Cara Winter: The Anglo Files 3

wallander_01WALLANDER
by Cara Winter

I’ve been a fan of Kenneth Branagh’s work since the early 1990’s. When my parents finally bought a VCR, the first movie I rented from our local mom-and-pop video store was HENRY V, directed by and starring Branagh. I rented it so many times, the store owner eventually just let me keep it.

Over the years, I’ve seen almost everything Branagh has done, both in front of and behind the camera. (By the way, if you haven’t seen him opposite Robin Wright in Michael Kalesniko’s HOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR’S DOG? Go, watch it. Right now. I’ll wait.) So imagine my excitement when I learned (via LB, from whom all good things spring) of the existence of the BBC’s WALLANDER, starring the man himself. (Yes, a happy dance ensued.)

On the surface, WALLANDER is a run-of-the-mill detective show: a crime is committed, Detective Kurt Wallander (Branagh) is called in, and he attempts to figure out who-done-it. But just scratch the surface, and there’s so much more. Wallander lives alone in a sparsely furnished apartment; he drinks (quietly, in front of the TV) until he passes out; he forgets (or ignores?) his dad’s birthday.

Even the presence of his 20-something daughter (clearly, his Favorite Person in the World) doesn’t snap him out of his malaise. We get the sense that there’s something looming over Kurt Wallander, something painful. Perhaps it’s his impending divorce. Perhaps it’s that a fifteen year old girl just set herself on fire, right in front of him. Or perhaps there’s something else; perhaps it’s just the world.

This show’s production values aren’t so much pricey-looking, as they are carefully chosen. Establishing shots are often miniature works of art (an empty field, a lone farm house, even a tin tray lain with rolling papers and hashish looks like a 17th Century Dutch still-life). Locations are picked with the same artful eye; peeling paint, dusty roads, and greying curtains tell tales.

Even Wallander’s car was a studied choice: it’s a suburban wagon, suitable for hauling kids, dogs, and a spouse to the countryside – except that the need for such a vehicle is clearly part of his past, not his present. We close in on Branagh’s face a lot a lot, too, which is excellent; one look has more depth and weight than a 3-page Sorkin monologue.

The light on Wallander, especially, is bluish and muted (somehow, even in broad daylight) as if he’s haunted by something. Such freakish attention to detail makes for a masterful, eerie, and nuanced show, where each episode leaves you slightly breathless.

Long ago, I tired of CSI and its ilk because I feel like every TV detectives’ nonchalance about violence borders on sociopathic. (And sorry, only Cumberbatch’s SHERLOCK can get away with that, thankyouverymuch – especially because everyone else around him calls him out on it.)

In sharp contrast to most Hollywood crime shows, WALLANDER is feeling, authentic, and human. When Kurt comes face to face with something heinous, he is very moved by it. Still, he’s compelled to see things through, put the puzzle pieces together (however unsettling). At the end of S1/ Ep1, Wallander is heartbreaking as he wonders aloud how to go on, with all that he’s seen. In that moment, we feel for him… and this makes us want him to go on. He’s our hero, because he’s us.

The first three seasons of WALLANDER are available on HULU Plus, with a fourth in the works for 2015. (Yay.)

Are You Ready to Watch Amazon’s Next Set of Pilots?

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We ask this as a question cuz to be totally candid several of us minions at TVWriter™ don’t think we can do it.

Amazon’s idea here is idealistic and cool. Put the new pilots online and have viewers vote on whether they should become Amazon Studio series or not. But so far, everything we’ve seen from Amazon has been, well, crap. Even the shows with major stars have been sub-par – which to us means boring.

So help us out, okay? Watch the shows and let us know what you think via the comment section and all that. And if one of Amazon’s new shows turns gets a lot of excited attention here, we promise to turn our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody, loose on it. In other words, he’ll write a genuine, detailed review.

As the sizzle reel above shows, the stars this time around include Chloe Sevigny, Adam Brody, Selma Blair, Ron Perlman, Dana Delany, and Mena Suvari. So we’re, um, reservedly hopeful.

Check everything out HERE.

How to write the perfect crime story

This article is from a series of writing tips for kids. But, hey, we’re all kids, aren’t we? Otherwise how could we be writers?

Niall-Leonardby Niall Leonard

The crime novel, as a visit to any good bookshop will tell you, is a huge category, and I would never claim to know the definitive method of constructing and writing one; I can only go from my own experience of writing for TV shows like Silent Witness and Wire in the Blood, and the crime novel trilogy that started with Crusher.

The best place to start is with a story that fascinates you as a writer. If you feel excited writing it there’s a far better chance your readers will feel excited too. Real life is always the best source of stories, but never rely on newspapers or TV for the whole truth: journalists often omit inconvenient facts, or simply get stuff wrong, and TV writers constantly cheat and fudge reality to make their story work better, or to fit a timeslot or a budget. Recycling other writers’ work is not good writing any more than reheating a supermarket meal in a plastic tray is good cooking – research is essential if you want your tale to ring true.

Read it all

munchman: The Best Batman Image Evah!

Can’t help myself. I love this gif:

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Dunno what anybody else thinks it’s about. Or what the artist intended, but to me this is Bats as God, both caring and vengeful. I mean, I think that’s a tiny smile there at the corners of his Bat Mouth – but I can’t be sure.

The ambiguity is okay, though. Cuz when you’re searching for God you aren’t really supposed to understand what you find. Just ask Camus. Or Sartre. Or David Bowie. Or the doods that produced LOST.

While we’re at it, if anybody out there can tell us who created this masterpiece, let us know. You never know: You just might get a prize. (You definitely will get one. For reals.)

And now, back to the usual fare at TVWriter™!

Peggy Bechko: Six Tips to Creativity for Writers, Artists and Readers

xx Creativity Tips

by Peggy Bechko

A writer writes – right?

And what could be more important to writing than creativity.

So, here are just six tips to being more creative.

1. Keep a journal. Don’t think this is ‘written in stone’. Some people love them, some people hate them, even writers. If it’s something that works for you, jot things down. Doesn’t have to be all the time, every day, every hour. Any time is good. Not at all works as well if you’re the ‘hate it’ kind who’d rather simply be writing a story, an article, a screenplay and not bothering with a journal.

2.  Write everything down. Don’t trust your memory when you have a good idea, especially at night. I don’t care who you are, you’re gonna forget. Yes, you are. This kind of follows the journal keeping but it’s different. This is making note of your ideas. You don’t have to get all touchy-feely, just for God’s sakes write it down.

3. Go hang out in nature and allow it to wash simile ideas over you like a wave on a sun-kissed shore. Okay, okay, you get it. Nature is a great resource when you’re looking for ideas to get your idea across. Open your eyes and ears, smell the air and think about the feel of the breeze on your skin. We’ve all heard “slow as a snail”; stale, yes. However there are millions of possibilities out there. Come up with something new and fresh and you’ll suck those readers in. Yes, you need it for your scriptwriting as well. By virtue of it’s very tautness a script must be engaging in order to attract what’s needed to actually produce it.

4. Look, if you’re writing or creating anything, if you’re in the flow, if everything is clicking along for you, then keep at it. Keep writing. Keep painting. Keep clicking the camera. Keep creating. I will add one thing for writers. Many times it’s best to pause at a peak when break time comes along so you can dive right in when you begin again instead of finding yourself in a valley from which you must crawl upward.

5. Ever try to convey an emotion in a story or for that matter to paint it on a canvas or draw it and you just can’t seem to get a hold of what you need? Can’t quite make it happen. Try listening to music that stirs that emotion within you. Let it flow through you and absorb. If you actually feel the emotion you’re trying to put across odds are it will come through in your creative work. New words and idas will sprout. Trust me on this.

6. Doodle. Haven’t you heard this before? Amazing what doodling can do. The brain seems to take a little vacation, but not a non-productive one. Doodling can accomplish a lot. Don’t believe me? Check out doodling and learn how amazing it can really be.   Oh, and you can try writing with your non-dominant hand. The sheer awkwardness of trying this, the difficulty you’ll experience in writing words, then sentences with that hand give you more room to think and spurs those thoughts to flow. It slows you down too which can be a good thing!

That’s it. Six suggestions. Try them out and let me know how they work for you when skipping down the creative path.

WGAW’s Strongest Statement Yet Against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

Found on the Interwebs

Found on the Interwebs

In a statement the other day, Writers Guild of America, West president Chris Keyser got on the FCC’s case in a demand to “put a stop to this spate of merger madness,” speaking for the WGAW as the Guild submitted its formal opposition to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable, um, “madness” indeed.

The whole document is 71 pages of legalese, a language totally alien to writers and other creatives. But here’s the official gist:

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