Friday, October 21, 2011

Write Around the Corner

I don’t believe in the woolly nebulous idea of Writer’s Block. Whenever I get stuck, it’s usually because the problem is what I’m writing or how I’m writing it, not a blanket inability to get the words out. When that happens, I stop and write something completely different and that usually gets me back on the yellow brick road. (My real problem tends to be Writer’s Cockblock - when external factors or people prevent me from getting shit done).

I’m also wary of Advice for Writers. There are things that work, and things that don’t work, and those things aren’t necessarily the same for everyone. Having said that, there are times when I stumble upon a different perspective or a juicy comment that casts a new light on something that I’m beating my head against. No point keeping it all to myself, though, so here are a few things I’ve tripped over on my journeys around the Internet recently.
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
Orson Welles
“You’re going to change your mind a thousand times. That’s a good thing. Only imbeciles never change their minds.”
Anna Rascou√ęt-Paz speaking at San Francisco, Creative Mornings
William Goldman’s “Ten Commandments on Writing”
(from the perennial essential Adventures in the Screen Trade)

1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.

2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.


3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.


4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.


5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.


6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.


7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.


8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.


9. Thou shalt not write on the nose – put a subtext under every text.


10. Thou shalt rewrite.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Korea Best


The 55th BFI London Film Festival is in full flow and, judging by the vigorous churn of my Twitter stream, it’s getting full and thorough coverage. Go and stick the #LFF hashtag into Twitter Search and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve got no interest in adding to the LFF noise. I’m more excited at the prospect of the forthcoming 6th Annual London Korean Film Festival which arrives on the 3rd November and continues until the 24th. Plenty of other people want to talk about Kevin, I’d rather nock something else against my bow string - the festival’s opening night film Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon (or, as it seems to be increasingly known, War of the Arrows).

Director Han-min Kim’s third feature hits the ground running. Literally. The first images you see are pounding feet. The first sound you hear is laboured breathing. And that swiftly sets you up for the subsequent 122 minutes - a breathless, exhilarating, thoroughly enjoyable historical action movie. I found myself comparing it favourably to Apocalypto a couple of times.

The year is 1636, during the Second Manchu invasion of Korea. Chung soldiers (led by dour professional Seung-yong Ryoo, delivering the film’s standout performance) invade a village and kidnap Ja-In (Moon Chae-Won) on her wedding day. Her brother, the aimless and bitter Nam-Yi (Hae-il Park), is determined to rescue her, armed with nothing but his trusty bow and a quiver of arrows with distinctive red fletchings. The chase is on.

Han-min Kim’s sound design is glorious: lots of creaking bows, whining bow strings pulled taut and whooshing air as the arrows fly. The beautifully choreographed action sequences are leavened with well-judged moments of occasional slapstick humour, and everything builds inexorably towards a final reckoning.

The Opening Night Gala and European Premiere of Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon takes place on 3rd November at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, followed by a Q&A with the soft-spoken and personable Han-min Kim and wrapping up with a K-Pop performance.

As usual, the festival programme is broad, varied and definitely worth exploring. I’m not going to copy-and-paste the contents of a press release here, so click here to head over to the festival website for further information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Into the Mud, Scum Queen!

I’ve got a tin ear for poetry. Always have done. And I’ve tried, believe me. But, as with any rule, there’s an exception - one single, solitary poet that manages to stir something within me. John Lillison, England's greatest one-armed poet. If I’m not mistaken, he was the first person ever to be killed in a car crash, in 1894.

With your indulgence, I’d like to share Lillison’s two greatest towering achievements with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I always have.

Pointy Bird
O pointy birds, o pointy pointy,
Anoint my head, anointy-nointy.


In Dillman's Grove
In Dillman's Grove my love did die,
and now in ground shall ever lie.
None could ever replace her visage,
until your face brought thoughts of kissage.