2018 Film Challenge: 46. Strictly Ballroom

I downloaded this towards the end of last year, after Kevin Clifton and Susan Calman did the routine inspired by it on Strictly. It’s a film that I’d caught bits of on TV on a few occasions, but I’d never seen the whole thing. I was surprised by how comedic and silly it was, especially early on, but I mean that as a compliment. It was an enjoyable and fun watch; a nice contrast to some of the darker films I’ve watched recently.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • That’s quite the look. It’s Peter Stringfellow meets Leland Palmer.
  • Ha ha, this is funnier than I’d expected / remembered
  • Don’t just leave her glasses there. Rude.
  • Nice sky
  • Love this song
  • Hee hee, I just remembered that slot machines are called pokies in Australia and New Zealand. Hee hee, pokies.
  • ‘Show me your Paso Doble’ is quite an unusual taunt
  • The dad’s my favourite
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2018 Film Challenge: 45. Ex Machina

I downloaded this after googling Alex Garland, to see what he’d been up to recently. I’ve been a fan of his since The Beach (the book, specifically), so am always interested in any writing work of his, whether it’s novel or screenplay. Happily this didn’t disappoint, I really enjoyed it. Some interesting ideas, plus a lot of creepy atmosphere and tension that contrasts nicely with the amazing scenery of the outside world. It’s one of those films where the ending could easily have been disappointing, but it was happily perfect (imho). Good ol’ Alex.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • That looks New Zealandy. Where was this filmed? *googles* Oh, Norway. Kinda close… okay, not really.
  • This all feels quite sinister and like an episode of Black Mirror
  • Surely the physical form gives away it’s not human
  • Okay, at least they recognise it’s not a proper Turing test
  • Bad robot?
  • Is she AI? Is he AI? Are they all AI? Am I AI?
  • Flirty robot
  • Oh, blimey
  • Nice glacier
  • Ha ha ha, what?
  • Not really a shock reveal
  • Ew, there’s no need for that
  • Oooh, I forgot about that
  • Aghhhh
  • Hee hee hee
  • They really don’t like him
  • Poor guy
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2018 Film Challenge: 44. All About My Mother

The last Almodovar film on the list. I really thought I’d seen it before, but I realised quite quickly that I’d confused it with Volver! They’re both Almodovar films that are mother-related and have Penelope Cruz in them, so y’know, hardly chalk and cheese. Anyway, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as I remember enjoying Volver, I did still enjoy it.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • What a conversation to have with your mother
  • Stellaaaaa!!!!
  • Eek
  • I’m pleased I didn’t stumble across that place in Barcelona
  • Amazing
  • Hee hee, there’s a Streetcar scene and Gillian just appeared on my screensaver
  • Some of the dialogue’s great
  • Twin Peaksy curtain
  • She’s awesome
  • Slightly sudden ending
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2018 Film Challenge: 43. Nocturnal Animals

I really enjoyed this. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected, though not in a bad way. It was gripping and really tense at times. I didn’t actually write much down whilst watching it, though partly because I was engrossed in watching it.

Here are the thoughts that did make it onto paper (well, a notepad app on my phone, to be literal, but y’know):

  • Interesting opening
  • Michael Sheen in a snazzy purple jacket!
  • This is like an urban legend set up
  • This is tense
  • I doubt you’d appreciate the beautiful sunrise in that situation. But I’m appreciating it.
  • What a tense and depressing novel
  • Taking an interesting turn
  • Why would you want an outside toilet?
  • Sudden ending
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2018 Film Challenge: 42. The Rules of Attraction

I’d previously watched about half of this film, as I fell asleep during it and had to be filled-in as to what I’d missed. My memory of it was therefore unsurprisingly hazy. It’s one of those films that I think was probably quite cool and a little shocking at the time it came out, but now feels a little dated, slightly pretentious and a bit silly at times. But it was still weirdly enjoyable.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • What else do I recognise her from? Maybe it’s just this.
  • I’d not remembered this getting so disturbing so quickly. Yikes.
  • Hee hee, James Van Der Beek. What’s he up to these days?
  • Ooh, I’d forgotten Ian Somerhalder’s in this. Yay!
  • Creepy Van Der Beek
  • Wow, Fred Savage. What happened to him?
  • Clare Kramer!
  • Bateman? Is he meant to be related to Patrick? *googles* Ah, his brother. Makes sense.
  • Ew, don’t do it
  • Why do people like him?
  • Hee hee, he mentioned Patrick
  • Yep, he seems like a Dick
  • Wiener dog!!
  • Ian Somerhalder dancing in his pants to George Michael? Yes, please.
  • Do parties like this actually happen at American colleges?
  • Oh god, really? Wait, who are you?
  • Really??
  • Ew
  • She has the worst taste in men
  • Oh, Paul
  • I thought my DVD had broken for a second then
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Novel update

It’s been 3 months since this post, where I mentioned that I’d started writing a novel. I therefore felt like it was time for an update on my progress – maybe I’ll try and make it a quarterly thing.

Progress has been a bit up and down, as I guess is to be expected. In terms of getting words on a page, there have been some weeks where I’ve managed the 300 words a day, if not more, but then other weeks where I haven’t written anything at all. There have probably been too many of the latter. When things are busy in my day job, it’s hard to then find the mental/emotional capacity to sit down and write creatively, even if only for 15 minutes. Still, I’m happy enough with my word count so far: 19,423. That’s slightly longer than that Catatonia fanfic I mentioned last time, so in your face, past me!

As to whether those words are actually any good – well, that’s a totally different issue. I keep telling myself that that’s not relevant at the moment and that the first draft’s allowed to be awful – I can make it better later. Robert Webb actually tweeted about this recently, as he’s trying to take the same approach with a novel he’s writing (he also gets bonus points for mentioning Cheesoid). He doesn’t seem to have totally bought into it as a method, but personally I’m finding it really useful and liberating. Granted, I say that now. If and when I actually come to doing a second draft, I might just cry incessantly and then hurl my laptop out the window. My first draft currently includes some words that aren’t even words, they’re just this: ‘(…)’. This translates as ‘I’ll put something in here later’. So far I’ve used this for at least 2 characters’ names. Yes, this method has made me so nonchalant that I can’t even be arsed to come up with names for everyone. I’ll just do it later! Like I said, draft 2 is going to be a bitch.

In terms of the story itself, what am I willing to share at the moment? Well, the main character is a 30-something woman (*audible gasps* The imagination!! How could you perceive of such a thing?). It’s mostly her story, but it’s also interwoven with her Grandmother’s story, told via a series of letters she’s written on her deathbed (that’s not too much of a spoiler – she dies on the first page. At least, she does in the current draft… I also read this thread on Twitter recently and it scared the bejesus out of me. Like I said, crying and laptop throwing). Recently I’ve been focused on getting those letters written, as it seemed sensible to write them all at once and then just insert them into the novel at the appropriate times, as the Granddaughter reads them. I’m on the penultimate one at the moment, but it feels like the number of (…)s is growing exponentially. It seemed like a great idea to basically write this woman’s life story, but then I remembered I was born in the ’80s and so oddly have no notion as to how realistically I might be depicting events/attitudes/locations from the ’40s or ’50s. Plus, if you write about someone’s entire life, even if it is just skipping through the major events, it still starts to become a logistical nightmare in terms of remembering details and how everything interrelates. There’s only so much that ‘(…)’ can cover. I’ve probably contradicted myself multiple times, but hey, it’s the first draft! It’s fine, right? Right?? That’s a nightmare for future me to deal with (in your face, future me!)

ETA: Since writing the above paragraph, I actually re-read some of the earliest parts I wrote and discovered that I described a character as dead, but then later on have described him as alive! Just a slight contradiction… I think I need to start finding a better way to keep track of such things.

Anyway, present me will just carry on for now – getting the words (and placeholders for words) down on the page. I’m hopeful that in another 3 months’ time I might have something vaguely approaching half of a novel. Half of a bad novel with a load of gaps in, but that’s still better than anything I’ve managed previously.

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