Cannes Looks Dull

So it opens with a bang as Ridley Scott’s new epic Robin Hood takes center stage, but as Mike Goodridge, Screen International Editor, points out: it looks decidedly art-heavy this year and could use an injection of razzle dazzle.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never been to Cannes. I would love to go and hopefully will one day, but so far my experience of the festival is what I read in the papers. So what am I going to read when the press don’t have much reason to dig their teeth in? Goodridge is right, hollywood glamour is the lure for the journalists who then end up writing about films that would never have seized attention before. As one commenter writes: “We love Cannes for the heady combination for it all” but then he also writes “we set a girl on fire”, so who are we to believe?

I’ll keep an eye out for the usual multiple page spreads about Cannes but I’m not sure how many there will be this year.

Lockstep by Jangle

So Marky ‘Jangle’ Thompson has got himself a band at last and I’m proud to be involved as the drummer. We debuted last weekend at the Riverfront in Newport and it was awesome fun. Before I start posting some pics and the video/ recordings from that night thought,  here’s a vid of Marky before he formed the live group.

“Sometimes you just get a piece of music and its got it, some soul to it, some wondeful way of shifting things round ever so slightly differently that makes it feel completely fresh and Jangle does that in spades” Adam Walton – BBC Radio Wales.

This is a tune called Lockstep – enjoy.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW5qcX1dXhs[/youtube]

All sound by Marky Thompson. Visuals by Tom Buttery.

No point, but compelled to anyway.

The value of ‘going out’ is the brag factor.

Yeah, sure, there are a tonne of other reasons. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy getting battered as much as the next guy. But why are people drawn to it, and why do they talk about it so much the next day? Let’s be honest, stories of the night before are all variations on the same theme, usually involving copious alcohol and/ or drugs, the occasional flit with violence and/ or sex, followed by nausea and/ or vomiting etc. etc. I’ll concede, occasionally they branch out, but I’m talking about the general trend.

As far as I can tell, the reason is pretty simple. Tragically so:

People go out to have something to say the next day.

We strive to create the illusion of an occupied, exciting lifestyle. After going out people want to be able to boast of the adventures they had the prior night, even if, at the time, they weren’t particularly enjoying them. It’s a sort of competition we all have with our friends. The conversation goes something like this:

THEM: What did you do last night?

ME: [well I can’t say nothing – that just doesn’t cut it] I went out.

THEM: [Yes! Something to discuss – even better – something we’ve got in common!!] Where did you go?

ME: A load of places…can’t really remember [that’s the important bit.] Got wasted, drank tonnes – [I may even list the drinks] – how about you? [I offer up the challenge…] Good night?

THEM: Oh man…don’t get me started… [He proceeds to tell a story more or less the same as mine, subbing in and out different but equally uninteresting specific events]

Ok. So I’m a tad cynical. But really, why do people share gruesome stories of the night before? I don’t know the answer, but I think it’s the same reason people watch big brother, or read gossip magazines. They fear estrangement. They don’t want to feel they are missing out.

The irony is…they always are.

So what’s the point of my little tale? Just that when I consider that these same people are the public we rely on to elect a great and just government, why am I surprised when it never happens?

If you don’t do anything else today, Vote!

So it’s reached that all important day that Facebooker’s have dubbed National Not Voting Conservative Day. That’s a sentiment I’ll happily espouse.

I started off the day up early, cast my vote for Roger Williams MP, and pounced on the news websites. Read a particularly interesting article by Johann Hari entitled What We’ll Lose If We Reject Labour.

It’s too late to be campaigning for which party to vote for, but above all, vote for someone!!

Facts, Figures and Film

What is the true significance and relevance of declarations by the gross-obsessed consumer press on the release of a new film?

I’m talking about numbers. Facts and figures. Every time a film is released we are swamped with it’s successes in terms of money. Take two recent acclaimed films: Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

  • Avatar has grossed a worldwide total of over $2.723 billion
  • The Hurt Locker has achieved $40 million

I ask why the average consumer needs this knowledge? Sure, from an industry perspective the figures are all that matter – it’s imperative to see successes or otherwise, but do we want the press to dictate to the average consumer Tom, Dick and Harry – do we want them to dictate the films that are worth seeing or not? Isn’t it better that films start out with some degree of equality, the only influence on the public being the marketing and pr of the distributors? Whether we like it or not, the facts and figures will massively affect public response to new films and wouldn’t it be great for film makers worldwide if that was taken out of the equation? Consumers would go and see films based on their critical reception, not on their financial successes and how much of a storm they can create on their opening day/ weekend.

I shouldn’t think anyone would doubt that The Hurt Locker is as worthy a film to be seen as Avatar (or more so) and yet anyone looking at the above figures would be inclined to believe Avatar was in a completely different league. It’s misleading.

I think it’s important that film starts to take itself seriously as an art form, and as a platform for serious and meaningful expression, and to be respected as such by the public. That will never happen while we continue to influence public interest with financial figures and other ‘only-industry-relevant’ information.

Young Brits are proving digital dunces??

This is a response I wrote to an article by Arvind Ethan David in Screen International, a little while ago (Sept. 09). He argued that:

“UK undergraduates aspiring to film industry jobs lag dramatically behind their international peers in their understanding of the online world and of technology in general…Film, English and drama students who comprise the vast majority of entry-level applicants to UK film companies are total laggards – downright tech-dunces. Muggles, basically. Moreover, many of these youths take some strange, rueful pride in their lack of tech skills and experience – a mutated version of the “chatrooms and computer games are for geeks, we read poetry, drink wine and wear polo-necks while trying to sleep with each other” attitude that I remember from my own university days, a dozen years ago.”

I obviously disagreed…

Hi Arvind,

I just read your article in the last edition of Screen and I have mixed feelings.

As a 20-something myself, and someone who has every intention of one day managing to infiltrate the film industry, I disagree that “youths take some strange, rueful pride in their lack of tech skills and experience”. Perhaps I’m not the best example – I blog, play MMORPGS, use my iphone for almost as much as it is capable of and spend much of my day using a computer in one way or another. However, any lack of experience in using programs such as google docs, wikis, and “everday software packages” such as Excel, Powerpoint and Project is derived simply from a lack of necessity to use them! Unless you are already in the industry (or in any office industry) the circumstances just don’t arise. Perhaps you are right and that these skills need to be taught earlier in school and college and I wouldn’t debate that, but since we’re not really in control of our educational curriculum would it not be unfair to hold it against us?

In addition, I can’t speak for my peers, but my attitude is more along the lines of: Is learning each new technology and keeping up with the technology race really the best spent use of my time and energies? Should I not instead be watching the movies I aspire to one day be making, writing the screenplays that I hope to get read and produced, or even totally unrelated – learning an instrument, a language…?

I initially wrote my feelings were mixed, which they are. For instance, I agree with the link between artistry and technology and the examples you gave, and I also liked your referencing Whitney Houston, when the sentiment expressed is so true, “Teach them well…let them lead the way”. But do you really consider that you are backing that ideology, helping teach and helping lead, when your next line is: “we’ll continue to recruit our interns from the US”?

Thanks for a thought provoking article either way. I’ll look forward to more!

————

You can read Arvind Ethan David‘s blog at http://slingshot-studios.com/blog/ and the full Screen International article can be read HERE

Too many remakes spoil the…

Mike Goodridge discusses the value of film remakes in his latest editorial for Screen International. The point he argues is a good one – remakes broaden the audience for any given film, particularly if the original film is foreign language. The problem I have with that is that I don’t really believe that the studios offer up remakes in some philanthropic desire to please people worldwide, instead I draw more attention to one line in his article where he writes:

“There is a proven audience for the concept and therefore it is less of a risk than shooting an untried original story or script.”

This is what worries me. In a world where there are literally hundreds of thousands of budding screenwriters churning out fresh ideas in potentially brilliant and classic screenplays, shouldn’t the studios be investing more in originality and accepting the risk that comes with that? The danger is that the heart of film is lost because the businessmen take prominence over the artists. Delivering remakes in English usually always offends a core of film fans who don’t want the industry ‘dumbing down’ to pander to film goers who won’t watch a film if its subtitled. Instead, those same fans would have a lot more respect for the big names in the industry if they shot more original films, taking risks that might well pay off (just as they did with Oscar Winner ‘The Hurt Locker’). Fresh film ideas are definitely out there, it’s just going to take a studio with balls to start utilising them.

All In The Clear

Good News!

So it turns out reinstalling Snow Leopard from the install dvd does have a hidden ‘archive and install’ and it goes one better, literally returning your mac to the exact working condition it was in prior to the reinstall. This is of course a massive relief and worth mentioning for anyone else having the same problem. Therefore, my answer to anyone suffering a seemingly incurable Kernel Panic is:

Boot from the install DVD (hold ‘alt’ as the computer starts up and select the disc drive to boot from) For the record, I was actually using the upgrade Snow Leopard disc – the £25 version.

Follow through all steps without changing settings on the ‘customisation’ tab.

Wait about an hour while it installs etc.

Restart and it should automatically boot from the hard drive now. With a bit of luck your computer will be restored to it’s working state. This was my solution, I hope it works for you if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a similar experience. If it doesn’t and you lose everything – I can’t take any responsibility! Have fun with your macs.

Head against the wall

It might sound like the title to Tori Black’s next movie, but it’s actually named after something much less hands on and considerably less enjoyable.

Driven crazy this evening by my Macbook’s wonderful attempt at updating itself using Mac’s own “software update”. It informed me it needed a restart, I assented, a short while later and a message pops up stating the ‘updates couldn’t be installed’.

Hmmm…curious. Still, the only option was to restart so I did. Except it didn’t.

Instead, my Macbook thought it could inflict maximum stress anger and annoyance upon me by freezing on the grey boot up screen. This is apparently called a Kernel Panic. And it’s extremely extremely frustrating.

After trawling a thousand forums in search of the truth, or at least a solution to my little problem, I decided I would be forced to reinstall Snow Leopard. What a pain.

But it get’s worse. In their genius (they’re so clever they even go to Genius Bars), the people at Apple (I’m assuming they’re people) decided to forego the previous option of what they call “Archive and Installing” – a method that formats your drive without deleting your documents – assuring the user that it’s still happening “behind the scenes”.

When you’re doing something as dramatic as formatting your Hard Drive you don’t want anything going on ‘behind the scenes’ – I’ve used that excuse myself in college and it never is true.

Fingers crossed when I restart my Macbook in a few minutes there is some means of recovering data. Fingers crossed too that my Macbook does actually start after this format. Finally, fingers and toes crossed that Apple kindly remove their head from whatever dark orifice it’s residing in and sort out the glaring flaws in their software that have been steadily growing in number with each new release. Gone are the days of perfection?

Little boys throwing stones

Listening to the track, Leaders of the Free World, by Elbow on my iPhone today I was struck by how politically relevant it is during this push and shove election campaign. It’s a wicked tune so worth checking out anyway, but note the insightful lyrics:

The leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones
And it’s easy to ignore till they’re knocking on the door of you homes.

One only needs to think back to the election debates to see the echoes of truth…

Largely because I just want the whole damn system reformed, it is my intent to vote Lib Dem. Let’s have some drastic change. Kick out the arrogant, complacent parties of the past. Vote Nick Clegg.

Anyway, politics aside – enjoy listening to Elbow!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jSN2XFDeo[/youtube]