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.

Charlotte Sometimes… Has a new podcast

Myself, Simon Whitlock and Alex Gilston are the new hosts of JumpCut’s JumpCast podcast. Click here to find out about your new hosts and then click here to listen to our first episode. It’s also available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Anchor, Podbean, Podtail, Stitcher, and our YouTube channel!

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.

Stream On Vol. 14

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 1234567891011, 12 and 13.

Frances Ha (2012 – Film4 – 86 mins)

I revisited this film a few months back, for an article for the English Media Centre’s MediaMagazine and I can say with some certainty I love it even more as a result. Very, very few films examine platonic relationships with the intensity and potency as they do romantic relationships – this is one of them. Speaking from personal experience, friendship break-ups can in some ways feel even more cataclysmic than relationship breakups – and this film agrees. We follow Frances (Greta Gerwig) as her soulmate Sophie (Mickey Sumner) drifts away from her. Bittersweet and beautiful, with an iconic David Bowie needle drop of this banger. Oh, and this guy pops up called Adam Driver pops up in it. Whatever happened to that guy?

The Intern (2015 – Sky/Now – 121 mins)

The cinematic equivalent of a comfy chair, blanket and a mug of hot chocolate (obviously with whipped cream and marshmallows – I’m not a heathen). Seventy-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Just lovely stuff.

A Single Man (2009 – Amazon Prime – 99 mins)

Based on the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood (a fascinating writer, his semi-autobiographical novel inspired the musical Cabaret). An English professor (Colin Firth), one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles. Firth is extraordinary, with an incredible supporting cast in the form of Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode. The fact this was the debut of writer-director Tom Ford (yes, the designer) continues to boogle the mind.

Atypical (2017-2021 – Netflix – 38 x 30 mins)

Having had the joyous discovery this week that this is coming back for season 4 on July 7th, I had to give this one the plug it deserves. Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, decides it’s time to find a girlfriend, a journey that sets Sam’s mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) on her own life-changing path as her son seeks more independence. Brigette Lundy-Paine plays Sam’s sibling so wonderfully, Michael Rapaport just heart-breaking as their dad. Gorgeous, funny and heartfelt.

Kinky Boots (2005 – BBC iPlayer – 107 mins)

In the near-future, if there was a way to download our brains into some software to find the filmic dna that makes us who we are – this one would undoubtedly feature on my list. A drag queen (Chiwetel Ejiofor) comes to the rescue of a man (Joel Edgerton) who, after inheriting his father’s shoe factory, needs to diversify his product if he wants to keep the business afloat. There’s so many reasons as to why it would feature, but the biggest one would have to be it’s opening sequence – the transcendently rapturous joy captured to my favourite song of all time. Yes, it’s by David Bowie – how’d you know?

Fatigued and Adrift in Different Sized Lifeboats

If my life were a film or book (as I still so desperately wish…) the follow-up blog post to Strong Girl Summer would be an empowering and anthemic read, a rousing review of how inspired and changed I’ve become. Written as I sit at my desk, like Carrie in Sex and The City – pulling faces to myself as I gather my profound reflections from having lived life to it’s fullest. Charlotte 8.0 (or whatever number I’m on at this point) would have arrived and would be here to stay. Sadly, but not embarrassingly as I write with no shame here, it’s not going to be.

I’ll be honest folks, it’s all been a bit shit lately. Nothing particularly bad has happened, but nothing particularly good or great has happened either. I feel flat. Totally deflated and bitterly tired. All the time. I genuinely feel like I’m surviving on a day-to-day basis, existing and doing what I can to get by. It feels as if I’m wasting my life, stuck in a purgatory of sort-of my own making whilst waiting for life to begin.

I’ve a strong suspicion that I’m not the only one feeling this way. In fact, it’s what inspired the title for this blog post. Since last year, mostly March for my UK readers – earlier for any international visitors – we have all experienced a global trauma. We have all experienced something that had previously only existed in textbooks and works of fiction. It’s one of the only things in our lifetime that 99.9% of the world’s population will have endured in some capacity. But that capacity and that extent differs so so greatly. Not a single person in the world, not even in the same household, will have had the same experience over the past year and months. The country in which we reside, the county in which we reside, where our families live, the size of our families, our race, our class, our gender, our age – every single one of these factors will have played a part in our experience and our comprehension of what exactly we have endured.

If Covid was the Titanic, we’ve all ended up in different sized lifeboats. The very existence of those lifeboats, the weariness of our spirits are as we drift within them, those are things we share. But the size of that lifeboat, and our capacity for how much more we can take, that’s the big difference. The thing that can divide us and make it all feel so brutally overwhelming. The thing that makes us feel like our lifeboat isn’t floating well enough, isn’t stable enough.

The thing that makes it feel like our lifeboat is sinking.

I’ve been consuming as many think pieces and reflections on the past year as I can find. It’s not just a fascination from a sociological standpoint (although people really are bloody weird, brilliant and absolutely fascinating) but a desperate search for answers. A pointless grasp at understanding something that really can’t be understood. A yearning to know that I am doing okay. That it is all going to be okay.

I wish I could give you that, an assurance that it’s all going to get better soon. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could tell you and myself that. But what I can do is say that I’m not okay, and it’s okay if you’re not feeling okay either.

Yesterday, during my daily debrief with my housemate, she made a point I’ve thought about near constantly since. When I vented, yet again, over not feeling together or whole and in fact really bloody lost – when everyone looked sorted, certain and found – she pointed out I’d made that conclusion from social media and personal accounts. I’m holding myself to account of a standard that doesn’t exist, a curated editions of people’s lives that will often scarily touch beyond the surface of what is actually going on or how they feel.

Whether my social media, or how I present myself in person actually reveal it, here’s what’s going on under the surface. My body constantly aches from Long Covid. By 4pm each day my brain is clouded by brain fog and my thoughts become harder to gather. I’m struggling to sleep and the sleep I do get barely makes a dent to my tiredness levels. I’m terrified that it might take the 2 year recovery time the Post-Covid clinic anticipates. I feel lonely all the time, craving intimacy to an extent I fear can be seen and felt from miles away. I feel unwanted, undeserving of affection and attention. I don’t feel good enough for my job and ground down by how I wish I was better at it. I feel jealous all the time of other writers and of opportunities that feel so out of my reach. I feel broken, held together by increasingly unsticky Sellotape that could fall apart any minute. I fear I’m wasting my life and on the wrong path, not making the right choices. I just don’t feel enough.

But hopefully, by admitting all of that, by acknowledging those terrors and unadmittables in the depths of these psychological icebergs – maybe then I’m starting to make steps to ensure my lifeboat keeps on floating. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance it’s helped yours a little bit too.

*Being a bit earnest here, but please do get in touch if you liked what you read here. Not only does it let me know that someone is actually reading this (which will never not be just the most amazing thing ever) but also it’s incredible to hear these thoughts resonate. I’ve had a bunch of messages in recent weeks with feedback and I can’t tell you how much they mean.

Stream On Vol.13

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume thirteen 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 12345678910, 11 and 12.

Luca (2021 – Disney+ – 95 mins)

Unusual for Pixar, this isn’t an achingly poignant watch. Instead it’s a really charming coming-of-age summer movie, about a sea monster Luca (Jacob Tremblay) who tries out being human with the help of Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) and unknowing villager Giulia (Emma Berman). Gorgeous animation – to the extent I really wish we’d had the option of watching on the big screen – told with humour and heart. Really bloody charming.

Us Again (2021 – Disney+ – 7 mins)

Before you watch Luca you’re going to need to watch a Pixar short, as per their cinematic tradition. Go for this one and have a lovely cathartic weep.

Together (2021 – BBC iPlayer – 90 mins)

A married couple, He (James McAvoy) and She (Sharon Horgan) are forced to re-evaluate themselves and their relationship through the reality of the Covid-19 lockdown. Hilarious, heart-breaking and beautifully done.

On Becoming A God In Central Florida (2019 – Netflix – 10 x 46 mins)

Disclaimer, I’m only on episode three of this so I can’t speak upon the whole series, but the those first few episodes are so compelling I’m going to give this an early seal of approval. In 1992 Central Florida, a minimum-wage water park employee (Kirsten Dunst) lies, schemes, and cons her way up the ranks of the cultish, multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme that drove her family to ruin. So dark and scathing, Dunst is incredible.

Our Friend (2019 – Amazon Prime – 124 mins)

Inspired by a true story, that first appeared as this Esquire story, Dane (Jason Segel) puts his life on hold and moves in with his best friends Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) when she receives life-altering news. Although it doesn’t reinvent the wheel in how the story is told, the story itself will tug at the heartstrings. Perfect Sunday afternoon watching.

Stream On Vol.12

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume twelve 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 12345678910 and 11.

Adult Life Skills (2016 – Netflix – 96 mins)

Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is comfortable enough living in her mom’s garden shed making funny videos all day, but as she approaches 30, the reminders of her lost twin and the pressure from her mum to finally grow up begin to weigh heavily on her. Kindly awkward Brendan (Brett Goldstein) and a troubled 8 year old Western obsessive may be the perfect people to help.

24 Hour Party People (2002 – All4- 117 mins)

Directed by Michael Winterbottom and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, we follow the possibly-true story of Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) – the man who founded Factory Records and which bought us the music of  Joy Division and New OrderA Certain RatioThe Durutti Column and Happy Mondays. Packed full of British icons, this is a sharply written and performed must-see modern classic.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988 – BBC iPlayer – 108 mins)

I have a soft spot for this one for two reasons. 1) It’s a screwball classic starring John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline. 2) My dad (Nicholas Harrison) has a walk-on role in it. Here he is, 4/5 years B.C. (Before Charlotte)

The Party’s Just Beginning (2018 – Now/Sky – 91 mins )

Written, directed and starring (Karen Gillan), this is an achingly personal film following Liusaidh (Gillian) as she tries to pick up the pieces after her best friend loses his life to suicide. Her life has become a string of drinking, fast fod and meaningless sexual encounters. Dale (Lee Pace) is the stranger she meets who seems to be in as much pain as she is. (T.W for sexual assault and suicide)

Almost Famous ( 2000 – Prime – 122 mins)

Inspired by writer-director (Cameron Crowe)’s own adolescence, a 1970s high-school boy (Patrick Fugit) is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band (with it’s warring stars Billy Crudup and Jason Lee) as he accompanies them on their concert tour. Kate Hudson is groupie extraordinaire Penny Lane and Philip Seymour Hoffman is Lester Bangs, William’s writing mentor – both who guide William through the adventure that is to come. Extraordinary.