Vague ramblings

Cloud Atlas: book, film and the art of zooming

Posted in Ace Writers, Fiction by Ian Cundell on 23 January, 2014

In 1977 Charles and Ray Eames created a short film called The Power of Ten, surely the most viewed short film in history. We start with a couple picnicking in a park, zoom out to the very edges of the universe and then back to the building blocks of matter. It was shown at schools all over the world and as a staple BBC test transmission in the days before all-day TV. Watch it – it is all kinds of wonderful.

I would be moderately surprised if, somewhere in the back of his mind, David Mitchell was not influenced by this icon of the short film art when crafting Cloud Atlas(1). Here be spoilers. (more…)

A splash of Ink (colour: Red)

Posted in Ace Writers, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 11 February, 2013

When, a few years ago, I first heard a reading by Julie Mayhew  (at the behest of Jenny Barden if I recall correctly), it was screamingly obvious that here was a special talent. It wasn’t just the confident reading, born of her other life as an actress. There was (and is) a fearlessness in use of imagery, a boldness in following her lead (and deeply fractured) character’s thoughts to their conclusion and the audacity to realise that a tale of a fractured person needs telling in a fractured way.

And then there was the prose. It would be a cheat to pull out an extract, so next time you are in WH Smith or Waterstones just read the first page (The Recipe), let yourself be seduced then buy the damned book. It is marvellous.

Of course there was a lot more to do than deliver great writing. My chums Jenny Barden and Jonathan Pinnock, also tasted the joy of publication in the last year or so, and like them Julie understood the need for sheer hard graft and the iron will never to give up. As someone once said, “The harder I work the luckier I get”.

For reasons best known to themselves (probably a high fever), all three of the above were kind enough to include me in their acknowledgements. If I have been some small help in getting three hugely diverse tales into print, then that is wonderful, but it is quite extraordinarily gratifying to be acknowledged by people you admire and take inspiration from.

Now get out an buy the books.


He is here!

Posted in Ace Writers, Business by Ian Cundell on 7 May, 2008
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Moments of perfection

Posted in Ace Writers, Music, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 2 January, 2008

There are few immutable truths in the arts. Until recently, in fact, I thought there was only one: that pop music reached its moment of perfection, never to be surpassed, when Martha & The Muffins released Echo Beach. There has, of course, been much fine pop music before and since (the entire body of work by Squeeze springs to mind), but nothing has, or will, touch the completeness of Ontario’s finest export. That, to me, was the only truth in the arts.

Then I read Terminal Misunderstanding by the late Evan Hunter (better known to many as Ed McBain) and think I have found another one.


The Empire Writers Strike Back

Posted in Ace Writers, Fiction, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 8 November, 2007

Joss Whedon in thoughful mood about the Writers Guild of America strike.

The nub of the strike is that writers want a fairer share of online sales than they currently get. Ex-Disney chief Michael Eisner made a particularly dimwitted comment of along the lines of “but we haven’t made any money out it it yet!” forgetting the all important “yet”. Screw the writers when there is no cash and make damned sure they get bugger all downstream is, as ever, the industry approach.

(Eisner also made some breathtakingly stupid comments blaming Apple for the lack of money, conventiently forgetting that it was Apple who proved this new income stream was viable in the first place. It is almost as if he is angry at Steve Jobs for getting him ejected from Disney……oh.).

Last word to Whedon, in writers:

“We’re talking about story-telling, the most basic human need. Food? That’s an animal need. Shelter? That’s a luxury item that leads to social grouping, which leads directly to fancy scarves. But human awareness is all about story-telling. The selective narrative of your memory. The story of why the Sky Bully throws lightning at you. From the first, stories, even unspoken, separated us from the other, cooler beasts. And now we’re talking about the stories that define our nation’s popular culture – a huge part of its identity. These are the people that think those up. Working writers.”


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