Friday, 30 May 2008

I'm a Sinner.

Forgive me blogsphere for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since my last post, and I've been using tinternet for non-blog related things. I apologize, it won't happen again.

Have a good weekend.

"Yeah. That's a great plan, Walter. That's f*cking ingenious, if I understand it correctly. That's a Swiss f*cking watch."

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Wicker Man.

I have been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks struggling with how to write it. What I wanted to say was why I liked The Wicker Man. Not from a technical angle, (characters, plot, directing, camera work etc) but from a much more subjective place. It’s quite easy to explain why a script is fantastic, or how cleverly the sound has been used in a film. It’s rather harder to express how it makes you feel, and even more difficult to explain why it makes you feel that way.

To my mind the technical aspects of The Wicker Man are all right. The script borders on poetry. The acting is measured to perfection. The plot seems to me to be paced right with no sense of it being rushed. I know who the characters are as soon as they are introduced. The story keeps me interested. It looks and sounds beautiful. All of which put together makes it a great film, but it’s how it makes me feel that keeps it in my favourites list.

Even after repeated viewings, it has lost non of its power or beauty and the ending is still a difficult and disturbing thing to watch. This I believe is because the character of Sergeant Howie is so well written, and so beautifully played, that you can’t help but respond to him on an emotional level. And when your emotions are being contrasted with the cold-blooded, matter-of-fact nature of the villagers, it becomes truly chilling. Even knowing beforehand what happens at the end of the film doesn’t stop me being any less affected emotionally by it. I think that is what this film does, it hits my artistic side and evokes an emotional response. In the way that looking at a beautiful painting does. I can see why it’s a great work, but it’s how it affects me inside that keeps me coming back to it.

“The Wicker Man is a highly unusual film.”

The quote above is taken from the official Wicker Man site and I think sums up the film as well as anything I’ve ever read. It’s a unique British thriller*, it’s a timeless cult classic and I love it.

*I’m pretty sure that nobody associated with making the film ever called it a horror. I think that label came from the company that was struggling with how to market it in the US. This is the same people who cut 15 minutes for no other reason than they felt it was too long.

Shafer’s screenplay was based on the novel “Ritual” by David Pinner. Good luck finding a copy, Amazon are advertising it (used) for £124.99.

One small point of trivia. The shots of Summerisle harbour and seafront featured in The Wicker Man were filmed on location in a village in Scotland called Plockton which was also used for Lochdubh in the TV series “Hamish Macbeth”

The YouTube video links.

Alex Cox ‘s introduction to “The Wicker Man” for the “Moviedrome” series.

The Wicker Man – Trailer. Just sorry I can’t post a link to the whole thing.

Christopher Lee talks about The Wicker Man during a press conference at Brussels Fantasy film festival in 2002.

Mark Kermode, Edward Woodward - Wicker Man Set Visit. The sound is not good on this clip, and the embedding has been disabled, so I’ve had to post a link.

The Web Links

The various versions of The Wicker Man. No look at The Wicker Man would be complete without a link to this site. As far as I know it’s the only site to set out in detail the differences between the three versions of the film. It also has a page with transcripts of scenes that it’s believed, were filmed, but not included in any release of the film.

The Wicker Man at ScreenOnline. As good a place as any (and better than most) for general details about the film.

The Official Wicker Man Site. Too much good stuff to list. But worthy of special note is a downloadable pdf version of the oft-quoted “Cinefantastique Article” from 1977. If you played the video above you will have heard Christopher Lee mention it. Sadly the photo galleries are down at the moment, but still an excellent site.

Paul Giovanni’s MySpase music page featuring four of the songs from the film. Including the excellent “Willow’s Song” and “Gentle Johnny”.

"Welcome, fool. You have come of your own free will to the appointed place. The game's over."

Friday, 9 May 2008

I invented it in Camberwell and it's shaped like a carrot.

This week the Radio 4 program “The Reunion” featured “Withnail and I”. Bruce Robinson, Richard E Grant, Paul McGann and Ralph Brown talk to Sue McGregor about filming, acting, drinking and carrots.

You can for the next couple of days listen again here.

Because it’s always possible that somebody may have had their head in a box for the past twenty years, here is the movie trailer.


Talking Shop: Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall talks about Doomsday. Warning: this interview contains plot spoilers.

On your MySpace site you list Carry on Screaming as one of your favourite films.
It's one of the greats. The first time I saw it I didn't know it was supposed to be a comedy. I was like five or six and it scared me rigid.”

That explains quite a bit. I had a similar experience with Carry on Screaming, it doesn’t seem to have affected me though. So if you will excuse me I need to go and recharge … “Frying tonight.”

"This place has become impossible. Nothing to eat, freezing cold and now a madman on the prowl outside with eels."

Friday, 2 May 2008

Shed of Books.

You might have noticed a new link on the right for my other shed “Shed of Books”. I found so many (possibly) useful books when I was doing the short films post that I wanted to do a link list of them. However the more I searched the more I found, so far I have 78. So many did I find that I needed to shift all the cardboard boxes into a new shed.

A few are written with raw beginners in mind some are meant for the more experienced and a couple are only there because I wanted to read them. Hope you find something useful.

I should probably point out that quite a few of the books are not complete and have one or two chapters unavailable. If nothing else you can treat it as a try before you buy service. I haven’t put many links up yet. I’ll be putting more up as and when I get a chance.

Oh and does anybody actually read the quotes at the bottom of my posts?

“They reckon you got concussion. Well I don’t give a tart’s furry cup if half your brains are falling out. You don’t ever waltz into my kingdom acting the king of the jungle.”

Thursday, 1 May 2008

A Delightful Evening at the Theatre.

Rachael is doing her own post about this so I’m going to keep mine short.

Last night for the first time “Paddling” a piece of Rachael’s work was performed live in front of a paying audience. It was my pleasure to be part of that audience and to see a piece I knew quite well on paper become something living and breathing on stage. The actors had fun with it and said later that they’d enjoyed doing it. The audience laughed in all the right places and it seemed to go down well. Proving what I’ve known all along about how well Rachael can write.

I regard it as part of my job as a husband to be encouraging and supportive. And I’m aware that sometimes compliments from me, (like those above) don’t carry the same weight as somebody else saying the same thing because “Well you have to say that, you’re my husband.” However last night there was a room full of people who didn’t “have to say that”, but apparently do agree with me.

I apologize for this but I wanted to say in public how proud I am of her as a writer and to be her husband. I hope that wasn’t too cringe making. (If you think this is bad just wait till she wins an Emmy/Bafta/Oscar.)

It’s nice to know that all my nagging about not spending too long in the blogsphere, sharpening pencils, playing Minesweeper etc isn’t going to waste.

Congratulations Rachael. From your number one fan.

A Warning About QuickPlot.

A while back (on the old blog) I recommended a piece of freeware called QuickPlot, a standalone outline structure planer. Well I hereby rescind my recommendation.

I have been using it for a short while to sort a play without any problems. However Rachael lost an entire outline plot for a feature when QuickPlot saved an empty file instead of the one with all her work.

This is not a unique occurrence, Google found somebody else that had suffered the same thing. Then when Rachael was sat next to me rebuilding the lost structure, it did it again. This bug is unpredictable and catastrophic. You won’t even know it’s happened until next time you open your saved file. If you are using this software please stop forthwith.

To be fair, this piece of software is no longer available for download from the official source. If you wanted it you had to hunt for it. Because it was available from so few sites, and because I believed it to be an extremely useful piece of software, I had already uploaded it to Rapidshare and was going to host it myself. The file has now been deleted.

I still maintain that outline planners are very useful. Not just for structuring a story, but also for getting down your initial ideas and showing you where your story is lacking. Anybody using one of the word processor’s aimed at writers will probably have this functionality built in, and an integrated system is much more useful than a standalone program. However using a ‘normal’ word processor which lacks this function, I found the small standalone program handy to use.

If you’re looking for a standalone program there is an alternative to QuickPlot it’s called TreePad Lite. The two pieces of software are quite similar they works in much the same way and they do much the same thing. QuickPlot came with a couple of templates built in, with TreePad you have to build from scratch, but that doesn’t take too long. The major difference between the two is that TreePad seems to be much more stable (so far).

While I’m here I would also like to recommend another piece of free (if you satisfy the free version usage terms) software called WordWeb. This is a dictionary and thesaurus that sits in your system tray and will work with pretty much any software that you write text in. It won’t replace your spellchecker, but it gives much more information than your spellchecker ever will. All you have to do is highlight a word and open WordWeb it will look the word up in it’s own dictionary, and if you tell it to on Wikipedia, Wiktionary and WordWeb Online. It even has speech built in so that you can hear the words. You can also write whole sentences in and get a Cylon to read them back. It can even be installed on a USB stick and operate from there without installing on the host machine, great for when you are not using your own computer.

Coming Soon.

Rachael and I have been test-driving a few of available word processor’s written with writers in mind, I will post our thoughts and impressions on how they compare when we’ve had a chance to play with them.

“Here…come…the drums!”