Image Credit: United Artists

The Writers Guild of America put Annie Hall at the top of their list of 101 funniest screenplays ever written. The movie beat Star Wars for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1977. Excerpts of it are shown in film making classes around the world. People quote Alvy’s jokes, dress like Annie, break the fourth wall in the same way, cite it as the prototype for all rom-coms, and still talk about it as their favourite movie of all time.

But there is a problem that many critics and fans of the movie face. They may love the film, but…


In the very first episode of Breaking Bad (2008) we see that Walter White is a sad passive man. He doesn’t live the life he wants. Nobody respects him, despite his intelligence, and he never stands up for himself or even for others.

Then everything changes. After his cancer diagnosis he becomes a man of action, a man who takes what he wants and fights back and shapes the world. He takes charge.

He takes charge in the bedroom too.

A man in diaper-like underpants. Could the theme of masculinity be made any more obvious? (image credit: AMC)

You see, before, when Walter was weak, his wife didn’t want to have sex with him, giving only an unsuccessful…


Sharing intimate moments in Begin Again (image credit: The Weinstein company)

I’m pretty close to my brothers. We’ve shared the ups and downs of our lives, and got angry and danced and laughed. I know them so well I can tell you what their opinion would be on almost anything without having to ask. Sometimes I think I know them better than they know themselves.

But I have absolutely no idea what they are like in bed.

That’s hardly surprising, of course. A normal person doesn’t sneak into his best friend’s bedroom to watch him and his wife.

That’s exactly my point though.

Even if you talk about your sex life…


Photo by diGital Sennin on Unsplash

For over two thousand years we have been talking about the stories we tell in terms of cause and effect. We see the hero or the villain taking action and we ask ‘why?’, we look to the cause. The Three Act Structure, well known to anyone who has ever read an article on film or narrative, is a cause and effect structure.

The premise of the Three Act Structure is that we trace the journey of our heroes through a logical progression of events, where every single story beat is the direct result of what happened before. When Marcus and…


Let’s start with a thought experiment. Imagine the 1977 classic Star Wars: A New Hope with a Black Han Solo, Luke Skywalker as an Asian woman, and Princess Leia as a man. Would the movie still be as good?

The answer is a clear yes. The themes, the fun, the excitement of that movie would not be changed one jot by different races or genders for any of its main or secondary characters. It would still be Star Wars, and it would still be fantastic.

(Image Credit: Columbia Pictures)

But here’s a second one. Imagine the 1991 Boyz n the Hood where the two…


The angel of death strikes Rome

Let me begin with a story from history. You may have heard it before.

In the second century AD, the Roman Empire was struck by a terrible disease. Known as the Antonine plague, it may have been smallpox or measles, and it brought the entire empire to a crashing, shattering, halt. In the city of Rome itself 2,000 people died every day; a death rate of 25% of those infected. Historians estimate the total deaths ranged up to 15% of the Empire’s population. Affected societies took almost a century to fully recover.

During this time, the people began to abandon…


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I’m making coffee. That deep smell of caramel and roast beans carves itself into my heart and memory. I love coffee, to sip and enjoy the taste of it, to sit and do nothing. A cup of joe, hot lava, caffeine, a wake me up shot. Coffee is part of so many stories, ever present, defining character, giving meaning to the little activities of life. I think that’s partly why I love it, because I do not drink it alone. Each cup is communal. …


The fish come to the surface of the water and splash in a misting rain. It’s dangerous for them. The seagulls gather and cry out as they dive and snap at a catch, and yet, the fish do it anyway, bursting up for a taste of the cold air, risking their lives for a moment’s pleasure. I don’t understand why.

Photo by JanFillem on Unsplash

You don’t normally see this many fish, or even so many birds. Sydney is never a quiet harbour, and, clean and blue as it is, the propellers of the ferries and the speedboats and the little engines of weekend yachts…

Thomas Westenberg

Creative, coffee drinker, living in Sydney. Postgrad degrees in Ancient History and Creative Writing

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