Gravity and a slightly strange friend(ship)

I went to see the film Gravity last night. It wasn’t in 3D but it was in English which was the best I could do.

Even if it wasn’t in 3D, it was fabulous – a gripping-the-seats fabulous, all the way through. Although at one point after about the 3rd or 4th “mishap”, I found myself thinking, “What! Another problem? Give the girl a break!”

It was, of course, better to see in the cinema and, I’m sure, have been better still in 3D.

I went with a friend. Well, I say “a friend” and, yet, not really that close.

A few months ago or so, she contacted me. It was unexpected. We were, really, friends of friends. I had met her a couple of times and even spent on evening at her place for dinner. But it’s not like we had each others phone numbers or lived in the same area of town. When my friend went to live in the USA, I thought that I would never see her again.

That’s not really true. The reality is that I never thought of her at all. That’s how close we were.

In fact, my friend, before going off to the USA, fell out with her and so, wasn’t invited to the wedding. However, when my friend was back over Christmas, it seemed she had “made up” with her.

Anyway, as I say, a month or so ago, she contacted me (I think via Facebook). She wanted to go for an aperitivo (a drink) one evening. I expected her to tell me something but, no, we just had a drink and chatted. And yet I felt something was not quite as it seemed. I mean, we never really “got on”, we don’t really move in the same circles and we have very little in common. So I kept asking myself why had she suddenly got in touch.

Then, suddenly, last week, she suggested we go to see Gravity. OK, so I wanted to see it but, still, it was strange. It’s not like we are bosom buddies or anything. So why?

Of course, it did cross my mind that I was just being a little paranoid. Perhaps she really liked me? Perhaps she thought of me often?

But, even so, the whole thing just didn’t ring true.

And, last night, I think, I got my answer.

She is going to be made redundant. She knew about 6 weeks ago. So, she’s networking and I’m a person who might, at some time, be able to put something her way. I guess. Not that I wouldn’t, of course and not that I mind being “used” in such a way – I would, after all, do the same.

Or maybe this is just me and she’s just being my friend?

But I don’t think so.

ACT/OR – Will it become reality or not?

Having “successfully” backed 2 films and one book on Kickstarter, I thought I would like to try again with another one.

But, which one? For me, it would have to be another film or a book but there are so many and to try and to read all the blurb and watch all the videos on each one, I’d need about 2 weeks, by which time, there would be a load more available.

But, then, in the Guardian I saw a link to some program that was created that works out the likely success/failure for each project.

The website is called Sidekick.

This, supposedly, lists all the currently live projects on Kickstarter and gives the probability of it being a success along with other information such as how much time is left, how much is required, how much is pledged, etc.

And, by clicking on the headings at the top of the list, you can order the list in almost any way you want. And you can select a particular category.

Amongst the things that I found amazing/strange/weird was the fact that there an awful lot of projects for the category “Board and card games”. I mean to say, in this digitally-frenzied age, who’d have thought that people would still be making up card games, let alone board games?

Anyway, I found something to pledge for and it’s a short film that goes by the name of ACT/OR.

According to Sidekick it has a 97% chance of reaching its target – but with only 11% of the required target in and only a couple of weeks or so to go, I find that a little difficult to believe. So, let’s see. Visit the site and see if you like the idea of it? Maybe you’ll even pledge something?

The Hunt – counselling afterwards, anyone?

I watched “The Hunt” (original title Jagten) last night.

It’s a Danish film and was given high ratings. But this is not a film that’s going to make you laugh. In no way is it light. In fact, it’s one of those films that makes you want to turn away (or, even, switch it off/walk out), sometimes.

But, more importantly than that, it is truly disturbing. It is disturbing on many counts. There were many times one could see the “mistakes” being made. There were many times you could see people making up their minds and, once they were made, they seemed unchangeable. There were many times you wanted to shout out “run” – to many of the people.

It shows the power of an untruth and how people make their minds up based on the flimsiest of information. It shows the destruction of trust and the untenability of friendships.

It is a powerful film but, in my mind, it shouldn’t be shown without some sort of discussion afterwards. Everyone should see it but, at the same time, it almost needs some couselling afterwards.

Horrible subject but great film with a totally expected and yet unexpected ending. Not a happy ending either – it leaves everything open. You don’t really know everything – as it would be in real life. It doesn’t pretend to answer the questions it poses. In fact, it not only doesn’t pretend to but leaves whose questions hanging on purpose.

Not for the fainthearted but I do suggest you watch it.

Some more “funding” that I’ve done recently

I’ve mentioned before that I have funded (or attempted to fund) some things by way of Kickstarter.

Unfortunately, the first time was not successful – but I was doing it to help a friend out here, in Milan. It was rather a lot of money to raise but it’s still a shame that he didn’t make it.

Then I discovered “film”. And with that came my first “success”, Nina Forever, in that it was fully funded and so, in theory, sometime about this time next year, I will receive a DVD copy of the film, my name listed with heartfelt thanks on the Nina Forever website, Facebook and Twitter, 24 unique jpeg frames from the film, a personalised letter-pressed thank you card and a Nina Forever temporary tattoo.

I am, of course, terribly excited about the tattoo!

I recently funded How To be Dead which is an expanded version of How to be Dead – The Death Guide to Life which I enjoyed very much. The target was £400 and it’s easily beaten that.

For backing this book, I will be getting a digital and paperback copy of How To Be Dead, a mention in the Thank You section, a business card and badge, a letter of thanks from Death himself, a mug for tea drinking while reading, and a Death logo t-shirt.

Probably the mug is the deciding “prize” here :-)

Although it is already fully funded you can, in fact, for the next couple of days and for a few pounds, get in on the act. It closes on Friday. As I’ve said, it’s already fully funded (almost 10 times overfunded) but the things you get for your investment are, as an American would say, AWESOME!

Today, I have pledged something for Renata Road, another film that looks quite interesting.

If they get funding, then I will get my name in the film’s credits, a digital download of the final film, a DVD of the final film plus 4 original shorts from Beyond The Bar that led to the creation of The Renata Road, my DVD will be signed by the cast and director AND I will receive signed photos of the cast and director PLUS a signed copy of the script (writers, cast & director). Which will all get to me about this time next year – IF it gets funded. It needs slightly more than £1000 per day being pledged to get to the target and, like How to be Dead, it finishes on Friday.

So if you want to try it out, be my guest.

I find it kind of addictive and a little like gambling except that, if it doesn’t reach its target, you don’t lose any money.

If I’m honest, I try to fund those that are British and I like the idea of physical stuff (DVD or book) so I have NOT funded those which, for instance, offer only a digital download.

Anyway, it’s fun.

Let’s hope Renata Road gets the money it needs!

Being at home; Opinions

Well, it looks like last weekend was the last time in Carrara until next spring/summer :-(

This weekend, if the weather forecast had been good, we were going to go down but the forecast strongly suggests that it will rain all day on Sunday so we’ve decided not to go. Instead it will be our first weekend in Milan for ages.

To be honest, I am quite looking forward to it. There are things that I haven’t done at home that, in theory, I can do this weekend. Bits of sorting out, etc.

I say “in theory” because, normally this would be true except that this weekend, F has someone staying at his flat and so he will be with me, in my flat, ALL weekend. It may not stop me doing everything but it will be a hindrance. Also, I won’t be able to start watching things I have been “saving up”. Things that I wouldn’t watch with him (i.e. films in English; films of a genre that I know he doesn’t like, etc.)

Among these things is Game of Thrones. Someone told me that, having watched the first episode, they were hooked and told me to watch the first one and I would understand. So I did. And I don’t. However, that hasn’t stopped me watching the second and third episodes. And I shall be watching the rest of the first series but after that, I’m not sure.

You see, I’m not convinced that it is really good. So, why am I watching it still, you may ask? Well, because I have hardly watched anything “English” since the spring – discounting short clips or YouTube videos and, after such a long time (a little like the books this summer, I guess) I’m kinda thirsty for hearing the English spoken word and so, almost anything goes.

So, I’m not sure if it’s my thirst for English driving my desire or if it’s really good. I know that, were I still in England, I would have watched the (first) series but here, as it’s more difficult for me to watch English stuff, I tend to be more discerning since it takes time to get hold of stuff and it costs.

Of course, when I say “discerning” this is not strictly true. I did, over the last few weeks watch the series called Episodes. Again this was a recommendation. It was OK. It’s a sitcom. Sitcoms are OK. They are not WOW!

I suppose that what I’m saying is that, in the UK, I would plonk myself in front of the TV and watch something. Anything. Every evening. Flicking through the channels until settling on something even if it was only the least-worst thing on at that moment. Some things were, of course, genuinely good. A couple of things that spring to mind are Fawlty Towers and The Sopranos. I did get Broadchurch (TV series) and, have to say that I really did enjoy that.

I realise that I’m a long way behind with Game of Thrones but, for me, that’s OK. Since I don’t have to wait for a whole week until the next episode, I can catch up not having “other programs” in the way.

Anyway, my suggesting that Game of Thrones may not be the most-wonderful-thing-to-have-hit-the-small-screen-since-the-last-most-wonderful-thing may cause some people to be upset. And can I say that I’m genuinely sorry about that. But it is, I would like to say, only MY OPINION.

In the same way that, in my opinion, authors who are gay and write about gay things don’t write good books. Of course, I haven’t read every gay author so I may be wrong. it is from my experience. The gay books by gay authors that I HAVE read aren’t really all they’re cracked up to be. I’m not saying they’re not good writers. It’s just that the books don’t say anything to me – they don’t bear any relationship to the reality of my life and, so, are unreal. I know, I know. When I can read books that are obviously fiction (SF, for example) – but those books aren’t pretending to be about real life. Books about gay people, for me, should have some elements that I can relate to. So far, they don’t. And so, in my limited experience, gay books written by gay authors are “no good”.

Which leads me onto the current story about some almost unknown author who has, apparently, made an inference that books by women, homosexuals and Chinese people are not good.

Except, he didn’t really say that. What he said was (and I paraphrase) that he hasn’t read many books by these authors that he feels passionate enough about to teach them and that, the only books he can be passionate enough about to teach are, in the main, by white, middle-class, middle-aged men.

Now there’s a whole storm brewed up here and on Twitter about him.

Which is a shame as he was asked for his opinion and he gave it. Whereas I may or may not like the man in person, his choice of reading material for his courses are entirely his concern. He may, in the opinion of many it seems, be a self-righteous prick and worse but I’m guessing he’s good at his job and, out of the hundreds of thousands or, maybe, hundreds of millions, of books to choose, he has chosen particular ones. to be pilloried for stating his opinion is a bit much. But this is the world we have created for ourselves, I guess.

Anyway, a good weekend to all and see you on the other side :-D

Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve? Yeah, right!

The problem with violence depicted on film and TV is that it desensitises us to real violence and death.

The killing of Lee Rigby was a case in point. The advent of mobile phone cameras allows us to see the aftermath and not be particularly shocked by the footage on the basis that we’ve seen much worse in films. Don’t get me wrong, it was a terrible thing – but the video itself was hardly shocking in itself. It could have been the scene of a badly shot film.

So, too, we seem to become desensitised to the runnings of those in power. We’ve all seen the Matrix, haven’t we? The Net. James Bond, etc. We know how the Governments and their spying agencies work. After all, it makes for exciting films.

And so we come to Prism. Sounds like title for a film anyway, doesn’t it?

We understand that the US Government, by way of it’s spying agencies such as the FBI, have been collecting a load of data on almost everyone. Instead of being horrified we are saying “Well, what did you expect?”.

Let’s not get this out of perspective. Governments and powerful individuals and organisations have been doing this for centuries. Those of you from the UK will have seen the Tudors and read the books of the Tudor period when it was well known that letters were intercepted and read and eavesdropping was commonplace.

And, of course, if the letters and conversations were innocent, then there was nothing to fear. Was there?

Well, yes and no. History, it is said, is written by the victors. WWII has the Germans as the bad guys. But, of course, had Germany won the war, history would be different.

And now, you will notice that all the whistle blowers of recent times have, within days, been portrayed as bad, mad or just plain vicious. It has always been so. Mary I was portrayed as either a wicked woman or a bit stupid. But, I’m guessing that, had she had a successful marriage and had children, history would show her in a different light.

But, the justification by the FBI for the Prism stuff is amazing.

I read this:

[They claim] such programs could have foiled the 9-11 terrorist attacks and would prevent “another Boston”.

Erm, excuse me. The Prism thing has been happening for a number of years. One has to ask, why didn’t it prevent the Boston thing in the first place? The argument that it “would prevent” just doesn’t hold water. And, in any event, if someone wanted to do something, there will be a way to do it.

But, of course, we are all compliant in this thing now. We’ve read the books and seen the films. We aren’t up in arms because we already knew all about it. We say “Tut tut” and carry on with our lives in a society that seems to become more Fascist/Communist by the day.

But, Mr FBI man, please don’t think that we are all as stupid as you like to think. “Would prevent another Boston”? Well, maybe. But let’s see when the next atrocity happens, shall we? I’m sure you’ll be explaining why, in that particular case, all this data didn’t actually help.

Sometimes, I’m grateful that I’m old now.

Anyway, the title of the post made me think of this great song. One of my all time favourites. Enjoy but remember that they know you’re watching ;-)

Beverley Knight – Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Erm, I’ve just funded a film!

Yes, I have.

It’s almost like I’m a movie producer or something.

Of course, I didn’t fund it all. In fact, I funded a little bit of it.

You can see the details here (it’s a Kickstarter project).

And there’s a teaser here (well, until midnight tonight)

And the film is called Nina Forever.

I’m very excited :-)

And, I’ll get the DVD and some other stuff.

Sometime towards the end of next year.

This is my second Kickstarter project – unfortunately the last one didn’t make the target amount so nothing happened, which was a great shame. At least this one will happen.

And, as a bonus, it seems like it might be a good film :-)

Not a walking holiday, as such.

Even now, when I get up to walk somewhere, there is a twinge. Just at the side of my right calf.

Yesterday, it was my whole leg. I sometimes thought that my legs would give up on me as I got up :-D

It’s ‘cos we walked. And walked. And walked.

The weekend was wonderful. Dino was so tired at the end of it all that, by the time we arrived home, he hardly moved, staying in the kitchen for several hours.

We ate and drank and walked. Did I mention that walking bit?

The weather was, overall, kind although the wind was strong and cold on Sunday. Even if we sat outside to eat, R struggled a bit with the coldness of it – she being worse than me for hating the cold.

Still, the weekend was relaxing if tiring; fun if normal for when we go there. Sunday night we even sat watching Some Like It Hot on DVD! A great film with a simple story yet it ages so well.

3 days in a different environment with good friends and, wonderfully, Morgan who has to be the cutest dog in the world. His curly hair making his eyes look like those black, button eyes that you get with a soft toy dog and with a face that is both querying and antagonistic. He would make me want one of the same breed but for the stories I’ve heard – which are very amusing when he’s not your dog!

Even though I slept well each night I do feel like a weekend of sleeping would be perfect, right now.

It’s definitely cooler today, in Milan, but the forecast says it will pick up tomorrow or Thursday. I’m hoping it will be nice for our weekend away at the end of this month. We’re entering a busy period now.

Nightmares before Christmas

“Did you lock the door?”

I don’t know why I had woken but I have my suspicions. I answered that I had, not knowing, really, if that were true but being pretty sure that I locked it when I came back from walking the dogs. Of course, I couldn’t get up to check it for that would highlight my doubts and, right now, even in my half-awake state, I knew that ‘doubt’ was not required nor desired.

“Did you hear that noise?”

This was moments later. I didn’t check the time right then but later I realised it was about an hour after I had got to sleep.

“Turn the light on”, he demanded. I did. “Do you want me to go and check?”, I asked. “Yes”, came the response.

I got up. “I’m coming with you”, he said.

I walked into the lounge and then the hallway, turning lights on as I went. The lights were for two reasons. 1 – just in case Rufus had done a pee and 2 – because F was frightened.

I had asked, just before I went to sleep – “Do you watch these [horror] films when you are on your own?”

“Never”, came the reply.

He makes me laugh even if I was up and about when I should have been asleep!

And, as a treat, a clip from one of my all-time favourite Christmas films :-D

Books that should never have been written and films that should never have been made.

Of course, it’s all a matter of personal taste.

But, you know, there’s some things that just should never have happened.

There was a book I read once, a long time ago. It was about a teenage boy who ‘kidnapped’ his babysitter and everything just got a ‘bit out of hand’. I don’t remember the title. I do remember that I truly hated it. Not because it wasn’t well-written (although I can’t remember if it was or wasn’t) and not because the book was horrific or anything – although it was.

No, the problem was that the things depicted in the book were such that, if you had imagined them in the first place, in my opinion, you had problems and should see someone to get them fixed.

Recently there was something in the newspapers about Human Caterpillar 2 (which, from what I understand, has now been banned in the UK). So I found a copy of Human Caterpillar (the first version – which the protagonist watched in the second version). I’m afraid, not only could I not watch it all the way through, but I had to skip through it, using fast forward most of the time.

Not only was it boring and (to me, remember) utterly stupid and pointless but it was also the product of a very sick mind. I don’t know that I could have acted in it (although, on second thoughts, no one has offered me money to act – so maybe I would for the right incentive – after all, it wasn’t actually real, was it?) At the end of it all, it wasn’t a good film but the story did not need to be filmed at all. In fact, should not be filmed at all.

Anyway, having seen HC (the first version), even in FF mode, I’m certainly NOT going to be going out to find a copy of HC2.

And where is this going, you are (maybe) saying to yourself?

Well, over our holidays it’s been mentioned during conversations with others how much F likes going to cinema and how we never do. Apparently this is because I don’t understand Italian and so we don’t go. I pointed out that I have no problem going and, in fact, would enjoy the experience, particularly if I have looked the film up online first so have a basic understanding (and, maybe, have seen some clips in English).

F is a BIG fan of the director Almodovar and so it was that, on Saturday night last, we went to see this:

Now, I looked at the trailer (as above), I read what synopsis I could find (and because no one would give the plot away, finding the actual important bits was difficult – but I found them) and looked at the book it was based on (online, of course).

I knew it would be a ‘difficult’ film and not only because it would all be in Italian!

I sat through it all. I’d paid for it, so of course I did.

I tried to enjoy the “beauty” of the filming but I was struck, overall, by the same feelings as reading that book and watching that other film.


I mean ‘Why make it’?

What made him think that this was either believable or good? I wasn’t shocked (although maybe that was because I knew the story beforehand), nor frightened, nor, even, disgusted. I was more than disgusted. It wasn’t a horrible film because it was gory. It wasn’t even a horrible film because of the story, as such. Whereas, for most of the film I kind of understood what was going on – I mean I could follow the idea of the film, even if I didn’t think it was an amazing story, in the last few scenes the whole thing became preposterous. I’d patiently waited for the big twist to happen and then, when it did, I felt that I’d been cheated by an atrocious (and sick and unbelievable) plot.

I don’t dislike Almodovar but I left the cinema wondering why he had made it. Worse still (if it is true), F said that he had wanted to make this for years!

Put it this way, not only will I not be buying it on DVD, I won’t be watching it ever again.