Thursday, 20 June 2013

Leon: The Professional

Sorry. I have been pretty lax in my writing lately. I know some of you will think that's good news but now I'm back (even if only for a moment) so ha!

Just want to take a few minutes of your time to talk about Luc Besson's film Leon, and recommend it most heartily. I'd heard it was about an assassin and, when coupling that with the moody red and black close-up picture of Leon's face on the front of the DVD case, I thought the film was going to be an uncompromisingly gritty, bloody action-fest. I was pleasantly surprised at the actuality. I have a heart of stone, as anyone who knows me can testify, but at the core of the story is a very touching partnership between Jean Reno's titular man and Natalie Portman's character Mathilda. She is orphaned and essentially has her life saved by the apparently emotionless killer, so you've got to feel the heart strings being tugged.

The guy doing the orphaning, by the way, is Gary Oldman, who gives another good performance amongst many as Stansfield, the psychotically-charged corrupt cop (this a link to one of his more iconic scenes. I'm including it to try and curry favour with the young popular modern kids). That's another thing, though the relationships in the film are engaging, the overall theme of the underdog against the establishment is absolutely timeless and resonant. Stansfield is a villain because of what he does, but also what he represents.

While I was watching it I did have the concern that some cliches might be evident. The first example is the montage of Leon about his residence, caring for his plant etc. It seemed like a bit of a lazy way to set up character in the 'status quo' part of the film. As usual I was just being picky and I have to admit that the scene did indeed make me feel for the main character and care what happens to him.

So the acting's good, the ideas are good, but also the elements of humour are well placed, some of the camera shots are pleasing and the writing is generally economic. It was just a bloody good film, it was a genuine shame it had to end I was enjoying being in their world so much.

All that's left for me is to say thanks to Nova (writer over at Le Cafe Du Jour) who recommended the film to me, and for me to tell you to go watch it: go watch it.


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Always Fascinating

A friend of mine has recently been published over at 'Writers' Billboard'. Julian Holt is and/or was (depending on how far in the future you're reading this. This is 2013 at the moment. Welcome...) the June joint short fiction winner with his piece 'Writer in Residence'. Now, the link is only good for a period of a month or two, apparently, so if it doesn't work you weren't quick enough!

'Writer in Residence' is essentially a meta-narrative, where the question of narrative reliability is surpassed by narrator's culpability. The 'meta-ness' of a story 'like this' is always intriguing to me. Writing above narrative is fun, but it takes an amount of skill to pull it off. A big bank of meta-narrative cliches have built up over time, and even the idea itself can become stale. To overcome these varied stagnant swamps of writing delusion is a tough thing, but I feel Holt has hopped, skipped and jumped over the pitfalls and into all the exciting things a narrative of this type presents to us. The narrator is a self-confessed writer (i.e. professional liar (no, not a politician)) which gives us an immediacy to the truth (or does it?). You're drawn to the process of narrative, as well as multiple character facets and there's no way of judging if it's true or not beyond speculation.

But aside from my ramblings about so-called 'meta-ness', the essential tenets of storydom are very competently mastered. The dual 'tracks' (i.e. the writer writing about the Brusque-Mantels/Derailleurs and then the 'real-life' Kemps/Raleighs) converge pleasantly at the end. And yeah, it makes you think. I felt I had to read it over to get a sense of its full worth and I got more out of it the second time.

And for my end I shall talk about Holt's beginning. My love for language meant I was completely trapped in the honey-sweet stickiness of linguistic longing in the first paragraph. I was hooked, I was 'gotten' - I had to read on. What a journey. Go read it, or else you may have dealings with the very same 'writer in residence'...

Monday, 3 June 2013

Billy Collins Stuff

This is all stuff what I got from YouTube, I'm sharing the links here because I think they're worth checking out. Billy Collins is a very witty man, he writes amusing and thought-provoking poetry. I think I first came into contact with him when I read 'Introduction to Poetry', which is something with personal resonance due to my studying English Literature at school. I know you'll love it, so whatcha waiting for? Click below!

Here's a tiny selection of his poetry:

'Forgetfulness' and 'The Lanyard' at White House Poetry Night

'Hangover' (possibly my favourite)

'What She Said' (perhaps not what you're expecting...)

Here are a couple of short answers to a couple of interesting topics:

The Egotism of Poetry

The Romance of Time

Hope you enjoyed. Don't thank me, thank Billy Collins!