We had one of those Youtube live show thingies on the podcast this week…

I’m often stopped in the street and asked, “Hey, Mark. How do those Youtube live show thingies work on the podcast? They look so much fun. How can I get involved, man?”

And I say, “Dude, it’s an exclusive for our Patreon thingy supporters. They get first dibs on all sorts of cool stuff, like the Youtube live shows where they can ask me and Mr. D questions about writing and publishing and stuff, and interact with us via the miracle medium of the Youtubes. We talked about how long your project should be, how to find other writers who will give you feedback, the kinds of deals a debut author can expect from a publishers and tips on building your mailing list, and there’s a whole long debate about swearing. It’s a fuckin’ gas, baby.”

“But can’t I just download the edited highlights a week later on the podcast?”

“Yeah, and that’s a stone groove, but nothing beats actually being there, and you get live pictures on the Youtube and sometimes people get naked.”

“Really?”

“No. Tell you what just check out the highlights of the last show here, and then sign up to our Patreon. It’ll totally wang your doodle.”

*

PS. We wrote a book. You might like it. Others do…

SHANNON MAYER

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Why bother going to the cinema?

I took my mum to the cinema to see PHILOMENA last night…

The last time we saw a film together was in 1978 when she took me to see STAR WARS for the second time. I remember chatting to an old lady on the bus on the way there and telling her how excited I was, and she tried to look sympathetic but told me she didn’t understand any of that spaceman stuff.

That wasn’t mum’s last ever visit to the flicks – not long after she saw ABBA: THE MOVIE and had a great time – but she stayed away after that. It was around this time that my dad, one of those people who has to have the latest gadget*, bought a VHS recorder. Why go to the movies when you can watch them at home? A man used to come door-to-door on our Hornsey estate with a typed, mimeographed list of films available to rent. Our first ever VHS rental was SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, and I would scan the list for more, intrigued to know what kind of movie LEMON POPSICLE could be (there were no illustrations whatsoever to give us any hints or clues). I begged dad to let us rent FLASH GORDON, only for him to point out that the film listed was actually FLESH GORDON and not entirely suitable for children (he, uh, saves the Earth from Emperor Wang’s incredible sex ray, according to the trailer)…

Things got better, of course. To the point where I have HD TV, a Blu-Ray player, 5.1 digital surround sound, Sky Movies, and Apple TV with Netflix streaming and a few hundred DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. If the robot occupation ever did become a reality, I’d be well set for the rest of my life.

But I still go to the movies. In fact, I reckon I’ve already seen more films in the cinema this year than any other. So why, when you take into consideration getting a babysitter, paying for parking and over ten quid for a ticket, do I still go to the cinema?

In short, the memories.

For example…

Seeing all the STAR WARS movies

Going to the West End for the first time with dad to see THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN. I don’t remember much about the film, but remember the bright lights of the stores and restaurants in Chinatown making a big impression.

Going on a school trip to see SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS after we did it as a school play (I was Grumpy… typecast from the start).

Watching GHOST BUSTERS on a ferry to Ireland in a storm. The ship listing heavily from side to side added considerably to the feeling of horror and unease.

Watching THE GOONIES while on a soccer exchange in California. I was horribly homesick, but this had me hooting with laughter.

Swinging on lampposts and singing the Raiders’ theme after seeing INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.

Bluffing my way into TOTAL RECALL with my best mate Tim (our first 18 movie – we were only 17… yes, shocking, I know).

Deciding to see GOODFELLAS with my A-level drama class after going to the West End to see a play, only to discover that it had closed the previous week (a great bit of planning on the part of our drama teacher). In the row in front of us were a pair of little old ladies who must have just come from the wrestling as they revelled in the film’s visceral violence while sucking on bonbons.

Bumping into Claire at a screening of ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. We weren’t seeing each other at the time, but it’s since become “our film”… aww, stop puking at the back.

My first free preview of a movie was CASINO, hosted by Transworld, the publishers of the book. Free food and drink and a private cinema?! Nice. I could get used to this.

Taking Claire to see RESERVOIR DOGS and knowing that she was the girl for me.

Taking my young nephew to see the 1997 re-release of STAR WARS (he fell asleep).

Watching SKYFALL with the kids – their first cinema Bond movie – and seeing their little faces light up at the big screen mayhem.

And many more that I won’t bore you with now, but these are all about sharing an experience that you can’t get when sitting in your own living room. I always feel a tension when a film begins. Partly it’s “will that twat who was chatting all through the trailers continue to do so through the film?”, but it’s more to do with what kind of emotional rollercoaster is this story going to take me and my companions on today?

Going with mum last night was a shared experience. Having a drink and a chat before the film, I learned stuff about her that I never knew before. Watching the film we laughed and cried together, and I suppressed a giggle when she called the nuns “Bitches” just a little too loudly near the end.

And that’s why I go to the movies.

*An expensive habit that I’ve inherited from him big time.

My Robot Occupation Movies #4 – Reservoir Dogs

Fourth in a series – Imagine for a moment that the world has been invaded and occupied by an army of robots, and you could only grab a handful of DVDs before you were incarcerated… what would they be?

“When I’m getting serious about a girl, I show her RIO BRAVO and she better f-ing like it!” says Mr Tarantino of his prospective dates. Now, putting aside whether or not someone should “test” one’s sweetheart, or indeed what that says about your attitude to relationships, the desire for the film fan to share their favourite films with those close to them is a strong one. And we’d be lying if we didn’t judge people based on their responses. It’s entirely wrong, of course, but I’m sure sports fans do the same when they take their beloveds to the big match (do they still call it that? Who cares…).

Then, imagine my trepidation when taking the girl I loved to see RESERVOIR DOGS for the first time. Our first date film had been HOOK, a crashing disappointment, and so a lot was riding on this exciting debut that I’d read about in Empire. I’d like to pretend that I was cool and knew all about the Hong Kong movies that had inspired Reservoir Dogs, or that I was entirely cognisant of how he was subverting the genre, but I didn’t. All I knew was that this was the film that everyone was talking about, and I just had to see it. Also, he worked in a video rental store and so did I, so maybe there was hope for me yet. Back then, an indie film like this rarely got a chance to be seen outside of London (actually, that’s pretty much the same now), but the UCI cinema chain used to run Director’s Chair screenings of foreign and indie films on Tuesday nights, and Dogs was showing for one night only. The lights went down and we sat through 99 minutes of mayhem, violence, betrayal, torture, and the finest on-screen swearing since GOODFELLAS.

And she hooted with laughter throughout!

It was then that I knew I had met the woman I would marry. Not only could she tolerate A-grade film brutality but she also knew that what we were watching was essentially a black comedy with great dollops of psychological drama. At the time we were both auditioning for drama schools, and we were in awe of the acting chops on display. I asked Claire about it today (yup, we’re still married!) and she said that she’d never seen a film like it before. She’d always seen nice family movies like ET and BACK TO THE FUTURE, so what Reservoir Dogs was, as she just put it, “Opened her up to new experiences…”

Which is why our next date movie was BASIC INSTINCT. But that’s another story…