Monday, June 02, 2008

Old things, new things, and gurning

I'm a bit late to the party with this post, but hey, it's fashionable. What with writing and the space virus, I've become a bit of a hermit. Went to a meeting last week, and it was the first time I'd been out of the house for days. Freaked out a bit when I felt something invisible touching my face, then remembered what "wind" was - apparently it's air that somehow moves around by itself. And don't get me started on that water that falls out of the holes in the sky. That shit is bananas. NOTE: Rain is not actually made of bananas. It is water. I provide this information for free, as a public service.

So, on with the things I should have mentioned before, of which there are three.

First Thing: Huge congratulations to Steven Moffat on his new job at the Doctor Who helm. I'm sure he'll be fantastic, and I can't wait to see what he does. At the same time, I'm very sad that Russell will be leaving, as he's done wonders with the show, and will be greatly missed. A few short years ago, even the idea that Doctor Who would be a mainstream, well-regarded show seemed impossible. But wildly successful, too? Prime time on Saturday night, with millions and millions of viewers? Why, it was in the realms of science fiction, along with aliens, time travel, and laptop batteries that last longer than 3 hours. But it happened. And it's back for the long haul now. My main worry was that if Russell left, the show would be taken over by someone who didn't have the same passion and excitement for it, who would just treat it as a job, who wouldn't *care* as much. But now that The Moff is the new Who Czar, I know that the gig is in safe hands.

Unless of course, the power goes to his head, and he appoints himself dictator. Which would probably mean an instant death penalty for anyone who can't remember which story had the production code of 4E. In which case, we're going to have to storm Upper Boat and take him down. But for now, let's cautiously welcome him.

Second Thing: Sydney Pollack. You all know of him and his work, and know that he'll be missed. I won't go on about his movie credits here, as you should have seen the well known ones. But if you haven't seen it, I strongly urge you to check out "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", which is based on a very grim chapter of history. Back in the Depression, with massive unemployment, people in need of money and food would enter dance marathons (read the article, it's fascinating), which would go on, literally, for weeks, sometimes months, 24 hours a day, with the last one still standing declared the winner. For starving, desperate people, it meant free meals, served in the occasional 15 minute breaks, and the chance to grab coins thrown on to the dance floor by spectators, or be paid to wear an advert for a local business. The whole thing was utterly shameful, but pulled in the crowds.

The movie is about one of those dance marathons, but it's more disturbing than many horror movies. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it *is* a horror movie. A tight script by James Poe and Robert E. Thompson, based on the Horace McCoy novel, Pollack directs the living shit out of it, flinging you around with the dancers, as the announcer constantly barks out encouragement, making you feel like you're taking part in the thing yourself. It's gutwrenching, hard to watch sometimes, but fucking hell it's great. Jane Fonda's amazing in it, and you also get Bruce Dern and Bonnie Bedelia for added value. If you've read The Long Walk by Stephen King, you'll get some idea of the horrors that are in store, and it features what is probably one the darkest, most twisted moments I've ever seen on film. From a screenwriting point of view, it's well worth seeing too - a simple idea, a high concept, one main location, with an ensemble cast of fascinating characters who each have their own stories, wants and fears. Rent or buy it at your earliest convenience. Don't whack it into the DVD player on a Friday night with a few beers though, it's not exactly a barrel of laughs.

And the Third Thing: "13 Zameti". Saw it for the first time the other night, and... blimey. If you like thrillers, rent this immediately. It's terrifying, because it's so low-key and believable, you could imagine something like this happening in real life. It starts off like a quirky French kitchen sink drama, and gradually drifts into a whole other arena, ratcheting up the tension until you're not quite sure if you can handle it. Again, not a barrel of laughs, and I don't think I ever want to watch it again, but blimey it's a fantastic piece of work.

New Things! If you care to flip to page 6 of issue 5 of Torchwood magazine, there's a report of the Rift event I went to, along with a photo featuring me pulling my best Cardinal Fang face. See for yourself, with this handy comparison:

See the mag for the full pic and article - thank you to Simon Hugo of Torchwood magazine for the pic of me gurning. By the way, we really did consider putting "Chris Chibnall" as the answer to every question, and you'd be surprised at how well it fit most of the answers, if you were willing to be disgustingly lewd.

And finally, in the the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine (issue 396), at the top left of page 10, there's a small announcement about the latest illustrated Doctor Who Storybook, which features a story by an extremely talented, handsome writer called - oh, how embarrassing! It's me! My story will be illustrated by Daryl Joyce, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with. The Storybook should be released sometime in August, and will cost a penny less than 8 of your Earth pounds. Bargain.


Amanda said...

Why, yes, yes I have read The Long Walk. Because you made me. Ok, you didn't *make* me but I took your rec and, by heck, it was grim stuff (just what I likes, as you know!) so I also take this rec of 'They Shoot...' even though it wasn't made to me personally on this occasion.

And, my, it seems we must turn to the French for all things fantastic in the thriller/horror/kitchen sink dramas that are not. What with Haute Tension, Inside, Ills and now Martyrs causing a storm at Cannes. Well. Mon ami, merci for the heads up.

Paddlestick said...

I read that article, and it's mad, just mad. I can't believe that kind of thing happened only 70 or 80 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I think that picture of your face could also double for one of those gruff, male Hemingway-esque Terry Nation characters he liked to use in his writing.


PammieJR said...

I caught "They Shoot..." one day on TV, just by chance and you put into words what I thought I about the movie. What can I add?! The movie is exceptional.

I, too am excited that if Doctor Who production has to change, that GOD it is going to someone who seems (to Who fans) to really have a passion for the show!

Hope you are feeling better!

Rosby said...

I know very little about Sydney Pollack, sadly, but Tootsie has been one of our family's favourite films for years, and his scenes with Dustin Hoffman in the office always sent us into hysterics. He was very talented; he'll be missed.

Don't hassle The Moff if he gets out of hand. He'll come after you, and bring the Melty Man, and then you will NEVER be the same.

Speaking of Torchwood, there's an awful lot of speculation going on about series 3; apparently scripts have started coming in, and that it's only a five-episode, week-long affair. That's what it said in an unofficial TV Guide, thing anyway; can you confirm anything? At all? ...please? Or are you obliged to keep quiet?

I'll give you the baked goods of your choice! Metaphorically, of course, as internet food transferral is sadly in its infancy.

Boz said...

That article was so interesting - and insane. Utter insanity.

Blackett said...

Oh my lord the article was horrific. And you say shit, bananas and rain are all three seperate things, I am happy I have learned, but also confused.

Is the Long walk one of his short stories?

Space Virus said...

You're sounding mighty chipper Moran, I must send more alien spores into your body forthwith... Maybe this time through your genitals!

Be very afraid.

Lucy said...


Those germs had the indecency to write the word GENITALS on this blog, James - talk about lowering the effing tone.

I vote you take some of your newly acquired millions from writing 43,000 TV shows and fund controversial research into eradicating said space virus... Though you should definitely NOT use radiation in this research since I've read a documentary series by a certain underground publishing group called Marvel that tells us radiation has the power to change and mutate your DNA; you become a super hero if you're lucky or an evil beast if you're not.

Do you WANT to take that chance? MMMmmmm?

evil twinz said...

Good christ, I see Lucy is off her meds again - run, for the love of god run!

(She's right though about the radiation. Trust me I'm a doctor)

James Moran said...

Rosby: I have no idea if any of the speculation is true or not. But I could be lying, I could know *all* about it. But even if I knew, I wouldn't be allowed to tell you. So either I know, and am keeping quiet, or I don't know, and have nothing to say. Either way, I must have you killed, I'm afraid. Sorry, but these things happen.

Blackett: The Long Walk is from The Bachman Books, a collection of 4 novellas. Amazon UK currently has used copies for 1 penny! Go, go, go! It also features the AMAZING original novella of The Running Man, which is a billion times better than the movie (he can go anywhere in the world, and it's brutal as hell), a fantastic one called Rage, about a kid on the rampage at school (controversial, but a great read), and a pretty good one called Roadwork, which is about... I'm really not sure. Some mad bloke who's annoyed at roadworks, or something.

Space Virus: Fuck you! I kill you with vitamins! And booze!

Space Virus said...

That's a tad strong, isn't it?

I am, after all, merely doing what I'm *supposed* to do. It's my job, like writing is your job.

In fact, I suspect you are actually some kind of bizarre anti-germ fascist that we must rise up against immediately:

Calling Leprosy! Legionnaire's Disease! Herpes! Tonsillitis! All other nasty germs everywhere!