Archive for September, 2008

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Posted in Film, Woody Allen with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30 September, 2008 by Ally

Woody Allen, 1985

They always say you ought to write what you know, which is why so many films chronicle the creative process. From Sunset Boulevard to Adaptation, Hollywood’s favourite subject is itself. But great as they are, most of these films seem determined to make the audience understand the pain of the artist, the stress of putting together a production, how hard it is to make something look effortless. It’s rare to find a film that appreciates the finished product above all, and understands the spell it casts over the ordinary person sat there in the dark.

Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo is one of those films. Set in Depression-era New Jersey, it stars Mia Farrow as Cecilia. She’s a timid woman with an abusive husband (Danny Aiello), and a stressful waitressing job which she constantly jeopardizes with her clumsiness and daydreaming. Her only comfort is the cinema, where she can lose herself in shimmering Hollywood gloss for an hour and a half.

Continue reading

Get What You Pays For: a Music Video

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28 September, 2008 by Ally

Today I threw together a video for my latest single. It’s a no-budget piece of abstract nonsense shot by me and my friend Den while he was visiting from Amsterdam. There’s lots of footage of Pippin, the cat featured on the cover of the single, and lots of creepy looping images. If you have a phobia of cats, enjoy the nightmares…

It’s Something To Do, Isn’t It?

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , on 26 September, 2008 by Ally

I’ve been feeling musically uninspired recently, so I’ve decided to take up a new hobby. I downloaded a demo version of Final Draft, so I’m currently learning how to a) use it, and b) write a script. All on me lonesome. I’m using the Douglas Adams method of starting at the beginning and writing backwards. That is, writing a bit and then fine-tuning that bit until I’ve got less than I started with. I can only write fifteen pages until I have to upgrade to the full version anyway.

I’m indulging myself with an old-fashioned film noir parody, full of vaguely-defined grotesques and screwballs. I like the opening, with the police investigating the murder of glamorous dancer Miquita Mouse. (How terrible is that pun?!) Then they call in the incompetent Private Eye (how original) when they find his business card on her; “Criminals collared / Jewellery returned / Shoes shined.” I don’t know whether to write a deliberately incomprehensible story, or actually plan something out that works. I guess I don’t know how to plan something properly, so a headfuck noir it is!

I need a better name for my PI character though. I was looking at my walls, at the Eric Dolphy album and Orson Welles picture. So Eric Welles will have to do for now. It’s better than Orson Dolphy at any rate! I had been thinking some kind of tool for his surname, like Sam Spade or Mike Hammer… But Johnny Trowel just sounds shit.

An Open Letter to Catrina, Telephone Operative

Posted in Nothing Really, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 24 September, 2008 by Ally

Dear Catrina,

You telephoned me today from Apple, the illustrious computer company. You told me the warantee on my MacBook was coming to an end, and wondered if I would like to sign up for the AppleCare protection plan. This would protect my computer for two years, which is a long time for a dog. I told you that I would indeed like to sign up for the AppleCare protection plan, but that I would need to transfer some money into the appropriate bank account before proceeding with the transaction. You said that was fine, and that you would set up my AppleCare account in the meantime.

Transferring money into the appropriate bank account took thirty seconds at most, but I did not inform you for fear that it would distract you from setting up my AppleCare account. Evidently setting up my AppleCare account was also a short-lived chore, and we both made the very same mistake. I sat and listened to the distant voices in your call centre, while you listened to me occasionally clearing my throat. It didn’t even help when you got cut off and had to call back, you merely apologised and the silence resumed.

I can only apologise for wasting twenty minutes of your precious time, each of us waiting for the other to break the silence. I was mortified when I realised you were waiting for me, but I bore the brunt of that revelation to save you from similar embarrassment. I look forward to my computer spontaneously combusting, about one year from now. At least that way I can make the most of my AppleCare protection plan. And when that time comes, if you are dealt the misfortune of handling me and my awkward ways again, I hope you can forgive me.

Yours apologetically,
Mr. Craig

Ideas, Reviuku and Updates

Posted in Nothing Really with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 23 September, 2008 by Ally

Firstly, a couple of reviuku (haiku reviews).

At the Circus
The great Marx Brothers
In a not-so-great movie
With sporadic mirth

Sullivan’s Travels
Preston Sturges says;
“Laughter, that’s all some folks have”
But then offers more

Secondly, another idea for a line in the screwball comedy I’ll never get around to making.

X: Haven’t I seen you someplace before?
Y: Maybe it was at the Natural History Museum…
X: That’s it! Were you a tour guide or an exhibit?

Thirdly, I’ve been writing a script with my friend Dan. He did most of the nitty-gritty actual work, I just injected some extra jokes. He submitted it to a Channel 4 talent comepetition, and it has been shortlisted as one of five pieces of comedy writing – one of twenty categories, so there’s one hundred entrants overall. The other four shortlisted comedy writers are published professionals, which is funnier in itself than anything anyone could ever have written.

Album of the Day: Charles Mingus

Posted in Music, Of the Day with tags , , , , , , , on 22 September, 2008 by Ally

Firstly, a thousand apologies to any regular readers that may or may not be out there. I haven’t posted anything for several days, and now I return with a post that isn’t even about films? I know, I’m one of those bloggers that can’t stick to the point. As a small consolation, here are some haikus summarizing the films I have seen in the past few days:

Old School:
I chuckled just once,
Wasn’t my choice to watch it.
Do not recommend.

Mystery Train:
Quiet enigma,
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins acting?
I love Mitsuko.

L.A. Confidential:
Corrupt bastard cops,
How modern noir should be done.
Violence with meaning!

Touch of Evil:
Nice Orson touches,
Brownface Heston distracting.
Get over it though.

What did I say about sticking to the point? Okay, on with the Mingus thingus… Continue reading

Those Lovely Paramedics

Posted in Nothing Really with tags , , , , on 18 September, 2008 by Ally

My friend Rebecca just told me a delightful little story, about an elderly relative and a wonderful malapropism she made.

I love my 94 year old Great Auntie Molly very much. She wrote a letter back to me today. I presumed when she kept saying how much she was enjoying watching “those lovely Paramedics” that firstly, she was referring to the TV, and that it was some sort of reality show about hospitals etc. It was only when she later brought them up again that it all became clear:

“And now they’re giving out medals to all the lovely Paramedics.”

Good ol’ Auntie Molly!

Daniel Craig Is My Grandfather

Posted in Nothing Really with tags , , , , on 18 September, 2008 by Ally

My paternal grandfather may not be the current star of an iconic espionage film franchise, but he does happen to be called Daniel Craig. I recently discovered an interesting fact about him, I hope you find it as delightfully strange as I do.

My father grew up in a house with two Daniels; his father and his brother, Uncle Dan and Grampa to me. There is in fact a third Dan in the Craig family, one I had never heard about before. You see, my grandfather Daniel had a brother called Daniel. He also had two brothers called James! My great grandparents must have been sadly lacking in imagination, four children with only two names between them.

If I was ever saddled blessed with children, I would undoubtedly give them more colourful monikers. I could name them after some of my favourite films, for instance. And not films named for their main characters either, I steadfastly refuse to name my offspring Harold and Maude, Laura or Annie Hall. No, something really outlandish, Duck Soup or Top Hat perhaps. Maltese Falcon and his sister Cassie Blanca. No, wait, I’ve got it! Allow me to introduce my firstborn child: Apartment.


Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16 September, 2008 by Ally

Edward Dmytryk, 1947

Crossfire is a dark and gritty film noir, brimming with the kind of expressionistic shadows and sardonic repartee you would expect from that style. It tackles some controversial issues of the time, depicting an anti-Semitic murder committed by a soldier unable to reintegrate into post-war civilian life.

A group of demobilized soldiers go out to share a drink, but listless Floyd Bowers (Steve Brodie) befriends a kindly Jewish man named Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene). They go back to Samuels’ apartment for a drink, closely followed by two of Bowers’ old army buddies. When Samuels is found dead later that evening, world-weary Captain Finlay (Robert Young) investigates the last people to see him alive. The imposing and outspoken Montgomery (Robert Ryan) points the finger at Bowers, who is conspicuous by his absence, but Sgt. Keeley (a reliably acerbic Robert Mitchum) is convinced of his innocence. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Lauren Bacall

Posted in Nothing Really with tags , , on 16 September, 2008 by Ally

"You know how to whistle, don't you Steve?"

Just a quick note in celebration of Lauren Bacall’s 84th birthday. She surely had one of the best screen debuts of all time, in To Have and Have Not with her future husband Humphrey Bogart. And I suppose the rest of her career has been pretty good too! She also said one of my favourite quotes, speaking out against cosmetic surgery –

I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.

Happy birthday, Miss Bacall.