Diary of a Film by Niven Govinden (Books 2021, 12)

    A famous film director arrives in ‘the Italian city of B’ to attend a festival and premiere his new film. He meets a woman who shows him a graffiti mural that was painted by her dead boyfriend.

    The whole thing takes place over two or three days, and each chapter is a single paragraph. The latter is kind of annoying, because it makes it hard to find a good place to stop reading. Also all the dialogue is integrated into the paragraphs without speech marks. This kind of different way of representing dialogue is becoming increasingly common, it seems to me.

    The story’s good, though I found the ending a little weak. And slightly reminiscent of the ending of The Magus, strangely. That same sense of slightly-incomplete explanation.

    A Line, a Loop, a Tangle of Timey-Wimeyness

    The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film, or Sci-Fi-London is in its eleventh year, and I've never been to anything in it before. That's kind of bad, isn't it?

    This week, though, I’ve been to the presentation of the Clarke Award, which is held in association with the festival, and at its main venue; and last night, the whole family went to the BFI (or the NFT, I can’t quite work out what its official name is these days) to see a film.

    Which was Dimensions, a low-budget British film about time travel – or maybe dimension-hopping – which doesn’t even have a distributor yet.

    Which is a great shame, because despite some flaws it is a very enjoyable piece. We were still talking about it at lunchtime today.

    It’s also something of a costume drama, being set in the 1920s and 30s. The Sci-Fi-London page about it likens it to Merchant-Ivory.

    It did show its low-budget nature in one or two places, but nothing that destroys the overall effect. The couple who made it (Ant Neely wrote and composed the original music, and Sloane U’Ren directed and did much else) had to sell their house to fund it, so almost anything can be forgiven.

    I won’t say too much more about it here, but if you ever get a chance to see it, you should take it.

    There was a Q&A with writer, director, lead actor & editor after the screening, which was very interesting. I was geared up to ask a question, which would have gone something like this: “When you make a time-travel story, especially in Britain, you’re walking among some long shadows, especially Wells and Doctor Who; to what extent would you acknowledge those as influences?” I had my hand up to speak, when the interviewer asked a question touching on exactly those points. So I didn’t ask. Pity. I would also have mentioned the fact that they have a mysterious wise man know only as “the Professor”.

    Anyway, lots of fun: highly recommended.

    Aliens Among Us

    I never bothered to watch Alien Resurrection because I didn’t like Alien3 (or Cubed, as I always see it). So now, browsing the new, freshly-in-beta SF Encyclopaedia I find it was written by Joss Whedon (who doesn’t yet have an entry in said volume, but no doubt will have eventually).

    Why did nobody tell me this?

    It seems a particularly timely piece of information as we’ve been introducing the kids to Buffy recently (in part to get us all over the lack of Doctor Who), and also to Firefly. We are deep in the Whedonverse.

    Mad bampot on a rope

    Went to see Man on Wire last night, the documentary about Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It's a great film. I was a bit worried that it would be kind of dull, since we already knew the story. But it's paced like a thriller, complete with starting near the climax and then flashing back to fill in the back story.

    I did have a few moments of gut-wrenching horror (I’m not good with ridiculous heights, even when it’s just images of other people experiencing them), but overall found it absolutely amazing, and touching. Great music, too.

    There was a poignant moment when they showed documentary footage of the construction of the twin towers. Seeing pre-formed steel sections being lifted into place; sections that I last saw white-hot and crashing to the ground.