The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #72: “Batman” (1989)

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films and the first film that he remembers seeing in a cinema as a child: the 1989 film “Batman” directed by Tim Burton. Based upon the DC Comics character of the same name, “Batman” redefined not only the superhero genre of films but its depiction of the “Dark Knight” refined how people interpreted who the character is and it also examined the tragic psychological burdens that he daily suffers with which compel the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman to continuously decide to don the cowl and become a crime fighter and a symbol of justice within the occasionally uncivilised city of Gotham City. The film stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Kim Bassinger as Vicki Vale, Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, as well as several other great actors in memorable roles. “Batman”, like “Superman: The Movie” before it, changed how audiences saw superheroes and revitalized the potential of superhero movies with its relative realistic depiction of extreme characters, places, and situations mixed with thought-provoking storytelling, that would come to revitalize and inspire an entire generation to once again become enthralled by the character of the “Batman”.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #71: “Superman: The Movie” (1978)

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films: the 1978 superhero film “Superman: The Movie” directed by Richard Donner – written by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton – based upon the DC Comics character of the same name. The film stars an ensemble cast of phenomenonal actors, including: Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, Terence Stamp, and many others. The story of the film depicts the origin of Superman, his infacy, his youth in the rural town of Smallville, and while disguised as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent his double life, his bejourning romance with Lois Lane, and his battle against the diabolical villain Lex Luther. A favourite film of Mark’s since he was a child, “Superman: The Movie” has inspired him in so many ways over the course of his life – and now, just as when he was a child – whenever he watches the film again he once again believes in the possibility that a man could fly – as the tagine of the film accurately boasts.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #70: “Stand by Me” (film)

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films: the 1986 coming-of-age film “Stand by Me” directed by Rob Reiner, based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella ‘The Body’. Starring Wil Wheaton as Gordie LaChance (aged 12), River Phoenix as Chris Chambers, Corey Feldman as Teddy Duchamp, Jerry O’connell as Vern Tessio, and Keifer Sutherland as John ‘Ace’ Merrill, the story of “Stand by Me” revolves around four boys in 1959 Castle Rock, Oregon, who go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing boy. Richard Dreyfuss also stars as the older Gordie LaChance – who also serves as the film’s narrator – who after hearing of the tragic death of a childhood friend reflects back upon the memories and the unforgettable experiences that he shared with his friends during the Labor Day holiday weekend in 1959.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #69: “The Avengers” (2012)

In this Marvel Cinematic Universe themed episode Mark talks about the 2012 American superhero film “The Avengers” (also known as “Avengers Assemble” in the UK) – written and directed by Joss Whedon. In this ensemble film, which was the first to feature many prominent Marvel characters from other Marvel films who also featured within the pages of Marvel Comics over the decades, “The Avengers” brings together “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” to face off against a powerful interstellar threat lead by Thor’s brother Loki. Starring an all-star cast – including Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hiddelston – “The Avengers” paved the way for all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe to follow, and also showed that with great characters, great writing, great directing, great special effects, a truly epic superhero film could be produced that would become the benchmark for all others to follow.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #68: “Black Mirror” (TV series)

In this episode Mark talks about the British dystopian science fiction anthology TV series “Black Mirror” created by Charlie Brooker. Made up of standalone episodes (which are alluded to all take part within the same fictional narrative universe) each of which examine humanities ever-evolving and over-dependant relationship with ever more advanced forms of technology, and dramatises questions such as: to what end society may become influenced in the actions that they choose to make in the future because of the overabundance of technology. Often told with a dark and satirical tone, and often dealing with controversial and contemporary subject matters, each episode of the series explores who humanity is and why some people are motivated to do what they do no matter the cost to themselves.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #67: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films of the last few years: the 2019 comedy-drama film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film follows the fading career of character actor Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) as they navigate the changing film industry. Set against the backdrop of real life events – such as the real life murder of film actress Sharon Tate (played in the film by Margot Robbie) – the film perfectly interweaves events fiction and fact as it tells an alternative tale of what might have been if Charles Manson and his followers had not been allowed to carry out their psychopathic and murderous acts. Featuring a star-studded cast and a memorable soundtrack, the film also serves as a tribute to cinema, television, and the golden age of Hollywood.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #65: “Captain America: The First Avenger”

In this Marvel themed episode Mark talks about the 2011 American Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superhero film “Captain America: The First Avenger” directed by Joe Johnston and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, starring Chris Evans the title character Captain America/Steve Rogers. Set during World War II, the film is an origin story for the title character as well as the starting off point for several familiar characters whose importance within the overall story of the “Infinity War saga” of the MCU would grow as more films were produced and as the interconnectness of the story being told was more fleshed-out. The film also stars Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, Hugo Weaving as Johann Schimdt/Red Skull, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, Tommy Lee Jones as Chester Philips, Stanley Tucci as Abraham Erskine, as well as many other great actors who give phenomenonal performances as memorable characters.

Rest In Peace, David Bowie (a tribute)

On January 10, 2016, I wrote a poem called “Always the Starman” dedicated to the late great David Bowie who died on that very day in 2016 – and I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard of his untimely passing, and I can still remember being immediately inspired to mark the memory of one of the most famous and celebrated music artists of the 20th Century – and two days later I published the poem that I wrote on my blog for all the world to read so that they may get a sense of just how inspirational David Bowie was and still is.

Not long after David Bowie’s death, I remember that I was writing a new short story called “The Man In Black” about this mysterious character – who I didn’t truly know the identity of, nor why they were so mysterious… all I knew at that point was that whoever they were they dressed all in black, they had mysterious and powerful gifts that enabled them to appear one minute and disappear the next, they could bring animals and perhaps people back to life, and they may or may not be some kind of angel or some other supernatural being. And something else that I knew immediately was that whoever this mysterious “man in black” was he also bore an uncanny resemblance to the late great David Bowie, as some sort of tribute to him. But that was it. I originally intended to include my short story “The Man in Black” in my 2016 short story collection “Too Close To The Sun”, however for some reason I held it back… and to this day I still do not know why, what, or who stopped me from doing so – but I am so glad that they did, because from that first story there followed others that featured the same “Man in Black” who at times was known to white also depending upon when you met him. And slowly but surely I wrote more and more, until I finally found myself with seven short stories that explored who the “Man in Black/Man in White” was and why he did what he did. And to this day the stories of my short story collection “Playing God” still remain close to my heart, because within them are characters who I know and who I recognise: characters in need of being saved by a hero, a friend, a rebel, an angel, a god dressed all in black, and sometimes dressed all in white – someone who we would all wish would pay us a visit and heal the world of the present from what we are currently being plagued by.

I wrote my original poem “Always the Starman” and “The Man in Black”, the first story of my book “Playing God”, as a personal tribute to David Bowie – but the more stories that I wrote about this mysterious man who looked and sounded just like David Bowie, I also found myself uncovering many different sources of inspiration – from ancient Greek mythology to the daily torments that some people have to deal with – and I also found myself learning more about why I love writing so much: that thrill of exploration and discovery that I find every time I embark upon a writing challenge that I know will take me to places that I never imagined I would ever venture to. And that is what it is so enthralling and exciting about being a writer and an author of fiction: you never know where it is going to take you.

I will always be eternally grateful to the late great David Bowie for his music, for his creativity, and for the gift of inspiration that he gave to me – which coalesced over time into becoming a book of stories written in tribute to him, but also a tribute to hope, optimism and the gift of life that we are all blessed with which we all sometimes take for granted.

Rest in peace, David Bowie

“David Bowie” by Derren Brown

8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

The M H Experience – Episode #59: “Playing God – The Man in Red”

Hi everyone!

This Christmas I wanted to do something special. This Christmas, more so than any Christmas, I wanted to share something that might entertain and also inspire people with a feeling of hope – as I always hope to do wherever I write something, whenever I publish something, or whenever I record an episode of my podcast. So, this year, I decided to record a recitation of me reading my short story “The Man in Red” from my 2018 book “Playing God” which is a story set around Christmas time and features the main protagonist of all the stories within: the “Man in Black” performing somewhat of a Christmas miracle for a young man in need.

So, I hope you enjoy this special Christmas themed episode of my podcast The Mark Hastings Experience and I hope everybody has a very Merry Christmas! 😊 🥳🎄🎊🎋