’ve
Missed you during your
Time above’
He smiles, how to explain
The mark he made
On so many mortals
Words are too inconstant
So he asks for a
Guitar
Fingers against the frets
And so he
Sings

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