Earworms and tall, cold drinks

Earworm — a song that sticks in your mind and will not leave no matter how much you try.

Last week, I spoiled myself and went to the movie theatre twice. I watched American Assassin and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Loved both of them. I must have a thing for spy/action movies. Rom-coms can take a hike. The only one I might sit through is Love, Actually.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Keaton so it was great to see him again on the big screen. I have to say the man ages well. I have no problem looking at him.

But I was impressed by Dylan O’Brien as the lead protagonist. I haven’t seen him in anything before this which is probably good because the stuff he’s been in isn’t what I would normally watch. There wouldn’t have been anything that would have put him on my radar before American Assassin. Wrong demographic. Next time, I’d like to see him sink his teeth into a dramatic role and surprise me.

Now that I’ve watched the film, I have plans to read the book the film was adapted from. It’s sitting on the kitchen counter right now. Waiting for me. Yeah, it along with a whole bunch of other books vying for my attention. My curiosity about the characters piqued my interest in the book and I want to know more of their backstory and their character development that two-hour film doesn’t show the viewer.

And of course, I was listening to the film score. And yes, I will be downloading the score in the near future.

With Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I was just looking to be entertained after a long work day. And entertained I was. Right from the get-go. Chase scenes and fight scenes were superb as usual.

What makes those scenes, aside from the choreography, is the music. It’s a bit of an assault on the senses, specifically, sight and hearing. You see this awesome scene in front of you and your ears pick up on the music and it turns into one big badass party.

The final fight scene was epic. Not just because of who were going toe-to-toe (who knew I would a long cold drink after that one. I certainly didn’t… ah, my newest fantasy trio), but also because of the music used for that scene.

Who remembers Word Up by Cameo? Yes, that was the song for the epic fight scene. But it wasn’t performed by Cameo. It was performed by The BossHoss, a Berlin band who started out in 2004 turning hit pop, rock and hip-hop songs into country & western ditties. Didn’t recognize it until they started singing the lyrics. Holy fucking crap! Up until then, I didn’t know how badly I needed this version in my life. I couldn’t help but dance in my seat. Picking that song for that scene — pure genius.

I believe all the music selected for the film falls on its director Matthew Vaughan. I’d like to pick his brain. Word Up turned into an earworm for me. But it wasn’t the only song to catch my ear.

Inexplicably, John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads and Annie’s Song have been bouncing around in my head. Damn that man for using them in the film. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a John Denver song used in a movie. Logan Lucky uses it. However, it wasn’t as jarring to hear it in that film as it was to hear it in Kingsman.

But you gotta love the contrast of all things American and British. It couldn’t be more apparent in the music selection. Speaking of which, Elton John is absolutely hilarious in the movie. Fucking. Hilarious. That’s all I can say.

And since I enjoyed that movie so damned much, I’m going to watch it again. Reinforce those earworms, why don’t I. Well, that and the eye candy. Subjecting myself to the eye candy is a good thing… as long as I have a tall, cold drink in hand.

It’s too late

It’s not too late to develop new friendships or to reconnect with people — Morrie Schwartz

The part about it being never too late to develop new friendships is pretty true. As for the ‘it’s never too late to reconnect with people’, I have to ask which people is Schwartz referring to and in what context was that statement made.

I have a problem with the idea that it’s never too late to reconnect with people.

If you’re talking about living the life of a hermit and it’s detrimental to you, okay, maybe you should put yourself in a social situation and how things fare. There is all this talk about the fear of being lonely or alone or how unhealthy it is to be alone or purposefully single.

Let’s be honest, folks. We’ve been raised or socialized to believe being a lone wolf is not a good idea. Safety in numbers and all that other bullshit. The impression is that living alone, growing old alone sucks. One has to be in a committed relationship in order to avoid that fate. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Nobody grows old alone if you have a great circle of friends. Why is everything reliant on having a spouse?

Anyway, I’ll stop raging at that one because I want to bring something else up.

If you tell me that it’s never too late to reconnect with someone from your past, I will tell you to go fuck yourself. There’s a reason you’ve lost touch with someone. There’s a reason someone isn’t an active part of your life anymore. There’s a reason that someone is now a part of your past. We all have a long list of folks we don’t speak to anymore. I know mine is fucking long.

The friends I have now are the ones I see myself growing old with. And when I say friends, I mean the ones I intrinsically trust. The ones who will take anything I say or confide in, with a grain of salt, a few laughs and a few hugs. They’re the ones I trust with my life.

The ones I hold back from, are not the ones I trust with my life. And there are a couple of reasons for it. First and foremost would be chemistry between myself and the other folks. If we’re not getting along like a house of fire, nothing is going to change that. We can be friendly but never get to the point of being best or true friends. And it’s not all that heartbreaking when you figure it out.

The second reason would be that trust has been broken. Broken beyond repair, I’d say. Yeah, there are all sorts of reasons a friendship is broken. Tons, in fact. If a friendship is broken beyond repair, why would one try to talk the former friend into trying to fix it, let’s say, 20 years after the fact? I sure as hell don’t know. While I abide by the saying ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’, I can’t help but think those mutts are gonna wake up no matter what and they’re gonna be mighty pissed by who they see when they open their eyes.

I believe in moving forward when something has gone to shit and not look back. No point in wallowing any longer than you should. Learn your lessons and get on with living.

I suppose if you’ve learned your lessons and you want to make amends with the person who used to friends with you, based on what you’ve learned about yourself, I guess you should give it a go and try to fix that friendship. However, if the person you want to reconnect with, isn’t all that enthusiastic about the idea, it could be a sign that maybe what you want to happen, will never happen. There is such a thing called ‘trying too hard’ or ‘coming on too strong.’

Theoretically, the idea of fixing a relationship and trying to move forward with it, sounds idealistic and potentially doable. In practice, it’s a whole different ballgame. The whole salvaging a friendship exercise and moving forward only works if BOTH parties are making an honest and real attempt to do that. If that’s not happening, then I think the definition of friendship has to be revisited and if both parties can’t fundamentally agree on the definition, then there will be nothing to salvage. You can’t force a square peg into a round hole. If the process cannot move organically towards to something positive, walk away.

I haven’t had the chance to see if the theory will work in practice for me. But apparently, it’s something I’ll have to engage in somewhere down the road.

Am I looking forward to it? No. Why? Because I already made my decision and nothing will convince me to move forward on something that cannot be fixed. So, why am I doing this? To be nice, I guess. But I also admit to doing it out of sheer curiosity. And I know those are really lame reasons to do this because I’m tired of being nice, I despise the idea of setting aside time to deal with it and I’d rather be curious about things that will actually give me joy.

This reconnecting business isn’t always good. I think it’s shit because there are times where it is too late to reconnect.

Just let sleeping dogs lie.

A revelatory moment

Movies are made on models, particularly in the last few decades. You read a script and it’s like three acts. Something has to happen to the character that has to go to the end of the first act so that the second act is going to evolve the things until you end the second act with a big problem then at the end, things are going to be solved or it’s going to be sad or whatever. And then you have casual dialogue in the first act, then it becomes open dialogue between characters and ends up in being big monologues. This is, for me, a travesty and I hate it. But that is how 99 per cent of the fare that is given to us in cinemas worksLuca Guadagnino speaking at the 2017 TIFF Talks in Toronto to promote his latest film, Call Me By Your Name

Luca Guadagnino is officially one of my favourite directors — along with Barry Jenkins, Wong Kar-wai and Guillermo del Toro. Actually, he is at the top of my list.

Admittedly, my paltry list of favourite film directors isn’t as meaty as my list of favourite film composers. I just might be pickier when it comes to directors. But then, I also haven’t made the time to see a lot of movies either. I understand John Cassavates is a director whose work is a must-see for those wanting to get their toes wet in the world of film and filmmakers. I probably should start with a small list of directors I need to watch.

There are a number of things that go into making my favourites list. I’m hardly a film geek by any stretch of the imagination. But I know what I like and it’s usually the intangibles that grab my attention and determine who makes the list. I probably should be more geeky about the directors of photography but I haven’t figure that one out yet.

So, why is Guadagnino at the top of my favourite directors list? Oddly enough, it isn’t because of any of the films he has directed. I confess to not seeing any of them except for I am Love. It’s impossible to forget Tilda Swinton. I should watch that movie again before I see Call Me By Your Name. And I should also watch A Bigger Splash. It was a film that had been on my radar when it first came out but for whatever reason, I never got around to watching it. I can be so delinquent.

The reason Guadagnino is my number one director is because of the quote at the beginning of this post. But there’s much more to that quote and how he approaches filmmaking, storytelling and the truth as it exists in a story.

When he spoke about the three-act story arc, my mouth hit the floor. It must have stayed on the floor for a solid 5-10 minutes. Guadagnino referring to the three-act story arc as a travesty didn’t shock me. What shocked me was that there was someone else who felt the same way I (more than occasionally) felt about adhering to a three-act story arc. I should have jumped up and down for joy upon discovering that there was a like-minded soul out there. But I was so surprised by what he said, I didn’t know what to do with myself when I heard it. It was revelatory.

In another interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, he talked about the concept of genre movies and how very much it was an American construct, a way of compartmentalizing things, boxing things. Personally, I think one of the reasons genres are used to categorize anything and everything in the entertainment and literary industries is it makes marketing easier for studios and publishers.

Coming from a European filmmaking point of view, Guadagnino noted that genres are not as adhered to on the other side of the Atlantic pond. All that matters, ultimately for him, is telling a good story regardless of what genre the story falls under.

I just might be living on the wrong continent. I could not love the man more if I tried.

If someone were to ask me what genre of fiction I write in, I’d respond with “I don’t think about genre. I think about the story.” I couldn’t give a flying fuck what genre my stories fit into. The only reason I describe my current writing project as falling into the crime genre is because my writing mentor labelled it as such. Before that I couldn’t tell you because I don’t think about genre. I don’t like boxing in a story in that manner. I have plenty to deal with so that genre will never be a priority with me. That may or may not get me into a shitload of trouble down the road but I couldn’t give a fuck right now.

With each genre, there are conventions a writer should adhere to in order for it to fit into that genre. I probably was aware of this as a reader on some sort of subconscious level. As a writer, not so much. I was informed by my writing mentor about certain things that never appear or are never really used in crime novels. I won’t discuss discuss what they were but rest assured, I was not impressed. Ultimately, the do’s and don’ts are things I can deal with although I’m probably going to push the envelope where the ‘dont’s’ are concerned. Not because I’d be doing it out of spite. It’s more the case of I can’t fucking help myself.

It’s my understanding that each genre has its own rhythm. The crime genre definitely has it’s own rhythm. I, on the other hand, am familiar with one rhythm — mine. So, to get a taste and feeling for the rhythm, I read The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane, Sin City by Frank Miller and Elmore Leonard’s City Primeval.

At the outset, I can’t tell you what I’ve learned from reading those books because it’s one of those learn-through-osmosis deals. Whatever I’ve absorbed will be blended into my storytelling rhythm. I suppose it will be one of those slow evolution situations that I won’t notice unless someone points it out because they see it.

Listening to Guadagnino’s words has added more fuel to a fire that has been happily crackling away. Now, it’s become a little brighter and a few degrees warmer. I might be understating the heat temperature, though. Just a little.

Now, I’m gotta get back to that fire and stoke it for awhile.