Film

The Salt Trail

I stumbled across the trailer for an indie film, THE SALT TRAIL, made by Mark Waters this morning.

It looks absolutely stunning.

(That shot of the palm trees. Woah.)

You can read a little bit more about it here.

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It’s Aaaalive!

I’ve been away. I know. There was Nine Worlds (which was brilliant, by the way, and if you weren’t there, why weren’t you?) and then I went on holiday and then I Just. Needed. A. Break. Which is fine. Because – let’s face it – I do go on a fair bit.

So. Hello. Still alive.

And what is it, you might ask, that has roused me from my rubbishness? Is it some fantastic piece of news?

Well, no.

It’s this.

 

The trailer for I, Frankenstein.

Right.

I’m conflicted.

There’s no two ways about this. I just don’t know what to feel.

We’ll get the obvious bit out of the way. I adore Aaron Eckhart. I really, really do. I love him in basically everything (even The Core. Yes. Especially The Core. My love of terrible disaster movies knows no bounds, so hush now). He also happens to be in Possession, which is one of my very favourite films, and an adaptation of one of my very favourite books – so we’re going into this with a hell of a lot of Eckhart-shaped credit.

I do also love my monsters: be they Dracula, mummies or Frankenstein’s monster himself. So, again, lots of credit going in.

On top of that, there’s what look to be a few strong fight scenes going by this trailer (punch-up in a cathedral! Lots of fire! Eckhart carrying some really shiny looking weapons! Also: flying mid-air punch. I love a deeply impractical mid-air punch)  and it could be fun…

But.

I cannot possibly be the only person looking at this and thinking: “Oh. Van Helsing.” Because, boy, did we all get burned by that one.

I want to like it: I really do. But… are those angels? Not that I’m a hard sell on angels and fighting and stuff because *cough*, but… seriously?

I mean… seriously?

So there you go. Conflicted.

Still. Monsters. Plus Aaron Eckhart. How can that be a bad thing?

 

(Yes. This entire post was, basically, just an excuse to talk about Aaron Eckhart. My blog. My rules. Innit?)

As you were, chaps. As you were.

You Know His Name…?

Because it’s Tuesday and (here, at least) it’s raining – and because I know how much you enjoyed the last Hawkeye mash-up video… have another one.

That Barton certainly gets around, doesn’t he?

 

Alias Hawkeye

I like back-story. I believe all characters should have one: whether it ends up on the page or the screen, or whether it stays in a notebook or in their creator’s head. Our past makes us what we are, and I tend to believe the same is true of people who are completely made-up too. (And I have the Notebooks Full Of Crazy to prove this when it comes to my own writing. Mallory had a back-story before he got anywhere near his guns…)

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying some of the fanficesque character mash-ups I’ve found on Youtube lately.

The rules seem to be pretty simple: take a character in a film, and use other films featuring the same actor to build a backstory for your choice.

Some of them are mental. Some of them are nothing short of brilliant.

Ages ago, I posted the “David’s Initiation” video I found, which sets up STAND BY ME as a prequel to THE LOST BOYS (what did I say? Brilliant) and now I’ve got a new favourite:

Everyone is Clint Barton Undercover:

 

How cool is that? They’re all Hawkeye!

The sound’s a bit of a shambles, but frankly, I don’t care. Bonus points for the clever use of Samuel L. Jackson there. Seriously.

So cool.

Rising

I was going to blog yesterday – really, I was – but I went to see The Dark Knight Rises in the morning, and frankly, by the time I got home, I was ruined. All you’d have had was an essay on why I want to live inside Christopher Nolan’s head. Because I do.

If you haven’t gone to see this yet, do. Like its predecessors, it’s dark and brooding and often chaotic; it’s ambitious and clever and beautifully acted and shot… and as an ending to the trilogy, it manages to pick up, to revisit, themes and ideas from both previous parts. And the final few scenes are perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

(It was also fantastic to see Senate House back as a location – like Nolan, I studied English at UCL and I’m very familiar with that particular building and its place in both history and fiction. It did look a *bit* different this time round, though…)

Anyway. You’re going to get plenty of me now. Sorry.

Possibly the most exciting thing is that I’m featured in this month’s (September, issue 225) SFX Magazine as their “New Author”, talking about the Fallen, my influences and why Supernatural is one of my favourite shows. The BLOOD AND FEATHERS launch at Forbidden Planet on the 2nd is also on their monthly calendar, which is basically amazing and has brought me out in a huge grin.

Secondly, this won’t be news so much as More Stuff About Things You Already Know Because I’ve Rattled On About Them Before… but Solaris have now announced the final line-up for MAGIC, which will be out later this year, and includes my story “Bottom Line”. The authors involved are absolutely incredible, and include some of my very favourite writers right now – it’s a huge honour to be included and I’m very excited about the whole project.

I’m also guest-posting over on Book Chick City today as part of their “Author Top Ten” series – in my case, talking about my favourite heroes and anti-heroes. The emphasis is on action (this being me) and we tour the heroics variously of Gladiator, Drive and The Hurt Locker, by way of the ubiquitous Dean Winchester and Roland Deschain. Swing by BCC and feel free to comment, add to or generally mock my list.

Finally, I’ve added a couple more sneaky character updates to the list on the BLOOD AND FEATHERS site – including the first  of the major characters. The remaining ones will be going up over the next couple of days, and there might even be something a bit different on there next week: you never know…

Apropos of nothing…

I’ve had a hard week. It’s been… tough.

And despite there being some very nice things happening (catching up with friends, heading to the Gemmell Awards for the first time, realising that I’m lucky enough to know some wonderful people, hearing the actual bound copies of B&F are in…) there have also been some very challenging things. However, I’ve done quite enough whining about all this sort of thing, so I thought I’d do something positive.

Here.

 

Yes. That’s much better, isn’t it?

Skyline

Warning: this is going to be super-spoilery. There’s just no way round it, so if you want to be… *surprised* by its eccentricities, then you might want to sit this one out. As blogs go, it’s also a bit long.

Make no bones about it, Skyline is not a good film. It’s not. I’m not even going to try and pretend it is… and yet, as I watched it, I found I rather liked it. I just don’t know why.

It’s hugely, hopelessly, massively flawed and there are several aspects of it which are just downright awful… and yet.

(If the trailer won’t load, by the way, you can watch it directly on Youtube here.)

We open with blue lights streaming down from the sky into Los Angeles. In a bedroom, a couple are asleep; disturbed by the lights, they wake up, she rushes to the bathroom to throw up (the first of the film’s subtle nods at character: have you guessed that she’s pregnant?) and off we go. There’s screaming from the next room as Charlie’s-Brother-From-Lost steps into the light, gets a bit sort of burned and then vanishes…

Our protagonist, Jarrod (who is genuinely the only character I can remember the name of, and that’s largely down to the fact I spent much of the film admiring variously his hair, his necklace or his tattoo, and that he’s Jesse from Buffy…) decides that yes, the clever thing is to step into the light too, at which point he also starts doing the weird burny-thing… and suddenly we cut to a tedious flashback of 15 hours ago.

The only purpose of this seems to be to establish that everyone in this film is pretty much a failure as a human being – with the exception of Jarrod, who’s really too bland to count as anything, and who has a habit of stroking his girlfriend’s nose to show his affection. (Remember that: we’ll be needing it later). Girlfriend is prone to bursting into tears and being a bit, well, beige.

Jarrod’s friend, who they’re in town to see, is supposedly a huge success (and lives in a penthouse which somehow later turns into an apartment on a floor of many…) but we never know quite what he does – however, it’s clearly enough to get him a Ferrari and an assistant with whom he’s cheating on his girlfriend. He’s also played by Turk-From-Scrubs. Assistant’s only purpose seems to be to give away the infidelity, and to scream a bit. Not-Turk’s Girlfriend is given a wasted kick-the-cat moment (“Get me a drink!” she snaps. And that’s it) and then sulks and pouts a bit. She smokes, too, which is clearly Hollywood modern-speak for A Bad Person.

Random helicopters fly overhead. “Homeland Security,” says Not-Turk. How the hell does he know? Why is no-one bothered by this? There’s a party. There’s a telescope hooked up to the television in the apartment, which is used to spy on the gay neighbours who are shocking because, y’know, gay, right? Charlie’s-Brother-From-Lost ponces about a bit; passes out. And then we need to meet the building manager-slash-concierge who comes to complain about the noise. The blinds covering the windows are electric. And everyone goes to bed. So. Got that? Awful people, tedious flashback, blah blah blah.

Back to the blue lights.

(more…)

Page One

One way or another, I knew I always wanted to work with words (with the minor – and notable – exception of that period when I was 6 when I decided my talents lay in designing fashion for guinea pigs… what?).

Because, obviously, Making Things Up was not a proper job as far as the younger version of me was concerned, I spent the greater part of my childhood believing I was going to be a journalist when I grew up. It was either that or go into advertising copy-writing (and here I refer you to my earlier point about “Making Things Up”).

I actually did my work experience at a newspaper: the Llanelli Star, if you must know. It’s one of those local tabloids that has had a slightly creaky little office which smells of photocopy toner and instant coffee, on a street somewhere near the station as long as anyone can remember. Most towns have them, usually called the Something Enquirer, or the Wherever Bugle. My hometown actually has one too – the Star was not it, but then I went to school in Llanelli, so that’s where I was sent.

Somewhere in those archives, there’s still a couple of stories with my by-line. You’d have to look incredibly hard to find them, but they’re there. One was, I think, something to do with Terry Griffiths (who I still remember to this day as the man who kept a stack of signed photographs in the boot of his car) and one was vaguely connected to a rest home of some description. I think. Maybe. As you can see, my knack for recalling detail and my razor-sharp insight would have made me a spectacular investigative journalist.

Anyway. I came out of university and ended up Not Becoming A Journalist at all, despite being offered an internship at a more-than-slightly disreputable periodical (and no, I’m not telling). The closest I came to it, in fact, was working in one of the larger buildings on Fleet Street. I hated the job, and I think it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the job hated me, and our office was a boxy little partitioned space, but I loved that building.

It was just across the road from St Brides – the journalists’ church – and close to the Reuters building, which wasn’t abandoned by them until 2005. It had a sweeping staircase which wound around the original lift: creaky security gate and brass push buttons and all. The office was only on the first floor, but sometimes I used to ride the lift up and down anyway. Built as the headquarters for Thomas Cook in the 19th Century, the building had since been home to the Guinness Book of Records and who knows what else – but, with the exception of working there and studying Pravda at school, that was the closest brush I ever had with grown-up journalism.

Not to say I ever lost interest in it – and that’s why I so wanted to see Page One, a documentary covering one year in the life of the New York Times, as the editorial team and their staff try to come to terms with the possible collapse of mainstream media, the digital revolution, paid-for content, bloggers, WikiLeaks, falling revenues, iPads, media corruption and the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq (and a war which, arguably, one of their reporters helped to create). I was particularly taken with the Media Desk Editor, Bruce Headlam, whose cries of “Did you send it?” and whose utter bemusement over the television coverage of Iraq (“How do you cover the end of a war that’s not ending?”) were only matched by his approach to wordcounts (“Yeah. That’s not happening.”) and his explanation for the giant “Citizen Kane” poster on his office wall.

More than anything, it’s a fascinating portrait of a newspaper which isn’t currently embroiled in the all-too-familiar scandals and political point-scoring of UK ones. Any political agenda it has is completely lost on me, not being American or as actively political as I could be. Instead, viewed as a complete outsider, it becomes an interesting look at not just how a newspaper functions in the perceived Age Of Free, but what drives the people who keep the wheels – and the presses – running.

Paranoid Android…?

I held off watching the trailer for Prometheus until very recently – but once I did, I couldn’t keep myself away from the viral marketing videos. Mostly because they’re so incredibly well-done…

And if I wasn’t already desperate to see the film, I think that would probably decide it for me.

Slick, slightly unnerving and everything we’ve come to expect from the Weyland Industries wraparound mythology…