Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday Three

Mel Gibson's got a movie out this weekend. Edge Of Darkness is the hollywood remake of the superb BBC drama series from the 80's. If you've got half an interest in film you should see this.


Gibson has been gone for three and a half years; he hasn’t acted in a leading role in eight. He’s been taking shit constantly since Passion Of The Christ and became a bit of a joke after his drunken roadside arrest in 2006. Since then he’s done AA and gotten a divorce. But he has a legendary career filled with classic films and Oscar wins, and his directing career has been solid. He doesn't have anything to prove. So with all the shit he’s going to take, all the jaded interviews, all the sniggers and remarks about his opinions, every bit of tabloid dirt that is going to get tossed around, and a real Hollywood legacy at stake, you have to ask yourself this - how good does a script have to be to get a guy like Gibson to step out in the open and face all that?

Oh yeah. If that hasn't got your hair rising nothing will. This movie is from the writer of Scorcese's The Departed. It's directed by Martin Campbell, who gave us a bond for the 21st Century in Casino Royale. Ray Winstone, one of the finest character actors on the planet is in support. You need another reason? Okay, Max Rockatansky and Martin Riggs, two of the greatest bad-asses in cinema history, exist because of Mel Gibson. The man is a fucking legend and I grew up with him and I will be seeing Edge Of Darkness this weekend. You should too.

German Industrial Metal Gods Rammstein have released a new single from their latest album Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da, and like everything this band have done it is pure and simply very, very good indeed. Heavy, pounding, technical music that hits like a fist to the temple. Out of the many gigs from many bands I've seen in my years these guys are pretty much near the best. Theatrical and dramatic, they combine crunching guitars and drums with Till Lindermann's gutteral voice to fabulous effect, and I totally adore them. Their videos are always interesting, often controversial and frequently astounding. Ich Tu Der Weh is no exception:

J.D.Salinger died on Wednesday, aged 91. He was one of the greatest modern novelists and a true literary genius. If you haven't read his landmark work The Catcher In The Rye now couldn't be a better time to do so. His 1951 depiction of Adolescent alienation has never been bettered, not even by Salinger himself, despite the superb work he turned out in later years. He was never comfortable with his success and often refused interviews, and much of his work remained unpublished due to his own self-censorship. Salinger said he wrote for himself, and one can only speculate on the stories that went from his typewriter straight into his drawer. The New York Times posted a superb biography of the man here. Anyone who has ever put pen to paper or fingers to keys can only dream of achieving a tenth of his talent.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Alternative Futures

2011: War breaks out across all Middle-Eastern Nations
2012: United States and NATO attempt to restore order to chaos. 37,000 innocent Isreali citizens die within the first week.
2013: Al-Qaeda mark the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack by flying a
commercial airliner into the Empire State Building. Rioting ensues across Northern America,
and a state of marshall law is declared.
2014: Following a series of devastating hurricanes across the South, The United States of America returns to a country of civil war not seen since 1865.
2015: World trade and industry ceases. Oil production halts. Telecommunication systems and the internet collapse. During a call for peace and security from the Vatican, the Pope is assassinated before millions, plunging the Catholic church into despair.
2016: Pakistan launches a series of nuclear warheads into India, killing millions. China, now
the global force behind world order, respond with strikes against the Pakistani people. The
Indian continent is devasted and uninhabitable. Water and power cease in Europe. There is a
breakdown of government and basic resources across the First World. Bodies in the street
cause widespread disease. A gathering of seventy million people in Malaysia declare
Osama Bin Laden to be the new messiah.
2017: An Alien Spacecraft lands in the Mojave Desert…

I’ll leave it to you to imagine what happens next. You find me in a somber and blackened mood, but with the exception of the last line I don’t see why the above couldn’t happen. Have you seen the news recently? We’re just a couple of decisions, another earthquake, another rebel faction away from fiction turning to fact…

Monday, 25 January 2010

Pain and Horror

This goddamn headache is getting worse. When I awoke this morning the pain was a mild, manageable throb. Annoying, but nothing to write home about. Now we’ve progressed to a full-blown whirlwind of torture, a cranium-breaking Defcon 1 that feels like small creatures have been implanted through my ears, latched tentacles to my brain and have started to squeeze. My eyeballs are being battered from the inside like those huge drums that are hit by Japanese men wearing thongs.

Or maybe I’m just grumbling. Grow a pair and quit whining like a puppy, son.

Of course, my visual pain is only enhanced by this image:

This is from the new Alexander McQueen collection, and if one image has ever conveyed the utterly mind-numbing, pretentious and biblically stupid world of fashion it must surely be this. Seriously, what the hell is that chap wearing, and why would anyone pay good money to replicate this look and basically turn themselves into a tremendous arsehole? Would you walk down your street dressed like a Victorian Spiderman? Of course you wouldn’t. Maybe that’s the whole point of fashion – it exists to remind you that whatever happens in life you’ll always feel comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt, and under no circumstances do you need to pay a grand to look like a dick.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Department of Shameless Self-Promotion

So my wife has truly put me to shame this weekend. With only 35 weeks to go until she undertakes a complex six hour medical exam which she will only pass with a score of 90% or higher she has thrown herself into revision and study in the way she does everything - total commitment. Our dining table is strewn with medical texts and muscle charts and eye-watering genital descriptions while she has written page after page of detailed notes. She’s been working for hours - good, solid grafting, and I am in no doubt that come the 29th September she will hit the pass mark and become a fully qualified Accredited Clinical Coder, a job that most of you couldn’t even fathom and even less could do. As Thomas Dolby once said, she blinded me with science.

I, on the other hand, have written nothing this weekend except for these words.

And really, it’s not for wanting. I’m just struggling with the whole process. The Lost Weekend is really, genuinely about three-quarters complete. I’ve just thrown myself over the 95,000 word mark and that is a decent novel length, maybe 350 pages in general book-sized terms. I’m not the sort who limit’s a word count - I believe that the story takes itself from beginning to end and however long that takes it how long it is, but I have written a book amount of material and really don’t need to write much more. I know where it’s going, and I’m satisfied we’ll get there…

But, Jesus Christ, the getting there is, just recently, taking some doing.

Writers talk about writing out of love for the work, and I guess that is the main reason for doing it. But most of the time I don’t love writing. I tolerate it at best, and hate it at worst, but the fact of the matter is I can’t not do it. It took me a long time to actually figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but that realisation has bought me a huge amount of frustration and virtually no reward. And no, I’m not talking about reward in a financial sense, because we all know that there is very little money in fiction, especially not for unknowns such as myself. About ten to fifteen years ago there were some huge advances being handed out for first-timers with their dog-eared manuscripts, but too many publishing houses got burnt by handing out three book deals and only receiving one novel, so editors got wise and shut their wallets. And then, of course, J.K.Rowling turned up with her teenage wizard and sucked up most of the money on the planet.

So, no money. Surely then there must be some form of accolade, some form of praise? Don’t bank on it. Most people can’t even be bothered to read what you write, let alone comment on it in a positive/negative fashion. I have two critics in my life who will always tell me the truth when it comes to what I do. The first is my Wife, who I trust absolutely to tell me exactly what she thinks. She’ll do this with every aspect of my life, and I know my fiction is no different. If she thinks it sucks, she’ll tell me, and I thank her for that because every author needs someone who bring them back down to the ground with a bump and let them know they’re just a hack. Hannah is also my ideal reader, and what I mean by that is she is the person I imagine enjoying the story while I’m writing it. If I’m describing a scene, or writing dialogue, it’s her that I hope will enjoy it. The other top critic is my Father, who is always enthusiastic for my work and will always grumble if I’m not doing it right. But pretty much everyone else who reads my stuff? I’m lucky to get a nod of recognition - most of them can’t even be bothered with it (I don’t need to name names but you damn well know who you are). Truth of the matter is that most people haven’t got the time or the inclination to read successful authors with proven track records, so what chance the amateur with dreams of success?

So what does that leave? Not a lot really, because it’s not even a profession or hobby you can share with other people. Writing is a solitary business that alienates you from friends and family for hours at a time, frequently causes headaches and stress, is often frustrating and gives you a permanent crease in your brow. I find myself ignoring the kids, not spending enough quality time with my wife, lying awake in the middle of the night with my imagined conversations running around my head. Not being able to write, just like now, and banging my head in frustration because I want to, I want to, I want to. There is absolutely nothing to recommend it.

But here I am, tapping keys on the laptop again out of some kind of wanting, I guess you would call it an obsession. And I am obsessed, because I have experienced the moments. I don’t know what you call it - muse, mojo, creative juices - but when it happens it’s like the first time you see the ocean on a car journey to the coast, or that first beer after a long day of work under the hot sun, or the first time you kiss someone you care about. If you write for long enough a moment will come. It might be at 2.45am when your back is aching and your eyes are streaming after hours hunched over your screen, but suddenly the words start to flow smoothly, your characters start to breathe independently, and as the writer you’re just along for the ride, surprised at what just happened because the work has taken on a life of it’s own…That for me is what makes it all worthwhile, and I guess that what the love of writing is all about. So now I think I’m going to rub myself up against Hannah (no need to cover your eyes, the pants are staying on), get myself some of her energy, and get back to it. Love or hate, it’s what it is, and it’s what I do.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Joe Hill is one of the finest new writers to emerge in the last few years. Like me, he loves the short story format - unlike me, he's actually a brilliant practitioner of the form. His first collection, Twentieth Century Ghosts, was a stunning mix of macabre and weird drama, and his first novel, Heart Shaped Box, was one of the best ghost stories that I've ever read. A book that genuinely frightened and thrilled me in equal measures. Hill writes with such ease and skill that it makes me want to burn my own manuscripts in frustration and stick to a life of the criminally dull office in which I currently fester. That's only partially true - he actually inspires me to be a better writer, which is something I've promised myself I'll be in 2010. And the inspiration level should rise that little more when I get my hands on his new novel Horns, released on February 16th.

Loving that cover. Horns is about a young man named Ignatius Perrish, a guy who has always tried to do the right thing, only to see his whole life abruptly torn away from him. His girlfriend, the person he loves more than anyone in the world, is killed, and although he’s never charged with the murder, everyone, including his family and friends, believe Ig is responsible. Then one night Ig goes out drunk to rage and curse God, and when he wakes, he discovers he’s grown a pair of horns, and that people have a sudden compulsion to confess their darkest secrets and ugliest impulses to him. It isn’t long before Ig turns his terrible new powers to finding the man who killed his beloved, and taking his revenge.

I already have four novels to get through, but regardless of where I am or who I'm reading I'll be dropping everything for Hill's latest. He's a stunning writer who I cannot recommend enough.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Fear Of The Dark

Suspiria finally comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday 18th January. It still to this day remains one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen, and was a major influence on my young life. I was 13 when I saw it on VHS one Saturday night while stopping at my good friend Chris’s house. The weekends were a ritual of late nights and genre movies then, and that particular night we’d bribed the video store with an extra pound as we always did when renting ‘X’ cert flicks, and hired Zombie Holocaust (crap), Enter The Ninja (better) and an Italian film I’d been reading about in the pages of Starburst magazine, which back then was my film bible. The great Alan Jones had been raving about a guy called Dario Argento for a while, and he’d called Suspiria the greatest movie he’d ever seen. It was about a young dance student who went to train in a remote academy in the heart of the German black forest and uncovered a coven of witches. I loved the sound of it, and the stills I’d seen in the magazine looked weird and exciting. Plus, Jones had turned me on to John Carpenter and Brian DePalma, and I took his word as gospel. We sat down with snacks, got the zombies and ninjas out the way, and around midnight loaded the film.

Suspiria changed the way I looked at film. From that day on the floodgates of world cinema opened and I drowned in a sea of Italian gore, Spanish horror, Japanese violence and Hong Kong bloodshed. It was the key to making my young mind realise that films weren’t just about the US and were produced in other languages, that there were brilliant directors like Argento, Lucio Fulci, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Misumi, Tsui Hark – some of the best films I’d never seen were just waiting for my appreciation. I started to track down everything I’d ever read about, heard about, dreamed about. 24 years later, I’m still doing it.

If you have the slightest interest in motion pictures, you need to see Suspiria. It is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Hell, it’s one of the greatest films ever made. 102 minutes of perfection that still makes my heart quicken, my eyes widen, and still makes me believe in the power of cinema.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Chaser

My lovely wife bought me a huge pile of movies for Christmas, and I finally got around to watching The Chaser the other morning, a huge hit in it's native Korea a couple of years ago. I've maintained for a while now that the Korean's are making the most essential cinema on Earth at the moment, and this fantastic film hasn't changed my opinion

Joong Ho is an ex cop turned pimp, running a stable of girls, but business is going downhill as the girls keep disapearing. Convinced that someone is selling the girls on to a third party, he forces young, working mom Mi-jin to meet with a strange client who he suspects is responsible, go to his house, call on her cellphone and let him have the address so he can confront him. And the plan is going well, right up until the point that (a) Mi-jin can't get a signal, and (b) it turns out the strange client is actually a killer. The whereabouts of the missing girls? The land surrounding the house. Through a genius twist our killer is apprehended (this is within the first half hour), confesses, and Mi-Jin is captured but alive, but lack of evidence and police red-tape mean that Joong Ho has 12 hours to find Mi-jin before the killer is released back into society to finish what he started

From there The Chaser takes off into a truly exceptional thriller that breaks all the cliches and conventions of a tired genre and reminds you just how stale and contrived the Hollywood system has become. The team that produced The Departed have picked this up for a remake, but seek out the original as soon as you can, because I can guarantee any remake will be a watered down, dickless version of the original. It's currently on Amazon for a fiver and you would be insane not pick a copy up at that price. I loved this movie. Here's a trailer:

Monday, 11 January 2010

Page One, Column One

The decade is only eleven days old, but already my enthusiasm for 2010 is starting to fade. Naturally this is solely due to the fact that I’ve started back to work, and subsequently find myself spending each day submerged in a world of concrete, instead of submerged in a world of movies, books and my own fiction. In the real world where I'm an overworked and underpaid automoton I can occaisionally forget about the things that get my juices flowing. And that's one of the reasons for starting this site - to keep my momentum going in a creative sense, as well as having an outlet for my muse. I'm a fairly self-opinionated bastard, if I'm honest, and as a consequence I've always got something to say...

So… Page one, column one.

I’m Rich Wilson, a writer, a dreamer, a lover of all-things cinema. In my world Gojira is real, I watch the Watchmen and it all went downhill after John Bonham choked on his vomit. This Blog features my work, my thoughts, and whatever else I find troubling my sleep-deprived mind. Comments and interactions are always welcome. As are you all...