television, Uncategorized, writing

Silence,I’m Watching Television

Game of Thrones – season 7, episode 1.

I have been thinking about my youth and how I was mocked for my love of comics and pop culture, pilgrimages to Norwich and Abstract Sprocket (where i had a pull list every month), permanent residence in the fantasy, science fiction and horror sections of the library. I was happy and remain so, but it’s odd to see how such things as Game of Thrones, the MCU and DCU dominate the media now.

No, this isn’t me grumbling because what was cool and exclusive, is now worn by everyone and it’s lovely. Sure, I wish there was as much focus on original, non-superhero content but they’re our mythology now and sometimes we need to tap into it. Stories are how we figure things out, a storehouse for knowledge we don’t need to carry inside our heads but find useful to learn from.

In a thousand years, will people be arguing over the one true Spider-Man?

Anyway, Game of Thrones is fantastic television. It’s been six years since the last book, and no, I am not hassling GRRM for another one, he’s enjoying himself and life, like art is about enjoyment. I wouldn’t be putting so much into this if I didn’t and he’s been doing it far longer than I have.

Hannibal – Seasons 1 to 3.

Mads Mikkelsen is the perfect Hannibal. I also want his tailor’s number. Bryan Fuller makes shows which are gorgeous, disturbing and chilled to perfection and although this was cancelled, the hope of a return stirs my bones a little. I want to see Clarice Starling again, although Jodie Foster and Hopkins are only a dvd away, but Fuller’s take on it would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

True Detective, season 1.

There was no season 2. It was a cheese-fuelled hallucination and too ambitious for it’s own good. The first season was brutal, elegiac and unafraid of getting up close and personal with the roots of masculine duty and identity. I wrote so much crime fiction inspired by it which seldom saw the light of day as it was too obviously influenced by it.

Rick and Morty. Season 1 – 2.

It’s an instant pick me up, scabrous, clever and humane at the most surprising junctures, plus it’s Dan Harmon, what can you say?

Preacher season 1 -2

The comic book is one of my favourite series. Ever. Sod your JLA, I will choose the panel where Jesse has tears down his cheeks and says ‘sweet lord, don’t let me be dreaming’ because there’s been women I’ve thought that about. I am enjoying the tv show.

American Gods season 1.

It’s Bryan Fuller’s adaptation of a Neil Gaiman book, with Ian McShane and Gillian Andersen, why wouldn’t I watch it?

I still have Love, House of Cards and a queue on Netflix which makes me question my enthusiasm, but yes documentaries count as research, so there.

Now, I read more than I watch and I suppose I should post what I am reading. I try not to think about it because it frightens me haha.

 

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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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Uncategorized

Donald Sterling and Justin Bieber

What is odd, as my son pointed out to me, is how there was massive uproar in respect of Donald Sterling and his comments but Bieber has not garnered the same measure of vitriol from the same people. I don’t know, part of me feels sorry for him, we all did stupid shit at fifteen but it takes some gall to actively solicit the public acquaintance of a people whose ethnicity he knowingly mocked on camera. I hope that this is something of a learning experience for him. He’s probably not got friends or mentors who could advise him, but I sense that’s a common issue with young men in the public eye, and women too. None of them have those friends who put a hand on their shoulder and just whisper ‘no, don’t do that.’ 

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Uncategorized

Ideas and Concepts, Women

I have lots of ideas and concepts pop into my head but I am generally rigorous in whether they become projects or not. My interests prompt a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios, I think of archetypes and technological and moral questions, the representation of women is something I care about. And not just idealism in that respect. Women on the page and screen should be allowed to be wild. They should be allowed to smash barriers and break taboos. They should be beasts and monsters, take up space and throw punches. I find that a powerful question and I am drawn to the answers of that before concepts and it informs my work.

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Uncategorized

5 Things I’ve Learned Coming Away From Social Media

I am, I believe a few days into the break from Twitter and Facebook, and it’s still amusing and astonishing in equal measure. 

1. The time you have. I get my daily pages done, apply for jobs, read the news and pop culture sites I find interesting and amusing, I walk the dog and listen to podcasts, spend time with my family and all in the same 24 hour period that I used to spend hunched over, refreshing the timeline to see what people were angry/happy/horny/bored about. 

2. Thinking. I have come to believe that you can learn more by having a good think, a dialogue with yourself in such a way that you can test your opinions in the privacy of your own head. Imaginary evocation dialogues are a good thing, especially when invoking or challenging archetypal parts of yourself. I have done a few on here, but away from the digital collective unconscious that represents social media, you get to think what you want to think, free of influence. Marilyn Manson once said, I believe, that truly original art isn’t coming to light because of the connectivity/rush to publish that the internet has produced, which I think has some merit. 

3.  Lack of status anxiety. I used to find that rather than decrease isolation, social media actually made it worse because you could see the raw flow of human interaction, send messages and get no response, which might just have been my experience of it but without it, I am enjoying the relative isolation and the richness of interaction that you get when people have to reach you or you have to reach other people. The corse cost is higher, but the trade off is the reward.

4.  Ignorance. It’s never a good thing generally, but some of my friends on FB/Twitter are either obsessive with particular memes/ideological complaints. I’ve not seen a GIF concerned about boycotting Subway for what is 10% of it’s restaurants serving halal as some kind of imposition of sharia law or a passive aggressive call to show your support for raising awareness of cancer by sharing a poster. It’s wonderful.

5. Focus and concentration. It’s like a digital fast, in that it sharpens your concentration, you’re on, what Tim Ferris refers to as a low information diet. Reading is a delightful experience again because I don’t have that chickenhead reflex to check notifications as they come in. 

It’s produced impressively rich results already, I will go back because it’s useful as a promotional tool, but I will take breaks again and not feel the least bit bad for doing so. Which is odd, isn’t it? Akin to when you meet someone who says they don’t have a television and you get that stab of disbelief before you realise what a cool thing that is. Until you remember the excitement that you felt watching the Breaking Bad finale when it came on Netflix. 

I swear, I am hopeless. 

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