The Zero Theorem

Do you ever get the feeling that a writer or director doesn’t exactly know how to end a film? Or maybe they had a good idea. On paper it looked good. In the pitch meeting it sounded good. Everything worked on the story boards, but when it was filmed it just didn’t feel right. I get that way when I think about having a McRib. It sounds like a good idea, but when you are faced with the messy actuality of a McRib your confidence is shaken.

I am not saying that the rest of Zero Theorem was great, far from it. The films of Terry Gilliam are epic. I watched Brazil as an unassuming teenage and I couldn’t think straight for a week. I knew better when I watched 12 Monkeys and still it blew me away.

The premise of The Zero Theorem sounded good. Maybe that was the problem, the film was all premise and no content. Compared to the vibrant sense of future dystopia created in Brazil and 12 Monkeys, or the wacked out world of Time Bandits, The Zero Theorem felt poorly put together. But hey, it’s Gilliam. A new filmmaker would get shit for a cheap sense of environment, Gilliam can take it.

My problem with the film was where it ends up, which is nowhere. Now given the premise of working out that the theory of everything is nothing, nowhere was an intended direction. However, nowhere doesn’t leave you with an enduring sense of the movie.

So what is the future of The Zero Theorem? No, not the future that the film suggests but the actual film existence of the film. It might make cult classic, but I don’t think so. Gilliam already has much better cult films under his belt. It is probably going to be more of thinker. Like Guy Ritchie’s Revolver. A general hum of message board discussion about what is real and what the ending means, about where Qohen ends up and what happens to everyone else. Or a film studies class discussion on everything from meaning to the fate of great directors. Let’s hope Gilliam has another film in the works.

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Experience of Watching The Outsider

In 1942 Albert Camus published a novel called L’Étranger. The title of the novel is often translated into The Stranger or The Outsider.

This blog entry is not about that novel. This blog entry is about a 2014 film written by a man who had a starring role in a British soap opera and is probably best known for Call of Duty voiceovers.

As films go it contained a couple of famous names (James Caan, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Patric, yes that is Godfather, American Pie and The Lost Boys) and it wasn’t a great film. It wasn’t the most annoying film I’ve seen, it was the worst type of film, it was generally missable in just about every way, except I can’t stop thinking about it. And that is beginning to annoy me.

There were laughable moments of generally poor film making. At one point Lex Walker returns to his London home. I know it is London because they showed me a clip that included a London bus, a London taxi and what I remember as Piccadilly Circus, except the house Walker arrives at is nothing like any house you’d find in the UK. Instead, it is a hacienda style Californian home with an interior bedroom balcony overhanging the living room. Even in the flashback to Walker pushing his kid on the swings lacks any sense of it being in the United Kingdom.

By the time I reached the end of the film there was a bad guy, a good guy and a cop on the side following along. There was a love interest and motivation for the good guy. The bad guy was interested in profit and there was a dramatic heist shoot out ending. But in the end it didn’t add up. In the end the film didn’t make sense. It wasn’t anything too complex. It’s that I don’t understand its existence. Sounds deep, I know.

As I watched it the movie felt odd. Like it wasn’t actually a movie. Known actors, recognizable characters and a general structure that is barely more than obvious. It just lacked any depth, like a school project. Like James Caan was doing a favour for his kid’s school.

The reason the movie has been hanging around in the back of my mind (I know, this one has been a bit of a slow burner), the reason I can’t get rid of it is it begs the question, what makes a movie? Even a bad movie is more than just a collection of necessary elements. There are intangible characteristics that combine together with the tangible ones to produce a valid movie experience. Even a bad one.

So, The Outsider, it was a strange experience, not exactly a movie experience and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Valentine Drabble

The celebrations of St. Valentine’s day. The most romantic day of the year, the day of love, the biggest excuse of the year to bestow flowers, chocolate and sweet words of adoration on the love you life. What better way to celebrate than a drabble?

Speculative Valentine DrabblesOk, so drabble doesn’t exactly sound particularly romantic, which is a shame.

Intense and passionate, a Valentine drabble is a 100 word story. Not a poem, although many poems are longer. It is prose and narrative. Accessible and full of the complexities and wonders of love, a drabble is great anytime of the year and well suited to the passions of St. Valentine’s day.

And how can you get your hands on a drabble? Well look no further, below is a Valentine drabble, just for you.

Having tasted your appetite head over to the publishers of Indie Authors Press and get your hands on a whole anthology of Valentine drabbles. A romantic gift? Certainly. A great read? Without doubt.

Get a copy of Valentine drabbles sent directly to your dearly beloved. Chocolates will get eaten, flowers will wilt, fiction keeps giving.

Private Romance by T.W.Garland
Had Vaughn been looking, he would have seen her voluptuous silhouette against the misted glass of his office door. But he wasn’t looking.
She walked across the cheap tiles, her steel tipped stilettos cracking more than one before she reached his untidy desk.
“I have a problem,” she said through lips that looked like the expensive cherry red paint job on a mustang.
Everything about her screamed danger and yet Vaughn responded with uncontrolled excitement. Reflected in the black lens of her sunglasses he could see pain, suffering and blind commitment.
He wondered why he never met any nice girls.

Visit Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and get your Valentine Drabbles.

P.S. My Valentine Drabble in Speculative Valentine Drabbles 2015 is called The Dance. Hope you enjoy.

Ariana Grande Causing Panic among Preteens

Ariana Grand has announced that she is releasing a new video of her song One Last Time in a few days (check out her tweet if you don’t believe me). Now a new music video is possible cause for preteen hysteria, but what is going to throw the level of hysteria into astronomical proportions is the subject of the new video.

Max Landis, the writer behind the Chronicle film about youths with superpowers, has written a music video based on the Earth being thrown into the tail of the Comet Eurydice (I like the Greek reference to the nymph who drove Apollo’s sun chariot).

Now the problem here, apart from google breaking down because everyone is googling ‘comet eurydice’, is a little confusion between a music video and Armageddon. Surely not?

Could thousands of teens get the wrong idea and mistake a countdown for a video with a countdown for Armageddon? I don’t want to admit it is possible, but it is possible.

Time will tell. There are only eight days to go…

Violet Reincastle: Steampunk?

With the George Clooney kids movie Tomorrowland being described as a “steampunk wonderland” a friend of mine turned to me and said, “You write steampunk stories don’t you.”

I don’t think I ever considered my Violet Reincastle stories steampunk. Yes I have written a specifically steampunk story. In Asp Among the Water Lilies, the whole intention was the creation of steam powered technology as a driving force in the story.

Which brings us inevitably to the question, what is steampunk?

Essentially, steampunk is a literary subgenre of science fiction and fantasy fiction that features some form of steam-powered machinery. In reality, steampunk is a little more complex and occasionally verges on a lifestyle choice. No, not those lifestyle choices, more a personal decision to celebrate 19th century history and fantasy. As a consequence, you get conventions and cosplay.

In fiction, steampunk has a multitude of incarnations. You can have post-apocalyptic steampunk. There is wild west steampunk. Is that Cowboys vs Aliens? Maybe a little. Probably more like Wild Wild West. There is alternative world steampunk. I suppose this would be more the Bioshock world. You can have horror steampunk and my personal favourite, Victorian steampunk.

I am not going out of my way to be contentious, but Victorian Steampunk is for me the essential steampunk, but even there is a huge amount of variety. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells provide a version of steampunk created in the 19th century, while The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and the always astounding Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are more modern incarnations of Victorian steampunk.

So, how do I feel about the suggestion that I write steampunk? Pretty good. The company is good. I like the 19th century implication and the science fiction/fantasy element.

Check out the anthology containing Violet Reincastle story one ‘Tentacles and Petticoats’ and story two ‘Shock to the Corset’ here.

And story three ‘The End of Things in Underthings’ is here. And yes, the title has an intended pun.

And here for good measure is the Tomorrowland Trailer.

New Novel from Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is undeniably a classic. What is more, the novel is a much loved by all manner of people. Whether you read for pleasure, are a professional critic or someone who nostalgically remembers reading the book at school. It is difficult not to like the novel and the character of Scout.

The news that Harper Lee has written a sequel to her 1950s classic is cause for celebration and just a little, tiny, barely noticeable suspicion.

Think about it in terms of music. If an artist produced an amazing best selling, critically acclaimed album and produced nothing else. And then, 50 years later came out and said “Oh, I forgot, I produced a second album, would you like to hear it?” What would we think? Attempted comeback? Cashing in?

Of course, there is a huge difference between music and literature. In the case of Harper Lee there is also the fact she is genuinely and honestly loved.

Voices have expressed a feeling that the death of her sister, who protected her privacy, may have left a void in her life that means she is susceptible to exploitation. There is the nature of the discovery by her friend, a lawyer. Are we meant to assume honesty? This novel will be huge and make the Harry Potter sales look like the opening weekend The Lone Ranger movie.

All kinds of questions about the motivations for the release are going to abound, but one of the most important questions are going to be whether it is any good. Harper Lee did not write a second novel (until now). Why not? And is this one going to be any good? At the best of times, sequels can be difficult. After such a long time with such a level of expectation, the novel could be wholeheartedly accepted or…well, we are not going to find out until Go Set a Watchman arrives on 14th July.

We shall all be waiting with honest expectation.

Crazy Footage of Taiwanese Plane Crash

As far as real life footage goes, this is crazy.

What is equally crazy is the integration of cameras into dashboards. On the one hand, the practical implications of cameras in police cars seems logical for the purposes of keeping an unbiased account of incidents involving the police. Extending the logic to the vehicles of ordinary drivers seems like a smart move and potentially renders responsibility a moot point in the case of accidents. It is also true that, as people, we act better if we are being watched.

But we are human and to err is human. If all aspects of our lives are recorded, our mistakes, however minor are recorded and can be used against us, possibly turned into viral youtube videos, we are put under a huge amount of pressure not to make a mistake. In the outset, this may have possible effects on individual behaviour, I worry about the internal pressure and psychological damages. Are we breeding a race of people unwilling to make mistakes, afraid to make mistakes, unwilling to leave their house for the fear of global humiliation?

After a rather serious moment, back to the jaw-dropping plane crash. Wow.