just watched this movie and it was fantastic. one of the best i've seen this year

fullycapabledamsel-deactivated2  asked:

I am wanting to write a assassin/spy type novel which I'm still in the very early stages of outlining. I've set aside a few months for intensive research, as I want to be knowledgable on what I'm writing about to produce the best quality manuscript I can. Long story short as a writer with practically no knowledge on the subject what websites, articles, movies, books do you suggest as a must. Thanks in advance!

We’re both a bit under the weather at the moment, so I’m going to try to put together a comprehensive link set off our articles. Sorry about that.

We’ve covered both assassins and spies in the past.

Starting with assassins, I wrote a very basic primer about assassins here. It’s also probably pretty important to read that before going into this question about a team.

Michi also wrote the basic methodology primer, and a list of things to avoid doing with the genre. Just, general cliches and bad ideas. And of course, what to do when your assassin in training accidentally kills somebody.

For spies, we don’t have quite as much stuff out there. Michi wrote a psych profile on spies, and then I followed up with some additional details on the limitations of that profile.

Finally, I’m going to fish out the recommendations list from this article, since it’s probably the most comprehensive one we’ve done for spies, and update it a bit. It was formatted with lighthearted super-spies first, and more grim and bitter approaches second.

Burn Notice’s is a bit schizophrenic. The narrator isn’t just a completely different character from Michael Westen, he’s actually at a different point on the spectrum. The show itself is fairly formalistic, while the narrator is talking about concerns and behavior from a realistic perspective. It’s part of why the show worked so well, but when you’re drawing from it, remember to keep those elements separate.

If you’re wanting to go more in the superspy direction, James Bond is the gold standard. License to Kill and Casino Royale are probably the most realistic (which isn’t saying much). If this is a good thing or not is a matter of taste.

The Bourne Identity (the first film only) is another solid formalistic example. (The second and third film have better fight choreography, but they suffer from a terminal case of shaky cam; which requires you already have a solid grasp of hand to hand to really follow.) The only part of Legacy I’ve seen was Jeremy Renner’s fantastic hand to hand work. It’s more cop than spy, but if you have the time, it could be worth looking at.

The novel is actually much closer to an American James Bond, with the serial numbers filed off. You can pick up some basic tradecraft from it, particularly Bourne’s thought process about blending into his environment can be very useful, and it’s something the film does skim completely over.

Salt is solidly in the superspy genre, the sleeper agents demonstrate supernatural resilience to damage, and the entire premise is a little crazy. But, if your spies aren’t really human, you could probably get some ideas from this.

Red is basically in the same vein, fun, but equally ludicrous. Again, if your spies have actual superpowers, go ahead and watch it. Karl Urban’s character might be worth looking at even if you are pushing for a more realistic bent.

Chuck wore thin for me. There’s stuff to like, so, it might be worth your time if you want to mess around with superspies interacting with the normal world.

The original Get Smart TV series is freakin’ brilliant. It’s a parody of the superspy genre that was partially helmed by Mel Brooks. Obviously, it’s not even remotely serious, but if you’re wanting to mock that genre it’s a must see.

If you’re wanting to run harder into the realistic genre, then you’re going to be looking at a much bleaker recommendation list. I’d start with The Human Factor by “Ishmael Jones”. This an ex-CIA case officer’s memoires, it’s easily available and deals with the current state of the American Intelligence community.

Blowback by Chalmers Johnson isn’t actually about spies per say, but it is about the political consequences of espionage (and foreign policy in general). This might not be something you want to delve into, but I’ll leave it on the list.

With the non-fiction reading out of the way, John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a classic in the genre with good reason. The novel’s been adapted twice, with Alec Guinness and Gary Oldman playing George Smiley. I haven’t seen either, but the novel is a good primer for writing spies.

Having since seen the mini-series with Alec Guinness, it is fantastic, and worth watching.

The Fourth Protocol follows a retiring spy who’s investigating a Soviet plan to detonate a nuclear weapon on an American air base. Bonus points, in that the Russian agent is played by Pierce Brosnan. If you want to see how a realistic spy fights, then he’s probably the single best example. That said, it’s been about ten years since I saw this, so I could have accidentally slipped on rose colored glasses. I haven’t read the novel it’s based on.

I’m sadly scratching this one out. There’s actually two different versions of the film. The theatrical cut, and an extended cut that was used for some TV broadcasts. The theatrical cut is a mess, and the extended cut is basically impossible to obtain now.

Although somewhat dated, The Sandbaggers was a British TV series in the late 70s. Though the answer it gives on how their spies fight is “as little as possible.” Historically the show is actually based on how the CIA would task agents, rather than MI6.

Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country is a modern update of The Sandbaggers in comic form. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve already seen Sandbaggers, but if you don’t have access to the show, then this is much easier, and cheaper to find.

Ronin is a mix of formalism and realism. It’s still an action film, but the tradecraft the ex-spies use is remarkably solid. Given that you’ve started with Burn Notice, you should have a pretty good frame of reference to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Also, I’ll say it again, this is also one of the best films you can watch for car chases, almost every shot in the film was done with stunt drivers on actual streets, and it shows. If you want to get an idea of what a trained operative could actually do with a car, this isn’t completely off base.

Spy Game by the late Tony Scott is a rather hectic mix of realistic elements. I’m more comfortable dropping it here because of how heavily cut together it is, and elements of the film’s plot. This is a very dense primer on tradecraft.

The other mix of realism and formalism is the Mission: Impossible TV series. Not to be confused with the film franchise, the TV series focused on characters actually being spies, infiltrating and manipulating organizations or individuals to achieve their goals. There’s a heavy focus on supplementing their operations with gadgets, but it’s one of the forerunners of the modern genre divide.

AEG’s Spycraft RPG was written so it could be played as either a realistic or cinematic (formalistic) game. It has a lot of resources for both superspies and real operatives. In a rare moment, the character creation system is also useful, as it illustrates the different specialties that are intrinsic to espionage.

Spycraft’s World on Fire supplement is insanely useful, it’s also incredibly hard to find. It was about blending one of the Spycraft settings with the real world, and it has an absolutely staggering amount of information on actual espionage in the 20th century. Unfortunately, a lot of it is mixed in with World on Fire’s six fictional factions. So, it’s useful, but tread carefully.

This one’s also available as a PDF from DriveThruRPG.

If you’re wanting to do a spy story set in a science fiction setting, I’d take a look at The First Line from Last Unicorn Game’s now defunct Star Trek RPG. Be ready to parse the Trek out of it, if your setting isn’t similar, but it does offer some fantastic thoughts on espionage and counterintelligence in a spacefaring civilization.

Finally, the line from Burn Notice, that “Spies are just criminals with a government paycheck” is entirely on point. You’re probably tired of me recommending Heat every other post… So I’ll recommend Payback instead. The lead character is a con artist, not a spy, but the general “messing with people” approach is very spy like. (If you’re digging this up, make sure you grab the director’s cut, it’s actually a different, more consistent, film.)

One of the posts above has our most comprehensive writeup of assassin recommendations. The only overlap seems to be Red, and Ronin, which kind of surprises me. But, anyway.

Recommended Reading/Viewing:

For Your Assassins:

Ronin, I know we’ve plugged this one a bunch lately. It’s not a fantastic film, but it is a fantastic thing to watch to get a look at operational preparation. That is to say, the things your assassin needs to do in order to get access to and kill their target.

Collateral is a pretty good look at both assassin and general criminal psychology. Again, we’ve plugged enough lately you should be familiar with it.

Lucky Number Slevin is a bit off-beat, but the entire film sets up a shell game to hide what’s actually going on. It’s a decent example of someone getting close to the target without blowing their cover.

Hitman: Blood Money is a murder playground. This is one of the very rare times I’ll actually recommend a video game for anything. There’s some seriously puerile elements, but it does basically leave the player with free reign to deal with the environment as they see fit. If you’re wanting to see why someone might try to pass themselves off as a member of the cleaning staff to get into a facility instead of camping outside with a rifle, this might be a good thing to look at.

For Your Investigators:

Elementary,Technically almost any faithful representation of Sherlock Holmes will work, but if it’s not Elementary then your best bet will probably be the Jeremy Brett series from the 80s and 90s. Also, if all else fails, and you’ve never read them, you should probably look at the original stories.

Law & Order is an absolute must view, probably in binges, for getting a feel for your cops. The show is slathered in it’s New York City identity, but a lot of it carries over elsewhere. In my opinion, the series really gets going in the third season, but feel free to look at some of the other seasons for a different mix of Police and members of the DA’s Office. Southland is a decent primer to update you to the current climate.

Homicide: Life on the Street is the unpleasant cousin of Law & Order. Again, you’re looking at street level detective work in the mid-90s. But the show is focused more on the psychological strain of the job, as opposed to the procedural techniques. These shows should really be watched together as two sides of the same coin. I’m told The Wire is the decent update to 20 years later, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Not So Helpful, But Good Movies Anyway:

The Professional is like most most Luc Besson films, not terribly realistic, but it entertaining and quite good. Jean Reno’s character is, unfortunately, a major part of the modern myth of a professional assassin.

Red, this is actually an adaptation of a comic by Warren Ellis. Keep an eye on Helen Mirren and Karl Urban, they’re good references, and their characters don’t really exist in the comic. Especially the way Urban’s character preps and cleans crime scenes.

-Starke

cloudychouchou  asked:

What is Doctor Who about? I've never seen it.

*cracks knuckles* I’m so glad you asked. :)

Doctor Who is without a doubt one of the most amazing and addictive television shows ever created (and this is coming from a professed fangirl of more than a decade of watching and obsessing over a variety of show/books/movies etc.)

The Doctor is a Time Lord, an alien from the planet Gallifrey with a TARDIS (the blue Police Box phone booth) which is a machine that can travel anywhere in SPACE or TIME. I particularly like the way Donna Noble put it when she tried to explain what the Doctor does: “He saves planets, rescues civilizations, defeats terrible creatures, and runs a lot…

“ or as the Doctor himself put it, “I’m a madman with a box!”

His race has the ability to regenerate, meaning that when he dies (by age, harm, etc) his entire body gets remade into a new form–this affects his personality and of course his looks, but it’s still the same Doctor and he has all of the same memories.  Because of this he is currently more than 2000 years old (though his age is very wibbly wobbly, a side affect of being a time traveler and constantly changing forms), is on his 13th form played by Peter Capaldi and which the fandom calls the 12th Doctor, and he carries a lot of baggage from all of his different forms: 

(The quote over each silhouette is one most often attributed to that version of the Doctor, but since they are all the same man, sometimes they get referenced in other forms.) 

It’s a show from BBC and therefore most of the characters are played by British actors–but the show has been going on for a very long time. It’s split into two parts: Classic Who and New Who. New Who is what is currently playing now, thanks to the BBC bringing the show back from a ridiculous hiatus in 2005 where it has increased in popularity like never before. The 2005 series starts with the 9th Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston (last silhouette on the right in the second row of the picture above) having survived the Time War, a terrible event that ended with the death of every other Time Lord. The Doctor, who refuses to tell anyone a name other than the Doctor (hence the title Doctor Who) is running from his memories in the war and the grief of the loss of his people. He does so by trying to help out where he can when he finds people in trouble, and by taking on companions:

These are special people who he chooses to bring with him in the TARDIS on his adventures–they help to keep him moral when he starts to loose track of how he should behave or whether or not he should care, they help the audience connect with him, and they keep bringing him back to Earth so that we recognize the setting for at least ¾ths of the episodes as on our planet (even if most of those are during a different time).

No matter which version of the Doctor you are watching at the time you can always count on him being a brilliant mind, a fabulous comedian, and a flawed character–the Doctor is not perfect. This show has it’s share of feels when it comes the time for a Doctor to regenerate or for a companion to leave (all things must end afterall), but it also has truly inspiring messages, hilarious comedy, fantastic character development, terrific monsters, and plot twists that will surprise even the most astute fangirl–the type who has seen/read so much that she can always predict the ending.

I think that’s the best intro to Doctor Who I’ve ever done, and I hope it brings you into the fandom. Series (the BBC version of a season) 1-8 is currently on Netflix so I sincerely hope you go and start watching. Please be patient if you don’t like it at first….most whovians have to watch a few episoded before they really get sucked in, and if you allow yourself to fall in love with The Doctor, the TARDIS, and all of his companions, this show will take you on a journey that you will never forget and never regret. :)

…Just for laughs, here’s another post I made about how hard it is to explain Doctor Who, though don’t expect it to make sense until after you’ve actually watched the show. Let me know how it goes!!

Martin Freeman in Richard III: A Review

I don’t even know where to begin…..

Well, I do. It began with complete and utter calm. For all my pre-show freaking out, shortly before the lights went out I achieved perfect nirvana - I’m not even exaggerating. This continued through the play and the intermission only for me to start shaking when the play ended.

Very briefly, I have to say that this was by far the best piece of theatre I’ve seen so far this year, and I say that as someone who loved the National Theatre’s King Lear with Simon Russell Beale, who’s considered a goddamned theatre legend. I’ve been saying this for a long time now, but Martin Freeman is one of the utmost best actors of this generation and I am simultaneously honoured and humbled to have been able to witness him on stage. He is captivating, terrifying, hilarious, utterly magnificent and so fucking nuanced that I’m running out of adjectives to describe just how fucking brilliant this man is. All of this is even more astounding considering that this is only his fourth stage production. As much as I love him in movies and on the telly, I would not be a least bit sorry to see him stick solely to stage acting henceforth.

The story is set in the 1970s, around the time when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, yet with original Shakespearean dialogue, providing a oftentimes jarring juxtaposition between the new and old. The staging and set design are brilliant. Here’s a probably definitely illegal photo of the stage, which is now (16/07/14) edited to be unrecognisable because I was asked to remove it due to copyright infringement.

As you can You can’t really see anymore, but I had an amazing seat in third row, although, alas, outside the very narrow splash zone. I have to admit, when I first heard about the play being set in the ’70s, I was wary, but it works wonderfully. 

The production is done in such a way that the audience is simultaneously presented with something hilarious yet horrifying. The scene, for example, in which [spoiler alert, unless you’ve read the book] Richard is murdering Lady Anne, is understandably dark and uncomfortable, made even more so by the elevator muzak playing in the background. There is a large amount of blood and several quite gruesome murder scenes, yet Martin manages to instil humour and wit in even the unlikeliest bits of dialogue.

While some of Martin’s mannerisms and tics are reminiscent of John Watson, he owns the role of Richard completely and makes his own. For the most part, I was so engrossed in the story that I wasn’t even thinking of him as Martin fucking Freeman on the stage, but simply as an actor performing brilliantly. It is staggering to watch him discuss infanticide and still have the audience laughing and then revert to the repugnant monster that Richard truly is.  

Ultimately, this was a fantastic production with an amazing cast and perfect staging and, yes, one of the best actors alive today in the starring role. It absolutely deserved the standing ovation it received and I can only hope that the professional reviews are as enthralled by it as I am. I can’t fucking wait to go see it again. 

Few sidenotes: the first row gets a lot of the action, as it is literally on stage level. The actors are rights in your face, along with the blood, and even sitting in third row, I totally made eye contact with Martin, albeit briefly. If you’re sitting the in on-stage seating, the actors face towards you just as much as towards the front of the stage in a very natural, unstilted way. And if you’re lucky enough to sit in the first row of the on-stage seating, right by the centre aisle, you will get to ogle Richard’s dead and bloodied body for several minutes until the play ends. Also, that beard is damn fine. Just sayin’. Unf.

I’m sure there’s so much more that I’m missing, but for all my calm composure at the beginning of the play, I was literally shaking as I was leaving the theatre. I’ll probably be posting various snippets as I remember them over the next few days. 

anonymous asked:

I have wanted to ask forever what first attracted you to 00Q. I've been in the fandom for a year now, and I still don't get it. Six minutes of shared screen time and they make eye contact twice. And that was enough to launch so many brilliant fics. I agree with you about the actors (boy do I!) but here's the thing: When I first picked up a 00Q fic, I had never seen Skyfall, nor any Daniel Craig movie, nor ever heard of Ben Whishaw. I was hooked and still don't get it. What is it about these two?

I actually started with the idea of Bondlock — as in, John Watson and James Bond. The thought of Q as the youngest Holmes brother was amusing but not nearly as exciting as the John/James dynamic. That’s why I wrote Distress Call.

But after watching the YouTube videos of James and Q at the National Gallery and down in Q Branch, I fell in love.

I honestly think it’s the snark. Genuine, teasing, not-disrespectful snark.

Confronted with this child who’s suddenly going to be such a critical asset in life-or-death missions, Bond could have been a complete asshole. He could’ve thrown a fit and gone back to demand “a competent adult” take over. But he didn’t. He tested the waters, and when Q held his own, Bond threw aside his prejudice and gave Q his respect.

And on the other side, Q’s first task as Quartermaster is to equip this relic, this dinosaur, and send him out into the field — probably to die. I mean, Bond certainly doesn’t look his best at that moment, and even if Q doesn’t have access to Bond’s real fitness report (HA! As if Q can’t access everything?) one look is all he needs to know that Bond is old and worn out and tired. But again, Q sees something in Bond — maybe it’s that moment when Bond calls him “Q”, maybe it’s Bond’s smile, or maybe it’s just the knowledge of Bond’s history as an agent. Whatever it is, Q decides in that moment to believe in Bond.

Mutual respect. That’s a fantastic, incredibly sexy way for a relationship to start.

denimfrijoles  asked:

may I ask what your beef is with Boyhood? It's not like I've seen it, but I'm wondering.

it’s not a beef, so much as an aversion to the critical praise & hype surrounding the film. i saw it at a press screening, after everyone was raving about it at sundance. i mean, it’s not a terrible movie. it won’t ruin your life or anything. here are the three good things about BOYHOOD, in order:

1) patricia arquette

2) the pacing (it never feels as long as it is, which is a blessing and a wonder)

3) 35mm. gives the film a richness, depth & texture lacking in most digital filmmaking. especially notable bc of the nostalgic aspect of the time-span. feels like you’re experiencing something that’s recent-future; not quite old, but not quite around anymore, like a series of polaroids. 

my major problem with BOYHOOD is that in trying to tell a ‘universal’ story of growing up, there is conversely no point of entry in the entire movie. (or if there is, like in arquette’s sublime performance as the mother, the story is principally, and consistently, unconcerned with her).

this is mason’s story, and mason is a crushing bore. he is probably one of the dullest, most insipid characters i’ve ever seen in a coming-of-age film. usually when you think of great movies about childhood, there is either 1) a compelling child at the center of it (i.e. jean-pierre leaud in truffaut’s films) , or 2) a ‘swept up in history’ aspect to the story, in which the mild & ordinary young people are caught (i.e. AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS).

BOYHOOD has neither an inspiring protagonist nor an interesting or compelling storyline. i understand of course that this is linklater’s exact intention, and the ordinary ‘one day in the life’ aspect of the film is its entire gimmick. it’s just not compelling as a motion picture. BOYHOOD is an aggressively average film about aggressively average people and situations. i. just. don’t. care.

as for the praise of the film: suburban white boys (to men) either regressing to their own similar childhoods or projecting onto the lives of their own children (see drew mcweeney’s heartfelt & sincere but effusive and borderline gag-worthy autobiography/review). everybody else just got swept up in the wave of the 100% fresh on rotten tomatoes bullshit. it was like critics were playing chicken with each other to see who would “ruin” the perfect streak of the film & then they all rushed to criticize the dissenter as a hack. the whole thing made me a little queasy tbh. 

(let us not overlook the implied ‘universality’ of BOYHOOD is code for white, male, suburban & liberal, as well. this brings me to my post about BOYZ IN THE HOOD being better than BOYHOOD, which i think it is in every comparable aspect: childhood, manhood, family, self-identity, ambition, community, etc. but you will see singleton’s film being talked about as a ‘black movie,’ not a ‘childhood’ or ‘boyhood’ movie. not by most.)

this is all extra-textual of course, but the film itself is primarily of interest (if it is of interest) bc of its extra-textual elements. most critics (and audiences) seem to be reacting to how it was made, not the actual experience of watching the finished product. this seems like a mistake. i don’t think the process of making of movie should be the primary damning or praise-worthy element. of course, the 12 years mythos surrounding BOYHOOD is essential to the resultant film; BOYHOOD was made more ON PURPOSE than most films, surely. it was a very, very concerted effort, which is why its relatively limp, forgettable product is all the more frustrating. 

it’s also quite frustrating bc i really love richard linklater in general & think he’s one of america’s greatest working directors. he’s made a MUCH BETTER film about so-called ordinariness, SLAKER (an incredible film & perhaps the most ‘slice of life-y’ slice of life movie ever). and of course the BEFORE trilogy is some of the best, most probing work about how couples communicate (and don’t) in american movie history. (plus, fantastic writing & acting, especially in the 3rd installment).

so long story short, i wasn’t impressed by BOYHOOD, it won’t make a best of list for the year, but it’s not like the movie killed my dog and punched me in the face. it’s fine. it’s utterly, utterly fine.