Witness for the Prosecution, Rillington Place and the mystery of the Green Murk

Witness for the Prosecution (2016) missed the mark for me – too determined to be edgy, too much sex, swearing and coughing which felt a million miles away from Christie’s original text, and, without wishing to sound too prudish, a tad awkward to watch with the family on Boxing Day….

Crucially what I found difficult, and this is as someone who likes art cinema, it unbearable to watch because of the murky muse en scene, which, whilst I appreciate is a stylistic choice is only effective used sparingly. I found the consistent murk combined with slow motion not only unnecessary and detracting from the performance of the actors (who were fantastic -especially David Haig and Toby Jones) and from the story. I could barely tell you what happened because I simply didn’t care.

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Rillington Place (2016) used the same technique, arguably slightly more effectively; the murk wasn’t quite as pervading and there were moments of much-needed clarity both in and on the screen. Witness for the Prosecution overdid the atmosphere so much that the seaside scenes at the end felt quite jarring, which may have been the intended effect but it felt strange watching it and because of that I could never fully absorb into the story.

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A quick twitter search will show that the pervading feeling from the programme was the ‘green murk’, a particular favourite of mine was the comparison to the Olympic Swimming Pool debacle earlier in the year. My own feeling was that it felt like there was a smudge on the screen the whole way through. Not what you want to be thinking when watching something as it is distracting. And it is a shame because these colouring and editing techniques can be really beneficial when used well and can truly help a spectator engage with the mood of the film or programme, but you have to give the spectator room to react to it rather than making it too obvious and if the mise-en-scene is too obvious, it removes the need for a spectator at all.

So what is the deal with this trend of murky art television? I think that with the success of programmes such as Sherlock (2010 -) and Doctor Who (2005 –) who used editing the great success in a way that complimented the pace and plot (think of Sherlock’s mind palace and the use of text and animation) there does seem to be more room for experimental TV, but push it too much and people will either switch over or switch off. It’s a fine line to walk.

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Does experimental art cinema belong only in the cinema? Can art TV work or is it too difficult to view on small screens, in well-lit rooms with patchy resolution? In terms of a ‘Christmas Christie’, I preferred the cinematic qualities of And Then There Were None (2015) in terms of the murky trend, I’m not convinced of its place on television just yet.

Nanowrimo – The end

So Nanowrimo ended last week, and as it was my first attempt at it I thought I would share a few thoughts.

 

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Firstly, it is very difficult to motivate yourself when you don’t like your novel and there is a culture in Nano that ‘any words are good words’ – after all, it is all about word count. I think, to make this work practically, you need to be flexible. For me, this meant writing ANYTHING – something which I only figured out later in the month. Once I let myself abandon the original novel (which clearly needs rethinking and/or scrapping) I felt happier about the whole process. So, my tip – find flexibility within the process and create your own goals – mine was to write everyday, which I did. I’ll aim bigger next year.

Secondly, Nano can take over your life if you are attempting to actually win. If you are not aiming to win and have other things to do it is really difficult to make the time, or indeed, the word count, so you need to judge it by how much time you are willing/able to make. Next year, I would aim to prepare more in advance.

Thirdly, writing buddies can be a little like a ‘fair weather’ friend. I admit, I was a fair weather writing buddy, I think I only spoke to him once – before we started.  I was part of a facebook group which was incredibly supportive; I don’t use facebook very often but when I did go on there it was a really lovely community. So writing buddies are important – stay in contact.

Hopefully now Nano is over I can get back to focussing on my blog. I found it difficult to balance doing Nano along with everything else and as a result, I seem to have ground to a halt so far in December – which is frustrating and I’m trying to get myself back on the waggon again. I think, in future I need to pace myself, not only with Nano, but with everything – I bundled a load of things into November that I barely had time for and, weirdly, I managed to balance them last month but so far have done nothing this month which I am finding annoying. But all in all, Nano was a good experience and next year I will be more prepared.

Nanowrimo Week 3 Roundup

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I’ve been slowing down for the past few weeks, November has ended up being incredibly hectic, more so than I thought it would be, and doing Nano for the first time in this particular month has been challenging. So I have set myself my own personal goal for Nano, to write every day this month regardless of whether I reach the target. There is a part of me that is waiting for November to be over so I can enjoy my life again, update this blog more regularly, go out and see people, not have that sinking feeling on the train home that I have to write this evening.

Nonetheless, I’m not giving up. Any amount of words per day is what I am striving for. I have even broken free of the novel itself and written some short pieces to get me to write something. I’m not writing to win at this stage, I don’t like my novel enough for that at the moment and, frankly, I’m beginning to wonder if this particular novel is even meant to be 50,000 words long. I am also now entering a period of time where I am supposed to be writing a series of poems for an online course I am doing – I am wondering whether to fully commit to cheating during Nano and use some of my word count to do this.

Next year, I am hoping to take a creative writing course and try Nano again – maybe even Nano camp in the spring and summer. For now, I am content that I have tried and experienced it first hand, next year maybe I will play to win.

On to the next week! A very stressful week for me outside of Nano, so as long as I can keep going I’ll be content. How is it going for everyone else? Anyone else struggling to keep it going?

 

Nanowrimo – Week One

It’s been really difficult, not going to lie. Especially combined with starting a new job and what seems to have been an epic drop in my self-esteem: I’m tired, I’m lonely, I picked up enough hobbies to fill a 40 hour week and I now have about 12 to do all these in. It has been more of a challenge than I could ever imagine.

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To begin with, I got caught up in the desire to write 2,000 words a day to get ahead of the curve. I was determined to win.Then I begin to hate my novel, to hate writing. But I am the sort of person who refuses to start over, I’ve made my bed, now its time to lie in it: I have to get to the end of this month.

I was so stressed about it, that I didn’t want to do it, and that is not why I started Nano. I started to get me back into a place where I did enjoy writing. On Tuesday I wrote, 2,000 words, on Friday I wrote 300. I beat myself up about it.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if I was writing everyday, I was already winning. At a turning point yesterday, I wrote 1600 words  -and enjoyed it. So, in my first week of Nano I have learnt that I need to enjoy what I am writing and allow myself to be organic. It isn’t about winning, not this year anyway, it is about getting started and creating a habit.

Also, I have found myself attached to a couple of Writing Buddy Groups on Facebook, and as much as I loathe Facebook on the whole, they are so encouraging. It isn’t a competition, it is a personal challenge: I think we need to be reminded of that sometimes. If you don’t win, try again next time it isn’t the end of the world. And, there is nothing to stop you carrying on after Nano ends. So, that is how I am now approaching Nano: with an open heart and a realisation that I have just encountered a very busy month. I’m going to be forgiving.

Good luck with week 2 everyone!

Giant Thoughts

I am terrible for worrying over everything and having build up so much that I break down, which was something I attempted to address in my silly little limerick  which I wrote in response to the poetry challenge (which I am horribly behind on by the way), I was thinking about how I need to be looking at being more forgiving to myself. There was a good response to this and it made me think about how I should be implementing the moral lesson in that poem in my life.

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The Rocky Horror Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (Ortega, Fox, 2016) – Why has it missed the mark?

The sheer volumes of 1-star reviews for the ‘new’ Rocky Horror Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again is astounding. The highest rating I saw was a four despite Fox’s efforts to pull out all the stops, in this post, I want to consider why this might be and why a new remake of a cult classic will never, ever win.

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Face: The Forced Smile

A very quick response to today’s challenge on the Introduction to Poetry Course. The goal was to use alliteration and the prompt was Face – I wanted something short with experimentation of different sounds, a mixture of sibilance and plosive sounds to show the strained aspect of the smile. This isn’t my most cheerful one…

 

Eyes that ache

From forceful smile

Strained struggle steers tears streaming

Lips twitch trained to stay wide

Teeth shine with saliva –

It makes others uncomfortable to see.

But, I guarantee,

they are not nearly as uncomfortable as me.

 

The truth is this:

We smile to make others happy

Not ourselves.

21/10/16, SnarkyOverload