on 14 July 2002
This really is Bruce Robinson at his best - which in itself is no mean feat. Simply rivetting. The interviewer's excellent and obviously on Robinson's wavelength. As for the writer (and director/actor) himself, you find you just cannot put the book down. He's funny, intelligent, attractive and inspired; he brings to life everything he has to say. The photos are great. This is a book you race through, wanting more and more and hoping never to reach the end.
Picked this up, mainly to read the chapter on The Killing Fields- to see if it had anything I could add to my bloated dissertation on biopics (and to read the chapter on Withnail & I, of course!). Read those chapters- and continued and started over again- this is a great book.
The book is nine chapters based on works of Bruce Robinson (screenplays, films, novels etc) that are a conversation between editor Alistair Owen & Robinson. I love this kind of book, as it gives insight into the work of art under discussion (and a whole lot more). Very much like the best 'X' on 'X' books published by Faber (Paul Schrader, Scorsese, Allen...).
Robinson's life & experiences are detailed and provide a backdrop for the famous works he's associated with (and the ones that went wrong)- so we get The Killing Fields, Withnail, How to Get Ahead... & recent novel The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman. And the films that didn't quite work- the messy wonderfulness that is Jennifer Eight; Fatman & Little Baby that I've never seen (but would love to see a book by Robinson on) & the painful experiences of writing In Dreams & Return to Paradise.
The conversation is so rich, I even want to seek out these dud films- and as with books by Wim Wenders I find the world of film to be horrifying ... the experiences Robinson details on J-8 is anithetical to any utopian notion of being an 'artist'. Easy to see why he chose to write some books and do a spot of acting in the pleasant Still Crazy.
There is loads here for Withnail fans and a whole lot more besides- would have loved to see his scripts for High Rise & a Jack the Ripper film- there are lots of interesting politcal elements here and loads for aspiring writers. A great, great book- and now I know the book next to Against Nature is David Copperfield (couldn't make out the cover on my chewed VHS copy). One of the best books I've read on the world of film since Easy Riders, Raging Bulls- except - from the inside. Must get Paranoia in the Launderette soon!
on 23 August 2011
Bruce Robinson - the mastermind behind Withnail & I - provides an uncompromising and insightful look into the world of a proffesional writer. Relating tales from his experience of work being passed around by producers from writer to writer, the trouble he had convincing anyone that Withnail would work, his dissatisfaction with the "way things are" and some anecdotes too.
Alister Owen presents the work as an almost interview - not interjecting too much but posing the right questions at the right time.
Highly recommended for writers aiming to "make it" in the biz, a good way for preparing yourself for the realities of the world of film.
on 11 January 2008
"Smoking in Bed" is one of most well-thumbed books in my personal library- why? I struggle to take videos of my holidays and will never direct a movie! I've only seen "Withnail ..", "How to .." and "Jennifer ..."! I suppose the great addictive quality of Robinson's humour and his humility make this a superb book. Robinson's quirky use of language and his unbridled passion for his art mean this book is never narcassistic or indulgent.
Robinson's candour about his disfunctional upbringing and his less than stellar recent career mean you forgive him occasionally clambering on to his soapbox. But Robinson is aware of this tendency and mocks it constantly.
Yes, Robinson can be bitchy and gob bile at his foes, both real and imagined, but fundamentally he has genuine affection for many of his past colleagues. The emotional grip his work holds him in means that at times his confrontational tone can make it a difficult read but it is worth the effort.
The obvious target readership for this book are admirer's of Robinson's work but anyone with ambitions to be a screenwriter or a career in film direction or production will learn a lot about the drawbacks and ectasies of a career in film.
In summary, a nicotine hit that will lead you to chain-rereading. Get it into the back of your Amazon shopping Basket.