Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Nell Flanders turns into Al Capone. Yo, Mr White... (Breaking Bad review)

Despite my post of 24 April 2011, I now need to update my top-fav-TV-series-ever chart. At number 1, knocking off the X-files, is Breaking Bad, the show created by writer/producer Vince Gilligan who once actually worked on the X-Files. For Chris Carter's show he wrote one of my favourite episodes, "Drive", which in fact starred Bryan Cranston, here as the guy who breaks bad indeed.

My dad always said there is no worse bad guy than a good guy who turns bad. So true.

So what's Breaking Bad all about?
[spoiler alert]
It's about Walter White, husband, father, high school chemistry teacher (but once Nobel prize team researcher -- so a kick ass achiever who settled for less, much less), stubborn, proud, depressed, middle aged guy. Depression has been Walter's second skin for some time, so much so that maybe he doesn't even know it himself. Or does he? Or does he care? But bottling up isn't healthy, we all know that, all he needs is a reason to explode. And that reason is soon served when he discovers on his 50th birthday he has terminal lung cancer. So Walter's beige clothes and beige car, his beige job and beige reason for living suddenly explode into a variety of colours and a full blown mid-life crisis, which actually feels like real living, for once. He's pressed for time, he needs to make cash quickly in order to leave something for his family before he checks out. So he teams up with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a small time meth dealer and Walt's ex high school student. Together they make an explosive duo. They cook meth, they push it, they make cash. Then it escalates. A lot. And fairly quickly. They have to kill, cook, sell, cook some more, steal, borrow, lie, kill again, live and let die, cheat, sell some more, cook large, cook blue, and in the process they have to be really close, but get on they do and they don't. Love and hate mix together in a highly volatile recipe, maybe with a touch of Stockholm syndrome thrown into the mix (well, just a touch, neither holds the other captive, if not psychologically), and a dysfunctional father-and-son type of relationship is born.

The 4 series of Breaking Bad so far are a real roller coaster of emotions and events. The blue meth powers the story, like every respectable MacGuffin should do, but really it's about the ride. The ride of a life. Walt's life, as he tries to live more than one at once when he sees the finish line on the horizon. So Walter White and his alter ego Heisenberg, master chef of the blue stuff and urban legend of a kind, destroy everything on their path as they ride into the sunset. But golly is it a spiffing fun ride of destruction or what? And isn't destruction just part of life after all? New things are born from the ashes of others. It's chemistry.

Bryan Cranston is absolutely amazing as Walter White, a role that has won him 3 Emmys in a row (and if you only know him as the goofy dad in Malcolm in the Middle you are in for a big surprise), Aaron Paul as a Sancho Panza to Cranston's Quixote is great too, the two obviously have great chemistry together (I can't put it in any other way, I tried), but the whole cast is simply, hands down, truly awesome. Two of my personal favourites are Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, a colourful, capable, logorrheic, criminal, lawyer the former and an old sea wolf, dirty PI/hitman the latter. But every one in the cast, in leading roles as well as small parts, is fantastic. The same goes for the quality of writing, directing, photography, music, you name it. I can but imagine the positive environment cast and crew must work in. The show apparently runs on a very tight schedule, from pre to post production, so to do such a remarkable job they must be more than happy to get to work.

If you haven't seen Breaking Bad yet... sorry for you. I have not heard a single bad review of the show yet, so if you heard a lot of hype about it, believe the hype. Yo! (Sorry, couldn't resist).

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

To sleep or not

The internet is a wondrous thing, and it keeps me up at night. Well, not always, but sometimes it does. Like now. It's 3.04am and I am surfing youtube videos, watching some crazy shiz, weirdo and weirder-o doing weird things. I'm also reading the news, following people on Twitter and deleting emails of adverts that offer me low cost scuba diving lessons and one-hour go karting. I am intrigued by the go-karting and toy with the idea of taking it up, but clearly realise that it's a momentary fantasy to be removed from my mind at this very moment. There. Gone. No go-karts. As for scuba diving... too much effort.
I need to get back into writing. I have been writing sober (like it's a good thing) for a good 3 or 4 months. My short film is still in post-production and the thought of getting into a new short film, or anything else creative, gives me an odd feeling, like I'm cheating on my husband. I'm not even married. That's because artistic projects are like babies that you nurture and care for, that you love unconditionally, even when you know every little fault, every little inherent defect they carry. In Naples they say "ogni scarrafone é bello a mamma sua" (every cockroach is beautiful to his mother), and that is not to say my short film is a cockroach, but even if it was I'd love it like my own child. And I don't have kids either, but you get the gist. I think my short film will look pretty good, and I would like to get on a new project, develop some ideas that have been bouncing around my head for a while, churn out some new, but I feel I can't. Not yet. Not until this short film has seen the light of day. I guess it's sort of physiological here... one can't get pregnant again until the other baby pops out.
Still, I am suffering from a little artistic withdrawal, or it's more like artistic repression, and that's what's keeping me awake. I watch stuff that other people make and think that I need to get a move on, explore ideas, run wild with all the crazy stuff I have inside me.
Fine. I'll go to bed. At least I can achieve something in dreams.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spider...

I got home and found a huge spider in the bath... he is still there now... how am I gonna get it out? Lure it with flies? Wait until he crawls out by itself, provided he won't slip back down into the bath?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Short film shot

I finally got round to making my short film "Fallen". I have been keeping a blog on the shoot and will carry on updating it until the film is made and goes to competition and festivals. So for info, updates, pics and all that jazz, have a look at the Shooting Blog here.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Supporting new Filmmakers

This is a link to my friend's Nic's new film. He needs support to complete post-production, please have a look and donate what you can. Young filmmakers need all the help they can get, and this short film definitely needs being finished and seen. Thank you all!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Game of Thrones (so far... review)

OK, I never read George R R Martin's novels "A Song of Ice and fire" so I can't compare the (amazing!) HBO series Game of Thrones with the source material. But I watched the first four episodes and they are absolutely epic and awesome. The cast is ace, the story will draw you in, costumes, set, all big scale. They hint at a world of legendary beasts and strange creatures lurking outside the boundaries of the civilised realm, which is separated from the wilderness by a massive wall. I am sure we will soon discover the odd and exotic creatures that live on the other side of the wall. 

I am watching the series with fresh eyes, because I know absolutely nothing about the story-line, and for that I am happily losing myself in it. 

All I can say is that it's great and has amazing production value. HBO did not fall short of a making a big blockbuster film, only they serialised it for TV. 

If you love drama, violence, sex, intrigue, fantasy, good actors strutting around in big armours and shiny swords... then this will be right up your street.  

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Kitchen Sink Guitar

I love creative people!!! And it sounds fabulous too. After kitchen sink drama, we can expect some kitchen sink soundrack... hurray!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Things that aren't cool are cool because the ones that are cool eventually become uncool

I believe in things that aren't cool.

I simply love them and I embrace uncoolness with all my heart.

One of the things that makes people "cool" is fashion, don't we all know that? But fashion is ephemeral, it's a bubble that floats in the sky just for a moment before bursting. So if you follow fashion and you think you are cool, think again because what makes you cool today,  is going to make you well uncool tomorrow. Remember the 1990's? They weren't all that long ago...

Try to wear that today and think yourself cool. But fashions are swings and roundabouts, sooner or later, maybe 20 years from now, someone will indeed wear one of those jackets with the largest shoulder pads, or the jeans pulled up and the shirt tucked in and think himself the dog's bollocks.

Personally, I prefer those who are considered to be uncool (surely, being myself one). They last. Uncool people are consistent with themselves and their uncoolness, they know where they stand, no one tells them what to wear, what to say, how to say it. They don't give a damn. In fact they wear their uncoolness with pride. Maybe one day, someone will start an uncool fashion trend that's really quite cool.

Meantime, we are plagued by this...

and I cannot wait to see the end of this trend so that all the saggers in the world will rush home to burn the photos in which they are posing with their Calvin Klein (if they are real cool saggers) exposed for the world to see.

I mean... seriously?!

But coolness does not restrict to fashion only. Anything from gadgets, accessories, things to do or see, are all out there waiting to be had, for the real cool people. Anything with the prefix "i-" is cool. Saying "your" instead of "you're" is cool. Cool are acronyms and cool it is to make up words (well, actually, that IS pretty cool if you do it well).
It's also cool to replace your boobs with cereal bowls...

And because I'm starting to sound like my grandmother, who thinks it is cool to wear hair clips to stop hair going into your eyes, I'd better stop here...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

My Top 10 fav TV series

I don't know if you think that TV series are cheap entertainment, since they are on the telly and therefore free (I'll come to cable and Sky in a minute, hang on) and also because they are the most popular form of entertainment. Popular televised entertainment of course embraces anything from soap operas to reality TV (a form of entertainment I pretty much loathe), GMTV, talk shows, music videos, shopping channels, you name them. But it's mostly TV series that stick with us in the years, that define us, set trends, fashion, a way of thinking, and in some cases affect its big brother, the movies, too. I don't think TV series are cheap entertainment other than because they are fairly readily available to us, if not on telly itself, now through streaming or on DVD. If you pay for Sky or other digital boxes that bring home entertainment directly to your own tube, then you must be really spoiled for choice. I barely manage to keep up with what's on regular TV. But if we forget how many ways to enjoy TV  there are today, and if we take a step back to, say, 10 or 15 years ago, we can see what a different animal was TV back then. I'm not a romantic in the sense that I think TV was better then, I actually hated having to run home to watch something, and even in the age of VHS, when you could set the timer to record your favourite shows, it still wasn't all that great, but creativity ran high, didn't it? As far as broadcasting goes, of course I prefer how things are today, watch when you can, while you can, if you have a computer at hand it's there, on iPlayer or on DVD or your USB stick or on iTunes or the various pirate streaming channels on the web. Creativity is still running strong, thanks to TV's many outlets. New technologies allow a higher volume of request, and also of outlet. Amen!

The way we watch TV has always affected the way TV-makers made shows. In the 70's and part of the 80's producers simply ruled. If they had a production company they'd make the show and sell it to the broadcasting companies or networks. I am explicitly referring to the USA as for example in England channels like the BBC had its own way of doing things, commissioning series that they'd broadcast to the public, all hands on from beginning to end, pretty much. When in the USA, which we must say was the biggest producer of TV shows, networks became allowed to make their own shows, a lot of the then big production companies that made the series, sold what they had and went into retirement. And from that moment on the networks took over, to this very day.

So this is my list of 10 favourite TV series EVER. It's not an easy chart to do, but hopefully it'll give me an idea of what I consider top notch TV and maybe it'll show if the best was then or now...

1 - Millennium
2 - X-files

3 - Twilight Zone

4 - Deadwood

5 - The West Wing

6 - Life on Mars (and Ashes to Ashes)

7 - Mork and Mindy

8 - The Greatest American Hero

9 - Twin Peaks

10 - The Streets of San Francisco

Monday, 18 April 2011

Script rewrites... old ideas... new ideas... just ideas

I have been rewriting a script that I had originally written when I was about 18 or 19. The story is still very good, IMHO, but the original script was so bad, and I mean SO bad, that I gave it up altogether back then. I sort of picked it up again some 10 years ago (stop counting to see how old I am), but gave it up again. My patience for rewrites has never been that strong. But now, armed with improved skills, new ideas, and a lot of good will, I took it up again. The story is still worth fighting for. There are some crazy elements, an ancient Teddy bear, Cupid like you have never seen him before, a "star crossed" couple, London in the background. The rewriting good will has taken me to page 37, and I am starting to struggle again. The problem with rewrites, especially with old material, is that part of the old drafts are sort of embedded in your head. I am being rather ruthless deleting scenes, changing direction, killing my darlings, as you are told you must do... But after a while the élan you had when you started winds down quite a bit. I am not dragging my scriptwriting feet just yet, but I wonder whether I should leave the script alone for a few days and let the story brew in my head before continuing the rewrites. Dee dum, dee dum... No I shall continue. It's a mission. I must complete this script. The life of a Teddy bear depends on it, and so does Cupid's reputation.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Brevity is not the only soul of wit

Sorry Polonius and Shakespeare. Yes, being brief implies a certain ability to self edit and go to the point of something, acumen is not a widespread quality, but one can top brevity and wit with long-worded posts to mock and wind up the recipients, with enough wit to light a cruise ship around the world. (Try to say that all in one breath!)

I just spent... er... quite some time reading David Thorne's website, wasting precious time of my work-at-home day. His emails are not sharp, brief and witty, but they are sharp, intentionally prolix and witty. A gem of the www which I hope you'll enjoy as much as I did, and that I hope will make you waste enough precious time of your day as it did for me.

My favourite page must be his son's musing view of the world.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Source Code (review)

Saw Source Code last night followed by a Q&A with director Duncan Jones. It's one of those sci-fi films which relies on the story and storytelling, not on relentless moments of special effects. It does have it's sfx moments of course, but the story's the thing. And a cool one too. If you know me a little you know it's exactly the sort of stories I like.

It has Duncan Jones' signature style, although it isn't as moody, slow paced and dark as Moon (which I simply adore). But there are some scenes where Gyllenhall's character is being briefed (and debriefed) that will put you right back into Moon mood. It draws on a great legacy of sci-fi ideas, the right ones, like those of Quantum Leap and The Twilight Zone, so as far as I'm concerned, big thumbs up there. It's a great movie, story and character driven, the right amount of sfx, it's fun, intriguing, deep, moving, with funny spells. It is so spiffingly up my street I totally recommend it. Go see it!

The AWESOME Button

You know when you come across things that could need improvement and you think, someone should invent something that does so and so? Well, this guy has invented an "awesome button". We are now so facilitated by technology I wonder what the history of literature would have been like if the likes of Byron, Shakespeare, Conan Doyle, you name them, had an instant thesaurus at hand... or some magical, er, technological, writing aid like we do today. Still, this is a fun video and a useful gadget. Of course he makes it look easy, but I haven't got a clue what he's doing, how he's doing it, how it works etc. But I do marvel at it and smile. I'm glad there are people like that out there. Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Guv

OK, I'm a good 3 or 4 years behind here, I know, I know. I just got round to watching Life on Mars. You can boo me... but better late then never, hey? I'm totally head over heels for Gene Hunt, OK, I'll join the club. Man, he's got some fab lines. There are a bunch of tribute videos out there, I just picked one.

'nough said :P

Friday, 18 March 2011

Confused or Confucius?

Now that is the question.... Smart Boy!

It's from here... but just in case they erase the web page, here's a print screen.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Old band rehearsals

I used to be in a band called "Angel of Grief", ok, yes, the name is a little sad but it's after this tomb/sculpture in Rome's protestant cemetery by the Pyramid (which is round the corner from my home in Rome). Me and Mauro Tonelli were particularly in love with this sculpture we managed to convince the other two band mates that we had to name the band after it, so it was.

The band's line up is:

Mauro Tonelli, guitar and vocals
Fabio Salati, Bass and vocals
Francesco Fareri, solo guitar
Francesca Silveri (me), drums

Francesco wasn't with us when we rehearsed Paranoid. These videos are about 4 years old by the way...

And since these are rehearsals, it's ok to make mistakes or forget a song... like I do here.

I miss playing big time.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Green Hornet (review)

Mr Gondry, we think that you are not just a great director, but an amazing artist and we would like you to direct a film with a very bad script and a lame story, what do you say?

vas te faire encule... and pardon my French!

We will give you the chance to make Christoph Waltz, a terrific Oscar winning actor, look puny...

No, no... I could say something else very rude in French. Go away!


Mmmm. Oui, let me see what I can do. Give me that script...

Monday, 21 February 2011

books presentation (videos in Italian)

The presentations of my books "Poprio come una balena" and "Strane Crisalidi" on 17 and 18 February went very well. Especially on Friday 18, big turn up. Here are the videos... for those of you who understand Italian. If you don't speak any Italian, well... Gabriele Sabatini and Caterina Gramaglia are beautiful and talented actors (who presented with me) to admire anyhow :)

If Queen were a Japanese band...

Another must watch video. I cried, oh I cried!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My favourite youtube video ever!

This is it.

Little force

In a TV panorama where ads not only interrupt your program of choice, but annoy the hell out of you because they are badly written, badly filmed and badly acted, and all this at such a loud volume so they can reach you while you've gone to the loo or to brew some tea. It's often an effort to advertise a product that has nothing to do with the ad you've just seen. So in this silly panorama, sometimes you find an ad that isn't just cute and clever, but it's also worth watching and posting.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

books presentation

Well, I know you are all in the UK or on non Italian soil... or Roman for that matter... but I shall be presenting my two little books at the bookshop Flexi, Via Clementina 9, 00184 Rome. The event will start at 7pm sharp.

Should you have friends or family in the area, tell them to come along. It'll be a nice relaxed evening. We'll be listening to two lovely actors who will read out some of my compositions, so I aim it to be a bit like a staged reading.

Here's the e-leaflet I made for the evening.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

it's out!

My book is now officially in the shops, this is the cover. I shall post some links to bookshops that sell it soon.
Chuffed to bits!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Live your dreams or leave your dreams (Tron legacy as I see it)

Ok boys and girls, I saw Tron Legacy today. I don't want to write a proper review, but there are spoilers coming... so you are warned.

I often think that with films like this one should just go to the cinema, bucket of pop corn in one hand and walkie cup of coke in the other, sit down and just be entertained for a couple of hours, then back to the real world. But of course we all nit pick here and there, even with films made for pure entertainment, so here is my nit picking together with what I liked about Tron's sequel.

Let me start with the special effects. Tron Legacy is a film that makes more sense being 3D than most contemporary films that are so just for the sake of the (rebooted) novelty. The film is not entirely 3D, there are parts filmed in 2D that benefit from some depth enhancement, but the real 3D effect is enjoyed in the middle part of the film, inside the "grid", the artificial world. Something that will dazzle your eyes is the bright neon lights that define this artificial dimension. And of this alternate reality I can safely say it was rather impressive. We have all seen a fair amount of films with action scenes made more and more breathtaking by the help of CGI. Anything that defies the law of gravity and tricks the eye is welcome in action films, and in Tron Legacy there is a fair amount of that. Unfortunately I would say, however impressive, there is no novelty in the execution. Let me explain myself, when Matrix introduced us to "bullet time" I went "wow!" It was new, it was impressive, it enhanced the action, it was creative. Here there is a very creative use of something retro, and I guess there was no escaping that, in the end Tron is tied to the arcade days. The action is impressive for the scale and the use of special effect, yet it's not new, it doesn't make you go wow. I am not saying I didn't like it, I loved it, but it was too 80s, it could have gone beyond anything that has been seen and done to date, but it just stopped at the 3D. I feel that by being a sequel the creative team got slightly inhibited. Almost as if the "grid" was the limit and they stayed within that limit without daring a bit more.

As for the story, don't expect deep phylosophical revelations or something that will blow your mind. The story is clearly aimed at a young audience. There are a few lines that made me cringe to say the least, but I'm sure the average 13 year old kid will find them very inspiring. All in all, it could have been worse, story wise. It's one of those trite moral tales about not playing God because perfection isn't and can never be man made. People are more important than machines and I-Robot (to say nothing of Frankenstein) echoes over and over throughout. Nice try Flynn, shame your dream backfired on you, well, you are only human after all, now teach your son a moral lesson... that is the message.

Jeff Bridges is definitely the biggest draw for me. I mean that guy oozes coolness. You just have to listen to his voice to melt on the spot. He's awesome, he has an amazing presence, he's badass and he's sweet, he's strong and he is weak, he's cerebral and he's instinctive. Shame his part is undereveloped. They took the easy route of making him a creator with almost divine powers in this world he created from nothing. But I don't understand for example, where does the water come from? Did he create it? This place is a digital dimension, right? It looks like a barren, dark, volcanic waste land, a bit like the world after whatever cataclysm must have hit the Earth in the future world of the Matrix, but of course it's not the Earth, it's a different dimension. Anyhow, they somehow have water and they must rear pigs in a farm there somewhere because they eat roast pork with veggies at one point. So big suspensions of disbelief are required there.

The one thing I didn't appreciate, although it looked so cool and right, but unfortunately it's another safe bet and it has been widely used before, is the Japanese style / Monk style costumes they gave to Bridges's character Flynn. It's so iconic in Star Wars, you take a look at Obi One and you know he owns it. Here this seems a major rip off. Not to mention that Flynn is practically turned into a Jedi at the end, force and all.

But where's Tron in Tron Legacy? He's there... only not as you might expect. He is this kind of a patrol elite soldier / ninja / gladiator who has been reprogrammed by Clue (Flynn's clone basically, and his nemesis here) and only appears in the convenient moments. We also lose tracks of him in a rather anticlimax-ish sort of way as he drowns in the water after the big fight at the end. He might die, he might not, I guess we might find out if they make another sequel, which they might as well make once they cash in on this.

My most favourite thing in the film (if you know me a little, need I say?) were the motorbikes. I mean, they look awesome and if I just suspend my disbelief enough to think I could enter a video game and live and breathe in it, I would want nothing else but to ride one of those neon lit babies up and down the "grid" all day.

I enjoyed the film. It's a good pop-corn flick, but go prepared to sit through some old fashioned action story and a lot of cliché moments and lines.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

You know it's cold...

You know it's really cold when:

1. You open the fridge and you go 'oh, feels toasty in here!'

2. You touch the window pane and your arse freezes on the chair.

3. You start to speak and the little white cloud of your breath first goes up, then it provokes a miniature precipitation of snow.

4. You cook something with mozzarella topping at 250C degrees and about five seconds after you've put it on the table the mozzarella returns to a fine solid state.

5. London runs out of grit on the second day of snow and leaves the city covered by layers of dangerous ice for the rest of winter.

6. Your fingers cnt prss th kybord' kys anymre

7. You think you saw the Yeti walk his dog in your street.

8. You realise that was definitely the Yeti you saw and that it wasn't a dog but a baby polar bear he was walking.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snow has a sense of humour...

Well, if snow doesn't have a sense of humour, then it surely makes it come to life in people. This is a piece of news from the BBC website that people have widely laughed at posting it on social networks: 999 Snowman theft call

But in case you were in the mood for more crazy antics by snow, here is a funny video. There is nothing better than natural slapstick comedy.

Saturday, 4 December 2010


Must be the only thing Google can't find. That's all I'm saying :P

There is a nice Q&A on the Guardian

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Z-Day: The Zombie Musical

There are loads of home-made videos on youtube of aspiring Romeros, this is rather funny too.

Vegetarian Zombies

Yesterday I read somewhere someone asking "what do vegetarians who turn to zombie actually eat?" and the reply comment was "people in a coma" = WIN!

So I was looking for ridiculous comments on vegetarian zombies and come across this video that made me laugh out loud for a good five minutes.

Friday, 26 November 2010

OZ comes to WoW...

I made this some time ago, when I still had time on my hands playing World of Warcraft...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Strane Crisalidi (or Strange Chrysalides)

This is the amazing drawing made by the incredibly talented Leomacs for the cover of my book of short stories "Strane Crisalidi" (in English it would translate Strange Chrysalides), of imminent release in Italy (Aletti Ed.)

The drawing represents a moment in the story "Popped Out," where the protagonist, Allen Allen, emerges from the pages of his novel's manuscript to search for his author, Kelvin Popp, who's suddenly stopped writing and disappeared abandoning his half described creation (hence Allen lacks a proper face).

Jingle bells

I have just booked my ticket to fly home for Christmas and I'm seriously happy (what a wonderful oxymoron, isn't it?!). After years of bad travelling with Ryanair I converted fully to British Airways. Yes it's more expensive, although only slightly, as once Ryanair is done adding taxes that sound like pretexts with a cause, you end up paying way more than you expected from the early stages of the booking process. So BA it is, and Xmas in Rome it is, hurray!  I know it's about a month away, but booking the flight has immediately put me in a festive mood. This will be a nice Xmas. Surely there'll be arguments, it's not Xmas without a good family argument, over whatever topic. Normally my mum leads the dance in that as she always has plenty of things to pick fights about, she's full of resources like any devout Catholic. But the prospect of family arguments is not tainting my good mood. I am thinking of being home with Dad who's recovering from chemo, operation and well... cancer. I'm thinking I'll be seeing my nan who's not in great shape herself, but she always smiles. I'm thinking that my book of short stories will probably make it into print just in time for Xmas and I may have a chance to do a presentation for it somewhere in Rome. I'm thinking of all the good food and most specifically all the panettoni, pandori and torroni that will land on the table. I'm thinking of spending some time with my sister, who's still recovering from her leg injury. I'm thinking of all the cuddles and hugs I will exchange with my family and friends, all the catching up and laughter, and that makes for a cracking Xmas.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Revisions and rewrites

I've been revising the second draft of my collection of stories that will be published (in Italy) by Aletti editor, and my oh my, it's becoming a form of torture. I have practically learnt the stories by heart, and that's not a problem because they are mine and I like them, but finding the mistakes, spelling, verbs, punctuation and consecutio temporum, is rather a challenge now. If you've ever re-read dozens of times something you wrote you'll notice that you are unable to spot any mistake, so in that sense it's like a torture. What's worse is that I keep wanting to change, add or take out parts of the stories, sentences and so on. But that's something I can't do at this stage or I'll be fine tuning the bloody thing for ever and it would never be finished.
I'm also writing a fun feature script on a special chef who cooks very unusual menus. The script is coming together nicely, but there too, every time I interrupt the writing flow I feel like I kill neurons in my brain. It's a painful process in the sense that I'd rather just sit down and write, fully immersed, and I'd like to surface up only once the script is finished, rather than have to write it in short bursts. But life doesn't work that way and most of the times the inspiration comes when you are busy earning money to pay rent. Anyway, I mustn't complain because it's coming together. I just dread having to do the re-writes once it's finished. That is definitely the part I like the least of the creative process... but it's gotta be done.

Nanoo nanoo

Follow up on sex issue...

Well, Stephen Fry has spoken up and here it is :)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Sex Issue

So... one is saying it's better to be straight and drooling over girls all the time, rather than gay, and the other is saying he feels for straight guys because they don't get as much sex with women as gay men do with men. Better straight or gay? That is the question. Well... it seems it's only an issue if you are a man. If you are a woman you are still just either an object of desire, a dominatrix, a whore, a virgin or anything alse, but not what you should be, a human being interested in sex for the pleasure of it and why not, love. And yet again, it's a male point of view on the whole subject matter, women are not protagonists, they are the object or the objective.

This according to 2 famous public figures who are making the press talk about them, one in Italy and one in the UK.

Right now Italy's most vain Prime Minister, Berlusconi dearest, is caught in yet another sex scandal, one that would have made any leader in the world hide his head in the sand in shame. But not he, no, the Cavaliere keeps calm, smiles and carries on. In fact he does smile a lot and brushes off the scandal as something that will soon be forgotten, a passing cloud. I seriously cannot conceive why he still gets any support from the voters as well as from fellow politicians. He's a massive walking liability. I'm amazed that he makes no mystery of the shit he's up to, which quite frankly is probably just the tip of an iceberg of filth that he hides from view, and he still sits in his high chair. The most amazing thing of the sordid stuff he's trying to pass as good and right is that he thinks that sleeping with under age girls is perfectly alright. On top of that he made these ridiculous remark that it is better to salivate over girls than to be gay, which in any civilised country should have been enough to have seen him receive a massive arse kicking, but not in Italy. The gay activists maybe can't speak loud enough? Berlusconi's fellow politicians don't have enough balls to comment against his ludicrous behaviour? Well, so far only one has come forward publicly and that's Nichi Vendola, he's a great guy, a politician to watch (in a good sense) and he's gay, so of course he didn't take it too well. The problem with that stupid behaviour of Mr Berlusconi's is that so many Italians think like him. It's mostly out of ignorance and laziness, it's so much easier to stick to a medieval social structure rather than opening up to the real world.

And whilst Berlusconi makes it in the news for being such a cock, Stephen Fry fuels anger by saying that women only have sex with men because it's the only way to get into a relationship. Mr Fry said his remark was misquoted by the press after his "Attitude" interview. Now, if you know Stephen Fry's style you'll know that he likes to joke and that he would never willingly say anything so out of order. I believe he intended it as a joke. If you know what the press is like you'll know that they like a good stirring up, especially when someone's words can be reproduced to create an incendiary piece of news without much altering and just as easily taken out of context. I'm a woman and I personally enjoy sex as much as any other woman I'm sure, I don't think sex is the only way to get a relationship just as much as I don't think the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But that's never stopped anyone in the press from using and abusing bad clichés. I guess this time, with Fry's interview, they (all the journalists who wrote about it) thought it was a good chance to push a few more copies and they took it. I believe that what Stephen Fry was saying was to do with the promiscuous urge that most men, gay or straight, feel pretty much constantly. Maybe it's part of their genes, and maybe men and women are different from that point of view, but it's a generalisation and most of all it's a comment that is so out of character for him that I don't believe should be interpreted the way the press wants us to. On the other hand, I think that simply getting angry and saying "bye bye", like he did on Twitter, will make matters worse. If I could say something to Stephen Fry it would be: clarify your position, you have a sense of humour, your fans and the general public have a sense of humour, don't let the press win this game. And if indeed you weren't joking and you really believe women don't care for sex and that they only accept is as a ticket to ride in a relationship, please read some of those cheap soft porn books for women, they are corny but well entertaining.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


As Halloween gets closer I get in the mood for ghost stories and the supernatural, more than usual. I watched a crappy horror/fantasy yesterday called the Reaping. It's not even worth talking about. Watch it if you must, but you are warned, without beer and popcorn on the side you'll be left with very little to enjoy. David Morrisey and Hilary Swank are great actors, but the film is so poor and so full of cheap clichés, they can't save the day.

Instead Below is a great movie. It's a traditional scary movie, it has some really fantastic atmosphere, a splendid cast and top notch storytelling methinks. I have the DVD which offers some little gems of the making of. It's set in a submarine so it feels very claustrophobic and I was interested to see how they managed to film in tight spaces (of course it's a set, but the space is still rather tight).

Now I need to find more horror/fantasy to watch.

Yes Halloween is a pagan festivity, yes we don't celebrate in Italy, yes I love it and I wish we did. So I'm making up for what I missed through the years growing up. Jack O' Lantern are us...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The nerd in me is a nerd indeed

Ok folks, to those who do not know anything about World of Warcraft... go find out. To those who know the game, I assume you know it's one of the most played MMORPG in the world and of course with each expansion it gets bigger, better, faster, stronger and so on. The latest expansion, soon to be released, is called Cataclysm and this trailer makes me feel so nerdy I want to go out there and scream it to the winds.

To those who actually also play the game, and have not just heard about it from their addicted mates or younger (or older) siblings, you will have noticed massive changes to the game already with the latest patch. It took the good part of 6 hours to download, and now I feel like I have to re-learn literally everything about WoW. I have all together 10 characters, all on alliance, at least on my server Hellscream, and they are one from each class. So good luck to me working out how they've been nerfed. My mains are a warlock and a hunter and I haven't got a frigging clue how to play them anymore. No more mana for hunters (maybe not so much a bad thing) and locks... where are their sould shards?

Told you, the nerd in me is a nerd indeed, my japanese is not so much better.

Even if you don't give a damn about video games, watch this trailer because it seriously rocks. Blizzard has promised its fans to make a feature film out of WoW which Sam Raimi should apparently direct (he's allegedly attached to the project). Rumour has it they want to make it a live action movie, but watching this trailer I keep sighing and thinking that if they made it all CGI, with a good script, it would cause brain orgasms to the millions of WoW players out there... and to their mates who would go watch the film out of curiosity.

The little wagon in the prairie

I saw Meek's Cutoff at the LFF today. More than prairies there are wide skies and endless stretches of desert that our settlers, led by an extravagant and boisterous guide, have to cope with. Their Oregon trail turns into a psychological tour de force as the settlers face their most basic fears. It's a film about being lost, facing the unknown, the necessity to trust combined with a basic survival instinct that alerts to not trust.

The film has a low pace, it's definitely not a Western as we know it, but it draws you in, you almost feel part of the group. I loved how the characters struggle to keep their social habits, they wander the desert almost aimlessly (we never discover whether they reach the journey's end) and still lay a table and use chairs to eat their meals. There is something about the human condition that really makes me smile. Endurance I guess.
Meek is an odd-ball character, he's not good nor bad, a bit of a show off, but very ambiguous. Bruce Greenwood is fantastic as Meek, his voice is the only thing that breaks the silence in an otherwise incredibly quiet film, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and the rest of the cast are also amazing in their simplicity.

I find it almost hard to believe this is an American film. It feels European in the sense that it is so much about the people and nothing else. It's a journey, inside and out. No shootings, no violence, no Sheriff badges being waved around, just the core elements of the conquer of the American frontier. Thumbs up.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

London Film Festival

The LFF is upon us. Day 3 of the Festival and no casualties. Phew!

I'll only be working at the BFI HQ as my being unable to be on my feet for more than a few minutes made me a very bad candidate for external venues like the VUE in Leicester Square. So I won't be seeing much of the glamour and razzle dazzle normally offered by the West End galas and red carpets, which is a shame, but at least I am catching one film I have been looking forward to for some time which we are presenting in the West End... that is Meek's Cutoff. One good reason to see it is Bruce Greenwood, an amazing Canadian actor who has under his belt films like Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter by Atom Egoyan (one of my favourite films now, since I got so much into the story I watched it probably 20 times in a month), the latest Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams, I'm Not There, Thirteen Days and, always worth mentioning, he was  also the protagonist of a great TV series of the mid 90's called Nowhere Man. I have a thing for character actors, I like to see their craft at work. Maybe it's all in the eye of the beholder, but I am convinced that they are much more honest toward the characters they play than leading actors, who come into the picture (quite literally) as themselves wearing someone else's clothes and not much more. Greenwood is a wonderful character actor who has played an array of parts through the years, roles as diverse as cute romantic leads, cold hearted execs, doting fathers, good guys, bad guys and presidents of the USA. In Meek's Cutoff he plays a guide who leads a bunch of settlers across the desert to their camp, but somehow gets lost on the way. It promises to be an unusual Western. For as much as I love Spaghetti Westerns and derivatives, I am really really looking forward to a more introspective film about those pioneers and desperate people who crossed the savage and dangerous lands of the West in the hope to make a better life for themselves and their families.

So far I haven't managed to catch any film yet, I did however attend a "talk" with Mark Romanek who directed also a favourite of mine One Hour Photo. He presents at the LFF his new feature Never Let Me Go. I won't be able to catch this one until it's out for general release, but I am looking forward to it. The talk last night was really interesting. Romanek is the director behind a whole bunch of amazing music videos and commercials including the famous dancing iPod silhouettes. He looked like a very down to earth and most importantly passionate director, so thumbs up for him. I hope to see Never Let Me Go soon as they showed a clip from the film during the interview and that alone gave me chills.
That's all for today
Nanoo Nanoo

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

(Inception) Dream a little bigger

   A few spoilers so read at your own risk.

I saw Inception today and now I'm kind of weirded out about going to sleep and dreaming... will I wake up or continue to dream? I should be so lucky!

  The film is grand to say the least, yet the CGI doesn't intrude, it quite serves the story. Generally speaking Inception is a feast of a film. I enjoyed the lavishness, I must say, there is nothing better than filling the eye with massive sceneries, fights that defy the force of gravity and fast paced action sequences. I thought the human story behind it was also good, although the whole concept of what Inception is and does recalls the Matrix a little too much to make me go wow.
  The main character Dom (Di Caprio) tells us about this indestructible virus called an "idea" that once planted will grow and grow and cannot be erased, cannot be changed and will spread until it materialises into whatever it is aiming for. Which reminds me of The Matrix Agent Smith's bee in the bonnet of a virus that spreads and spreads: humans. I guess in The Matrix things were a bit more black and white, good guys (humans = virus) vs bad guys (Agents = the future or the Matrix), which translates: chaos and individuality vs order and uniformity.
   In Inception the virus is both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on what side of the idea you find yourself on. It's a bargaining chip, it's the Mac Guffin of the story, it's what the good guys want to contain, crack, beat, implant and steal, the virus is just an idea. It's a film with no clean cut bad guys, it's not the FBI, CGI Agents or the Mafia, it's not an evil genius or his twin brother. The bad guys in this case are an imaginary force that give chase loaded with heavy weaponry, an enemy without a face or a calling card. But even if the bad guys don't have a name, since the action all takes place in the realm of dream then imaginary becomes real. So gun fire is real after all, it can hurt badly and also kill (or rather make you lose yourself in "limbo"). If you've seen The Matrix you may recall that whilst inside the Matrix bullets don't kill, but believing to have been shot would convince the brain that the bullet should kill and so one would die not from the bullet wound but from believing that there was a bullet in the first place. Now, in The Matrix we were dealing with two realities: one real and one believed to be real, and once you digested the fact that the reality we called home was actually a malicious and foreign creation, then it all made sense. In Inception we have one reality, ours, the real world, and the reality of dreams. A dream can be layered, or made into different levels of depth, so that there can be a dream within a dream, and another one within that, like a Russian doll. Nice concept. We can indeed have multi-layered dreams in the sense that naturally we can have as many dreams as our brain can muster whilst we sleep. Some people can even manipulate the dreams whilst asleep and make it unravel as they wish to. It's not an easy thing to do, but I know it can happen, it has happened to me a couple of times, by chance I should add. Inception's concept of a multi-layered dream is that one can sleep and dream and in it dream to sleep and dream and so on. I'll suspend my disbelief and go along with it. But there is a confusing way of how they keep tracks of time inside a dream, some mathematical formula that scales how time runs in a dream in proportion to the time passing in the real world (that is one concept that made my suspension of disbelief quiver if not quake). But let's say I take that for a fact and continue to play along, what else does Inception do? Hang on, I'm not sure at this point. Inception by definition is the start of something. I may feel a little confused right now, but I guess it refers to the basic principle that the film revolves around, i.e. the idea. Everything starts with an idea. So you plant the seed and then watch it grow. But how do you know it's going to grow the way you want? You don't. That's what Tom discovers as his wife's death comes back to haunt him. He planted an idea in her head, he hoped that it would do just what he planned for it to do, instead it spiralled out of control and he lost his wife as a result. So Inception is a dangerous thing, it cannot be controlled and now our hero is being asked to do it again, just this once, to save what's left of his life and I think there is also a veiled (not so veiled) concept that by performing this trick he'd also save the world from a Corporation ready to turn so global that it would swallow the world.

I have a few points, or rather questions to share:

1. Why does Ellen Page's character follow Di Caprio's character in a mission that he describes as "illegal" before even explaining what it is about, what's in it for her and in fact even before showing what cool things she can do once inside a dream? He's a perfect stranger to her, yet she doesn't even blink and follows him in an illegal mission. It's a carrot without a stick and she follows it? Disbelief trembling slightly here.

2. IV tubes with sedative stick out of a machine in a briefcase. OK. I understand that's how the characters fall asleep, the machine has a timer to wake them up, but how is one person's subconscious linked to another's to share the same dream? That's not explained, just go along with it. Disbelief quivering here.

3. An idea cannot be erased and it's so strong it will just not go away, it will grow and grow until it has reached whatever aim it set out to reach. Well, I can tell you that ideas DO go away. If I remembered half of the ideas I have on a daily basis, right now my head would be bursting, but I'd have plenty to write about. Sure some ideas stick with us for a long time, even a life-time. The most topical. Fixed ideas. But they are the exception rather than the rule methinks. So my disbelief is flipping and falling off a hammock here.

4. Fischer is the heir to an empire of a corporation and victim of the Inception. Saito is the head of another corporation, a rival, who commissions the Inception to make Fischer destroy the empire. Surely Fischer would know what Saito looks like. He tags along with our heroes and shows his face to Fischer (in a dream yes, but there is no indication that in the dream faces are changed, save for one character who morphs on purpose), so why doesn't Fischer ever recognise Saito? Even if he believed him to be a figment of his imagination, he'd still have to think that it was a bit odd and suspicious to have a rival tycoon walk around in his dream. My disbelief here is quaking so bad it's expecting to see the floor topple and become the ceiling.

  Did I enjoy the film? I can't wait to fall asleep and let my neurons go wild and take me away.

Enjoy a couple of youtube videos on Inception vs the Matrix (which is still the daddy as far as I am concerned)

Matrix/Inception Mashup Trailer and INCEPTION of THE MATRIX Trailer

and this

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Downs and Ups

Well, since I have this "lift" theme going on, here is a nice video. Notice how he hangs on to his drink...

Lunch at work

Why doesn't a homemade ciabatta sandwich and a packet of crisps fill me up? What is it about getting oldER that makes you move less and want to eat more? When I was a teenager I was so fussy with food I barely ate anything and I had enough energy to keep me functioning for 18 hours non-stop. Now I have to eat so much more just to feel full and I can't do half of the things I could do until 10 years ago. Never mind I still have a bad knee from my beginning of summer injury. Getting older sucks big time!

Where's my pudding?


Congratulations! It's 10-10-10... 

You've won a kick in the arse and a pat on the back!

Japanese Crowd Prank

Candid cameras at their most candid

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Wolfman (to say nothing of the dog)

I was looking forward to this film, for a bunch of reasons: 
   Firstly, I love all things werewolf. Especially now that I'm getting in the mood for Halloween.
   Secondly, the film has a great cast, I'm a big fan of Hugo Weaving, Anthony Hopkins is always a pleasure to watch, Emily Blunt is a great actress who understands timing in acting, and she's great both at comedy and drama, Benicio Del Toro is normally pretty good too, and there is also a brief but cool appearance of a monster of a stage actor: Antony Sher. 
   Thirdly, they shot much of the film near where I live in London. They filmed last summer on rather nice and sunny days, whilst the atmosphere of the film is gloomy and misty, so I was eager to see what the finished product would look like after they added the computer generated magic. 
   Lastly, the film claims to be the remake of the old Universal Studios hit film, which I love, so all great premises to enjoy a fantasy-horror movie.
   Now, the script I'm sure took a long time to write. I mean, lines like "have we got any silver bullets?" or "if you see Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro, the wolfman) do not engage in conversation, shoot on site" don't come easy. Not to mention the countless times that "lunatic" is used to describe Benicio Del Toro's character as a double meaning (Talbot was taken to an asylum as a child because his father was a sadic... or that's what I made of the reasons). All this creates a wondrous suspense that really makes you wonder... It really made me wonder. And I wonder what persuaded actors the calibre of Hopkins, Weaving and Del Toro to sign their contracts after reading that script. Money surely, a bit of an easy ride too, of course, but it makes me sad to see a wonderful actor like Hugo Weaving striking poses and running around uttering lines that are too daft to even be called daft. Anthony Hopkins too... man... he gets to call his on-screen son "my pup". Fail! 
   As for the dog (a Great Dane called Samson... or was it Scooby... no, no definitely Samson) he does quite alright, barks when he needs to, growls convincingly too and his entrances and exits are fairly smooth and to the point. But the actors... did they realise there was no dressing those lines? For as much as they can read something bad and still make it sound cool, because that cast can, those lines truly suck. Almost as much as the joke I am about to make. These werewolves suck more than any Twilight vampire. 
   And just when I thought that Wolverine, the X-men origins film had used every possible action film/comic book cliché ever invented (maybe it's the wolves theme that does it?), here's a film that tops it. I guess the broad audience likes clichés. maybe because they give a sense of stability to a situation, in the sense that they make you think you know where you stand. If you go to Italy, for example, you will discover that every Italian plays the mandolin, sings O' Sole Mio at least twice a day, eats pizza and pasta at every meal, zips around on a scooter all year round and has close relations with Mafia (now that's me slightly paraphrasing the definition of Italy according to Apple). 
   But because one can never really have too many clihés, fear not my friends, this films abounds with them. In fact almost every shot and every line in the Wolfman is a magical cliché. I don't mean to be overly sarcastic, honest, I myself do like a good cliché or two, but this film really doesn't leave one behind. 

   A lot of time, money and effort goes into film making, so why dwell too much on the flaws? What matters in the end is the story and the message it carries. This is a story about a dysfunctional family and how love can save the day (or die trying). 
   Did I enjoy it? ...It made me howl. 

Here's a clip with some interviews and moments from the film... 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Fresh off

I decided to keep a separate blog in English as I couldn't be bothered to translate every single entry of my Italian blog. That would be a job and a half. Besides, there are things I'd rather say in one language and not in the other and vice versa, and as I have the luxury to be able do so in separate online diaries... why not?
I think this will be an interesting flipside to the Italian blog, or maybe it is just as much the other way around, Flipside Up! Neither is first, they are both two sides of me.