Tuesday 14 December 2010


"At first Dr Chumley seemed a little frightened of Harvey, but that gave way to admiration as the evening wore on.

The evening wore on. That's a very nice expression isn't it. With your permission I'll say it again.

The evening wore on."

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Saturday 11 December 2010

This too shall pass

It's such a strange feeling when you experience something meaningful, with people outside of your normal experiences - and you know you'll never experience them in the same way again.

I was in Amsterdam in September, and found myself sitting in a cafe, watching a documentary about 9/11 with the owner. He didn't speak great English, but we communicated so much, so many shared feelings; as we watched a thing which felt as fresh and painful as nine years ago. And then another guy came in, and watched the last hour with us. It was strangely poignant. I'm English, the owner was Turkish and the customer Dutch. And we watched the TV screen in near silence, together. Nobody ever does anything in silence together. It was important somehow.

And then I was in The Hague for a conference with a bunch of people I'd never met, and four days later they were the best of friends. But then we went home, to literally thirty different countries around the world. And now we know we'll never all be in the same room again. We have different plans, different visa situations, different priorities. But our connection on those days went beyond what you can explain in tangibles.

I think that's what film is about. It's about capturing that. Capturing things we feel and experience and people we find; 'cause it's the only damn way we know to hold on to all the things that pass. The girl leaves, but she can live in a screenplay forever. The friend dies, but we can leave our impression of him up on a cinema screen for all to see.

Writing is about imagination a lot of the time. But it's also about looking very precisely at the things you're yearning for, that you've felt, that you miss. That's why 'Almost Famous' is everyone's favorite movie; it captures what it is to fall in love with everyone you meet on the journey, on Thunder Road. It'll never be the same again, so enjoy it, indulge in it, remember it and write everything you remember about it.

I am always longing for that. My favorite moments in life and in movies are about people being in places they weren't meant to be, connecting with people they never expected to find. That's 'Adventureland,' that's 'Before Sunrise,' that's sitting in Amsterdam with two strangers watching history and building a new, better world, just by being together in silence and understanding each other.

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Friday 10 December 2010

JOHN CAGE Factor - An ALLY MCBEAL themed competition

John Cage went through a change. He became Barry White. No-one could defeat John 'The Biscuit' Cage in the courtroom and no man could match him in the bedroom. And it was because of him, Barry. John would convince himself that he is Barry White.

You too can go through this transformation by entering the John Cage Factor competition. Below are two videos of John Cage and the colleagues at his law firm as they become one with Barry.

Your job is to learn the John Cage dance (either version), dance it, and film it. You can do it alone, or with friends, or with strangers in the street.

The deadline is 31st December 2010. So if you're struggling to find people to dance with you, wait until they're drunk at Christmas. Then you can get the whole family doing the John Cage moves as Barry White sings 'You're The First, You're The Last, My Everything.'

Film it and upload it to YouTube. Make sure you have your names and a mention of Kid In The Front Row in the credits.

The winner will receive a CD of Barry White's greatest hits. Please share this out - we need to find people who are mad enough to enter, I know they're out there!

Wherever you're from, whatever gender you are, whatever your camera quality - you are welcome! I want your entries! Good luck to all!

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Students, Tuition Fees, And Our History

On November 11th, I wrote "During a week when a large percentage of the population are wearing red poppies, I found it quite upsetting that with our freedom, we turn to violence. Whilst some would say "it was only a very small minority" there was a much larger, silent minority, that were cheering them on and supporting them."

I was talking about student protesters, and how I found what they were doing strangely linked to how I was feeling about Remembrance Day. And it seems even more relevant now, here in the UK - where students have been protesting the hikes in tuition fees that were voted on yesterday. 

I'm currently reading Martin Luther King's autobiography (it's a collection of essays he wrote throughout his life). It's inspiring to read; to see what he achieved - and he did it through nonviolent non-cooperation. And he did that against laws and practices that were evil. The students here are protesting not against evil, but a curtailing of privilege. The rights on wrongs of both sides of the debate are being crowded out by the students and protesters who are setting fire to things, and swinging from war memorials and pissing on Winston Churchill statues. How can we have sympathy for this? 

Is there any excuse for these two images?

Conflicts happen when people clash, due to difference in ideology. That is at the heart of all of this. But one side of it is governing. If the other side has a point to make, it's that they're not governing responsibly. Setting fire to things is not going to send the message. 

"Our generation doesn't do that enough. We sit on Facebook, we write on our blogs and we send our text messages; but we don't have a great deal of awareness about what people have gone through in order for us to have those privileges."

I know that it is a minority of students who are doing the outrageous things. But take a closer look at that Churchill picture. There are a lot of bystanders. A lot of people accepting what is going on. When people are together for a cause; they become a group. They all need to be responsible for themselves and each other. 

The reality is, perhaps, that these people have not had a lot to complain about. In the United Kingdom; we have healthcare and welfare and all sorts of programmes which, having had them for so long, we see as our right. But they're not human rights, they're privileges. They're things that have to be paid for. And we are a lot better off than a lot of countries in the world. Should we feel guilty about it? No. Should we defend the things we want to keep, that we believe in? Sure. But starting fires and urinating on a Churchill statue shows a complete lack of awareness of our history, of our world, and of peaceful protest. I have no sympathy right now. Maybe the guy who's urinating could sell his Nike trainers and buy some school textbooks or something. 

It's entirely possible that our government are wrong, or making huge errors. But then, so are the young people out in the streets. And if we want our (somewhat) elected officials to do their jobs, we should really do our own. 

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Thursday 9 December 2010

Movies I've Seen This Week

MONSTERS - 6/10 - watchable, although I felt kind of detached, like I didn't really care that much.

EASIER WITH PRACTICE - 6/10 - prototypical indie flick, slightly offbeat and weird. Mostly survived just one notch above boredom but the ending made up for it by being absolutely fascinating and beautifully acted.

CHICO & RITA - 8/10 - Beautiful movie. I had an hour between meetings yesterday so I watched the first hour of it. Loved it. Today I had an hour free again and by pure serendipitous luck the film was an hour in-- the girl at the cinema thought I was a bit weird for buying a ticket for a film have way through. A touching, old fashioned film; yet something surprisingly fresh and new.

DUE DATE - 7/10 - Fun! Beautifully shot, well directed and great acting by the Downey. A great way to spend a couple of hours.

THE AMERICAN - 5/10 - Clooney plays a slightly detached expert whose life is at risk in weird surroundings. He phones it in. Watchable but nothing more.

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