The h-APP-ening

For over a month, I could sense something was wrong. Uncomfortable with myself and in my own skin, finding myself bursting into bleak tears on a bi-nightly basis – it really couldn’t carry on. Upon performing a self-assessment of my life, an overview of proceedings in a desperate search to find out the cause of the problem, I think I found it. Dating apps. Right now, for me, they’re causing more harm than good to my sense of self and my wellbeing. In fact, they were making me profoundly unhappy. After over 14 months where dating apps have been our main, and in some months only, source of meeting new people – I have been one of the many people dependent on them. Hooked on them. Desperate for them to work. Willing something, anything , to happen. And I’m only just realising how much I’ve been using them to emotionally self-harm.

As a society, we’re force feed a narrative when it comes to relationships and the role they play within our lives. As an enteral singleton, with brief spurts of dating and situationships that have been variable (mostly not-good) I constantly feel flawed. Broken. Unwanted. Clearly there must be something not right with me, otherwise I’d be with someone won’t I? Whether anyone actually thinks that about me, I neither know nor care. That’s a relatively new train of thought for me, and it feels so empowering that I’m starting to think, believe and finally feel that way.

What scares me is how I’ve lately found myself thinking that about myself. Using the last month as my main example – although I know it is has happened countless times in the past – I have induced a spiral of self-loathing within myself about myself through my experiences of the apps. For the past month I have alternated between Bumble, Hinge and Match.com to less than minimal success. To no success, to be frank with you. I have come out of May with precisely the same amount of romantic prospects – none. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Logically I know there’s many aspects at play here that are fully out of my control. There’s the algatrium, that secret formula every one of these apps has that dictates the prospective love matches we see. It’s unquestionable this will incorporate a rating of attractiveness and eligibility (we’ll return to this shortly). There’s the fact we’re in a global pandemic and all of us are beyond shattered, fatigued and talking wounded – should we get a match, what are we going to talk about? Must we talk about all that has gone on, where we’ve had over a year of our fertility and youth stolen away from us? How about the fact some of these apps are time-sensitive, with matches expiring after a certain window of silence? Yes, Bumble, I may not have put my phone down since mid-March 2021, but it doesn’t mean I’m able to respond instantly to your notification that is intruding whatever I am currently doing – and what if life gets in the way and holds up his response to my undoubtedly witty first message. Hinge, you’re not so innocent either – your Rose system is total madness.

For those unfamiliar with it (and thank your lucky stars for that fact) every week a user on the app – with the basic version, not paying for additional extras – gets given one Rose to give to one of their matches. Using old money, it’s equivalent to a Superlike on Tinder; a way of showing your match that you’re not just keen on them. You’re very, you-must-show-them-instantly keen. But you’re only given one Rose a week, unless you wish to pay £3 for 3 more Roses. There’s two ways you can spend these Roses, whilst swiping through your suggestions list or you can visit the standouts section. Everyday you’ll be shown 8 prospects who are the Crème de la crème, the best of the best candidates who are more than likely what the app has identified (correctly or otherwise) as you’re type. These standouts never appear in your main feed, you’ll only see them there in that section. And they won’t necessarily be there tomorrow. And you can’t just ‘like’ them, the only means of contact is to give them that one Rose you have each week. And it’s this numbers game that is really horrific when you lay it out, and exposes the most toxic aspect that is fundamental to these apps. You’re given one rose a week, but at 8 candidates a day, that’s 56 candidates over the course of the week to spend that single rose on. Do you spend it on that person, with that funny bio or picture, or should you hold out just in case? What is someone better comes along? And what exactly is ‘better’ when it comes to these apps?

As someone who doesn’t tick the boxes for conventional beauty standards, it’s probably not me. At 181cm tall, I am roughly 17cm taller than the national average for a woman in the UK. But I’m not tall and willowy, with my clothing size on the high street varying from a sometimes 12 to an often 18. There’s also my mane of red hair, the colour of which I share with less than 2% of the world. These ‘differences’ about myself make me feel vulnerable, things I’ve rejected rather than embraced. In previous years of my dating life, this has resulted in my appearing in a certain type of person’s (ahem, man’s) dream venn diagram – a niche taste that has often resulted in uncomfortable festishisation and disturbing messages. I’m also 8 months into a journey of Long Covid, which has warped my connection with my body and made me feel like its tenant rather than its owner. And let’s not go down the rabbit hole of my various nerouses and self-image complexes – many of which have been worsened so, so much by this last month of dating app usage.

My tipping point this week was when this emotional self-flaggation, from how I was viewing myself combined with a lack of matches & messages, became terrifying levels of torture. I realised I was spending around 90 minutes a day swipping and hoping. And, within that accumulated time, there was no-one who liked me back. This formed the thought that I was therefore being rejected by every man I had swiped yes on – hundreds, thousands of rejections. No-one wanted me. I wasn’t good enough. I was undateable. I must be broken. No-one will ever want me.

Now, let me tell you, having my brain say that to me at 3.12am one morning was a stinging slap to the face and a cold stab to the heart. If I really felt that way about myself, what good would I be to anyone else. I would never, ever dare say that to anyone else. If someone I loved dare to say that about themselves, I would be devastated – therefore, how could I dare be saying that to myself and treating myself in this way?

That’s when I uninstalled them on my phone, there and then, and set myself a minimum of a two week enforced break with no exceptions and extreme likelihood of extension. I’m now on day four and, in all honesty, I wish I could say I don’t miss them. I feel weirdly ashamed to say I feel adrift without them, they’re addictive in a way that defies comprehension. It also feels like, as a result, I’m no longer ‘trying’ or ‘making an effort’ to meet someone. To preserve and protect myself, to try and heal from the damage I’ve inflicted on myself, I’ve essentially had to cut off the only way of meeting new people in the Covid-infested landscape that is 2021.

But right now, I just can not do it. As Mama Ru says – If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell can you love somebody else? Right now, I scarcely even like myself, so I’ve got a long way to go – so it’s about time I work on being my own cheerleader and work towards loving again the stranger who was myself.

Stream On Vol.9

Did you get a chance to back into a cinema this week? If so, I hope it was as glorious an experience as it was for me – The Sound Of Metal was phenomenal, and Canary Wharf Everyman was as superb as remembered (how had it been over five months since I’d last been able to visit?!?) As usual, here’s five watching recommendations across various streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 123456, 7 and 8.

We Are Lady Parts (2021 – 24 mins x 6 – All4)

There is something so invigorating about watching something that you’ve fallen in love with from the opening minutes. It’s even better when it ends up being one of the finest new sitcoms you’ve seen in years. We Are Lady Parts follows five young women who make up a London-based Muslim punk band, as seen through the eyes of geeky phd student Amina (Anjana Vasan). She, Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey), Bisma (Faith Omole), Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse) and Noor (Aiysha Hart) are extraordinarily well constructed and performed characters. The show explores so many aspects of being a twenty-something woman, especially what it means to be a young Muslim woman in the 21st century – the pressures and expectations that can be faced. It’s so supremely laugh-out loud funny, which some superb cutaways. All six episodes are now on All4, if you wish to binge watch in a 3 hour chunk like I did. Alternatively (or additionally!) you watch one a week on Channel 4, Thursdays at 10pm.

Detective Pikachu (2019 – Amazon Prime – 104 mins)

Based on a Pokemon spinoff, it’s not essential to have watched or know anything about Pokemon beforehand. That’s because, fundamentally it’s a really great take on a noir-esque crime story littered with some very funny moments and dialogue. However, if you are a Pokemon fan – there’s an added degree of enjoyment to be had. Justice Smith travels into the city to organise the estate of his missing-presumed-dead detective father. In the process he stumbles across his dad’s pikachu partner, but Tim is startled to find that this Pikachu can talk (Ryan Reynolds) and is determined to find Tim’s dad at all costs.

Molly’s Game (2017 – Netflix – 140 mins)

Known in some quarters as ‘The Four Star Masterpiece, Molly’s Game), this is a based on a true story tale written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Molly (Jessica Chastain) was destined to be an Olympic skier, whose life fell apart due to a career-ending injury. Circumstance results in her running the world’s most exclusive poker game and becoming a target for the FBI. Idris Elba is the lawyer who helps her, Kevin Costner steals the few scenes he’s in as Molly’s father and Michael Cera is Tobey Maguire.

X+Y (2014 – BBC iPlayer – 111 mins)

Nathan is a socially awkward teenage math prodigy (Asa Butterfield) finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Rafe Spall is his guiding-light teacher and Sally Hawkins is Nathan’s concerned mother. A really beautiful and carefully done drama.

Testament of Youth (2014 – BBC iPlayer – 129 mins)

Based on a true story, Vera (Alicia Vikander) comes of age in World War One – seeing and experiencing first hand its devastating consequences. Her relationship with Roland (Kit Harington), continuously halted by the conflict, is beautifully handled – they have a lovely chemistry and rapport that makes for moving watching. A heartbreaking and profound period drama.

Stream On Vol.8

Residents of England, we’re almost there – in two days time cinemas reopen! In about 53 hours I will be back in my happy place, sitting in the dark in front of a big screen watching a film I’ve waited ages to see, in the best setting possible. However, I know there are lots of reason why others may feel more reluctant to return to the cinemas just yet. That’s why I’ll carry Stream On for a while longer, recommending five fab films across various streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 123456 and 7.

The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020 – NOW/Sky – 108 mins)

Regular visitors to this blog will know that the Romcom is my favourite movie genre. With a real resurgence of the genre in recent years, with Netflix in particular releasing some bangers (like this and that and this), my fellow desperate romantics and I have been eating well. This is a wonderful addition to the genre, with the hilarious Geraldine Viswanathan as Lucy – a gallery assistant who, after a brutal break-up, decides to start a gallery where people can leave trinkets from past relationships. Nick (Dacre Montgomery) is the oblivious cynic who finds himself roped into helping her. A total joy, using the conventions and tropes we all love to wonderful effect.

Tamara Drewe (2010 – Netflix – 107 mins)

I recommend this one at every chance I get, witty and warm yet utterly scathing – I love it dearly! Based on the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, Gemma Arterton plays the eponymous Tamara – a journalist who returns to her childhood home in the countryside as she puts it on sale. She may have changed, but her intrusive neighbours really haven’t… Dominic Cooper plays her rockstar lover, Luke Evans her childhood boyfriend, Roger Allam her pretentious writer father-figure, Tamsin Greig his underappreciated wife and Bill Camp her adoring new admirer. Utterly delightful.

Ideal Home (2018 – Prime – 91 mins)

A comedy drama starring Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd as a bickering couple whose lavish life is thrown into turbulence with the arrival of their long-lost grandson. Poignant and very funny.

Tyrannosaur (2011 – ALL4 – 92 mins)

Paddy Considine‘s writer-directorial debut, Joseph (Peter Mullan), a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah (Olivia Colman), a Christian charity shop worker. Brutal British realism, with two extraordinary lead performances. Total must-see.

Long Shot (2019 – BBC iPlayer – 113 mins)

Bookending this volume with another romcom, journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) reunites with his childhood crush, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), now one of the most influential women in the world. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly. Hilarious and romantic in equal measure. Also starring an immensely creepy Alexander Skarsgård.

Stream On Vol. 7

Ladies, gentlemen and those of us who know better – there are 9 days till cinemas reopen in the UK. 9 DAYS till we can return to that dark palace where we can disappear into other worlds and universes. I, for one, cannot wait – so much so I just booked my ticket for a screening of Sound Of Metal on Monday 17th May. It’ll be a first watch, I’ve saved it so I can see it with the best soundscape possible. Here’s some more small screen suggestions to help you get through the final stretch… Not enough for you here? Try volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Nomadland (2020 : Disney+ : 107 mins)

Speaking of cinemas reopening, the other big, big screen release is this gem. Directed by Chloé Zhao, for which she won the 2020 Oscar for Best Director (the second woman in the awards 93-year history…) and Best Picture, a woman in her sixties (Frances McDormand) lives out her days travelling America whilst living in a van, having lost everything in the Great Recession of 2007/09. McDormand produced the film too, and won the Oscar for Best Actress – her performance really is extraordinary. Watch it now on Disney+ or wait for the big screen, either way you’re in for an epic watch.

Bill (2015 – 94 mins – BBC iPlayer)

Thanks to TikTok, I have discovered I was not alone in being a teenage girl who adored the tv series Horrible Histories for the comedy, the education and the men-folk. If you’ve not seen it, it’s all on Netflix if you wish to rectify matters. The central team have since gone on to make two fantastic other series, Yonderland (all 3 series on SkyGo) and Ghosts (all 2 series and counting on BBC iPlayer). And, in between all that fantastic telly – they even made a film! Bill explores what may have happened during William Shakespeare’s lost years upon arriving in London to hilarious effect.

The Favourite (2018 – Disney+ – 119 mins)

Directed by the incredible Yorgos Lanthimos, we’re in early 18th-century England, where the status quo at the court is upset when a new servant (Emma Stone) arrives and endears herself to a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). But leaves long-standing favourite Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) won’t give up her status without a fight… Just sublime.

School of Rock (2003 – Netflix – 109 mins)

It feels futile to really tell you why you should watch this one. Either you’ve seen it already and this is a reminder of its brilliance and how you should go rewatch it immediately. Or you’ve never seen it and you’ve realised from my tone here that you need to fix that immediately. Now go and STEP OFF!

The Descent (2005 – ALL4 – 109 mins)

I rarely recommend horror movies as I am a scaredy cat and avoid watching them as much as possible… But, I’m making an exception here when I spotted this one, it’s available on ALL4 for 16 days and it’s very worth a watch if you’re horror-inclined. A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators. It’s terrifying and I’ll never watch it again as nerves couldn’t handle it, but it is bloody brilliant.

Stream On Vol.6

It’s a bank holiday weekend and you’re not sure what to watch? No problem! Check out 5 film suggestions below and even more in previous editions – 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Have fun and Stream On!

The Mitchells Vs The Machines (2021 – Netflix – 113 mins)

From the team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (also available on Netflix), this wonderful animation follows a strained family on their road trip to drop the eldest daughter off at college – a journey that gets intercepted by a robot apocalypse. Hilarious, tenderly and beautifully told. I can’t wait to see it on a big screen and with ‘my people’.

Rocketman (2019 – Netflix – 121 mins)

Director Dexter Fletcher continues his streak of full-of-heart jukebox musicals with this total gem. Taron Egerton is Elton John, opening at his lowest point in group therapy we go back to the beginning to chart the loves and trauma that made the man, the myth and the legendary songs.

Promising Young Woman (2020 – Sky/Now – 113 mins)

One of the most talked about films from this year’s awards season, this one has to be seen and discussed at length. Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) is traumatised by an event in her past, so devotes her present to getting vengeance of sorts. A fantastically made, wonderfully performed and powerfully landing film – with the most perfect use of a Paris Hilton single that has ever happened.

Dangerous Liaisons (1988 – BBC – 119 mins)

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos was published in 1782 and remains an incredibly sumptuous tale of seduction, revenge and malice. The 1999 adaption Cruel Intentions may be better known than this one, but you’re missing out on a treat. Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Keanu Reeves and Uma Thurman star in this deliciously malicious treat. And without it we wouldn’t have this music video…

Widows (2018 – Amazon Prime – 129 mins)

Some day, this film will get the acclaim and attention it deserves. Until then, we must continue to spread the word of mouth. Directed by Steve McQueen, we follow Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) when the deaths of their criminal husbands leave behind a large debt and great danger. Recruiting Belle (Cynthia Erivo) as their getaway driver, they face grave danger in the form of brothers Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) & Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) and politician Jack (Colin Farrell). Beautifully performed and shot, a proper must-see thriller.

Stream On Vol.5

You lookin’ for fantastic films and where to find them? Then look no more! Nothing for you here? Then check out the past volumes: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Rocks (2019 – Netflix – 93 mins)

This is the film and the eponymous role that won Bukky Bakray the 2021 EE Rising Star Award. Rarely, if ever, has an award been so deserved. Bakray is phenomenal as Rocks, a teen who should be thinking about her GCSEs but instead has to worry about keeping her and younger her brother (a scene-stealing D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) safe & well after their mother leaves them behind. It’s a heart wrenching story to follow – incredibly well directed by Sarah Gavron, written Theresa Ikoko & Claire Wilson and with some exceptional casting by Lucy Pardee. This is a love story to London, teen girls and friendship. Rocks is a total must-see.

Elle (2016 – Film4 – 130 mins)

Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is a powerhouse, a formidable businesswoman at the helm of a video games company. She gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her. What follows is a fantastically gripping psychological thriller, that needs to be seen to be believed. Wonderfully atmospheric and rather haunting.

Animals (2019 – Film4 – 109 mins)

I recently wrote a feature for MediaMagazine on Frances Ha about it’s depiction of female friendship, how rare it is to see it’s central platonic love stories treated with a depth usually reserved for romantic ones. The same statement is applicable to Animals, showing a friendship that burns brightly, chaotically and with underlying consequences. Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) are life partners, sharing everything with each other. But, when Laura gets engaged to Jim (Fra Fee), it’s clear the enabling dependency between both women will be placed under great strain. Funny, filthy and bitterly real.

Shazam! (2019 – Amazon Prime – 132 mins)

All of DCs output is tarnished with the same damning brush; while mostly warranted, this has to be (the only?) one of the exceptions. A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected powers – the ability to transform into a superhero (Zachary Levi) when he calls out the word ‘Shazam!’ Levi is charm personified as the Big-esque lead, fully believable as a child in a (super)man’s body. Sweet, funny and wonderfully heartfelt.

Philomena (2013 – BBC iPlayer – 98 mins)

Speaking of heartfelt, with a very different topic and tone, Judi Dench plays the eponymous Philomena. Having become pregnant as an unmarried teen, she was sent away into the charge of nuns who separated her from her child shortly after his birth. Decades having passed, with no idea where her son ended up, Steve Coogan is the world-wearly political journalist who reluctantly agrees to help with the search. A wonderful true story, gently and carefully told, lead by two extraordinary lead performances.

Stream On Vol.4

You want movies? You got them! Here’s 10 suggestions, then click here for 5 more, here for 5 more and here for 10 more.

Rush (BBC/Amazon Prime) – 2013 – 1223 mins)

There’s been a lot of people finally discovering Daniel Brühl this week, especially because of these moves. If you’re looking for your next hit, this will do the job and then some. Chris Hemsworth is a charisma powerhouse playing Formula One racer James Hunt, Brühl is his rival Niki Lauda. What follows is a thrilling and finely crafted sports drama.

People Places Things (Netflix – 2015 – 85 mins)

Jemaine Clement plays Will Henry, a newly single graphic artist is left parenting both his young twin daughters and a classroom of students after his longtime partner leaves him for someone else. A gently funny tale of a man forced to rediscover himself at a time when he thought he was settled and explore the world of relationships once more. Offbeat and very charming.

Jellyfish (BBC – 2018 – 101 mins)

Being a young carer has forced Sarah (Liv Hill) to grow up far too soon and far too quickly. By chance her drama teacher spots her talent for stand-up comedy and encourages her to nurture it, but life continues to get in the way. An immensely compassionate and moving character study.

Eighth Grade (Netflix – 2018 – 93 mins)

Being a teenager is awful, a continuously mortifying nightmare of epic proportions. Writer-director Bo Burnham revils in that here, with a regularly funny often cringe-inducing drama that follows an introverted teen (Elsie Fisher) trying to survive her disastrous last week of middle school with high school on the horizon. A painfully wonderful and relatable movie.

The Last Tree (Netflix – 2019 – 98 mins)

After a happy childhood in the countryside with his foster family, Femi is brought back to London as a teenager by his birth mother. Samuel Adewunmi is fantastic as Femi in writer-director Shola Amoo‘s contemplative and moving drama. A stunning portrait full of ones to watch, in front of and behind the camera.

Papi Chulo (Netflix – 2018 – 98 mins)

Sean (Matt Bomer) is a lonely weatherman yearning for his ex-partner, but finding distraction in a friendship of sorts with a middle-aged Latino migrant worker (Alejandro Patiño). Quiet, slow-moving and utterly charming.

A Man Called Ove (Amazon Prime – 2015 – 116 mins)

I know I always recommend this one, but I rewatched it last night and it’s still fabulous and I still need you to watch it. Darkly funny, profound and moving. Just wonderful.

The Lincoln Lawyer (Amazon Prime -2011 – 118 mins)

Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is an immensely successful lawyer gearing up to defend his new client (Ryan Phillippe) when he stumbles upon evidence that suggests not only is his client guilty, but for far more than he’s currently on trial for. A tense and gripping thriller.

Superbob (Amazon Prime – 2015 – 82 mins)

A charming British feelgood movie about an underdog trying to do the right thing – in this case the underdog in question is a lonely man looking for love (Brett Goldstein) who also happens to be the world’s only superhero. Heartfelt and very funny.

Adventureland (Sky/NOW – 2009 – 107 mins)

It’s the summer of 1987, James (Jesse Eisenberg) finds himself spending his first summer out of college working at an amusement park. It may not be the summer he ever planned or wished for, but it’s going to teach him a lot about himself and the world. An excellent supporting cast – Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds – help make this a really charming coming-of-age movie.

Stream On Vol.3

You’re probably here because you’ve been here before. For the first timers amongst you, once a week I recommend a bunch of films across various popular streaming platforms in the hope you helping you beat the ‘Well, what should we watch now?’ slump. Here’s volumes 1 and 2.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood (2019 – SkyGo/NOW – 109 mins)

If I were to start a prescription service, offering films to cure various alignments, I’d suggest this one to the world-weary and jaded. This is an immensely cathartic watch restores my faith in humanity and the wonder of people, a partly-inspired by true story of a journalist’s (Matthew Rhys) encounter with children’s tv host Fred Rodgers (Tom Hanks). Make sure you’ve got your tissues, then dig out the companion documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour? and the 1998 article that inspired it all. You can thank me later.

While You Were Sleeping (1995 – Disney+ – 103 min )

I call myself a romcom fan, but this was a first watch for me when I finally watched it 6 weeks ago – there’s few things better than finding a film that is very much your jam. This one is very much my jam, and then some. Sandra Bullock is a hopelessly romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector who is mistaken for the fiancée of a coma patient (Peter Gallagher). Bill Pullman plays his plait-wearing, grumpy, carpenter cynic of a brother (aka my type in a nutshell…) Really sweet, romantic and very funny.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005 – Amazon Prime – 103 mins)

Without this movie, there’s a strong possibility the MCU as we know it may not exist – as it let to the return of Robert Downey Jr. and showcased his charismatic brilliance so wonderfully. A murder mystery brings together his thief-disguising-as-an-actor, Val Kilmer‘s Private Detective and Michelle Monaghan‘s struggling actress. Sublimely written and directed by Shane Black, this is a brilliantly dark comedy that needs to be seen!

This Is Where I Leave You (2014 – Amazon Prime – 103 mins)

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Ben Schwartz star in this immensely underseen indie drama about four children returning home as adults when their father dies. This one is such a gem!

Tucked (2018 – Netflix – 80 mins)

A small indie that is so charming and darkly funny. Jackie(Derren Nesbitt) is an 80-year-old drag queen, Faith (Jordan Stephens) is just starting out – both desperately alone, an unlikely yet wonderful friendship forms as they support each other and in turn themselves.

Arrival (2016 – Netflix – 116 mins)

One of the finest, if not the finest, science fiction movie of the 21st Century. An immensely profound and gripping look at what it really means to be human. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is the linguist called in to work with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world. Go in knowing nothing else and leave forever changed.

Tina (2021 – Sky/NOW – 118 mins)

An honest and harrowing profile of one of the most iconic and recognizable voices in music. With a wealth of never-before seen footage, photos and accounts – this is an immensely personal and unvarnished account. Essential viewing.

Palm Springs (2021 – Amazon Prime – 90 mins)

This may just be the most perfect use of 90 minutes of screentime that we’ve seen in a long time, let alone the best use of a time loop/Groundhog Day narrative. Nyles (Andy Samberg) has been stuck at the same wedding for far too long, the sole guest who is trapped there, relieving the same day again and again and again. Until Sarah (Cristin Milioti) gets stuck there too…

Stardust (2007 – Netflix – 107 mins)

Based on the 1999 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, this is a love story like no other. Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) is set the task by the object of his affections, Victoria (Sienna Miller), to go collect the star that has fallen nearby. But nearby, in this instance is on the other side of the wall which borders the magical land of Faerie. Crossing it is prohibited as it leads to a magical realm where nothing is to be believed and no-one is to be trusted. Such a charming fantasy love story with an incredible cast and this banger of a theme song.

Rules Don’t Apply (2016 – ALL4 – 127 mins)

Written, directed and starring Warren Beatty (playing Hollywood eccentric and legendary billionaire Howard Hughes) this is a love story of sorts to the era of Golden Hollywood. A romantic-comedy-drama, it follows new-in-town Lily Collins a devout Baptist beauty queen under contract with Hughes’ film studio RKO Pictures, receiving $400 a week and living in a beautiful home with her strict mother Lucy (Annette Bening). Frank (Alden Ehrenreich) becomes Marla’s primary driver, taking her to singing and dance classes – a prohibited friendship between the pair quickly follows.

Stream On Vol.2

Looking for some film recommendations to get you through the Bank Holiday Weekend? Well, look no further! Here’s five top picks for your delectation. Not enough for you? Check out last week’s edition here.

Saint Frances (2019 – Netflix – 101 mins)

Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) is 34 and hugely adrift, in all aspects of her life. The opportunity arises to nanny a 6 year-old girl (a spectacular Ramona Edith Williams) whose parents are expecting their second child, which is forcing all manner of adjustments for all the family. An unlikely friendship forms between Bridget and Frances, and it’s such a joy to follow. An immensely likeable and utterly charming watch.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016 – Netflix – 104 mins)

Nadine’s (Hailee Steinfeld) life sucks. It’s always been sucky, she’s never quite fitted in or been all that happy – but she had her beloved dad to support her and her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) always by her side. But since her dad’s death it seemed things couldn’t get any worse – until Krista starts dating Nadine’s horrifically popular brother (Blake Jenner). Steinfeld is fantastic as the embittered beyond her years teen, with fantastic supporting performances courtesy of Woody Harrelson as Nadine’s jaded teacher and Hayden Szeto as the would-be friend could-be more – if Nadine could finally pay attention to anyone but herself. A classic of the teen movie genre.

Bumblebee (2018 – Film4 – 114 mins)

Speaking of Hailee Steinfeld, she’s also fantastic in this sci-fi gem which just happens to be the finest of the Transformers franchise. By a long, long, long shot. It feels like a throwback to vintage Spielberg, a lost teen finding solace and a sense of self in a new-found friendship with a being from another planet. The soundtrack is an 80s fest banger – if you’re looking for an action packed romp packed full of heart, this is the droid (Autobot) you’re looking for.

The Mauritanian (2021 – Amazon Prime – 129 mins)

Based on a true story, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) was detained and imprisoned by the US government for years without charge and without trial. Lawyers Nancy (Jodie Foster) and Teri (Shailene Woodley) are fighting for his freedom. Military prosecutor Stuart (Benedict Cumberbatch) is fighting for the death penalty. A riveting legal drama that is at times difficult to watch, packed full of excellent performances – Rahim is a charismatic powerhouse, able to convey harrowing depths with his extraordinary performance.

The Way, Way Back (2013 – Disney+ – 103 mins)

With summer on it’s way, why not watch this underseen gem which is one of the finest coming of age movies of the 21st Century? Duncan (Liam James) is being forced to spend his summer vacation with his mum Pam (Toni Collette) and her newish boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell). Whilst he’d much rather be spending the holidays with his dad, he’s forced into a strange role of not-quite child and not-quite adult attending hangouts with Trent’s friends (Allison Janney, Rob Corddry and Amanda Peet) and feeling fully isolated. A job offer from unexpected friend and water park manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) offers escape but the possibilities of so much more. I cannot sing the praises of this film often enough. Just wonderful.

Stream On Vol.1

After a longer than planned or intended break, it’s time for me to get back to my weekly film recommendations. Along the lines of my previous feature Something To Watch Saturdays (all available here), each week I’ll suggest 5 film recommendations from your favourite streaming sites to keep you entertained till UK cinemas reopen on May 17th (51 days folks). Now under a new name, that should be sung to the tune of this Aerosmith banger. If you decide to watch any of the below, let me know your thoughts by getting in touch via twitter or Instagram at @sometimesmovies. Now, time to Stream On…

Blinded By The Light (2019 – 118 minutes – Netflix)

In England in 1987, a teenager from an Asian family learns to live his life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of American rock star Bruce Springsteen. Partially based on a true story, that of writer Sarfraz Manzoor, the result is a film that is so charming and feelgood, and nigh-on impossible not to be charmed by.

The Sisters Brothers (2018 – 122 minutes – Netflix)

John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed in a familiar yet often unexpected Western journey. Unique in tone – think buddy road trip, meets oddball humour and the brutality of the Wild West – this one that fully went under the radar upon release and really deserves a visit.

Love & Mercy (2014 – 113 minutes – BBC iplayer)

Quite possibly the finest music biopic from the past decade – at least – we follow Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson in both the 60s (when played by Paul Dano) and the 80s (John Cusack). In both eras he is a man on the edge, broken by mental health issues and addiction, to heartbreaking extents. An extraordinarily and inanimate look at the life of a musical pioneer, whose beach soundtracks belied much darkness.

One Night In Miami… (2020 – 114 minutes – Amazon Prime)

Based on a play, covering a factional night where Malcom X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) got together, this film is packed full of powerhouse performances. Reflecting on the Civil Rights Movement and the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, particularly America but in turn around the world, Regina King has directed a sublimely reflective film about the notion of celebrity and influence. Something of a slow burn, loaded with one-two gut punches. Very moving.

Dreams Of A Life (2011 – 95 minutes – All4)

Joyce Vincent’s died in a London bedsit in 2003. Her body wasn’t found for three years. With this part-documentary/part-drama, Carol Morley explores Vincent’s life, how a vivacious and much-loved woman could have been left for so long-unnoticed, through insights from her friends and family & recreation from Zawe Ashton as Vincent. A remarkable and essential watch.