What To Watch Wednesday #2

Welcome back! Just like my Stream On feature from last year (all 19 editions available here), every Wednesday I’ll put up some suggestions of TV & Films you may be missing on your various streaming services. Here’s What To Watch Wednesday #1.

A League of Their Own (Amazon Prime: 8 X 60 mins)

Chicago, 1943. With so many men fighting in the war, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is formed by a confectionary tycoon. The intent is to make money and create entertainment. For the women who attend the try-out, this is their big moment. After spending their entire lives being told they cannot take part, this is finally their chance to spend their lives doing what they love. For Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson) it’s a chance to feel alive whilst also, literally, running away from home & her husband. For Greta Gil (D’Arcy Carden) it’s a chance for fame and adoration. But,  for Max Chapman (Chanté Adams), she quickly realises how little it changes as there may now be space for white female players – there isn’t for black women. Often funny, but rooted in carefully handled serious issues, along with the queerness, – the show hits home thanks to a roster filled with all-stars and a field rich with possibilities.

If you like this, you might like: A League of Their Own (1992), The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel (2017-)

A Secret Love (Netflix: 83 minutes)

Then, when you can’t get enough of a wonderful baseball drama that is about more than just sport, check out a true story from the time period. This understated and moving documentary is about two women who met while taking part in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, fell in love and then kept their love a secret for seven decades. A moving and profound love conquers all story.

If you like this, you might like: Circus of Books (2020), The Pass (2016)

Big Boys (All4: 6 x 30 mins)

Jack (Dylan Llewellyn) is finally starting university after a gap year. His dad died a year ago after a long illness, starting uni so soon after would not have been possible. He arrives to campus, driven by his doting mum Peggy (Camille Coduri) only to find that he’s not been given campus accommodation and his housemate is not only a mature student but a bit of a lad. However, there’s more to Danny (Jon Pointing) than first appears. When Jack inadvertently comes out to Danny, as unlikely friendship follows as Danny devotes himself to supporting Jack. Based on comedian Jack Rooke’s real life experiences, this show is funny, moving and a total joy.

If you like this, you might like: Dead Pixels (2019-), This Is Going to Hurt (2022)

Prey (Disney: 99 mins)

The Great Plains, 1719. Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a a young Comanche woman trained as a healer, yet dreams of becoming a great hunter like her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers). When part of a search party for the mountain lion that attacked one of the tribe’s hunters, Naru quickly realises something far scarier is hunting them. A prequel to the Predator franchise, this taut and thrilling is atmospheric and exceptionally well-told.

If you like this, you might like: Edge of Tomorrow (2014), District 9 (2009)

Romcom of the week: Wedding Season (2022: Netflix: 98 mins)

Pressured by their parents to find spouses, Asha (Suraj Sharma) and Ravi (Pallavi Sharda) pretend to date during a summer of weddings, only to find themselves falling for each other. It may tick all the tropes of the romcom bingo card, but when it does it this charmingly – who are we to complain?!?

What-To-Watch Wednesday

My weekly recommendations are back, baby! Just like my Stream On feature from last year (all 19 editions available here), every Wednesday I’ll put up some suggestions of TV & Films you may be missing on your various streaming services.

The Newsreader (BBC iPlayer: 6 X 50 mins)

Set in Melbourne in 1986, The Newsreader follows a daily news team through their trials & tribulations – both professional and personal. The sets & costumes are so evocative, the storylines so well rendered but it’s the cast that are standout. Anna Torv (Fringe, Mindhunter) plays the station figurehead, a ‘difficult’ woman who wants to cover real news. Sam Reid (The Limehouse Golem and the upcoming tv adaption of Interview With the Vampire) is the up-and-comer desperate to break through. Covering the AIDS crisis, Chernobyl, Halley’s Comet and the Challenger space shuttle explosion – The Newsreader is a compelling drama series grounded in reality.

What this if you like: The Newsroom (2012), Please Like Me (2013)

The Resort (Sky/Now: currently airing season 1, 4 x 30 mins aired already, 4 left of season 1)

A bitterly frustrated couple go on vacation to celebrate their ten-year anniversary. Neither Emma (Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs, HIMYM) or Noah (William Jackson Harper – The Good Place, Love Life season two) seem able to acknowledge to each other just how unhappy they are. When Emma falls off a quad bike during a day trip, she finds an abandoned  and extremely outdated mobile phone. Intrigued by the mystery, she discovers it belongs to Sam (Skyler Gisondo – Booksmart, The Righteous Gemstones) who disappeared from the resort fifteen years prior. Emma & Noah decide to solve the case together which may just force them to answer some far bigger questions along the way. Part comedy, part love story, part thriller and part sci-fi tinge – this is exactly what you might expect from the writer of the wonderful Palm Springs.

What this if you like: The White Lotus (2021-), Palm Springs (2020)

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 (Netflix: 3 x 45 mins)

The 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair was a coming together of likeminded souls, spirits joined in a search for peace, harmony, and good vibes. To commemorate its 30 year anniversary, the organisers decided to throw Woodstock ’99 in an act of celebration. As you probably guess from the title, it didn’t go well. Each of the three episodes focuses chronologically on a separate day of the festival – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – whilst also intercutting the now with some past decisions that emphasises the hubris and obviousness to the awfulness to come. This one really needs to be seen and talked about, particularly when it comes to accountability of mob mentality and the pervasive nature of sexual assault at music festivals.

What this if you like: Fyre (2019), Keep Sweet: Pray & Obey (2022)

Instant Hotel (Netflix: 15 x 45 mins)

This Australian series may just be the greatest example of perfect reality tv. Using all the formats and formulas you know and love, this show manages to be the pinnacle of how it’s done. Five couples tour the country visiting each other’s ‘Instant Hotels’ (think Air BnBs). As you’d expect, there’s personality clashes galore and all manner of surprises along the way. Chuck in the various glamourous, and not so glamourous settings, you’re in for a treat.

What this if you like: Selling Sunset (2019-), Four In A Bed (2010-)

The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020: Netflix: 108 mins)

Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan – Blockers, Miracle Workers) is devastated after her boyfriend breaks up with her. But when she meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery – Stranger Things, Elvis), a hotelier, she decides to create a gallery where people can leave memorabilia from their past relationships. Funny, charming and a total joy.

A love letter to Abbott Elementary and teaching

Here’s a list of just a few things that occurred during my PGCE (training year of becoming, in my case, a secondary school English teacher):

  • I spent five hours cutting out butterfly templates for a series of lessons on Ray Bradbury’s ‘A Sound Of Thunder’. They were utilised for about 20 minutes of a lesson before being abandoned.
  • I dressed up as an alien called Lady Stardust so students could help ‘send me home’ by asking me questions, as they had social & communication difficulties.
  • I had a two month stint as head of media, setting up the subject as the school had never taught it before.
  • Had a three month spell of crippling depression where I lived, quite literally, on a day-to-day basis.
  • Got bullied by a class of year 7 students. There were only 12 in the class. Words cannot do them justice.
  • Had the loveliest year 8 class who I taught story writing to. They wrote wonderful stories which I compiled in an anthology I still have tucked away in my memories box
  • Helped a new student settle in during a school merger where the school population increased by a 1/3. He then surprised me with a bee shaped thank you card that said ‘You’re the bees knees’. I cried in front of the aforementioned year 8 class. Not the year 7 class, they would have eaten me alive – even more than they already had done.

During my NQT year, the adventures continued. Ask me some day about the attack of the GIANT bee that sprayed liquid at the class during my first ever lesson as a ‘proper’ teacher. Or the fight that occurred between two year ten girls bigger than me (I’m 6ft – have a think about that) but they both separately snuck out of internal exclusion to apologise and they became my total favourites for the remaining 18 months I taught them. Or the day my year 7 boys spent a week planning and then performing film pitches to their visiting head of key stage who posed as a famous film director.

I’ve got 9 years worth of stories that I wish I had compiled more formally than snatched memories that come in waves. Ask any teacher to tell you a story and they’ll have so many you’ll most likely regret asking. Stories that will make you laugh, stories that will make you wince and stories that will break your heart.

Quinta Brunson, creator and star of Abbott Elementary has managed to capture the bittersweet insanity of schools so wonderfully. In fact, it might, quite possibly, be the most accurate depiction of the bittersweet joys of being a teacher. Which I don’t write, or throw my total seal of approval at, lightly.

When I share some of these anecdotes with loved ones, quite often I get the response ‘I don’t know how you do it!’ Occasionally, ‘Why do you keep doing this?’ Lately I’ve found myself struggling to answer either question. I’ve continued to know it in my bones but had difficulty getting the words to string together and articulate it. Because, when you think about it, it’s pretty mad isn’t it? We work silly hours, for silly money following the mindless dictations of government officials who really have no idea. We’re overworked, overstretched and underfunded. Yes, we might get those long holidays but most of us work those and when we’re not working them we’re desperately trying to refuel our batteries before the next cycle begins. We’re running a marathon at the pace of a sprint. We’re working with young people, the only thing that is predictable about that is how notoriously unpredictable they and it can be. We work a job where the good is fantastic. Phenomenal. Brilliant. Effervescent. Magical. But the bad can be soul-destroying. Heart-wrenching. Devastating. Demoralising. Hopeless.

But we keep on doing it.

Why?

I reckon you need to watch Abbott Elementary, now on Disney+, to get it. Within those 13 x 22 minute episodes, you will see why we keep on doing it – laid on in the most accessible, universal and properly hilarious way possible. We do it for those smiles, the recurring in-jokes, the comradery, the joy of helping young people learn something new and seeing them believe in themselves. We are cheerleaders, coaches, parents, social workers, police officers and allies all wrapped-in-one. We are sages on stages, guides on sides and *ahems* at the fronts…

We do this oft-beautiful, sometimes-awful, job because we are compelled. Something has drawn us to it. That want to help. To make a difference. To encourage, support, nurture and instil in our young people wonder and joy and hope and kindness. To make a building strong you need to make sure it has strong foundations. To ensure ‘good bones’ as that brilliant Maggie Smith (not that one) poem says. That’s where we come in. We do this job as we continue to believe in countless possibilities and want to be that helping hand along the ladder to whatever comes next.

No tv or film deception has ever shown our profession so earnestly, with neither cynicism or cloying melodrama. With an estimated 50% of teachers in the UK saying they plan to leave the profession within the next five years, maybe this extraordinary can serve as a reminder of why we do it but perhaps, most importantly, this can serve as a timely callout of how greatly our educational institutions and practitioners need supporting.

The Northman

‘I will avenge you, Father, I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjölnir.’

Imagine being Robert Eggers right now. Stunning audiences in 2105 with the captivating The Witch (and also introducing them to the incredible Anya Taylor-Joy), following up in 2019 with the near-indescribable The Lighthouse – we’re now here with an epic for the ages. A feast for the senses, Norse mythology has never looked this good on the big screen nor felt as vitally visceral.

A retelling of the story of Amleth, the direct inspiration of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Viking King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) returns from battle badly injured and determined to commence his son’s training to be a man and future King. But loving son Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) instead has to witness his father’s murder at the hands of his Uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang), who also enslaves grieving Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) as his new wife. Amleth flees for his life, determined to get vengeance for himself and his family. Years pass, he’s now a strong and fierce warrior (Alexander Skarsgård) when the fates and Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) suggest that it is finally time to wreak his revenge.

What follows is a cinematic marvel. Continuing his partnership with cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, the signature visual style with Eggers is present, correct and as brutally beautiful as we would expect. Each shot is a feast for the eyes – there’s something hauntingly captivating about every single frame. And there’s much to be haunted by here. This is a film that is as vicious and violent as you would hope for from a tale with these origins. It’s to point of near-ecstatic deliciousness that we bare witness to such primal and pulsating savagery.

The reason it is so compelling is the substance that comes with the ascetic. Skarsgård in particular is a tour-de-force, a hulking embodiment of unbridled obsession with fate & destiny. It feels wrong to describe his undeterred quest for retribution as a pleasure to watch yet, thanks to Eggers at the helm it genuinely is. Within the barbarity, there’s wonderful teasing out on the threads than bind and drive us – how humans are dammed to follow a path that is not of their own choosing.

If you’re looking for a bold and nihilistic tale, you’ve come to – quite literally – the perfect place.

Sand In The Hourglass

Lately, I’ve found life to be tinged by an unidentifiable grey. As the French or pretentious may call it, ennui. Leech-like, it’s bled away so much joy from my day-to-day life – growing in mass and potency by the hour. And I’ve not really been able to pinpoint why. So, I’m hoping this word splurge might help me draw some conclusions – or someone out there can set a good therapist on the case.

For a whole host of reasons, lately it’s felt as if I’ve become aware of The Matrix. Although, in my case, The Matrix isn’t this far-reaching nebulous conspiracy – it’s an over-awareness of the passing of time. In August, on the 25th to be precise so you can add to your diaries for celebration/gift-giving – as you see fit) I turn 30 years old. I still haven’t worked out how I feel about this fact. For the most part, like 99%, I am enjoying being 29 way more than I enjoyed being 22 (in your face, Taylor Swift). I feel more certain in myself and who I am. Right now, I am the most confident I have ever been. I even made a complaint about a cold meal, and resulting bad customer service, in a restaurant last weekend. This is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my own skin and I’m starting to actually enjoy my own copy. For the first time in my 29 years, I’m starting to become my own cheerleader. Or, at the very least, have gotten far better at faking it till I make it.

But at what cost? That’s where the ennui is setting in. I am finding these benefits of aging at the cost of my beloved aging too. Truly, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this aware of the inevitability of death. The fact that I will die someday is far less frightening than knowing all of those I love will die someday. Is this the best my life will ever be? The happiest I will ever be? The most amount of loved ones I will ever have? How am I supposed to cope?

The most difficult thing about human existence (and I’m paraphrasing from someone far more intelligent and eloquent than I) is the fact we live our days knowing that someday it will all end. But we just don’t know when. It’s cursed knowledge. I’ve spent the past few weeks, months perhaps, living in the brace position terrified for unbearable news to arrive at my door. So focused on the now, clutching my head and stoically starring downward – waiting just in case – that I’m missing what’s happening in the world around me. I’m forgetting to stop and smell the flowers as I’m already anticipating their wilting.

You don’t need me to tell you how frightening this world is. How much trauma we’ve all endured these past years. As I wrote before, in a previous blog post, we are all fatigued and adrift in different sized lifeboats. And the hardest thing to do right now is let ourselves feel that. We hide in books, records, films – these things matter, call me shallow but it’s the fucking truth. As much as absolutely possible, we avoid being still with our thoughts and we avoid letting ourselves feel. Because to feel can mean to hurt. To be open to feelings, that requires the truest extent of bravery and strength. To allow ourselves to be vulnerable means exposing ourselves to the world and inviting it to hit us.

And yet, is that also not the beauty of life – the infinite possibility of feeling and emotion. The profound potential of feeling ecstatic joy and jubilation. The very act of feeling seen and known and understood and loved – irretrievably, unequivocally and unreservedly for and despite those things. That’s our purpose and our reason for living. But how to hold onto that, and to stay open to all those wonderful possibilities? Now that’s where I don’t have the answers. Not right now at least.

The Resolution Solution

Back in 2019, in those halcyon pre-pandemic days, I set myself a list of dares instead of New Year’s resolutions. Those dares varied from the small – go get my nails done in a salon – to the big – perform a poem at an event in public. The idea behind The Dare List was simple, why set big targets such as ‘Try to be braver!’ that felt so nebulous and unachievable. Using a bit of school vernacular, these SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals would be baby steps to building up that bravery. These goals were personal and related to my direct personal experience – after all, who else would have ‘Go to Madame Tussauds’ on their dare list because they are incredibly frightened by wax mannequins after an incident with a Roman Centurion model at Canterbury Roman Museum aged 7? The list ended up being a working document, with some edits here and there and some additions along the way. It was incredible experience that I’d fully recommend, and would happily write about in way more detail for any publishers out there..!

It was such an impactful process that I endeavoured to repeat it in 2020, with dares building upon those earlier ones and the successes I found along the way. Then March 2020 hit and – you can guess the rest. Hitting Lockdown 3.0 at the start of January 2021 reduced any want or real possibility of cracking on with a Dare List, so that got quickly abandoned. We’re now 3 days into 2022 and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking whether I’d want to do another list. It was working through and evaluating the benefits of undertaking the list that lead me to this solution.

This year I won’t have a dare list because the theme of my year will be to dare. Every single day, in some way or another, I will dare myself to be braver in whatever way fate provides. No approaching this task with to-do-list in hand, instead I want to reshape my overall mindset. That’s not to say I’ve totally ruled out coming up with a list of activities I’d like to try and dare myself to accomplish – I turn 30 in 234 days, and I can see a 30-before-30 list on the horizon. But, for 2022, I’m going to dare to be me. Dare to finally and fully live within my skin, my brain and my personality.

During the tail end of 2021 I found myself sometimes casually, sometimes cruelly, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously thinking – you have wasted your entire 20s waiting for your life to begin. Stripping that back, I can see the bullshit. When nice brain mode is activated, I can see so many of the things I have achieved and that I am proud of, the adventures I’ve had and the wonderful people who have been along for the ride. But I think I’ve spent far too much time thinking of what comes next that I often don’t feel these joys at the time and am often unable to live & relish within the moment.

I’m definitely way happier in my skin at this end of my twenties, I feel braver and more certain of who I am. There’s definitely less self-flagellation and more self-acceptance of what makes who I am. And yet, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Quite often I live my days at a slight distance or remove from what is actually happening, assessing possible outcomes and probabilities, emotionally preparing for the arrival of what could occur. Not to mention the overthinking that happens after, of how things could, would or should have gone. Which leads me on nicely to how I’m going to dare to change that up a bit:

  • Dare to be nicer to yourself.
  • Dare to say more of what you’re thinking, rather than what you think people want you to say.
  • Dare to be less rigid and regimented.
  • Dare to appreciate what you have got, rather than lamenting what you haven’t.
  • Dare to let the universe take the wheel sometimes.

That last one is the one that most relates to my love life, such as it is in it’s continued dormant state. Being perfectly honest with myself – and daring to do so! – that’s the think I feel like I’ve wasted the most time over, lamenting over surely being broken to be so unwanted. Not being enough to be wanted, not being enough to get them to stay or to pick me. I’ve simultaneously let my love life happen to me yet also define my sense of self-perception. No-one wants me so I must be unwantable. Not good enough. Not attractive enough. Not palatable enough. It feels like I’ve spent my twenties on a reserve bench waiting to be picked, whilst all around me are others getting picked.

What I’m currently trying desperately hard to do is reframe it all and reset the mould on how I view both myself and the chaotic situationships that littered my twenties. There’s societal expectation, articulated both aloud and sublimely, that makes me feel like I’ve failed. That, no matter what I achieve in life, it’s a failure if I don’t leave behind a family and romantic partner. I can’t tell you how excused I am by beating myself over this very fact, of draining so much joy from personal achievements and appreciating the now when that relationships section of a future biography or Wikipedia page (what, I’m *daring* to dream!) remains decidedly sparse.

In a move that may seem initially counter-intuitive, I’ve deleted my dating apps. Again. In theory, for a month, but I’m aiming for longer. I’ve been intermittently using them for 7-odd years and, during my most recent spell of usage, I think I finally admit quasi-defeat as I fundamentally don’t believe they work for me. Aside from minute boosts to self-esteem, they genuinely make me bitterly unhappy. Whether it’s me and how I’m wired, we are just not compatible. During my last stint, I just could not find the capacity to maintain messaging. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I’m not designed to chat to 6 different people, develop a measured emotional investment in them, then possibly date 3 of them whilst they date 3 others. And that’s the toll matches took on me, let alone how personally I’d take people not matching or unmatching or not replying (yep, even when I was doing the same. I didn’t say I wasn’t being a hypocrite..) In all honesty, by the end, it just felt like I was wasting time and energy – which is something I try to reassure myself with as a face another tidal wave at rising panic over if I’m doing the right thing. Then I start to do the calculations of how much time I’ve spent on dating apps over a near-decade vs what little benefit I’ve ever had from partaking, and things start to plateau a little…

Which, all in all, is me starting to be a little braver really. I’ve been using the apps as a crutch, a pinky toe in the dating pool – snatched minutes here and there to make me feel like ‘at least I’m trying’. Maybe I need to actually dive in, daring to be more present within moments and take more chances. Daring to admit that I’d actually like a love life this year, instead of playing a bit part in others people, means daring to accept myself a bit more and appreciate who I am a bit more. It’s easy, far far too easy, to berate myself for not having met the supposed love of my life because I’m not good enough. But maybe I’ve not met a right person yet, maybe because they’ve also got a bit lost on the way. But maybe I’ve not put myself out there nearly enough, global pandemic aside. Obviously.

It’s surely about time I dared to let myself accept that maybe I’ve been good enough for myself all along, and it’s about time I listened.

SAD (In both senses of the word…)

Although I’ve experienced it for longer than I care to remember, it always seems to arrive as a surprise. Winter comes every year, yet somehow, upon each return, we seem unable to compute it or work out how we survived it last time. For some of us, Winter comes knocking at the door hand-in-hand with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s essentially depression which is more apparent and hits harder in the Winter months; with reduced sunlight the body’s internal clock seems to struggle and the production line for both serotine & melatonin seems to run dry.

For those who haven’t had direct experience of depression, be that at any time of year and in any incarnation, the best way I can describe is having a grain of sand halting the cogs of the brain. It’s invisible, unseen and often unnoticed until it’s toll is felt with a vengeance. It often makes an appearance with anxiety, a complex web of overthinking and unease. Together they can stop day-to-day living as you know it, leaving behind scare resources to just about exist instead.

I didn’t get my first diagnosis of anxiety & depression until I was 21, working on an academic essay for my PGCE somehow became the thing that upturned my life completely. I struggled with it, for reasons both logical and imperceptible, to the point that my battle with it became the centre of everything. My ineptitude of writing it meant I was an awful person. Useless. A waste. As the deadline for the essay approached, the spiral worsened and deepened – to the point of near-total consumption. In all honesty, I don’t know how I got through it. The diagnosis of anxiety & depression provided a name to the monster and brought with allies to help fight it.

Retrospectively, it explains so much about things I struggled with as a child. My 60% attendance at school in year 11 makes more sense. The deep-rooted fear that arises from the deepest pit of my stomach when even remembering my secondary school years becomes that much more understandable.

I’ve written before these struggles. I’ve even written before about my fear of SAD, and how September is the start of a new school year and my internal countdown. I think I was in denial about it’s return, naïve and hopeful that maybe – after 20 months of a global pandemic with all the emotional & mental & physical turmoil it brought with it – just maybe, it might take a break this year.

Instead it has arrived with the kind of entrance an all-consuming diva could dare to dream of. Except not only has it arrived bang on time, it arrived with horrific efficiency and timekeeping. For me, SAD arrived precisely at midnight on Monday 1st November. The clocks changed on the Sunday, going back an hour which means the mornings are a tad brighter but the nights get darker quicker. The sun now sets at 4.30pm, leaving us stuck in the bleak blackness for far, far too long.

I’d gone to bed on the Sunday happy and rested, waking up just two hours in – at midnight – feeling the weight of everything. The back-to-school dread, the countdown timer to Christmas already unwillingly started, mixed with the sudden realisation that this would be it. Until March.

I’m only three days in, but these three days have felt brutal. It feels like a Dementor arrived like a Grim Reaper of joy, taking everything that makes me me with it. My appetite is one of extremes – I’m either too hungry or too full. I’m aching and tired, yawning constantly and craving just to be still. My passions have gone from technicolour to grey, I struggle to motivate to do anything beyond staring into space. Social interactions seem harder, forming sentences becomes a Herculean task when the words feel just out of reach. Hope has been zapped, dread and worthlessness grow where it once sat. Everything, even the most simple of tasks becomes a battle. Whilst surrounded by people, the loneliness settles within the bones with an ever-present ache.

I’ve already lost count of the amount of conversations I’ve already had that involve the phrase ‘Are you okay?’ It’s a question that’s becoming increasingly hard to answer. Not because I’m afraid to say I’m not okay, but because even just finding the fuel to say that feels a waste of deplenishing supply.

The only hope is that this a transitionary period, that these are a form of growing pains of adjustment that are transitional. Temporary unwelcome residents that will swiftly depart. Soon this weather and the every-present dark sky will be the new temporary normal until it reduces it’s overtime and lets the sun return from supporting to main act.

Because I desperately wanted to feel like myself again, not a barely-there shadow.

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.