Cult authors, sci-fi and snobs

Who gets to choose what’s worthy of being considered serious art when it comes to writing? And why is literature so much worse at recognising really great works that just happen to fall into a genre category? Film doesn’t have this problem; there are tons of sci-fi films that are widely recognised as works of art, real slices of celluloid genius. It doesn’t seem to work the same for books; you don’t get a sci-fi author winning, or even nominated for, the Booker, at least not often. You might get a book from a more mainstream literary author, like Margaret … Continue reading Cult authors, sci-fi and snobs

Despicable art: shock therapy for the soul?

John Waters, the people’s pervert, self declared “filth elder” and director of Hairspray, Pink Flamingoes and Serial Mom, among lots of other weird and disturbing films, is an ambassador for the shocking in art and cinema. The first London exhibition of his art is on at the Sprüth Magers gallery at the moment, and he recently gave the commencement address at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) – seriously, watch it. It’s amazing. Waters has, throughout his career, tried to shock people. He wants to be despised, hated, vilified. In his speech to the graduates at RISD, he told … Continue reading Despicable art: shock therapy for the soul?

Stop it with all the singing

Groundhog Day – The Musical. It’s going to be a thing and it’s going to be at the Old Vic. Personally I hope that the groundhog itself gets at least one big number, because otherwise, well, it wouldn’t be fair would it? For whatever reason, it seems like whenever a thing gets any success the next apparently logical step is to make a musical out of it. At least with Groundhog Day it’s kind of logical – it was a film with a plot and characters and that, which is the basic ingredients (along with singing and music) for a … Continue reading Stop it with all the singing

Please stop making sequels

Just recently Blade Runner, Independence Day, Prometheus, and Avatar have all been lined up for sequels. Of the four two are great and two fetid clouds of arse steam, but all were super popular. Am I alone in hoping for something new every once in a while? All the films did well at the box office (except Blade Runner, but it has enough of a cult following now to erase that memory), so naturally, it seems, the film studios want to recreate that and rake in even more cash by foisting a slightly different version of the same film on … Continue reading Please stop making sequels

Cut it up and start again: making the old new or the last resort of the unimaginative?

Jonathan Safran Coer did it with Tree of Codes, Williams Burroughs was famous for it, the Dadaists loved it and David Bowie has been at it since the 70s; is the cut-up technique really artistic or just a cop out? I remember being in sixth form and watching Absolute Beginners in a media studies class. One of the boys turned to me and said “You like that David Bowie don’t you, well he gets all his lyrics from ripped up newspapers. You think it’s all deep and meaningful but really it’s just luck and none of it means anything, everything … Continue reading Cut it up and start again: making the old new or the last resort of the unimaginative?

Novels on screen: can the movie ever be better than the book?

I can’t decide whether I’m excited or not at the prospect of a live action version on The BFG by Roald Dahl (I’ve just realised he was way ahead of his time with the acronym usage, BTW). I’m not sure it’s possible for the film to ever live up to the version that played out in my head when I read the book. Like many people, Roald Dahl’s books were a big part of my childhood, they were the first ones I can remember really vividly, and The BFG was the first book I ever read all in one go. … Continue reading Novels on screen: can the movie ever be better than the book?

Project hieroglyph: deep down, do we all just want to watch the world burn?

Disastrous and depressing visions of the future are everywhere; from 1984 to The Hunger Games, there are scores of books and films that imagine our future as pretty bleak, with all the worst elements of society dragged out to extreme levels. Try and think of fiction that puts a positive spin on the future and it’s a lot harder; so why are we so addicted to the dark, doom laced versions of the future? Project Hieroglyph, a new book of short sci-fi stories, published in September, was inspired by a desire to project a more positive vision of the future … Continue reading Project hieroglyph: deep down, do we all just want to watch the world burn?