Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

her

This is not a review. This is a love letter.

Spike Jonze's Her was a film I'd been excited for ever since I'd caught wind of its existence. It was Spike Jonze, writing and directing a story about technology and relationships,with promises of sci-fi, romance, comedy and philosophy; of course I was hyped. As good reviews, award nominations and word-of-mouth positivity (aka Twitter) floated over from across the pond (where the film had released a month or so earlier), my anticipation only increased. I must have watched the trailers at least twelve times. I read as many non-spoiler articles and features I could find. I spent hours on YouTube watching old Spike Jonze projects. I even started listening to Arcade Fire, the film's composer. This was going to be the film, you know?

And so I sat in the cinema on Tuesday, waiting for it to finally begin and change my life, when an irritating thought occurred to me. What if I've over-hyped this? What if this is a perfectly good movie, but I still walk out of here disappointed because my bar was set impossibly high? 126 minutes later, that thought had vanished. In its place: How do I even begin to articulate how I feel about this film?

I have sat at this computer for around two hours trying to figure this out. Should I tell you about how well this film assesses our current obsession with technology and our current struggles with interpersonal connection? Or just try to explain how this film doesn't just evoke, but provokes emotions and encourages you to go out and feel something? Maybe I should say how much I connected with the sensitive, struggling soul of Theodore Twombly. Perhaps mention the richness of the world that Spike Jonze has created; vibrant but haunting, truly in tune with the emotional insecurity and ambivalence that the story reflects.... And I need to somehow get across how inspired and hopeful I am because of the story's sheer power. But the more I try to do all these things, the harder they become.

So why not simply do a couple tweets about it? Why not admit that "there are no words" for how good this is? 

Because that is even harder.

For me, the two hours I spent last night watching Her felt important. I walked out of Screen 6 looking in one direction: up. With wonderment, I gazed upward. At architecture, at the sky, at ceilings. I was fixated on this vertical axis as I digested everything I had just experienced. When I arrived home, I reached for the usual gadgets to check email, facebook, twitter blah blah... But as I did, I noticed I'd stopped looking up. My reflection in the screen was peering up, but here I was, trying to see who was connecting with me by looking down. I put these gadgets away.    

A text. A facebook message, notification or comment. A retweet, favourite or reply. A snap. An email. These are disconnected connections. They miss something vital in the human experience, and Her makes me want to find what that is. Her's message is not that technology is bad. Her's message, like all great art, is within yourself. The reason I am failing to express myself is because to do so requires another disconnected connection through here. The reason I am perfectly expressing myself is because I want to.

I know that I know very little of love, but I found so much meaning in this film about love. Every second I continue to consider it takes me deeper. I want to write essays on this film and screenplays because of this film. I want to go out and experience every emotion possible. I want to know people and I want to know myself.

I didn't over-hype Her. I under-hyped life.

Go see this movie.

ATR

This probably made very little sense. It probably wasn't supposed to.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Eponymous - My Debut Album

This is a thing.

Seven tracks. One mediocre musician. And a leaky, phallic tap. Turns out that if you can somehow throw together enough pieces of music, you've got an album -- no matter how odd, dissonant or confusing those pieces are. So as with 90% of the things I do, what started out as a joke has flourished into a reality, as I bring you the audaciously titled 'Eponymous', available to download for FREE right now. That's likely a blessing, as when you hear a couple of these, I reckon "Let's give this guy money!" will be the last thing on your mind.

Take it seriously and you're wasting your time.  But allow yourself to laugh at the dodgy vocals, painful melodies and idiosyncratic lyrics, and maybe you'll have some fun. The official description reads:
"A collection of odd pieces I've managed to collate over the last few years, ranging from the bizarre to the eloquent, from the witty to the shitty, from the hippy to the hoppy. Enjoy and/or hate it."


Tracks include:
  1. Nothing But The Sky (feat Tobias) -- A tour de force of electro sampling, greatly aided by the freestyle lyrics and screams of DJ Arnie and Tobias, aged 12. 
  2. Through The Gentle Black -- A relaxed journey along the black keys of my USB keyboard. Such a sophisticated instrument...
  3. Writer's Block -- My first foray into actual song writing, with this musical-inspired piece about the notorious process of writer's block (part of previous GCSE coursework). 
  4. 8-Bits of You -- The other GCSE piece of work, commonly referred to as 'Digitised Nonsense'.
  5. Mama Do'a What'a She Like Today -- This is what happens when you learn very basic mixing and have a very boring afternoon. 
  6. Ode to The Credits -- Everyone's favourite ditty from the YouTube smash hit dramedy, 'Don't Shoot!'.
  7. Super Secret Bonus Track! -- Only available by downloading (it's a tense one). 
Direct link to the BandCamp page for downloading, listening, ignoring, etc.

Now go ahead and dance away to my irritatingly limited vocal range while riding bum notes across the vast, vast ocean of generic chord sequences. For a split second amongst it all you may experience something good, and for me, that's enough. It is merely a joke album, after all.

Thanks to Nick Townsend for allowing me to use his brilliantly absurd photograph as the poignantly irrelevant cover art. PLUG!

ATR

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Spoofageddon

I haven't done a post in a while (read: forever), so I thought I'd just pop back to feature my two most recent projects over on DudeMeisterFilms. Whilst I'm not the greatest fan of commercials, they do provide a great basis for parody, lampoon and satire that rightfully engages my high brow wit (read: dick jokes). So, naturally, both the fragrance and drug industries get the full force of my astonishingly intellectual mocking in this double threat of mick-taking homages. Whether it's half naked guys or pill popping nerds that take your fancy, I've got you covered in a couple of minutes like no other.

First up, Revisitall, an interesting foray into cheesy performances and painful choices of music:



And then for those of a saucier disposition, we have the blisteringly steamy Words: The Fragrance For Men, which benefits from having this particular Brad Pitt ad in mind before viewing.



Thanks go out to my stars Charlie Burton and Austen Salisbury, the latter of whom co-wrote and co-directed Words, and provided the excellent product manipulations. Unfortunately I cannot offer you either of these products in real life, but perhaps by re-watching, liking, sharing, favouriting and subscribing you'll increase your chances of becoming smarter/hotter/fragranter.

ATR

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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Don't Shoot! - A Filmmaker's Frustration

Or How I Made a Charlie Kaufman Love Letter without Knowing who Charlie Kaufman is.
The project I had been working on since the beginning of the year went up on YouTube last week, and it occurred to me that I had failed to provide an accompanying blog post as of yet. Having neglected the blog pretty extensively for a while now, and even using it for a few patches in the film itself, I believe it's only right to return to the site that started this whole "DudeMeister" gimmick in the first place.

Of course, if you've yet to treat yourself with the rollicking comedic delight that is Don't Shoot! then you might want to do so now via this handy embedded version:
  

Once the hilarity has finished devouring your senses, proceed onward with this nifty Q&A that no one asked for.

Q: What the hell did I just watch?
A: You just witnessed what happens when I am denied the chance to make something. I make something bigger. Two months bigger. What started out as a silly inside joke ended up snowballing into this gargantuan mockumentary that exposed mine and my friends short-and-long-comings, and somehow managed to incorporate a  meaningful message (however crowbarred in said message was).

Q: So it's actually real?
A: Mmmm, partly. Everything you see the guys (Cameron, Nick, Josh, Austen, Charlie) saying and doing is 100% real, however hard that may be to believe. The Risk script is real - you can in fact read it here - and the whole refusal business is real. When Risk went kaput, I picked up my camera and channelled my frustration into annoyingly interviewing my friends about it, as a way to kill time. Little did I know how damn hilarious some of them would be *cough*Cameron*cough*. Obviously, everything I say in the film is a scripted piece of nonsense, along with our resident scientist, Joyce Prett.

Q: Josh isn't really an alcoholic then?
A: Not as far as I know, but I believe right now he's more concerned about the fact that he was "misrepresented" as a compulsive FIFA player. Go figure.

Q: What would you call your multi-faceted role in the film?
A: Oxymoronic Master of Narcissistic Self-Deprecation.

Q: Who is that lovable-rogue-yet-suave-intellectual of a silhouette known only as "ATR"?
A: I'm afraid I am still not allowed to divulge that information.

Q: Is that geek room really yours?
A: Yep. Star Wars mini-busts and all. #NerdPride

Q: Dude, everyone hates it when people hashtag outside of Twitter...
A: #LetTheHatersHateTwoKayThirteen

Q: Why the Credits Song at the end?
A: Uh, I think you mean 'Ode to the Credits'. And really it was just this simple ditty I wrote and recorded in three hours prior to finishing the film (hence its wonkiness), as a means to get people to stay and admire my abnormally large name for a little longer.

Q: That is a stupidly long name.
A: Right? It gets worse with middle names. Two of 'em.

Q: Your parents were not kind to you, in regards to future paperwork...
A: No. No they were not. But they were kind enough to lend some feedback during the editing process, which is why they found themselves in the Special Thanks credits (also, you know, having me kind of helped as well).

Q: There were a lot of Special Thanks. Care to tell us what the hell Francis Ford Coppola had to do with this film?
A: Just like my furry friends in the Kingdom of Caring, I would very much care. Coppola there directed Apocalypse Now, which Risk was very liberal in referencing, while Don't Shoot! took some inspiration from its behind-the-scenes documentary/expos√© Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. Now the funny thing about that is I have never seen either of those films. I'm a huge phony. Instead, the influence was filtered down to me through those geniuses at Community; namely creator Dan Harmon and writer (particularly of the "Documentary Filmmaking" episodes) Megan Ganz.

Q: How about the other people thanked in that section?
A: Well, I don't think I can do anything in my life without attributing it in some way to Joss Whedon, whilst Ben Blacker's Writer's Panel Podcasts have taught me so much about writing and Jane Espenson's 'Writing Sprints' gave me focused and driven time to work on this thing. My guitar teacher was in there for obvious reasons, along with the ever amazing comedic-musical talents of Garfunkel & Oates. And of course there was BriTANick, without whom I don't think I would have even considered attempting a sketch in the first place, let alone expand upon one with a 15 minute documentary. Seriously. Check. Them. Out. They're my heroes right now.


Q: Are you aware that you spelt JUDAS wrong?
A: ... Well now I am!


Q: You quite literally interview and talk to yourself in Don't Shoot! - is that a thing you make a habit of in real life?
A: Huh. Uhm...

Q: Were you apprehensive that the lengthy time code (14:22) would turn a lot of potential viewers away?
A: A little bit. But I figured/hoped that the curiosity that I somehow managed to make a film that long would at least warrant it a click, and then I was just betting on the ever-changing nature of the documentary to keep them hanging on.

Q: Finally, what's next?
A: I'm currently developing another documentary about how one misspelling of a notorious biblical figure can make a man hate everyone and everything he has ever known.

Q: Sounds... well it sounds. Been great typing to you.
A: Yup.

Thus ends my blog post about my latest film, which has its flaws, but stands as a nifty reminder to myself that creation always finds a way out, if you give it the time. #Proudsies. Remember you can watch Don't Shoot! - A Filmmaker's Frustration right now on the Tube of You, which I've heard supports Like, Favourite, Subscribe and Share features that I'll leave in the capable hands of your own free will. With your help, it could go viral by Christmas*!

ATR

*2113

Sunday, 27 January 2013

RE:View: Risk - The Script

Through an unlikely set of circumstances, I seem to have found myself in possession of a 3 page comedy sketch entitled Risk, with no clue as to who wrote it or how it ended up in a partly torn, partly burnt mess on my front door. With the possibility of this being a leak of a first class comedy writer's highly confidential new project, I had no other journalistic option but to provide an honest and objective review of the mysterious text...

At its core, Risk is based around the classic board/strategy game of the same name, employing tedious sketch tropes into two characters, who very much exist within a one dimensional range of personality. Whilst 'Josh' takes the game way too seriously (clich√© war movie dialogue galore), 'Charlie' undermines his silliness with a dry and generally puzzled disposition.

Although peppered with a heavy handed slab of nauseating post-modernism, the actual pacing of Risk isn't too bad, and manages to weave from mediocre joke to mediocre joke with a decent control over escalation: a common sketch convention, which in this case sees us go from Josh walkie-talking with his troops on the board to him spouting lines from Apocalypse Now while being tied to a chair, prisoner-of-war style. From a writer's point of view, it demonstrates at the very least a potential of sustained humour, but from a production perspective, it's hardly a surprise that this script has yet to have been made. Sudden costume changes? Alternating lighting patterns? Precise dice throws? Whatever comedic credit it had built up is squandered by this frankly amateur approach to practicality.

As for the characters, Risk's anonymous writer chose not to stray far from the norm. The 'Sane Guy/Insane Guy' setup is undoubtedly a favourite among troupe legends such as Monty Python and The Kids in the Hall, and is used here in a predictable but no less humorous manner. The problem comes in trying to picture actual actors to bring the schizophrenic dialogue (i.e. sometimes zippy, other times clunky) to life. It's no mean feat, with lines like " I've lost too many damn men to give up now!" and "Dude! You just SPAT on my carpet!" requiring a certain tongue-in-cheek seriousness that only the likes of BriTANick are capable of delivering convincingly. And based on the inexperienced vibe of the writer, it's likely the actual sketch would have relied on hokey performances from disinterested friends.

It's a shame, because when I first read the script I'd thought it to be a quite decent first attempt from a budding writer who was destined for greatness. But upon reflection, it's no wonder I'd found it in the state of tear-stained ruins that it was -- an over eagerness for production and characters had obviously meant that no self-respecting human being in their right mind would want to be immortalised in such a mess, therefore causing the unknown writer to cry themselves into a beautiful metaphor of first-world depression.


1.5/5 Stars

ATR