Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm a big fan of 'The Graham Norton Show'.

Like probably many of you, I have never been that big of a fan of late night talk shows. I have never understood what makes it so interesting to watch stiff hosts interviewing boring celebrities and telling weak jokes to their audience.

In most cases, when it comes to talks shows, we're dealing with a television format that isn't particularly enlightening or entertaining. This kind of format doesn't aim high and in most cases provides empty laughs that you'll forget quickly.

Fortunately, there's at least one big exception to this superficial genre. As weird as it is, Graham Norton's talk show on BBC has managed to entertaing me over the years and has provided me consistent laughs and joy.

One of the biggest reasons that the show works so well is because it doesn't follow the standard late night structure. This is not a show that is based on the host having endless monologues, stupid sketches and short, forced 'interviews' with the celebrities. 

Instead of the host spending the first twenty minutes on some weak jokes and skits, the Graham Norton show moves almost immediately to its guests. Mosts of the guests on the series are introduced almost right away.

Naturally, what this means is that the celebrities are the actual stars on the show. Unlike with the rest of the 'big' talks shows, Graham Norton as a host is just one of the people taking part in the discussion, instead of being the center of the attention.

Unlike with most of the shows, in a format like this there's a lot more time to actually get to know these celebrity guests. This way it feels as if these celebrities were real people who had relatable personalities and had actual talent.

For example, it wasn't that long ago when I saw Matt Damon as a guest on the show. I was genuinely impressed when he told us about what he thinks is important in life - and what in his opinion are the things that don't matter that much.

I also liked it very much when a couple of weeks ago Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt were guests. I was more than impressed when Pratt performed a story-based card trick that surprised everyone in the audience.

Of course, there have been other great moments on the series too. Guests like Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Russel Crowe, Michael Mcintyre, Emma Stone and others have managed to bring laughs to our lives too.

Still, none of these things change the fact that when it comes to the series working so well, the biggest reason for this is its host Graham Norton. He is the one who manages to be a natural and a likable host who keeps things going. 

Unlike with so many others in the business, he doesn't make the show about him. Unlike most hosts, he just blends in and does his best to make sure that his guests feel comfortable and relaxed so that they could be funny.

In the end, when it comes to 'The Graham Norton Show' as a whole, it's a well made series that doesn't follow the standard late night formula. It's a show that manages to avoid the usual pitfalls that most talk shows tend to suffer from. 

The series works because the guests in it, more often than not, turn out to be surprisingly likable, relatable and entertaining. They, alongside with the show's wonderful host keep us smiling and laughing throughout the series.

In that sense, even if you weren't a fan of talk shows in the first place, you probably should give 'The Graham Norton Show' a chance. At least in my view, there's a pretty good chance that you'll like the show and that it will keep you entertained.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

'Star Wars: Rogue One' is an entertaining film.

Yesterday I managed to see 'Rogue One', the latest entry in the extremely popular and successful Star Wars franchise. I saw this much anticipated film after my friend gave me a free ticket so that I could watch it with him.
That I decided to go watch the new Star Wars film wasn't really a difficult decision. Not only had the critics in general given the movie positive reviews (84% fresh at rottentomatoes), but I had heard good things about it from others too.

In any case, now that I have seen the film, I have to say that the movie was more than a pleasant surprise. Unlike the underwhelming Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 'Rogue One' isn't just a cynical cash grab and a remake.

One of the reasons that the film works so well is because it manages to keep its audience entertained throughout the movie. There are very few moments in the film that don't work and that aren't well thought out.

At least in my view, there's a good balance between drama, action and humor in the film. The movie manages to be at the same time serious and also has some funny moments that lighten up the mood when it's needed.  

That the movie manages to work so well has a lot to do with its well written characters. I was more than pleasantly surprised that most of the characters in the film turned out to be so well drawn, relatable and likable. 

Not only are our protagonist characters professionally written and acted, the writers also managed to make the bad guys interesting. These antagonist characters helped to give the movie its much needed depth that made it work.

Naturally, since this is a Star Wars film, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there were a lot of special effects in the movie. There's a huge amount of technically demanding scenes that required tons of serious artwork.

Thankfully, very few things that we see on the big screen - unlike in the prequels - felt fake. Pretty much all the scenes, including the massive actions sequences, felt relatively natural, believable and convincing.

When it comes to the music in the film, I have to say that unlike with some of the fans,  I didn't have a problem with the musical score. Even though John Williams wasn't able to compose the soundtrack, I think Michael Giacchino did a good job with it.

Still, just because I said all these good things about the film, that doesn't mean that there weren't any problems with it. There certainly were some flaws with the script that were at least in my opinion fairly obvious and should have been avoided.

For example, one of the problems in the story was when the empire decided to test Death Star's weapon. I couldn't help but to cringe a bit when the movie awkwardly went back and forth between the empire and the rebels.

The other minor quibble I had with the story was when the rebels entered the empire's base to get the blueprints for the death star. This section was not only too convoluted and confusing, but the rebels also found their way out of harm's way too easily.

In the end, none of these small issues with the film meant that the movie as a whole was a disappointment. None of these flaws matter that much when you look at the big picture and how entertaining the movie turned out to be.

All in all, when you compare 'Rogue One' to the rest of the movies in the franchise, I think it's easily one of the best in the series. It's clearly better than any of the prequel movies and the episode VII: The Force Awakens that premiered last year. 

So if you want to be entertained and if you have nothing else to do, I'd suggest that you go watch it in theaters. At least in my opinion, there's a good chance that you'll like it, even if you weren't that big of a fan of the series.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Analytical writing vs. intuitive writing.

If there was one thing that I'd like to do better as a writer, it would likely have something to do with my ability to plan stuff. I would like to be better at planning my writing projects, so that my job as a scribe would be less difficult.

No matter what I'm writing and what the project is, it always helps if I have managed to come up with a design, plot, roadmap or a structure that can be followed. Any kind of a solid, semi-detailed plan will help significantly with the project.

For example, when it comes to writing articles on this site, the easiest tasks are the ones where I have managed to come up with a clear plan. Writing point by point critiques of games or tv shows are the least stressing and the easiest tasks to pull off.

In these mini-projects, I more or less know how things are going to go even before I start the actual writing process. I pretty much know what my main points in the article are going to be and that I have figured out the structure already.

Pretty much all I have to do is to check my cliff notes with some thought and start filling in the blanks. Writing the article doesn't require that much creativity and might even make me think that the task is too easy.

The worst thing that might happen is that I need to come up with a couple of extra points that will give the article a better flow. This is something that isn't really that difficult to pull off and can be done relatively quickly.

On the other hand, it's much more difficult to write when I'm dealing with articles where I don't have anything specific planned. In these cases I might just have managed to write the headline and the first two paragraphs, which isn't that much.

If this happens, I mostly have to use my intuition instead of using the rational side of my brain. I'm forced to write with my gut and my intuition, even though I might not feel confident and comfortable about my abilities.

In these cases, it's pretty much a given that I'm going to make a lot of mistakes. All these logical mistakes that are going to happen are the kind of errors that simply can't be avoided and that I just need to get used to them.

The upside to this all, of course, is that if I do get lucky and if I manage to write good stuff without 'a plan', it's going to make me feel good inside. It might even make me feel that I know what I'm doing and that I have a talent.

In the end, none of these things change the fact that when it comes to writing projects, it's still good to use some time with planning. Especially when it comes to your time consuming projects, it's important that you plan your tasks well.

In my case, considering that I'm currently writing a movie screenplay, I just wish that I'd be better at using the analytical side of my brain. If only I would be better at planning the script so that I would have a clearer path to follow.

In that case, not only would it be considerably more enjoyable and considerably more fun to work with the screenplay, but it would also be a lot less time consuming to make the story work and to get the script finished.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The importance of having writing routines.

Without a doubt, one of the most important things about being a scribe is that you need to have writing routines. It's crucial that as a writer you keep practicing on a regular basis - even when you don't feel like doing that at all.

As a writer, you need to keep working on your craft so that you won't lose confidence in yourself. You need to practice so that you have a good grasp of what your abilities are and what you're capable of as a writer.

For example, when it comes to me, there are frequently moments when I don't feel like writing at all. I keep thinking that it's simply not worth the effort and that I am going to fail no matter how hard I am going to try.

In these cases, my inner critic keeps telling me that I shouldn't write because I'm not getting ideas that are good enough. According to my inner self, only the best ideas have potential and that if I'm not happy with what I came up with, I shouldn't write at all. 

Moments like these are when steady writing routines really come to play. These earlier experiences and routines should remind you that you have been going through those moments before and that you managed to overcome them.

For example, when it comes to those supposedly 'horrible' ideas, it's usually a lot more important to worry about the actual execution of your ideas. The way you handle your task counts a lot more than you might think at first.

Instead of being afraid about things that might go wrong, you should most of the time set your desperate thoughts aside. You should try to stop worrying and start asking questions and start finding answers to your problems.

Once you start doing this, the chances are that you'll forget that you had those worries in the first place. You are now much more interested and much more focused on your project, trying to make it as good as possible.

In the end, I'm not saying that having solid writing routines means that you're immune to having any kinds of problems in the future. I'm not implying that writing quality stuff is a process that you can control easily.

In reality, no matter how hard you're going to try, you're almost certainly going to have some doubts about your abilities and about the quality of your work. That's just the way the writing process is always going to work.

At the same time, you most certainly shouldn't forget that you managed to establish a writing routine in the first place. This routine, as whole, made you a better writer and is something that you should really be proud of.