AJ Reid

Writer of Speculative Fiction and Masher of Notes for the Broken-Hearted

Page 2 of 6

A Special Kind of Actor

The craggy face of Rutger Hauer glared back at me from the battered VHS case.

‘Don’t let your mum find it. I want it back when you’re done.’

‘She’ll find it. She finds everything.’

‘Hide it under your bed.’

‘First place she looks.’

‘Dammit. She’ll kill me too if she finds it. She’ll know I gave you it.’

‘Is it that good?’

Simpler times, perhaps. This exhange took place almost 30 years ago between me and another 11-year-old boy, furtively examining VHS contraband in the shade of a giant oak tree. School was out for summer, but for us, it was forever: our last day of primary. Ties loosened, shirts unbuttoned and laces undone, we were finally free and Rob T lived up to his term-long promise that he would bring in this film for me.

‘You’ll shit yourself.’

‘Cool cover.’

‘Watch it when your parents go out.’

‘I don’t want to get in trouble.’

‘We could go to mine and watch it. My parents don’t get home from work until seven’

Back at Rob’s, we settled down with a plate of barely warmed fish fingers and tomato sauce and pressed play. The scratchy white lines fizzed and flickered across the screen as the tape got going, indicating that it had been watched almost to the point of wearing out.

‘It gets better. Probably just needs tracking.’

The Hitcher

This was no X-rated “adult film”, nor splatter/slasher gore horror. This was something different. I could hear a message in the film, something more profound than “Don’t pick up strangers”. The Hitcher was a brutal, cathartic experience that made me value peace and resent violence. After the final credits rolled, I couldn’t wait to see my family to make sure they were all still in one piece and hadn’t picked up any hitchers in the two hours I’d been at Rob’s.

It was probably the first time I had seen an actor convey his message with such startling presence. Rutger Hauer as a mysterious homicidal nomad is a performance I will never forget. His ability to slow down time onscreen was matched only by Reed, De Niro, Nicholson, Day-Lewis etc.

What made Hauer such a great villain was the ever-present slivers of endearing humanity he would weave into the performance, confusing the audience by earning their sympathies and respect one minute, their abject disgust the next.

Similarly, his heroes were often shot through with irritating flaws, sometimes full blown personality disorders. Still, we loved them. We wanted them to overcome adversity all the more because they were like us: imperfect.

Split Second

I can’t wrap up this short tribute without mentioning Rutger Hauer’s greatest unsung work: a little-known sci-fi thriller that brings to mind Bladerunner and Alien. Split Second is far from being a perfect film, but there is much to recommend it. The scene between Hauer and Kim Cattrall is particularly memorable because of the unexpected tenderness therein and reminds us how powerful he could be as an actor, even in the midst of a rather chaotic narrative, so if you’re a comic book/graphic novel fan still unsatisfied by cinema’s adaptations of the form, you could do a lot worse than to check out this highly enjoyable flawed gem.

There are not many actors or artists out there as memorable as Hauer. I’m grateful, as I am to all actors with soul, for the inspiration. He altered our collective consciousness with an ad-lib, ffs (see Blade Runner roof scene). That takes some doing.

Thank you and happy trails, Mr. Hauer.

For more thoughts on film, click HERE.

For Rutger Hauer IMDB, click HERE.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Short Story Do Not Disturb Wins Second Place in Writing Magazine Competition

Thrilled to announce that my short story about a suicide in a hotel room has won second place in Writing Magazine’s competition. The judges gave it a lovely review, which you can read alongside the story itself here.

Or you can read about a dystopian near-future in which celebrities are cloned for prostitution here.

Or a splinter story from The Horseman’s Dream, which you can read here.



Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

“Feuilles Mortes” Shortlisted in Writing Magazine’s Poetry Competition

Delighted to have made the shortlist for this one, being the first poetry competition I’ve entered in a few years. Thanks to Writing Magazine. It will be available to read in a collection called The Crystal Barrel, which I am compiling for 2020. You can read “Feuilles Mortes” for yourself here.

Find more poetry here. Sign-up required to access poetry and stories.

Check out some of my favourite poetry from T. S. Eliot and Seamus Heaney.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

The Horseman’s Dream: A Tale of Conspiracy, Corruption, Cruelty and Conditioning in Post-Disaster Britain

It’s taken me 20 years to write The Horseman’s Dream: its origins lying somewhere in the ashes of the Twin Towers and the ensuing maelstrom of disinformation.  The story is about something intangible, like the scent you catch in the air every now and then that makes your heart swell with nostalgia or the child’s smile that brings a tear to your eye.  It’s about something good that still exists in a bad world.  Like the lone snowdrop on the rubbish tip, beauty will always find a way.  This is the best story I can come up with to frame the notion of a force within all of us that can survive anything: grief, addiction, trauma, enslavement, conditioning and, in near-future Britannia, even a natural disaster and the rise of a terrifying new brand of fascism.

An early map for The Horseman’s Dream, showing how the British Isles have been reduced to a tiny archipelago by a near-extinction level natural disaster.

When the idea came, I had a job working late shifts in a local restaurant and that morning, I could barely face sunlight, being so tired. I poured a styrofoam cup of scorched coffee from the MOT garage’s grotty percolator and sat down to check out the reading material on the table. Next to the mountain of Heat, Hello, Ok!, Cosmopolitan, Loaded et al sat a pristine hardback of the Holy Bible. The juxtaposition of the literature seemed absurd, even more so when flicking between them. It made me consider how human consciousness might have evolved over two millenia, if at all.

Two years earlier, 9/11 had brought religious fundamentalism into the spotlight with an event that was truly shocking to witness live on TV. It felt unreal, like a waking nightmare. I’d stood on top of one of the buildings a year previously and the memory made me shiver. A toxin was leaking into my bloodstream through the television as I watched these hellish events unfold. It was tough to escape the feeling that somebody had crafted this nightmare for a specific purpose: to alter the consciousness of the world, to upset the balance to serve their own ambitions, whatever they might be. Someone had turned down the dimmer switch for humanity and all its higher virtues, leaving us all suspended in a darkness, not of physical light, but of the spirit.

I set down the literature and drank my coffee, none too keen to wriggle any further down the rabbit-hole without more caffeine. I could feel The Horseman’s Dream rumbling in the distance.

I remembered my experience at Ground Zero, where it was all no longer just on the TV.  Since I had been booked for label showcases in New York before 9/11, I assumed that they would be cancelled, but I was wrong.  They went ahead anyway in the November.  Getting on a plane became a totally different proposition overnight.  Twitchy faces seemed riveted to their headrests, casting anxious glances at their fellow travellers and security checks both in arrivals and departures took so long that you could see the weariest visibly ageing as they stood in line.  It wasn’t just the time it took or the draining effect of air travel: they had been poisoned like me.  They were afflicted by the same sadness that took control of the veins, arteries, nerves, muscles and ligaments, not just the brain or the heart.  A genuine malaise that saw altruism and other romantic imperatives smeared from the collective consciousness and replaced with a cold objectivism.

An early impression of what the broadcasting corporation’s logo might look like.

Reading the tributes amidst the still-rising smoke and dust at Ground Zero was harrowing.  As a young man, I had been looking forward to writing stuff that would comfort people and encourage them to be kinder to each other, to make the world a more interesting, peaceful place.  It suddenly seemed a most naive, childish ambition, and my motivation to write faltered badly.

Back in the MOT garage, I scribbled as many notes as I could fit within the confines of Ben Affleck’s forehead, before I had to move on to Jennifer Aniston’s dress on the next page of the magazine.  I inconspicuously removed the notated pages and stuffed them into my pocket before diving back to the Bible.   Flipping it open randomly landed me in Revelations.

The words reminded me of the apocalyptic dread as I watched the Twin Towers fall on television. It made me wonder whether the apocalypse would take the form of something so awfully spectacular in the physical world or whether the apocalypse of the soul would be the thing to finish us off. This imperceptible parasite travelling through airwaves and feeding on higher virtue seemed to me to be a grave, real danger and it was clear that we had all been affected by it.  Infected by it.

I still like this idea for a cover. What do you think?

I took the idea of a reality TV mogul rising to power and using media and technology to control and ultimately destroy the minds of a population to achieve complete dominance.  I had always been disturbed by the incredible influence that the media has over people, but post 9/11, it became an assault rather than an influence.  Something wasn’t right. And that pristine passport.  Building 7.  Temperatures required to melt steel beams.  I don’t know if you remember, but people were openly talking about these things in polite company.  I remember when the phrase “conspiracy theory” wasn’t dirty, laced with ridicule or used to undermine alternative opinions and ideas.  The manipulation of that phrase became a source of suspicion in itself.  Conspiracy theories about conspiracy theory.  To the shadowy forces at the helm of this dark vessel cleaving through the waves of the collective consciousness, tampering with crime scenes seemed like more of an afterthought.  Their real quarry seemed to be our very souls and it was jaw-dropping to see truth and logic escape from family and friends as they belched and regurgitated the desired narrative, becoming more exhausted and enraged by cognitive dissonance by the day.

This was the beginning of fake news as we now know it.  The parasite no longer lived only in the airwaves, now it had fibre-optic broadband and the ability to create hate, confusion, polarisation and foster narcissism, cruelty and desensitisation in anyone on the planet in microseconds.

Fortunately for the resistance, short wave radio still works in Britannia.

And it’s still working.  The ego is inextricably entwined with social media in a way that TV, radio and print has never been, creating more profound lacerations to the user’s psyche and generating slow-burning, but dark consequences for our society.  A week ago, a seven-year-old boy was slashed with a knife only a few miles from my home.  I recently received death threats for intervening to prevent a woman being verbally and physically assaulted by four men outside a local bar.  The hunt is still on for the man who thrust a pint glass into someone’s face at the bottom of my road a few weeks ago.  Not far from the supermarket, a running street battle with machetes took place last month, resulting in some horrific injuries.   And in true Ballardian fashion, someone recently smashed up a police mental health support vehicle while the officers were in a nearby house, attending to an emergency call.

And all the while, funding for health and emergency services is being strangled to death.  Or to privatisation, I should say.

I don’t think it takes a genius to see that someone is conducting a symphony of chaos from the wings.

The arrival of dreck like the Jeremy Kyle Show and X-Factor fed the parasite, which had found its natural home online for the reasons outlined above.  These programmes were designed to appeal to the lowest aspects of our humanity: merely an update of the Victorian freak show, so that people could give air to their desperate need to sneer at the pathetic plights and dreams of the poor, vulnerable and mentally-ill.  Like a self-sufficient, perpetual eco-cycle, the circus continues ever apace, gathering more momentum every day under the watch of leaders who care nothing for us and everything for their offshore bank accounts.

And all this before I’ve even mentioned Brexit.

The Horseman’s Dream became a revenge story for the meek and a tale of justice for the abused.  A protest against faceless, psychopathic corporations controlling our governments and our minds.  The perpetrators would see their own cruel weapons turned against them amidst the howl of trumpets from the skies.  I wrote that the horsemen would not come as War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, but in the form of an institutionalised, 16-year-old catatonic.  His weapon would not be a flaming sword or burning bow, but something else altogether more nebulous and abstract.

The polarisation of the public in the UK and the USA continues to worsen, aided by technology and social media to create wider and deeper contamination and control of our people. It’s highly recommended to be a hustler, a playa, a gangsta, an outright narcissist or a gold-digger in our culture: anything else and you’re “weak”.  The sneering attitudes fertilised by reality TV (or reality “programming” could be more apt) have become the norm, while the wretched mantra of the staunch objectivist might as well be tattooed on our foreheads: “I’m alright, Jack.”

As a protest and admonition against that, I wanted to create a shrivelled, cruel near-future where a tipping point has been reached: a world where kindness, honour, loyalty, compassion and altruism would finally be rewarded by a mysterious cosmic power operating outside of the grimy reach of the Establishment. A power that makes their attempts to control others appear quite ridiculous and futile. A power that meets their unkindness with a vengeance a thousand times more powerful than anything they could muster. A power to whom we could all be grateful for liberating us from our slavemasters’ thrall.

When I finally finished the novel last year, I went through a stringent drafting process and reluctantly let go of about 30,000 words, leaving the final draft at 75,000.  In a fit of childish enthusiasm, I offered the manuscript to Will Self after attending one of his lectures in Liverpool and he was gracious enough to accept it.  It was an exciting moment for me until I returned to my car and realised what I had done: I had just given a manuscript to one of the most complex, capable (and acidic) novelists ever for a review.  What did I expect? What a ludicrous notion that he might even read it.  A novelist of Will Self’s level has much more important stuff to do than read my twaddle.  I blushed all the way home, cursing myself as an idiot for most of the journey.

Alternate Cover

I put the episode out of my mind until a few weeks later when I received an email from Will (him)Self. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared of opening an email.  I needn’t have worried: he was polite.  It wasn’t the “kind of thing he usually read”, but he said it was “full of fascinating ideas” and said that he would speak to someone who might be interested.  Although I’ve not heard back since, I’m still relieved that I wasn’t completely eviscerated, at least.  Just having one of the world’s finest novelists read my work at all gave me a confidence boost.

I’ve been knocking together a few ringbound proofs in anticipation of the next step, which is to print a short run of paperbacks to sell from the website and perhaps the odd art/book fair here and there in a bid to remain as independent as possible.  If you can’t wait and would like a ringbound proof, email me and we’ll work something out.  Readers have bartered beer, guitar strings, homegrown vegetables and cigars so far, all of which I will continue to accept as tender until the paperback is released.

Ringbound proofs with holographic foil covers.

If you have any thoughts on any of the above, feel free to put them in the comments or send me an email.

Misprints feel like such a waste, so I deployed Arthur here as a beta reader.

If you’d like to read a few snippets The Horseman’s Dream (and others) and check out some weird doodles, click here

If you’d like to read the odd sarcastic tweet or see some nice art (I RT a lot of paintings/photography), go here

If you would like to be kept up to date on release dates and special offers, sign up to my mailing list by clicking here 

Lots of love,
AJ

UPDATE April 2020: Get your download of The Horseman’s Dream here for only £2.26 with code REVELATIONS

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Visiting Ypres at 13 Years Old

Monday was the 100th anniversay of the start of the “third battle of Ypres”: Passchendaele.  This poem and piece of music is my tribute to all those who died in the trenches.  Fodder to the Maschinengewehrs, often drugged with amphetamines to quell their terror, some as young as 13 years old raced and palpitated towards a lonely, painful death in the mud and barbed wire of No Man’s Land.

I remember the atmosphere on the coach heading towards the trenches we were due to visit on the first day of our week-long school trip: laughing, play-fighting, general high spirits.  The mood upon our return to the bus was silent shock.  No-one spoke to each other: we just filed back in and sat in our seats in silence until one boy burst into floods of tears.  No-one laughed at him because most felt the same way, including myself.

It felt as if some kind of shadow had crept into my young bones or gas into my lungs.  Some of the lungs and hearts were only the same age as ours when they had been stilled by a machine gun round or a cloud of gas.  They had ceased to be people: used only as meat. Their training, physical condition, intelligence or raw bravery made no difference to their chances of survival once they went over the top.  They might as well have been stepping off the edge of the world, launching themselves into a cold, airless vacuum.

 

Lungs and Hearts and Minds

I wanted to know why these boys had ended up in a meat grinder. What I discovered has led to a lifelong mistrust of hierarchy, a hatred of propaganda and a yearning for meritocracy and diplomacy.  How’s the fight going, you ask?  Turn on the TV, read a newspaper or click on social media.  Depressing, right?  Nodding your head solemnly at remembrance ceremonies doesn’t make you patriotic and is not going to prevent this happening again.  I’ve marched in enough remembrance parades at Hamilton Square to realise this.  Diplomacy, intelligent research/debate and a refusal to be drawn to our basest instincts would serve us better, although when I posited this to a newspaper editor, he told me that any newspaper selling virtue over scandal would fold within a week.

No More War

War is big business.  Let’s all keep fighting the warmongers, instead of each other.

Check out some Wilfred Owen poetry here.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Promo Ends at Midnight: Get your Free Download of Brit-Grit Dark Comedy A Smaller Hell Now

U.S. readers click here
U.K. readers click here
Canada readers click here
Australia reader click here

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Upload

When I’m gone and turned to dust,
You’ll still click my link, I trust,
Give us a like or even a love,
I’ll be watching from above,
If creation truly be not a sin,
Maybe my uploads will get me in?

Followers come and followers go,
Like lovers you never really know,
Unless they too have uploaded theirs,
And put in order their affairs,
So that they can also live forever,
By seeding clouds with their endeavour,
Hoping there might come a rain,
To drop them back to earth again,
If only to give a vague idea,
Of what it meant when they were here.

Will doc files cleanse the streets,
And bring on revolution?
Bedroom wavs rock halls of power,
Halting executions?
Will jpegs of outstanding worth,
Become like stained-glass,
Worshipped by some hipster,
Still talking out of his arse?

But what happens when,
The wind blows again,
And we all take shelter below?
If we survive,
Will we be deprived,
Of the things that we love and know?
If the cloud blows away,
And the authorities say,
That it was always our decision,
We submitted and signed,
We’ll become deaf and blind,
Under a deluge of derision,
Incision and division bells,
Silencing the voices,
That scream against the toughened glass,
Of gilted Rolls-Royces.

Take your books below with you,
And cherish all your vinyl,
So that if the cloud should fall as rain,
Your ecstasy won’t be final.Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Echo Chamber

Goodnight, my love,
Sleep well in your chamber,
See you in a while,
You’ll be in no danger,
From the voice that dares ask,
Any question at all,
To the strong and the stable,
Of their thirst for our thrall.
Goodnight, my love,
Your skin has grown paler,
Behind the chamber’s glass,
You’ve become your own jailer,
Closing the hatch,
On your reverberant hole,
You settle comfortably into the role,
And a tear of mine drops to the floor,
While stiff regret haunts my jaw.
Enjoy your cocktails of blood,
And the inevitable flood,
Of warmth in your veins,
As you calmly peruse,
Systematic abuse,
As long as no-one complains,
Of secrets and lies,
Where the dead go to live,
When their sympathy dies.
Through the chainmail I hear,
An echo of you,
Through the telegraph wire,
And the turn of the screw,
From the sky up above,
To the sinner below,
A picture is painted,
That he’ll never know.
Goodnight my love,
This is the last time I’ll come,
The chamber’s cold glass,
Has turned my lips numb.
Goodnight, my love,
I will cherish our time,
But I am no longer yours,
And you, no longer mine.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Dark Christmas Films

Christmas lights are going up, along with burglary rates, energy bills and collective blood pressure. It must be that magical time of year again, so let’s celebrate with a list of festive films for the broken idealists among us who need their fix of sarcasm and cynicism to keep them going over the following month.

Krampus (2015)

80s nostalgia seems to be a thing at the moment and although Stranger Things was more comprehensive in its fanboy-like homages, Krampus does it with delicious dark humour, strong performances from the cast, snappy dialogue and a creepy take on the Christmas redemption story, which all makes for a fun ride for adults wishing to relive the excitement of watching Gremlins for the first time, or for older kids who still want to believe in Father Christmas.  Special mention must go to the delightful animation sequence in which the grandmother flashes back to post-war Germany to explain her connection to St. Nicholas’ malevolent counterpart.

Scrooged (1988)

Something of a spiritual predecessor to Bad Santa and a truly 80s New York take on Dickens, this films sees the brilliant Bill Murray on fine form, dishing out sarcasm and meanness as a dastardly TV company exec.  The sentimentality is offset by surprisingly dark and imaginative dimension-hopping sequences with the ghosts, all of which are met at first by an unimpressed, sardonic Murray, who soon finds himself forced to alter his outlook, as Scrooge does in A Christmas Carol.  Karen Allen puts in a wonderful performance as Murray’s old girlfriend, whose love and generous nature helps to bring him in from the cold, while the family scenes of Christmas possess an air of warmth and authenticity that will pull at even the most rusty heartstrings.

In Bruges (2008)

Debatable as to whether it’s a true Christmas film, but there are myriad aspects of Michael McDonagh’s 2008 masterpiece in which to revel as a seeker of dark festive fayre.  Let’s start with the performances from the cast.  Previous to watching this film, I disliked Colin Farrell quite unfairly on account of a most untrustworthy upper lip and a dastardly set of eyebrows. However, his portrayal of a bungling, guilt-ridden hitman in this film was enough to win me over and I’ve enjoyed his work ever since (even if the eyebrows get a bit hammy now and again).  Given the perfect foil in Brendan Gleeson’s character, a seasoned veteran of the same dirty game, the two set the screen alight with their chemistry and along with the haunting, atonal piano soundtrack and “fairytale” scenery of Bruges, keep our attention and build our sympathies until Ralph Fiennes shows up and steals the show briefly with his pantomime, psychopathic gangster, Harry.  When Harry turns up in Bruges, the film accelerates into action thriller territory and we are rewarded with an electrifying chase through the cobbled streets until the rather brutal climax.  Sacrifice, redemption and forgiveness are all themes explored by the film, but what sets it apart is a curious, subtle acknowledgement of the cycle of life and the sanctity of family.  By their nature, existentialists are usually rather miserable, but here they will find enough mischievous musings on the void to raise a wry smile at the very least.

Gremlins (1984)

Cosy, friendly, small American town subverted by a plague of creatures can only be saved by small town boy and his girl.  Sounds like a B-movie plot?  That’s because it is, but it is executed with such flair by cast and crew that we couldn’t help but be beguiled and terrified by it back in the 80s.  The microwave and the blender death scenes were legendary amongst schoolkids because of the parental disgust factor.  Subversion is a vital ingredient in nearly every film in this list and the Gremlins symbolise that perfectly: grimy green, fanged, homicidal reptilians that reproduce asexually and were considered to be the cause of mechanical failures in aeroplanes during World War Two, according to the legend recounted by the memorable Dick Miller as Murray Futterman.  If people really do crave the catharsis of the utter chaos and destruction of Christmas in their viewing material, then Gremlins is the one, even taking down a department store in the proceedings.  The more politically-inclined amongst you might be able to divine some symbolic meaning from this, but for me, comparing gremlins to Communists might be a bridge too far.  Maybe Anarchists …?

The Ref (known as Hostile Hostages in UK) (1994)

Motormouth comedian Denis Leary goes into sarcasm overload in this black comedy following the events of a failed burglary on Christmas Eve, once again in a snow-covered, small American town.  It’s a smarter, more highbrow take on the Christmas crime capers we know and love, largely thanks to a good script, Leary’s comedic timing and Kevin Spacey’s double act with Judy Davis as his neurotic, unfaithful wife.  It is remarkable how similar Spacey’s character is to the now-legendary Lester Burnham character he portrayed in American Beauty, but to neither film’s detriment.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  As I mentioned earlier, subversion is key to the functioning of most of these films and here, it takes the typically John Hughesian house from Home Alone and delivers the criminal into the midst of a family that’s corroding under the emptiness of modern life, even though ostensibly, they have everything we found so seductive in those onscreen mansions.  A delightfully mischievous and sardonic romp, especially fun if you like Denis Leary.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Technically set during Thanksgiving, but we don’t get that here in the UK for obvious reasons, so I think most us Brits just pretend that it’s set at Christmas so as not to confuse ourselves.  Steve Martin and John Candy are the prudish businessman and free-wheeling shower ring salesman who are thrust together by fate to get home for Thanksgiving.  It isn’t long before Martin’s stiff upper lip is wobbled by Candy’s incessant small-talk and oafish mannerisms and John Hughes begins really pitting them against each other in a series of set pieces, which will keep you laughing until the twist, carrying the emotional punch we have come to know to be typical of Hughes.  Themes of tolerance, compassion and co-operation underpin the spiritual message of the film, which serves as a helpful reminder to us all, come Christmas Dinner.

Bad Santa (2003)

Billy Bob Thornton explores the depths of the human condition whilst dressed in a Santa outfit, but it’s Bernie Mac and John Ritter who provide most of the laughs: Ritter need only react with a facial expression to keep us giggling with his sublime, understated performance, while Mac delivers his dialogue with such ferocity and cadence, that we can’t help but wait for the next vicious insult or epithet with bated breath.  Many would tell you that the crucible for this story is the department store, but the real pickle in which Billy Bob’s character Willy finds himself is human relationships, from which he has distanced himself to the point of developing an anti-social personality disorder.  Will the Christmas spirit help Willy rediscover his humanity?

Trapped in Paradise (1994)

One of Nicholas Cage’s less celebrated films, which has always taken a critical beating – probably not unfairly, to some degree.  However, if you need a film that will not tax the old grey matter too much and provide some cheeky laughs, you could do a lot worse.  Although the humour is brash and crude in places, the message is uplifting and the cosy, small-town atmosphere evoked by director George Gallo is most seductive.  Nicholas Cage is over the top as always (would we have him any other way?), but thankfully, there are no bees or wicker men involved here, and his style is well complimented by the Stooge-like Dana Carvey and Jon “who, me?” Lovitz.  The show is admirably stolen by their foul-mouthed mother, played by Florence Stanley, who torments her meathead, no-necked kidnappers to tears.

If you’re in the market for a dark Christmas story you’ve not heard before, try my take: A Smaller Hell.  Based on my own experiences of working in a department store, it follows the story of a disillusioned man who doesn’t realise that he is being pulled into a dangerous game by his new boss – a game that will change his life forever, come the night of the Christmas party.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

An experiment in combining poetry, music and film: three things by which I have been besotted since I first experienced them.  I’m no film-maker, but editing these public domain clips into something that vaguely makes sense was really satisfying, somehow.  I’m used to working with words and music, mostly, but working with the visual felt amazing.  All three combined might be a bit like having all your favourite food on one plate: individually they taste good, but mashed together not so much, which is why I’m emphasising that this is only an experiment.  The soundtrack is fairly ambient with bluesy lap steel over the top.  I’ve been learning how to play that for a while, which has been great fun and has opened up some new musical horizons for me.

As far as the subject matter goes, it’s a little bit patriotic and it’s a little bit existential.  Best if you find your own interpretation.

Any feedback is welcome, good or bad.  Hope you get something out of it.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2020 AJ Reid

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑