Justin Cawthorne dot com

read, write, ramble

Category: Ramble Page 2 of 48

Filing for chapter three

(Week 26: June 23 – 29)

I continue to do battle with chapter three of the novel. Part of the reason for this is that half of my writer brain is now busy looking at the big picture, instead of focusing on the immediate words. I’ve been working with these characters (and the premise) for long enough now that I’ve got a fairly good idea of where they need to go and how to get them there. Consequently, I’m busy planning out the rest of the novel’s chapters in my head and dawdling over the actual writing. 

This is an inevitable consequence of launching into an idea without a detailed plan (a clear case of pantsing, not plotting). In this instance, it was a very deliberate choice to strike while the iron was hot and get started on the writing, with a reasonable degree of confidence that I’d be able to flesh out and develop the larger story as I went. And, so far, it’s more or less working.

Meanwhile, in a nice development within the current chapter, some of the characters continue to have minds of their own. Or not, perhaps. The supporting characters in this chapter are, basically, idiots. And yet, somehow, most of them have chosen to behave in a way that’s even more mind-meltingly dense than I originally conceived. I take all this as a good sign that the story is generall working.

Watching

Friday’s horror choice this week was the remake of Pet Sematary, which was pretty interesting. It’s a mostly well made movie, albeit one that is consistently desperate to let you know that it’s a horror movie. There are various creepy moments that don’t really add up to anything, and then other creepy moments are there to force the story forward. They’re all very well done, but the story is eerie enough on its own that the film shouldn’t have to wear its horror heart beating and bleeding on its sleeve. There are a number of genuinely effective moments, but they’re somewhat undermined by the rest of the film screaming out: “Look at me! I’m a Horror Movie!!”

For Saturday I treated myself to a rewatch of John Wick 2, which remains excellent. I’ve noticed an interesting structure to the first two movies at least: the first act tends to be almost cripplingly slow (with the exception of the cold open for John Wick 2) but thge movies then build to a crescendo (and I do find these movies particularly operatic in their violence).

There’s enough difference between the first two movies that I can’t place one above the other, but I do enjoy the continued development of the ‘world of the Contintental’ in this sequel. Hopefully I can catch the third one before long.

Reading

The observant among you may have noticed that I’ve not been reading much of substance lately – my ‘reading’ has consisted of podcasts and audiobooks. Yes, I’m having one of my regular reading lulls.

However, I recently bought my Awesome Partner a copy of Wool by Hugh Howey, because it’s excellent, and I figured it would be a good choice to get me back into a reading habit. It’s interesting reading it for the second time, knowing some of the twists that are coming up, and seeing how skilfully Howey lays the groundwork without ever really signalling what’s about to happen. I’m also taking some time to study his prose style: he has what I would called a Stephen King style of writing, by which I mean he gets a world of detail into his words, but delivers a very comfortable read. I can only hope that some of this might eventually rub off on me.

The end of thrones

(Week 25: June 16 – 23)

Yay! I finally finished chapter two of the novel and got stuck right into chapter three. This will be an interesting one: I have the characters and settings, and about half of a plot. I’m just going to see how this one pans out.

Watching

I’m finally getting stuck into The Tick. My feeling is that the overall premise is fantastic, but there’s something about it that’s not quite as good as it ought to be. It delivers about 80 percent of what it promises, but I come away from most episodes feeling like the creators have not quite achieved what they set out to do. Overall it makes me want to watch Dirk Gently all over again, which (in my view) really nailed that particular brand of humour that comes from having characters who have little idea how surreal and absurd their world is.

Friday’s horror choice was an eagerly anticipated rewatch of The Babysitter, which is just as much fun second time around.

I also managed to finish up Game Of Thrones this weekend. Overall, I can see why people had some issues with this last series, but I don’t share most of the complaints. Endings are hard, and most people will inevitably come away dissatisfied that something they’ve loved for years is wrapping up. I feel that a few weak points (particularly the specific, and fumbled, moment that shifted Danaerys from hero to villain) distracted from a set of episodes that were gorgeous to look at and absorbing to watch.

It’s worth noting that the same creators have been behind the show from the start. There have always been controversial moments, but people wouldn’t still be watching the show in their millions if those same creators weren’t doing an exceptional job in bringing it to the screen. So, suggestions that this last season has suffered from terrible writing are misguided in the extreme.

Reading

I discovered, a little belatedly, that there was a Chernobyl podcast to accompany the TV series. This features the writer of the show, Craig Mazin, talking about the process of writing the show, the creative decisions he had to make, and being candid about the few instances where the show had to significantly deviate from established fact. Obviously this sort of thing is right up my alley, and I enjoyed listening to this almost as much as I enjoyed the show.

There’s plenty of advice within for budding writers like myself; points about how to maintain and structure narrative, points about character, and just general interest stuff about translating real life events into a dramatisation. This all comes with plenty of fascinating behind the scenes insights about the real events at Chernobyl and the making of the show.

Very highly recommended.

The slow down …

(Week 24: June 9 – 15)

Given that I managed to write chapter one of the new novel in a single week (well, the unreadable first draft of chapter one, at least), it’s a bit frustrating—though not surprising—that work on chapter two has now run into a second week. If I’m honest, it was far more of a surprise to me that chapter one came out so quickly and so fully.

That said, the word counts are pretty good: I’m averaging between 400-500 words each morning, so it’s likely more to be the case that the chapters are ending up longer than I’d expected, rather than my writing pace going more slowly.

Watching

I wrapped up the TV series of Chernobyl early this week and, just like everyone says, it’s a stunning achievement. I’m particularly impressed by the contrast between the very undramatic way that the show is presented, and the intense, gripping drama that it depicts. Writer Craig Mazin very rightly understood that the mere facts of the story were dramatic enough and needed no embellishment. That’s not to suggest that Mazin didn’t do an absolutely incredible job here: the creative decisions that were made (including the few dramatic licenses that were taken) and the manner in which the story was told have contributed towards this being one of the best TV productions of the last twenty years. 

I also have to compliment the incredible performances that Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard deliver; while they’re by no means the only characters, and almost everyone shines here, they are the two who lead us through most of the narrative.

On Friday I was finally able to watch Us and find out what everyone else had been talking about. I can’t discuss too much without potentially spoiling things, but it’s an excellent and very clever horror film that I will find myself pondering for a long time after this first viewing.

On Saturday, the Elderbeast and I enjoyed one of our increasingly rare Movie Nights. In an inspired choice, the Elderbeast decided we would watch Casino Royale (the Daniel Craig one, not the David Niven one). I’ve been wanting to watch this a second time for years and it was just as good—probably better—on this second outing. 

Key things that jumped out at me: the black and white opening—while clearly not set in the sixties, there’s a retro feel to these scenes that harks back to the series’ origins; the stripped down origin—while we meet M and Craig’s Bond starts off the film by receiving his 007 ranking, there are relatively few of the other hallmarks of the series here (they turn up in Skyfall, of course); the character—this is the best way of summing up what makes this film work, it’s not a movie that’s setting out to be the next big James Bond blockbuster, rather it’s a film about James Bond as a character that also happens to deliver some awesome action set pieces.

On Sunday we started watching The Tick, which I really want to love but am struggling to fully embrace as of the first few episodes. We’ll see how this one goes.

Reading

This week I listened to the new Audible adaptation of William Gibson’s rejected Alien III screenplay. I then went and read the Dark Horse comic adaption (as I was keen to see the visualisation). The scripts for both, unsurprisingly, were near identical so I’ll discuss them as a single story.

Firstly, I’m not surprised this version of Alien III didn’t make it to the screen. It’s got some interesting things going on, but I would describe the story as a bit thin: there’s not enough meat on the bones. The business between two opposing political factions is interesting, but proves confusing in parts (it might be the audio adaptation in particular, but it’s sometimes hard to keep track of which character is on which side).

It’s a nice touch that Bishop, Hicks and Newt are retained as central character. However, Hicks is barely even a character in this adaptation—he’s little more than a grunt. Meanwhile, Newt hangs around only to be safely removed from proceedings about halfway through. You can start to see why they were eventually excised from the final movie—controversial as that decision was—given the risk of either wasting the characters or simply repeating their roles from Aliens.

The story revolves around alien hybrids—in some scenes human characters literally morph into aliens. One the one hand this is a reasonably interesting extension of the current mythology, and adds a ‘Thing-like’ aura of paranoia to proceedings. On the other hand, I can’t help but think this would have looked completely ridiculous on screen.

As a final note, the audiobook brings back Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn in their original roles (as Bishop and Hicks) which is a nice touch. However, Lance Henriksen sounds oooooold. I mean, it’s over 30 years since Aliens came, so it’s forgivable that he’s aged a bit.

The inevitable comedown

(Week 23: June 2 – 8)

It comes as little surprise, but progress has slowed on the novel this week. I was, at least, able to kick off the week by starting chapter 2, which was satisfyingly well structured accident. Part of the reason for the slowdown is that I’m still discovering the characters as I write, while working out the broader scope of the novel, but it’s mostly a series of poor nights’ sleep and cold mornings that have dampened my motivation a little. The inspiration, luckily, is all still there.

Also, one of my favourite writing things ever happened. I had a whole scene worked out where one of the two main characters was going to pick a new name for herself, after expressing disdain for the name she had originally been given. Then, as I was writing the scene out, the characters decided they were going to take things in a different direction.

And that, dear readers, is why one of my main characters is now called Salmon.

Watching

A relatively light viewing week this week, for a change.

Our Friday horror choice was a low budget effort set during WWII called The Devil’s Rock. I enjoyed this one a lot. The low budget showed through once or twice, but for the most part it stood up well. I love ‘single room’ films (I.e. movies that take place in a single location) and while this one didn’t strictly fit that bill, you could easily imagine it being adapted into a play (minus special effects).

Saturday brought the Marvel rewatch up to Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, one of my favourite Marvel films. Needless to say I had a great time watching this one again and, as I think I’ve discussed it at length elsewhere, I’ll leave it at that for now.

Reading

I spent this week listening to a new podcast called Blockbuster, which dramatises the events around the making of Star Wars. Like any sci-fi movie fan I already know a fair bit about how Star Wars came to be, but Blockbuster takes the refreshingly different tactic of focusing on the key people involved and, particularly, their personal experience of making the film. Through a series of vignettes, linked together by a solid narration track, we really get a feel for the huge emotional rollercoaster it must have been to make this film. We also get to share, briefly, in the making of Jaws and Close Encounters, which serves to broaden the scope of the narrative, place it in context, and put, front and centre, the friendship between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

I was thoroughly engrossed in this for the week and certain scenes (particularly the moment when George Lucas first hears John Williams’ score) brought tears to my eyes. The creators made the bold choice not to include advertising in the podcast, but it was an easy choice for me to slip them a donation as a way of saying thanks for creating something that I enjoyed so much.

New novel, new writing fun

(Week 22: May 26-June 1)

I started work in the new novel this week and it’s going gangbusters so far! One week in and I’ve done 4,500 on the first draft. My standard max daily word count is around 675 words, which would come to about 3,375 on a good week. So, as you can see, this has been a very, very good week.

I typically find editing to be the more rewarding part of writing. The first draft is usually a painful birthing process, but the editing is where the story truly turns into something that people might enjoy reading. The first draft is usually an obstacle course of stops and starts, hesitations and doubts. It’s rare that work on a first draft will proceed without me having to, at some point, go back and rework the beginning so I have a better idea of where I’m going; or having to pause for a day or two to let my ideas coalesce again; or having to stop and figure out plot points that weren’t anticipated in the planning stage.

This experience has been a complete departure. I began writing with only the most basic idea of what was going to happen, and the words have flowed. Even the opening of the story, from which I expected to muster no more than a couple of paragraphs, wrote its way into nearly a thousand words.

I have zero doubt that some serious editing will be required in due course, but it’s been a bundle of fun—If marginally frustrating—to end each morning’s writing session wanting nothing more than to carry on throwing words at the page.

Long may it continue.

Watching

Over Sunday and Monday, the Kinderbeast and I wrapped up the new adaptation of Catch 22. I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t compare it, and it’s been many, many years since I saw the film. I suspect this new adaptation struggled with balancing the absurd comedy against the clear desire to show that war is no joke. The laughs predominantly come at the expense of the military commanders (with George Clooney taking the lion’s share of the laughs) while the suffering is left to the ordinary people and soldiers. The realisation that Yossarian is at risk of losing his mind due to the horrors he’s endured does put something of a stopper to the laughs. As such it’s easy to come away thinking that the series doesn’t end as strongly as it starts.

On Saturday, the Marvel rewatch brought us around to Captain America: Civil War, which is the only phase 3 movie I wasn’t particularly excited about. I was, at least, curious to see it again, and this second viewing confirmed my original view. It’s by no means a bad movie (certainly not in the Age Of Ultron league) but it suffers from having way too much going on. It shows us a series of things that happen, rather than offering a cohesive, calculated plot in the same way that Winter Soldier did. Everything is very well done, and there is nothing hugely wrong with it, but the film simply falls under the weight of everything it’s trying to do and ends up feeling somewhat underwhelming.

It’s interesting, however, that the Russo brothers seem to have learned from their mistakes when it comes to Infinity War.

Reading

My reading this week has been As You Wish, Cary Elwes’s appropriately titled memoir about his time working on The Princess Bride. I love books about film, but most of them are about how terrible Hollywood is and how morally bereft or impressively incompetent most of the people who work there are. Fortunately, Elwes is clearly a man with a very pure and generous spirit, and The Princess Bride is a wonderful film, so this book was a delight to read. I learned a lot about the making of the movie that I had no idea about before, and also about the people involved, and came away loving the movie even more than I already did. Well worth a read if you’re a fellow fan of the film.

The benefit of hindsight

(Week 21: May 19-25)

This week, following the dismal Australian election results, I was compelled to return to a story I wrote last year inspired by the Trump presidency. It was a story that was technically finished, but still didn’t feel quite ready. 

Over the course of this week I went through and did a fresh edit. As with most of my re-edits, I didn’t change the plot in any dramatic way, but I did shift a few minor pieces around. The benefit of coming back to the story after a little time has passed is that I can bring a more objective perspective to the edit. On this occasion I spotted a few tiny things that either didn’t quite work properly, or could work better. I also added a little more depth and colour to a couple of the characters, hopefully ensuring that their actions in the story are entirely consistent with what we learn about them in the short time we have.

Also this week I had a blinding idea for a new novel. True, I have three other novels in various stages of incompletion, but this new idea would be a lot of fun to write …

Watching

barry season 2

This week’s big viewing was the end of season 2 of Barry which remained, right to the end, one of the best and boldest things I’ve seen on TV (and this comes from someone who is consistently blown away by how spoilt for choice we are when it comes to excellent TV these days). I’ve said it before, but the effortless gymnastics that the creative team pull off to weave humour, pathos and some really, really dark stuff just blows me away. It was, in fact, reflecting on this that inspired the above mentioned idea for a new novel.

On Friday, our horror choice was Hush (courtesy of Netflix). This has been on my list for months and months and was well worth the wait. It has a beautifully simple premise: a deaf author is terrorised in her country home by a masked killer. It’s a nice short film that doesn’t exceed its bounds, but manages to do a lot in the time it has. I’m already keen to watch it again to see what storytelling techniques I can learn from it.

Reading

I’d been toying with the idea of picking up the audiobook of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in recent weeks, mostly because it’s read by Stephen Fry and I can’t imagine anything much better than listening to Douglas Adams being read by Stephen Fry. Anyway, with a gap in my listening schedule this week, I decided to take the plunge and pick up said audiobook.

I’d like to say it was a shining jewel of unparalleled british literary wonder, but as anyone who’s read Douglas Adams will surely know … he’s not great at narrative structure. He provides pockets of brilliance held together in a rambling stew. As such, any Douglas Adams work will soar very close to, but will never quite attain perfection.

Another slight issue is that I have now consumed The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in so many formats (novel, TV series, film, radio) that there’s a limit to how much it can surprise me. Despite all that, there were some parts of the novel that I’d clearly forgotten, and Stephen Fry is just about the perfect narrator for this type of faintly absurd but very British humour.

And, on the subject of things that are absurd and British, I also finished reading Doctor Who Meets Scratchman. It’s emphatically a story of two halves: the first half being a very typical Doctor Who story; the second being where they clearly planned to spend the big bucks a film production budget would have offered. I’m not completely convinced it would have worked as a movie, but having read the novel I’m still quite sad we never got the chance to see it on the big screen.

Awaiting the Next Big Idea …

(Week 20: May 12 – 18)

Work continues on the new short story, but not with any great conviction. It’s a bit frustrating to have a story so clearly visualised in my head, but to remain unable to find the ideal way of telling it. I will give it a bit longer before I inevitably get distracted with the Next Big Idea.

Watching

On Sunday I treated the Elderbeast to a repeat viewing of Avengers: Endgame. I have mixed feelings about the movie following the second time around. It definitely still works as an epic and highly satisfying conclusion to Infinity War. However, the problematic moments don’t become any less problematic and, perhaps, stick out a bit more once you’re less distracted by the spectacle. Furthermore, the film is burdened by its overly ambitious plot–a necessary limitation caused by the need to wrap up all the diverse threads left by its predecessor, and others–and proves less satisfying in its own right than Infinity War (which, to my mind, remains a stunning achievement in cinematic storytelling).

For Fridate Horror we checked out Blood on Satan’s Claw, mostly because I’d recently devoured the audio dramatisation (of which more below). It’s a film I’m fond of mostly for its particularly british flavour, but it’s not necessarily been an essential favourite of mine. This may have only been my second or third viewing, but so much if it was unfamiliar that I found myself wondering if I’d ever sat down and properly watched the film all the way through before. While there are a small handful of brutal moments, the film otherwise does a very good job in carving a sense of developing menace without really showing too much. In an era when films were pushing the horror envelope further and further, a bit of restraint is quite a rarity and is definitely the more effective choice given the likely budget limitations.

Reading

So–reverse spoiler–this week I also tucked into the audio dramatisation of Blood On Satan’s Claw (which preceded my viewing of the original film version on Friday of this week). I enjoyed it very much on its own merits, but having now consumed the story in both visual and audio formats, I can confirm that it hews very close to the source movie. 

I might even go so far as to say the audio adaptation is superior. It does a terrific job of retelling a slightly obscure plot, and adds in a few well-judged nuggets of characterisation and expansion here and there. It’s still very much a tribute to the original film, but works excellently regardless of whether you know the film or not.

Definitely recommended.

The one where Age Of Ultron is no joke

(Week 19: May 5 – 11)

The new short story is proving a little elusive. I have the plots and the characters; I have a compelling start; and I have a conclusion that’s hopefully worth the journey. However, it’s not quite gelling yet. By ‘gelling’ I mean I’m not sufficiently confident that I can do the story justice, which means it doesn’t excite me as much as it should, which means it almost certainly won’t excite the reader as much as I hope.

I’ve opted for a little early surgery to hopefully get things on the right track: trimming a bit here, moving a bit there, and so on. It may, however, turn out that this one wasn’t quite ready to be written.

Watching

On Sunday I watched Avengers: Age Of Ultron with the Elderbeast. I had originally opted to skip this relatively disappointing entry in my Marvel rewatch, but the Elderbeast is lately obsessed with rewatching as many of the films as possible in the wake of Endgame. I suggested Iron Man 3. He suggested Age of Ultron. I lost.

If anything, my opinion of Age Of Ultron has sunk even lower after this rewatch. The Whedon zingers are still there, but lack their usual sparkle. Where the first Avengers outing was fluid and exhilarating, this one feels more like a series of tent pole scenes that were conceived before the plot had gelled. By rights, this should be a truly epic outing (rogue AI attempts to destroy humanity) but somehow the stakes come across as relatively small (certainly not Avengers-worthy) and the attempts to inject tension only serve to make the team feel fragmented: we end up watching a series of superheroes doing different things, instead of an Avengers movie.

Likely conscious of his reputation for killing off second-tier characters, Whedon spends a lot of the film building up Hawkeye to be a sacrificial lamb, only to save him at the last moment: but this only ends up coming across as a cynical attempt to play the audience. Equally, the faux single-take that opens up the movie feels less like impressive use of cinema trickery to emphasise the unity of the team, and more like the fiddling of a bored filmmaker who wants to show off. Meanwhile, I wonder at which point Joss Whedon decided he hated Iron Man because it’s hard to draw any other conclusion from the way the character is presented here.

However, this is far from Whedon’s worst misstep with his characters. One of my biggest beefs with the movie remains Whedon’s handling of the women. Look back at the first Avengers movie where Maria Hill is a key member of SHIELD, and Black Widow pretty much owns the film (yeah, two major female characters isn’t a great ratio). In Age Of Ultron, Black Widow is defined by her failed attempt to spark a relationship with Bruce Banner and her (still awful) self-identification as a monster; Maria Hill is now Tony Stark’s PA and serves little function than to provide exposition at key moments; Hawkeye’s wife is given little identity beyond being someone who stays at the farmhouse and raises children while Hawkeye is off saving the world (and, even more cynically, is arguably only there to show us what Hawkeye stands to lose if he were to die at the end of the film). Even Scarlet Witch is largely defined by her relationship with men: Baron Strucker, her brother—and her major pivot in the movie only comes after a pep talk from Hawkeye, another man. Worst of all is Black Widow, whose self-identification as a monster due to her infertility is still one of the worst moments in the MCU, while her only shot at redemption is presented as being in the arms of another man.

(I do want to clarify that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with being a PA, or a wife/mother, or needing a pep talk from time to time. My gripe is that all of the female characters are presented in roles where they either prop up men or are defined in terms of the men around them. Coming from the person who gave us Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I find this really disappointing.)

Among the highlights is definitely James Spader’s performance as the petulant Ultron. There’s also some great foreshadowing to the conclusion of the Infinity Saga. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are both handled well (though I wonder where Wanda’s accent wandered off to in future movies).

Ironically, the most consistently viewed post on this blog is something of a defence of Age Of Ultron.

Fridate horror was The Conjuring, which I initially remembered as a film that tries hard to be scary, but isn’t really as scary as everyone says. On this rewatch I’ve decided that everyone was probably right, and it does have some pretty effective scares. It devolves a bit towards the end, but I did like that the film has a few different threads that it weaves together into a fairly effective build-up (so effective, in fact, that it’s a slight surprise when the film has the decency to end, instead of continuing to escalate).

Over the weekend I also caught up a bit more with the final season of Game Of Thrones; specifically managing to watch episodes 2 and 3. If you’re keeping track, you’ll know that these episode comprise the prelude to the battle of Winterfell, and the battle itself. As such they make for an extremely effective double bill. There are some rightful complaints that this season is rushing a little towards its conclusion, especially given the languid pace of earlier seasons. However, these two episodes give us almost three hours of screen time focusing on a single day in the show. It’s an instance where television gets to show off the advantages it sometimes has over cinema. Episode 3 is a stunning and relentless depiction of the battle, while the preceding episode packs in all the foreboding and a bunch of character work (and proves surprisingly moving in many parts).

This final season may end up being as flawed (or otherwise) overall as the preceding seasons, but I feel like I’m unlikely to see two episodes of any other show as masterfully executed as these.

Reading

For my birthday, my friend brought me a copy of Doctor Who Meets Scratchman. This is a novelisation, by Tom Baker himself (!!), of a screenplay he developed in the 1970s, but which never made it to the big screen. It’s pretty cool having a Doctor Who book written by a Doctor Who, but I was even more excited to note that it’s written in the first person – i.e. it’s a Doctor Who writing a Doctor Who book as Doctor Who.

I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it. Tom Baker’s prose (written with some help from James Goss) is delightful, and the characterisations of Sarah and Harry are spot-on. I can totally see this story fitting into the era and, based on the story so far, am pretty disappointed we never got to see it made.

Rather excellently, a 1970s style concept poster has been created for the movie that never was by BrianAW over at Deviant Art (where you can see a full size version).


If only a picture was worth a thousand words …

(Week 18: April 28 – May 4)

This week I finished my new short story (which will now formally be known as the recent short story formerly known as my new short story … or maybe not). I opted to give it a rare final pass after completing the not-quite-final edit. This took place over two mornings and gave me the opportunity to make the tone and language a little more consistent throughout. As always, I wanted to be able to put my pen down thinking that I’d done the best job I could do.

And, with one story out of the way, I’ve just started on another new story. As many of my stories tend to be, this one is based on a dream I had recently. I don’t remember the detail of the dream, but one part of it—a specific image—was compelling enough to stick with me. It took a few days, but I finally sketched out a story to fit the image.

This is often my favourite part of the process: waiting for the characters and plot to coalesce around an idea. Sometimes it takes several days, sometimes a lot less.

After that, of course, comes the hard part.

Watching

It’s been a busy viewing week in the Cawthorne household, so let’s get into it.

oculus-poster

Fridate horror this week found us watching Oculus, which has been in the lower echelons of my To Watch list for quite some time. Turns out it’s a much better film that its been given credit for, and does an excellent job of slowly warping the viewer’s sense of what’s real and what isn’t as the characters get more and more drawn into the proceedings. Also worth noting that Karen Gillan does a flawless American accent, something which even the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch struggle valiantly with.

On Sunday my Awesome Partner and I reached Ant Man in our Marvel marathon. Not a whole lot to say about this, except I love heist films and I love Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas rocks, so this one is an obvious winner for me.

We also started season 8 of Game Of Thrones, which is as compelling as ever based on this first episode. I particularly like the new(ish) opening titles: retaining the excellent aesthetic that has become an essential part of each episode (this being one series where you never skip the opening titles) but telling a different story that really hammers down where the focus is for the final season.

barry season 2

On Monday the Elderbeast and I started season two of Barry. I’m in a state of awe at the way this show manages to blend absurdist humour and some really dark themes. Plus Henry Winkler continues to be brilliant. More thoughts, doubtless, when we conclude the season.

I finished Love Death + Robots this week, and loved that too. There were some tales I enjoyed more than others, but the quality was remarkably consistent throughout, and it was a real treat seeing all the different animation styles that the various creators employed. I’d love a second season, but I’ll probably end up rewatching the first before too much longer.

Saturday’s Marvel instalment was Doctor Strange. I’ve written about this recently, so I won’t repeat myself here. One nice development was the Kinderbeast overhearing my watching it, and then asking about me all about it the next day. The following day I got home from work to find him watching the film for himself, and utterly absorbed in it.

Reading

Having wrapped up Dracula, I’ve returned to the audiobook of It while I decide my next listening choice. It’s bit like revisiting an old friend at this point. I’ll almost certainly move onto something new and fresh very soon, but it’s nice having It to come back to when I’m ready.

I also finished The Subtle Knife, which ended far more strongly than it began. The second half of the story had that same unputdownable quality that made The Golden Compass such a pleasure. My biggest criticism, other that the narrative and structural flaws in the first half of the story, is that The Subtle Knife is obviously set up to lead into the third part of the story and thus doesn’t really stand well on its own. Kinda disappointing, but still worthy in parts.

The Eighth … draft …?

(Week 17: April 21- 27)

This week I finished my rewrite of my Alien short story, The Eighth Passenger, and I’m pretty darned happy with the the outcome. I’ve been considering trying my hand at narrating an audio version of it, but haven’t yet found the time (I suspect, however, that my soft British tones may not be quite the right fit for an Alien story).

I’ve since resumed work on my new short story, which is also going pretty well. The decision to shift the narrative into the present tense has helped the feel of the story immensely, and I’m pretty excited about getting this one wrapped up.

One day.

Eventually.

Perhaps …

Watching

Fridate horror this week found us watching the original Prom Night, which I somehow never realised starred Jamie Lee Curtis. And which also taught me that Jamie Lee Curtis is a pretty good dancer–although, on reflection, True Lies had already proven that.

Given the year of its release–following Halloween and joining Friday The 13th–it’s a surprisingly restrained horror movie, which seems to have its roots more in the late 1970s thriller genre than in the fast developing slasher movie. As such, it puts a lot more work into backstory and the mystery surrounding the killer’s identity, but still manages a few good murders along the way. It perhaps brings a lot less to the genre than its counterparts, but it’s a fascinating example of a genre in transition.

On Saturday we managed to catch up with Avengers: Endgame. I’m not going to write much about it here since I don’t want to spoil those who are still catching up with their Marvel movies. All I will say is that it proved to be an immensely satisfying follow-up to Infinity War, but the creators are entirely justified in claiming that it’s more than simply Infinity War Part 2. I’m also still quite stunned that they managed to deliver a story that was even more epic in scope than Infinity War itself.

Monday was a day off for the family, which gave us a chance for some family movie viewing time. The Kinderbeast, for reasons unknown, decided he wanted to watch The Muppets (the 2011 film with Jason Segel). I’ve only seen this once before, and I’d totally forgotten that I LOVE this movie. It’s so shamelessly kind-hearted that you can’t fail to love it, but it also packs in a handful of hilarious meta jokes *and* some insanely catchy songs. If you want to feel something approaching joy in your cold dead heart for just a few hours, I strongly recommend watching The Muppets.

Reading

I finished the audiobook of Dracula at long last. My quick thoughts are that the vocal gymnastics performed by Simon Vance (reading Jonathan Harker) and Katy Kellgren (performing Mina Murray) were astounding. The narrative structure typically demands that each actor perform several characters, and these two somehow slip effortlessly into whichever accent required. Alan Cumming was excellent too. Tim Curry, however, was a disappointment, his careful enunciation making it sound as if he had never seen the text before and was reading it aloud for the first time.

One new thing that struck me during this listen was that Anthony Hopkins’ seemingly extravagant performance as Van Helsing in the Coppola version of Dracula was remarkably close to the characterisation in the book. Rather more so, in fact, than Peter Cushing who is, ironically, remembered best for portraying the Count’s mortal opponent in the Hammer films.

In conclusion: it took a while, but it was still a rewarding listen.

Page 2 of 48

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén