I’ve been putting off this post because… it’s been another pathetic year on the page-turning front: 29 titles. This makes 2015 look so much better (but it’s still not good enough as a Writer).
- My Name Was Judas by C K Stead
- The Private Eye by Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Mutsa Vicente
- The Walking Dead 150–161 by Robert Kirkman and various artists
- Mississipi Grind (3 March 2014 draft) by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
- Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire
Must. Make. Time.
Okay, I’ve been a bit laggardly on the fitness and health side of things but that’s okay: I’ve been investing those ‘lost’ hours in my televisual research (145 titles totalling 496 hours, up a respectable amount from last year).
Enjoyed on the big screen were:
- Mississippi Grind
- 45 Years
- The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
- The Nice Guys
- La Isla Minima
- The Accountant
- Blood Simple
- 99 Homes
Honourable mentions: Beach Boy Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy, unexpectedly affecting Rocky spin-off Creed, the unlikely and uncompromising Young Adult, the ridiculously fun Central Intelligence, and Florence Foster Jenkins which I was totally prepared to hate but couldn’t because it was so well executed.
The small screen offerings held their own:
- The Americans S01–04
- The Expanse S01
- Getting On (UK, 2008) S01–03
- Better Call Saul S02
- Low Winter Sun (UK, 2006)
- Animals Pilot
- Westworld S01
- Game of Thrones S06
- Catastrophe S02
- The Good Wife S07
Honourable mentions: low key sci-fi robot drama Humans S02, an happy bonus season of Offspring S06, and Transparent S02 which continues to make me scratch my head after each ep but unable to stop pressing the Next button for the next episode.
(I’d actually already watched the first two seasons of The Americans but made the mistake of introducing the Goddess to the pilot. It was a hard slog rewatching those first two seasons, I tell you.) (It wasn’t a hard slog — it’s a damned good show.)
Bring on 2017!
Late last month I attended the 2016 Big Screen Symposium in Auckland. It was the second network-y thing I’ve done this year (ah yes, I neglected to mention I attended the 2016 PANNZ Arts Market in Wellington in March).
Cue shameless name-dropping as I saw:
- Alice, Fritha and Pippa from the guild;
- Leanne, Selina, Christina, Karin, Jasmin and Chris from the commish;
- the gentlemen behind the smash hit Three Wise Cousins;
- multiple Adam Award-winning playwright Maraea Rakuraku;
- Aaron, Ali and Arnette from PIFT and IIML;
- Louise and Katie from the Kingswood reading;
- and dined with Mr Reid, Mr Barr, and several other gentlemen whose names I neglected to write down (sorry, I had a beer in one hand and a naan in the other).
As for the speakers, highlights were:
- creative couple Cate Shortland (Somersault, The Slap) and Tony Krawitz (Devil’s Playground, The Kettering Incident) on writing and directing Australian television drama;
- Jonathon Raymond on screenwriting for Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff) and Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce); and
- producer and BSS keynote speaker Heather Rae (Frozen River) on decolonising the screen.
Nice work, all around.
Why am I returning to this franchise after so much disappointment?
One, it’s directed by Gareth Edwards whose Monsters and Godzilla balanced big-creature spectacle with believable characters and emotions.
Two, it has a scrappy band of rebels that includes Forest Whitaker, Donnie Yen, and Jiang Wen.
Hell yeah, I’m in.
Contrary to popular belief, when energy, motivation, and/or creativity is low in the Writing
Cave Keep, I do not resort to singing along with Ms Krall ad infinitum.
If a project has certain constraints or is more long-form, there’s these classics to crib from:
- Joss Whedon‘s Buffy the Vampire Slayer — not just a scantily-clad teen-girl who can kick serious demon ass1;
- Jed Mercurio‘s Bodies — a visceral and heartbreaking look at just how little separates life and death in a maternity ward; and
- David Simon‘s The Wire — its novelistic approach to presenting a criminal investigation, showing us every shade of grey between the police and their adversaries, as well as the world in which both operate, is something to which I can only dare aspire.
It’s not necessarily the story I worry about — it’s how I’m going to make it interesting. I want to grab and hold the reader’s — and, eventually, the paying audience’s — attention, take ’em for a ride, and then afterwards, drop ’em back in their seat, exhilarated, exhausted, and begging for more.
All of the above touchstones do exactly that.
Most times, soon after referring to any of the above, I’m back at the keyboard, writing.
Ten episodes in and I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel where:
- our heroine, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) catches her nemesis, Kilgrave (David Tennant);
- Jones’ Greek chorus of friends, family and/or acquaintances sing, Kill Kilgrave else he will continue to murder people;
- Jones counterpoints with, No, I must not kill him yet somehow he must still pay — wait one while I ponder…;
- Kilgrave escapes — trimming Jones’ chorus by one enroute — and continues his murdering ways;
- Jones catches Kilgrave…
Do this catch-and-release routine once and if the heroine learns from the experience, it’s a learning experience.
Do it twice, and if the heroine prevails in the end, it’s one of those rule-of-three narrative devices.
Do it three times and there’s still three goddamned eps to go in the season, one begins to wonder: are the writers undercover wingnuts highlighting the inherent weakness of liberals in this harsh, harsh world? or have I just been inured by decades of Old Testament-moral-style action films in which all manner of personal, societal and political problems can be resolved in a hail of lead?
Ay caramba, that was quick.
Enjoyed immensely on the big screen:
- A Most Wanted Man
- Top Five
- Love is Strange
- Inside Out
- Exit Through the Gift Shop
- Steve Jobs
Honourable mentions to John Carpenter‘s remake of The Thing which was enjoyed with a bunch of millenials who were genuinely freaked out by Rob Bottin‘s 1980s-era SFX, Cartel Land, The Guest, and Warrior which I finally watched after years of ravings by the inestimable Mr Fyers.
Devoured with great pleasure on the small screen:
- Justified S06
- Transparent S01
- The Americans S02
- Game of Thrones S05
- Mr Robot S01
- Nurse Jackie S07
- Catastrophe S01
- The Good Wife S06
- Arrow S02–03
- The Flash S01–02
Honourable mentions to the CW’s one-two combo of Arrow S03–04 and The Flash S01–02, the not particularly innovative crime-fixer show Ray Donovan S03 which is made compelling by Liev Schrieber, Eddie Marsan and Jon Voight, Humans S01, and The Walking Dead S06E01–06.
So much good television and so little time…