"Hey, that's my car!"

Film Watching The Bourne Supremacy this evening, I thought of this opening for a film and story idea. It's (c) Stuart Ian Burns if you want to license it.

Fifty-three seconds of logos.

Cut to interior of a car. I don't know anything about cars but let's say that it isn't wildly expensive and hasn't been replaced in a while, the sort of thing an emergency doctor might drive if they're just starting out and need to get to work quickly.

Michelle Monaghan is behind the wheel (I'm choosing her because she was curiously in The Bourne Supremacy in the group searching for the spy and she's brilliant in everything she's in) (plus Rachel McAdams is probably busy) and she's mid-conversation about racing the hospital because there's some kind of major incident happening and she's being called in on her day off.

She's all game face and professional.

Traffic is gridlocked and she's stuck at traffic lights. Abruptly there's a knock on the glass. Metallic tapping. She turns and on the reverse we see Mark Urban shouting through the passenger window (I'm choosing him because he was curiously in The Bourne Supremacy playing a Russian assassin and he's brilliant in everything he's in) (plus Cillian Murphy is probably busy) (um).

Panicking she takes her hands off the wheel and watches Urban run around the outside of the front of the vehicle pointing his gun at her.

"Out, out!" He shouts. In the background we can still hear the person Monaghan's been speaking to on the phone asking after her health.

"Okay, okay." She shouts back as she gets out and steps away. Urban jumps into the driver's seat and we then see he's somehow found a gap in the traffic and is speeding away leaving Michelle standing in the middle of the road in shock.

"Hey, that's my car!" She shouts as she begins idiotically to run after it only to realise her idiocy pretty quickly and slowing down, only to begin running again at full pelt as she spots her car turning the corner at the end of the road into moving traffic causing two others cars to collide with each other.

As she reaches the two cars which were involved in the collision, we can see that her own car is long gone and that carnage hasn't just been limited to these two vehicles. She immediately gets to work assessing what needs to be done.

This is a film about the people left behind in the aftermath of an action car chase.

Working title: "BYSTANDERS"

Perhaps as I get older, I'm noting this more and more, the cars and people and destruction left behind in car chases in action films, people who were simply going about their day, with a million things to do, who suddenly find their cars destroyed, even dealing with fatalities sometimes in horrors created by someone who's nominally supposed to be the hero or at least the protagonist.

It's the syndrome of characters being morally allowed to die within a fictional construct if we don't know them.

I wondered what a film would be like about them.  The original idea was for a comedy, a character loses their car in a similar circumstance to this and then spends the rest of the film trying to get it back, the final scene being the news that its been totalled and abandoned or even driven into a river.

But that's the obvious thing to do.

A drama's much more interesting.  Michelle Monaghan goes amateur sleuth and will spend the next two hours trying to find out all she can about the car chase and who the people involved were.  But it's brick wall and the whole thing is not a thriller.  It's about her obsession and the effect it has on her.

During the process she talks to the various people affected by the car chase but the reasons for it are entirely obscured although I like the idea of there being a montage sequence in which people whose cars were wrecked or witnessed some of it have all kinds of wild theories that are essentially like something from a Michael Bay film, Die Hard or the Bourne franchise.

But she never quite cracks it and gets on with her life.  Until something else happen major happens in her city and she goes to the place knowing instinctively that he'll be there.  The man who stole her car, the man who haunts her dreams.

Ooh, now that I've written that, I quite like the idea of her having various fantasies throughout the thing with her imagining what he's like.  But we never do know.

I know to an extent this is Doctor Who's Love & Monsters, but the scale is different and it doesn't have the inherent mythological baggage.

The final scene has her finally confront the man who stole her car.

The problem is without him being the cause of some personal pain for her, I can't think of an ending or a proper arc for her other than to find out if he is a villain or hero.  If he's a villain then we're into the ludicrous territory of her becoming an action hero herself and doing him in.  If he's a hero then she receives the equally awful lesson of "Well all these horrible things happened but they were for a good cause."

My best idea is for her to find him in a very public place like a railway station and for the follow exchange to occur.

You.  It is you.

Yes it's me.  Who?

No.  I just want answers.

Do I know you?

You stole my car.  You destroyed half the city.

Your car?


Suddenly there's the sound of gunshots.  People run back and forth screaming.  Urban slams Michelle to the ground, but we just see her face as it hits the deck and his hand on her shoulder.  We realise that she's stumbled into the midst of his sequel.

Get down.

Michelle looks up at Urban who's checking into the rafters of the station for the shooter.



I just want to know why?

Cut to black.

Soup Safari #42: Leek and Mushroom at the Signature Cafe.

Lunch. £3.25.  Signature Cafe, Rapid Discount Outlet, George Henry Lee Building, Clayton Square, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 1AD. Telephone: 0151 708 2000. Website.

Andrew Marr's Not Shakespeare.

Theatre Broadcast last night and currently on the iPlayer for at least a month, The Culture Show and Arts Review replacement Artsnight investigated some renaissance writers who aren't Shakespeare.

Whilst the previous four editions have been a bit of a mishmash, editor and presenter Andrew Marr both defenestrates and adheres to the format (interviews mixed with reports) turning it into what amounts to a mini-presenter led piece about John Ford, Marlowe and Webster with an emphasis on contemporary politics and the position of women in their plays.

Local interest comes from, as you can see from the above illustrative photograph, an appearance by Catrin Stewart, Jenny Paternoster from Doctor Who who is starring in Ford's Love's Sacrifice at the RSC (though note that there's a whopping great spoiler, and yes I do still think that's a thing even with a four hundred year old play if it's relatively obscure).

In an ideal world, in other words any time before the last license fee settlement, the BBC would have commissioned a six or ten part series looking at a bunch of these writers as well as a whole season of new production and repeats.

But then we're still waiting for a proper history of the theatre aren't we?

Soup Safari #41: Tomato and Red Pepper at Poundbakery.

Snack. £1.00. Poundbakery, 47 Lord Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L2 6PB. T:0151 227 3669. Website.

The Vinyl Experience Without The Vinyl.

Music Passing through Urban Outfitters today in a moment of midlife crisis / 90s nostalgia for alt.culture, I stumbled up on the vinyl wall and was astonished to see Taylor Swift's 1989 is indeed available on black shiny disc.

 While you're all laughing at me for my obliviousness to the idea that vinyl's now back in fashion enough that this item is apparently worth manufacturing, I wondered how one might recreate the experience of listening to vinyl, at least the ritual of it if not the earthy sound, without a record player (especially since, for various reasons, I don't have access to mine right now).

The above video features someone carefully unpacking their vinyl copy of the best pop album of last year, which with some pausing, offers the following extremely useful information of the track to side or side to track breakdown:

Disc 1


1 Welcome To New York
2 Blank Space
3 Style


4 Out of the Woods
5 All You Had to Do Was Stay
6 Shake It Off

Disc 2


7 I Wish You Would
8 Bad Blood
9 Wildest Dreams


10 How You Get The Girl
11 This Love
12 I Know Places
13 Clean

Notice that it doesn't have the bonus tracks (all of which are as good as the rest of the CD) from the special edition. It's 1989 in its purest form (for better or worse).

Next choose your music listening device of choice. Being entirely pig headed I have the mp3s in the local folder on Spotify. Next, create four new playlists and call them:

Then add in the tracks for each side as per the above breakdown and we're done.

What this means is that like a vinyl listener, after ten minutes of music the listener has to actively go to the next playlist and press play, with all the sense of anticipation involved.  You should sit across the room from your generic potentially fruit based mp3 device for maximum emulation.  Perhaps give the screen a dust if you need some extra processing time.

The structure of the album changes because "Out of the Woods", "I Wish You Would" and "How You Get The Girl" become the opening tracks in a new set of entities rather than a continuation of the track before which changes the colour and texture of the piece somewhat.  Similarly tracks which wouldn't other have extra portent now gain such from being at the end of a "side".

That's what was lost, I suppose in the CD rush and subsequently with streaming and download options.  The first side of Paul Simon's Graceland ended with Diamonds on the Souls of her shoes with You Can Call Me Al the introduction to the other side.  On the CD, something is certainly lost in that regard and without burning two separate discs, the vinyl (or cassette) experience of having the forced gap in between an original part of the aural design of the record is lost, whole creative discussions about which track to put first on the second side voided.

With 1989, in order to accommodate the whole cd/downloadable entity, albeit the shorter version, the producers of the vinyl have had to put it over the four sides and no doubt in order to balance them across (even though you could certainly fit all the tracks on about one and a half discs), and adopted a 3-3-3-4 formation.  So now we have arguably something happening in the opposite direction, a musical entity designed to be listened to in a single sitting, now forcibly broken up by the older format.

Who made the decision on this?  Taylor herself?  Was the track order chosen with all formats in mind?  As far as I can see 1989 wasn't released on cassette so at least that didn't need to be dealt with though oddly the above listing would have worked extremely well, side one ending with "Shake It Off" with side two opening on "I Wish You Would" (a format which again could easily be emulated using the above process with less playlists).

Either way this is a way of returning some minutiae of the analogue experience digitally.  Possibly.

Soup Safari #40: Beef Goulash at Cinnamon Cafe Bar and Lounge.

Lunch. £2.20. Cinnamon Cafe Bar and Lounge, City Exchange, 39 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 9PP. Telephone: 0151 236 5222. Website.

My Favourite Film of 1994.

Film The following was posted on my Hamlet blog just over ten years ago. I'll add that I remember seeing it vividly at screen one of the Odeon on London Road on a night when I was home from university with my family. You can bet I gave my Dad a big hug afterwards.

On release, The Lion King was widely broached as being a departure for Disney -- it was their first major animated film not based on a particular source material, be it a fairy tale or piece of literature. Which in watching is only half-true. Whilst it doesn't directly re-tell a particular story, it does draw on a number of elements, including Disney's own Bambi and particularly visibly, Hamlet. Except with Lions.

Almost. The story is superficially similar -- a king murdered by his brother who steals the throne but is eventually revenged by the late king's son. But the action of the play is shaken up, the elements moved about for the purposes of expressing different themes and creating an ending which while not completely happy, is certainly more positive than the mass slaughter which occurs at the end of Shakespeare. For example, the late king, Mufasa does appear as a ghost to the young Hamlet figure, Simba -- but rather than explain how he died (something his son will have to learn later for dramatic purposes) he nudges Simba into following his destiny of taking over the crown.

The film is more concerned with telling a good story than directly referencing its sources. There is a moment when the Claudius figure, Scar holds up a skull, but it doesn't seem like a conscious homage. Similarly there aren't any noticable times when the dialogue parallels anything from the play, except perhaps 'To be or not...' (when Simba finds his life catching up with him in the plains) but that's more to do with these being universal themes rather than anything specific. Also Timon and Pumba, the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have a much great slice of the action, especially in the closing moments. We effectively see in the film what might have happened if Hamlet had gone to Wittenberg instead of hanging around the palace plotting revenge. Another what if built on here is the appearance of the Hyenas on the prideland which certainly smells of a successful invasion of Fortinbras while Claudius is in power.

The Lion King is a favourite film and I wouldn't want it to change -- the balance between tragedy and comedy is just perfect, as are songs, which are probably some of the best Elton John has written. In the interviews and commentary for the film on the dvd, you can tell there is a slight disappointment that the creators of the work couldn't nudge it closer to the Shakespeare. Certainly the original concept art was much bolder and starker. Was there a moment during the development when the script was much closer to Hamlet the play and how different would that version have been? Less songs presumably and Nala drowing in the watering hole. Which would be wrong, frankly. Still at least we can introduce the play to kids by saying ... "It's a bit like The Lion King only sadder..."

Soup Safari #39: Tomato and Basil at Lime St Bistro.

Lunch. £4.25. Lime St Bistro, Liverpool Empire, Lime Street, Liverpool, L1 1JE. Phone: 0151 702 7354. Website.

Soup Safari #38: Vegetable at the Trattoria 51 Pizzeria.

Dinner. £3.95. Trattoria 51 Pizzeria, 25-31 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 9SY. Phone: 0151 236 4739. Website.

Soup Safari #37: Cream of Pumpkin at Filini Bar & Restaurant.

Dinner. £5.50. Filini Bar & Restaurant, Radisson Blu Hotel, 107 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9BD. Tel: 0151 966 1500. Website.