There's Nothing Strange In My Neighbourhood

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 9:04 AM

1984 was an amazing year for movies that have resonated in our culture: Terminator. The Karate Kid. The Neverending Story. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Gremlins. Beverly Hills Cop. Romancing the Stone. The Last Starfighter. Top Secret! But top of the list will always be Ghostbusters.

Simulcast with JetSimian, Jamas Enright, and whoever this guy is.

There's something about this comedy that everybody loves, with endlessly quotable dialogue, fantastic iconography, and naturally funny performances, which never get old. It made stars of its cast, it became a touchstone of pop culture, and it's still compared with modern comedies today; everyone is trying to make something as good as Ghostbusters.

Originally written by Dan Aykroyd, a man obsessed by the occult in real life, his draft relied a bit too heavily on unfilmable spectacle, so Aykroyd's friend Harold Ramis and director Ivan Reitman rewrote it to emphasise the characters more. They cast other SNL and Second City alumni (John Candy turned it down, but Rick Moranis filled his slot) to flesh it out, the keystone undoubtedly Bill Murray as Venkman, famously reluctant to do any project. Annie Potts as Janine and Sigourney Weaver as Dana, the only two women in the cast, add more than just oestrogen; holding their own and making their mark against such a strong cast of guys is no mean feat.

The movie starts off expertly, with a ghostly apparition in a library leading straight into a fantastic song by Ray Parker Jr (apparently modelled after a Huey Lewis and the News Song, though I can barely detect it). Then it's straight into the main characters, each introduction artfully establishing their individual quirks and motivations. It's so effortlessly done, it's no wonder this is a movie many want to emulate and see more of.

After establishing Ghostbusters as a company, they successfully capture a ghost haunting a hotel, causing thousands of dollars in damage in the process, but this gets them noticed, and soon their traps are full of ghosts. Sigourney Weaver, who was still a big name after her role in Alien, discovers she has a possessed fridge, somehow turned into a gateway to the underworld guarded by Zuul. Apparently a lot of the weird supernatural mumbo jumbo is genuine mythology, thanks to Dan Aykroyd's contributions to the script. Despite her asking for help from the game show host Venkman, Dana ends up possessed, leading to a fantastic scene where Venkman is caught between wanting to take advantage of her exciting state of demonic possession for a bit of happy fun times, and yet compassionately wanting to look after the real Dana.

Neighbour Louis Tully, Rick Moranis playing a sad sack, who also becomes possessed by the Keymaster Vinz Clortho in an amazing scene where he is chased by a demon dog and screams for help, but the patrons of the restaurant completely ignore him, completes the circle.

Dealing with a man with no dick, the nasty Walter Peck, an EPA official who wants their business shut down, causing the ghosts to be released back into the city, fleshes out the story in a way that anchors it in reality. The fantasy here never feels like it's out of hand or at ridiculous levels. The comedy is gentle, not insulting or aggressive like a lot of modern comedy can be, and the drama has serious consequences, with lives and the city on the line. Having red tape and an interfering busybody to deal with helps emphasise the scale of some of the larger issues the team are dealing with.

The end battle is the weak point, in my opinion. The threat Gozer is supposed to represent doesn't really come across very effectively. Her final appearance as a dancer flipping across the rooftop in a burlesque bubble costume is disappointing and not very imposing, and the comedy nature of the gigantic StaPuft Marshmallow Man taking the wind out of the villain's supposedly evil nature's sails even further. Defeating them by "crossing the streams" isn't really a solution so much as the result of desperation, and doesn't really satisfyingly resolve anything so much as just end things with an explosion, and everything is magically all better now.

But Ghostbusters place in the history of cinema can't be denied. Though a product of its time, it is almost a perfect comedy (its place at the top only surpassed by Ramis and Murray's own Groundhog Day a decade later) and can hold its head high. Thank goodness nobody ever made any sequels or has any plans to reboot the series with an entirely new cast.

Dragons Slain While You Wait

Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 7:00 AM

When I think back on the movies that I enjoyed as a teenager, it's clear that my tastes were not sophisticated enough to be very discerning. To me any exciting piece of cinematic razzle dazzle was an afternoon well spent, especially in the company of friends. And yet, when I look back, though I can now recognise a dud when I see it, every one still holds a lot of joy for me.

So amongst such gems as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, ET, Goonies, and Gremlins, I still hold great affection for Popeye (Robin Williams, RIP), Condorman, Superman III, and today's reviewed movie, Dragonslayer. They each had something that made them resonate.

This post is part of the ongoing saga of reviews of 80s fantasy movies of my youth, also simul-reviewed by my mate Pete aka Jetsimian, and his mate Jamas.

Sir Ralph Richardson's performance definitely raises everyone's game.

After a band of travellers, led by Valerian (Caitlin Clarke) plea for the sorcerer Ulrich (a brief but beautiful performance from Ralph Richardson) to help save their village from the dragon Vermithrax Pejorative, a dickhead, Tyrian, swaggers in and ruins their plans when he somewhat accidentally (it's complicated) kills the sorcerer. Galen, the sorcerer's apprentice, steps in to take his place.

For some reason Peter MacNicol doesn't like to talk about his experiences on the set of Dragonslayer

Galen is earnestly played by Peter MacNicol. You may know him as the quirky maths mentor in Numb3rs, or the quirky lawyer in Ally McBeal, or the quirky gallery owner in Ghostbusters II. Here he is much less quirky, and, though initially cocky when he takes the mantle of Master Sorcerer, he is soon confronted with hard won responsibility, and he grows up fast.

Caitlin Clarke may be responsible for my ongoing affection for tomboyish brunettes

Valerian, a young woman masquerading as a boy to avoid being chosen as a dragon sacrifice, leads the villagers and Galen to Vermithrax's cave, where he causes half a mountain to block the entrance. Celebrations ensue, but we're only a third through the movie, so perhaps they are being a tad premature. Vermithrax soon makes his continuing existence felt. Religion fails to do anything, as a praying priest, a pre-Emperor Palpatine Ian McDiarmid, is the next to be fed upon.

Full scale dragon limbs and heads are also judiciously used by the special effects team

This is where the artistry of ILM comes to the fore, as we catch brief glimpses of Vermithrax's grand figure as he stalks from the cave and glides across the sunset.

The American accents from the two young leads are slightly annoying

When the King's daughter (embarrassingly badly acted by Chloe Salaman) gets her turn at the sacrificial stake, things get critical, and Galen is sent into the cave, though not before he admits his love for Valerian. Though they did only meet a week earlier, and exchanged maybe three sentences together.

The weakest scene in the movie

A rather weak battle with Tyrian at the cave entrance could've been edited out entirely, as it adds very little. It's a notable weak spot in what is otherwise an excellently directed movie. Director Matthew Robbins's strengths do not lie in fight choreography.

Vermithrax moves like a stalking bat in some shots. It's quite intimidating

The imagery from this movie that sticks with me the most, that resonates in my memory the strongest and keeps it listed as one of my favourite ever fantasy films, is the incredible design and stop motion animation work of Vermithrax the dragon. And when I say "stop motion" in fact it was an early iteration of a technique coined as "go-motion" where the moving elements were artificially blurred during each frame to add realistic smoothness to the animation. It is arguably the most effective use of that technique in its history. Coupled with the masterful grasp of the organic motion of animals, it is a tour de force.

There's no more definitive a dragon design than Vermithrax Pejorative

The jeopardy portrayed in this sequence is outstanding. You really feel like Galen is risking his life in every scene, thanks to excellent direction, MacNicol's performance (often entirely against bluescreen), and menacing animation of the dragon, both miniature and full size.

Galen's first volley at the dragon is unsuccessful, and it's only later that he realises his old master was not dead at all, but magically hidden amongst his artifacts, so he could be carried along with them on the journey. And when the old Sorcerer reappears, his plan to defeat Vermithrax at last requires another sacrifice, but this time a true one, freely given. His own.

Though the visual effects are dated, they remain impressive

The storyline of Dragonslayer adheres closely to a fairy tale. Kings, Princesses, Sorcerers, a plucky Apprentice, a fair Maiden, the slaying of a dragon. You can't get more storybook, and the mix is handled as well as might be expected, especially for the time when an epic scale in movies had so recently become the new default standard. This was high adventure, beautifully realised, and taken seriously. The only thing that kept it from greatness was the cynicism of audiences at the time, not ready to view fantasy as a source of genuine drama. If they had, Dragonslayer would be well deserving of fondness and respect.

Krull To Be Kind

Posted Thursday, July 24, 2014, 5:00 AM

After the VCR and video rental boom, and during the sell-through affordable video cassette era of the 90s, I decided that I wanted to have my very own collection of ten Fantasy Films that I had enjoyed during my teenage years. These were, in chronological order of release, Dragonslayer, The Dark Crystal, Krull, The Neverending Story, Ladyhawke, Legend, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Willow, and Dragonheart. Most of them were cheesy as all get-out, but I didn't know that at the time. For each one I was the perfect age to fall for them, hook line and sinker. Dragonheart, a 90s movie, was added in to round it up to ten, and a couple of years later I decided it probably shouldn't have been included in that list, I never really felt great love for it.

When DVD came along, I was very excited as one by one each of these movies were released in high(ish) quality widescreen, with copious extras included. By 2005 I had amassed the entire collection I'd dreamed of, and more.

I hadn't seen Krull since it had last been on TV, fifteen years at least, and I eagerly lapped it up. Did it hold up? Holy crap, no it did not. And I've rewatched it again now for this, a more formal review made at the suggestion of and alongside my mate JetSimian, and also in association with his mate Jamas Enright.

It's high fantasy. It has Kings and Princesses and fantastical beasts, in a classic plot carefully following the hero's journey. It has a bombastic score by the appropriately named James Horner (he loves his brass) introduced in a scene with a giant misshapen thing flying towards the planet Krull. This is the Black Fortress, in which lives the Beast. That's about as creative as this movie gets for names.

Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa. Not pictured: Lyssa's real voice.

Meanwhile a marriage is to take place between Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa. That's a lot of Ys, maybe they're Welsh. Lyssa is played by Lysette Anthony, who I had a little crush on when she was on a British sitcom, but here has been cruelly dubbed with a horrible American accent that is incredibly distracting. Colwyn is played by Ken Marshall, a blandly attractive and charisma-free actor who has done nothing of particular note either before or since.

The Prince and Princess go through a marriage ritual that involves fire on their hands. This is IMPORTANT, though it kind of feels like it was jammed into the final draft of the script a week before shooting.

Slayers. Their single-shot weapons are like muskets with bayonets.

The Beast has sent out his soldiers, Slayers, suitably creepy creatures with an exo-skeletal carapace. They attack the wedding and kill everyone in the castle, and kidnap the princess. Why? It's never really made clear. That's just what baddies do.

But one man survived the slaughter, and no prizes for guessing it's Prince Colwyn. He is discovered by the sage Ynyr (yeah, definitely Welsh) played by Freddie Jones, who plays the role of "wise old man who provides exposition".

Remember to hold it the right way round, to avoid owies.

Colwyn must retrieve the Glaive, the fabled weapon that is in all the promotional materials, the five bladed frisbee star thingamajig, which I very much would like to have a replica of my own one day. Colwyn has to reach into the lava to get it. Why is it there? Don't know. Just is. Because. Cue slow motion, soft focus sparkles, and choral chants.

Alun Armstrong acts circles around everyone else in the movie.

As they travel they pick up a cavalcade of actors, known, unknown, and future stars, including David Battley as Ergo the Magnificent, a wizard who can turn himself into various animals and has a penchant for gooseberries; Robbie Coltrane, Alun Armstrong, Todd Carty, and most famously Liam Neeson, as a band of escaped prisoners; and Rel the Cyclops, played quite brilliantly by tall Carry On actor Bernard Bresslaw and who has more character development than almost anyone else in the whole film. It's a Wizard of Oz kind of enlistment of tag-alongs and cannon fodder.

Bernard Bresslaw couldn't see very well, yet ran full tilt through forests, swamps, and rock strewn deserts.

Because the Black Fortress appears in a different location every day (quite a cool concept, I think), they need to find someone who can tell them where it will be the next morning, so they enlist the help of a blind Seer and his young boy assistant, who take them to the murky Soundstage Swamp.

In quite an impressively spectacular battle, the Slayers attack, and here's where some of the more memorable images, which held 13 year old me transfixed, occur. The Slayers' deaths, with their carapaces cracking open and the squids inside escaping underground, are really cool! The Changeling taking over the Seer and fooling them, only for Rel to race along and save the day, was a really thrilling sequence! By far the scenes in the swamp are the most effective of all.

Not what it looks like. Depending on what you think it looks like.

After the death of the Seer everyone is very sad for about three seconds, then they shake that off and head out of the swamp, happy and laughing.

Let's pause here to count how many women have been in the movie so far: One. And she's held captive, alone, for the majority of the film, with barely any dialogue. Princess Lyssa, with her shock of Nicole Kidman curls, is having a boring time of it living inside something resembling a conch shell, with nowhere comfortable to sit down.

There are only two women of note in this movie. The damsel in distress who needs rescuing...

The Beast, meanwhile, sounds a bit bored by it all, waiting for her to capitulate to his demands that she love him. Not very seductive. Though maybe he's hampered by the fact that he seems to live in a different aspect ratio to everyone else.

"Fear me, for I live in the 4:3 anamorphic dimension!"

Without the Seer they're buggered. Or are they? Conveniently there's another way to find where the Black Fortress will be. A fancy lady, played by Francesca Annis, lives in the middle of a spiderweb, where a giant stop-motion spider guards her. So the second female character with dialogue is also imprisoned, and in her scene they mostly talk about how tragically beautiful she is. Or was. Or something. This movie fails the Bechdel Test quite badly.

...and the self-exiled Nun.

The Widow of the Web sequence has always been the scene I've disliked the most; it's too laboured, the pacing is horrible, it's far too melodramatic (which is really saying something for this film), and it has a big poorly-animated spider in it. This was also about the time I started to get annoyed at stop-motion as being too distracting and outdated (I deliberately didn't watch the original Clash of the Titans because of my attitude towards stop-motion).

The only tension in this sequence is in the threads of the web. (rimshot)

After some overwrought nonsense dialogue, Freddie Jones's character also dies, just after providing the location of the Black Fortress in his last moments. The hero must now go on alone, to the Iron Desert. This leads to the best piece of music in the whole movie: The Ride of the Fire Mares. This is the other key moment in the movie that stood out in my memory, and it is still quite fun indeed, though it also has very poor bluescreen effects.

The Fire Mare sequence probably goes on too long, but it is quite beautiful.

They reach the Black Fortress with moments to spare, where Rel the cyclops dies while holding the door open. Well, of course. Noble sacrifices seem to be two-a-penny in this tale. Robbie Coltrane's character dies in this scene, and then Liam Neeson gets an ignominious death soon after. Most of the deaths in this movie are random, motivated by bad luck. None of the characters have any discernible personality, and their only roles seem to be to fill out the crowd scenes, and be sacrificial lambs during the adventure. Not to mention the numerous anonymous red-shirts who get knocked off in each battle. This movie is very poorly written, on every level. It's one of those films where I'd think "I can write something better than this" and I'd be right, I really could.

In this magical kingdom, all spells are cast with a constipated grimace.

Finally they reach the cell where Princess Lyssa is being held, and Colwyn has a reason to use his Glaive weapon at last. Remember that? The bladed thing he got at the very start, is in all the promotional material, and was seemingly so very important? And do you know how he uses it? As a glorified circular saw, to open the prison cell door.

This is how a hero saves a Princess - with power tools.

He does then use it against the Beast, but that's a double bluff because it doesn't kill him, only wounds. The actual successful way to get him is with the fire. What fire? You remember, the flame, that was part of the marriage ritual! I told you it was important! Colwyn uses that to finally destroy the Beast!

Only a true king can set his hands on fire and not be harmed. I think that's the point of the whole movie.

Wait, Lyssa had that the whole time? She had the means to defeat the Beast, literally in the palm of her hand, and yet she did nothing? What?

The Beast defeated, they race out of the Fortress. Surviving member count: Alun Armstrong, Todd Carty, Ergo the Magnificent, the Seer's boy, the Prince and Princess. Not much to rebuild a kingdom with. But they do all live happily ever after! Probably.

Note how each actor is looking in a different direction.

In a world with no villages or towns, with people who wander about and join any travelling band of wanderers that happen along, where nothing important happens for hundreds of years until the whole planet hangs in the balance over one incident involving an ugly beast who kidnapped a Princess for no clear purpose, and loads of people die quite randomly... I don't think I'd want to live there.

This script needed another couple of drafts. We needed to see some of the Prince and Princess together before the wedding so we cared about them. We needed a better motivation for the Beast to exist and to want to kidnap the Princess. We needed some proper motivation for why the gang of misfits join the quest. Every character had to have clear personalities that motivated their actions and made them lovable so we were affected by their deaths, which needed to be for more than just convenient plot reasons. And we needed a Princess worth fighting for, someone with spunk, intelligence, resourcefulness, and a prettier accent, and she and the Prince needed to defeat the Beast together.

As cheesy fantasy movies go, this is the cheesiest in my list of ten. It does not hold up too well. I once had the idea of getting a hold of all the original footage, including alternative takes, and re-editing it to modern sensibilities, updating the visual effects, adjusting some of the scenes to be more dynamic or improve the storytelling. But it may be that this movie is beyond help. They tried, just not very hard. It's a clumsy, melodramatic, poorly acted, poorly written little adventure of no consequence.

But it's fun, and sometimes that's enough.

Safe At Last. In A Prison. Surrounded By Zombies

Posted Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 11:17 AM

In order to dig myself free of this hole I've found myself in, compromises have had to be made. I am in a temporary living arrangement of a boarding house. Only it's not really one at all.

The term "Boarding House" may conjure up images of a large facility with multiple bedrooms and a communal area filled with couches and armchairs and a ping pong table. Or perhaps a multi-storey house with a shared kitchen and big yard. But instead what I'm in is a crappy house, which would ordinarily be listed as "condemned", where the doors don't close properly, the windows don't open properly, the washing machine shakes the building off its foundations, the kitchen is so small it can only fit three people, an outside toilet, and a bathroom with poor drainage.

This is a three bedroom home which has had its living room artificially divided up into two bedrooms, so there is no communal area at all, and its an overcrowded space at the best of times. Each of the residents are equally as damaged and broken as I find myself to be, but in different and more unpredictable ways, which leads to constant confrontation. Nobody here is a listener, they all just talk over each other, and never seem to get anything done. Though I am a listener, I have to count myself just as guilty in the non-achievement ranks, so it's quite a mess here most of the time, both figuratively and literally.

But the part that worries me the most is that every time I step out of my room I see a new stranger, some new visitor or friend or even enemy of one of the other residents. Are they friendly? Are they trustworthy? Are they just as broken as the rest of us? Are they staying for a few days? Will they be wandering around the house randomly while I'm trying to make my lunch? It is utterly horrible, I feel unsafe and insecure, and I want out of this arrangement as quickly as I can.

I have to be here. I am trapped here by my own circumstance. Attempts to get money from Social Welfare (Centrelink) have been a ridiculous rigmarole, horribly stressful, and, because of one single obstacle of not having a particular ID card, so far completely fruitless. Centrelink won't give me any money until I have "100 points of ID" which they arbitrarily assign to various things. Being the person that I am, I only have a few kinds of ID. I don't drive, my name is not on the Rental Agreement of this crappy place nor do I pay any of its utility bills, etc. I do have my Passport, and I do have a Bank Card, but the last sticking point is my Medicare Card. Due to random bad luck, it had expired and I hadn't updated the address, so it got lost in the mail. Now I have had to order a new one, and it should have arrived in the mail last week, but it's now a whole week late and in the meantime I have no money to live on. In fact I have had no money for the past two months; if it wasn't for my family donating funds I would have starved.

It's not entirely doom and gloom. The rent here is really cheap, and I don't have to pay any other bills. I do have internet, though it's borrowed and, due to the age of the wiring, very slow. I am close to public transport and have multiple locations nearby, like parks or walking paths, I can escape to to be alone.

But those are small comfort.

It is ironic that, at a time when safety, security, peace of mind, and reliability is what I need the most in order for me to cope, I have none of them. I've found a safe haven, except it's a prison, and it's surrounded by zombies.

Muddling On Through

Posted Friday, November 15, 2013, 11:51 AM

An update for those that want to know.

I've found a temporary place to stay, and am working through some of my problems, both financial and personal, with the support of my mate Rob and my Mum who flew over to visit.

I'm past the darkest feelings, but my points of view and feelings about the world are still the same. I'm not happy (and never have been) about anything that's going on around me.

Anyway, I'll sort more stuff out, and then find a more permanent place to live, over the next few weeks. If any of you were still worried, you can relax a bit now.

I'm Okay

Posted Sunday, November 3, 2013, 1:06 PM

Rumours of my demise have been somewhat exaggerated. Mostly by me. I can't even manage to do that properly. What a loser.

I'm sorry if anybody panicked and were worried (if you even were - I've been out of communication), but I'm fine for now. I'm safe in emergency accommodation, and with luck have found some people who can guide me through everything I need to get myself back on track.But then again, I've thought that before.

Still don't have email or a phone, and won't for a while. Until then, know I'm working things out.

Sorry. Again.

Admitting Defeat

Posted Saturday, November 2, 2013, 12:00 AM

I don't fit in. I never have.

From my earliest memory as a child in PlayCentre where I often sat quietly alone in the corner doing my own thing, through Primary School where I was constantly bullied and treated differently because I was good at reading and maths, to High School where I was the funny-looking weird kid who wrote stories and drew cartoons, to adulthood where I have struggled to find a job and where women have never found me even slightly interesting. This world just doesn't seem to have a space for me.

Life just keeps changing its rules, tripping me up with its shifting expectations, and, just when I think I've got a handle on it, pulling the rug out from under me again and again.

I've always been one who thought he knew what he wanted out of life, but didn't know how to get it. I wasn't in the right part of the world, or didn't know the right people, or didn't know how to ingratiate myself in amongst the right crowd. I had humble expectations and simple dreams, really, things that everybody else seemed to be able to achieve without too much problem. Things like having a family, or getting a job, or buying a home. Most people manage those things without too much trouble. Sure they often came with pitfalls and hassles, but they at least got to experience them, work out those issues, and then settle into a reasonably comfortable, if compromised, groove. But I didn't even get that. I occasionally sat back smugly when I saw somebody's life go wrong, thinking I was well out of it, but really I think I was missing out on what makes life worth living. I had nothing to be smug about.

And what does make life worth living? If you were to list the things that make most people happy and that give their lives meaning, I'd say most people would regularly experience seven out of the top ten throughout their lives. Whereas I'd be lucky to experience even three. Things like love, sex, sport, health, family, friends, food and drink, pets, I don't get any pleasure out of those. My happiness only comes from entertainment like TV and movies, a couple of niche nerdy hobbies, and my own solitude. And what sort of life is that?

I don't like socialising, it makes me uncomfortable, be it with strangers, colleagues, or acquaintances. I have had very few friends at any one time, and none have been very close. The only family I have are siblings and my Mother, but I moved away from them long ago and barely communicate except for the very occasional phone call. I have never been in a real relationship, serious or otherwise, apart from a fling so brief it doesn't count (she never cared about me, and subsequently I didn't care much about her - though to be fair we knew that going in).

It's not that people dislike me (I hope), but that I have no charisma, a very quiet demeanour, a sense of humour that's haphazard and quirky at best, and contribute very little to social interaction. I have no discernible personality worth speaking of.

And I have low self-esteem, everything that has happened in my life has only reinforced that. The occasional hints of something potentially working out as a good direction to head, that would ordinarily encourage me to continue down the path to, hopefully, success, fizzles out disappointingly, and I just get more depressed and lost.

I am not clinically diagnosed with any kind of disorder, there's nothing chemically wrong, I just have no self-motivation. I'm someone who needs support and advice and guidance, but yet I choose to live a solitary lonely life. These two things contradict each other, to my eternal detriment, so it's no wonder I am such a mess.

I think I have talent. I think I have skills that make me decent enough to make a mark, however insignificant that mark may be in the grand scheme of things. But my life doesn't seem to reflect that. I don't seem to be quite good enough to get noticed, to be employed, to be taken seriously, so perhaps I'm wrong and I'm just not good enough after all. That's a heavy blow to my self-confidence, and lately it's just been blow after blow after blow.

And the Entertainment Industry has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Job opportunities are drying up at an alarming rate, money is spread thin, and projects are shutting down. The branch that I have always wanted to get involved in, post-production and visual effects, is in the worst state it has ever been. Entire companies are closing permanently, which means there are more very talented people and yet fewer jobs available. Amateurs like myself have no hope.

For a while it seemed like amateur productions would be the new Media, with cheap equipment and software giving everyone opportunities to create high quality entertainment, and the Internet providing a new form of distribution. But almost immediately the lack of funding opportunities has halted its progress. Crowdfunding sounds like a good idea, but unless you have a tangible product to sell, you'll have very little chance of success. Low profile film productions are not succeeding. If you don't have years of professional experience, name-recognised celebrity talent involved, and the luck of high-profile visibility, give up now. The money is all going to projects that can already afford it.

It is thoroughly depressing to see my only hope for having an enjoyable life dry up right before my eyes. People more experienced and talented than I am are struggling to pay their mortgages and feed their families. Their only alternatives are to find non-Industry jobs, but those are few and far between at the best of times. It's a disaster, and I find myself right in the midst of it, with nowhere to turn.

It doesn't help that my ability to find and keep a job seems to be based on luck rather than skill or talent, and even when I am employed I tend to be taken advantage of, by being exploited or marginalised. While others leap up the totem pole of success, I am always at the bottom getting nowhere, and then am eventually forgotten about.

Most often my problems, such as they are, come down to lack of finances. In fact I'm very good with handling money when I actually have any, I tend to use it carefully and frugally, and am quite happy to do so. I have no desire to be wealthy (as nice as that would be) I only wish I could have a reliable source of income, something that would lead to financial security. But that's a daydream at the best of times.

Most people can find a job very easily - they figure out the career they want, make some key decisions about how to gain skills or ingratiate themselves amongst the right people, then things start to tip their way, they find a decent employer, work their way up the ladder, establishing a reliable source of income, allowing them to plan their lives for years ahead, and, barring a few unexpected bumps, they manage to negotiate their lives with relative ease.

While I, on the other hand, struggle to find any employer who will take me seriously, who will pay me what I'm worth, or who will treat me with any respect. Instead I trudge along on the cusp of unemployment at every turn, make poor decisions that haunt me forever, and constantly find myself scraping the bottom of life's barrel, eking out a pathetic existence. Eventually random luck falls in my lap again and something keeps me going for a little while longer, but I can't rely on that.

And now luck has finally run out.

Why not try the Unemployment Benefit? Because I have been down that route twice before, and it is a horrible way to live. Both times I was stuck in a deep rut that required luck rather than effort to get out of, and now we have a new Government who are even less sympathetic to those in my position, making things even more difficult for those with low incomes. And I am sick of it.

It strips you of your dignity, it keeps you below the poverty level, it forces you to do things that are not in your best interests but instead what others insist are where you ought to be, putting you in your place. I do not want to be in that soul destroying position again. That is no life.

I seem to be without any capability of sorting my life out. Too many chances have been repeatedly squandered, and I have achieved nothing. Now I'm too old, apparently lack the talent that employers are looking for, and am too easily exploited. I am wasting my time, the world has no place for me.

I was feeling quite depressed as this crisis solidified. I froze, my brain clouded over, and I couldn't seem to get up and fix things. I had never felt so alone. Then my Mum visited and I started to feel a bit better. One of my close friends got out of his own funk and we had a good chat, and I cheered up and felt a bit more optimistic again. I started to think I could get myself out of this mess I had found myself in.

But now that a few more days have passed, and I can see things a bit clearer, I feel like I am looking at things somewhat more objectively. And when I assess my life, at what it could've been, what it actually was, and what it might be, I see no improvement in store. All I see is struggle and unhappiness.

The world is not a very pleasant place to be at the moment. It's full of hatred, abuse, greed, selfishness, and misery. I can't change it. I'm no better than anyone else in coping with it. I may even be part of the problem, with my lack of motivation. A horrible future is laid out ahead of me. It frightens and worries me.

So here I am, out of money, out of time, out of energy. And I just don't care anymore. I can't see that life has anything for me if all it will be is a constant struggle to keep my head above water. And what would I gain? A low paying job I'd hate? A lonely empty life of no reward? And then one day I'll die, alone and unloved? What sort of future is that?

So I can't afford to keep what I'm doing. But I can't afford to fix things either.

I'm sorry for all the promises unfulfilled and plans unfinished. I'm sorry for anything I've done that hurt or hindered anybody. I'm sorry I wasn't a better organised, more productive person.