So it’s the start of the week and i’ve found myself not doing a great deal of work, which is fine, we all need those recharging moments to process everything. Yesterday I went to Manchester to watch the 30th anniversary screening of Predator, and spent the couple of mile walk home thinking about ideas for the next novel i’m sort of working on.
I’m a writer, a sort of job that means I have my mind open to pretty much everything, which has its ups and its down depending on how you feel about something having a constant influence in your life. Artists aren’t normal people, I think it’s part of the territory in becoming one.
You’re never quite present in the moment unless your with your craft, instead you find yourself dipping into reality, with your mind holding onto your art, ready to take something profound and insightful and then you try and pass it off as your own.
You know that true art isn’t something just for you, so you involve yourself in things you normally wouldn’t, you take interests in topics you’d never consider, and you find yourself paying attention to the world around you that little bit more. It can really mess with your head if you’re not ready for it, like being submerged into icy water, everything suddenly becomes real.
The great thing about being an artist is you get to take that moment of clarity and using whatever medium you have it is expressed in a way that is shaped into something that is a little bit real, a little bit you, and a little bit fun. When it works people notice and that fuels the creative fire to go further and explore the world around you, both its highs and lows are exposed in order to find the route to your voice, and the people who need to hear it.
Watching Predator was really fun, taking something so macho and over the top and throwing Vietnam style plots with aliens, what’s not to like? The thing that did it for me however wasn’t the film itself, but the reactions from the audience, which reminded me of the power of good art.
People cheered at the firefighting, they laughed at the homoerotic moments between pretty much everyone on set, and they clapped whenever Arnie quipped off one of his red hot one liners. It was the best cinema experience i’v had in a long time, and I am looking forward to going back and relieving some more of the great classics again.
One of the interesting things I learnt from Predator and then applied it to most Arnie films was that like any great literary work of fiction, Predator was bound by certain laws, which in my opinion help to create such a great experience and fanatical fanbase. These films, like a lot of 80’s films were something you could depend upon to get that comfortable vibe you’d find in your favourite fantasy series.
The main rule I noticed was that you could survive in these films as long as you were cooler than your enemy, and they could put you through all manner of hurt and you’d survive, as long as when you finally did kill them it was the coolest thing in the film. You’d get moment when this General would suddenly decide to pose as he lifted a tuck up, which seemed extremely inappropriate for a covert rescue team, but it was cool so it had to work.
Again you had Arnie pinning black-faced men to walls with what must have been the Buster swords of knives, only to shoot off a quip to a dead man, which in the real world would be a serious concern and alert for mental health, but it was funny and he was the bad guy.
The shoot out in the forrest scene, with mini-guns, shotgun blasts, and grenade fire is perhaps one of the best moments and incidentally just completely insane. Watching it on the big screen seemed more of a pissing contest or a competition on who could make the loudest schwing noise with their imaginary swords. I imagine that a lot of wildlife was destroyed in the process but couldn’t help but feel if I was stood there with them i’d have to shoot, big sloppy grin on my face as we fire off our entire ammunition supply.
I love a lot of the 80’s for its classic insane cinema, and Arnie seems to occupy a special niche as the Queen-Mother of its laws and rules for creating great stories. You can overlook the silly and downright strange moments if it’s cool, and I think it’s strange that this hasn’t been applied to more stories. It’s almost like Arnie is some Greek demigod, preserved by the universe as long as he keeps fighting the immortal battle against overdramatic enemies.
Tonight me and my partner Holly sat down to watch Larry Flint Vs the World, for me a wonderful story and a great example of Woody’s acting. If you don’t know the film, or you have heard about it and thought it wasn’t your sort of story i’d suggest you go into it acknowledging that it’s a story about representation, an issue that seems extremely hot across the world.
It’s silly, and there’s a lot of nudity, but the film accurately portrays the belief that everyone is equal, despite some of us benefiting more than others, and we should all feel that our voices matter. I have seen this film countless times and i’m always reinvigorated with the fundamental idea that it’s better to try and fail as yourself, than to live comfortably numb.