Tuesday, 17 April 2012

5 Things I hate about the cinema

1. When you tell the dude you want medium popcorn, and he holds up a huge extra large bag and says it's only 40p (or cents) extra. You check the maths, and your appetite, and feel forced to oblige. But you know he's scamming you somehow. This is one of the great cinema mysteries.

2. The one hour staff walk-in. Halfway through the movie, a cinema worker has a break. Rather than go for a cigarette, they gatecrash your movie. You see them hovering at the back and it totally distracts you from the flick.

3. Audience dumbness. The audio is too low, or the frame has accidentally fallen so that Brad Pitt's face is being projected onto the first three rows, and the audience don't give a shit! They sit there gormlessly. WTF?

4. BlackBerry owners. FUCK YOU.

5. When you have a clear row fully to your left and right, and a clear view ahead, and then someone comes in after 7 minutes, cutting off the lower part of the frame because they sit in front of you with their weird fuzzy hair.

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"Sometimes you have to create artificial inspiration. Put music on, do something, go on a date. Get on a bicycle. If you're a writer, not writing is the worst feeling in the world, so do something."

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KITFR Acting Class

Hello and welcome to the Kid In The Front Row acting class. Take a seat and don't chew gum!

1. Watch every single film you can find that stars RICHARD JENKINS. Watch every frame he's in. He's not a 'movie star' like Brad Pitt, but he's an actor who every director wants to work with. EVERY MOMENT is true. I just watched 'Flirting with Disaster'; it stars Téa Leoni, Alan Alda, Ben Stiller, Josh Brolin and Patricia Arquette. But it's Jenkins who TOTALLY steals the show. You can't take your eyes off him.

Find the earliest stuff you can find of him then trace it forwards, see the evolution of his career. Jenkins is precisely what acting is about, he is the reason you want to do it. He's rarely a lead. He's that guy that turns up after 40 minutes and blows you away. 'Dear John' was a vehicle for Tatum and Seyfried but Jenkins was transcendent. He reached right through to your frickin' soul!

And you must see him in 'The Visitor' - a wonderful indie movie in which he plays the lead.

2. Watch 'Inside The Actors Studio' with James Lipton. You get to see the journeys of all the greats. I know you all watch this when you can, but it should be your RELIGION! I watched the Jim Carrey one this morning. You realise just how much incredible work he's done, and when you hear him speak you can really see WHY. He spent his whole childhood in front of the mirror pulling faces. He made huge decisions all throughout his career. He had crazy self-confidence. There are more lessons in that 35 minute episode that a whole year of drama school.

3. Linked to the point above, you need to stop seeing the stars as something different than you. They're just people. They have children, they have bodily problems, they have arguments with their parents. They're exactly like you!

4. Listen to the 'WTF with Marc Maron' podcast. I recommend the interview with Michael Cera. Maron is the king of asking mundane questions about everyday life, but it's FASCINATING! And he asks Cera things bluntly, like what will he do when the hype dies down and he can't sustain the career? They go off into tangents, but they're tangants that you can relate to, because you're EXACTLY LIKE THEM!

5. Make decisions about your characters. DECIDE something. Bring it to the table.

6. Re-watch the actors that inspire you. When you were 15 you got OBSESSIVE, but then at some point it seemed uncool so you branched out. But you need to go back to that now. You need to see every single frame of the people who MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU. There's real JUICE in that! Find out EXACTLY what makes your heroes tick. 

7. Stop moaning about auditions or a lack of auditions, no-one gives a shit and you sound like a moaning idiot! You think you're the only actor to suck at an audition? There are 20,000 actors in L.A. with a sob story. There are millions all round the world. Be one of the view who just gets the hell on with it.

8. Don't do acting classes just to feel better about yourself. Just do the ones that really matter. Most short term acting classes are just a con!

9. Get your showreel together NOW. NO EXCUSES.

10. Listen to actor interviews on the commute. Read autobiographies when you're in the passenger seat. Everyone else is too slack. If you have three unfinished autobiographies by your bed, you're doing it wrong. You're meant to finish them. You'll get better acting work when you finish what you started.

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Monday, 16 April 2012

London Falling

1940, East London. Helen was in the cinema. She had no trouble sinking into the story. The alternative was to think about life, which was unbearable.

Roger kept watch over the skies. Was amazing how such a peaceful nighttime sky could so quickly turn into a screaming nightmare.

The siren was always frightening. The darkness bone chilling. Sometimes she wouldn't get out of the cinema. A pitch black theatre of dreams, an escapists paradise, five seconds away from smithereens. 

Roger couldn't understand it. Why did his wife choose the cinema over safety? He'd seen what rained from the skies every night. It wasn't human. It wasn't of this earth. He wanted Helen locked in a safe dungeon far underground for the next few years.

Every morning, Helen would look out of the bedroom window, just to make sure her favourite building was still standing. No-one on the wireless or in the skies was making any sense, but the cinema was golden.

Roger received the information. London was on lock down. Helen was at the movies, where everything was singing and dancing. The town went silent and dark. Black objects appeared like ghosts in the distant sky.

Roger sensed it. He left his post and sprinted. There was going to be a hit, and it wasn't going to be pleasant.

Helen stared at the screen, fully aware of how life is magical yet impossible.

Then it went stone dark.

From inside she heard the rumble rumble crumble of London, and everything got closer. There was going to be a hit, she knew it.

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I would have seen it anyway, because Bradley Whitford is in it, and I think he's amazing. But I guess the main reason I saw it is that I bought into the hype, and the reviews have been so positive. But y'know, I didn't really love if much, if at all.

It was clever; I'll give it that. An intriguing and amusing concept. It felt like an intellectual achievement to me, I could appreciate the story, the twists and the uniqueness of it, but it didn't sustain my interest.

I can't be too critical, because the film is probably great, like people are saying, it just wasn't for me. I'm not the right audience. Don't you hate that? When you realise everyone is having a good time, but you're praying that there are only 7 minutes left when there's still 50 to go.

It's been a long time since I've been this underwhelmed by anything with either Bradley Whitford or Richard Jenkins.

So what's my problem? Why wasn't I engaged? Maybe it's the fact they were parodying genre conventions. I'm not a genre person at the best of times. As soon as something is cornered into a specific genre, I start to yawn. The film didn't have any truth to it, it didn't have anything you could latch onto and care about. I need that. I always need that. Even if it's just one monster with a bit of humanity, or one main character who remotely resembles someone you know in even the tiniest way.

I need to feel connected.

With 'The Cabin In The Woods' we have the genre stuff, and the clever ideas, but why do we care? This has always been a problem for me. I have friends who LOVE bad horror movies. I mean the really bad ones. The ones with titles like 'Attack of the Killer Clones of Cairo 2: The Pharoahs Steal The Banana People'. They love it, but I have no interest at all! I don't find concept, or parody, or silliness particularly exciting. It needs a beating heart behind it.

I'm not averse to weird shit. 'Bubba Ho-Tep' is one of my favourite movies, and that's a flick about Elvis Presley and a black-JFK battling an ancient Egyptian mummy.

'The Cabin In The Woods' didn't, at any point, GRAB me. I always felt a distance.

I'm mostly sitting on the fence here and saying 'hey, I'm sure it's good but it's just not for me'. But actually, when I really think about it; I think I'm gonna say that no, I don't think it's a very good film. I think most of the good press has just been hype. This isn't a film that will last.

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