Tuesday 4 September 2012

Thoughts on MOVIES

I only want to see greatness! Movies that say something! Rare, I know, but that's what I'm after.

Feel free to recommend stuff. There's so much I miss, probably because I'm in a cinema watching 'Ted'.

A Hollywood director said to me recently,"it's impossible to make good movies here", that's how dire it is. He's part of a system that sucks the life out of creativity. Whenever Hollywood makes a good movie, it's a fluke. Most movies are shockingly bad.

I'm not one of those guys who reviews every movie that comes out. Credit to those bloggers who watch everything and write lengthy reviews of them, and often for tiny readerships. I'm in awe of your patience and hard work, but I can't do it!

Life is short. I know a guy who died a few weeks back suddenly, he was 26. Same thing happened a week before to a guy who was 29. That's how it goes; life is fast and it ends. I choose movies, they're my love, but not the bad ones. We don't have enough time to be watching the studio dross.

I want to see magic. I want to see genuine connections between characters, and endings that are earned, that honour the rest of the story; I've had enough of hacked together bullshit. It's like those recent Sandler and Stiller films, even the kids think they're a bag of shit. These guys were once comedic geniuses, now their job is just to turn up.

It's like all of Hollywood thinks the job is just turning up. They turn great screenwriters into studio hacks. Their ideas quickly quashed by executives who think they know better. And they do know better -- they know how to make money.

The films are awful. The ticket prices high. The popcorn extortionate. The screens in disrepair.

The problem isn't technology, it's that the product they're peddling sucks. And sure, people eat up the superhero movies, and lucky they do, because the studios have squeezed out the in-betweens. Their indie-divisions shut down, their $80million dollar movies lacking in imagination and relying on names to get them ticket sales.

It really is an assembly line. We sit there and get duped by the trailers, we think we'll see something original.

Great films still happen, I know they're out there, but there are precious few coming out of Hollywood. We've become so content that we claim films are great when really we've been swayed by the hype. It's unlikely anything you saw in the last few years really stuck.

The King's Speech anyone? The Artist wasn't even that great, it just reminded us of what a story is. And they told us Cabin in the Woods was the greatest horror in years, but that's because there's hardly any competition!

Films are not always an art form. Often, they're just a turd on a screen.

I'm after greatness. The stuff that makes you so excited you have to tell EVERYONE. It happens to me maybe once a year. If you've had that feeling recently, please tell me about it, tell me why you loved the film -- we need those stories.

Care to share?

Sunday 2 September 2012

Most Movies Are Made Just To Give People Something To Do

Ben Stiller has a nice house. And probably a nice pool. Same goes for Vince Vaughn and everyone involved in 'THE WATCH'. They all have to keep working, so they can keep affording their lifestyles. And also, as grown men, it's important to have a reason to get up in the morning. Their going to the film-set is just like a guy going to work at the store, or the office; it's a place to go and do some work, earn some money, and find distractions from their problems.

Occasionally a film can be art. Maybe 1 in every 2000 movies, but most stink. I saw 'THE WATCH' and I saw 'TED' today, and both are extremely lazy movies, which were made purely so a bunch of people could have something to do and earn some money. 

You can't tell me there was much that was good about either movie. 'Ted' had a few laughs. But the teddy bear concept was worn out after 10 minutes. It didn't matter that it was a bear after that. Instead of the bear, you could have cast Jeremy Piven or Jon Favreau, it really didn't matter. The bear was just a novelty which made the trailer appealing, which made the guys in the pitch meeting say "I love it, let's make it!"

Throughout 'Ted', Mila Kunis' character wants Mark Wahlberg to grow up and get over the bear. He doesn't, so they break up; and then the bear comes back and tells Mila that it'll all work out and that she'll never have to see him (the bear) again, and that way Mila and Mark can live happily ever after. So Mila goes to see Wahlberg, at which point the bear gets kidnapped. 

So then the bear calls Wahlberg, and says he needs help. And suddenly, for no reason at all, Mila lets go of the issue she's been carrying for the whole movie (that Wahlberg needs to grow up and let go of the bear), and helps him go and save the bear from the evil person. They race through some streets, climb up a sports stadium, and of course: save the bear. 

And then Mila is happy, and says she 'just wants things the way they were'. Meaning that all along what she wanted was Mark Wahlberg and his stupid dumb bear, even though beforehand she didn't. It was like Seth MacFarlane (the writer/director) was given a note by an executive during filming, which said, "I have a greattttt idea! How about she actually LIKES the bear in the last scene, for no reason? She doesn't care that Wahlberg is a loser stoner and instead is happy at the end! AHAHAH I'd love that, so original lol". 

Movies don't have to make sense any more. Why? The audience don't give a shit! I've been in cinemas where the projection is so messed up that half of the movie is being projected onto the ceiling, and no-one gives a monkeys! People just want a place to go and sit in peace for two hours with their Blackberries. 

'The Watch' is an atrocious film. Utterly lazy and completely unfunny. It was written by very talented people (including Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg), and it stars comedy heavyweights Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, but it is completely unfunny. There's barely a laugh in the whole thing. 

And with this much talent, it's just LAZY.

I can't work out if it got killed through studio notes; or whether it was the complete opposite, and these guys were given too much freedom; because nothing works

Back to my original point - most films are made simply because films get made. There's a whole industry that has to work. And there are millions of people around the world who are hopeful of greatness whenever they go to the cinema. We get fooled by the trailers, every single time. 

There are people who think 'Ted' is great. But I must say to them, 'REALLY?!'. I'm not being a snob, you can like any film you want. But I highly doubt people love these movies half as much as they think they do. Think about the first time you saw 'Star Wars' or 'Forrest Gump' or whatever your favourite and most watched flicks are. 

The issue is not that the movies we see these days in the cinema aren't as good, I mean --- making great cinema is hard. Very hard. The issue is that, most of the time, these guys aren't even trying. 'Ted' was just dick-and-fart jokes, and not even GOOD dick-and-fart jokes. As for 'The Watch', I'd be surprised if anyone working on the movie cared about the quality. Nobody on that set thought they were making the best film of the month, let alone the year. 

I need to lower my expectations. I go to the cinema hopeful of finding characters that intrigue me, jokes that surprise me, and stories that pull me in and won't let go. The reality is that the cinema so rarely provides these things, especially when we pin our hopes on the mainstream. I'm not one of these people that can happily sit through shit movies every time I go to the cinema. Life is too short to sit still for two hours watching Ben Stiller walk around streets with Vince Vaughn being completely unfunny. 

I like movies that attempt to say something. That have the balls to take a risk, or have some class. I'm not talking about high-brow/low-brow, I'm talking about quality. About putting in some effort. 

Care to share?

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? 
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


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


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. 


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.


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


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


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. 

Care to share?