Guide: How to Have A Festival Experience Without Leaving Your House: An Experts* Guide

It’s the weekend and we all know what that means – it’s paaaaaarty time! Don’t let enforced confinement be a Debbie downer, I’m here to show you that while Glasto may be off, you can still have an authentic British festival experience without ever leaving your flat.

Step 1: Getting There
You can keep it traditional and use a large camping rucksack, or go rogue and take some kind of wheeled-suitcase scenario. As no one is actually going to see you, you won’t be subject to the looks of scorn/amusement/dersion that would normally haunt you as you drag it, mud-caked and heavily sweating, through the 8th field. Once you’ve loaded yourself up you basically just need to tramp up and down your hallway for approximately 40 minutes or until one of your shoulders is glowing red from the Ikea bag straps cutting in, because you couldn’t decide if you should bring boots or trainers or both and so have 5 pairs of shoes with you. Normally you would have had at least a couple of cheeky cans in the car on the way there, so technically, you’re behind. In an effort to catch up, be sure to drink continuously throughout your hallway voyage and do not stop to go to the toilet even if you are desperate. Feeling like you might piss yourself is an integral part of any festival journey!

Step 2: Setting up camp
Now, obviously you’re in your house where (I can only assume) you already have a bed, so you may be tempted to skip this bit, but you really would be missing out on a wonderful part of the experience: pitching the tent. It’s best to find a patch of floor where there isn’t quite enough space so you bash into furniture as you wrestle with tent poles, nearly poke someone in the eye, and trip over a lot. Once the tent is assembled and you’ve piled all your stuff inside, have a heated argument with someone (housemate, pet, stuffed animal etc) about your bad choice of tent door direction that you are too lazy to now do anything about.

Step 3: Heading out
I hope it goes without saying that you should have been guzzling down your choice of tepid beer/cider throughout the entirety of the tent uprising, and have now ascended to the higher plane of consciousness known as ‘tipsy’. As it’s only the first night of the fezzie there won’t be much on, but you may as well head out and get your bearings. Wander aimlessly from room to room for a couple of hours, pausing to watch half an hour of a very average improv show on youtube, and some kind of dad disco garden shed set. Keep the door of the biggest room, or as I like to call it, the ‘main stage’, shut – that doesn’t open until tomorrow!
Give up around 11pm, reminding yourself that it is a marathon, not a sprint. Stagger back to your roomtent realising how drunk you are, and then realising you have been drinking for 9 hours straight. Luckily for you it is much, much harder to get into the wrong tent, when there are no other tents. Another win for Flatfest! What a great weekend this is already shaping up to be eh? Before getting into your tent, be sure to find a four hour psy-trance playlist on Spotify and put it on a portable speaker positioned approx 1.5 metres from your head. Ideally also open the window and turn your heating off so it’s fucking freezing. To counter this, you should put on every single item of clothing you bought with you, but just know you will wake up dripping in sweat and with feet akin to burning coals. Goodnight!
Day 1
Wake up and immediately start drinking. This is very important and (like with so many other things now) time is irrelevant. Let the smell of one of your co-habitants cooking bacon waft over you, as you sadly eat 3 x frankfurter sausages from a can and curse past you for eating all the good snacks. Spend the next 2-3 hours ‘getting ready’ which in this context means: trying on every outfit you bought with you, making cocktails, spilling cocktails, trying to mop up cocktails before they get inside your sleeping bag, repeatedly losing and finding your stuff within the square metre of your tent, and making more cocktails. Once you’ve got bored of that, announce “shall we head in and check it out” to no one in particular. Repeat every 15 minutes for an hour.

Now this bit will take some imagination on your part, but using whatever technology is available to you, set up live streams / mixes / concert recordings to play from different devices in each room. You could cheat by only putting on artists you actually like, but to retain the authenticity of the experience I would advise putting on a mixture of things you feel like, hate, and have never heard of, in disparate genres and at varying volumes. You can put on something you love, as long as it’s at the same time as the one other thing you love, but in the room furthest away, so you can dash between them. Ideally all of the noises will coagulate in a lovely sound clash and create a transcendent sound bath** experience in the hallway.

Roam from room to room, drinking heavily. Whenever you need the toilet, wait outside the door for at least 10 minutes before going in. You could also try a cup wee. Maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to have a go at but were too nervous out in the fields? And you did say you were going to use this time to learn new skills… This is your time to shine! Probably don’t let your housemates see, though, especially if they don’t already know about Flatfest. They will definitely think isolation has pushed you over the edge, and probably also make you buy a new cup.

Additional fun festival activities can include but are not limited to: 

  • Shouting out random names to see if anyone answers. You can switch this up with just chanting the same name over and over again, or just use random words. There doesn’t need to be a reason why.
  • If anyone answers to any of the names, celebrate wildly. Obviously this is less likely to happen if it’s just you in your flat, but you could have a go shouting names at characters on the TV instead and see if you get any of those right? #isolationhacks
  • Facetime random contacts in your phone. Virtually recreate awkwardly bumping into them in a field. Make polite small talk while desperately scrabbling in the sloshy recesses of your mind to work out who the fuck they are. (Except this is much weirder, because you’ve facetimed them at 3pm on a Friday afternoon during a global pandemic, off your face and pretending you’re at a festival in your kitchen.)
  • Order some niche world food that you would never normally eat, like paella or churros, to be delivered. If possible, pay twice what you want to for it.
  • Turn on aeroplane mode and try desperately to call/text/whatsapp your friends with no signal.
  • Pretend to overhear someone saying their sisters’ boyfriends’ mate tours with Radiohead and they are playing a surprise set at 5pm down the Rabbit Hole. Spend the next 2 hours trying to find the Rabbit Hole before dismissing it as unfounded rumour.
  • Recreate the waltzers by spinning really fast in alternative directions while turning in a circle until you want to puke.
  • Name the rooms in your house fun quirky things like “the wizards willy” and “pineapple shakedown” so when you run into your housemates/irritated spouse/small children and they ask you what you’re doing, you can confidently answer “just heading through the sunflower field to Dobby’s Castle Party to catch Baaaa-llerina Boogie’s 3 hour disco sheep ballet workshop” etc
  • Change your outfit 4-6 times per day, in increasingly bizarre combinations. Ideally you would have themed Flatfest in advance, and created specific costumes for each day and theme. Come on, what else do you have on?
  • Lose all of your things again.
  • Pretend to overhear someone raving about the amazing once-in-a-lifetime unmissable Radiohead set you missed and swear violently.

Once it is dark outside you should keep all the lights off inside too, especially in the bathroom. Navigate your way by the stars/your phone torch. Head back to the tent so that you can get changed and do your make up in the dark. Make yourself up a hideously strong bottle of spirit and mixer and head back ‘out’. For added danger, mix your drink in total darkness.

By about 3/4am you should be jumping on the sofa blasting Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”, simultaneously feeling a bit sick and like this is the best night of your life. Call a random acquaintance and tell them how much you love them and that you’ll always be there for them. Find a novelty party hat from somewhere and use the Houseparty app to drunkenly make friends with strangers. Continue drinking until you are sick on your shoes. Stumble back to your tent for the crack on! Spend the next 3 hours chatting top quality shit. It doesn’t really matter if you’re by yourself for this bit as no one would be listening to you either way. Eventually pass out fully clothed, party hat askew.

Day 2
Repeat Day 1, but with less enthusiasm and a hideous hangover.
Day 3
It’s sloshy Sunday, baby! You should smell a bit funky, look like shit, and feel slightly unhinged from barely bothering to sleep for 3 days. The great thing is, as you’re actually still in your house and not at a festival, no one else can see how disgustan’ you currently are. Eat half a pack of plain digestive biscuits while staring blankly into the abyss. Wash down your dry, dry mouth with a big gulp of water. The water was straight gin. Dry heave out your tent porch. Deliberately let your phone die so you can’t text your friends and find out where they are. As you’re in isolation and can’t see them anyway this won’t be as annoying as usual, so that’s another positive.

At this stage I would strongly recommend cracking out a box of red wine (sweet precious), putting on your comfiest sparkly leggings, and lying on the floor listening to readings of Letters Live, sobbing quietly at the really emotional ones. Alternatively, try to have a nap whilst feeling guilty for not ‘making the most’ of the festival. As the sun sets, it’s time for the final push! You’re really tired and can’t be bothered, but you force yourself to change and start half heartedly drinking the paltry remains of your booze supply, which is now Tesco basics vodka with flat tonic and squash. Luckily everything shuts early on a Sunday, so after a final limp boogie, you crawl back to your tent and collapse into your sleeping bag, grateful that tomorrow you can go home and sleep in your nice clean bed after the easiest journey home ever!

*depending on your definition of expert

**I do not know what sound baths are

Originally published on my wonderful friend Dulcie‘s blog That Festival Life

Comment: Tampon Tax Finally Abolished

Woman's hand holding a clean cotton tampon

Guess what lads? It’s good news for our purses AND our vaginas as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced last week that the ‘tampon tax’ will finally be abolished.

The tampon tax, for the uninitiated, is a 5% VAT charge placed on items deemed ‘luxury’ or ‘non-essential’. You know, all those silly little things us girls buy, that only stem the monthly flow of blood from our uteruses, enabling us to go to work without staining office chairs and stuff like that. Sweet luxury!

It’s been a long old road to get here (and by ‘here’, I mean January 2021, when the tax will actually be abolished), given that women started to campaign against the tax over 20 years ago. Initially set at a hideous 17.5%, Labour MP Dawn Primarolo successfully got it reduced down to 5% – but that’s still 5% more than we should have had to pay.

In 2014 student Laura Coryton, launched the Stop Taxing Periods campaign, which amassed 320,000 signatures and led to a budget amendment by Labour MP Paula Sherriff. The amendment was successfully passed in March 2016, but because we are bound by EU rules and no member states can revise VAT allocations without the EU’s permission, this has meant we can’t lose the tax until we officially leave the EU on the 31st December 2020 (sob).

After an outcry from many (you guessed it) women, in 2015 the tampon tax was turned into the Tampon Tax Fund, which the government promised to distribute among ‘projects that improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls’. It was then discovered that the organisations that were receiving these funds included Life, an anti-abortion charity.

As well as opposing abortion and therefore women’s abilities to make decisions about what happens with their own bodies, Life also opposed the expansion of sex education in primary schools. As Diana Johnson, another Labour MP (is it just me or are they the only ones getting things done around here?), put it: “This money would be much better spent on women’s organisations which truly reflect the values of this fund to empower and support women to make decisions about their lives, rather than an organisation that actively promotes restricting women’s choices.”

It’s currently unclear if the fund will continue once the tax has been abolished, but campaigners are calling on the government to continue investing in organisations that are working to help women. As the fund was only created a few years ago, there’s an estimated £700 million that had already been paid in ‘tampon taxes’ before it was set up, which the CEO of Plan International UK, Rose Caldwell, said it was ‘only fair’ to give to life saving women’s charities.

In case, like me, you were wondering what our government does deem ‘essential’, I had a little look. Alcoholic jelly. Playing bingo. Helicopters. Exotic meats. Caravans. Betting. Jaffa cakes. Antiques. Lottery tickets. Private jet maintenance. Look, I can and will eat an entire packet of jaffa cakes without stopping to breathe, but I don’t know if I would classify any of these things as ‘useful’, let alone ‘essential’. Period poverty is still a very real issue in the UK, with 10% of young girls aged 14-21 unable to afford the products they need.

To dive a little deeper, the items that fall under the same ‘health’ categorisation as sanitary items include low vision aids and incontinence products. Both have a 0% VAT rate, whilst maternity pads and sanitary protection are set at 5%. It’s almost as if all of these decisions were made by people that could not become pregnant, or have periods. Oh, wait…

So there we have it; the world is still an unequal, shitty place, where women continue to earn less and pay more. But what about those ‘tampon tax’ savings? Well, it’s estimated that over the course of her lifetime, the average woman will save around £40, which roughly translates to 500 Jaffa cakes. See you later, I’m off to Tesco.

Originally published on Shift Magazine

Comment: Celebrating International Women’s Day 2019

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 22.55.35
As in the last few years, all day this International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March, my social media channels overflowed with posts by many of the wonderful women and men that I know/have-never-met-but-monitor-intently-on-the-internet, seizing upon the opportunity to shout out to the females they love, admire and respect: celebrities, icons, historical figures, friends, mothers, sisters, daughters and workplace proximity colleagues.

I, too, fully intended to post one of these effusive woozy love letters, broadly encapsulating my many (endless!) positive feelings about the magical women I know. But I had a busy day at work, and I kept putting it off. It got to 11.58pm and I still hadn’t done anything, and I felt I couldn’t let the day pass me by with nary a mention. In a panicked fluster I ended up posting, alongside an embarrassingly generic “Happy International Women’s Day to my ladiessss” style caption, a picture, not even of my fabulous friends but in fact of…myself. That’s right. International Women’s Day 2K19, deeply entrenched in fourth-wave feminism, and I just thought I’d take the time to witness…me.

My snap decision has been bothering me ever since. I started to wish I had done a quick google image search for an iconic Frida Kahlo shot, or looked for a pithy Gloria Steinem quote. And then I started to question where this impulse to post something was coming from, and who I wanted to post it for? And then I started to look around me, and I saw myself surrounded by posts and campaigns and promotions and gestures that had absolutely nothing to do with gender equality, which I was pretty sure was what IWD was meant to be all about.

So I looked some more. For context, a (very) quick history lesson: International Women’s Day has existed, in one guise or another, since the Socialist Party of America held a ‘National Woman’s Day’ on the 28th February 1909. By the 19th March 1911 it had built momentum, and over a million women came together to rally in solidarity. Then in 1914 Germany decided to switch things up so moved to the 8th March, the date stuck, and we have celebrated IWD on that glorious date ever since. Between then and now, it has grown and developed in many, many stages (read more about the evolution here). Throughout its hundred year history one thing had remained the same; the purpose of International Women’s Day was to fight for and promote equal rights for all women.

Seemingly in the last few years, this purpose has become a little lost. Thanks to the expansive social and cultural awakening that exploded upon us following the “Me Too” movement, IWD was celebrated by more people than ever before this year, and that cannot be anything other than great. But (much like the first time I saw the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’, expecting a horror film, and was instead confronted by Tim Curry singing in lingerie) there is a muddied confusion about why it is happening.

I want to be clear that I think that all of the posts recognising and highlighting women’s achievements are vitally important, and raising awareness of the incredible things women have achieved is a wonderful use of the power of social media. But these shouldn’t be reactionary posts on a specific named day. The world would be a much kinder and happier place if we all took the time more often to turn to those we love, and express to them the joy they bring us. The outpouring on social media is one of the ways the true meaning of the day has become distorted, and it is too easy to dish out online affection to our nearest and dearest and somehow feel like we’ve contributed to the global movement of IWD, while serving only ourselves.

Of course, the much, much bigger problem is not us taking a moment for a cute if somewhat extraneous appreciation post, but rather the way that countless businesses and brands have taken it upon themselves to ham-fistedly re-purpose IWD as a marketing tool, no matter how irrelevant their product or how problematic their advertising history or company ethics. These clumsy advertising tactics were everywhere, being carried out by companies local right through to global. Some of them were sweet, or well intentioned. Some of them were delicious but patronising, like the doughnuts my friends boss bought for the companies female employees (sorry about the gender pay gap, will this Krispy Kreme fill the hole?). Some of them were jaw-droppingly irrelevant, like this series of Budweiser ads from the 50’s that have been re-imagined to show the ‘modern woman’. Like, look, ladies, it’s finally ok for us to stay in and order takeaway by ourselves! We can even have the girls over for some beers! We’re not incomplete without men as long as we have pet dogs who can love us! (Side note: I don’t have time right now to get into the fact that the ‘modern’ Budweiser poster girl is still slim and white with idealistic beauty standard features, but I see you Budweiser, and your Budweiser Girls).

I’d be here all day if I started listing the brands that the above applies to. The Drum have done a handy round up and I’m sure you won’t have trouble finding literally thousands more, especially once you start playing by the rules of Katie Martell’s ‘femvertising’ litmus test. On the flip side, there are also many examples of companies that have really thought about their campaigns, and are trying to make a positive contribution. Given that in December of last year the World Economic Forum said it would take 202 YEARS for the gender pay gap to close, we need all the help we can get.

So as always the question remains, what do we do? Do we boycott these brands? Do we need to start researching company ethics before making purchases? Where do we find time in our already packed schedules for that? And how do speed up the journey to the place where International Women’s Day can actually be a celebration of the equal rights we hold with men, not just the name of one day a year in our ongoing crusade? I’m sorry to say I don’t have these answers (all tips welcome). As is clear, I am still very much working out how to use the power and privilege available to me, to make change in the most effective way I can, starting by questioning more closely the things I post and the motivations behind them. For today at least, I’m going to forgive myself my rushed Instagram moment, give Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s We Should All Be Feminists another read before passing it on to my friend’s doughnut-giving boss, and redouble my efforts to encourage and highlight the incredible women around me all of the time. Because as we all already know, every day should be International Women’s Day.

Originally posted on WXMB 2

Review: Alfresco Disco – Buoyancy

alfresco buoyancy

After the success of last year’s Buoyancy boat party, Bristol party collective Alfresco Disco once again transported their gleeful approach to the good ship Balmoral.

Setting off from the Cumberland Basin docks, we charted a course up through the River Avon with a 400 strong crew of revellers basking in the sun and sea breeze. As always with an Alfresco party, the crowd were dressed to impress. Unsurprisingly, a strong nautical theme was prevalent – going by headwear, the Balmoral may be the most heavily captained ship ever to take to water.

The Alfresco residents kept the upper deck heaving as Tom Hodgson, Luke Turner, Justin Gettings, Frankie Mann and Justin Credible took turns on the decks. A relaxed, Balearic vibe was explored to begin with, before the tunes took a left turn into luscious disco. Below deck, things were slightly darker both visually and in terms of the soundtrack. The second room, aka the cabin bar, sent forth stormy house and techno, reflecting the rising winds outside in a sonic turn of pathetic fallacy.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you put a load of people on a boat and get them wasted two things will happen; boys will piss over the side and everyone will get wildly excited about bridges. With each bridge we passed, the cheering became louder, reaching a euphoric pitch by the time we crossed under the Severn Bridge, much to the bemusement of those on nearby vessels. Although we were sadly missing the unfortunate tourist that accidentally found himself aboard the Balmoral last year (under the impression he was going on a pleasant cruise around the harbour), we could get our own tourist fix from the below board souvenir shop, where postcards and magnets were flying off the shelves at the same velocity as tinnies of Red Stripe.

After several hours of sailing and dancing, the first part of the voyage came to an end as the boat pulled in to Clevedon Pier. Piling on the party buses, the crowd were transported to out-of-town venue Factory Studios where the Alfresco gang hosted an afterparty with more DJs and a BBQ. But having been swept away with naval excitement and three sheets, at this point it was time for me to abandon ship early.

Originally published online for Crack Magazine

Review: Alfresco Disco – Rave of the Decade Part 2

Alfresco disco rave 2

If you’re going to throw a party and call it the ‘Rave of the Decade’, you’d better be ready to deliver. If you’re going to smash it out of the park and then a year later throw ‘Rave of the Decade: Part 2’… you’d better be ready to vault the bar you’ve already raised.

Alfresco Disco’s parties are inspired by the free rave 90s culture, with Rave of the Decade Part 2 explicitly referencing “the early Sunrise parties that changed everything”. That’s all well and good but when you’re boarding a bus at 2pm on a murky grey Saturday afternoon, you might need a little time to warm up.

Decked out in our finest ‘nineties’ gear – or the approximation of it that comes from a quick Google and a few lost hours on glowmania.co.uk – we pile on the assembled fleet of buses. Events immediately turn raucous and the Alfresco monitors have their work cut out, especially when the drive (billed as a 20 minute journey) takes more like an hour due to heavy traffic. Excitement builds to the extent that our top deck treat passing drivers to a round of mooning in order to let off some good-natured energy.

Eventually we pull into what appears to be a large farmyard and are greeted with the sight of a big wheel and a barn full of revellers who look to be getting proceedings well under way. Further exploration reveals that two large barns form Rooms 1 and 2, with a hidden ‘chill out room’ over the way full of comfy air seats playing host to a 7 hour set from TRI3E. Despite the double whammy of Dirtytalk residents in Room 1 and Stamp the Wax in Room 2 I can’t resist the lure of the rides where, full disclosure, I spend a lot of time and most of my money as the day progresses.

By now the Alfresco Disco DJs are heating things up in both rooms, and as the light begins to fade outside we start to feel more illicit. The treats keep on coming with both Marshall Jefferson and Luke Solomon on the decks in Room 1 before DJ Die closes down Room 2 with an old school hardcore set, bringing things to a glow stick waving, whistle blowing, foot stomping conclusion.

Piling back on the buses with significantly less energy than the inward journey, everyone is shattered but content. A rave of the decade (part 2) was promised, and for the second time in as many years, that’s what Alfresco delivered.

Originally posted online for Crack Magazine

Review: Midnight Special

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

2/10
Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher

Midnight Special is a film for people that like questions. Not questions with  answers, but just…questions. Streams of unanswered, possibly unanswerable, questions. The basic layout is: Roy (Shannon) goes on the run with his son, Alton (Lieberher), who has superpowers (What superpowers? Never mind). They need to get to a certain place at a certain time (Why? Doesn’t matter). Lucas (Edgerton) and Sarah (Dunst) are along for the ride. Then some weird guys from the creepy “Ranch” they used to live on (What? We’ll explain later. Not.) and also the FBI are after them. Cue high-speed chase, dramatic shootout, near-disaster/recovery, and emotional climax followed by paradoxically sad yet uplifting ending.

Midnight Special feels like a film that had a lot of potential, once, a long time ago, when a stoned guy came up with it in a basement. Now it’s gone through the Hollywood machine and come out a discoherent, punctured, grasping mess. I mean, I thought Joel Edgerton was pretty good. They gave Bill Camp’s electrician/henchman character a couple of decent lines. The relationship between Alton and Roy has its moments. Apart from these few redeeming features, Midnight Special is just a black hole of time and money.

Originally published in Crack Magazine

Review: Hail, Caesar!

hail caesar

7/10
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson

George Clooney a drugged up Roman soldier? Scarlett Johansson a lairy mermaid? Channing Tatum tap dancing in a tight, white, sailor boy outfit? The latest Coen Brothers’ takes audiences on a joyous, star-filled romp through the Golden Age of Hollywood. Part brilliant celebration, part gleeful mockery and highly self-referential, Hail, Caesar! keeps things light and is at its’ core a love poem to the bizarre absurdities of the film industry. Josh Brolins’ Eddie Mannix is the eye of the storm as head fixer for Capitol Pictures, fictional studio previously seen in the Coens’ Barton Fink (the real Eddie Mannix was a fixer for MGM). We move through a day in his life battling a stream of crises; pregnant starlets, risqué photoshoots, kidnapped actors and a load of secret Communist screenwriters abound.

But none of these are really the focus of the film as it meanders casually through the dream factory, sometimes pausing for a mere glance and other times settling in to watch the show. The most memorable scenes are those that seem side fare; a religious focus group, McDormands’ comically dark turn as editor C.C. Calhoun, and a wickedly painful elocution exercise between Ehrenreichs’ excellent Hobie Doyle and Fiennes’ Laurence Laurents (in another illustration of Fiennes as surprise comic powerhouse, following on from last month’s A Bigger Splash). It can become frustrating that these discursions are left incomplete, but nevertheless Hail Caesar! is eminently, giddily watchable. Perhaps my mate summarised it best when as the credits rolled and the lights came up she turned to me and said, “well, that was nice and weird”.

Originally published in Crack Magazine

Review: A Bigger Splash

a bigger splash 2

9/10
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson

Dream with me for a second. You and your superstar girlfriend are chilling on a remote Italian island, hiding out while she convalesces from throat surgery. Eating great food, having great sex, lying by the pool naked. You’re nailing life. Then her ex (who’s also your old boss) turns up replete with a barely veiled ulterior motive: to win her back, of course. Oh and he’s bought his smoking hot/antagonistically provocative daughter with him, who promptly starts hitting on you. The dream has become a nightmare. This is hell.

Luca Guadagnino’s loose remake of Jacques Deray’s 1969 Italian-French drama ‘La Piscine’ is a beautiful film, a film of opposites; dreamlike yet dark, amusing yet disquieting, delicate yet jarring. The high-calibre cast deliver to expectation but it is Ralph Fiennes as Harry, bearded, half-dressed and pulsating to Rolling Stones ‘Emotional Rescue’ on a rooftop with wild abandon that proves the indelible takeaway scene. With a glorious soundtrack and astutely nuanced script, Guadagnino’s only misstep is some awkwardly inserted background noise concerning Tunisian refugees, which can at least be taken as an vague attempt to draw attention to a difficult political situation. The film takes its name from a famous Hockney painting, about which Guadagnino commented a “beautiful lightness carried so much depth”. If his aim was to emulate this concord, he undoubtedly succeeded.

Originally published in Crack Magazine

Film Review: The Hateful Eight

hatefuleight

6/10
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth

Quentin Tarantino has never been one to make things easy for himself. If anyone thought the backlash and boycotts caused by 110 uses of ‘the n-word’ in Django Unchained was enough to change that, The Hateful Eight proves them wrong. Though littered throughout with the same offender, this time it’s the frequent and graphic violence inflicted upon the sole female lead, (Daisy Domergue played to termagant perfection by Jennifer Jason Leigh) that have forced the director and key actors to speak out against accusations of misogyny. Tarantino explains, somewhat paradoxically, that it would have been anti-feminist not to beat the shit out of Daisy given the behaviour of the male cast towards each other.

Grizzled bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) is heading for Red Rock to trade in captive Domergue when an abrupt blizzard forces him to ‘Minnie’s Haberdashery’ for an overnight stay, unexpected travel companions and extant cabin occupiers included. But – wait – all is not as it seems, and over three hours a convoluted tale unfolds as the occupants threaten, exhort and mercilessly butcher each other. Shot on 70mm, and featuring an original, Oscar nominated score by Ennio Morricone, it is worth going to see for these features alone. Lower your expectations and steel your stomachs; it may not be his best work, but it is a bloody good story.

Originally published in Crack Magazine

Film Review: Brooklyn

brooklyn

8/10
Director: John Crowley
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters

We open in Enniscorthy, Ireland, where Eilis Lacey (Ronan) is ‘away to America’, a journey orchestrated by sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) enabling Eilis to do what she cannot and escape the limiting prospects of their hometown. Lonely and bewildered, Eilis struggles at first but with the comically dubious assistance of landlady Miss Kehoe (Walters on top matriarchal form) and her fellow boarders, she adapts. Then – as always -she meets a boy; Tony Fiorello is sweetly earnest and entirely besotted, and a tender courtship unfurls between them. When a tragic turn of events brings her back to Enniscorthy and a better version of everything she left, she is forced to choose between the life she always hoped she would have and the life she has created.

Adapted from Colm Tóibíns 2009 novel of the same name, Brooklyn was one of the biggest deals ever to emerge from Sundance, premiering a relative unheard of and emerging with a $9 million distribution deal. Ronans’ performance is captivating, bringing a complexity and depth to Eilis that the film could have sunk without, and the romance between her and Tony is solidly authentic yet impossibly fragile. Striking chords as both a coming-of-age story and an émigré journey, exploration of the relationship between sense of self and sense of place is where Brooklyn really hits home.

Originally published in Crack Magazine