“Recent changes to your circumstance…”

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Life’s been a bit mental lately so haven’t had time to give anyone any news or updates so will try and get everything out of the way on here. As such, this will be an ‘update’ sort of post so may not be of interest to many of you. So, buckle up:

Moved –

Due to continued unemployment and lack of funds I have been living off the kindness of strangers (good friends actually) of late by sleeping on their floors, sofas and sparerooms. Naturally then, due to my constant Catholic guilt I could no longer impinge on the goodwill of my friends so instead of running around and living out of a rucksack it came time to depart my beloved Manchester if only for a brief time. I hope. As such, I have returned to the bosom of my family in Kent and am living back in my old room at my Mother’s which is not ideal for either of us but I think we are all hoping this will only be temporary. This does however take the pressure off things somewhat and gives me the time I’d like to get more writing done and other stuff that is generally steps toward my fledgling “career”.

Maladies –

Predictably, due to me being such a runty little dweeb, just when I didn’t need any other additional setbacks I got some sort of horrible infection that is going around giving me a sky high fever and causing me to faint in my friend’s kitchen, this was further compounded by my own idiocy in breaking two of my ribs. All this was not ideal when having to move from house to house and sleeping on sofas. Ouch.

Mingling –

My good friend David Hartley invited me to support him for his launch of his collection Threshold at Fyg in a sort of tit-for-tat repayment for having him support me for my own launch. It was quite a stellar night and the place was packed with a very receptive audience. Sadly this fell at the same time as the ribs, the infection, a debacle regarding finances and being unable to get there on time and other personal issues that meant it was, only for me I reiterate, something of a shambles sadly. Everyone else seemed to have a great time and it was indeed a success but as always seems to be the case with me at times of great importance, things go quite specatcularly wrong. David and Ian did great readings though and it was great night. Fyg is such a lovely place too, go if you’re in Manchester.

Manchester Poets –

After my splatter gun effort of applying to every magazine and competition towards the end of last year one has actually stuck and I am being featured in Puppywolf Press’ “Best of Manchester Poets, Vol.3”. Its not that big a deal but its a small bit of recognition and I can officially say I am a published poet now, which looks good on the CV. The poem selected is ‘Anaesthetic’ which some of you may have heard and was noted by my pal Luke Kennard (a proper poet) as being of a good quality. The collection is due for release toward the end of March so I’ll keep you updated but you can check out their website here.

More Poetry –

I wrote a sequence of some eighty sonnets over Christmas (I was bored) and after initial interest from a publisher who in the end didn’t have room to publish it, I have decided to YET AGAIN self-publish it as a pamphlet. However, this one is slightly different… I will be publishing this collection digitally on a website I have set up with my friend Amelia. It is still being developed at the moment and not having my computer with me hinders its progress considerably but I am hoping to have it up in the next few months. It will be completely free and open to all and will have no other posts or pages purely the poems themselves. I will keep everyone updated however, so watch this space.

Media (Social) –

Due to being all over the place at the moment I am trying to stick all my media together so everyone can keep an eye on me. I have a variety of online presences and would like everyone to have a look at each one as all of the refer to something different. So if you want to stay abreast of my doings, comings and goings day to day check my twitter here. I have an iPhone so am always on it and check it regularly. I am on Instagram and Vine, of which I am also a “heavy user”. I have a music site over at leocookman.tumblr.com if you want info of that nature (there will be updates on there soon). I have a facebook page too that could do with a few more ‘Likes’ to be honest so head on over here. I’m also over at youtube with some silliness you can watch here. I also have another ‘comedy’ blog over at tumblr that you can have a giggle at here. Generally I am all over the internet so just google me and I’ll appear in some form or other.

Music –

I have two albums essentially written that I would like to record at somepoint in the near future and being back in the Bubble in Kent means I am back amongst the regular gigging fraternity so keep an eye on the mentioned social media for updates and ‘ting. If you can’t get enough I have two albums on iTunes and have my very own soundcloud which has B-Sides and demos galore if that’s your bag.

My True Love –

So I’ve had a crush on Jennifer Lawrence since Winter’s Bone came out and have weathered the storms of the fickle public through X-Men and Hunger Games hoping her fame would disappate and our non-existant love could blossom. Anyway, she just won an Oscar so that’s that crush ended because now everyone’s all like, “oh she’s so great”, “I totally have a crush on her”, blah blah blah. Yes I KNOW she’s dating Nicholas Hoult but that would mean nothing were we to meet. Obviously. Anyway, I’ll stick with Christina Hendricks then… WHADDAYA MEAN SHE’S MARRIED?!

That should keep you for the time being and I seem to be a busy bunny at the moment so must fly. Please do comment, subscribe and all that crap as I have big plans for 2013 and would love to be able to share it all with you lot. I will hopefully at least be visiting Manchester soon as my friends recently got engaged, some other friends have babies on the way and generally all my stuff and life is up there but if you live in the south please get in touch. I’m actually quite bored.

 

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‘Tino Unchanged

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Django Unchanged is Quentin Tarantino’s seventh movie I am told. And it is very good. It is not his best, by quite some margin I might add. I don’t know if this is because his style remains unchanged after more than 20 years or that the world has simply moved on and it has become less cool or if it is probably his most un-Tarantino movie. It is certainly his most expensive looking and lavish which is very un-Tarantino. I do find most of this hard to believe as QT’s last feature, Inglorious Basterds, was such a dazzling and enjoyable flick with so much of his trademark dialogue, gore, anachronistic music and editing ticks. Django does most of this but it feels rather token. Tarantino really feels like he was attempting an Oscar movie for this one so the dialogue is not necessarily period correct but certainly amped down from the blink-and-you-miss-it banter of previous films, the gore is excessive as ever but attempts to be more realistic, the music has no stone cold classics in it and is not as inspired but more traditionally sympathetic to whats happening on screen and there are a few customary crash zooms and silly bits of screen texts but these are few and far between. No, QT seems to really want to get this story across in this one.

It’s a shame its not that good a story.

Django is a stock revenge movie plot. Bounty Hunter finds an accomplice, teaches him the trade and have a few adventures before going after the bad guy who has his wife. That’s it. You know what’s going to happen in the end within the first few minutes. The point should be the journey getting there but sadly the incredibly flabby script bogs us down in, even for Tarantino, unnecessary guff. For once it is not QT’s flare for cinema that makes this a worthwhile film, it is actually its topic.

Django uses every frame of its three hour run time in pointing out what a bunch of brutal, murderous, evil, oblivious, ignorant, arrogant, wankers white men are. Despite what Tarantino’s incredibly blinkered view of the world thinks, he is not the first person to tackle slavery in cinema (he has apparently become a gross egotist since his heyday) but he is the first person to show it in this way. Due to Tarantino’s well established style we expect certain things from him which is normally used to great effect in juxtaposition, here however gratuitous violence and searing language is, sadly, apt.

Many years ago Mel Brooks made an incredibly funny film called Blazing Saddles. People seem to have forgotten about this which is frankly bizarre as the parallels between it and Django are remarkable: A black slave is freed, has dead shot white man as a friend who set out to kill a rich and stupid white man slave trader whilst dodging the slings and arrows of the common people and their complete contempt for a black person with any sort of power. … While people say Nigger a lot.

Yes I wrote the ‘N’ word. I tried writing this post without it but it doesn’t work so live with it. I am not using it in a pejorative sense I am using it as reference and citation. Lets just hang a big “I’m Not Racist” banner over this whole review before you knee-jerk pricks try to jump down my throat. If you’re offended by strong language please fuck off now. Also there may be spoilers from here on out so be warned…

Much has been made of QT’s liberal use of the word Nigger in Django and it is understandably wince inducing to some. For me however, – which made me feel rather ill afterward – was the fact I stopped noticing it after the 2nd or 3rd time (within the first 20 minutes or so). Tarantino uses Nigger in almost all his films but normally spoken by black people which, due to reclamation, is more acceptable if not ‘pleasant’. Django is a period piece and frankly it would be a very strange period piece about the grotesqueries of slavery if people didn’t say Nigger when referring to a black person. This slipped in unnoticed to me and was only afterward I realised how horrendous that is and is indicative of the success of the film. QT displays better than any other film how appallingly we treated slaves (and I do mean ‘We’) and is horribly resonant today when Racism is still pervasive in our society yet not as explicit or flagrant. The violence and abuse meted out to the slaves in this film made my stomach churn. There is a great deal of graphic violence in the film but a lot of it is preposterous and regarding gun fights that are pretty standard action movie fare, a slave being ripped apart, two slaves being paid to beat each other to death, whippings, brandings and castration are shown to us on screen and like the abundance of the word Nigger force us to recognise exactly what we did in graphic detail. It is uncomfortable to watch needless to say. Spielberg films like Amistad and no doubt the tandem slave cinema epic ‘Lincoln’ will talk about these horrors or you might see watered down versions of the above but due to QTs style he does not flinch and confronts us explicitly with that which White Men should feel truly be ashamed of. This kind of violence is normally contested as unnecessary or gratuitous, not in this case. This is probably exactly what happened.

The film has a lot of negative points against it though, sadly. It is much, much too long and needed some more than judicious editing. Tarantino has clearly grown fat on his own hype (and just plain ‘got fat’ actually as his truly dreadful cameo reveals) and his excesses are growing more grand by the film, this proves the tipping point it would appear. Foxx does not turn in the powerhouse performance I was told to expect, he is by no means bad but it is pretty run of the mill for this sort of film. DiCappuccino continues his long campaign as “Most Overrated Actor in History” but turning in a completely hollow and shouty performance that, despite top billing, accounts for little more than extended cameo (again due to the film’s length). FUCKING LENS FLARE needs to FUCK OFF from cinematographer’s “look, we’re so retro and gritty” handbook. By and large the cinematography is very pretty, the shot of blood splattering white cotton is a lovely bit of cinematic imagery, but PISS OFF WITH THE LENS FLARE! The ending reeeeeeeally annoyed me. It should have ended 20 minutes before it did but for some reason rattles on and on for no good reason. Whilst one of those gloriously wordy, subtext ridden, tension-cranking scenes around a table is present it doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of Basterds. And sadly, for the most part, it is pretty much a standard western.

However, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson turn in near perfect performances that charm you flat and make your blood boil in equal measure. Don Jonson’s cameo is bloody funny too. There are some real laugh out loud gags as well, which make me forgive a lot, the Klu Klux Klan scene being a particular hoot. But in general it is Tarantino’s desire to actually show the Slave trade in all its tooth and claw that is its most enduring feature. He did not, as I say, finally bring it to light but its the first example of a film that grabs us by the collar and wipes our noses in the massive turd which just did on the carpet.

Not a brilliant film but a necessary one.