I/Mmature Student 9. New perspectives. Love the arts.

So there’s been no Immature Student blogs this week. The reason for that is I had a go at writing a 15-20 minute bit of theatre. That took up a fair bit of time and energy both physically and mentally. What I was writing is part of a competition from our local fringe theatre group Alphabetti Theatre. We were to write a 20 minute “response play” to a play we saw there. Truth us  first year students didn’t actually have to do this but I’m a big believer in just getting something down, moving out your comfort zone and seeing what happens. I’m lucky that I’m going through a very unblocked period as a writer. There are reasons for that. Go back about 8 years and I could hardly produce a thing. A great friend of mine and fellow comedian Martin Mor gave me a book called the Artists Way. It’s a book that’s as much about therapy as it is about freeing the creative process. It eventually worked for me along with other factors that take too long to get into here.

I was pleasantly surprised when one of our lecturers advised my fellow students to follow some of its practices this week. As for the bit theatre I produced…well quite by happy accident I produced something that acts perfectly as a kind of warm up play to the new solo monologue about mental health I’m putting together. (“Solo monologue about mental health” ??? That’s new. I used to just call it stand up!) That’s why sometimes its worth just going for it. I’ll post it here once the competition winners are announced.

There’s so much to report about this week I just can’t in a quick blog that’s also supposed to entertain. . All I can say is I’m doing things that comedian me would have poured scorn on two weeks ago, but who now is looking at others and the world around him with a shifted perspective. Anyhoo this is supposed to be entertaining. I decided last week Fridays blog would be compilations of things from the arts I love. So here’s some more. have a good weekend.

Here we have Boys From The Blackstuff. The fact you’ll find no BBC drama addressing issues of unemployment, poverty and the disenfranchised on the TV just now is very telling. It’s taken Ken Loach with his new film I Daniel Blake to set the record straight. But this Alan Bleasdale drama hasn’t aged a day. If anything it’s even more important now. Go find the whole thing if you’ve never seen it.

 

 

 

Growing up in the 70s he was everybody’s favourite Doctor. Here faced with a great dilemma. He remained my favourite Doctor for a long time…well until this Scottish bloke arrived…

 

And here he is. Our latest Doctor delivering the greatest anti war speech ever of a so called “Kids show” In fact maybe just one of the best anti war speeches ever. Carling don’t make anti war speeches…but if they did…

 

Time for a musical interlude I think. There are umpteen versions of Heroes out there. But this one from the Concert For New York is among the best. This concert was a remembrance of all who died in 9/11. It was also really aimed at the Firemen/women, policemen/women ambulance men/women etc who died trying to attend to the situation.

Whether you think it was a staged conspiracy or a real event isn’t important. What’s important is the impact this song has on the service workers in the audience. Service workers who give much with little reward all over the planet. Heroes.

 

Rock and Roll is exhilarating. Dion here putting one of the last more traditional forms of that into the charts in 1961. But what they do here isn’t that far from what the next guy did with his first bands…

 

And here’s that next guy. The Sex Pistols is where as a kid I found music. They were  a bunch of kids who had the establishment on the run. What they did has never been repeated…because it has never been allowed to. They learn from their mistakes those establishment types. This song was about the current prime minister.

 

I’m sticking with the great John Lydon/Rotten. He’s done much outside his first band and will always be an icon to me. This song was taken off air because it was out at the time of the L.A riots. As always he was ahead of the game. “Burn Hollywood burn.”

 

As we’re on the subject of Hollywood here’s something they’re good at. Great action in films takes great direction. It has a story and beats to it as the action unfolds. If you just throw spectacle at it you end up with nothing. That’s why Batman V Superman was shit. When I first saw this film I thought it was the greatest Batman movie ever made…It didn’t have Batman in it, it had an assassin called Leon. But really it was a Batman film and heavily influenced by Frank Millers work in that field. This is action as ballet. Every move is perfected.

 

 

 

 

I/Mmature Student.8 Loving the arts.

End of week 1 of looking at Drama and Script. Fantastic. Lots learned/to learn. Making new friends…Here’s some things from the arts I love….

The first group therapy. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.

 

 

Bill Hicks final TV appearance…

 

Gary Oldman chewing up the scenery in True Romance…

 

Supermans first flight into action

 

Bowie  at his most discordant

 

Talking Heads at their most energetic.

I/Mmature Student. 2. Fellow writers. Macbeth.

Ok now that I’m getting the first insights into what the workload is going to be like at Northumbria Uni with my studies of Drama and Script I’m beginning to realise this blog may be a place where I come for a wee break to relax and recharge. I’ve no problem with said work load…but yep we’re going to be busy.

Much to my delight I finally met my fellow writers today.  A great eclectic bunch from India, Latvia, Gateshead and other such exotic places. There are 6 of us but if you include Richard Stockwell our course tutor there will be 7 of us in the room at any given time. That’s a good number, both lucky and magnificent. Obviously Richard is the Yul Brynner leader type. One of my classmates Holly is a Bowie fanatic (there is no other type of Bowie fan) so she’s obviously dead smart/cool/old fashioned. I imagine over the next three years the pair of us will manage to put the other five off The Great Dame David for the rest of their days.

I’m absolutely delighted with the tiny size of our group. Compared to the more common class sizes we can have a lot more feedback and attention provided to our developing skills.

For our first classes we’ve to read The Coen brothers introduction to Fargo. I know, how cool is that. This is my homework! Plus we’ve to read/reread Macbeth. I’m not massively versed in Shakespeare but that is the one play of his I’m pretty familiar with. I’ve got a copy of it in the house somewhere  along with the notes. However as a bit of a cheat I’ve also just downloaded the latest film version staring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard and err…me. Honest I was a member of the English army that invade Scotland. I would be gobsmacked if I can pick myself out as I wore a hood over my head for the days shoot. Possibly a good thing as my many friends in the SNP might find my role that day a wee bit hard to stomach. The shoot that day was pretty rough as we spent most of our time up a massive hill or in a bog in Northumbria at the start of February in sideways rain. Most of us spent most of the day slipping and falling on our arses. At one point I was heard to say in my broad Scots accent, “Ahm no sure if this invasion of Scotland is such a good idea. I think someone’s going to get seriously injured here.” Whether this adlib has made the final cut remains to be seen. I’m not so sure improvising is encouraged when doing the Great Bard.

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/

macbeth-1
Is this a dagger I see before me… I’d imagine so mate. We’re in Glasgow.

 

 

A very short screenplay ( about torture and gangsters and such stuff)

This is my very first go at this so don’t judge me. Have always like gangsta stuff. Torture scenes are usually the best….

 

THE GREY GROUND.

 

FADE IN.

OFFICE BUILDING DAY.

WE SEE A CORRIDOR LEADING TO AN OFFICE DOOR.

DISSOLVE TO.

Looking out to Newcastle city centre we see an upstairs office. It’s very sparse with a desk and two basic office chairs facing each other over the desk. Everything is covered in clear polythene as if about to be decorated.

MR SANE. Newcastle man. Stands alone in the office. Middle aged. Beefy in build. Smoking a cigarette. He’s friendly.

There’s a KNOCK at the door.

MR SANE.

Come in, it’s open.

ENTER ANTHONY. A Young man from Manchester. Wearing sportswear but is more smart looking than scruff.

ANTHONY.

Is this the place to meet…err…the managers?

MR SANE.

That’s right son. You must be Anthony. Do I call you by your Sunday name or is it Tony?

ANTHONY.

I prefer Anthony actually. My wife always insists on it.

MR SANE.

Fair enough son. My name’s Mr Sane.

ANTHONY

Mr Sane? As in the opposite of insane?

MR SANE.

Something like that. It’s actually after the Bowie album Aladdin Sane. All the managers have Bowie related codenames. It’s the bosses’ idea. Nobody knows each other’s real names. It helps with confidentiality. A couple more managers will be here shortly Mr Duke and Mr Low.

ANTHONY.

So is the boss Mr Bowie?

MR SANE.

No he’s Mr Jones.

ANTHONY.

Right…err…not sure I get that. The other’s sound cool though.

MR SANE.

(LAUGHS) Try telling that to Mr Stardust. Have a seat son. As you know you’ve been invited here today on the possibility of working on a more permanent basis for the managers and boss of the corporation. You’ve obviously managed to get the attention of someone along the line. My department is warehouse and fencing. I shift shit of value from A to B. But you, you’re in sales.

ANTHONY.

Well…err…dealing. I deal.

MR SANE.

That’s sales son. And you’ve made quite the mark in the 6 months since moving here from Manchester. Two estates now mainly buy from you. All of this has been achieved with very little resistance from rival interests. Mind telling me how you’ve done that?

ANTHONY.

I don’t stamp on the gear. My entire product is as it is when I buy in. It means less money at first but in the long run folk come back to me. As for little resistance, I always assumed that would be something to do with you guys further up the ladder.

MR SANE.

Very astute Anthony, you’re right, it is exactly to do with us. You have ascertained that there is organisation at play here. Large organisation Anthony. Now, in knowing this I am going to ask you a couple of things son and it is of the utmost interest to yourself that you answer these questions concisely, with utter clarity and truthfully.

 

DISSOLVE TO.

DAY. EXPENSIVE CAR INTERIOR.

We see two men in a parked car. MR LOW is Scottish. MR DUKE another Newcastle man. They are in suits. Both middle aged and fairly mean looking. They are not friendly. MR LOW closes his phone having received a message.

MR LOW.

Right, the cunts going up there now. Mr Sane is going to give him his good cop softly, softly catchee monkey shtick. If nothing comes of that, and I really hope it doesn’t…well… Wait until he gets a load of us. Let’s be on our way to the affair Mr Duke.

MR DUKE.

The affair? That’s how you’re describing torture now is it?

MR LOW.

You know I’m one for an elegant tongue Mr Duke. And this cunt is about to find out that he is nothing more than a fart in the hurricane we call life.

MR DUKE.

That’s almost poetic.

MR LOW.

I’m Scottish we’re the bollocks at that shit. I can’t believe some no mark would come up from Manchester and try to pull his hoody on us. I fuckin’ hate Mancs. That whinny nasal accent. (DOES MANCHESTER VOICE) Awriiiiiight! It’s an accent designed and derived from whinging. It’s all they ever do. Complain about shit. Look at the Smiths. What the fuck is that? Music to cry to while somebody wanks you off in the prison showers. Hear me? This is a fucking accent. I can make the word purple sound like an act of war. Listen. (SHOUTS) PURPLE!

They both LAUGH.

DISSOLVE TO.

BACK TO THE OFFICE. The camera is above looking down on the desk. We see a photo of ANTHONY getting out of a police car.

DISSOLVE TO.

Cut back to ANTHONY and MR SANE sitting opposite one and other.

ANTHONY.

Aw man…look I know how that looks but I can totally explain that. Fuck man. I was pulled with some personal man. I’ve been at this long enough to know not to squeal. They didn’t even find enough to process me for court. We’re there any busts on the estates after this? If there was I’ve certainly not heard.

MR SANE.

No Anthony you’re right there were no drug busts. What can you tell me about the Graffiti Night club and Jimmy Wong’s laundrette?

ANTHONY.

I dunno…what the fuck have a laundrette and a nightclub got to do with each other?

MR SANE.

You frequent the Graffiti don’t you? And in the past four months have started using Jimmy Wong’s. You have to use a laundrette? All that sales money can’t buy a machine?

ANTHONY

Yes I hang at the Graffiti. Do a bit business. As for the laundrette we’ve got a four month old little one. We can’t get all the loads done at once so I take some there. I still don’t understand what that has to do with being lifted.

MR SANE.

Yes back to that son. A bit convenient that they let you walk is it not?

ANTHONY.

They had nothing on me. They don’t know me from anyone. I’m careful boss…on my wife and little ones life. I still don’t get where this is going?

MR SANE.

Now son this really is last chance saloon here. Before you think of bolting you should know there are two incredibly nasty men on the other side of that door and you are close to entering a type of world few come back…unaffected…from. You’re telling us you know nothing of the club or Jimmy’s?

ANTHONY

(Beginning to plead) It’s a fucking laundrette. What is there to know?

MR SANE.

I really am sorry about this son. Mr Low, Mr Duke you can come in now.

(MORE)

BOTH ENTER. They both have guns drawn. MR LOW is carrying a small antique and fairly battered case.

MR LOW.

Right ya Manc cunt sit there while my friend secures you to that chair.

ANTHONY.

Aw man wait…

MR LOW pistol whips him.

MR LOW.

Say another word without being asked and I’ll fucking end you right now. Do you think we’ve got this place covered in plastic because we planned some impromptu decorating? (Camp) Ooh Mr Duke the Feng Shui and neutral colours of this office are completely at odds with any sense of harmony. I suggest we add a splash or two of red.

ANTHONY.

Please…

MR LOW hits him again.

MR DUKE.

Son best do what he says and shut the fuck up. He’s a horrible cunt and Scottish as well. Trust me it’s the worst of combinations.

MR LOW places his case on the table and from it he places in front of ANTHONY a packet of cigarettes, a hairdryer and a blow torch.

MR LOW.

OK boy. I’m going to start asking some things and you are going to answer. Mr Sane what did we ascertain?

MR SANE.

He says he was lifted with some personal. He’s probably sound in that there were no drug busts. Claims to know nothing about the club and laundrette.

MR LOW.

Wrong answers. Anthony where do bad people go when they die?

 

ANTHONY.

Hell.

MR LOW.

That’s right Anthony they go to hell. And what happens to them when they get there?

ANTHONY.

They burn…look please.

MR LOW.

Shut the fuck up. That’s right Anthony they burn. Of all the judgemental religions I’ve always found the Christians to be the most horrible. I’ve been bad, welcome to an eternity of fire. A fucking eternity! They choose fire because of all the different types of pain you can put a soul through burning is the absolute worst. Eternity Anthony! I reckon you’ll last minutes. As you can see in front of you are three things. Every time people get it wrong. They think I’ll start with the hairdryer…but I don’t. It’s the fags first. The wound they inflict covers a small area and the burning of the flesh tends to extinguish the flame. Despite the lasting pain it’s over quite quickly. Open up his shirt Mr duke.

MR DUKE rips open his shirt.

MR SANE.

Son it’s better to speak now. We know what you know.

ANTHONY.

I swear. I really don’t understand what this is…please. My son’s only four months.

MR LOW.

It would seem Mr Sane that your reasoning and good cop tactics is for nothing. Let’s see how the bad cop does.

MR LOW takes time lighting a cigarette. Then crushes the lit end into Anthony’s chest.

ANTHONY screams violently.

MR LOW.

As I said…those Christians are evil bastards. Here’s what we have Anthony. We have a picture of you exiting a cop car, we have Jimmy Wong’s laundrette and the Graffiti Club both done over. You know what they are, don’t you Anthony. Two premises owned by us where we wash our money. It really did appeal to Mr Jones’s sense of humour to launder cash through an actual fucking laundrette. Total cost of both these premises going under is near to seven hundred and fifty thousand grand. But here’s the clincher you whinging Manc cunt. We have cops on the pay role. They provide anonymous information through a very secure system that we’ve used for years. Recently we’ve received information that our little enterprise has been infiltrated by an undercover cop. We don’t yet know who but you my friend are suspect numero uno. Is that you Anthony? Think you’re fucking Donnie Darko.

MR DUKE.

It’s Donnie Brasco Mr Low.

MR LOW.

Whatever. Johnny Depp here thinks he’s king of the pirates. OK as I mentioned people always get it wrong about the order of the fags and the hair dryer. The blow torch is obvious. That has to be the grand finale. What people don’t understand about the hair dryer is that they think it’s not so bad. I mean you dry you hair with it don’t you. Yes you do…but you don’t hold it on the same spot for too long do you? No indeed not. That would really start to hurt. Just imagine the damage a hairdryer can do if it was…say…held over a nipple for a minute or so.

ANTHONY.

I’m not a fucking cop. I swear…

MR LOW hits him again.

MR LOW.

I know, I know you swear on your wife and kids life…Swear on this. Hold him still Mr Duke.

MR DUKE holds ANTHONY in the chair. MR LOW goes to work with his hair dryer. There are screams of an almost feral and animalistic type. After about 30 seconds MR SANE speaks.

MR SANE.

C’mon lads. That has to be enough. Nobody can take that. It can’t be him.

MR LOW.

Squeamish as always Mr Sane. You can wait outside if you want. I’m just getting warmed up. Ha! Fucking warmed up.

MR DUKE.

You’ve cracked a funny Mr Low.

 

MR LOW.

I’m Scottish we’re the bollocks at jokes. Jokes and poetry. Christ…Sounds like a fucking Smiths album. You like them you Manc cunt. (SINGS) Heaven knows I’m miserable now…

ANTHONY.

Please, I’m begging. I’m not a cop. Ask anyone.

MR LOW.

Well I have to say you’ve got resolve. Very few make it to the blow torch. But you’ve got a lot to lose haven’t you. An entire operation blown and your day ends wrapped in this polythene and cemented into the Byker wall. Hold him there.

MR LOW lights the blow torch.

DISSOLVE TO.

We see a new angle MR LOW and MR DUKE both have their back to MR SANE. Mr Sane has produced a gun. Just as Mr Low is about to go to work with the blow torch he shoots MR LOW and MR SANE in the backs of their heads.

ANTHONY.

Oh fuck…oh fucking hell. Please don’t kill me. I really don’t know…

MR SANE.

…What’s going on. I know you don’t son. I know you’re not a cop…because I am.

ANTHONY.

Oh my fuck. I never thought I’d be pleased to see one of you lot…

MR SANE.

It’s not that simple son. You’ve done a lot of damage selling your gear on those estates. But I don’t believe in a God of retribution, or a fiery Hell. I reckon wherever you’re headed you’ll be alright. I’ll make sure your wife and kid are OK…there’s too much at stake here Anthony, And people like me are always going to need someone to take the rap. I’m sorry.

ANTHONY.

No wait…

MR SANE.

I’m sorry. Yes I’m a cop. But I’m not exactly the good one.

MR SANE shoots and kills Anthony.

Tarantino fan.

So I went to see  The Hateful 8 the  latest Quentin Tarantino film with some friends this weekend. It was good. Not up to his best but perfectly enjoyable. Prior to going I’d read briefly on the web a quote from him saying that the movie “was inspired by his first reactions on seeing John Carpenters The Thing.” That makes sense. He seems to have reimagined the general themes of The Thing as a western. Paranoia, duplicity, one or more of these men are not what they appear to be and of course it stars Kurt Russell.

Most of us have enjoyed his work since he arrived with Reservoir Dogs. Can you still remember how you felt on first seeing it at the cinema? It’s a film that lodges in your head for life.  I’d never seen anything like it before. Scenes playing out that at first didn’t seem to make sense until a later flashback would put them in context. The sharing of vital information with the audience that is held back from the characters in the film. Making everyday dialogue about the mundane sound almost explosive. All techniques he still uses and are now used in much film and TV writing, but I don’t think anyone has managed to use these tricks as effectively as he does.

When Pulp Fiction arrived his reputation was cemented. How many great scenes? The brilliant set up of a mundane chat about hamburgers that causes massive tension when revisited in a later scene.  The horror of Z and the Gimp. And who will ever forget the adrenalin injection? His first critics also arrived around the same time. “But what is the point of it all?”

I remember after seeing the first part of Kill Bill a friend remarked that, “he’s great at taking pretty rubbish source material  from popular culture and making it great.” Which is kind of true but that’s because he actually loves that “rubbish” source material in the first place. Geeks are everywhere now but he was the first to enter mainstream entertainment.

On seeing the latest film another friend remarked that, “yes it was good…but I don’t really get the point of it. What was the message?” I think at times especially among his best stuff such as Revoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill films there isn’t a message. It’s just pure entertainment for pure entertainments sake. There’s nothing really wrong with that. But in later stuff such as Inglorious Bastards, Django and the latest film he does tackle some unsavoury history. The Holocaust, the American Civil war and in Django in particular he takes a close and at many times disturbing and uncomfortable look at Americas history with slavery. But while doing all this entertainment remains to the fore. He’s been criticised often for this but even a film such as Schindler’s List is still at the end of the day doing the same job. I think that’s his best strength. Yes there’s a moral…but it is only a movie…often a movie about the love of making movies. Few directors manage to get that personal love for the art form up there on the screen and keep it blisteringly entertaining.

I do wish he would let up on that N word. He’s made his point, move on. Where he moves to next looks uncertain. He’s talking of retirement but I can’t really see that lasting. He’s often spoke of how he would love to be allowed to do a Bond film. How awesome would that be. “The name’s Bond…James mother fuckin’ Bond. You got a problem with me being black?”