Monday, 2 February 2015

"You don't want the bumpers, life doesn't give you bumpers."

Last weekend was a somewhat swollen-neck-gland/chesty cough kinda weekend, during which I watched Richard Linklater's experimental "Boyhood". Much like Michael Apted's "7-Up" documentary series (except it's a drama), we follow a story filmed across twelve years - The actors naturally ageing as the film progresses. The great thing about the film is that it doesn't give you what you want. Because life's just not like that.

It's the sort of movie that Linklater does so incredibly well. Much like "Dazed and Confused", not much actually happens. There's no real big plot twists or drama-for-the-sake-of-drama. Throughout the movie, I found myself hoping, almost pining that certain characters would change their ways or reconnect in some way. At one point Patricia Arquette's character comes to a rather sad conclusion:

Mom: You know what I'm realising? My life is just going to go. Like that. 
 This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced.
The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. 
Getting divorced... again. Getting my masters degree. Finally getting the job I wanted.
 Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what's next?
 Huh? It's my fucking funeral!
I just thought there would be more.

 Being a father of two young children, there's a certain privilege and strange joy to watch lives blossoming. Part of you can't wait to see them grow, learn and become their own person. Another part of you wants them to stay exactly as they are now.

We could all do with more joy in our lives - so here's my top-whatever of joyful moments, cobbled together from the store cupboard of my dusty mind. I'm sure I've missed loads off, and that you've got far more classier stuff - feel free to message me with your suggestions!

1. The Truman Show
A man seizing his own destiny whilst delivering the perfect kiss-off? Yes please.

2. Head
Childhood hero Davy Jones performs a jaunty little dance whilst crooning Harry Nilsson's "Daddy's Song" - the song itself is a bit on the dark side, but the performance is so uplifting (with some rather nifty editing), it can't help but make you smile.

3. Back to the Future
There are so many moments in this film which make the voice in your head yell "YES!", but for me this is THE moment: George standing up for himself? Marty's life/future being saved? Seeing your own parents fall in love? Ruddy hell...

4. The Blues Brothers
There's a ton of great song and dance scenes to choose from, but what is better than seeing a car do a backflip, and watching a couple of Illinois nazis fly to their doom?

5. Tremors
Again, another movie packed with some great moments. In particular, this scene does not pan out how you would expect it to: The Gummers are in their basement, unaware that the Graboids are coming for them. They're dead for certain. OR ARE THEY?

6. Superman II
Ol' Supes goes through it a bit in the film, and at the end you think he's about to hand himself over on a plate to the nasty General Zod... OR DOES HE? Not only do you get a "YES" moment - you get another two "YES" moments thrown in for free.

7. Roxanne
The insult scene. Poor CD Bales is picked on in a bar by some flat-faced, flat-nosed flat-head - and defeats him with wit. And a punch. *The opening scene with CD taking on a couple of morons is a close second.

8. Bugsy Malone
The big showdown. Splurge frenzy. It's all gone too far. So pack it in, kids - and play NICE!

9. Mission Impossible
I NEVER GET TIRED OF WATCHING THIS SCENE. It is brilliant. Hilarious. Defies belief. It's nonsense - but fantastic nonsense. It's what FUN cinema is all about. "RED LIGHT! GREEN LIGHT!" As IF!

10. Les Miserables
After a lifetime of misery and hardship, they get to sing a song of freedom. It makes you want to explode.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

"If anyone can do it..."

Hey everyone,

I'm feeling a bit under the weather at the moment with a cold, so I'm going to hand over the editorial reigns to everybody's FRIEND, Ross Geller. Over to you, Ross.


Sorry if I sound a little bummed, but I stand (write?) before you today with a cautionary tale.

I think we've all said stuff that we probably wished we hadn't even started with...


So I'm in Central Perk with my friends Joey and Feebs, and we're minding our own business, having some lightweight banter about a new movie "Spudknuckles" that's coming out that has four carrots playing the lead roles. I said I wasn't too sure about it - not that I have a problem with carrots playing lead roles, but over the past few years the film's producers had announced it would have apples playing the leads, then bananas... I'm pretty sure at one point they said four combine harvesters were going to play the lead.

Forgive my sceptic viewpoint, but my response the announcement was a bit 'blah'. Not that my opinion counts for anything, but mine was that they just wanted to crank out ANY version of 'Spudknuckles'. So I reserve the right not to be doing cartwheels about it.

At this point our friend Joey walked in, catching the end of our chat, and says "Hey you guys, have you seen that Spudknuckle Lego set? It's the best!".

So, we're having a few laughs, then in comes Janice. I don't really know her THAT well (other than having a one-night stand with her, back in one the latter seasons of the television series... I forget... uh...), but anyway, unbeknownst to me, Janice had been listening in on our conversation.

For some reason, Janice interrupts, gets snarky with my friends, and then accuses me of being a hypocrite for my lack of excitement over the aforementioned carrots, and that I should know better - after all, I've just written a carrot-led story myself.

At this point, I should say that Janice is a big defender of carrots, which is great. I love carrots too. Janice works tirelessly promoting equality for carrots, and good on her for doing so.

But when somebody calls for more carrot-led stories, then accuses you of only doing so because IT SELLS, it leads me to think:

So to clarify: You want more roles for carrots, yet when someone writes one you accuse them of doing it for the money.

ANYWAY, I replied to her somewhat pokey accusation that I wasn't writing a carrot-led story because it sells, but because that's the story I wanted to write. I wasn't chasing the money. (In fact, my next story is about a potato. True.)

And with that, Janice was gone. So I finished my latte and went for a stroll around the block, when imagine my surprise when I see Janice, and she's all like:

Shouting from the rooftops.It seems that Janice had cherry-picked a couple of sound-bites from my private chat with my friends (as private as being in a coffee house is) - had stuck these sound-bites together in order to start some sort of debate.

Which subsided into:

But the more I thought about it...

Now, I'm pretty academic, but I'm sure that 1+1 does not equal WTF. (I've run this past my friend's quantum physicist wife, and she says in some rare cases this can be true. What do I know?)

SO: A fairly private conversation between friends (men and women), which I believe we are all free to do without outsiders breathing down your neck. I'm pretty sure I didn't sign any disclaimer that anything I say could be taken, misconstrued, whipped up into a frenzy in order to create attention for another person's mission.

Seeing how our conversation in Central Perk was cut short by Janice fleeing out the door, I thought we could continue it, along with her friends at her apartment. The debate went on, and it all got a little -

Somewhat frustratingly, Janice had seemingly little desire to listen (at one point she casually accused me of liking potatoes more than carrots, the implication being I was 'carrot-ist'). Growing increasingly bored, I left - with Janice's words "I'm gonna be blogging about this, f*****" ringing in my ears. Such charm.

How could this have been handled better? If there was any perceived 'beef' between myself and Janice, she could have spoken to me in private about her feelings, rather than the hit 'n run tactics of slighting someone in front of their own friends, then running off to the safety of your own domain before the discussion could really get going.


All this leads me to conclude that Janice cannot be trusted - either as a friend or as a professional.

There was clear lack of common courtesy and professional integrity. I'm all for creativity and dramatisation, but when you see someone create something founded out of context, it's a little disconcerting. How can you be yourself around someone knowing that anything they may take offense at will be extrapolated into an open debate?


Oh, hang on. My friend Chandler wants to say something...

Thanks, Ross. Chin up, buddy.

Wow. So what can we take from Ross's experience with Janice?

We should all know that whatever words you put out in the world are public domain, and that's fine. But that doesn't mean you should expect innocent conversations with friends to be picked apart and repackaged as faux headlines.

So, to conclude - BEWARE! Anything you say may be selectively cut 'n paste and slapped together in order to create click bait!