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.