Ford Coppola’s Dracula: film review

This isn’t going to be another Dracula film review. Honest. But I watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula last night and loved it to such a degree that I’ve got to muse over it. As its title suggests, it is intended to be more faithful to the 1897 gothic horror novel than previous exhumations. This is not difficult when considering the character-juggling 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi or the comparatively action-packed Hammer production of 1958 with Christopher Lee. But this isn’t quite Bram Stoker’s story – this one belongs to the director. This is a Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula film review.

Vampire: the creature that can never die…

I love vampire fiction. Most of all I like to see how different authors and filmmakers all riff of that same idea – that of an immortal bloodsucker, creeping through the night, preying on soft white throats. Some vampires must sleep in coffins, others can rise during daylight. To some, half a century passes in the blink of any eye. To others, it’s above and beyond their expected lifespan. Some ideas work better than other of course, but it’s all subjective, and everyone has their own favourite vampire character. Personally, I think author Kim Newman has the best grip on vampire mythology. His Anno Dracula series embraces and reinterprets everything from John Polidori to Anne Rice and even references Twilight and True Blood. But I digress. We’re discussing Coppola here, and his interpretation of that most famous vampire of all.

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Beneath the Surface: Poetry in Architecture

I have a philosophy about poetry. This philosophy informs a lot of my views about writing and the arts and, despite its simplicity, it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was that made me like some genres of art and not others. In turn, it’s helped me deconstruct those genre prejudices and figure out what it is that I truly like and dislike, irrespective of labels. Being an architecture graduate, I’ll use an example below of poetry in architecture, but other art forms can share this philosophy too. It goes something a little like this:

Art has to look good on the surface before it can have a deeper meaning.

As I said: simple. It even has a flaw, like so many great philosophies – what looks good on the surface is entirely subjective anyway. And likewise, what people take from art, whatever metaphor they unearth from behind its exterior, is also a personal interpretation. That’s what poetry is all about. But let me explain with an example: in this case, using architecture.

Chiswick House Cafe

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Why I Love the Vinyl Revival

I’m big on my music. I think I treat my music library more as an art collection – with myself as the curator – than I do as an assortment of potential listening pleasures. All my albums are there, right now, alphabetically ordered on their shelves. I’ll buy an album even if it’s not my favourite, just to fill a hole in my collection. In my world, I don’t own an album till I own the CD – MP3 downloads are a bonus, but I treat them differently. They’re… musical ghosts. Not really there. Maybe that’s why I’m taking it further. Maybe that’s why I’m getting into the vinyl revival.

True Music

It takes owning a CD to its natural conclusion, doesn’t it? The vinyl revival is real; records have even got their own section in HMV, so I can’t be the only one who sees it as something a bit special. There’s something about owning an LP that means you possess that album in its ultimate form.

“Do you like The Dark Side of the Moon?”

“Mate, I’ve got the vinyl.”

I’ve got to confess, my copy of Dark Side was lifted many moons ago from my Dad’s collection up in the loft – maybe that adds an appeal too. Maybe it feels more like I’ve got the genuine article, and not just a repressing. Perhaps, subconsciously, it makes me feel like I was there, when the record was made. That the sense of wonder and amazement felt by those who heard that groundbreaking piece of music back in 1973, well, I’m feeling it too. Obviously, I downloaded the MP3s too to hear it in digital high quality.

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One Night In England (A Short Ghost Story)

This October, my girlfriend and I challenged one another to write a short ghost story for Halloween. I began to write mine based on an idea I’d had a few months prior. The tale wrote itself, and ultimately I decided it was too long for our Halloween competition. The full tale is still a work in progress, But it has a convenient prologue. I post it here under the title One Night in England (A Fragment).

One Night in England (A Fragment)

Rain splattered the beaten track, the aural canvas in turn painted with the clatter of horse’s hooves and the rumble of the carriage.  Now and then the sky flashed with lightning, and after long seconds the growl of thunder rose all around, like the roar of seas.

The driver’s face was lit by the yellow glow of the lantern swinging at his side.  Water pried at the glass casing, unable to reach within and snuff out the tiny flame no matter how it tried.  The coachman’s eyes were narrowed, both in concentration and against the thrash of the rain.  Every now and then he would cast the whip across the rump of his charges, but he doubted they could even feel it.  His arse was numb from cold; so too would theirs be.  Another crack of lightning, another toll of thunder.  The gap between light and sound narrowed: the storm was getting closer…

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