Amyus

Amyus

A struggling actor, writer, bibliophile, self-confessed coffee addict, lover of European and Oriental Cinema, confirmed bachelor and wannabe blues guitarist.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

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    Drugs and the Creative Process

    ‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan. A stately pleasure-dome decree…’. It’s said that Samuel Taylor Coleridge composed his classic poem whilst under the influence of Laudanum (an alcoholic tincture of Opium). Similarly such great names as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron had ongoing ‘relationships’ with the same. What was once considered acceptable behaviour amongst the creative is now legislated against, often for good reason, but many of us today start our daily routine with our drug of choice, i.e. coffee. Narcotics have had a profound influence on the creative mind across the centuries and will, no doubt, continue to do so in the future. Consider why the creative mind sometimes requires or even craves external stimulus and why we are frequently willing to ignore drug usage among the creative when enjoying the fruits of their labour.

    • You bring up an interesting topic. I myself enjoy caffeine, I use it as a tool. Likewise, other substances such as, LSD, DMT or psilocybin mushroom are sometimes used as creative tools. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for example used LSD as a creative tool. Drug use today is looked down upon. I think that some substances can be used to help with art but within the right context and environment. – LucaTatulli 3 weeks ago
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    • Being more specific would be useful - are you asking about narcotics/opiates only, or including psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, or stimulants such as methamphetamines, not to mention other classes of substances? What exactly do you mean by 'drug usage'?? – Sarah Pearce 3 weeks ago
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    • Like Sarah Pearce, I was left wondering what the focus of the essay might be: all drugs? narcotics? stimulants? I would also encourage anyone who takes up this topic to consider the roles of drugs (esp. stimulants and hallucinogens) in the writings of the Beats. – JamesBKelley 3 weeks ago
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    • I have so many questions. Are you considering alcohol as a 'drug'? If so, I don't think we 'ignore' alcohol usage amongst creatives. I would also question using the word 'ignore' - why must we ignore drug usage? The question speaks of evident bias against 'drugs' (however you are defining this term) - I suggest that the more interesting questions revolve around the role of various substances in the evolution of human culture and creativity... – Sarah Pearce 3 weeks ago
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    Taken by LucaTatulli (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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    Weasel words - The Art of Tergiversation

    8 out of 10 cat owners, who expressed a preference, agree that a growing body of evidence supports our new and improved formula’s usefulness in combating the signs of ageing with up to 99% accuracy when compared to our nearest competitor…and so on. That sentence is complete and utter nonsense and yet it represents the gobblegook we see and hear every day, whether it be a claim about cat food, beauty products or WiFi. Discuss and analyse the insidious growth of weasel words, especially within the mainstream media, and how this can affect the ability to think critically and stifle independent creative thought. Alternatively, is there actually a place for weasel words (other than the bin)? No animals were harmed in the writing of this topic suggestion.

    • I'm not 100% sure what this article would be about. Is it about combating gobbledygook? Is it asking where such language is used? Politics and advertisement use it all the time. However, my final question is are "weasel words" gobbledygook, or is there an alternate definition for what these words represent? This sounds like an article on rhetoric which I'd be extremely interested to write about, but some clarification is necessary to fully understand what your asking to be written about. – DKWeber 4 months ago
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    Rebuilding The Future

    The year 1960 saw the release of George Pal’s imaginative production of H.G.Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’, considered by many to be a classic. At the end of the film, the main character ‘George’ returns to the distant future to help the newly liberated yet child-like Eloi build a new society, taking just three books with him to aid his venture. As his friend comments to another character ‘…which three would you have taken?’. Considering the wealth of knowledge we have access to in the 21st Century, which three books (factual or fiction) would you choose and, more importantly, why?

    • A great topic to consider as it will require addressing the roles of particular texts - do you take manuals, do you take "great literature", do you take religious texts? What is most valuable in literature in relation to history and cultural change and how do we measure this? – SaraiMW 4 months ago
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    Taken by SaraiMW (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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    The Appeal of The Road Movie

    "It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes; it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses" (Elwood Blues)

    "Hit it!" (Jake Blues)

    That legendary quote from ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980) introduced the viewer to arguably one of the funniest and most notorious car chases in cinema history and exemplified the road movie as a metaphor for the desire for freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom from authority and the freedom of self-expression. The comically manic, self-destructive joyride of ‘Goodbye Pork Pie’ (1981) saw the protagonist taking a thousand mile trip across New Zealand, in a progressively disintegrating mini, just to reconnect with his girlfriend, whilst David Lynch’s gentle perambulation that was ‘The Straight Story’ (1999) was based on the true story of Alvin Straight’s 240 mile trip on a lawnmower across Iowa and into Wisconsin to see his estranged brother. In more recent years we’ve had the eccentric British film ‘Driving Lessons’ (2006), the Bonny and Clyde-esque ‘God Bless America’ (2012), Inmtiaz Ali’s loosely scripted and superb ‘Highway’ (2014) and the somewhat off-kilter ‘The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun’ (2015)…to list but a few examples. What connects all these films is that each is ultimately a life-affirming experience, even if the journey ends in disaster. It is the process of self-discovery, but in these modern times of ultra high-tech surveillance and ever encroaching self-driving vehicles, will we lose that chance to push the peddle-to-the-metal and engage with our thirst for a fleeting moment of automotive freedom?

    • I'd be really curious to know how the road trip movie fits in different cultures' cinema - I've assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that it was a American connection. – Emily Esten 9 months ago
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    The Evolution of The Bank Heist in Cinema

    Whatever happened to the good ole’ bank job? A small team of dedicated villains who cased the job, drew up meticulous plans and (sometimes) got away with the loot. These days we are used to seeing technological spectaculars with the villains often touting hardware and computer systems equal to, or even superior to, that of the Police. The Bank Heist has been a popular movie theme since the days of silent film making, but times move on and so do the brains and specs behind the operation. ‘Bonny and Clyde’ (1967) showed the simple, violent approach to robbing a bank; ‘The Italian Job’ (1969) had a more lighthearted spin and instantly made the Mini car into an icon. In more recent years we’ve had ‘The Bank Heist’ (2011) a Canadian comedy and the Las Vegas-style showmanship of ‘Now You See Me’ (2013), whilst the British films ‘The Bank Job’ (2008) and ‘The Hatton Garden Job’ (2016) both harked back to old school techniques. Of course the list is endless and these are just a few examples. Explore the evolution of the bank heist and not just in terms of the advance in technology over the years, but also look at the characters involved, what their motivations are and why we, the international viewing public, retain a fascination for such villainy. It’s not always about the money!

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      Red Dwarf - Growing old disgracefully in Space.

      The British science fiction comedy TV series ‘Red Dwarf’ (1988-1999)(2009-Present) has gained a cult status and follows the misadventures of what are essentially four less than intrepid blokes stuck in Space. With the main characters frequently exhibiting flaws such as cowardice, laziness and downright incompetence, the stories provide a welcome, humorous antidote to the morally upright characters typically found in many science fiction series. The latest series is due to appear in October 2017 and the fact that the lead actors are no longer the spring chickens they once were has not gone unnoticed by the show’s main writer, Doug Naylor, who has already started to include jokes at the expense of his ageing characters. Could this perhaps lead to the birth of a new comedy genre that would playfully examine the inevitable encroachment of advancing years and a second childhood in a Sci-Fi setting?

      • This is an interesting point. One of the newest trends emerging out of the UK has been the changing focus of target audience age groups. One of the best examples of this has been 'Dr Who' with the return to an older doctor with both Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker. In many ways this is a logical choice as the aging baby boomers are still the largest generation and are now progressing into a period of having greater disposable incomes and time, it makes sense then that there is a return to nostalgic childhood, but explored through the aging "grey" actors. – SaraiMW 9 months ago
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      Advertising and the Art of Selling...Stuff.

      The world of TV Advertising has become ever more sophisticated and devious as the public has become more media-savvy. From the early days of a product being pushed in front of us and a cheery female voice or a man in a white coat suggesting we buy it, we’ve moved on – through an era of dancing bunnies high on battery power and roller skating young women extolling the virtues of certain feminine sanitary products, to a period when the product was rarely seen on screen and we were bombarded with imagery that seemed to bare no relation to the product being advertised. These days some TV adverts are like mini movies whilst others are projected deep into our subconscious and intended to make us feel slightly inadequate if we don’t continue to play the consumer game.

      However, is the advert break still a convenient excuse to nip to the loo or make a cup of tea? Is the Scientist in the white coat still regarded as an authority figure? Are we, the viewing public, too wise for our own good? Can we still be tricked into buying something we really don’t need and, most likely, will become obsolete within a year? The artifice of advertising will always remain exactly that and yet there have been advertising campaigns that have gained a life of their own and even garnered artistic respect and admiration. Could advertising truly be considered an artform in itself?

      • Is advertising an art form? Yes; it requires creativity and finesse just like film, novel writing, and other similar pursuits. But what kind of art form is it? That's the perennial question, because as you mention, advertising is designed to push people into acquiring "stuff." Can we still be "tricked?" Oh, yes...but I think that raises the question, do we even care we're being tricked anymore? Or would we rather just enjoy a cleverly conceived commercial (or ten)? – Stephanie M. 10 months ago
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      • any discussion of advertising should necessarily reference Edward Bernays, one of the original admen who wrote on advertising and PR campaigns as having the ability to manufacture consent and control the "masses." Also an important scholars to reference and read would be Naomi Klein, who literally wrote the book on the evolution of the advertising agency and the rise of branding, "No Logo." – Jonathan Judd 10 months ago
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      Extras: The Unsung Heroes of Film and Television

      From the unfortunate Stormtrooper who banged his head on a door in ‘Star Wars – A New Hope’ (1977), to the brave souls who survived the ‘Helm’s Deep’, three months of night shoots in ‘Lord of The Rings. The Two Towers’ (2002), the Support Actor or Extra is a vital element of film making, but often overlooked by the cinema going public. These days ‘extras’ are big business, with a myriad of agencies offering almost any size, shape and range of looks that any production may require. Yet it’s not often that these loyal and hard working bodies even receive an end titles credit. The British sitcom ‘Extras’ (2005-2007), attempted the redress the balance, but still focused on the improbable rise to fame of the lead character. Perhaps it’s time that our unsung heroes of film and television were recognised and rewarded for their professional skills and dedication to the art. An Oscar or similar for ‘Best Featured Extra’ perhaps?

      • I can't wait to see what you do with this topic. :) – Stephanie M. 10 months ago
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      • I'm tempted, Stephanie, but I fear that as an insider my views would be biased. I've had a few minor roles where lines were cut so I didn't get the eagerly anticipated credit, but I continue to slog on regardless. So, I put this topic forward to see if an interested yet unconnected party might like to delve into the fascinating world of the Extra. Ahh, we are such stuff as dreams are made on....and 10 points to anyone who can complete the quote! :) – Amyus 10 months ago
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      Latest Comments

      Amyus

      The lessons learned from a truly great teacher are those we never forget. I remember a particular English teacher I had who, after a play I had written, was mysteriously destroyed, presumably by a jealous classmate, encouraged me to rewrite it. The result was a second draft that was far better than the first. If it hadn’t been for that teacher, I may well have not bothered to try again. Thanks for your article, it was a fun read ๐Ÿ™‚

      Lessons from Our Favorite and Least Favorite Fictional Teachers
      Amyus

      Glad to hear that! I think it’s a shame how some are put off by subtitles, when there is a plethora of great film making out there in a wide variety of languages.

      Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History
      Amyus

      An interesting, apt and timely article in itself covering a subject that needs, even demands much needed attention in order to expose the cesspit that is the Hollywood studio system. Whilst I recognise that you have focused on Hollywood in particular, your subject could be extended to cover the wider issue of the sexual predation of actresses across the globe. For instance, there was the 2011 suicide of the Korean actress Jang Ja-yeon, who left behind a seven page note detailing the abuse she suffered at the hands of her manager (see: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/09/entertainment/la-ca-cultural-exchange-20110109). Her case is but one of many similar stories. Sexual abuse is also (allegedly) rampant in Bollywood and the European film industry, in fact wherever there is a young, aspiring actor/actress there will inevitably be those who will presume a ‘right’ to predate, for whatever perverted self-reasoning. If the sacred cows of Hollyweird, Bollywood et al need to be sacrificed to clean up the film industry in general then so be it. Thanks for an interesting read.

      Stop Rewarding Abusers In Hollywood
      Amyus

      midado. Thanks for your comments. I agree with you completely regarding the reluctance of some to even give subtitled films a chance. There are so many great films they are missing out on. Ah yes, the challenge of interpreting a joke or cultural reference is a very taxing one and although I am a mere amateur, I have to admit there have been times when it’s taken me a good 20 minutes or so to come up with a suitable interpretation for an English language viewer. Still, I actually enjoy the challenge.

      Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History
      Amyus

      midado. Great to see that you got my reference. Yes, ‘Backstroke of The West’ truly is a category of its own when it comes to bad subtitling. It makes me wonder how on earth they translated ‘Star Wars’ into ‘Backstroke of The West’ when the words ‘Star’ and ‘Wars’ are there on the screen to begin with. They only had to copy them! Similar happened with a Chinese bootleg of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, with ‘Harry Potter’ being translated as ‘Harry Ceramic’ (at least that was half correct). Even if nothing else, there should be some sort of Golden Raspberry type award for the worst subtitle track of the year/decade etc – I’m sure Vader’s “Do not want!” would be a worthy entrant. There is another article to come and I have a few more choice gems to share with readers.

      Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History
      Amyus

      Thank you.

      Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History
      Amyus

      chloet2. Thank you for your appreciative comments and welcome to The Artifice. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of subjects covered by an equally wide variety of writers, so you can be sure to find something to entertain, educate and inform. Focusing on your comments: the reason I wrote this article was to draw attention to subtitling in general. It’s ironic that the aim of the professional is to be as unobtrusive as possible; to remain ‘invisible’ and yet without them, our world of visual entertainment would be so much the poorer. Thank you once again.

      Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History
      Amyus

      Frey. Hi and thanks for your input. I’m pleased you recognise the importance of good subtitling. When subbing a fast piece of dialogue, it’s sometimes necessary to trim down what’s being spoken, so that the viewer can understand at least the essence of what’s being spoken, within the time constraint. It’s all down to the number of characters per second that the average viewer can read, that’s why subtitles are restricted, at least professionally, to a maximum of 36 characters per line.

      I have to admit that I chuckled at your comment, regarding ‘weird’ British or American accents. You didn’t state whether you meant you found it difficult to understand British and American actors speaking in another language (your own?) or not. In which case, if that’s what you are referring to then those actors should have been better prepared by their dialogue coaches as that’s what they are employed for. It can be frustrating to hear one’s own language mispronounced repeatedly as it obviously means the brain has to process and reprocess the same information. If you are referring to your difficulty in understanding British and American actors speaking English, then please try to find another term to use other than ‘weird’, as that comes across as somewhat prejudicial. English is, after all, the native language to both Britain and America so our ‘accents’ are equally native and natural to us, as natural as Australian and New Zealand accented English is to the inhabitants of those countries. There’s nothing weird in using one’s mother tongue and I would never criticise an Indian for having grown up speaking English with an Indian accent.

      Anyway, getting back on-topic. Subtitles are a great help to many and, as you pointed out, aid a better understanding overall. Cheers me ole’ mucker ๐Ÿ™‚

      Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History