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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Michael Sharvell-Martin

You may not know the name, but if you've any familiarity with British TV comedy of the last 30 years you'll immediately recognise the face... actor Michael Sharvell-Martin died of cancer of the oesophagus on October 27th.

A consistent and solid player in scripted comedy (No Place Like Home, Terry and June), and a regular in shows with Dave Allen and Benny Hill, Sharvell-Martin was also the founding chairman of The Irving Society, dedicated to the life and memory of the Victorian actor-manager.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Remaindered

Last night I got to see Lee Goldberg's stinging and accomplished short film Remaindered, and I'm going to recommend it to you without reservation. Yes, I know Lee, and no, friendship has nothing to do with it.

The tale's as well-turned as you'd expect from a pro, and it takes imaginative flight from a reality that'll be recognised by anyone who's ever faced the world over a stack of books at a signing table. OK, so not everyone's done that. But it's about those dying-inside times when your soul and your sense of self-worth are laid bare for strangers to pick at, and there's no escaping them as they oblige.

It's the mise-en-scene, to get fancy about it, that takes it to another level. The small-town Kentucky locale is perfectly textured for the story, and Lee's choices are all spot-on. From the opening shots you've a real sense of a place and its people. A special shout-out here for Todd Reynolds as Detective Bud Flanek, whose easy John Goodman-like screen charisma left me surprised to see that he doesn't have a long resume of Hollywood character roles.

When I look at Lee's film and Danny Stack's more oblique and enigmatic Origin, I'm impressed and a little depressed at the same time... I've already written about my own early efforts with a camera and although I had at least as good a time and probably learned as much as these guys, my results were nowhere near as well-conceived or presentable (someday I'll tell you about Trick Shot, the entire 16mm movie that I shot with no sync sound and a busted light meter).

But here's the lesson. You don't wait for someone to give you a break. You make your own. You want to be a visual storyteller but you don't want to drum up support, gather people, strongarm your friends, motivate strangers, beg favours or otherwise hustle for something you believe in? Then you're missing the point... that's actually the job.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Brooligan on the Kindle

I've just released four of my backlist titles as ebooks for the Kindle, with other platforms to follow when I can get around to putting the work in.

Formatting for a professional-looking result isn't the doddle that some would have you believe; up-converting a Word file with Amazon's own online tool gives a result that I personally wouldn't pay money for. These titles were put together by Paul Drummond, who offers a complete ebook design service from his website.

The books are Chimera (the genetic thriller that spawned the ITV series, US Kindle link here), creepy police procedural Down River (US link here), contemporary on-the-run fantasy Oktober (another ITV adaptation, with Stephen Tompkinson, US Kindle link here), and modern noir suspenser The Painted Bride (US here).


In the near future I'll be adding my Scandinavian supernatural horror tale Follower along with Out of his Mind, the short story collection that picked up the British Fantasy Award.

Amazon has (have?) kindly linked the new titles to old customer reviews. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this consists of three people who didn't care for the books and took the time to say so. While respecting their opinions (ya kinda hafta or you don't look too good) I'm crossing my fingers that others will soon chip in and provide some balance without me having to go the Orlando Figes route.

On the subject of embarrassing sock-puppetry, when researching the life of Daniel Defoe to flesh out Robinson Crusoe's backstory I found that one Defoe biographer had rubbished the most prominent book on the subject while writing his own a glowing five-star review. Unfortunately he must have misunderstood the process, and his real name appears on both entries.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Secret in their Eyes

Okay, so I'm slow to catch on.

El Secreto de sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes) already won the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and here I am only now recommending it to you. And I saw it on a plane, which is hardly the cinephile way. Quality issues apart, imagine two hours of reading subtitles on that washy little seatback screen.

But I still loved the movie. Its storytelling and emotional tone won through. Someone once described my own stuff as 'melancholy mysteries' and I'm guessing that's why I connected so well with it.

Yeah, it's all about me.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Twitter

Brooligan is now on Twitter. You can find me here. I'll drop in the odd nugget about the new show that I'm developing for Fox, insofar as I can do it without tempting the gods.

You know how they love to screw with our plans.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Welcome to my World

From Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood:

Lionsgate is adapting Stanley Park, a pilot it produced in the UK for the BBC, for the US market. Giving the keynote speech this afternoon at the Mipcom TV market in Cannes, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said that Fox “loved it.” Writer/creator Leo Richardson is now working on the pilot script, he said. The BBC though still hasn’t made its mind up. “Shame on you,” Feltheimer said.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Curses! Tagged Again

This time it's to make an A to Z list of books you've read, first one into your mind, no cheating. Here's where I get to give thanks for XENO by D F Jones (Science Fiction Book Club, 1979) and - after much head-scratching and the iron self-control required not to turn and scan the bookshelves - Gerald Durrell's A ZOO IN MY LUGGAGE.

I read the challenge from Good Dog about half an hour ago and I've got the full list now - I defy anyone who's put on the spot not to stop everything and tackle it right away. It's an open invitation so anyone can have a go. The rules are:

1. Go through the alphabet, and for each letter, think of a book you’ve read that starts with that letter (A, An, and The do not count).

2. You must write down the FIRST book you think of for any given letter.

3. You must have actually READ the book.

4. If you think of a more impressive-sounding book for a particular letter, you CANNOT change to the more impressive-sounding book.

ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME Richard Lupoff & Don Thompson
BILL THE GALACTIC HERO Harry Harrison
CONGO Michael Crichton (one of his worst)
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP Philip K Dick
EVERY MAN AN ENEMY William Howard Baker (Sexton Blake)
FARADAY'S FLOWERS Tony Kenrick
GREAT EXPECTATIONS Charles Dickens
HIGH CITADEL Desmond Bagley
IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN Maurice Sendak
JUST WILLIAM Richmal Crompton
A KISS BEFORE DYING Ira Levin
LORD OF THE FLIES William Golding
MARATHON MAN William Goldman (coincidence, honest)
THE NESTLING Charles L Grant
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY Kendal Burt & James Leasor
THE POWER AND THE GLORY Graham Greene
QUEST OF THE DAWN MAN J H Rosny
RODNEY STONE Arthur Conan Doyle
SOLARIS Stanislaw Lem
THURSDAY ADVENTURE John Pudney
UNDER MILK WOOD Dylan Thomas
VOICE OF OUR SHADOW Jonathan Carroll
THE WHITE DACOIT Berkeley Mather
XENO D F Jones
THE YOUNG VISITERS Daisy Ashford
A ZOO IN MY LUGGAGE Gerald Durrell

Now, back to work...