Le petit lapin de Optimus Prime

If you ever have the opportunity to ask Jimmy Hay out for a pint then I urge you to not to be shy. Just ask him. He’ll most likely say yes, particularly if you are buying, and you’ll have a good time. I envy Jimmy his gentle charm and ability to put everyone immediately at their ease whether they be friends, strangers or animals. This is why Jimmy is very much the “public face” of the Long Arm. I just stand awkwardly in corners and check my phone for want of any decent conversation. In the time it takes me to get through a few stumbling pleasantries Jimmy will have noted down your contact details, passed you a few words of Westcountry wisdom about an area of your life to which you hadn’t really given much thought but you know, he’s really got a point, and then you will have found yourself offering him your daughter’s hand in marriage. Not that you have a daughter. But perhaps you could persuade a colleague to borrow theirs and then offer her.

Jimmy is just that sort of guy.

But let me just offer a few cautionary words. Once you’ve got a couple of pints and a few bags of nuts into the evening, don’t make the mistake of asking him about his thoughts about the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Now you may think that this is unlikely, you may think that you have a sufficient cache of witty observations and pithy anecdotes gleaned from your not inconsiderable years on the earth – what about that time Richard Fletcher fell through the window or when Kate Parsons put ice down your pants (which you secretly enjoyed) or that time in the Lake District when you saw a radically different side to Sophie Banks and indeed found a radically different use for shaving foam? Or maybe you could pass the time asking Jimmy for tips about belt selection and their fashionable integration into the modern wardrobe? And believe me he will have things to say on this matter. Serious things.

But don’t rule out the possibility that during the inevitable lull after the third pint of the evening that you might blurt out – SO JIMMY TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT FRENCH PHILOSOPHER GILLES DELEUZE. Even though you’ve never heard of him and are immediately suspicious of his motives because he is French.

You will know that you’ve asked the question because the pub will suddenly fall into a Spaghetti Western-style silence and all eyes will immediately drop floor-wards. The atmosphere will be thick with anticipation. The sense of waiting will hang heavy in the air like a pre-ban cigarette smog next to the gents. And then Jimmy’s eyes will narrow like a Film Studies John Wayne, his fingers will twitch at his side and just like Lucky in Waiting for Godot when the hat is placed on his head. He will ORATE:

According to Deleuze, the break-down in the sensory-motor schema – of logical, cause-and-effect thinking and movement – led to the inception in Europe of a new form of cinema that he termed the time-image. The time-image presented an alternative to the dominant movement-image cinema, which is defined by action and the ability of protagonists to react to their situations and act in such a way that alters and ultimately drives the narrative forward. The movement-image – that Deleuze associated predominantly with classical narrative cinema – emphasises forward progression, professional achievement, conflict and competition, heroic characters and uplifting conclusions. It is a cinema driven by capitalist ideology.

And you’ll try to run. But running is useless. Jimmy will follow. His eyes blazing, his intelligence burning like the fires of some scarcely imagined Hades and he will talk, he will talk and he will talk and he will talk . . .

I’ll stop at this point. I am just joshing. Jimmy’s a bright guy and his elucidation of Deleuze’s ideas is actually very interesting. The premise is simple (or at least Jimmy has rendered it such for my meagre brain to compute):

The movement-image – that Deleuze associated predominantly with classical narrative cinema – emphasises forward progression, professional achievement, conflict and competition, heroic characters and uplifting conclusions. By contrast, the cinema of the time-image privileges time over movement. The time-image is not concerned with the causal or rational progression of images. Images are freed from the pressure of narrative continuity and are allowed to exist in isolation. The time-image represents a cinema of inaction, of characters wholly lacking in agency, unwilling or unable to subscribe to an incessantly progress-driven capitalist model of existence.

Time-image cinema. It is a beautiful, beguiling thought. A film that allows space for images to simply exist, exist as loaded, fulsome and profound, or profane, but with no obligation to fulfil narrative function. Jimmy can provide you some examples should you wish to pursue your studies. The opening images of our film Sliced were very much in debt to this idea. Not that anyone really noticed.

Anyway, all our film ideas now have to pass a strict DELEUZE TEST before they can become logged in the official Long Arm Ideas Book (which Jimmy keeps next to his loo). If there is too much narrative cogency then they will be rejected no matter the context or content.

To this end we recently pitched for the gig as screenwriters on the new Transformers film. It took a lot of work to get a script into shape but I think we’ve given it a good shot. We’ve heard nothing back yet but these people are really busy so we’re still hopeful. I shouldn’t make any of this public yet but I think I may just give you a peek at the opening scene. Just don’t sell it to anyone. Please. This really could be our shot at the big time. So here goes.

TITLE:

TRANSFORMERS: LE PETIT LAPIN DE OPTIMUS PRIME

SCENE 1:

LONG STILL SHOT OF A CRUMBLING PARISIAN TOWER BLOCK IN 1968. AFTER FIVE MINUTES (AT LEAST) A CAT PASSES AND THEN PISSES NEXT TO THE FRONT DOOR.

SCENE 2:

A THREADBARE APARTMENT INTERIOR. THERE IS A OLD CHAISE-LONGUE, AN OVERFLOWING ASHTRY AND NOTHING ELSE.

WE STARE AT THE ROOM FOR TEN MINUTES.

SUDDENLY THE CHAISE-LONGUE TRANSFORMS INTO OPTIMUS PRIME THE LEADER OF THE AUTOBOTS. HE FUMBLES IN HIS CORDS FOR A PACKET OF CAMELS, LIGHTS ONE WITH A FLAMETHROWER AND INHALES DEEPLY AS HE STARES OUT OF THE WINDOW.

OPTMUS PRIME
Mon dieu. Such are the vagaries of contemporary existence I feel I cannot adequately express the fundamental truths about leading an army of massive transforming robots in an seemingly endless war against those bastard Decepticons. It’s like really, really tedious.

HE FINISHES THE CIGARETTE AND TAKES ANOTHER ONE FROM THE PACKET. HE LIGHTS IT WITH A MACHINE GUN.

SUDDENLY THE ASHTRAY TRANSFORMS INTO MEGATRON, THE EVIL LEADER OF THE REALLY EVIL DECEPTICONS WHO ARE REALLY EVIL ALL THE TIME.

MEGATRON
So you’re there.

OPTIMUS PRIME
Am I? Are you?

MEGATRON
Perhaps.

OPTIMUS PRIME
You’re not smoking.

MEGATRON
I AM smoke. I will be king.

OPTIMUS PRIME
What?

MEGATRON
Exactly. That’s exactly the problem.

OPTIMUS PRIME
Merde.

TWENTY MINUTES ELAPSE. NEITHER ROBOT MOVES.

OPTIMUS PRIME
Did you eat my little rabbit you metal bastard?

MEGATRON
Pate. With an “e” acute. I put him in. The. Pate.

OPTIMUS PRIME
I will destroy you.

MEGATRON
I am. Already destroyed.

A VERY SMALL MERCURY TEAR CREEPS DOWN THE FACE OF MEGATRON. OPTIMUS PRIME CONTINUES TO SMOKE.

TWENTY FIVE MINUTES ELAPSE.

MEGATRON
Fancy a snog?

CUT TO BLACK.

Pretty thrilling stuff hey? No wonder we are excited. Once we get High Tide in the can we’ll be on a plane to California to negotiate our MASSIVE fee. Just need that  phone to ring. Any day now. Any day . . . . .

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