The Week Reviewed

This week I was invited – thanks to those nice people at Working Title Films – to a cast and crew (plus invited guests) screening of Paul Greengrass’s new film The Green Zone.  These screenings are always a treat, because you’re sitting in the cinema with the people who actually made the film. There’s not the usual rush to leave when the credits appear; in fact, applause breaks out every time a new crew member’s credit appears.  And to cap it all, Paul Greengrass made an impressive and heartfelt speech at the start.

The film is a KNOCKOUT. It really is astonishing. And its themes resonate strongly with me. Greengrass is a man who is actively engaged in the Battle Between Good and Evil (see the Category on your left for my own blogs on this theme.) And this film is essentially a deeply political expose of one of the greatest lies ever told: WMD. The astonishing opening sequence has Matt Damon and his team of soldiers risking their lives to find WMDs in Iraq where the intel says they are – only to draw a blank.

That’s because they never existed! The whole war in Iraq was launched on the basis of outrageous deception; it’s one of the worst scandals of modern history. But, you know, politicians bank on the fact that WE FORGET THESE THINGS.

So Greengrass has come along to remind us…

This powerful political film also functions as perhaps the most exciting action movie I’ve ever seen; my God, Greengrass can really move that camera…as can his Oscar winning DOP Barry Ackroyd.  My one reservation is that to make this movie work as an action thriller Greengrass and his writer Brian Helgeland (who also wrote LA Confidential) have had to create a fictional story at the heart of the true story. And that’s a slightly awkward fit. 

But even so, for me this is one of the best films of this, or any year.

The rest of my time this week has been taken up with this pesky little bugger:

Yes, it’s the novel that Orbit are publishing this October; and not only did they force me to actually write it, they’ve now had the goddam temerity to ask me to do some REWRITES.  Polishes no less!  And that’s been my week’s work really.

It’s strange when you revise a novel you haven’t looked at for some months. It kind of felt like someone else’s book. I kept thinking – Ooh, I don’t remember THAT happening.  And it’s subtly different to my first two books, Debatable Space and Red Claw; there’s more of a single focus, and the style is less baroque. It is however still within the ‘Debatable Space’ universe; the three books together constitute what I call a ‘triptych’ (pretentous moi? un peu!) – not a trilogy in other words, and you can read them in any order. But if you read all three they should connect up in various (and hopefully interesting) ways.

I’ve also been looking at cvs for cinematographers whose work I love…yes, it’s that stage in the on-going saga of the movie (Inferno) wot I am producing, with the aid and inspiration of a gang of film people who actually DO know what they are doing…Hope to have more news on that front soon.

I finished Jesse Bullington’s fab The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, a full-blooded, blood-thirsty, witty and erudite medieval thriller with supernatural elements.  And I’m currently lost in the embrace of John Scalzi’s splendid first novel Old Man’s War, a hommage to Heinlein, and a great piece of storytelling.

Oh and I’ve just started watching Series 3 of Heroes, after a long gap. I’m struggling to remember what happened in Series 2 (ah yes – the girl whose eyes go black!) and I’m afraid I am having a sense of time standing still. Sylar is STILL the villain? But it looks great so I’m expecting to warm up to it soon.

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