reading films: an intro

reading films? what is this girl on about?!!

Yes, I am here to tell you that reading films is a thing.  

Have you ever watched a film and felt puzzled at the end… and then had to Google the meaning? (and then wondered afterwards, who are these people that know this stuff?)

As it happens, they’re people that read films.  It’s not an exclusive skill and I bet you’ve even done it yourself a few times without realising and if you’ve ever spoken to anyone in depth about a film you’ve seen, then you definitely have.

Since over a century ago when films were invented there have been huge changes in what we expect from them. From at first not having any sound, to the soundtrack being one of the most important devices a filmmaker may rely on, to computer generated images opposed to handmade props and puppets. 

Like art and music and poetry and storytelling, film-making has been a fluid evolutionary process as it expands and experiments with new ways to project our interpretations of humanity.

That was a deep I know, it gets worse.  

When we study English in School, we learn how Shakespeare used storytelling devices like Metaphors in Imagery to convey the states or the emotions of the characters. More than that, they would sometimes communicate entire existential crisis’, like mortality!! There are now even studies into how Shakespeare may have been a political rebel, hiding subversive messages in his works.

Films are a great way to learn about people, kids, friendships, relationships, politics, cultures, humanity and even history (I know they’re generally fictitious but sometimes they inspire people to do a bit of research). As the years have passed the dramatic became more realistic, backdrops became Ariel shots and the suspense became more intense. Reading films is about appreciating those changes and asking why they happened. 

It’s not to say that every single film is trying to ask some life changing question or state some intense political agenda… However, many of the most famous (and infamous) films do use different devices and techniques to make some sort of statement, and that goes to show as an audience, that we like watching clever and meaningful film-making.

************ 

There’s a lot of places for Directors to hide clues and messages in plain sight. They reinforce something in the plot, create a theme or develop the characters and their motives but mainly, they show us the story, without telling it.  

Go to my next post reading films: a breakdown for what to look out for next.

mini midnight post

Yes, it’s been a while.

Here I am, having a catch up with myself at 2.30 in the morning, but it serves me right for having a 3-hour nap earlier.

I’m completely out of sync with my sleep this week and I’ve been unable to get back into a rhythm since my last night shift a few days ago.

If you work nights, you’ll understand the struggle of managing your day life and your night life and your social life and your health life and… I’m sure you get the picture.

So here I am, trimming and pruning the next few posts (I don’t like doing one thing at once… no, I have to do everything at the same time) while also writing this one.

But enough moaning about that I only have 2 more nightshifts and 3 very long and excessive day shifts before it’s all over and I change jobs. I may have enjoyed most of it while it lasted (it was an interesting experience), but for so many reasons I had to give it up.

It’s been an arduous month of interviews and multi-tasking and babysitting (so much babysitting), but I’m so excited to say that I’ve found another job and I will be working days again (and no more weekends).

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The photo above is an hour before I attended my final interview… er, yesterday I guess… after a night of, well, 3 hours sleep (like the picture says).

This has been one of the most testing months I have had in a while but I feel like it’s all been worth it even though I spent a lot of time worrying about things that seemed to just fall into place anyway.

It could be all the sunshine & vitamin D or maybe I’m finally just crawling out from under the rock I’ve been living under, but I finally feel excited for something and it has been such a long, long time.

my cinema: summer 2019

I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner but I guess it has been a while since I have made regular trips to Cinema.

My local Odeon Cinema, in Hull, recently had a refurbish, so I have been going almost once a or twice a week since my first time back there after it became all new and shiny. I’ve decided that I love going there so much more than any other Cinema (EVER), that I am going to make a point of going as much as I possibly can this Summer, hence the massive list.

I am even debating signing up for their Limitless Card, but I have a few commitment issues and as soon as I sign up for something, I stop wanting to do it… if that doesn’t make sense to you, then too bad; the things I do rarely make sense to me either.

There are are tonnes of films I’ve been adding to my list for a few months (here are twenty of them) and all I can do is hope they’re all going to be shown at Hull’s new Odeon.

So here is my light and fluffy (with occasional blood-soaked violence) list of films that I definitely want to see this Summer, and unless there are any secret productions that are going to drop onto my lap, I don’t see this list changing.

What’s left of May;

Aladdin 24/05/2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters 29/05/2019

June;

X-Men: Dark Phoenix 05/06/2019

Men in Black: International 14/06/2019

Brightburn 21/06/2019

Child’s Play 21/06/2019

Annabelle Comes Home 28/06/2019

July;

Spider-Man: Far from Home 02/07/2019

The Dead Don’t Die 12/07/2019

The Art of Self-Defense 12/07/2019

The Lion King 19/07/2019

August;

Artemis Fowl 09/08/2019

Once upon a time in Hollywood 14/08/2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold 16/08/2019

Where’d you go, Bernadette? 16/08/2019

Angel has Fallen 23/08/2019

The Informer 30/08/2019

September;

It Chapter Two 06/09/2019

The Kitchen 20/09/2019

Rambo V: Last Blood 20/09/2019

a brief history of the origin of plays

There’s a clear link between the origin of the play and what’s known as western philosophy. A few philosophers and playwrights developed the principle the techniques and devices in storytelling (including films, books and plays alike) that we use today.


Melpomene (Tragedy) and Thalia (Comedy )

Philosophy on its own, just means the solving of problems – Big problems, with broad subjects like; existence, knowledge, language and reason. It can be applied to all sorts of things.

Why are plays so important?

Being able to read or write was not something just anyone could do a few thousand years ago. Even if people were telling stories, unless they could shout very loudly or write them down, not many people would hear them except through word of mouth which means there was a lot lost in translation.

Luckily for us, some storytellers did end up finding ways to write their stories down. But, it was hard enough finding anyone that could write, so imagine trying to find anyone that could read!

Someone eventually saw a niche in the market though, and figured that those who could read, could read stories out loud to a group of people… and so it began. Plays.

Have a guess where it all started… Did you guess Ancient Greece? Gold star for you!

The first Plays were performed in Athens in the Theatre of Dionysus around 500 BC and they consisted of one actor called the Protagonist who told a story with the help of a Chorus (a group of people). A man called Thespis was apparently the first ever man who went on stage and acted as a character. He even went on Tour after winning one of the first documented theatre competitions. Ha! Imagine that, Thespis on Tour! People loved him and he was a complete celebrity – like Thespis Depp or Brad Thespis.

Theatre of Dionysus

As time went on, the Tyrants and Politicians (same difference really) would buy their people’s favour by building theatres or sponsoring plays and employing playwrights to write for them.

Plays were so popular that within years there were Theatres popping up all over the place. But it didn’t stop at reading out loud, these were exciting times and once the ideas started rolling, they just snowballed.

A Playwright called Aeschylus (aka The Father of Tragedy), decided to change the game. He added a Second Guy to help tell the story. So there were 2 men telling the story and less chorus! The second person became known as the Antagonist. Aeschylus literally introduced the Conflict amongst his Characters. This is where storytelling evolved into something really complex.

We had our first Goodie and Baddie on stage.

So, Aeschylus had a student called Sophocles. You will never guess what he did… OK, you might. Well, he introduced a THIRD GUY!

Sophocles did other great things too but the competition was tough by now and he was overtaken by Euripides.

More of Euripides’ work survived because it was more popular than Aeschylus & Sophocles’. He was all about the representation of traditional mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. That’s because us lot in the audience loved to be able to imagine our plain-Jane selves as heroes.

Anyway, then there was Socrates who happened to be a this great mind-blowing philosopher who, in 407, met Plato. Plato abandons his first ambitions of being a playwright and becomes Socrates student and personal biographer.

Then! After ALL that comes along Aristotle. Aristotle begins studies at Plato’s Academy and becomes his student and with that, the first ever Play-Writing Manual was written.

“Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments, and it should be written in poetry embellished with every kind of artistic expression.” – Poetics, Aristotle 

It was written by Aristotle called and was called Poetics . It was like the beginning of Literary Theory. It talks about the elements found in storytelling and shows where they appear in Plays.

It documents the start of literary theory as we understand it today. It supports the close connection between philosophical thinking applied in plays, stories and films.

The western thinkers

The link between plays and western thinking is clear when you see how closely these men all worked together. The stories that were told and the impact they had were an insight into our psyche at the time and much of it is still relevant today. The Greeks explored the world they lived in and what it meant to be human through the Plays they watched and the reason the rest of us in the western world did the same is because we could identify with each other through them.

Stories go hand in hand with philosophy because they’re our way of thinking about those big subjects – existence, knowledge, language and reason.

There were only really three types of Play at first. Comedy, Tragedy and Satyr. Poetics outlines them all in the introduction however the main subject of the book is Tragedy (there may have been a second book which covered Comedy but it’s thought to have been lost).

The Comedies mainly made fun out of the men in power (and their vanity). The Tragedies were about Love and Loss, pride and abuse of Power. Typically the Protagonist would do something really bad and be arrogant or foolish. But, as he realises what he has done, his world falls apart around him. 

Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides are thought of as the Three Great Playwrights of Tragedy. 

The Satyr plays were short skits which played between the acts of Tragedies and they mocked the misfortune of the Tragedies characters. The origins of the play and what you can find from the public interaction with them is how important they were to the culture in Greece and subsequently the rest of the world. 

We may think we have evolved and grown but even now when it comes to most of what happened in all those Plays written in the few hundred years after 600 BC we still find the stories are relatable. Why? Because they are stories about the human condition and they were written by philosophers that shaped our history, way of thinking and perspective.

Thousands of years on we can identify with the stories they left us – so what does that say about the films and stories we see and hear today? How relatable will they be to the future generations?

In order,

Thespis, c. 6th century BCE (exact dates unknown)

Aeschylus, c. 525 BCE – 455 BCE

Sophocles, c. 497 – 406 BCE

Euripides, c. 480 – 406 BCE

Socrates, c. 469 – 399 BCE

Plato, c. 427- 348 BCE

Aristotle 384 – 322 BCE

ten best things Tuesday

Tuesday was my best day, I had thee best time from start to finish.
  1. My morning started with a nightmare… and yes, you may be thinking ‘how on Earth can a great day start with a nightmare?’
It’s because I actually love nightmares. With the same logic of why people go on roller-coasters, go bungee jumping or watch horror films; they do it for a rush. To me a nightmare is like a surprise horror screening in the cinema of your brain… which is kind of apt because I ended up having a whole movie day. Well this nightmare was so bad that it made me bolt upright in bed gasping for air for the first time in a few years. So you can imagine how racy my heart was. The worst thing about this was that there was no way I was getting back to sleep straight away.
  1. The 2nd best thing that happened was to my sweet, scrawny, tiny and very dopey Batcat.
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Scrawny Batcat
For Christmas, I got a cat flap and all the cats, except Batcat, loved it from the first Day. It was like a letterbox for cats. When they figured it out, it was like I could almost hear them saying ‘Mam – this is amazing, it’s our OWN DOOR!’ and they were in and out of it all day and have been since. Batcat on the other-hand was having absolutely none of it. She would cry and cry and cry until I opened the door. Despite my weeks of trying to coax and help her through, she didn’t seem to grasp the whole concept of the flap.
The squad
Keeping Guard – Jessie, Patch, Hugo
So back to my Tuesday morning where I needed a walk around the house with a glass of water to shake off this dream of being chased and eaten by a giant bacteria-worm down my Dad’s street. Not surprisingly, there was Batcat, sitting at the back door whining for me to let her out. So I did, but not before warning her I was going back to bed so she was staying outside. Off she went and off I went, back to bed. So there I was, dozing off and about to re-enter dream hell, when I heard that familiar letterbox noise, not once, not twice, not three times, but over and over and Over and OVer and OVEr and OVER. I threw back my covers, in a rage! What was going on down there?! I stampeded down the stairs ready to find out which of my little furry demons were trying to wind me up. But there, from down the hallway, I could see the tiny paw of my freaky Batcat. I couldn’t believe it, she’d gotten her paw through the flap. Her whole Paw! Suddenly realising this could be the moment I had been waiting for – I stopped. ‘Come on girl, come on – you can do it!’ I coaxed in my softest voice while I crept toward the door, ‘Tsk Tsk Tsk, come on.’ Well, what can I say when I saw that little head come all the way inside I knew she had finally done it. It was like seeing a child walk for the first time, except better cause it was my baby Batcat! She chirped as she came through the cat flap and I scooped her up, giving her the most cuddly cuddle and strokes. It was amazing and easily makes its way into the best thing that’s happened in months… Judge all you like.
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Batcat the ball of fur
So obviously after all this excitement there was no way I was getting back to sleep.
  1. Me and Batcat went back to bed but we decided on a morning movie; The Spy who dumped me.
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The Spy Who Dumped Me
That was my 3rd best thing and I just need to say that every time I watch Mila Kunis in a film, I fall in love with her more and more. She is a great actress and absolutely drop dead gorgeous but she plays it off with such humility. With every film her characters get better and better. Next to her was Kate Mckinnon as her best friend and What. A. Pair… It made me want to call all my best friends and go to Prague…  again.
  1. The 4th was seeing my Family and finding out more about the latest project my Dad was into.
  2. Then taking my little Sister and my baby nephew for food.
  3. I went to see Pet Sematary at Cinema– completely alone.
That’s right, there was nobody else in the screening with me.  I was so excited.
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Pet Sematary
There was a bit of an issue though. I had geared myself up for a heart attack level of scare so bad that I would be white with terror and need an ambulance before the end. I must have ‘bigged it up’ too much though. It was nowhere as terrifying as I thought it would be. I liked the soundtrack a lot, bodies dragging themselves around on wooden floors and bones crunching underfoot in the woods. A few scenes did make me shiver but I could have just been cold.
  1. Then for the 7th event of the day, Costa! I went with a friend and I AM SO GLAD I DID. Obviously after seeing Pet Sematary, Stephen King came up. Then naturally IT came up and my friend casually mentions a metaphor I didn’t notice when I had read the IT book before. I could not let this pass me by (more on this when I read the book). I hadn’t read IT since I was 15, so within minutes, I was furiously tapping away on Ebay.
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    IT
    I’m now impatiently waiting for a copy of IT to make its way to me in the post.
  2. The 8th best thing was A Clockwork Orange at Odeon
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    A Clockwork Orange
  3. Popcorn and Pick ‘N’ Mix.
  4. The 10th best thing of the day though… Recliners.
That’s right, Odeon have done their cinema out in Hull and Oh My Days! There is no other way to watch a film at cinema AGAIN. They have actual, super comfy, recliners in in some of their screens. Oh Man, Oh Mannnnn!! The comfort level was through the roof. I even saw a few people go with blankets – which I am definitely doing next time I go. I don’t think I can leave it very long either. I want to take one of those recliners home with me. It was such a premier experience. Especially seeing A Clockwork Orange on the big screen which, by the way, gets better every time I see it.

to hull and back

yes, I just nicked the title of a famous Only Fools and Horses episode… well I guess they’re all famous 🤔

Trotters

Anyway.

If you’re new, welcome. If you’ve been before, then welcome back.

Big welcomes all round.

So, I’m trying this blogging thing out and I reckon one of the easiest ways to practice writing to a bunch of people is to write about the things I know (I’ll blag what I don’t when I’m a bit more of an expert).

Hull is my home town.

One of my favourite things about Hull is that if you want something to do for the day, we have a little bunch of Free Museums. They’re decent ones too, especially if you don’t have a lot of money.

Ok, so they are no Natural History or Science Museum (like in London), but they make for a nice wander around the city centre.

We also have the Deep, which is about a tenner per person, but you only need to pay once for the whole year.

So, getting to the point, there’s a new addition to the city centre.

*drum roll please*…

The Dark History Museum…

a live experience

It’s been open a few months and if you live in Hull you may have missed it. I went with some friends and we all remembered it as the old art shop down West Street (behind Brookes and Cooplands).

amber, jade, me, steph

It had a door price of £11 but they were having a 2-4-1 deal and I thought that was reasonable for something different. As it happened, we weren’t in there for very long, so with the full price in mind, I’d think £11 was a bit steep.

The live experience is that you’re guided around a few rooms by different actresses in full costume and let’s just say, it does not look like the art shop now. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that’s not been yet, so I won’t give away too much.

It looks great in there, but…

And yes, there is a but which I don’t like because it’s not like anyone heads to a day out and thinks,

‘i hope this event is a waste of my money and there’s loads wrong with it’…

I’ve been on Live Experience tours before and they have blown me away and this Live Experience had a few well executed scares. BUT –

I was hoping for a bit more information around the tour, a few more fact nuggets. The stories they told us weren’t very well formed and there were a few things that just didn’t quite make sense.

They would also say things like stay away from that corner, or that some people would be coming, but nothing would happen, or the people didn’t show up.

We all agreed we got the sense the actresses are only just learning their roles. It was very amateurish and felt a bit silly. The last lady was brilliant, but we only had her for a few minutes.

I think maybe the tour guides need to go see a few live tours, they need to fine tune their scripts and work on the information they’re telling customers.

If they accept they’re not quite there yet and try and learn a more about the stories they are telling and what do’s and don’ts work in a Live Experience tour then I am sure it’ll all get much better.

Places trying to get established in Hull need our support so I definitely think everyone should give it a go, even if its to leave some feedback.

For now, though, I hope they keep that 2-4-1 offer on while they are still practicing.

Trauma 1.1

Millie could hear blood rush around her body, and she shook with every thudding heartbeat. She stared, unblinking and barely breathing at the slightly open door ahead of her trying to focus her hearing beyond the wall for any sound.    

She thought she had closed the door behind her when she ran in and on realising that she hadn’t she found herself too paralysed. She willed herself to close it but there was no more will in her body.   

The small room had a table in the middle with a chair either side. There were two doors into the room, the one that she was focused on, slightly ajar and the other on the same wall as a huge two-way mirror behind her.  

There was a camera in the upper corner above the open door and a little red light beneath it that blinked away. She wondered if anyone alive was watching her now, crouched over in a primal hunch beneath the mirror, more terrified than she had ever been in her whole life.  

She finally blinked and as her eyelids scraped across her dry eyeballs, they filled with water. Tears began to stream down her face. She had no choice but to take a deep sobbing breath as painful and bloody images began flashing through her mind. Her eye’s blurred and she began to bawl. Her bum found the floor as her legs gave way and sprawled out in front of her, her head dropping into her bloody hands.  

She was crippled between breaths of air and streams of tears; with every gulp of it she saw her friend’s die.   

She could feel the sensation of blood gushing up her arms when Alison’s throat was torn wide open. 

She saw an image of Lilah holding out her hand, screaming in agony, seconds before her body was ripped into half from the waist with her guts spilling out onto the floor.   

She blinked hard a few times and shook her head in a desperate attempt to shake the images loose.  

Catching her breath finally Millie wiped her face with a dry patch on the inside of her hoody and looked ahead – just as Lilah began to crawl through the open door. 

the first post

this is not my first time.

I have tried blogging several times before. Unfortunately for all you potential readers, I kept thinking – who on earth is going to want to listen to me drivel on?

I mean it’s not really any different now. Even if only one person reads my blog (and even if that one person is me) at least I wrote down the stuff that goes on in my head.

I entertain myself anyway.

Why, after trying and failing before, am I doing this again?

I just need a creative space.

I can’t draw or paint, I can’t build anything and I don’t play any instruments – but, what I can do, is write thousands upon thousands of words about almost anything.

Previously I’ve been quite strict about what content I want in my blogs. I thought I had to make the content match an audience type if I was going to be successful at actually having an audience. So the blogs were either just film reviews or just film deconstructions or just blah blah blah.

Then I realised my attention span is shorter than the space between my index finger and thumb and that I could not commit to any of the subjects without becoming bored or frustrated.

I then realised that I need to stop trying to focus on just one subject and embrace my goldfish-like tendencies.

I could have it all and so could everyone else. From reading other blogs I noticed that people don’t necessarily go for the subject matter in some cases, but rather the voice behind the writer. Some people are like goldfish too.

So if, like me, you can’t focus on more than one subject for more than a few paragraphs then you should definitely hang around.  I will talk about all sorts.

If I want to tell you all about a film I saw or that I’ve been learning about the impact of advertising on children or if I just happen to be writing a story about a female serial killer that runs a parrot sanctuary, then I can.

There are no limits.

That is my first post. Short and sweet enough to get you interested I hope.