Wednesday, December 30, 2009




A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK FORWARD
As is traditional here, at the end of the year I talk about what I've done and what I hope to do. 2009 was a very strange year for me: work, especially subbing work was thin on the ground and while the writing was there, it wasn't enough to replace the subbing that I had before. But some good things did happen:

•We got another two issues of TRIPWIRE out, the Superhero Special in February and the Annual 2009 at the very end of July. They are two issues that I am very proud of. It was disappointing that Diamond US chose not to carry the 2009 Annual but it's a decision I couldn't take personally as the business environment in 2009 was extremely tough and so they made choices that they wouldn't have done in previous years

•I cemented my writing portfolio and my cuttings. In 2009 I got pieces published in Big Issue In The North, Sci Fi Now and did a load of work for the Judge Dredd Megazine, which will continue into 2010. I did some work for online genre publications, something I haven't really pursued much. I got to interview Terry Gilliam and Genndy Tartakovsky, two people whose work I have admired for years. I also interviewed Guillermo Del Toro again when The Strain came out and was able to build up my relationship with him and Richard Taylor at Weta, a relationship that I intend to continue to build upon

•I finally came to the conclusion that the photos I take are just as valid as the photos that established photographers take. In fact, I now consider myself to be a photographer as I finally put my money where my mouth is and put out my first photography book, Town & Country (available now from Blurb.com). I have improved the shots I take and at the end of this year have taken some photos I am truly proud that I have taken

•I wrote and completed a prose short story, The Hanging Man, which is something I've not done since I was at university. I entered it into a competition and it was a great exercise for me as a writer

So looking back, it wasn't a total washout as a year. Studio Space, which came out in 2008, didn't do anything more and I came to realise that it served its purpose but if we wanted the book to make more of an impact, myself and Gary needed to do the promotion ourselves. I would still like to do a followup but I've put that to the back of my mind at present because I am going to devote time to book projects aimed at a more general readership. So here's what I plan to do in 2010:

•Publish a photography book a month. Town & Country was the first but it will be followed by a new title every month. London Eye will be out in January, then we'll have a book on London Cemeteries, London Pubs, Statues and much more. I aim to come to the end of 2010 with around a dozen photo books with my name on them. You will also be able to buy prints of my photos too. To that end, I'm going to be starting a new blog that will just talk about my photography sometime in January…

•Hopefully one of the book proposals I have in with traditional book publishers will happen. I don't know which and I don't want to jinx it, so I won't mention the subject of any of them in case none of them happen…

•I shall write more fiction. I was very chuffed I managed to finish my short in 2009 and there'll be lots more projects like that. We'll have some Dee For Detective out in some shape or form in 2010 and I may even pursue some other comic writing opportunities…

•There will be more TRIPWIRE. Even though the market is bloody hard at the moment with shops closing and magazines teetering on the edge, the plan is to produce at least a TRIPWIRE Annual as a physical entity in 2010. It's the 75 anniversary of DC as well as the 20th of The Simpsons, so we plan to be there in some shape and form to document what's going on. We are also going to attempt to update the website far more regularly…

•I am also going to build up my writing portfolio and get into even more magazines, newspapers and publications that I've not been in before…

So 2009 was a pretty dodgy year but it had some highlights. I believe that 2010 will be a better year…

So to everyone who reads this blog, have a great New Year and I'll see you on the other side…

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Saturday, December 26, 2009










BOXING CLEVER
Now that the weather has gotten temporarily better, I decided to go out with the camera. The winter light is pretty good to take shots and I got some of my favourite recent photos today. Boxing Day is a strange day too: the West End wasn't particularly busy although I'm sure, if I'd gone down to Oxford Street and Regent Street, I'd have seen a different picture. So I walked from Queen Square in Bloomsbury all the way down to Parliament Square and back, recapturing some of the images I've taken before but now I'm shooting everything I want to publish or sell in RAW and I have to say that sometimes photos look spectacular, with it picking out amazing detail in architecture and statuary. It felt a little bit odd as the walk took me along Victoria Embankment and near Waterloo Bridge, where I used to wander when Time had their offices on Savoy Street. So here are my photos…

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Thursday, December 24, 2009


SEASONS GREETINGS
To everyone who visits this blog, have a great Christmas/ Hanukah/ whatever you celebrate…
Here's a shot I took when we had snow last year…

Joel Meadows

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Monday, December 21, 2009


DETECTIVE FRICTION
Guy Ritchie's films have not exactly been the most consistent of any modern director so I admit when his Sherlock Holmes was announced with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, I was more than a little skeptical. While his debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was accomplished but unconvincing, the followup Snatch was very entertaining. But with Revolver and Rock 'n' Rolla, he seemed to be nothing more than a middle class bloke obsessed with London gangsters. Sherlock Holmes is his best film to date, directed with an assured hand and with a very likable cast including Downey Jr in the title role, continuing his resurrection as one of the most charismatic male actors in modern Hollywood and even Jude Law looks comfortable and at ease here as Dr Watson. Ritchie has remade Doyle's Holmes as a man of action, who works out adversaries' weak points in fights and then acts on them while Watson is a veteran of the Afghanistan War at the end of the Victorian era. The film doesn't waste any time, setting the scene with the capture of upper class loony Lord Blackwood (played with vulpine grace by Mark Strong), who has an appointment with the scaffold but informs anyone who'll listen that he'll rise from the grave and turn the world upside-down. Holmes is skeptical but when Blackwood's body disappears from its home in Brompton Cemetery, the detective and his partner are thrown into a mystery that seems to have metaphysical connections at its core. Ritchie introduces a thinly veined Masonic analogue at the centre of this conundrum. Blackwood and his compatriots intend to replace the government with a ruling council of their own choosing and so Holmes and Watson are in a race to prevent this from happening. While the script and characterisation bear no resemblance to any of the film's forebears, Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes barrels along at a very nice pace with some decent interplay between Downey Jr and Law and some very impressive visual flourishes from the director and his production designer. The scene where we see Holmes fight a significantly larger man in a bareknuckle boxing match makes it feel like a steampunk Victorian James Bond. There are flaws here: why you would have to ride along the river when making your way from Baker Street to Pentonville Prison, just so you can foreshadow the film's conclusion, is clumsy and lazy and sometimes Downey Jr's eccentric Holmes can be a little irritating but for the most part, this movie is an entertaining and engaging modern action adventure. It sets things up for a sequel, rumoured to feature Holmes's classic adversary Moriarty played by Brad Pitt. It feels like they're trying to set up a franchise here and this would not be a bad thing for cinema at the minute. Perhaps the fact that it was only directed rather than written by Ritchie has steered it away from the problems of some of his worst films. Sherlock Holmes is grand adventure for the Christmas period…

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Friday, December 18, 2009



SPECIAL AFFECTS
Avatar is a film that's been about a dozen years in the making. James Cameron hasn't made a movie since the monster hit Titanic back in 1997 and so there has been so much expectation for this picture that if it wasn't the greatest film ever made, then people would be whingeing constantly. I went to see Avatar at a press screening at the IMAX cinema in Waterloo on Monday night. I only managed to get the press tickets that morning so I wasn't even sure if I was going. My expectations were mixed too as the couple of trailers I saw didn't necessarily fill me with optimism about its quality. But I have to say that from the opening sequence where we are introduced to Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), it did have me hooked. In a near future, Scully is a US marine whose brother was killed and so he is sent to replace him in a programme on a fictional far-flung planet Pandora, where the US have developed sentient artificial versions of the native Na'avi, bodies that can be linked to the minds of humans via technology that projects the subject into the body. So Scully is projected into one of these Avatars with the aim of learning more about the culture of the native Na'avi. But Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) has an ulterior motive: the humans want to drive the natives away so they can access a valuable source of energy. Scully makes a number of trips to the interior of the planet and falls in with the Na'avi, initially thanks to an encounter with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana from Star Trek), who saves him from peril at the claws of one of the planet's many deadly animal occupants. Scully is joined by the avatar of Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), a scientist whose interest in the natives is benign. But impatient to extract the material, the corporation and Colonel Quaritch accelerate their programme to destroy the Na'avi's most sacred spot and grab the valuable Unobtainium (a reference to an engineering term for an element in a design that is impossible). So Scully is trapped between his own people and the natives, who he has become very attached to. In a wheelchair, in his avatar body, Scully is able to live an active life and that is partly what makes it so appealing. Some critics have accused Avatar of having an overly simplistic and unsubtle eco-friendly plot and while its plot and occasionally its script have flaws, they are decent enough that they carry you along for the duration of the film. Visually though it does take cinema to a whole other level: I've never been to such an immersive film before and there were moments when you are such an engrossed observer that you forget you're watching a movie. There are also occasions which make you feel a little bit wobbly, as if you were actually there. The flora and fauna of Pandora look alien but mostly credible and Scully's integration into Na'avi society, while hugely conventional and pretty predictable, is enjoyable with some spectacular set pieces. The animation of the indigenous peoples is nothing short of incredible and they should be applauded. You really do have to slap yourself sometimes to remember that the Na'avi bodies are nothing more than extremely sophisticated motion capture CGI and the planet itself also looks like literally nothing on Earth, yet it obeys the laws that Cameron have set for himself. After over a decade away, James Cameron has created the ultimate cinematic event, directed and orchestrated with the deftness of touch that his previous best efforts (Aliens, Terminator 2) have also displayed. The efforts of people like Weta, Framestore, Gentle Giant and the rest have elevated what can be achieved on the big screen and everyone else has to follow their lead. Avatar is astounding and shows that James Cameron is one of the most impressive directors currently working in big-budget Hollywood today. It is a film that will be talked about for decades to come…

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DEVELOPING MY CAREER
My first photography book, Town & Country, is now available to order so if you go to the following URL, you can order it: http://www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/1101477.It features 100 of my best photographs taken around the country and it should be the first of many of my photo books. Here's the cover and a couple of sample spreads. So feel free to order one.

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IT'S ALL WHITE
Later today, I'll be posting my review of Avatar, which I went to see at the IMAX cinema at Waterloo on Monday. But first here's a post about the snow that hit the Southeast yesterday and last night. The last few years, we've avoided snow until around February but this year we had a decent amount of it. London wasn't as badly hit as the rest of the Southeast. But we did get a light dusting so apart from it being a little bit scary to drive home on Thursday night, it made for some fantastic shots this morning. So here they are with the sky photo taken late yesterday afternoon…

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Monday, December 07, 2009


BEING SPIKE JONZE
Where The Wild Things Are is a film with a chequered history. Its director Spike Jonze had to reshoot it several times and there was even talk a while ago that it wouldn't make it to the screen at all. But thankfully it has arrived and I went to see it the Vue Leicester Square with my fellow journalists. Where The Wild Things Are is a film based on a very slim illustrated children's book by Maurice Sendak and Jonze has really fleshed out proceedings. Max is a lonely boy who lives with his mother (played by Catherine Keener) and sister Claire (Pepita Emmerichs). He doesn't get the attention he wants and so he runs away, seemingly ending up as ruler in this place populated by the Wild Things of the title. Wild Things is only the third feature that Jonze has directed but it is an assured and accomplished effort with the hand of a true auteur at its helm. Where The Wild Things Are is a brilliantly allegorical look at the emotional turmoil of a young boy with each of his feelings manifested by the puppets brought to life by Henson for each of the Wild Things. They live in this dreamlike, slightly unsettling world which looks a little like reality but with a disconnect. The Wild Things, voiced by James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O'Hara and others, look fantastic on screen and there is a real sense of interaction between them and young boy Max. The faces were created using CGI but the bodies were suits and this makes a huge difference. The vocal talent here is impressive and Gandolfini especially as Max's best friend amongst the Wild Things, Carol, is magnificent. Max Records, who plays the young boy, is also extremely talented. It's a film that makes you think and stays with you after you leave the cinema. It's a melancholy and bittersweet film and one that may unsettle children who see it but the best children's fiction and literature should do that and so Jonze should be applauded for this film. After a summer of moronic robots and disappointments, Where The Wild Things Are is a real breath of fresh air. A film that will develop a cult following and will be talked about for years to come…

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