Stream On Vol.19

Welcome to volume nineteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites.

Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes –volumes 1234567891011121314 , 1516, 17 & 18.

Midnight Special (2016 – BBC iPlayer – 105 mins)

A father (Michael Shannon) and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers. Also starring Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver – this is a poignant fantastic fantastical science fiction drama.

Force Majeure (2014 – All4 – 120 mins)

Forget Downhill, the Will Ferrell led remake from 2020 (in all fairness, you probably have). If you’re going to watch a drama about a family vacationing in the French Alps who are confronted with a devastating avalanche that exposes the façade that surrounds them – make it this one. Just brilliant.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003 – Netflix – 128 mins)

Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand in a romantic comedy classic about a swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women who falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.

Summerland (2020 – SKY/NOW – 100 mins)

Gemma Arterton is simply wonderful as a curmudgeonly woman who learns opens her heart to an evacuee after initially resolving to be rid of him in this moving journey of womanhood, love and friendship.

Evolution (2001 – Amazon Prime – 101 mins)

A fire-fighting cadet (Seann William Scott), two college professors (David Duchovny and Orlando Jones), and a geeky but sexy government scientist (Julianne Moore) work against an alien organism that has been rapidly evolving since its arrival on Earth inside a meteor. The kind of mid-budget science fiction comedy they just don’t seem to make enough of any more.

Stream On Vol. 18

Welcome to volume eighteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites.

Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes –volumes 1234567891011121314 , 1516 and 17.

The White Lotus (2021 – SKYGO/NOW – 6 x 55 mins)

In a tropical Hawaiian luxury resort, an array of guests and employees experience a week like no other. A pitch-black satire, perfectly blending comedy and drama – this is one for fans of Succession, with a perfectly timed UK release to plug the void before season 3’s return next month. Featuring an incredible cast (Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn to pick but a few) that are phenomenal across the board, experience schadenfreude in its purest form as we get to see awful rich people do awful rich people things – with building menace and overtones that something properly awful is on the fast-approaching horizon.

Personal Shopper (2016 – BBC iPlayer – 105 mins)

The hate behind the Twilight series was always problematic, viewed with venomous derision by much of the press and public it exposed the clear distain held for products being viewed as ‘for’ teenage girls. Its stars continue to be scoffed at by many for having appeared in the franchise, displaying an ignorance of their true talents. Any Kristen Stewart doubters need to give this one a try – a modern gothic in which she plays a personal shopper in Paris who refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message. An atmospheric slow-burn.

The Last Five Years (2014 – Amazon Prime – 94 mins)

There are three musicals that I will see no question and no matter what. Those are Hadestown, Rocky Horror and this one. Whilst the film version doesn’t capture the full magic of the show, it’s a close-enough stopgap till the opportunity arises to see it on the stage again. (If you’re London-based, that’s not too far away at all…) A struggling actress and her novelist lover each illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair. The twist? Their stories are told in alternating reverse, Kathy (Anna Kendrick) starts at the end and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) at the beginning.

His Girl Friday (1940 – Amazon Prime – 92 mins)

Someday I will fulfil my dream of writing a deep dive feature into my love of the grumpy/sunshine enemies to lovers trope. For now, I’ll just continue to use every opportunity to point you in the direction of iconic examples – few are as iconic as this one. A newspaper editor (Cary Grant) uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife (Rosalind Russell) from remarrying. The whip smart dialogue is delivered at lightning speed – in most screenplays, one page of dialogue translates to approximately one minute of film. But with all of the overlapping and simultaneous dialogue in His Girl Friday, the film ended up at a fast-paced 92 minutes instead of the lengthy 191 minutes the screenplay seemed to dictate (click here for more incredible facts about the film). Just brilliant.

Logan Lucky (2017 – SKYGO/NOW – 118 mins)

Two brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Both leads show impeccable comedy chops in this hilarious heist caper. But Daniel Craig is the MVP, with a performance that has to be seen to be believed.

Stream On Vol. 17

Welcome to volume seventeen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Yes, I know it has been intermittent recently – but normal service shall resume! As it’s my birthday on Wednesday 25th, I thought I’d make this a themed one. Here’s my five favourite films of all time and where to watch them.

Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1234567891011121314 , 15 and 16.

The Princess Bride (1987 – 98 mins)

I could sit here and tell you, yet again, why I love this movie so much. But, if you know me and/or this film, you know all that stuff already. So, if you’re one of the few who knows neither of this, give this piece I wrote for Den Of Geek a try.

Available on: Amazon Prime (with Starz add-on), £3.49 to rent or £4.99 to buy on SKYGO.

Casablanca (1942 – 102 mins)

Some movies just have the perfect script, packed full of endlessly quotable lines that are effortlessly delivered by an extraordinary cast. A phenomenal movie, that everyone needs to have seen.

Available on: Amazon Prime and SKYGO, to rent for £3.49 or buy for £7.99

A Matter Of Life and Death (1946 – 104 mins)

During my second year of studying Film Studies at university, I found myself falling out of love with cinema – exhausted by having to analyse and break films down. Seeing this, for the first time and on the big screen, brought it all back to me and then some. One of the most beautiful and poignant films in existence. The kind of film that makes you believe in love and that it’s all worth it.

Available on: Britbox, or to buy on Amazon Prime for £6.99

High Fidelity (2000 – 113 mins)

Based on Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel of the same time, just transplanted from London to Chicago, we follow 30-something record store owner Rob (John Cusack) as he goes through a break-up that he thinks doesn’t even enter his top 5 worst break-ups of all time – as he lists in great detail. Until he starts to realise that maybe he’s got it all wrong. Also featuring Jack Black in his breakthrough role, as the most annoying employee in existence. Few films capture the healing power of music or the harsh reality of love & break-ups. After watching, give the 2020 gender-flipped tv series a try.

Available on: Disney+, or on Amazon Prime to rent for £2.49 or buy for £8.99.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 – 100 mins)

Astounding, yet never fleeting, as the film approaches it’s 50th anniversary it remains as beloved as ever. I first watched it in my early teens, just on a whim – I then watched it every single day for the rest of that month. It really is the greatest cult film of all time.

Available on: Amazon Prime and SKYGO, to rent for £3.49 or buy for £9.99

On The Bench

An emotional hangover set in the weekend after last week’s speed dating (click here if you need to catch up). Unsure as to why, I tried to unpick it all. Although the 14 dates hadn’t been brilliant, they hadn’t been awful – trust me, I know an awful date or two or five.

In many ways, it had been a rather helpful experience. My first dating experience in a few months, it was a relatively low stakes opportunity to get back into the swing of things. And I’d done a good job, way better than I’d feared. The nerves had evaporated instantly – I was witty, charming, flirty. We’re talking the A-Game being served here guys, that felt good – like shaking the dust of, working those muscles again and feeling the buzz. Unfortunately, that A-Game felt sort of wasted, as there hadn’t really been anyone it felt worth using it on. I’d spent energy, little energy I could or can really afford to spend on company that I’d never see again. I’d invested in something I’d see no returns on. It, and I, all felt a bit empty and hollow on response.

Days on, and after some incredibly helpful and insightful conversations with some loved ones, I think I may have found out the cause. My mindset needs reshaping and I need to change my approach to dating and all things matter of the heart. Because I think that right now, I’m causing myself more harm than good. Pushing myself through motions I’m not in the right head or heart space for. Desperately chasing and grasping, out of force rather than choice. Trying to fix something that is near enough, totally out of my control.

As an eternal singleton, the fundamental thing that causes myself the most upset is feeling like I’m getting it all wrong. That I should be in a relationship. That I have failed on all levels. That I’m nowhere in life. My achievements are not valid because that zone of my life is empty. I am yet to make a move on the Game of Life. Everyone else is progressing around me, making these huge life choices whilst I’m left feeling like I’m no-one or nothing. And, fuck me, it’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.

Because, you know what? I actually love my life. I have amazing family, a rolodex of fabulous friends and an incredible inner circle I consider as both. Both my jobs – teacher by day, film critic by night – full and excite me in so many different ways, regularly providing me with experiences I could never have dreamed off. And yet that voice in my head tries to cut that joy off at the root with one venom-ladden sentence, ‘Doesn’t really matter does it? You’ve still failed at the thing that counts.’

So many personal victories have lost potency in the face of taking on that voice, losing to it’s nastiness and bile. And the worst thing is, this year, it’s been getting louder. As my peers taper off into home buying, marriage and children – I feel like I’m stuck in stasis, increasingly alone and adrift in this failure zone. I know that’s not right. I definitely know it’s not okay.

Our society is geared towards us being coupled up. There’s the tax benefits, being able to get on the property market, food shopping – just to name a few that I can currently think of as I frantically stomp out this stream of consciousness. We seem to place a higher focus and stronger emphasis on these kind of successes. And thus, we make those who are unable or unwanting to settle down feel inept and inadequate outliers.

I know a relationship is not the centre of one’s personal universe. Life is a solar system made up of tens of different planets that work together to make life full. But instead, right now, whilst my relationship planet has no signs of life and seemingly no power to charm, it’s acting like a black hole – pulling everything out of alignment and distracting me from all that is good. A diversion from my enjoying my life for all the good that is within it.

If that’s the kind of energy I’m channelling right now, I can only imagine how it feels to be around it. There’s nothing desirable – either platonically or romantically – about this degree of intensity. This is a vicious circle that needs to be broken. What I need to do is turn the blinkers off, open my eyes instead of narrowing them with singular focus, and stop cutting myself off from so many opportunities for joy. And I think putting myself on the bench is the only way to do it.

It’s gotten to the point where I have to force myself to go on the apps, endless trailing through – yet another talking stage feeling like it’s splintering off any emotional resilience I have left. The prospect of dates feel as appealing as going into battle, afraid that I’m waiting mine and their time and energy on something that is hopeless. Frightened that one wrong comment or rejection could send me spiralling into the pit of despair. In a world where first meeting in person feels impossible, going digital feels like the last (only?) weapon left in the armourery – but it’s taking too much from me each time I go to use it.

So, once again, dating apps and I are going on a break. And, cliche as it may sound, I’m going to focus on myself for a while. On what makes me happy and be who I want to be, instead of trying to make myself appealing and who people want me to be. There’s guarding your heart, and there’s what I’m doing right now. My heart is protected by impenetrable buttresses (hehehe), a moat and a field of thorns a la Sleeping Beauty.

If I want to find and accept both self-love and self-peace, let alone any from external influences, the current self-defence protocol is going to have to be updated. Right now I think the only way to do that is by having a reset, turning it all off-and-on-again. These past few months I’ve been throwing everything at the wall, trying to get something – anything – to stick. But I can’t if I don’t feel like I deserve it, view it as the centre of everything yet protect myself from it so greatly. So, for now, I’m going to try and feast on my life instead. I want to find a way that I can validate myself, instead of trying to find validation and solace in others.

Right now, I’m a walking self-fufilling prophecy – but I’m finally going to take ownership of it and rewrite what comes next.

Charlotte Sometimes… Goes speed dating

‘It wasn’t awful…’

That’s the text I sent my friends as I left the bar this evening. I’d just been at a speed dating event, which I’d been incredibly nervous about beforehand – so the immediate feeling on leaving was came from the bar being very low. On the floor. Impossible to limbo under and barely requiring even a hop over. After trying to sleep the past hour, I realised I needed to talk through the night to find a kind of peace with my ‘wasn’t awful’ evening as, if it ‘wasn’t awful’ what was it? And why do I feel sadness tinging at the edges?

I’d booked the event at the start of July during an infrequent crossover of ‘God, I hate the apps’ and ‘Well, why not?!?’ It was due to happen a couple of days later, which was the key here – as an overthinker of Olympic status, I didn’t need any longer to think over it all or strategise for all that could go wrong. Then the football happened and the event got postponed. I couldn’t make the following week due to work commitments, and an increasing tough blend of end-of-school-year fatigue meets Long Covid. That’s how it ended up happening literally a month later than planned.

Going on my own had felt the best choice – there’d be no where for me to hide (I’m surprisingly good at this for someone so tall and hard to miss…) and no need to worry about who liked who/any overlaps in possible matches. And yet, at 5am on Thursday when I woke up straight into an anxiety attack – well, that’s when it all started to feel like a bad idea. I could go into detail about what kind of thoughts that nasty voice in my brain was churning out, but I think doing so will amplify them and give them more volume. I think they’d also make you feel sorry for me, which is not the intent here at all. Suffice to say, they were not nice thoughts about myself and placed huge doubt in what I was thinking in even going to such an event – who did I think I was putting myself forward? Who’d even like me?

Big twist time, I did end up going! I popped those nasty thoughts in a box, pushed them to one side, had some Dutch courage and braved it. But, as you’ve probably guessed – it’s being ‘not awful’ isn’t the most glowing endorsement is it?

Arriving at the bar, I couldn’t get over the noise. Were bars always this loud in the before times? Did we always have to endure such loud music that required much shouting to even attempt a conversation? Have dj’s always thought mixing Ed Sheeran and Beyonce, before segueing into an awful remix of Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ was a good idea?

A few people had already arrived in the upstairs section, where the event was happening. There wasn’t much vibe, just us awkward folk awkward-ing. Clearly the past 18 months had had an impact on our socialising skills, if there really had been any to start with… The website for this evening had promised 15-20 dates on one page. On another 20-25. I asked the organiser what the numbers were looking for tonight. He replied ’14 blokes and 11 girls.’ I nodded, barely close to the promised numbers – but not ‘awful’. I genuinely didn’t expect him to follow up with ‘Well, I say that – two of the girls did arrive, clocked the blokes coming up here and are refusing to come up as they’ve said they don’t like the look of the quality of the men. But I mean, come on! You’re here now, why wouldn’t you come up??! They’re young I guess, you get it though right?’ I nodded sagely in agreement, as if to shake silent the red alarm whirling in my head but also to cover up for really not knowing what to say. Looking around the room, they may have had a point…

This is not to make a judgement on looks, appearance or height. It was more about the feel, and the feel wasn’t good. In all honesty, it felt really thirsty. And there was a growing discontentment from the blokes about the ratio and odds being far from in their favour.

My first ‘date’ happened before the event even officially started. Having sat down to get my bearings, I was alone for less than a minute before a bloke sat in the chair opposite. He hadn’t asked (a lack of questions being asked would turn out to be a recurring theme of the evening…) and started his attempt at a charm offensive. He was insistent on taking my IG details and checking I added him there & then. In a rather cyclical move, he returned at the end of the night to insist I go on a drink with him – refusing to take no for an answer. Soon after, as I left, I took so much pleasure for using the ‘block’ button.

The rest of the – fourteen in total – dates varied from ‘fine’ to ‘not good’ to ‘oh Lord, have mercy’ – which I guess is how you get to ‘wasn’t awful’. One guy ignored the Covid guidelines and decided to sit next to me instead of opposite – not asking for permission and trying to take the mick out of me as I subconsciously crossed my arms as a barrier. Another guy explained to me how men and women are different, ‘not to offend you, but men are less patient and wanting – we’re just really eager for you girls!’. I met a rapper-poet-events-boxing organiser. Several accountants/financiers/bankers, most of whom told me how lucky I was to be in a job as ‘rewarding’ or ‘noble’ as teaching. A man questioned me for referring to these in passing as ‘dates’ as I was putting too much pressure on them. I got called ‘quirky’ for wearing a headband. A couple of the dates were nice enough, good practice for the future but clearly nothing there for either party.

The fact all this happened whilst a line of four men stood at the back overseeing all the dates whilst they waited for their own, that definitely didn’t help matters. Or the fact the woman sat next to me walked out three dates in, leaving an empty seat next to me – so every time my date finished I’d have to explain the empty seat (the organiser didn’t) and proceed with my next date, in the knowledge the last date was probably listening in.

We didn’t get the promised interval, instead we ‘pushed on through’ as the organiser put it. Which would have been a chance for a second drink or a chance to leave. I took the later option, I probably would have done anyway – but my decision was cemented by overhearing the last of the queue boys discussing how tall I was when I stood up.

It felt like it was over, and it really was now.

I already feel a bit better for typing it out. There’s a catharsis to be found in writing, and with no-one to talk through it with right now – I’m putting it up here. However, I still feel today lingering on me. Aside from a throat that is sore from all the yell-talking over the questionable playlist, I feel a bit of a sinking stomach too. What’s next?

The apps no longer seem to work, endless swipping for minimal matches and next-to-no conversations. My social life is expanding again as the world ‘reopens’ – but no single men have crossed into the horizon.

I didn’t go into tonight hoping to meet the love of my life (although I would have been open to the prospect..!) But, whilst I rediscovered my ability to hold my own in a conversation and make people laugh – I didn’t get to experience that spark to night. That hint of possibility and potential, of intrigue and interest – of wanting to know more about someone. Words can’t express how much I miss that feeling, and the worst bit is that those 5am gremlins are making me doubt and disbelieve it will actually happen again.

Stream On Vol. 16

After a four week break (July was rough, let’s just all agree to move on and leave it behind!) we’re back baby. Welcome to volume sixteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1234567891011121314 and 15.

Summer Of Soul (2021: Disney+: 118 minutes)

1969 is viewed as the year of Woodstock, with Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity being forgotten in the sands of time. A beautifully balanced documentary, favouring performance footage with the addition of talking heads and archive footage, we get to be in the room (park) where it happens. The music is out of this world, powerful and extraordinary.

I Capture The Castle (2003: BBC iPlayer: 107 minutes)

After William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Dodie Smith’s (who also wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians) I Capture The Castle is my second favourite book of all time. This is a solid adaptation of the book, but a great 1930s-set period drama in its own right. 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai) lives in a decaying English castle with her eccentric family, they are running out of money as their author father (Bill Nighy) continues to struggle with writers block. When their new landlords arrive, Americans Simon (Henry Thomas) and Neil (Marc Blucas), the former looks set to catch the heart of Cassandra’s sister Rose (Rose Byrne) whilst Stephen (Henry Cavill) continues to wistfully long for Cassandra.

Beast (2017: All4: 107 mins)

A troubled woman (Jessie Buckley) living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider (Johnny Flynn) suspected of a series of brutal murders. An intriguing and atmospheric gem.

The Founder (2016 :Amazon Prime: 115 mins)

The story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman who turned two brothers’ (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into the biggest restaurant business in the world, with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness. Pacey and well crafted.

Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021: Sky/Now: 107 mins)

If you’re a fan of oddball comedy a la Step Brothers, there’s a good chance you’ll love this one as much as I do. Lifelong friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time – ever. And then there’s Jamie Dornan in his best role ever. This song and performance will never not make me smile.

Smashing the Rose-tinted Glasses and Levelling Up

There’s one film scene I think about a lot, more than any other. It’s a scene in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, towards the end where Michael Cera‘s Scott has some self-realisations about his life, how he views and treats those around him; as a result he levels up video-game style. Here’s the clip if want to watch it. I think about this scene so often as it brilliantly as it’s such a fantastic metaphor for life, those moments where you finally process or accept something and can feel that self-growth. That you’re becoming the person you’re meant to be, that you’ve learnt something about yourself and/or others and will be made all the better for it.

Usually I have these epiphanies in the shower or when I wake up around 3am, my brain having sifted through all the information within and finally struck gold. The level-up I had this week was actually the result of a conversation. Here’s the condensed version of that chat that ended up being deceptively cataclysmic.

Me: It just really annoys me you know, how they keep treating me this way and I how I keep on letting them.

Them: Are you sure though?

Me: Am I sure that I’m upset..?!?

Them: No, are you sure they are doing this intentionally? Are you sure they’re able to read these cues in the same way? Are you sure they’re processing this exactly the same way you are? That they may not understand the extent of their behaviour, or even know how to act in this situation? Haven’t you noticed they’re a bit – not the best word – but weird when it comes to interacting with people? That maybe you’ve each got different copies of the script?

Suffice to say, I hadn’t noticed this about the person in question. At all. Instantly, at great speed, my mind whizzed through all the interactions I’d had with this person. The interactions that filled me with quiet rage, seething at what I perceived to be slights and gutted by what I’d viewed as unjust injustices. I suddenly understood the person who had made me feel all these ways because I’d finally dared to take them off the pedestal and accept they were human. Not only that they were as fallible as the rest of us, that maybe they weren’t nearly as comfortable with the world as I’d always believed.

This doesn’t take the person in question off the hook. Not at all. There’s definitely many ways they could have done things better, there’s certainly a degree of intent in some of the behaviours and interactions. But as a result of this conversation I could finally see that I had been using my own impossible standards for myself against those around me, particularly those I care about.

I seem to have an extreme defence mechanism when it comes to processing the world around me. I can be the most open person in the world, ever-ready to offer help and support – usually by doing things. Acts of service are my way of showing love & admiration, and it’s the best way for me to understand that others feel the same – I can’t handle compliments at all, but if you help me with a task or do something for me without me asking or thinking about it – well, I’m putty in your hands. If you surprise me with a bar of my favourite chocolate (White chocolate, Cadbury’s Buttons or Whispa) on my desk, or offer to help me with a task I’ve been struggling with or worrying over, then you better clear you calendar as I’m yours forever.

However, when I’m spurned or hurt – that openness seems to vanish in an instance. And often irretrievably. I feel myself become cold to the point of hostility, weary and untrusting. This can be unsurprising and totally justified response in many instances, but not if you’re operating with someone who doesn’t know the rulebook or even know the rulebook is in play. Even more so, what if the other person has a totally different operating system and subsequent rulebook?

I’ve written before here about how I’ve wasted a lot of time worrying about the attentions of mediocre men who really don’t deserve me or my eternal devotion. But a lot of that time has been worrying because I’ve put in place these landmines to protect myself, these self-imposed regulations of navigating the battlefield of love. A self-published handbook I’ve not given the other person, an instruction guide filled with my responses to certain behaviours – most of which entail ‘cut them off’.

With this particular person in question, I cannot resent their behaviour. I cannot resent that they do not feel any of the affection or admiration I feel for them, be that even in the form of friendship – let alone anything more. I cannot continue to try and filled sated by Love Kernels. I cannot use crumbs to make a feast. I can’t keep drinking the swamp water as I’m thirsty.

As Carrie Fisher said Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I can’t resent this person, or whoever arrives next when this godforsaken crush is finally exorcised from my body, for their behaviour or their inability (unintentional or otherwise) to understand the extent of their behaviour. That’s a serious waste of time and energy. Not only that, I actually feel pretty stupid spending so much time thinking about a person who – and I have very little doubt about his – doesn’t think of me in any way, shape or form at all.

That was the level-up moment, when I viewed the person and the situation in a more objective and understanding light. If he wanted to, he would. And hopefully there’s someone out there who does want to. I just don’t know it or him yet.

Stream On Vol. 15

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume fourteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 12345678910111213 and 14.

The Red Turtle (2016 – Sky/NOW – 77 mins)

Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year in 2017, a man is shipwrecked on a deserted island and encounters a red turtle, which changes his life. But, like how Jaws isn’t just about a shark, this isn’t just about about a turtle. Instead it’s a powerful reflection of life, it’s extraordinary ordinariness and the beauty that can be found within it all.

120 BPM (2017 – ALL4 – 143 mins)

Members of the advocacy group ACT UP Paris demand action by the government and pharmaceutical companies to combat the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. Perfection.

Gods of Egypt (2016 – Amazon Prime – 127 mins)

It’s not often I recommend a ‘bad movie’ here. I hate the term guilty pleasure, as I think it’s wrong to ever feel like you should feel guilty over a think that gives you pleasure. If a film sparks joy, there should be no reason to repent for it. Gods of Egypt is a bad movie. A very bad movie. It’s so bad it lead to this Kermodian rant. It’s for all of those reasons, combined with how much joy I had on the particular day I watched it at the cinema, that I’m spending one of my weekly allowance on recommending it to you. Mainly so I can find my fellow fans who will team up with me to demand Prince Charles Cinema show it and let me play the drinking game bingo card I came up with for it. You can thank me later.

Rosie (2018 – BBC iPlayer – 80 mins)

The story of a mother (Sarah Greene) trying to protect her family after their landlord sells their rented home and they become homeless. Devastating and utterly heart-breaking, Roddy Doyle‘s first original screenplay in 18 years echoes the realism of Ken Loach in this depiction of a horrifically increasing issue.

<a href="http://<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/F5pI2UPaT8g&quot; title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>Anita and Me (2002 – BBC iPlayer – 89 mins)

Based on Meera Syal‘s 1996 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, Meena Kumar (Chandeep Uppal), a 11-year-old Sikh girl, lives with her family in the predominantly white, working-class, fictional mining village of Tollington in the Black Country in 1972. Meena meets Anita, a white, 14-year-old girl whom Meena comes to idolise. However, Meena finds it harder and harder to fit in as her Indian heritage keeps on resurfacing, and Anita’s new boyfriend proves to hold strong racist attitudes towards those he views as different. A sweet coming-of-age tale about finding your identity and your voice.

Singledom bites at 6.48pm on a Saturday

On average, I feel most single at 6.48pm on a Saturday. Oddly specific, but as today’s 6.48pm on a Saturday reminded me, totally accurate.

I’m writing this part of this post whilst on the leaning section of the tube. You know the bit, by the doors. But on the side where the doors won’t open, at least on this leg of the journey. Jubilee Line at Green Park if you want me to continue the theme of oddly specific details. I had my spot all sorted, head deep in a book when, on either side of me a couple (both male/female) took up residence. In both instances with little interest or awareness that they had ended up being incredibly close to me and were in fact intruding on my personal space. The person they were with was their world, all that matters is that their person was safe and comfortable. 

Both assumed the position heterosexual couples subconsciously seem to find themselves in these situations. Her tucked up against the plastic divider, he the warrior defending her. He helping her stand in case she falls, two world-weary people leaning on each other, safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens – they’ve got each other. No matter the scenario that arises in this journey, they have a partner to accompany them as they face it.

I know full well this is an idealised view. Any number of things could have happened in their day and could await them after this journey. The arguments, fights and betrayals that could await them. But, from the outside anyway, they look sedate. Safe. At peace. Found.

That’s when I feel the pang, that want for what they have – or what it looks like they have. 

I’m journeying home from a fantastic day with my best friend. We saw a superb comedy show, having a taste of normality in amongst the chaos of the last 18 months. I’m going back to my awesome housemate. I might even watch the football. You never know, we may even win it.

But right now, all I can feel is this pang that defies all logic. I’m 6 weeks away from my 29th birthday and I have never experienced what these couples have right now. I’ve never had someone to lean on like that, with this degree of intimate certainty. And this pang is reverberating in my bones – rattling and ricocheting along until, as hyperbolic as it sounds, it makes my eyes water.

I don’t need what they have. I’ve never had it, and I’ve made do without it for this long. I also literally don’t need it. At 6ft tall and built like a Viking – I don’t need someone to bodyguard me on the tube. Statistically speaking, when it comes to average heights and builds of a man in the UK, there’s very few who’d literally be able to achieve this physically so I rarely entertain the notion of it ever happening in the way these couples are curled into each other right now..!

But I want it. And I feel like I’m meant to feel embarrassed about admitting this to you, whoever you wonderful people are who read my ramblings. But I’m not.

The only way to keep navigating the hellhole that is dating is to maintain hope. Like with anything in life, we hope that things happen for a reason – that our lives are structured in a certain way, with certain things happening (or not happening) at certain times, for a certain purpose. One which we may never understand, but the fortuitous fruits of which we will always appreciate.

One of my maaaany self-deprecating jokes when someone – usually a very comfortably coupled someone – asks after my non-existent love life is to respond ‘Well, you know what – I’m starting to think maybe the factory shut for the day after making me and they forgot to make my partner!’ It’s self-defence 101, cloaking a genuine and innate fear with a half-hearted laugh and an accompanying good-humoured slap on the table. Desperately concealing the depleting quantity of hope retained in my body, which seems to face surge charge deductions at 6.48pm on a Saturday.

But, as I wearily look ahead to the speed dating event I’m going to on Tuesday, if I want to find my tube buddy – I need to keep trying and keep that hope going. I need to innately rely on the universe revealing my person and their having a reason for having kept me waiting for so long.

And, on one Saturday in the future, it’ll be 6.48pm and I’ll know it was all worth it.