A two week gap. Not quite what I was planning.
Life intruded in the second week of writing, and it’s kept intruding. There was something very seductive and very welcome about those first few days, when I was genuinely able to seal everything off and just put life on hold. Trouble is, it’s the kind of thing that’s very difficult to do for very long, and I’ve got a very busy week ahead of me. I keep saying yes to stuff that’s going to mean a scary amount of work, and I’ve got another 5,000 word article to do, another shorter article to plan, a handful of reviews, a series of screenings (including another Sunday morning one), and a couple of days back at IPC doing some subbing. I can’t wait until this is over. I’m going to try and wake up tomorrow and go straight into some writing. It won’t be all day- hell, I don’t have time for all day, but I also don’t have time to wait around until my life gets easier to handle, and more convenient. I’m getting the impression that life doesn’t.
George and I have been having some difficult moments- it’s the winter, a time she always finds difficult to cope with, and there’s a whole selection of things we’ve been clashing over, but we managed to have a decent talk earlier in the week, and everything is feeling an awful lot better. It’s an unsettling feeling when it doesn’t work- like a mathematical formula that you know should work, but just won’t- but the 99% of good times make up for that lousy 1%.
The world has gone cold, and I’m being re-introduced to the truly shocking nature of the heating in our flat. The place is an icebox, to put it mildly, and almost impossible to heat with only three storage heaters (one of which is in the bedroom, where we hardly go). Nights are heavily enhanced with hot water bottles, and the fact that I’ve been spending most of my time here hasn’t really helped. Combined with the fact that life just seems to be accelerating towards Christmas at a quite appalling pace. It also doesn’t help that working in Movie Journalism means you’re always at least two months ahead. I’m already lined up for screenings of movies that aren’t out until February 2006, and it’s just going to get worse.
I re-watched another episode of the new series of Doctor Who again today, which is more of a clinical exercise for me than actual enjoyment. The thirteen weeks of the series was a weirdly painful experience for me (even more so for poor George, who had to put up with me incoherently shouting “Why, for god’s sake?!? WHY?!?”)- when a series has played as much of a part in your growing up as Doctor Who did in mine, the last thing you expect is for it to (a) get a high profile relaunch, (b) become one of the most talked about successes on British TV, and (c) end up as a programme that you don’t actually like that much. And I don’t. Even the episodes that I really enjoyed, like the Dalek one, there’s still so much wrong with the actual approach to the storytelling and the structure of the show that it’s very difficult for me to watch.
Today, I was watching “Father’s Day”, the episode where Rose goes back to see her dad die in a hit-and-run, and (SHOCK HORROR!) stops him from dying, meaning that time is out of joint, and suddenly big spiny flying creatures start turning up and eating everyone for no readily discernible reason. The thing which struck me more than the incessant heart-string plucking, the emotional manipulation, the cor-blimey-guvnor sub Eastenders characters and the fact that virtually none of the mechanics of the time-paradox plot actually work… the thing which struck me was that the new Doctor Who, for the most part, is the exact opposite of escapism. It’s about making the rest of the universe as shallow and ordinary as everything else- the incessant celebration of ordinary people as the most amazing things in the universe. You can go into the future, as long as it’s still basically the same as now, except with bigger sets and slightly more complicated effects. Oh, I could go on and on, very easily, but essentially, they’ve gutted the show. They’ve taken Who’s fantastic B-movie energy and its pulp storytelling, and replaced it with crap gags and farting aliens. It’s going to be a while before I watch another episode. I’d like to think that things may improve with David Tennant, but by the looks of things (the Children in Need ‘mini-episode’ that leads into the Christmas special) I really don’t think it will. Almost everything I hear about the new series makes my heart sink- but not in an upset fashion, more in just a world-weary “What the hell are they going to throw at me next?” way. It’s one of the reasons why I need to get on with this book- I need to get writing, and get the stories that are in my head out there. It’s just frustrating, because I know that it’s going to be seriously large, and it’s going to take a long time.
Talking of fantasy and escapism, I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe this week, and was actually rather impressed with what I saw. It’s an incredibly faithful version of the book, a little long and slow to begin, but very enjoyably put together and with some great moments. There are major problems, but they’re actually to do with Lewis’ writing, and the kind of fantasy world that Narnia is. Where Middle Earth was a major research project and thought out to be a fully functional historical-style world, Narnia is an entertaining hodge-podge of different mythological sources thrown together and made to fit as best it can. It’s not a movie for the cynical- if you start asking questions or wondering why something is happening, the whole thing falls apart. It asks the audience to take a lot on faith (Lewis’ Christian allegory riding once again), and some of the plot devices are fantastically unwieldy- I think kids will love it, but I don’t know that it’s going to be a cross-audience hit in the way that Rings was. It’s very strange comparing them- Narnia lacks the real sense of edge and demented focus that Rings had, and it’s also exactly the kind of Fantasy movie I was worried they might make Lord of the Rings into, until I finally saw some pictures and saw they were going for a darker and grittier style. It’s bright and colourful and shiny, like a 1940s Disney flick, and I actually realised that this is what some people see when they look at Lord of the Rings and think “I don’t get it!”
Also saw Goblet of Fire, which has a couple of fantastic moments and Ralph Fiennes makes a truly fantastic and thoroughly scary Voldermort, but it’s actually my least favourite since the first movie- with 500 pages to get through, it feels more like a digest version than an adaptation, and Mike Newell tends to let some of the actors (especially Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody) go a little too wild. The central trio are a little creaky compared to their work in Prisoner of Azkaban, with Emma Watson especially slipping from her position as best kid actor in the series with a bit too much over-emphatic shouting and eyebrow-acting. Despite the big Tri-Wizard setpieces, it’s still not as gripping as it should be, and I’m amazed that people aren’t yet seeing through Rowling’s plotting method of “Lots of strange unexplained things happen throughout the year, and then something terribly dramatic happens around April/May!” I’m amazed Harry hasn’t caught on and just asked to skip a couple of months of study, or even gone on the run, considering the kind of pant-wettingly scary stuff that tends to happen in final term. And the whole “Ron/Hermione” budding relationship is rather torpedoed by the fact that anyone who hadn’t read the books would be absolutely certain that Hermione and Harry are destined to end up together- they’ve got much more chemistry together than between EW and the floppy-haired Grint. One of those things that happens when you cast characters in a series that’s still being written. It’ll be interesting to see if they stick with the kid who’s playing Ginny for the slightly overblown romantic sub-plot of Number 6- certainly, seeing if they can get away with the ridiculous “It’s too dangerous for us to be together” line will be educational, if nothing else.
Right- I’m going to try and crack the first level of Jedi Knight II on the Xbox, a final burst of fun before I go to bed, and suddenly the world gets a load more complicated.