Boats. Also known As; Sail On Sailor. A Treatment - Have You Ever Lost Your Smile?

An animated heart-warming tale for audiences of all ages about a sad little boat who learns to smile again. A film that would introduce the music of the Beach Boys to a whole new generation in a beautiful way. A film reminiscent of Mary Poppins and the Herbie films with the warmth of Toy Story. Whilst on holiday in Amsterdam I saw this little boat.
Here’s the story he told me! Our tale opens with Sail On Sailor playing as we see a bird’s eye view of a colourfully animated, vibrant Amsterdam. The animation will ideally be very retro. Similar to the animated penguin scene in Mary Poppins. The way the city is depicted is akin to Paris in Ratatouille or Edinburgh in The Illusionist. The images are vibrant and we see a pastiche of Amsterdam. Tulips are growing at the edges of the smaller canals and a windmill is happily working in the distance with people cycling along the pavements and sidewalks. Touring boats are on the water and the boats look happy, though occasionally a little smug and arrogant. The larger boats rule the water and they certainly know it. As the bird’s eye view approaches the Earth we see a small sad faced boat tied up in the rushes. His paint is faded and peeling and it’s clear he’s not been looked after for a long time. His name is Brian and we see this painted along his side. As the camera pans over the boat we see a small broken window. We pan into the boat through the broken window and see disrepair. Dust and cobwebs are everywhere. A record player and some old vinyl albums are in the corner hinting at a life once full of happiness, joy and meaning. A black scruffy cat jumps in through the broken window. An old tatty slightly rusty name tag around the cats’ neck is embossed with the name Blue though this is so faded it’s almost impossible to read. Only Blue can hear and speak to Brian and vice versa. Brian calls Blue Dennis which causes Blue a certain amount of mild irritation. Brian asks if he would like to hear a story. Blue rolls his eyes and says that his name is not Dennis and that he’s heard all of the stories before. Brian says: “You’ll always be Dennis to me because you’re my best friend” and again asks if he can tell him a story. Blue again rolls his eyes as he sits down to listen. A flashback begins in a very predictable way with a needle on a spinning record. Sloop John B begins and we pan rather mistily to a small family boat yard. As the line: “My Grand pappy and me” plays, we see a young boy around the age of ten helping an older man (his Grandfather) sand down a boat. It is now the mid-60’s. The boat is, of course, Brian and the boy is wearing a unique pendant around his neck but this point is not laboured. We see the Grandfather painting ‘Brian’ on the side of the boat. He shouts to his Grandson: “Carl, pass me that hammer please.” We then see a pair of feet walking along the towpath and hear a conversation between the visitor and the boys Grandfather. The visitor says that he is looking to buy a boat to start a touring business in the city. He says that more and more tourists are visiting the city and looks at all four boats sitting in the water. Each has a unique face but he connects with Brian’s smile. He mentions The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds playing and says that he will buy this boat because of his smile and because his name is Brian. He comments to the Grandfather about The Beach Boys’ next album which is supposed to be even greater than Pet Sounds and will be called Smile. The Grandfather says that he named this boat Brian because of what The Beach Boys mean to him. A firm handshake becomes a montage scored by Good Vibrations. Happy times follow with Brian being the main tourist boat and taking many tourists around the smaller canals and bridges of Amsterdam. Brian’s face is happy and his cheeks rosy. The colours we see in the city are now very psychedelic and many of the tourists look like predictable late 60’s hippies with long hair and beards. Many people are smoking and we see somebody throw a cigarette butt into a canal. At the sight of this we see Brain’s smile shift slightly to an uneasy look as if something is not quite right. As Good Vibrations becomes Do It Again we see The Beach Boys arrive at Amsterdam train station and walk across the tram lines towards the small harbour. Again, with the way the city looks, this is almost a parody of The Beach Boys akin to the way The Beatles were portrayed in Yellow Submarine. Brian’s owner tells them he’s a fan and would they like a trip somewhere? “To your hotel perhaps?” he asks. The Boys love the fact that the boat is named Brian and ask if he’d consider renting them the boat to take them from their hotel to the studio they’ll be recording in each day. The owner is unsure and explains that this is his only income. Dennis Wilson chips in and says he wants somewhere to stay and would he consider letting him live on the boat for a few months. Dennis says he’s always wanted his own boat but hasn’t managed to buy one yet. We then see a montage of the band recording the Holland album and Dennis relaxing on the boat. He brings on board the record player we saw before the flashback and a bunch of albums. This montage would ideally be scored by a song from Holland. Later we see the band leave perhaps scored by Leaving This Town. The next few months and years sees Amsterdam get darker and the melancholia of Leaving This Town is the perfect juxtaposition to represent this transition. The sky becomes grey and smoky suggesting small elements of corruption. We see the first ever “coffee shop” being passed by a larger touring boat. One boat becomes many and all of the new boats look the same. None have the charm, character or personality of Brian and their faces are smug and arrogant. They now rule the water and they know it. During this time we see Brian available for tours and his owner stands with him but people pass by. We see Brian’s owner occasionally coughing into a handkerchief and Brian’s face slowly becomes sadder and more perplexed moving towards the sad face we met him with at the beginning of our story. One evening as Brian is tied up in the rushes (again, where we initially met him) a large touring boat comes past playing disco music. This is partly to inform us that it is now the late 70’s. We see somebody throw a beer bottle from the larger boat and this smashes one of Brian’s windows. Brian’s owner is sat inside and is now coughing badly. When the bottle breaks the window he is startled and shocked. Of course this was the broken window we saw Blue jump through at the beginning of our story. One day we see Brian eagerly waiting for the arrival of his owner. He is looking up at a clock which says 9am but his owner does not arrive. This happens a few days in a row. Days go by and the owner never returns. Days become weeks and weeks become months. Brian slowly starts to resemble the appearance when we met him. His paint becomes faded and starts to peel. Brian becomes stranded. Alone. To show the years passing by a touring boat passes (with Kokomo playing loudly) and a bunch of 80’s-esque people dressed in very predictable clothing. Again really a parody of the 80’s. A few people in Thriller-esque costumes, Miami Vice style white suits and bankers with braces akin to Gordon Gecko in Wall Street. To signify the change we see a laughing tourist throw an empty champagne bottle from the boat. Quickly in our montage the 80’s become the 90’s and the city slowly starts to seem revitalized. To signify this we see somebody leaving a boat carefully putting some bottles into a recycle bin. We then arrive back where we started as the montage becomes a record with a scratch jumping back and forth on the turntable but not going anywhere. Blue tells Brian that he and his stories are like a stuck record. “What are we if not the sum of our happy memories?” asks Brian. “Happy memories are one thing but you’re living in the past” replies Blue. “And my name isn’t Dennis, it’s Blue” he says. “You’ll always be Dennis to me because you’re my best friend” Brian repeats. “You’re my only friend!” Blue says: “You’re my best friend too but you need to snap yourself out of this slump. Happy times could be ahead if you choose to be happy” and Blue leaves jumping out of the broken window. We then move to a montage (scored by Til’ I Die) as we see Blue and Brian going about their days separately. Brian sees a cat walking along the towpath in the distance and perks up hoping his friend has returned but this is another cat who walks by. Without Blue, Brian is alone. Blue has nowhere to sleep and is looking around some dustbins for scraps as a shop owner shouts at him to get away. Blue runs away. He is scared. Without Brian, he is also alone. At the end of this montage we see and hear a pair of feet walking along the towpath next to Brian. Voices are heard but we can’t really understand what’s being said. Brian looks scared. The man notices the sign saying: Brian and we see him give him a firm (but not aggressive) kick. A voice says: “This is the one. Take it away.” As Brian is being towed away he looks terrified and we see Blue return but it’s too late. Blue sees his friend being towed away into the distance. Fade to black. The first thing we see to break the darkness is Brian’s eyes opening. He is in a dark boatyard at night. He is scared and alone. Scary looking dilapidated boats are with him giving him nasty looks. Brian tries to start his own engine but cannot. It chugs and chugs but the engine won’t start. The other boats in the ‘Boat Graveyard’ (if you will) begin to laugh and mock. One very old gentle boat moored next to Brian whispers: “Even if you could start your engine you can’t go anywhere” as he motions towards a padlocked gate. “We’re locked in” he says. Fade to black. Brian’s eyes open again in a repeat of the previous night. The other boats appear to be asleep and so he gently tries to start his engine again. After three attempts his engine starts, waking up the other boats who immediately start to chatter and complain. “Where do you think you’re going” one asks as Brian slowly moves forward towards the gate only to realise he is tied up and the mooring rope holds him back. He tries and tries to push forward and break the rope but can’t. He sighs. Fade to black. Brian’s eyes open again. This time he quickly starts his engine and moves towards the gate faster than the last time and finally manages to snap the rope and break free. He crashes into the gate in an attempt to break through. The other boats are again moaning and shouting and the older boat Brian was conversing with wryly smiles. He tries to break the gate again and a few woodchips break away but after a couple of attempts he sighs and gives up. This sequence is intercut with scenes of Blue sleeping rough on the path where Brian used to sit. We then see one of the larger arrogant touring boats being moored in that space and that boats owner kicks out at Blue to get rid of him. Blue sadly walks away. Fade to black. We hear Blue’s “meow” as Brian’s eyes open again. A close up shot of the small hole in the gate Brian made during his last escape attempt reveals Blue carefully searching along the towpath outside the shed Brian is in. Brian’s eyes are now alert and assertive, Brian shouts: “Dennis!” The old boat next to him whispers: “Persistence my boy. That’s the ticket.” Brian says: “I see my friend. I’m going. Why don’t you come with me?” to which the old boat replies: “I’m too old for any more adventures. Besides these grumpy friends are ok once you get to know them. They’d be lost without me. You go. Go and live.” We hear an echo of the word: “Live” as, inspired by seeing Blue again, Brian successfully breaks through the gate. Blue is overjoyed to see his friend too and excitedly jumps into the water but quickly realises he can’t swim. Brian surges forward to try and help his friend and Blue manages to grab the rope dangling in the water and climb to safety just in time. Brian says to Blue: “You were right. I need to let go. I’m ready for whatever’s coming.” He then looks at Blue warmly and says: “As long as we’re together, I’ll be fine.” This scene will be scored by Friends. Blue smiles and jumps through the broken window and sits in his usual place as we see a man’s feet frantically running towards Brian to try and bring him back to the shed. Fade to black. A new day. As the sun rises we see a long shot of a canal leading into the open country with Brian chugging down the canal and Amsterdam fading into the distance. Brian says: “I’m scared”. Blue says: “Wherever we’re going, we’re going together.” Fade to black. During the darkness we hear noises of cutting wood with saws implying that Brian may be being cut up for spare wood. After a few tense seconds we fade up to see a man on a beach cutting up wood to make a surf board. Brian has been restored and is looking as good as the day he left the boatyard all those years ago. Maybe even better. He has a solar panel on his roof and a little wind turbine. We pan in from a distance (in a scene reminiscent of the last few seconds of The Shawshank Redemption when we see Andy working on his boat by the ocean). As we get closer we see that the man is wearing the pendant and is in fact, Carl, the Grandson of the original boat maker. He is working on a new surf board and has a few brand new surf boards leaning against Brian’s side implying that this is what he does for a living. We pan into the boat and see his teenage daughter dancing as she is cleaning up. Pride of place in her room is the old record player and collection of Beach Boys albums with the sleeve of Pacific Ocean Blue on her bed. This is her favourite album. As she hangs a set of Wind Chimes up she sees Blue and shouts to her Dad: “I think we’ve got a friend for life with this cat. Why don’t we call him Dennis?” Her Father agrees and we see Blue roll his eyes in a knowing way. “Ok, somehow”, he whispers to Brian, “you got your way”. Sometime later we see her in her bedroom looking at a photo of her Father as a younger man getting married to her Mother. We are not told what happened but it’s clear by her look of melancholy that it is now just her and her Father. This section will be scored by the following section of Wonderful. “She belongs there, left with her liberty, never known as a non-believer……she knew how to gather the forest when God reached softly and moved her body……one golden locket quite young……and loving her mother and father……” Slow fade. A new day. Very early morning. We see a long shot looking down a beach of the girl walking towards the waves with a surf board under her arm. This will be scored by the end section of Surf’s Up. We quickly cut to a close up of her riding the waves. Her face as she surfs is completely different to when she was looking at the photo of her parents. She is in a different world. She is happy, content and at peace. The last shot of the film is Brian and Dennis looking out to sea and also the girl’s Father, Carl watching her surf. Surfer Girl begins to play. Brian’s smile returns and this is the last shot we see. The End! If you would like to discuss this please email me at: robintetley@gmail.com. Alternatively, call me on (+44)7525 856413 Thankyou for taking the time to read. Published and © 2014 Robin Tetley. Dennis Wilson in Amsterdam in the Summer of 1972


Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master & Me!

The news that Philip Seymour Hoffman had died this last Sunday evening hit me really hard. I guess it was one of those: "you'll always remember where you were" moments. I was on the toilet. My wife and I had just finished watching Spike Jonze's film 'Her' and I was upstairs when Chelsea (my wife) shouted up to me: "Philip Seymour Hoffman has died". "What?" I shouted back in shock and disbelief. "What?" "What?" A few seconds of silence passed before my "whats?" turned into "fucks". "Fuck!" "Fuck!" I've never felt this way when somebody famous, somebody that I did not know, has died. It's been on my mind as to why this has upset and depressed me so much. He's always been one of my favourite actors but it felt much more than that. I could list my favourite performances by him and critique them the way I'm sure so many people have done and will do over the next few days but that would be rather predictable. Acting is an art form and anybody can admire and respect a piece of art for the obvious skill needed to create or portray but I think a character in a film has to genuinely touch an audience to rise above skill and become real. To transcend the art form it sits within. An audience member has to make a connection to a character within and in all of my favourite films this happens. Cinema is escapism and entertainment but when I watch a film I want to learn something about myself. To be inspired. To be changed because of the experience I've had. My favourite films are the ones in which I see myself. Or who I want to be. Paul Thomas Anderson's film: 'The Master' was one of my favourites of last year. Danny Leigh on Film 2013 said half the people who have seen it love it and half the people that have seen it hate it. A sign of a true masterpiece. Words to that effect anyway. I've recommended it to friends and family members who watched it and just didn't get anything from it. I've seen it maybe four times now and each time I do I see it slightly differently. That is like a complicated painting I see more in it the more I look. On the surface it's about a WWII veteran named Freddie (played stunningly by Joaquin Phoenix) struggling with issues and needing a place to fit in. He stumbles across a group led by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman's character) which may or may not be a church of early Scientologists and Dodd may or may not be based on L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology. What follows can be interpreted in many different ways each as valid as the next but for me it's about the relationship between man and religion. Or me and Christianity. I've struggled with many things during my 42 years here, many of these I see in Freddie. Anger, loneliness, frustration, lust, confusion and the desire to be accepted either by individuals, God or some kind of corporate entity. It's safe to say I relate to Freddie in 'The Master' and certainly not Lancaster Dodd. That said my ability to be able to manipulate on a whim for perceived reasons of self preservation and control is now fully apparent to me. I've always been about self exploration (hopefully) leading to positive change. Sometimes if you examine yourself and your motives you might not like what you see. I guess I'm a kind of recovering Christian. That's the best label I can think of if I have to put a label on it at all and I've constantly taken a lot of comfort from the communities I've been a part of. The majority of these I've felt have hurt or rejected me in some way leading me to question whether God is in fact real, a comfort blanket for those who need something to believe in or something in between. Or none of these assumptions. I've had and continue to have a lot of anger with the way I feel I've been treated by some of these communities and I'm certainly still working on that. I realise that when I was younger I may have felt like a victim the truth is I also often became a self fulfilling prophesy. Still, where I looked for acceptance and love I often felt rejected and hurt. What occurred to me just today is that the relationship between Freddie and Dodd is a reflection of my relationship with my issues. At the end of the film Freddie is where I am now. Kind of. Spiritually speaking. What Philip Seymour Hoffman did in his portrayal of Dodd is to help give me the ability to feel empathy and warmth for the bad experiences I've had and the people behind them. To humanise them rather than view them in some kind of corporate entity fashion which has made it easy to be angry at "the Church". To give a problem a face. A proud, arrogant, determined yet frail and flawed face allowing me to try and find forgiveness. At the risk of sounding like Yoda I believe forgiveness leads to healing and healing leads to wholeness. That's what I want. To live as rich and whole a life as I possibly can. So that's why I was so upset by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. His performance in 'The Master' has now become part of my experience and my journey. For that I'll forever be thankful. The world has been robbed of what surely would have been many more experiences like mine in characters he undoubtedly would have portrayed. Far worse though is the personal loss to his children, his family and his friends. What a terrible shame.


Pre-Oscar Thoughts (No Spoilers)

I'd like to thank the members of the academy for the screeners made so readily available. I'd like to thank God. I'd like to thank Ari Gold. But really, I just wanted to share a few Oscar thoughts ahead of tonight's Macfarlaganza! I've now seen most of the main contenders. The Master was my favourite of them all and is woefully under rated, under appreciated and mis/not understood. This blog casts alot of light on it but don't read it unless you've seen it because it definitely gives things away. Joaquin Phoenix should win the Oscar for best actor. This is probably the best performance I've ever seen. Daniel Day Lewis will probably take the award, which is fine by me. By the way would you like master cobbler Day Lewis to hand make you a pair of shoes? Go here. Getting back to best actor everybody (also Hugh Jackman and Denzel Washington) would be a deserving winner. Everybody except Bradley Cooper for the massively average Silver Linings Playbook. I don't understand why turning up, reading the script and wearing a bin bag is deserving of a best actor nomination. Best Actress I can't fully comment on as I haven't yet seen Amour or Beasts Of The Southern Wild yet. Jessica Chastain was great in Zero Dark Thirty and the one Silver Linings Playbook performance worthy of a nomination was Jennifer Lawrence. Helen Hunt in The Sessions was revealing in more ways than one and gave a stunning moving performance but she's been nominated in the best supporting actress category. Christoph Waltz I assume will win best supporting actor but I preferred Leo in Django. I'd be happy if Tommy Lee Jones wins for Lincoln but (surprisingly) Philip Seymour Hoffman should win for The Master. As should Amy Adams for best supporting actress for the same film although Anne Hathaway will win for Les Mis even if she was only in it for ten minutes. That's not a criticism though. As Danny Leigh recently said on Film 2013 she'll be winning for best musical performance and not best supporting actress. Robert De Niro is as sturdy as ever but even he didn't lift Silver Linings Playbook from the mediocre level it sits at. I know a few people have been overlooked for the best Director category (Tarantino, Afleck, Bigelow, Hooper) but Spielberg is as deserving as he ever has been for Lincoln. My choice would be Ang Lee for Life Of Pi. Finally best picture...I'm thinking...anything but Argo. It's not that it's not good, it's fine. But that's it. Again I'm yet to see Amour or Beasts but every other film nominated for best picture (not including Silver Linings Playbook) is better. I'd like Life Of Pi to win I think. Lincoln deserves to also. Zero Dark Thirty is much better than Bigelow's last film The Hurt Locker and infinitely better than Argo. For Les Mis I'd have preferred Tom Hooper to win best director (he was overlooked) as everything I loved about it was the way he shot it and the choice to have all of the singing live. Django is great but not perfect...it was twenty minutes too long and somebody should have told Tarantino not to put himself in it which almost ruined it...almost! I'd like Life Of Pi to win. The Master should have been nominated and is better than all of the films (that I've seen) nominated in this category. So to sum up, Silver Linings Playbook is massively average and not deserving of any nominations (except best actress for Jennifer Lawrence), Argo is massively over rated and quite flawed and The Master is hugely under rated. My film year kind of begins and ends with the Oscars and the only shame is that all of the best films are released between Sept/Oct and February. Still...it's nearly September...and Star Trek Into Darkness and Man Of Steel will help me get there again!



Where do you go when you've got nowhere left to go?

What do you do with the sober realisation that you're not the person you thought you would become? I guess these thoughts are to be continued.


Simone Felice - Glee Club - Nottingham - 2.5.12

I guess after going to hundreds of them, there are gigs and there are gigs. I have a habit of gushing somewhat after great gigs but after tonight I wanted to get something written before the reality of work, worry and life return in the morning. My wife had introduced me to The Duke & The King & Simone Felice a year or two ago and after attending a solo acoustic gig at Nottingham's Glee Club I was "on board" as they say. I love the duke and the king albums and after a few listens have started to connect with Simone's first solo album released a few weeks ago. We were both pretty sure some lovely friends of ours would enjoy the music so bought them tickets for there upcoming birthdays. I finished work at half six and after a sarcastic customer being upset and angry that I'd told him he was being sarcastic I wasn't in the best of moods. I also hate going straight out from work as I like to go home and change if possible to symbolically if not literally wash of the days stress. I was looking forward to the gig but hadn't thought too much about it. I've been listening to alot of Neil Young lately (never a bad thing) and Simi Stone (of The Duke & The King) opened her support set with a Neil Young song from the album I'd been listening to that very morning. If I was still a Christian I may have seen this as significant. Either way I certainly saw this as significant. Her honesty when engaging with the audience was just lovely. Unique. Wonderful. When Simone Felice came on stage with his band (including Simi) corny as it sounds I was transported to another place. Bruce Springsteen once said that music and sex should not be talked about but rather experienced and tonight was certainly an experience. Speaking as somebody that is constantly afraid of what others think of me and deeply fearful of rejection it was liberating to be in the presence of an artist who appeared to care not what the audience thought of him. Clearly we had all bought a ticket so an assumption that we all wanted to experience his music live goes without saying but still...I just felt pretty inspired by Simone's apparent freedom. Music will do that. Whether playing and being in a band as I've been privileged to be a few times or in the audience. I've heard alot about this "connection" between an artist and the audience and for somebody so jaded and cynical I remain forever hopeful to truly experience this. And I have...a few times...a U2 gig here or there...some of the Springsteen gigs I've been to...Kevin Prosch a few years ago...terry Callier in London about 15 years ago...and tonight. I was just hooked. Maybe it was the mood I was in. Maybe it was the sheer rawness and honesty of Simone's songs and lyrics or maybe it was just that strange mystical power of music but either way I felt a connection that I've possibly never felt before. For the majority of the gig I just had a huge smile on my face and after it was over with a couple of great tributes to the late great Levon Helm and a final performance of Neil Young's Helpless (performed perhaps best during The Band's Last Waltz concert) I just had to speak with Simone. This is where it gets potentially really cheesy but I care not. I just shook his hand after he signed a CD for another dear friend of mine, looked into his eyes and thanked him. I mean I've thanked people before and I've thanked people but this was a unique experience. A wonderful experience. I managed to hold back the tears and just held that hand for as long as I could and Simone had a knowing look in his eyes as I told him that this had been far more than just a gig. It had. That is all.


God, Not Christianity!

After having some kind of mid-life crisis for the last few months I've come to the conclusion that I have to believe in God, I just don't believe in Christianity anymore.

But that's a good thing.

A positive thing.

I think religion, all religion, at best, is man trying to make sense of things. If I'd been born in another country or culture where Christianity wasn't the religion or if I'd been born into a family of another faith I'd have still spent the last twenty years ripping that faith apart trying to find the needle of truth in the haystack of myth. It seems that's just the way I was made. I think perhaps I'm now beginning to come to terms with that.

So hopefully it's now out with the anger, the frustration and the hurt that my inherited and up to this point chosen faith has brought me and it's in with...well...who knows?

It seems a good place to start and Easter Sunday seems a good time to do it.