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Friday, 31 August 2012

My Top Five FUCK YOU Songs

Okay, enough of all the positivity round here. Sometimes people are idiots, and you need the right songs to put them in their place and make you feel a lot better. Here goes. 

 1. Ben Folds Five - Song For The Dumped

'So you wanted, To take a break? 
Slow it down some, And have some space? 
FUCK YOU TOO.
GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK 
GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK YOU BITCH 
And don't forget, 
And don't forget 
To give me back my black t-shirt' 


Surely one of the all time great songs. What is there to say about it? The count-in at the beginning is angry, the piano is angry as hell, the drumming in mental -- this song makes EVERYTHING OKAY! I often get dumped on purpose, just so I have this song to listen to. Fuck yeah!

2. Bob Dylan - Positively 4th Street

'You've got a lot of nerve, 
To say you are my friend, 
When I was down, 
You just stood there grinning'


'If you're so hurt, why then don't you show it?' asks Bob Dylan. This is a song about the friends who say they're your friends but they don't put the work in, and they talk behind your back. They're idiots! But Dylan is no fool, he knows what they're up to. He knows they're full of shit. At the end of the song when he says he wishes they could stand in his shoes, just to be able to see who they really are; incredible. 

This is a song about people who are disattisfied and miserable; but rather than deal with their own crap, they take it out on you. "And now I know you’re dissatisfied, with your position and your place, don’t you understand, it’s not my problem."

But that's the thing, it's not your problem! Don't let their misery drag YOU down. Dylan is full of wisdom don't ya think? 

3. Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice 


"And how in the world can the words that I said,
Send somebody so over the edge, 
That they'd write me a letter, 
Sayin' that I better Shut up and sing,
Or my life will be over"


It was 2003. America was scattering bombs throughout Iraq. The Dixie Chicks were on tour, and during a gig in London, lead singer Natalie Maines said "We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." 

And of course, everything went crazy. The country music fans deserted them, people were burning their records, and they received very serious death threats. 

It didn't make a difference that her comment was one of the sanest things said during the whole Iraq war. It didn't matter that she was speaking up for peace; that she didn't want American soldiers and innocent Iraqi families getting blown to pieces. No, the logic didn't matter. People wanted the Dixie Chicks out of America, some people wanted them dead. 

The best thing about the song? She hasn't forgotten the way she was treated. She's considering forgiving them - but she still has a way to go. The important thing? She's still mad as hell. 'I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell and I don't have time, to go round and round and round.' 

4.Oasis - Let's All Make Believe 


"So let's all make believe,
That we're still friends and we like each other,
Let's all make believe, 
In the end we're gonna need each other"



A lot less vitriolic than 'Positively 4th Street', but it follows a similar path. The song almost seems sarcastic. Like the singer is letting the charade of friendship last a little bit longer, just to keep everyone happy. But have no doubt - underneath it is a big fuck you

5. John Mayer - I'm Gonna Find Another You 


"So go on baby, 
Make your little get away, 
My pride will keep me company 
And you just gave yours all away"



Ouch. When you listen to it without paying close attention, it sounds like a love song! John's taken the break-up differently to Ben Folds, he's decided not to scream. On the surface, he's fine; but underneath it, he has some things he wants to tell his ex: 'I'm gonna Find Another You'. 

It sounds like a compliment, it sounds like he's so in love with her that the only thing which will work is an exact replica. But that isn't it. This girl trapped him, made it so he couldn't be himself. This is a song about getting away from someone who wasn't all that nice to begin with, who stopped you from truly being who you are. And now he's free: 'I'm gonna do some things you wouldn't let me do'.

Care to share?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

On Being Yourself

I listen to Barry White when everyone else is sleeping. I watch 'You've Got Mail' repeatedly. My ringtone is the theme tune to 'The Apartment'. I go back to my favourite 'Ally McBeal' episodes once a month, and have done for twelve years.

I try to convince myself to do what everyone else does. I must see 'Ted'. I must write a blog about Nolan's Batman trilogy. I must get to know Kubrick's films better.

But there isn't time!

You have to blaze your own path.

Find the stuff you love and make it the center of your universe.

Because it's YOU!

And sure, you should challenge yourself and there are classic movies that will help your filmic education, but you're not beholden to them. You're you!

And I bet you fell in love with film and TV because you stayed up every night when you were 12, just to watch your favourite sitcom. Or you watched the same film three times in one day just because it made you feel alive!

I remember when my cousin was obsessed with 'Finding Memo'. I'd try to take her to the park, and she'd just want to watch 'Finding Nemo'. I'd tell her the house is on fire and she'd risk it just so she could stay in her room and watch the fake fish swim around.

When do we lose that? Don't even try to tell me it's nature! It's society, it's our philosophy. Enthusiasm, individuality, passion-- these things aren't encouraged, they're marginalized.

Ever censored yourself when sharing the name of a cheesy song you like? Or justified your bad tastes? "I know it's lame, but I love Bridget Jones.., must be something wrong with me."

And sure, someone will comment and say, "I don't care what people think, I love what I love," but I don't believe them, everybody caves. It's the world we live in, but how insane is that?

All we have is who we are. And if you hide a part of that, then you're not even really you!

The guilty pleasures. The things you think you should have outgrown. The things that make you feel so happy that they make you smile to yourself like an insane person--- I bet you stop yourself enjoying these as much as you should.

You should take your favourite movie and watch it every single day of the week. Sure, it'll influence you and shape you, but that's fine, it's meant to, it's a part of you. That's why you love it so much.

You're an alchemist, mixing the elements. Finding the perfect mix that makes you you.

You're a shaman, fending off the mean spirits that stop you watching 'Cool Runnings' twice in one weekend, even though you want to.

Be yourself. There's no point being anyone else.

Care to share?

Six Writers You Should Definitely Read

SETH GODIN 

His blog posts are often short, but always inspiring. I think his area of expertise is marketing -- something that normally makes most of us vomit -- but it turns out that his wisdom for his industry is applicable to everything creative. 

He has integrity, he has a distinct voice, and he wants you to be the best artist you can be. Thousands swear by his every word - and after you read a few of his posts, you'll understand why. 

Read Because: He'll make you feel good about the path you're on. 

Read Seth's Blog HERE
Follow Seth on Twitter



DAVID CARR

He writes the Media Equation column for The New York Times. If you've seen 'Page One: Inside the New York Times' you'll know who he is. A fascinating writer, full of knowledge, who writes from extensive research, mixed with his expert opinion. Read his columns and you'll be light years ahead of everyone else regarding what is shaping and changing the media industry. 

Read because: He'll make you the smartest guy in the room. 

Read his The New York Times Column HERE
Follow David on Twitter. 


BOB LEFSETZ 

I only enjoy about one in every ten Bob Lefsetz rants these days. He's a lot like the music acts he criticises - a grumpy, irrelevant has-been. And he's repetitive. 

But every now and then; something he says is absolutely golden. 

His writing is neurotic and narcissistic -- he writes like he's trying to avoid his thoughts, desperately spewing out words and demanding we all read them.

Not doing a very good job convincing you to read him am I?

As for the repetitiveness, so much of it is valid and exactly what you need to hear again and again. When it comes to being an artist; he preaches about stripping away your ego and expectancy of success. He says it's about the 10,000 hours of hardcore practice. 

He'll insult you. He'll piss you off. But he'll also inspire you unlike anyone else. There's a reason why anyone who's anyone in music (mostly band managers and ageing rock stars) read him, the passion jumps off the screen.

Read because: He'll make you feel guilty and self-loathing for not trying hard enough, which in turn will inspire you to action. 

Read The Lefsetz Letter HERE
Follow Bob on Twitter.


MEGAN AMRAM

I first read her work when someone shared her hilarious piece 'America: A Review' on Twitter. A unique comedic voice. Make sure you visit her Tumblr and read absolutely everything. Brilliant.

Read because: She's innovative, unique, and extremely funny.

Read Megan's Blog HERE.
Follow Megan on Twitter HERE


NORA EPHRON 

She died, but the writing lives on. Amazing to think that we all spin words and sentences out of the same 26 letters. She did it better than everyone else. Read her work whenever you can; amazing. 

Read because: To not read her work would be stupid. 

Read Nora's New York Times columns HERE
Read Nora's Huffington Post blogs HERE


DAVID POLAND 

You don't really have to read David Poland - he doesn't blog all that much. But he is responsible for the most in depth interviews in the film industry. He gets incredible detail from the biggest names in the business; the archive is an incredible resource. 

Somehow he manages to skip the promotional bullshit and get right to what matters about filmmakers and actors: their journeys and their art. 

Read because: The wealth of knowledge available in his interviews will make a huge difference in your path to success. 

Read his stuff and watch his videos HERE
Follow David on Twitter. 

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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Landing

It's a world of possibilities, you have to remember that. If you're around too many naysayers, the world caves in and you feel trapped.

Truth is; when you pick up a pen, or they point a camera at you: anything can happen.

We don't know everything. We don't know when we'll be excited or inspired. When we go to sleep at night we don't know what we'll dream about.

The next thing you create could mean something to someone. Such a great thought, but then so often we stop ourselves. You owe it to yourself to try.

Creativity is everything. Possibility is everything.

Neil Armstrong put his feet on the moon. And Harry met Sally. And Andy escaped Shawshank.

Remember the school play? It wasn't perfect but it was worth it. You felt the buzz inside. And someone in the audience felt joy.

That's all it is.

Care to share?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

Hello, blog. Feels like I've been ignoring you recently, it's just that I've been busy. Not that everyone else hasn't been busy, just that this particular type of busy has used up my writing mojo -- it's needed elsewhere right now.

Very sad about Tony Scott. I really dug a lot of his movies. Seen a few blogs and tweeters wondering about what happened, and why. We'll never know, and it's none of our business. His legacy remains: 'True Romance' is the one that'll go down in history. The others were a blast, and totally deserving of your time when you have a chance.

I got to see some athletics at the Olympic Stadium. Was magical. Everything about the games were fantastic. London came alive.

Have had no time to watch films recently, although I did find time to watch 'Manhattan' a few days ago. Such a perfect New York movie. I love the ending, when Ike tells Tracy he doesn't want her to go; but she explains that she has to -- and that it's only six months.

The most beautiful thing about the scene is the quiet wisdom of Woody's character. Six months is a long time, connections form. It's a sad truth; people think the way they feel is the way they feel, but a new place and new people change everything. And all Ike can do is cling on:

"I just don't want that thing about you that I like to change."

I always find that scene incredibly poignant. Woody drops the comedy act and gives us a purely human moment. One of the best films ever.

I need sleep.

Some people make absolutely no sense in emails.

When your script gets chopped up by the producer and then given back to you to patch up the huge mess, nobody remembers that the producer chopped it up - they just think the writer must be stupid.

I would like a high quality pizza.

I saw '360' in the cinema last week. Terrible movie, but Anthony Hopkins is fantastic in it. He's a level above pretty much everyone.

My top 5 films starring Jack Lemmon: The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Grumpy Old Men, The Odd Couple, Days of Wine and Roses.

Actors I'm liking this year: Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Greta Gerwig, Kevin Hart.

Currently listening to:

The Who
The Cure
Marvin Gaye
The Waterboys
Black Flag
Fort Minor

Goodnight.

Care to share?

Friday, 17 August 2012

No Shortcuts

I don't know why you'd want success now, because what would it mean? You think getting discovered is your golden ticket?

Most of the great actors I know personally, sucked ten years ago. Many of the ones who were good ten years ago are no longer acting, because they were too bitter to last. They thought their talent entitled them to success.

You can be the fastest man in the world, but you won't break the 100m Olympic Record without years of gruelling training. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be the best you can be. Did you see 'Senna'? Talent isn't enough. You need to know the system. You need to work through your mistakes and limitations.

If you're a struggling writer or actor, or in fact any artist at all, it's to be expected, even when you're many years down the road. Moan because you're tired, cry because you can't afford to eat, but don't ever allow yourself to think you're entitled to anything.

If someone is consistently working, if they're earning the money, you can be almost certain they've earned it. You may think you've earned it too, but have you really? When people moan about how hard done by they've been, I never want to work with them; because they assume they've had it worse than you. They don't realise everyone else has been through it ten times over.

I meet a lot of actors who are two or three years out of drama school, and they're outraged that nobody wants to pay them to act. They look down upon the student productions. Meanwhile there are other actors, nine years out of drama school, who shot two hundred student films. And guess what, 198 sucked, but one of them had a great director and another one had a runner who knew a guy who is related to a producer who is casting a massive movie... and that's how it worked out. The point of the story isn't that you luckily meet the right people, it's that it takes 200 projects.

No-one I knows who moans about lack of opportunities has honed their talent enough to deserve being hugely successful. Myself included! But I've made peace with the fact that it's a gradual process. I went through years of steady progress that to an outsider, looked like nothingness. But there I was, my development steadily growing day by day until eventually, it was useful in some way, it meant something to people. You need to have a track record. You need to find your niche. You need longevity.

There are no shortcuts. And if you find one, don't forget to keep learning along the way. Trust in the process of steady advancement.

Talent is easy, style is quickly learnt. Heart and substance take years to form. But they only form when you work on them. You have to turn up at the running track. You have to know your vehicle inside out.

You need to be an artist.

Care to share?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Things That Make THINK LIKE A MAN a Great Movie


I just got around to seeing 'Think Like a Man' - and loved it! Here's why:

KEVIN HART


This guy is hilarious! He's pretty much the biggest stand-up in America right now, but I don't love his act. But his screen acting? He rocks every scene in 'Think Like a Man'. All of the other characters are reasonable -yet somewhat dysfunctional- whereas Hart's character is crazy, but in a way that makes complete sense! He's recently divorced, extremely bitter, and loving his freedom.


He's the glue of the film. Without him, it'd be a standard (yet good) rom-com; when he's on screen, every moment is funny. That is, at least, until his character changes towards the end, in a touching moment that I don't want to entirely spoil. 


I was surprised by how good Kevin Hart is in this movie. Makes me think of the great comic actors; Bill Murray, Robert Downey Jr, Woody Allen; they have this way of keeping you riveted. For me, Hart has that quality in this film.


MEAGAN GOOD


Meagan Good is a fantastic actress who's credit list doesn't live up to her talent. If you look back at the past few years, she's done a lot of projects, but you've heard of virtually none of them. So it's great when you see her in a good role, such as in this film or as Kali in 'Californication'. 


And I'm not saying her performance in 'Think Like a Man' is worthy of an Oscar. But that's not in the job description of a rom-com. In a rom-com, you need to be intriguing, attractive; and able to ride the emotional waves of the story. She does it here with an ease and grace that makes you want to see her in a wider array of bigger movies. Hopefully that day is coming. 


REGINA HALL


Best known for the 'Scary Movie' franchise, but I always loved her in 'Ally McBeal'. She joined the show in a time of huge transition. While Downey Jr caught the attention, she brought a comedic touch that was unique yet totally in keeping with the show. She was one of the high points of its weak final season. 


Like Meagan Good (and indeed Gabrielle Union, who is also in this movie), you sense she is capable of a lot more than she seems to get cast in. She's has great timing, and she's relatable. I still think her best roles are yet to come. 


JERRY FERRARA


It's Turtle from 'Entourage'! It's a similar character, for sure; but Ferrara gets to go (slightly) deeper, and he pulls it off. The Turtle character is just a bit of fun, but in this movie he actually has to act. I'm not suggesting Ferrara was great in this movie, but that's mostly down to his character -- he's just a passenger; helping the movie float along. His character is possibly the least interesting of the guys, but he does what he can. 


KEITH MERRYMAN & DAVID NEWMAN
(The Writers)

I like the script. I'm not going to say it's the most original film ever, but that wasn't their job here. The job was to follow the tried and tested structure of a rom-com and make it engaging. They created a world that is about dating rules, and mind games. A world where woman want love, and the men want sex. Of course, real life is often like this, but it's also just a stereotype that is easily challenged. That's how good comedic films are built. They need a strong premise, and everything builds around it. 


Everything here works -- and there are some great lines mixed with some great improvised moments. 


TIM STORY
(director) 

The thing that's great about this movie is how easy it is to sink into it and enjoy the characters. It covers a lot of ground in two hours -- juggling between the different stories and subplots that an ensemble piece requires. It's done eloquently and amusingly. I admire any director who can keep to a solid structure yet still allow the actors to be free to improvise and have fun. And you sense that everyone was having fun in this movie. 


OVERALL


A lot of fun! It's a rom-com that delivers on the laughs, and isn't overly cheesy or predictable. Kevin Hart steals the show, as does Meagan Good, who is captivating. And let's try and find a way to get Regina Hall in more movies that aren't just sequels of 'Scary Movie'. 'Think Like a Man' was trashed by critics and has a low score on IMDB, but I think it's great. I'm not sure what else you could want from this kind of movie. 

Care to share?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

What the hell does quirky mean anyway?

Wanted: Quirky writer. Quirky actress. Quirky ideas. Quirky blogger. What the hell is quirky anyway? I swear I know fifty identical 25 year old brunette actresses who all style themselves as unique due to 'quirkiness'.

What does it mean when they say they're quirky -- that they're slightly annoying? That they sip green tea? That they watch 'Garden State'? I have no idea.

You see it in casting calls all the time. They don't want normal, they want QUIRKY!

I'm not immune. "We like your writing, it's quirky", they say. What the hell? If everyone is so damn quirky what is so unique about it?

People are so proud of it, too. They say "I'm sorry, I'm a bit quirky like that," and then smile as if they're a direct descendant of God.

I guess that's why I'm so resistant to being labelled 'quirky', because the quirky people are mostly annoying and self-important. The men think it means they're going to win Sundance, and the women think they're Zooey Deschanel.

Have you ever witnessed someone calling themselves quirky? It usually happens after they do something dull and boring, like smile awkwardly or deliver a joke badly. They fix their eyes on you and speak of their quirkiness.

A message to the quirky people: you're as dull and boring as the rest of us, just slightly more annoying. Snap out of it.

Care to share?

The Olympics

I love seeing people achieve amazing things. With the Olympics, we get to see people from all around the world pushing themselves to their very limits and beyond. 

It's great seeing how much it means to them. All the years of hard work and dedication. They could have been out drinking or sitting around on the internet but instead they dedicated their lives to their calling, to seeing their talents through to the point of perfection. 

Films aren't holding my interest right now - it is all about London 2012.


Let's catch up after the Olympics. See you in a week!

Care to share?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Vivid Memories

I just had a memory.

It's of a time when I was sitting in my room, in my favourite town, in my favourite country. I was listening to my favourite film score; which was never released officially but the composer gave me a sneaky copy.  It's probably the thing I listen to more than anything.

I sat there listening to my favourite music in the world looking out on the greatest city in the world -- and I wrote. And wrote, and wrote. Sometimes the music gets right inside of you; it becomes a part of you, and you feel completely at one with the world. I got a phone call from a journalist who was doing a piece on me. Usually those things can make me nervous - what if I say something stupid? But it went perfectly, because I was just so so so in the right frame of everything.

I don't know how it happens. Maybe it's part of your DNA or maybe it's because of some TV show you saw when you were young -- but we all have a spiritual home. A place where we feel ourselves. A place where the writing flows and everything aligns perfectly.

I am excited by the fact that: I'll be going back there soon.

And even if I wasn't, I could close my eyes and listen to this beautiful track. I wish I could write a script that sounds like this music - I wish I could capture me as well as this music does. For now, all I can do, is dream of getting back to my home away from home.

Care to share?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Bring The Enthusiasm!

I know it's frustrating. I know you're not getting paid much. I know you nearly had a big break until it fell apart at the last minute. I know that happened to you eight times and now you're extremely tired.

But don't let your enthusiasm disappear.

Because it's EVERYTHING!

Enthusiasm has been marginalised in the creative fields. Everyone is moaning about the horrible people and bitching about how things didn't work out.

And sure, we all need to vent.

But then you pick yourself up, you go again.

Enjoy it.

Enjoy this whole process -- the failings, the struggles, the tiny victories.

Enthusiasm will get you where you're going quicker. And people will gravitate towards you.

Those emails full of tension and meetings full of awkwardness, they're no good! All the self doubt that makes you delay the phone call, avoid the Skype call and disregard the opportunity - they're killing you!

You have an audition or an interview or a chance to show your work? Go for it! You've earned it! You are you, this is your work and it's where you're at right now. Don't be ashamed of it, be enthusiastic about it!


Care to share?

KRISTEN STEWART & ROBERT PATTINSON

Important update: Kristen Stewart has moved in with Jodie Foster. Robert Pattinson has moved in with Reese Witherspoon. Reese Witherspoon has moved in with Johnny Cash and Jodie Foster has moved into the spare room.


Why does anyone care? People cheat on people all the time. Kristen Stewart is no worse that Shelly who lives down the road from me and cheated on her husband of fourteen years with a man called Bill. Is Kristen Stewart evil? No, she's just an actress. Does it matter that Pattinson moved in with Reese Witherspoon? Not at all. My neighbour Shelly moved in with Andrea Fleck, who works in the local Pizza Hut. What's the big deal?

Oh no, wait a minute -- will this ruin the promotion of the new Twilight movie? No, it won't. It's part of their job, to go out on the road and say 'Oh my God it was so great working with these wonderful people and the complexity of this movie made it something really special'. They'll be fine. Are you telling me you've never worked with someone long after they hated you because you're an asshole?

Will Robert Pattinson forgive her? I'm still pissed at the way Kristen treated Jesse Eisenberg in the movie 'Adventureland', but we have to move on. If he does forgive her, they'll get back together. If he doesn't, he'll date another hottie who will turn out to be the love of his life. That's how it goes.

They're just like all the people you know who cheated on all the other people you know. The only difference is they're rich, and one of them is a vampire. There are far more important things happening in the world, like the plight of Katie Holmes and the latest season of 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians'.




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