Tuesday, 26 August 2008

A time killing update...

I'm just ripping CDs to put on my MP3 player and I thought I may as well update this blog.

I'm currently having trouble coming up for the plot of a script. I had this idea a couple of years ago its been kicking about in my head since then. Only now, having written my first real script (I've written others of varying lengths, but people have actually read this one) it looks like this is the time to bring the idea out. I'm not going to go into any detail, nor tell you what the idea is on the offchance someone does actually read this blog and steals it. The trouble I'm having is basically getting the idea from my brain, to the page, without getting crappy in the process. I find the longer I keep an idea inside, working out the kinks, that by the time i get to writing it, everything is clear, everything makes sense, and it keeps me entertained. If I force it out, it just becomes a steaming pile of mess.

I also have this idea that I want to draw the ideas out, as in on paper. Design characters and stuff, but then I realise that most of the characters are everyday people, nothing too interesting. And my idea for the bad guy is far too fantastical that I'm sure if I could picture it clearly, I'd die of shock. I'm talking Cthulhu messed up. But not as big, or tentacley. Its just the effect I'm after.

With this idea though, I think I've kept it locked up too long to the point where far too many outside influences have latched on creating a monster of an idea that I'm struggling to make sense of. It's times like these when work really gets in the way. Besides if I wasn't working I'd most probably be working on another animation. Since I have to work from nine to five, and I know this will sound lazy of me, but I find it really difficult settling down behind yet another computer to work out the kinks in the idea.

"Why not just write now?" I hear no one ask. Well, I don't want to , I'm writing this, and I have to change CDs every few minutes. Distracting I think.

No, I am going to write when I know how Protagonist gets from A to B, why they get there, who else joins them and for what reason, and why they even exist in the first place. Trying to do this whilst office working is slowly setting my brain up for a crash, but alas, I cannot turn it off. If it wasn't this idea it would be some other fragment needing work. I'll just have to come to accept it.

I still have a couple of CDs left now. So...hey...what's up?

How cool is the Kull the Conqueror soundtrack. And the film for that matter. I think Kevin Sorbo needs to re-think his career and return to this type of film. Surely its going to be better than Meet The Spartans, and even Walking Tall 3.

The Gone Jackals. This is a band only a few know of by name (I'm guessing. No one I know knows them) That is until you mention they did the soundtrack to Full Throttle, the great LucasArts motorbike gang themed, point and click adventure game on the PC. Now that was a cool game. They were even planning a sequel before Mr Lucas decided The Clone Wars was the way forward and spent all his time on sub par Star Wars games only.

And on that note I'm off to watch yet another pointless episode of Smallville. This series was never that great to begin with, but Season 7 has somehow dropped even further. Although Green Arrow rocks.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

$@#% You...Congo is ace.

Here's the thing. I've set up a website about all this, but I can use this blog to go into a little more depth from time to time. So here goes...

In the UK, the television guide The Radio Times has given the film Congo 1 star out of 5. (See the review here http://www.radiotimes.com/servlet_film/com.icl.beeb.rtfilms.client.simpleSearchServlet?frn=3446&searchTypeSelect=5)

Now even Channel 4, and their sister channel Film Four, who show Congo most of the time, have given Congo 3 1/2 stars. (See their review here http://www.channel4.com/film/reviews/film.jsp?id=102273) This is closer to the film I love. At least other films can be better or worse than it.

I feel The Radio Times have given Congo a hard time. No film shown on television can get less than 1 star, therefore, according to The Radio Times, every film broadcast on television, including all the cable and sky channels, must be better than Congo, or at worst, as good as. For example The Radio Times has given Raiders of the Lost Ark a review of 5 stars, making it 5 times superior than Congo. In this case I would agree. But they have also given Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies a 5 star review. This film is in no way 5 times better, nor equal to Congo.

With the bench mark set I have taken it upon myself to review all the films I've seen based on whether or not it is better than, equal to, or worse than Congo. See the main web page under My Corner of the Web links.

This is all still an introduction. What I really want to say tonight is why I think Congo has been misrepresented. Talking monkeys aside (and even that doesn't happen much) Congo has a pretty tough lineup of cool actors. Joe Pantalioni, Tim Curry, Ernie Hudson, and even Bruce Campbell pops in for a brief role. In a line up you can't beat those actors. Delroy Lindo shows up for a brief cameo demanding Tim Curry not to eat his sesame cake. Dylan Walsh is in there and Joe Don Baker and even Peter Jason squeezes in a brief cameo. Then you've got Laura Linney leading the cast. I know she probably hasn't looked back on this experience since, but by my book its a great addition to any career.

And that's just the casting, story wise its a great adventure. It has action, comedy, horror, a crazy satellite lazer gun. All the things to make it an enjoyable experience. Not to mention the fact that its about evil killer monkeys. Now come on. Film bosses know monkeys can pull in a crowd. And these monkeys kill.

I think I've basically covered the main points. Oh, just remembered, Congo even had its own video game based on it. Granted this was actually rubbish but still. There's not many films out there that can boast all the above.

I can't see why Congo has been given a bad rap. It's based on a book by Michael Crichton and people ate up Jurassic Park. I know there's a talking monkey in it, but as I mentioned she doesn't talk as much as you think. The last time I watched it I was trying to see why someone would deem it worthy of only 1 star. And I honestly couldn't. This film is terribly underrated. I love it. I like the jokes, the ensemble cast, everything. Even the music is good.

I think I've proved my point (or madness) so I'll leave it to you to decide. I also realise that they are gorillas, and not monkeys but same difference. The reason behind the website is just to put things into context. It's a simple review system. Some films are actually better than Congo. Quite a few are just as good as Congo. And a hell of a lot just don't cut it.

Please check out the website to see for yourself. If you can't see a film on there yet, submissions are welcome.

Oh, and Congo is obviously as good a Congo before you go checking. It is the benchmark after all.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Even Hypothetical Mutants can't stop me now...

Ok, so It's a little early to be blogging. I don't start thinking until at least 3 hours after finishing work. On this occasion I have to get something off my chest. I've been reading my brother's blog (Writer By Night) and checking out a few other blogs here and there and I feel I've hit upon a snag. All these blogs have point. They can ignore the fact that people probably don't read them in their tens (if they do then forgive me in saying that), something I've struggled with ever since starting my own websites years ago, "Are people even bothered if I update this?" kind of mentality. This has surfaced once again when decind what exactly people care to read about in blogs.

In his recent post my brother has begun a podcast, something I will never do, and as I was listening I found myself agreeing with the early points he was making about what exactly to write in the blog. He is a scriptwriter. He can discuss scriptwriting. I, on the otherhand, trained as an animator. Now it takes even longer to produce an animation than it does a script, and I agree that this type of blogging is in danger of becoming "Drew a couple of frames today. They were difficult. Couldn't get the smoke right." The problem here is these things all progress at such a slow rate you end up becoming monotonous. This is also kind of why projects shouldn't be announced. Take Coraline for instance. I heard about this film years ago. Henry Selick THE ACTUAL DIRECTOR OF NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, not Tim Burton as so many people forget, was going to direct this animated Neil Gaimen story. Now I'd forgotton this was even happening until a few days ago when I came across some footage (He still is directing it btw). My point is this. I'd forgotten all about this film begin made. Initially I was interested but after searching so long ago and finding nothing on the project I obviously gave up, until it resurfaced once again.

The trick is to keep a project under wraps until at least half way through production so at least you can grab peoples attention and keep it until release. I know it's difficult with all the internet and tv and everything, but I really think more effort needs to be made. I suffer from this problem a lot. I have these ideas, that sound really cool, intending to make short films. Then after telling everyone I know I have this crazy idea. I write down about a sentence, then it fades away into non-existence.

I'm rambling on. I'm basically saying I have no idea what I want this blog to be about. I have no wisdom to pass on. I could just rant and rave, but seriously, apart from being mildly humourous, could get pretty tiresome. At the moment I've realised I've created one of those early websites that were all "Hi. My name is John. I like football. Here is a link to football." that served no purpose to to tell sorry souls that happened to pass their websites about themselves.

I think I've basically started something I'm doomed to hate.
I suppose there is another way to go.

Here is a link to a cat eating it's own face. Enjoy.


Note: I couldn't actually find a cat eating its own face.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

What am I doing???

Ok, I had one of those days today. You know, the ones where you have no idea what you're doing, why your doing it, and what you'd actually prefer to be doing. The Mid-Twenties crisis. I suddenly felt, after getting up, that I really didn't want to go into work tomorrow. But then I got to thinking, why? What do I possibly have to look forward to next weekend to make me want to get through the next week. Apart from a bank holiday so three days off, what else will I be doing? So in a perfect remedy to this I did absolutely nothing of merit today, just watched a couple of films to get them off my ever growing pile.

Now I say a couple, but it was actually four. How I managed this I don't know. Normally I find myself procrastinating so much I have barely enough time for one. Also I'd like to note, this is not my personal best. The surprising thing was, they were all good films...

I started the morning off with Legend of the Shadowless Sword (Young-jun Kim, 2005) A Korean martial arts film set in around 926AD, about the last Prince of Balhae reluctant to take up his role as King to save his kingdom. From there its pretty much straight forward. Prince has to get from A to B, having fights along the way. As the film progresses we learn more about the Prince, how he fought alongside his father in the war, and gradually showing off the skills he keeps hidden. But its a good watch. The fights are well choreographed and there's lots of shuriken action. There is a bit too much magical flying though, which has always been a part of Asian period/fantasy cinema, and I've never know the reason for this, one day I'll look it up.

With about a half hour break, I then sat down for Dogma (Kevin Smith, 1999). I've never had a problem with this, or any other Kevin Smith film. There's a hell of a lot worse out there. You know, Scary Movie and its BASTARD children like Superhero Movie. I wish I hadn't mentioned those now. My blog is tainted. Anyway, so I never understand why people have a problem with Kevin Smith. Dogma is kind of the adventure film in his oeuvre so far. His other films are either straight up comedy, or comedy/drama (which is a bit of a contradiction). I didn't want to say this but in a way, Kevin Smith can do no wrong in my book. Even the slated Jersey Girl wasn't as bad as people made out.

The third film of the day was Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998). Now how cool is this film. I haven't seen it in a long time and I recently bought the Director's Cut DVD. I did worry about the changes that were made, but I can say none of these detracted from the film. He's removed the opening narration, put in a couple of extra scenes, and played a bit with the CG effects, but as I said, I hardly noticed a difference. I have nothing but praise for this, the cinematography, colour pallette, design, music etc. Everything in this film is just great. It does makes me feel sorry for Kiefer Sutherland. His career seems full of stand out performances surrounded by generic, "What is that film?" roles. But in Dark City he's great. It's a kind of role he needs to return to to shake Jack Bauer of his back.

Finally I've just finished Slacker (Richard Linklater, 1991) This one is very different from the above in that there is no central character and no real plot. As with many of Linklater's films, it's a film about conversations and ideas. I know this sounds boring but if you're in the right mood, it is interesting and funny in places. It was probably the weakest I watched today, but that does not make it bad. It was also the lauchpad for his career, and director's break-in films always interest me. Especially when you can see where they've gone since, and if they deserved it. (Unlike Michael Davis' Eight Days a Week with which I forgot what happened the minute I ejected the disc)

So all in all, I've got through a chunk of my pile in a good days watch. Now it's time for bed then work, and we'll see what adventures the coming week brings.

Let's get back on track...

So as I was saying I'm not much of a writer. I'm not going to try and block myself into a certain niche of blogging. If you read this blog you can pretty much expect to read about anything. I'm not going to be going into anything personal. I've had a pretty crappy week but you either know me, and therefore already know, or you won't care.

Everything else is fair game. Whatever I feel at the moment of sitting at the computer and start to type. What films I care to comment on, what music I've listened to, what games I've played. Generally whatever I've been up too. Anything that I feel needs to be said, reviewed or commented on. And probably many rantings inbetween. And with that, I think I've stated my case. I'll try to update as often as possible, depending how much fuel there is for the fire.

As a closing comment, I'd just like to say I've just completed Half Life 2 on the Xbox. Yes the original Xbox, I fell into quite a large backlog of games and have yet to join the current generation. But anyway, Half Life 2. This is one o the best games I've played of late, and is bay far more enjoyable than is prequel. Gone are the hordes of chicken headed scientists (there be a few left to annoy you) gone are the annoying, teleport in and electricute you insect men. And gone are the majority of other annoying aliens. In its place are evil men with guns, and the odd zombie. But the ideas for levels. That's what makes the game. A whole level of driving a hovercraft thingy. A level of driving a stunt buggy thingy. A level clearly inspired by Tremors (although this does provide some annoyance). A Gravity gun, which by the end becomes your sole weapon, that pulls in objects to be fire away at great force.

I know my description may not make it sound that impressive. I can't really explaining what it was exactly. Maybe level design, character development, story. Probably all the above. But what I do like (SPOILER - Is the fact that at the end of the game, just when you've defeated the evil bastard behind it all, the game freezes, and the very same smartly dressed man from the original takes you out into the ether, waiting to start another adventure. This at first annoyed the crap out of me, but quickly I realised how cool this whole setup was. Gordon Freeman becoming some sort of Space/Time Adventurer like John Ratzenberger in House 2)

But where do I go from here. Half Life 2 is complete, but I doubt the next game I play will be as entertaining.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

It's a start...

Right, I was going to start this blogging thing bascially explaining how I'm not really a writer, but currently I have a load of writing projects in progress. That was until I saw another trailer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars:-


I have issues with this film. I didn't want to start off my blog complaining but that's Geroge Lucas' fault. Don't get me wrong I like Star Wars, not so much the new streamlined, CG Yoda films but the good old trilogy. They remind me of my youth, when they were shown every Christmas, before Lucas stole them away and messed them up. I'm a Jub-Jub Ewok song fan. Not a "look another cg bat flying past drinking game" fan. But I digress.

The problem I have with The Clone Wars, and its ongoing saga in itself is that hasn't itt all been covered before. I mean, George Lucas returns to the Star Wars universe to tell the prequel story, OK. Then he sets up the clones, OK again. Then he gives us an animated series set during the Clone Wars. Then we see more of the Clone adventure in Revenge of the Sith. By this time I've gathereed there were clones. I've gathered that they killed the Jedi in a mass double cross thingy. We've seen that happen on screen. And I've gathered that "oooh, they're Stormtroopers" Even though none of the Stormtroppers had a New Zealand accent. And I've gathered that there was a BLOODY CLONE WAR. So why does George Lucas feel the need to set yet another film during these clone wars, supposedly setting up his spangly new CG series also set within the Clone Wars. And why are we expected to cheer Anakin Skywalker on again even though we've just seen him become Darth Vader. He can bloody die for all I care.

Now I now this all comes from a bias I have towards the originals, but still. If you were planning on doing a CG film, surely thats all the more reason to continue the story after Return of the Jedi, CG Ewoks and everything. We all want to see what Leia does with her Jedi powers, whether Luke can resis the Dark side and, most importantly, watch Han kicking ass again. Now isn't that the true way forward.