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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A Few Thoughts On MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

"She was a star. Every time you saw her, she was something. Even when she was angry, it was just a remarkable person. A remarkable person, and in spades when she was on the screen."
-Billy Wilder

The Movie
I loved every second of this movie. It swept me away into its world and come the end, I didn't want it to stop.

Marylin died. She stopped dead. All we were left with was a tragic tale of one of the most beautiful people who ever lived. The film was like wish-fulfilment, it gave us time with her that we never thought we'd have again. Her life was so painful and she was so misunderstood, that its comforting to know that, in between all the madness, she had stolen moments of joy with people who cared about her.



I took a lot of myself into this movie. I guess that's why I enjoyed it more than many others who have reviewed it quite negatively. The film is about Colin Clark's first job in the movies, at Pinewood Studios, and I could relate. Your first time working at Pinewood is unforgettable. The big stages, the bland corridors, the movie stars. When you step into the studios you feel the history of cinema all around you. With 'My Week With Marilyn' we get to see it, too.



"She was just a continuous puzzle, without any solution"

-Billy Wilder


Michelle Williams

There aren't movie stars anymore. We have celebrities and gossip, but not everyone is grabbed. Monroe was something different. The saddest thing is that no-one quite knows what it was. It's impossible to put your finger on. Yet somehow, Michelle Williams was able to bring it alive again with her portrayal. I'm happy for the Academy to pack up the Oscar and post it to her now. She brought me closer to Marilyn Monroe than I ever expected to be. A truly phenomenal performance. 

Eddie Redmayne 
I don't even know this guy. He was good. But this film was all about Marilyn.


Judi Dench

She's a class act. 

Kenneth Branagh
I've never really been a fan, but he was perfect. Managed to be quietly and almost accidentally hilarious all the way through. We could feel his frustration. 


Emma Watson 
When the film finished, I talked to my friend Anna about Watson. I said that I think her career has peaked. Where can she go after Potter? What does she have left to say as an artist? You look at Michelle Williams and you could see she had something extra way back in the 'Dawson's Creek' days. Emma Watson is a decent actress and she's pretty, but do we care? Can she take us on a journey that doesn't involve wizards? I'm not sure.


Adrian Hodges (Writer) - Simon Curtis (Director)

They nailed it. Not only was the film about the magic of old movies, it felt like an old movie. Classic storytelling. The humor was small yet well played, the acting was spot on, the dialogue believable. It all added up to a very satisfying experience where we got transported back into the days of Marilyn Monroe. 

Cineworld Haymarket, London
We were in screen 1. There were only a handful of people. It's perfect. This cinema has history. It added to the experience. Everyone there loved the movie. How do I know? I just know. You can tell by the silence, by the laughs, by how people talk when the movie is over. 

"She was very tough to work with.  But what you had, by hook or crook, once you saw it on the screen, it was just amazing. Amazing, the radiation that came out. And she was, believe it or not, an excellent dialogue actress. She knew where the laugh was. She knew. But then again, we would have three hundred extras, Miss Monroe is called for nine o'clock, and she would appear at five in the afternoon. And she would stand there and say, 'I'm sorry, but I lost my way to the studio.' She had been under contract there for seven years!'
-Billy Wilder (Directed Marilyn in 'The Seven Year Itch' & 'Some Like It Hot')

Care to share?

Tuesday Dialogue #5 - Jack Taylor, The Therapist & Maggie Taylor

Jack Taylor (George Clooney) is having a nightmare day. His job is in jeopardy, his career is on the line, and he's stuck with his daughter for the day. To make matters worse, he's met a woman, Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is a "real piece of work".

There's only one way to make sense of it all. Go see your therapist. Things get a bit complicated due to his daughter being with him - hence Jack and the therapist are forced to talk in code. 


JACK
She, um, she just drops of the uh uh, bag of cookies and tells me to keep them for a week.

THERAPIST
How do you feel about the cookies Jack?

JACK
Love the cookies, have a big problem with the um, uh..

THERAPIST
Cookie maker?


JACK
That's right. 'Cause the cookie maker thinks that all I'm interested in, or all I'm capable of handling with respect to the cookie in question is uh--

THERAPIST
Is the frosting?

JACK
Exactly, exactly.
(pause)
And just because the frosting is my speciality doesn't mean that I can't do more. I have many layers to me. And they're not all vanilla, either. I have chocolate in me. I have a deep dark chocolate--

MAGGIE
I'm still hungry Daddy.


JACK
But, uh-- I'm sorry, Doc Martin and I are finishing--

MAGGIE
But what about the cookies?

JACK
Just a little while, okay? ----- It's uh, I'm uh, I'm sick of angry, resentful, uh------ fish, who uh think that you, that you owe them, but who won't trust you for a second to do anything for them.

THERAPIST
There are other fish in the sea, Jack.

JACK
Yes, I know. It's just I, I wish I could find a fish who wasn't afraid of my dark chocolate layer, and she'd have to love my cookie too. Y'know, I think that my ex-cookie maker has turned me off to fish entirely. I met a real piece of work this morning.

THERAPIST
Tell me about her Jack.

JACK
This fish was a fox. She had her own cookie too. What a female dog. She shoved her fish in my face.

THERAPIST
In front of the cookie? What's she doing with another fish anyway? She AC/DC?

JACK
What you talking about?

THERAPIST
Fish with other fish, in front of cookies.

JACK
Fish? Fish fish.

THERAPIST
Oh. I see.

Care to share?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Anything Is Possible

It's just ideas. And cameras. And microphones.

Dream big. Begin small.

You're unique. Capture that in a bottle and release it into the world.

The world won't care at first, because artistry is a long game. It takes time to learn about ourselves, and our craft.

But we're better than we were three years ago. Better still than we were three months ago.

Watch films. Read books.

Stop watching films. Stop reading books, and create stuff.

Stop creating stuff and go have a romance, or a road trip. Go on a roller-coaster. Reconnect with your daughter.

Artists are the sum total of the magic alchemy of their unique lives. Dreaming mixed with insight mixed with expertise mixed with luck.

Rejection and failure are part of the game. The bitterness makes you fucked up. That's your edge, that's when you say "screw the rules" and reinvent the wheel.

Charlie Chaplin. Tupac Shakur. Ayrton Senna. Bill Hicks. Bruce Springsteen. All my heroes, in their respective fields, got screwed over by the system, by the gatekeepers. Yet they succeeded.

They're the masters. Lesser known artists thrive every day, all around the world.

It begins with an idea. An impulse. Years ago, 'Shawshank Redemption' didn't exist yet. And then Stephen King had to decide whether his idea was worthwhile or not.

J.K. Rowling was travelling on a train. A thought hit her. Something about wizards and quidditch. She decided to write it down and eventually I hear she did pretty well.

Anything is possible. Dream big, begin small.

Care to share?

Den du frygter (Fear Me Not)

I love Danish films. Ulrich Thomsen is one of my favorite actors. He is able to play normal. Normal is really difficult to find in an actor, but he nails it. Having said that, his characters are always crazy! He got known after the film 'Festen', and I've been hooked on his work ever since.


What I love about Danish cinema is how real it is. How much it grips you. 'Fear Me Not' (Danish Title: Den Du Frygter) could never be made in America or the UK. I just don't think we have the capability. We see movies in a different way. The film is subtle and nuanced to a remarkable degree. The problem is, most directors try to be 'subtle'. It's an artistic choice. With Danish movies, it's just their way. The culture. The rhythm. 

'Fear Me Not' is an insane film to watch because, for a while, it's so relaxed and mundane that you're almost certain you're bored, but you don't realise you've been watching for fifty minutes already, just completely sinking into it. And then there's a twist. Not a Hollywood twist, not an oh-look-how-clever-we-are-twist, it's just a twist. Just like in real life, you think you know what a thing is and then it turns into the other thing. 

And that's why, if you're making a film in Denmark, you want Ulrich Thomsen in it, because we believe in him. And we relate to him. The problem with Hollywood is that when you relate to someone, they always have a moral reason for doing something. And if they don't, then rather than leave us dangling in uncertainty, we get reminded that they've lost their mental faculties. It's like with 'Taxi Driver', you relate to De Niro at first, and then he starts to go a bit mad and then you feel on edge. It'd be great to be left on this edge, but unfortunately he gets taken to bigger extremes and we learn to see him and judge him from afar. 

But not in 'Fear Me Not'. We see a character living the mundane life, in a marriage and home that's causing him frustration, and we relate to it. And then he does something despicable, disgusting, outrageous. And suddenly we're very tense, as we watch, because it wasn't expected at all. And we want to hate him, want to judge him, but we can't, because the edge is so perfectly balanced. 

And for the rest of the movie we're glued. We want to know what he'll do. When the next bomb will drop. And the bombs keep dropping. But they're not actual bombs like in a Hollywood movie, they're just the things he says and does to people. We cringe, but we keep watching. 

Towards the end, the twist comes. The twist is not even a twist so much as it's a fact we find out, and it changes our whole perception of Thomsen's character. It was the same in 'Festen' and the same in 'The Inheritance' (Danish Title: Arven); there were very real characters, going through very real problems, and then they deal with them slightly differently to what we expect, to what we're used to. But we're engrossed, because it's so believable. 

I don't know how they get the actors to be so good in these Danish movies. Paprika Steen is the female version of Thomsen (not surprising that they collaborate often). She's so truthful, so real. You're just mesmerised. All of the moments between the characters pull you in; you're there with them and you totally forget about your problems and your Tweets, you're in the movie. They're masters at what they do.




This film is fascinating. It's disturbing. It's tense. It's dramatic. You relate to some of it, and other parts you hope you don't relate to. Thomsen and Steen are so real and so natural that you totally buy into everything. They could suddenly discover aliens half way through, and you'd believe them. That's how good they are. 

A great film. Danish films are not for everyone, but give them a go. If you end up liking them, you'll rediscover your passion for films and storytelling all over again. 

Care to share?

Friday, 25 November 2011

KidInTheFrontRowIsm #1

Your favorite movie is your favorite movie because it's your favorite movie. It is better than the movie that you just thought up - by virtue of the fact that it actually exists. Someone dared to make it. Before that, someone dared to write it. And as you count up the times you chickened out of writing a film, as you count up all the scattered 3-pages of notes that pop up in random corners of your home --- the realization dawns; the ugly voice in your head telling you that you suck is COMPLETELY RIGHT; up until the point you ignore him, or at least send him out for groceries and get on with writing. At some point, before the day you die; you may as well just at least attempt to write what is truly in your heart, or at least go in search of it. Because only then can you, or a producer, or anyone, do anything with it.


Care to share?

Gender and The Rom-Com

November 19th-December 19th 2011 is Rom-Com Season at Kid In The Front Row.

Men aren't allowed to like rom-coms. This is the rule. If the girlfriend wants to watch a rom-com then the man can watch it but he has to say "she made me watch it". If the man doesn't have a girlfriend then he needs to say "I watched it so that if I ever get a girlfriend I'll have something to talk about". Men have to watch action films and sports films and films about sport with action in them. Transgendered people have to watch documentaries only.

The rules are bizarre and nobody understands them. Men are not meant to watch rom-coms and if they do they're not meant to admit to it. What happens if you're watching an action film and it starts to get romantic? What if you're watching hardcore porn and they begin to talk about their feelings?

Men get uncomfortable talking about rom-coms. It's like talking about your bowel movements or talking about how often you cut your toenails, it's just not something you ever do. It is customary, when asked about a rom-com, to say "I don't really watch them, to be honest".


If a man does watch a rom-com it is to be assumed that he is a woman, or gay, or that he accidentally sat on the remote control during 'Die Hard'.

Romantic Comedies are not allowed to be in your top 5 movies lists, otherwise you will be outcast by all the other people within your gender. Top 5 lists are allowed to have awkward cult films, and they can have 'I-know-it's-lame-but-I-love-it' films, just as long as they're not romantic. If, when asked about your favorite films, you say you love 'One Fine Day' or 'Ghost' or 'Pretty Woman', you immediately need to take back what you said and replace it with 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Donnie Darko'. Everyone is allowed to say they like 'Donnie Darko', because nobody knows what it's about, which therefore means it's genius and acceptable to the male gender.

If, despite your best efforts, you still watch and enjoy a rom-com. You can get away with it by saying "It wasn't that bad actually". This implies that it was not terrible, but that you did not want to watch it.

Every film ever made has a value in terms of social approval and significance. You must make sure you choose from the appropriate list, otherwise you run the risk of being a free-thinker and individual. If you happen to truly love a rom-com, then you will be told that you're a sheep and that you like dumb rom-coms like everyone else, even though nobody else loves them or is at least not allowed to say they love them because if they do they will be outcast.

If you want to be a man then you must not feel free enough within your gender to watch films that include romance. You must stick within a small perimeter which has in it only action films, sex-comedies and more action films. If you admit to liking romantic films, then you will be excluded from the gender immediately.

Care to share?

15

It's kind of funny
You're 15 years old
And dive head first into your passions
The years trickle on and
For a while
You watch every movie
You read every book
And everything's a dream

Later on
The rejections come
You sign a bad deal
The girlfriend leaves you

The world signals a no
But you know what you love
You just can't reach it
But you can almost see it

You fly through the years
You fight your battles
And you search and hope and chase
That thing
That you had
When you were 15.

Care to share?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

HOME ALONE WTF With My Friend Carl

INT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
I'm eating. Carl is eating. Craig is playing a game on his iPhone, oblivious to everything. 


CARL 
Did you see 'Home Alone' the other night? 

KID
It was on TV? 

CARL
Yeah. The first and the second film. 

KID
It's too early. 

CARL 
Definitely too early. 

KID 
What the hell were they thinking? 

CARL 
I know. 


KID 
They do this every year. Everyone knows 'Home Alone' should be on TV about four days before Christmas. 

CARL 
Not in November. 

KID 
Never in November. 

CARL
Who are the people who schedule TV shows, do you know them?

KID 
I don't know them. I don't know anyone who thinks 'Home Alone' should be shown in November. 

CARL 
Same here. 

KID
They've ruined Christmas. 

CARL 
They've ruined Christmas. 

KID 
Home Alone should be shown four days before Christmas. 

CARL
What about Christmas eve? 

KID 
I have no problem with Christmas eve. You know what I have a problem with?

CARL 
The bird woman. 


KID
Nobody likes the bird woman. We have New York City, why do we need the bird woman? 

CARL 
They should screen the bird-woman parts in November and everything else in December, four days before Christmas. 

KID 
You know what else they should have in the second film?

CARL
What? 

KID
Fuller drinking Pepsi. 

CARL 
Definitely. 



KID 
I don't feel I can enjoy Christmas this year. 

CARL 
You don't even watch it on TV, you have it on DVD.

KID 
I only have it because the TV people keep messing it up.

CARL 
But why do you care? 

KID 
Because you don't show it in November. It's the rule. Everybody knows the rule. 

The 'Home Alone Conversation' is something that seems to happen every year. Read the one from last year here

Care to share?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Words

I have nothing to say, but I want to write. Ever have that feeling?

So I'm just going to write.

I'm in the research stage for one project, I'm in post-production on another, and in the rehearsal stage for something else.

What I just wrote makes me sound productive but a huge part of me always feels like I'm doing nothing.

The research stage for a writing assignment is actually quite exciting, because you sense the possibilities. In your research you dig for juice, dig for things that resonate.

Post-production is tricky. Editing is like a half eaten box of chocolates. You don't have all the flavors you want, but there are still some great ones in there. During filming you lose some of your vision but you gain the vision of your collaborators and somewhere therein lies the art. That's filmmaking.

The rehearsal was just for a little side project, a piece of fun. We worked through it on Skype. Was enjoyable but my internet connection always goes crazy during Skype calls, I'm sure it does it on purpose. The conversations start getting ten second delays, if not longer. Maybe I should make a time travelling Skype movie.

I found time to go for a run today. How to motivate yourself? Run towards a cinema. It worked for me. I saw "Tower Heist". And then I jogged home. It was a long run. My legs were angry because they weren't expecting to work so hard, but that's the way it goes.

"Tower Heist" is watchable enough. That's all I have to say about it.

I was having a meal with Anna yesterday in Primrose Hill. I say 'with Anna' as if you all know who she is, but you don't, at least; I assume you don't. Anyway, I had dinner with Anna, who's an actress, and we were talking about friendship and work. It's interesting, because so often the lines of friendship are confused when you both work in the industry. How much of it is real and how much of it is done for the sake of wanting a role in a movie or something similar? It's tricky.

I was explaining a thing that always bugs me-- how many actors I've known have claimed we have a 'Special relationship', they say things like "I'm the Keaton to your Woody Allen!".

People want to be on the inside, they want you to feel like you've got a special relationship, because then you're more likely to give them work. But when it comes down to it, there's no special relationship, they don't put the work in, they just want it to seem that way.

I have maybe four friends in the industry (Anna is one of them) who I'm happy to say we have that kind of relationship, because pretty much every day we consult each other on our decisions (creatively and practically), and we make the effort to help each others projects. Many people say they want involvement, want to do the work, but for most people it's just a thing they say.

I tried watching 'The Exorcist' tonight but it was so darn slow. I don't remember it being this slow?

My best writing comes when I'm caught somewhere between conscious thought and dreaming. It's a magical place that I can't always get to. Right now, I'm nowhere near it. I'm stuck in the real world. It's exciting though, waiting for that trigger. I never know what it will be, but when it comes, the writing is better.

Care to share?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

LIKE CRAZY

November 19th-December 19th 2011 is Rom-Com Season at Kid In The Front Row.

On the one hand, this film is great. It's about falling for someone and waiting for their call and missing them when you break up and dying to be back with them and seeing them again and crying and not crying and running around laughing and kissing and being young and beautiful and for the briefest moment you think this might be a really great film...

...Because they get the tone right between the characters. You remember when you were young and a kiss or a not-kiss or a look or an almost look meant everything? This film is about that and at times it captures it perfectly and you feel eighteen again.


I joked in a recent article that one of the main things a rom-com needs is 'white people'. The point being, of course, that Hollywood is prejudiced and makes films mostly for and about white people. But really, the joke is that white people don't really have any problems. And you soon realise that's what this film is about -- white people who don't have any problems.

Here's the story. Two lovely young people fall in love. But the girl's visa is running out so she has to go back to the UK. But she loves the dude so she over-stays her Visa. Then she goes back home. When she returns to the USA, she gets stopped by passport control, because she violated her Visa on her last visit, so they don't let her through. She cries, and oh no, they can't see each other! So she's flown back to the UK.

So that's the first act. Two people fall in love and then one of them isn't allowed in America because of her Visa (and it's her dumb fault anyway). So she goes home and then for fifteen minutes of the movie the characters are soul searching and breaking up and leaving each other. So it goes bad. But then they talk on the phone. And they miss each other. And he flies out to see her. So it wasn't a big deal after all.

Of course, these young romances aren't a big deal. You're just a kid and you get all loved up and you take things way too seriously. But this film takes itself so seriously. It tries to portray the truth. And y'know, maybe it does, but in doing so - you just have a couple of characters sitting around sharing feelings, being happy, being mopey, and having an average white relationship.

But I can relate. I mean, all of my relationships are average white relationships and they're boring as hell. And the girl in the movie is just like the girls I fell for back in the day and the dialogue is just like the nonsense we used to spout to each other.


The film is too self-aware, too real. There's no mystery, no magic. When you make a film like this you only have the relationship and the things they experience to hold it together. That's why 'Before Sunrise' works. The glue is so strong. That's why 'Once' touched so many people, it was truthful and poignant and artistic. It resonated.

'Like Crazy' will resonate with people who are like the characters, but so many more will think 'what is the big deal?' and 'why can't they get over themselves?' They should have called this film "Everything Is Normal And Quite Average And Occasionally You Might Go A Month Without Seeing Your Boyfriend But Don't Worry It's OK".

Care to share?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Knowledge and Talent

..is nothing without focus.

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A Mix Tape Of Goodbyes

Mark's mix-tape had a place in Sarah's heart forever, but did it have a place in her room? She liked the idea of keeping it, but how often did she listen to it? The truth is, she hadn't owned a cassette player since 2001. 

The cassette tape knew it, too. His time was up. How could something so personal and loved not be needed anymore? No-one was safe. Even the CD's were getting packed up and shoved under the bed. 

Rachel was the music guru. She was one of the first to get Napster. She said, "mp3's will kill the CD", and they did. Rachel was so crazy about the songs that she filled up ten hard-drives with music. 

But Luke doesn't even have the mp3's. He streams it on Spotify and he watches the live versions on YouTube. It's like that everywhere. There are books in libraries and CD's in the garage and DVD's in the back room and they're all wondering what the hell their future is. 

Wayne watched 'Jurassic Park' a hundred times on VHS. He didn't think he'd watch it again but he planned to keep the tape. And for years he did. He argued about it so often with Nina that they came close to divorce. But then it hit. It was a Sunday, and he realised; it's not needed any more. It's just an old giant video cassette taking up space. 

Jake, James and Marcy were the purists. They shopped for Vinyl and they roamed the streets for second hand books. But then the economy stayed nowhere and they had to move somewhere smaller. They looked at each other and they looked at the books and they looked back at each other. It was time. They loved them, they used to literally scream for joy when they found crazy-random DVD's and ancient-smelling books. But that chapter was closing, the disc was being ejected. 

Now it's a single copy of 'Catch 22' between them, the mix tape that Mary made before she died, and the Billy Wilder box set. Everything else waited by the door. Jake was okay about it. Somewhere across the world, I guess Wayne was fine too. Even Rachel and Mark had made peace with it. Everything goes away and changes into something new. They learned to accept it. 

But the books didn't. The beat-up and broken copy of 'The Great Gatsby' had been with Marcy since the beginning of time, and now it wasn't even being put into circulation, but in the trash. The videos are gone and the cassettes are gone and now the DVD's and CD's are praying for one final spin.

Care to share?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

10 Things You Need To Make An Average-Yet-Likable Romantic Comedy

November 19th-December 19th 2011 is Rom-Com Season at Kid In The Front Row.
  • White people.
  • Who are aged 30-35.
  • And live in New York City. 
  •  At least one of them must be a writer/journalist.
  • The female character should have a friend who is full of quirky advice.
  • Towards the end there must be a work engagement that clashes with the precise moment when their romantic destiny can be fulfilled. 
  • Please re-read the previous point. It must be precisely at the same time. You either choose to run to the airport to tell the person you love them, or you choose your work and therefore live a life of unfulfillment. 
  • There must be an airport.
  • And there must be a moment when a character can't get past security and onto the plane.
  • Or a moment where they can't get past security to get off the plane. 


Care to share?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Rom-Com Season @ Kid In The Front Row

Starting today, for a month, I will be blogging primarily (but not exclusively) about romantic comedies.

Why? Because I enjoy them! Especially in the lead up to the holidays when you need them a little bit more. The rom-com is unique in that it is one of the most loved and watched genres, yet it is also the most dismissed. Women who love a good romantic comedy are seen as sappy losers who just watch 'chick-flicks', and men are seen as less-than-men if they admit to enjoying a Meg Ryan movie. 


What will I be writing about? I'm not entirely sure. Of course, there will be times when I write about movies I love, like I did previously with 'Serendipity'. But I will also be looking at the rom-com in different ways. For pretty much everyone, love and romance is a big part of life -- and also, most people have seen You've Got Mail and Sleepless In Seattle, yet people tend to disregard these films as meaningless or pointless. Indeed, I often find that I am wanting to watch one of these films myself, yet a part of me demands I watch something more useful and profound. It's often been the case that I want to watch Notting Hill, but instead make myself watch a political thriller or something. Can anyone relate to that? We cut off a part of ourselves and attempt to watch something else because we deem it more 'useful'. 

I will definitely be looking at the role of gender in the rom-com. Not necessarily in the films themselves, but in audiences. I was on a film set recently and mentioned that 'You've Got Mail' is one of my favorite films, and everyone looked at me like I had severe mental issues. Why does that happen? Why do people feel marginalized and like an 'outsider' when they admit to liking a romantic movie?

I am also interested in how rom-com's influence us -- how they make us see life and love in a more positive  way, when in reality life is usually the opposite. Films like 'When Harry Met Sally' and 'One Fine Day' make relationships seem more meaningful, and driven by fate -- and in society we often see our relationships in the same way -- but the drop out between reality and fiction can often make navigating through real world love painful. I call this Dawson's Creek Syndrome

Over the next month I will be focusing on rom-com's. No doubt I will be labelled as female, gay, not a real film fan, pointless, etc -- but I will tackle rom-com prejudice and judgement head on, and see if we can come out the other side with a new perspective on the genre. 


One final thing that fascinates me -- is how people need the romantic element and in fact enjoy it when watching movies, but they often find it easier when it's shoved into a movie that isn't specifically about the relationship. For example, us men have no trouble saying we love 'Forrest Gump', even though the key relationship is the love of Forrest and Jenny, but we'd have a much harder time saying our favorite film is 'The Notebook'. 

November 19th-December 19th 2011 - A month on Kid In The Front Row dedicated to those middle of the road, 6-out-of-10-rated-on-IMDB rom-coms that some but not all of us really love. 

Care to share?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Join The Kid In The Front Row Facebook Fan Page!

Did you know there's a Facebook fan page for Kid In The Front Row? Would be great if you could join! I not only share the latest articles, but also occasionally share some of the older ones. I also often ramble little thoughts and ideas that aren't quite enough for a full blog post.

And if that doesn't convince you, I also share quotes from great movies. Actually, it's usually just from Forrest Gump just because it's so quotable!

Join the page HERE

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Thursday, 17 November 2011

shooting running raining

Everyone is running around all crazy trying to get all the shots and there isn't time to get the shot with the guy in the thing so you wonder if you need it and you change the dialogue in the last scene to make it not matter so much about the thing but then it rains and you all go running and hiding under the place and your feet get drenched all crazy and the make up girl is crying because her boyfriend or something and the rain stops but the electrics are mashed up and nothing is working so you dry off in the place where there's coffee and you drink a coffee your thirteenth coffee and it makes you feel tired when it's meant to do the opposite and the camera has rain in it and you're like let's shoot and the camera guy is like are you sure and you're not sure but you're sure you're sure so you round up the actors and they're pissed because when they ran for cover they tripped over some stuff and the continuity person is freaking and the producer visits and wears a suit and everyone is running around all soaked and confused and the script pages are all smudged and drowned and the daylight is signing out and won't return calls and you have exactly four minutes to get it and the actor says why would I react in this way and you ramble an answer for two of the hour minutes that makes no sense and you yell action and the actor is crap and you wonder why you're a failure in life and everyone looks at you like you know what you're doing and you mumble something about energy and you point at something and reference an old movie and the actors look at you like you've told them their pets died but you say action again and they nail it all good and you realize it's pitch black now and you're soaking wet and the power is out and you need to get the things you can't see into the van you can't see and you have exactly four hours of sleep before you're shooting again and someone moans about the union or something and you eat a cheese roll that you've seen lying around for days and then you fall asleep. 

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

GEORGE CARLIN on being an ARTIST

I'm an entertainer first and foremost, but there's art involved here. And an artist has an obligation to be en-route. To be going somewhere. There's a journey involved here. And you don't know where it is and that's the fun. So you're always going to be seeking and looking and going and trying to challenge yourself. So, without sitting around thinking of that a lot it drives you and it keeps you trying to be fresh, trying to be new, trying to call on yourself-- call on yourself a little more.

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Monday, 14 November 2011

That's A Wrap

People smile and laugh, and they think "We've done it!"

But you never get it back again. You assembled a family and you shared a purpose and you ate chocolate bars at 3am and you had in-jokes about the producer and now it's done, finished up, gone.

Because this family never comes together the same way again. The actors move on and the make-up girl dumps the director and everyone goes back to their homes where they eat lots of fruit and you help pack the lighting kit into the van just as the sun rises through the ice cold fog; and you realize it's truly over.

You make the film and it acts like an old photograph, providing a memory of a time when you were happy and had a purpose. But you never get it back again.

You can do a sequel or a reunion show or invite everyone to a party but not all of them will show, not all of them really care. Some actors think they're bigger than it and some crew members get sick and retire. That moment in time that you felt so strongly at 2am in some gone September when you waited outside the studio with the broken camera and crazy crew survives only as some warm spark in some barely reachable part of your brain.

Most of life we're in coffeehouses talking about it, and it's meaningless. When we're finally out there, shooting a film and working with mad passionate souls, it's everything. Delve into it and feel everything because before you know it, it's gone and distant and that snapshot of life reveals itself to be temporary and as fictional as the story you're creating.

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Good Riddance Old Media

The newspapers are about drunken celebrities and political cheapshots. They always were but now it's even worse. I've been realising more and more recently that they've got nothing to offer me. I've grown out of wanting news with a political or nationalistic slant. I just want the news.

We get that online. We subscribe to the feeds that tell the truth. Ideas can't get squashed anymore. Every point of view is represented on YouTube. And you can argue like crazy on Facebook until you get to the bottom of an issue.

Big corporations want to hold on to the empire but it's crumbling. We don't need reporters talking down to us anymore, we can find bloggers who resonate with us.

Of course there is still quality journalism out there, but now we can pinpoint it and subscribe to it.

It's fashionable to ridicule Facebook and Twitter but the truth is, they're making us democratic for the first time ever. Sure, sometimes during court cases or national scandals things get blocked and closed, but we're still learning. There'll always be voices of those with vested interests looking to silence our freedom, we just have to be on the lookout for it. Luckily the world is so interconnected that it's getting harder to be an oppressor.

The internet is playing a big part in freeing countries from dictatorships and giving the oppressed a voice. You think Occupy Wall Street is nonsense? At least now you can tune out. Or if you're curious you can delve further into it.

The film studios and record labels have always controlled how much the artists earn. Napster changed music and the film industry is hanging on to 3D for dear life.

As artists, thinkers, and audiences, we have different choices now. It's unlikely we'll make as much money in the future but it's unlikely that any film star or director really needs 20 million dollars.

We need to embrace all this technology. My friends bully me about being addicted to the internet and my phone, but they don't get it. We don't have to watch The X Factor and read about drunken celebs. The world has opened up and if we're interested enough, there's so much to learn and participate in.

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Sunday, 13 November 2011

BEGINNERS - Great Movie

Yes yes yes! It had been recommended to me a heap of times but I never saw it in the cinema because other things kept coming up. I remember one time specifically making plans to see it, but I can't remember what happened.

I finally watched it and wow, yes! Fantastic! I remember reading some time ago that this is a very personal film for the writer/director Mike Mills, and it shows -- the film is full of the kind of subtlety and nuance that you only get if you've lived it.




The structure is all crazy. And sometimes you're laughing, sometimes you're close to tears, other times you're getting swept up in the moments.

When films are great you don't think about the story or what anything means or anything like that, because you're too busy coming alive inside as you telepathically communicate with these characters on the screen who are nothing like you yet exactly like you. And this is the best work I've seen Ewan McGregor do. Christopher Plummer is beyond incredible. And you will fall in love with Mélanie Laurent. She's a class act. Her best moments in the film come when she's being silent.  McGregor's character feels it, and we the audience feel it.


Don't you just love it when a movie is amazing? It gets rarer and rarer, right? That's why we spend most of our time floating around on Facebook rather than watching movies, because a lot of the time they're hardly worth it. It's why we just watched 'Forrest Gump' for the 50th time. When you find a new piece of greatness, it's amazing -- it reminds you why film is so important to us. 

This film is poignant. You'll love it. You read this blog because you like the stuff I like, and 'Beginners' is a perfect example of what I like.

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The Nuclear Bomb: Intercepted Conversation Between IRAN and USA

AMERICA
You must not develop a nuclear bomb.

IRAN
Why?

AMERICA
They are bad. The world should be free of nuclear weapons.

IRAN
But you have some.

AMERICA
We believe in peace.

IRAN
How many millions of people are dead in Iraq?

AMERICA
Millions of people are dead all over the world.

IRAN
What's your point?

AMERICA
We don't need nukes to kill people and neither do you.

IRAN
If you have a bomb then I want a bomb.

AMERICA
No. We don't trust you.

IRAN
We don't trust you.

AMERICA
We believe in world peace.

IRAN
Really?

AMERICA
And democracy.

IRAN
Really?

AMERICA
You will not build a bomb. If you build the bomb we will bomb you or at least impose sanctions.

IRAN
And what happens after the sanctions?

AMERICA
We bomb you.

IRAN
With what?

AMERICA
Bombs.

IRAN
Nuclear bombs?

AMERICA
We don't use nuclear bombs. We only have nuclear bombs in case other people have nuclear bombs. That's why we built the Nuke in the 1940's.

IRAN
Why was that?

AMERICA
Because we feared Germany would build the nuke.

IRAN
Did they build the nuke?

AMERICA
No.

IRAN
So what did you do?

AMERICA
Bombed Japan.

IRAN
We're building the nuke.

AMERICA
No.

IRAN
Okay, we won't.

AMERICA

Huh?

IRAN
We won't build a nuke.

AMERICA
Oh. Maybe you should.

IRAN
Why?

AMERICA
Because then we have a reason to bomb you.

IRAN
Okay, we'll think about it.

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Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Modern Break-Up

She was gone from Facebook. It was just like that. Access to the five years he spent with her were gone. He craved it. It would be enough just to see the 'Spain 2007' photo album, or 'New Years Eve 2009', but he was locked out. And she didn't update her Twitter anymore.

She was happy at first. She wanted him gone. But after a while she desperately needed to know the simplest of things: is he okay? Is he alive and breathing? He didn't update his Flickr account anymore. Did he stop his photography after she left? His last Twitter message from two months ago read: "Something new or anything" and she didn't know what it meant.

497 emails between them. He couldn't stop himself from reading them again and again. When he found love with her, the words flowed. He dropped out of studying fiction writing because he had nothing to say, but not when he emailed her, he shared his whole life; and she wrote wildly creative replies; so personal, so beautiful.

She wished she hadn't deleted the emails. She just wanted to touch their history, just reach into it. She was with someone else now and the photo albums told a different story, but she couldn't help but wonder where he was, and whether he'd found love. She unblocked him from Facebook.

He'd searched for her name like a million times before, but this time it showed up. He didn't know whether or not he should message her, but he noticed her lack of privacy settings and couldn't resist taking a closer look. He went straight to 'Spain 2007', but it wasn't there. Instead there was 'New York 2011' with some other guy. He blocked her this time and vowed never to go near her again.

She found out he'd started a blog about gaming. She read reviews of the latest games, hoping to read something between the lines, but it wasn't to be. And he wasn't searchable on Facebook anymore. She tweeted him "hope you're ok xx" and hoped for something, anything.

He wrote "fine" and then blocked her.

She wondered when he became such an asshole.

And he wondered why it hurt so much.

And she wasted a whole weekend listening to love songs on YouTube.

And he killed a few hundred people on Modern Warfare 3

And it was purely by chance, that sunny afternoon, when they crossed paths at the train station. He took out his headphones. She looked up from her Kindle.

The End.

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Back To Basics

Moving images excited people. It was fascinating to see something new. You'd turn a wheel and a picture would flicker and change.

And then there was the film camera. Babies cried and we wanted to help them. Trains rushed towards the screen and we had to dive out of the way. Something new and simple was all it took to set our souls racing.

D.W. Griffith told stories. Chaplin made us laugh and cry. We liked feeling things we'd never felt the same way before. We liked new experiences. The hills of Africa, the great gun fights of the West. The glorious romances.

Then something changed. Movie stars started chasing the attention, getting artistry mixed up with celebrity. They sold cigarettes and washing powder. We didn't just dream with Monroe and Reagan, we bought the soaps too. It was part of the American dream but it meant we lost something.

What we loved about 'Jaws' was the story. Spielberg knew this and took a dive after the first round. Others stuck around for the sequels and toys. We began to forget again that it's about the simple stories. They only want to make films if they can sell the junk too. Harry Potter got kids reading and it got their parents dreaming. That's the good part. But then we sell the mugs and t-shirts and toy figures, and the studios like it and see the money rolling in.

So we start to wonder what films will sell good toys. We get it all wrong again. The films suck and the toys suck and we wonder what the hell we're doing.

The things you hold dear from the movies are the stories. The image burned into your mind of Bogart is because of a story he told you in a movie you saw ten or thirty years ago, not because he sold you some Casablanca action figures.

Tell a good story. That's our job here.

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Build A Diverse Audience

Do you have to make it in Hollywood? Is that really your goal?

Film is a business. If your films earn more than they cost to make, people will invest in you. Everyone talks about 'making it' in Hollywood, but why?

If you have a blockbuster you need to make, then it's possible you need a film studio. Otherwise, maybe not.

If your film costs $100,000 to make, and your film earns $105,000 through distribution in Germany, you're a success.

People don't realize that potential audiences are everywhere. Speak to a Ukrainian or someone from Finland, they know all the characters from 'Friends' and they can list their top five Tom Hanks movies.

If you have subtitles for your short film, you'll instantly have a bigger audience. It's a bit of an effort, but maybe it's worth it? Maybe your friend from France can tell you about a French website that filmmakers use to get feedback on their movies. Maybe there's a forum where Japanese people are sharing films.

Good ideas travel across the world - especially if they're executed well. There's no need to limit yourself to thinking of America. Everyone recognizes Woody Allen but it's the Europeans who love him. They love those kinds of movies.

If you're trying to get the attention of Hollywood, you're doing the same thing as thousands of others. We're the iPad generation. It doesn't matter where the viewer is from, they all have access. You have a unique voice as an artist, and maybe that unique voice will fit the Danish sense of humor perfectly, or maybe your visual style with excite French audiences.

That's why film festivals are so important. You're making your work available to people like you. How many people in your home town truly 'get' you? Maybe two. How many people in the world 'get' you? Maybe five million. Go find them.

We live in diverse towns with people of all nationalities, colors, shapes and sizes. Hollywood doesn't cater for everyone. Sure, they have the numbers at the box office, they can get you a huge opening weekend, but can they get you a soulmate in Finland? Maybe they can, but maybe you can do that yourself.

Take an evening to research. Who is your audience? Where in the world do you want to reach? What cultures appreciate what you appreciate?

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Thinking Of You

I recently wrote a guest post at Tonja's Musings.

When you like someone it's scary isn't it. You like them and you wonder where they are and who they're thinking about at this precise moment in time. And the chances that it's you are so minimal.

And even if they're thinking of you they could be thinking of someone else too. Everyone is getting over someone and everyone is dreaming of their own thing.

The chances of it working out are too daunting to think about. When did it ever work out before?

You can read the full article here.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tuesday Dialogue #4 - Ally Mcbeal & Larry Paul

Setting the scene: Ally is getting insecure about Larry's feelings at the beginning of their relationship. In her office after a case, Larry tries to set her straight. 



LARRY: Uh, look, Ally. I, uh --  I know you're probably wondering why things maybe haven't err, accelerated as fast as as maybe, y'know last week, I-I opened up to you more than I ever-- it was exhilarating and uh, a little scary. And it's -- uh--

ALLY: Scared you.

Well I'm not afraid of this, I'm really really excited, if you only knew, how. I'm doing a lousy job of explaining it.

No you're not. You wanna take it really slow because you want it to be right. Well, slow doesn't bother me Larry. You and me we're gonna get there and we should just enjoy the ride.

How about tonight we --

How about tonight you let me cook you dinner?

That'd be great.


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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Blogging Break

I've done this before: Said, "Hey I'm taking a break!" and then I immediately write fifty posts in three days. I think that happens sometimes; you give yourself permission to stop and then by doing so you relieve the pressure to perform. It's a bit like sex, but even then, 50 times in 3 days is a little much even for me.

But I am aware that I am a little burned out on the blogging front. Burned out because, I put a lot of pressure on myself to write really well, and most of the time I think I do write well -- but these past few weeks I think many of my posts have been on auto-pilot, a feeling backed up by the lack of interaction from you guys.

It may be a one week break, it may be a month. It may only be four hours. But I'm officially letting myself off the hook and we'll see what happens. It's also the case that I have more work going on than possibly at any point since I started this blog. I've been getting home late after a day of writing or meeting about writing or getting notes about my writing; and I feel obliged to blog --- but the juice isn't there. So now is perhaps not the time to be blogging.


It's time to move on, it's time to get going,
What lies ahead I have no way of knowing.

But under my feet baby, grass is growing,
It's time to move on, time to get going.

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