Hey, have you heard of Vine? (circa 2014)

Yeah, I know, Vine’s been around for some time, but I was interested in how the movie studios do high end promos with Vine so I did a bit of searching and…

I’m pretty sure they don’t use these people but I did and here’s the result. Yes, I still can’t let go of the Swordfish hacking scene, which remains one of the most hilarious scenes in any film ever.

Anyway, enjoy… maybe.

Ten things I’ve learnt about writing (from reading 50 Shades Of Grey)

So, I have failed to fulfil my promise of reading 50 Shades Of Grey.

Please understand, it’s not that I am bad at finishing things, or that I am lazy. I am both of these things, but for once, these are not to blame.

After some considerable effort, I got about halfway through the book, and you can get a very digested version of my reactions on this Storify page.  Hopefully my  read rage is a good indicator of what you’re letting yourself in for, should curiosity get the better of you.

But, I will say that it was fun live tweeting the 14 chapters I made it through, and lots of people were very complimentary about it (easily as many as those who begged me to stop).

In short though, what we can all take away from this is that 50 Shades Of Grey is not for me, and not even filth could save it.

But that’s not news, and talented folks like Katrina Lumsden have summed this up expressed this in brilliant, brilliant ways.

So, for what it’s worth, here are ten things I learnt about writing a book from reading 50 Shades.

1. Curling lips are not sexy

2. Long slender fingers are not sexy

3. In fact, too much focus on lips, fingers, and ‘deep unexplored places’ tends to conjure up the wrong imagery

4. If your protagonist’s experiences aren’t worth writing about, they’re not worth reading

5. Writing about your medulla oblongata is not sexy

6. If you’re going to write about musical discovery, you can go a bit further afield than The Best Classical Album Of The Millennium… Ever!

7. The phrase ‘Don’t worry, you expand too’ is not appropriate in any context. Ever.

8. Finding the right metaphor to describe your orgasm could, and should, require more than one attempt

9. Playing a piano while naked, is not sexy

10. Some people like these books – and that’s FINE*

*It isn’t

50 Shits Of Shit – Prologue

So, everyone is currently talking about 50 Shades Of Grey by [name of author – DO NOT FORGET IT’S IMPORTANT]. By all accounts, this book is a frequently saucy, but ultimately thoroughly shit bit of fan fiction which has somehow made it onto bookshelves, seemingly everywhere all at once.

Like an idiot, I bought the book with a view to writing an account of how it came over to the average man.

But based on the opening paragraph, I’m not even sure I can do this., Also, having read the descriptions of the novel’s male character; the dashing, mega-rich, sensitive, power-pervert Christopher Grey, I’m not even sure I am a man.

Here’s the opening paragraph, the indicator for the ride ahead; the springboard, if you will, into this novel’s world. Y’know, the world you want to escape to when reading the novel. This is what that world’s like:

“I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair – it just won’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week. Yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sle–”

You know what, you don’t need a paragraph. That’s hopefully enough of an indicator. And I have chosen to review this book, so that you don’t have to. Ever.


The one face of Shane Walsh – The Walking Dead

While catching up on Walking Dead last night, it occurred to me that Jon Bernthal’s facial expression has become fixed. This, I’m sure, is part of the unravelling of his character Shane Walsh. I was going to do a tumblr about this, but some other excellent fellow has published this: The Faces Of Shane Walsh, which pretty much covers it.

But the more I see of the show, the more I’m convinced of two things; firstly, that no zombie could ever chew through one of Jon’s earlobes, and secondly, that Shane/Jon actually just has one face. It’s a pretty awesome face though – take a look!

Source Code – my immediate reaction

Er… OK then.

I should probably qualify that with some words.

Source Code is actually a very enjoyable film, but anyone who can’t let go of logic or disbelief could be niggled to death (hopefully) by its conceptual inconsistencies. I got off lightly.

Duncan Jones is forming something of a pattern though, but it’s a good one. There’s a direct line between Sam Rockwell’s Sam Bell in Moon, and Jake Gyllanhaal’s Colter Stevens in Source Code…

– Both men are stuck in situations that are not what they seem.
– Both men are in a pretty poor shape, emotionally – enduring more than a fair amount of confusion, helplessness, anger and loss.
– Both men are being royally screwed by The Man.

And thankfully, both protagonists are played with real range, and in the case of Source Code, evoke enough sympathy to paper over the cracks of some not entirely cohesive science fiction.

It doesn’t matter. Jones is definitely a director for us Brits to be proud of. And as long as he is allowed to continue exploring his ‘What if’s’, then we should keep on watching them. Until he does a Richard Kelly on us.

But remember, if you want to avoid the HI McDunnough look, try not to think too much about how it all plays out.

A review of Monsters in less than five words

About four years ago I saw a film called Primer, a no budget science fiction film about two engineers who accidentally invent a time machine, and try to wrap their heads around the complexity of their actions, and the power at their disposal. Primer won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance, and Kermode gave it a decent enough review, and in spite of it being at times impenetrable and wilfully ambiguous, it really left its mark on me.

It’s a film I often recommend to people, even though really, it’s definitely more to be admired than enjoyed. Primer commands repeat viewing, which is always a bonus. It also makes no concessions to its audience, in fact, it probably credits them with too much intelligence at times. This approach has earned Primer a cult following, and its story sparked one of the most fevered and complicated debates that I’ve seen anywhere online. That’s not the real reason I like it.

The main reason I love Primer is because it’s the work of a first time director, Shane Carruth, who also wrote, starred in, scored, edited, and performed countless other tasks to turn the film around (his parents are even listed in the credits as the film’s caterers). And he did all of this on a reported budget of $7,000.

Anyone watching the film might find that hard to believe. Its shots are grainy and burnt out (it was shot on super 16mm and then blown up to 32mm), but Primer looks very much like a credible movie, and there’s nothing that really that gives its budget away. What really impressed me was that Carruth had no prior experience of filmmaking. No shorts. No ads. He was an engineer, with a pretty brilliant idea, and he taught himself everything he needed to realise that idea.

It’s this sort of endeavour that I find truly inspiring, and one that the film industry should be holding up as an exemplar of what can be achieved for very little money. But apart from some warm reviews, I can’t say I was ever swept away by the media’s coverage of Primer.

Thankfully, there’s no such danger of overlooking Monsters, which doesn’t really deliver any of its B movie promise, but somehow manages to be compelling, beautiful and thought-provoking (if only just to try and figure out what kind of film it actually is).

It’s the first feature-length effort from visual effects whizz Gareth Edwards, and you’d be hard pressed to read anything on it that doesn’t trumpet the fact that it was brought in at around $15,000.

You won’t believe it.

I came out of a screening thinking it was made for $100,000 and was still impressed. Then I read that it was made for a sixth of that sum, and I can’t decide if that’s not just a brilliant bit of marketing and a punt at trying to shift some “pro-sumer” cameras. This post from Slashfilm explains how the film was made for so little money, and it’s probably feasible, but I don’t know. The film feels a little too polished (the sound and score are just superb) and some of those extras were just a little too good.

It doesn’t matter really. If Monsters is a $15,000 film then it’s a great sign that even if we’re all broke and the Film Council is dead, we can still have great cinema (that doesn’t involve gangsters). And even though Edwards is not a novice with only interest and time on his hands, his efforts will hopefully inspire more people to get up and get involved.

If that was all that could be said about Monsters, it would be enough. But luckily, it’s also [Review alert] somehow very bloody good [As you were].

Just don’t ask me what kind of film it is.