Tag Archives: zombies

Wind’s in the east

Another film about a film, another sign of Hollywood zombification: unable to come up with an original idea, it feasts on the still-warm corpse of a past glory. The “making of” concept is just the sequel/prequel trick on a perpendicular axis, the mark of a desperate industry scrambling for relevance in the internet age. Jebus help us when tinseltown discovers the third dimension.


But despite all that, from its trailer Saving Mr Banks looked different, deeper than expected. Sure, it’s a Disney film, and Walt Disney’s a major character, and he’s played by serial schmaltzer Tom Hanks. And yet it’s not a film I instinctively wanted to sprint away from at light speed while vomiting from every orifice.

This is partly down to Emma Thompson, who’s perfect as Poppins creator P L “Mrs” Travers and has all the best, desert-dry gags in the film. (Although compared to the bustled biddy of reality she’s a few years too young.)

It’s also related to the comic moments, showing the true-to-life tension between Mrs Travers and the writers trying to craft a film we all know so well. She’s desperate to find a reason to walk away from the deal, and the Disneyites are desperate to keep her happy while making something people might want to actually watch. The truth is, she doesn’t want Disney — or anyone — to make the picture. Even though she’s pretty much skint, she’s very protective and doesn’t want a skipful of sugar dumped all over her story, her characters, her family. Walt tries to convince her this won’t happen — he’s been trying to convince her for twenty years — and we know he’ll win eventually. But that’s not what the film’s truly about.

It’s all in the backstory. This isn’t a film about the making of Mary Poppins: it’s a film about the making of P L Travers. Throughout the two hours we flash back from present-day 1961 LA to the Australian outback in the nineteen-oughts and the experiences of a young girl in a struggling family. This girl’s relationship with her father (Colin Farrell) is the core of the backstory, and the core of the film. The girl is, of course, Mrs Travers herself.

That’s what transforms this film from a will-this-do Hanks vehicle into something more special. You certainly won’t watch Mary Poppins the same way again the next time it’s on TV, in about fifteen microseconds.

Expect an Oscar nomination for Emma Thompson. And maybe one for Hanks too, because Disney.

Tremendous movie. Stay through the credits for a special treat.

Oh, yes. In Brazil this film is called “Walt Behind the Scenes of Mary Poppins”. I can’t even.

Avaragado’s rating: no pears.



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Tumbleweeds and plugs

I apologise, dearest reader, for the tumbleweeds bouncing through this blog in recent weeks. I have been neglecting you in favour of another: pouring my frothing muse into longer works of fiction. I’m pleased to say the first of these has now set and been whittled into editorial shape via the passage of time, a drawer, and some helpful feedback.

I’m not writing as David Smith since that returns more hits on Google than there are atoms in the universe. To be read you first have to be found, and my real name is — unless you are very determined — a near-synonym for anonymous. Not Anonymous, just anonymous.

Nor am I writing as Avaragado, as people can’t say it (av-uh-ruh-GAH-doe) or spell it (tip: it’s all a’s apart from the o) and I’d need to make up a first name or last name to jigsaw onto it or else spend precious nerd energy fighting Facebook and Google+ naming policies.

After much deliberation I settled on Anthony Camber. “Anthony” is my middle name and my Dad’s name; and “Camber” is, as many of you know, a place on the south coast that holds fond memories for me, and which I’ve been visiting on and off all my life. And, excitingly, I could get anthonycamber.com and @anthonycamber, and there’s nobody else with that name on Amazon, and there doesn’t appear to be an under-23 Welsh rugby player with that name, and so on.

The first story I’m publishing is a novella, running at just under 25,000 words. If you haven’t already zipped over to anthonycamber.com it’s called Till Undeath Do Us Part, and it’s about zombies in Cambridge (with a side-order of gay). As much as I’d like to claim the label it’s not exactly a HomZomRomCom, but there are elements of all four oms. It is apparently “A right rollicking read” and “Highly recommended” (Mr C Walsh, Cheque-in-the-Post, Cottenham).

It’s available now on Kindle. You can, and indeed you must, start reading in under a minute. iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch owners will have to wait up to a couple of weeks for it to emerge glittering from Apple’s mysterious approval process into the iBookstore, or use the Kindle reader app/site instead.

I already have a first draft of a second story: longer, at 64,000 words. It’ll be available in a month or two I expect, once I have battered it into shape.

I make no pretence of literary greatness. I’m writing because I enjoy writing. If people like it and pay me for it, even better. I will, of course, do almost anything in exchange for gushing, five-star reviews and shameless pimping.


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Number 3’s a sure-fire hit

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies seems to have taken the world by storm, much like zombies themselves. These days I keep a trusty pike by my bed at all times, waiting for the inevitable gurgling moan from a differently alive gentleman or lady scratching at my front door to be let in. I quickly despatch them, my proficiency in the weapon greatly enhanced after the Siege of Magdalene back in ought-seven. A costly victory; many punts were sacrificed, resting now amongst the weeds, discarded bicycles and tourist fingers at the bottom of the Cam.

I wonder now whether people truly understand the trigger for the conflict. It took just one infected person, one poor soul whose mind was emptied by X Factor Xtra on ITV4, who passed on the infection through drool and poorly timed whooping, and suddenly the streets were full of wailing, marauding half-humans leaving a trail of bodily fluids and mayhem behind them. Or was that just Saturday night up the Regal? I forget now.

With what passes for civilisation now restored, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies appears. I feel eminently qualified to condemn it out of hand since I haven’t read it and have absolutely no intention of doing so. Apparently it really is just Pride and Prejudice with additional zombie-related scenes. Like a director’s cut of the book using the wrong offcuts. But it’s successful, and that’s all that matters for publishers – so expect a brown, noxious stream of similarly cut-and-shut novels to be hosed by the tankerload onto bookshelves in time for Christmas (next week then?). Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is one; I wonder whether they’ll subvert the subgenre and create Frankenstein’s Kitten, or Dracula and his Amazing Friends. I doubt it.

I started idly thinking of other inevitable, possible and unlikely combos, and the execrable films that would surely result. Here, then, are Avaragado’s top ten. By top ten, I mean the only ten I’ve thought of so far.

10. You’ve Got Fail

Sequel to 1998’s You’ve Got Mail. Thriller in which our two lovers attempt to communicate through a blizzard of viruses and spam. Sponsored by Microsoft.

9. Fahrenheit 404

A worldwide DDOS brings down all web servers. There is panic and looting and much product placement. Will Smith vehicle. He saves the day by turning the Internet off and on again.

8. The Postman Always Pings Twice

“The year’s best comedy about port knocking” — Empire.

7. The Tweeting of the Shrew

Teen romcom set in Silicon Valley with a highly original plot in which a dowdy, bespectacled swot removes said specs to transform into the prom queen. Along the way there are various High Jinks with a knowing voice-over, typed on-screen as spoken in 140-character chunks. Promoted with a URL shortening service, shrew.ly, that’s turned off immediately after the film’s release in a blatant do-not-get-it by the movie business.

6. Carry On Up The Broadband

A farcical knockabout starring digitally recreated avatars of Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sim, Bernard Bresslaw, Barbara Windsor et al in a series of MMORPGs. Watch astounded as Hawtrey leads a platoon of camp elves on an assault against Windsor’s exploding boob-monsters.

5. Lolcat on a Hot Tin Roof

A Disney 3D animated musical involving many, many cheeseburgers.

4. From Nigeria With Love

One man (George Clooney) takes on the might of the Nigerian spam empire. Lots of long shots of African scenery with no relevance to the story whatsoever. Clooney eventually beats the spammers by implausibly playing them at their own game, all to the incessant cacophony compulsory in any movie scene containing a computer.

3. True Git

Two groups of long-separated cowboys and their herds come together using a three-way merge algorithm.

2. Bourne for Dummies

An ill-advised collaboration between the not-Bond Bond franchise and the publishers of the * For Dummies books. Bourne (Matt Damon) agrees to write Identity Concealment for Dummies but rival publishers get wind and try to kill him for no adequately explained reason. Fourteen explosive set pieces later, it’s revealed to be a complete misunderstanding: the rival publishers thought he was Stephen Bourne, writer of the UNIX Bourne shell. They were all superfans of the C shell.

1. The Facebook of Dorian Gray

In which the 20,000 tagged photos of the titular Gray – taken at various frat parties by himself at arm’s length hugging anyone with teeth – are all commented on by progressively older and older pervs. In the dramatic climax he detags himself only to find that his likeness is replaced in every photo by a zombie, pirate, farm implement, or carefully targeted advert.

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