Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Verbal Diarrhoea

500 words. I’m going to squeeze out at least 500 entertaining words here if it kills me. Going through a hideously dry creative patch, caused almost entirely by a consistent lack of sleep and a terrifying lack of external stimulus.

Writers always talk about their “voice”. It’s one of the most important tools in our writing toolbox. Sometimes I’m in fine voice, prattling away with eloquent ease. Sometimes, I’m a virtual mute, struggling to express myself and fighting the firewall between my mind and the page. Kinda like Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown. (But not like Cuba Gooding Jr. in Lightning Jack. I would have to kill myself if that were the case.)

I’m not one of those people who believes that just writing about anything somehow clicks open the floodgates and lets the good stuff trickle out. Sometimes, nothing but a tidal wave of effluence comes roaring down the pike, stinking up the place.

But, what the hell do I know? Maybe it’s not for me to judge the effectiveness or lack thereof of anything that falls from my fingers onto the screen.

Enough digressions. What has been tweaking my creative antennae recently?

SEEN: Film #7 of the year for me was a beautiful Saturday afternoon showing in one of London’s loveliest little independent cinemas, the Screen on the Hill in Belsize Park. The film? Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, the long-awaited sort-of-sequel, remix, follow-up to In the Mood for Love. The whole film is bathed in glorious colours refracted through the unerring camera of Chris Doyle, as chain-smoking journalist Tony Leung repeatedly attempts to exorcise the demons of his unrequited love affair with Maggie Cheung in Singapore, with a succession of abortive relationships in his Hong Kong hotel room in the late 60s. All the while, he hammers away at his science-fiction novel “2046”…As with all Wong Kar-Wai films, I didn’t fall in love with it until the next day. All his films are a slow-burning experience that take about 24 hours to settle in, like a tan after a day in the sun, imprinting itself into my mind slowly, and I haven’t stopped getting flashes of indelible images from the film since I saw it. Truly wonderful.

All that will no doubt be washed away this evening when I force myself to suffer through Film #8, faced with the gaping acting-vacuum known only as Keanu, in the lung-cancer and demon-baiting movie Constantine. Pray for my sanity.

HEARD: Currently bumping on the AKA decks is MF Doom’s MM…Food, an album that reminds me that not all hip-hop is now vacuous commercial slop, preoccupied solely with Courvoisier and bling. MF Doom creates sonic mini-marvels melting together soundbites from old cartoons with old skool slow jams. Glorious.

Also racking up some consistent rotation in my crib is Stanley Turrentine’s Don’t Mess With Mr. T, his last album for the CTI label back in the early ‘70s. Creamy jazz to balm the raw wounds of my working day.

READ: At the moment, I’m racing through Harry Knowles’s surprisingly readable Ain’t It Cool?, his memoir about the world-famous movie geek website. Despite a tendency towards long-windedness in some sections, this is a thoroughly entertaining sniff around the history of a true Internet phenomenon.

Also worth mentioning is Elmore Leonard’s Mr. Paradise. I had been worried that Dutch had been going off the boil in the last few years, but this is a cracking hard-boiled return to form, bopping around the streets of Detroit with sly wit and ragged energy.

Right. That’s me done for today.

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