Outside the Frame

News, reviews and all the moves on all that entertains from Outside the Frame

Archive for November 2008

Novel Review: On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft

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Stephen King is one of the most popular and prolific writers working today. While not without detractors, he remains a leading figure in fiction writing, especially within the horror genre. Novels like The Stand, Cujo, Salem’s Lot and Carrie are widely known throughout the world, and his epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower, has a massive following. Furthermore, many of his novels have been turned into films, and comic book adaptations of The Stand and The Dark Tower are currently in production. Commercially he is one of the most successful novelists alive today.

With all of these accolades, King is undoubtedly in a prime position to have something to say on the craft of writing. And it is with his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, that he has decided to pass on some of his thoughts on what makes a writer, or more specifically, what makes a good writer.

The tack he has taken with this book is an inspired one. Writing is very different to economics or maths; it is not an exact science. And On Writing is certainly no textbook. One of the main points made by King is that writing is a craft, and in that craft the writer shapes the story. So each and every story is ultimately dependant on the personal life experience of their creator, the writer. To get this point across in practical terms, King dedicates a big portion at the beginning of the book to a kind of biographical history of his own life, which he aptly entitles “CV”.

With a cheeky comedic touch, King tells the tale of his life with brutal but admiral honesty in a way that is genuinely interesting as well as entertaining. From his humble childhood in a lower-middle class, single-parent family to his early adulthood trying to support a family with two kids living in a trailer park, King paints a vivid picture of the many ups and downs of his life. What the reader ends up with, is an understanding of these struggles and joys in King’s life, which shaped what kind of writer he is, and thus the stories themselves.

But the book is not all biographical story-time; King is full of practical advice as well. Instead of trying to bombard the reader with boring rules and stiff diagrams, the bulk of the book is filled with real and solid advice as to what does and does not work in the journey to write a story. With examples from his own work, as well as from other authors, King illustrates many of the do’s and don’ts of writing, all in clear language. He adopts the tone of a helpful uncle giving advice, rather than a lecturer standing at the front of a classroom, and so his teaching is very accessible.

King stresses the point that writing is above all a very personal undertaking, and that any attempt to try and teach the craft in conventional ways is useless. This is why he has written On Writing as more of a rough guide to how he became a good writer, not how you can become one. Without too many rules but filled with helpful advice, On Writing has come out as an insightful and above all useful book on the craft of writing. 

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Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 20 November, 2008 at 12:43 pm

THE WORD

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Old School, is a fan-favourite film for a whole generation. Filled with endless comic quotability, anyone who has seen and loved the film will be able to spill forth the favourite line from Frank the Tank and company. Almost every line said in the film makes me laugh in one way or another, but I have to be ruthless and choose one. So for this week’s THE WORD I have chosen something from Frank the Tank, which is in my opinion Will Ferrell’s best role to date. It is said at the first party thrown at Mitch’s new house, The Mitch Martin Freedom Festival. Frank has promised his new wife not to drink and is trying to explain to some college guys why he can not do a beer-bong with them as he has plans with his wife for the next day:

 

Frank: I told my wife I wouldn’t drink tonight. Besides, I got a big day tomorrow. You guys have a great time. 

College Student: A big day? Doing what? 

Frank: Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.

 

From the film Old School, directed by Todd Phillips.

Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 20 November, 2008 at 11:01 am

3rd issues of Stephen King’s Treachery and Captain Trips comics out now

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The third issues of both The Dark Tower: Treachery and The Stand: Captain Trips were released last week. Both series of comics are fantastic comic book adaptations set in the worlds of two of Stephen King’s most loved novels and well worth a look.

Treachery is the third series of a planned five covering the early years of Roland Deschain, the hero of The Dark Tower series of novels. 

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And Captain Trips is the first of a planned six covering the epic novel, The Stand.

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More info found  at:

http://www.marvel.com/comics/dark_tower/

http://www.marvel.com/comics/The_Stand/

http://www.stephenking.com/

Written by Dale Weber

Monday, 17 November, 2008 at 6:13 pm

A Game of Thrones pilot a go!

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The latest news on the television series adaptation of A Game of Thrones has been announced by George R. R. Martin on his website. And what great news it is: HBO have given the go ahead for a pilot to produced. As always the production of a whole season depends on how well the pilot goes. So to quote the great man himself, “let’s all hope the pilot will kick serious ass.” 

Here is the link to the official announcement from George himself:

http://grrm.livejournal.com/58155.html

Written by Dale Weber

Monday, 17 November, 2008 at 5:30 pm

THE WORD

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Corresponding with this weeks The Big Lebowski review, this segment of THE WORD comes from that very film.

As with any film by the Coen Brothers, The Big Lebowski is filled with some of the funniest and witty dialogue in cinema. Basically anything The Dude or Walter says is ripe for endless quoting by fanboys. Anyways, this weeks chosen word is the opening passage of the film narrated by Sam Elliott’s The Stranger. For best effect, one should listen to it spoken with the deep tumbleweed-sounding gravelly tones of Sam Elliott. But seeing it written is pretty darn good too:

 

Way out west there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Lebowski, he called himself “The Dude”. Now, “Dude” – there’s a name no man would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Dude that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. And a lot about where he lived, likewise. But then again, maybe that’s why I found the place so darned interestin’. See, they call Los Angeles the “City Of Angels”; but I didn’t find it to be that, exactly. But I’ll allow it as there are some nice folks there. ‘Course I ain’t never been to London, and I ain’t never seen France. And I ain’t never seen no queen in her damned undies, so the feller says. But I’ll tell you what – after seeing Los Angeles, and this here story I’m about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin’ every bit as stupefyin’ as you’d seen in any of them other places. And in English, too. So I can die with a smile on my face, without feelin’ like the good Lord gypped me. Now this here story I’m about to unfold took place in the early ’90s – just about the time of our conflict with Sad’m and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? Sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here – the Dude from Los Angeles. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude. The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he’s a lazy man – and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin’ for laziest worldwide. Sometimes there’s a man, sometimes, there’s a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But… aw, hell. I’ve done introduced it enough.

 

From the film The Big Lebowski, by Joel and Ethan Coen

Written by Dale Weber

Friday, 7 November, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Film Review: The Big Lebowski

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The Coen brothers are anything but your standard directors. But of course that is what makes them so good.

And The Big Lebowski is anything but your ordinary film. Nailing down what the film is about is quite a slippery task, but then that really is the point. The film tells the story of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, an ageing unemployed hippy living in Los Angeles, who through a case of mistaken identity, gets caught up in a confusing ordeal involving kidnapping, extortion, the porn industry, and of course, bowling. Confused for a much richer Jeffrey Lebowski by some dim-witted thugs seeking money owed, who end up soiling his beloved rug, The Dude embarks on a crusade to be compensated for said rug that “really tied the room together”. Along the way The Dude finds himself mixed up with German nihilists, porn stars, a feminist artist, a severed toe, a sexually perverted rival bowler and the Malibu police department.

Within this twisting narrative, it is really the characters that shine through. And that is what they are: “characters”. The whole film is a heightened example of the absurd, and each character is more absurd than the next. From the three German nihilists who are a mix of Nazi’s, sadists and Kraftwerk, to Julianne Moore’s peculiar feminist artist Maude Lebowski, to John Turturro’s briefly seen but delightfully crazy Jesus Quintana, they are like nothing you have ever seen, and utterly Coenesque. Perhaps the most memorable is John Goodman as loose cannon Walter Sobchak, The Dude’s bowling buddy. Here Goodman puts in the best performance of his career, a highly-strung barrel of nerves, rage and delusion that leaves you laughing with glee and shaking your head in shock.

And then there is The Dude. As Sam Elliot’s narrator tells us, The Dude is a man of his time: An ex-radical hippy, who is simply passing the time through Los Angeles in the early 90’s. And Jeff Bridges IS The Dude. His shuffling performance is accomplished with such ease, and executed with great comedic nuance. From his shabby wardrobe and taste for White-Russians to his mumbling speech and exasperated response to the burdens imposed upon him, The Dude is one of the greatest comic film creations in recent history, and one the collaboration of Bridges and the Coens should be proud of.

It is also the filmmaking talent of the Coen brothers that have made The Big Lebowski into a cult-hit phenomenon. The unravelling of this muddled narrative is a joy to follow, and it is the comedy found within this unfolding, that keeps the audience wanting more. The surreal quality of the film is cleverly handled and the two dream sequences of The Dude are an inspired mix of events from the story and drug-addled insanity. The music in the film is much more than just background noise but plays an incorporated part in the telling of The Dude’s story. And the narration by Sam Elliot’s character at the beginning and end of the film is a nice touch.

The Big Lebowski is an absolute must-see for any fan of the Coen brothers, as well as for anyone who is bored by typical modern film fare. It is worth the watch just to see how an intriguing narrative, wonderful characters, fantastic dialogue and brilliant filmmaking are present in a film of utter irreverence and absolute absurdity, but one that works. You just have to remember one thing: The Dude abides.

Written by Dale Weber

Friday, 7 November, 2008 at 11:19 am

New Watchmen Poster

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Here is the latest poster for the film adaptation of graphic novel Watchmen as reported by SuperHeroHype:

http://www.superherohype.com/news/watchmennews.php?id=7756

Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 6 November, 2008 at 6:57 pm