5 Films For the Upcoming Apocalypse: A Guide

I’ve tried to put a funny spin on this because at this point if we don’t laugh, we are going to continually cry.

This could have been a list of informative and useless films to help us combat life under white supremacy. It isn’t. Instead, this is a list of films that I think accurately predict the dystopia we are now on the verge of living in. It’s not heart warming, and it won’t make you feel better about what is happening and for that, I am truly sorry. Try watching Mamma Mia if you want to feel happy for an hour and a half (though we all know Meryl Streep is totally overrated, right Donald?). If you want to wallow in the misery of the next four years and beyond – then come with me on a journey of apocalyptic doom and watch the following.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road makes the list for a number of reasons, not least because Donald Trump and Immortan Joe share the same hairdresser. Both of their ruling ideologies are rooted quite firmly in toxic masculinity and are clearly destructive to all who live under them. Immorten Joe thrives off his power over the water supply, and the crowds who gather beneath him when he finally lets them have a drink. Bet those crowds aren’t as big as Trump’s inauguration though…

It’s Immortan Joe’s treatment of women that is suspiciously similar to Trump’s opinions too. They are commodities, there to be objectified, sexualised or pumped for breast milk. Trump also treats women like commodities – I am sure we are all very familiar with the grabbing quote by now. It just shows how much he dehumanises women and feels we only exist to be fodder for powerful men like him. WE ARE NOT THINGS.

Also, as we have seen with the Trump’s persistence regarding going ahead with the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump really fucking loves oil. Like Joe, he’ll do pretty much anything (including sacrificing human life) to get at it. In Fury Road, Australia has been turned into a dystopian wasteland because of the pollution and carnage to the planet. America will surely follow suit under Immorten Trump’s leadership.

 

Children of Men

I don’t think that Brexit or Trump have set off a chain reaction of infertility across the world – though there’s definitely a joke in there somewhere. Children of Men though, paints a fantastic portrait of what happens when the government decides to close of its borders and treat refugees and immigrants as if they are subhuman.

We have seen the beginnings of this. During the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage once stood in front of a billboard depicting displaced young men coming from war torn countries having experienced horrifying events, the likes of which most of us could never imagine. The caption? ‘Breaking Point’. No, he didn’t mean breaking point for the thousands of people dying in Syria – he meant it was breaking point for the UK. This is a small snippet, a tiny glimpse into how the leave campaign used immigration as their main talking point, encouraging xenophobia and Islamophobia in the process.

This is what happens in Children of Men. A whole country turns a blind eye to the mistreatment, executions and torture of refugees at the hands of the government. The last scene, as Kee and Theo arrive at Bexhill-on-Sea, we see how those in the camp are treated. It’s stomach churning. The scariest part is that we aren’t worlds away from this now – detention centres like Yarls Wood are notorious for their lack of abuse and dehumanisation of its residents. With Brexit pushing racial hate crimes up by over 41%, attitudes in the UK are shifting very dangerously towards Children of Men’s depiction of humanity.

Most recently, with Trump’s ‘not-a-Muslim-ban’, we are closer to a Children of Men attitude towards refugees than ever before. Fortunately, the executive order has been halted for now, but it hasn’t done anything to relieve stigmas towards immigration and refugees.

 

Look Who’s Back

This indie film has made a few waves, and not only because it features Hitler time travelling to 2014 and instigating the reprisal of fascism in Germany. The strength of Look Who’s Back lies in it’s ability to make you laugh along with Hitler (yes, a phrase I never thought I would say) and then pull the rug very firmly out from underneath you when the realisation hits. You, like the characters in the film, have been normalising Hitler the whole time by laughing along.  

This is something that can seen across the UK and America. Instead of treating Neo-Nazi’s as the scum they are,  during Brexit the BBC actually interviewed one of them on the 6 o’clock news – essentially giving the swastika-tattooed young man a platform to air his bigotry. Likewise, Jimmy Fallon invited Donald Trump onto his show and, instead of showing Trump for the bigot he is, Jimmy Fallon ruffled his hair and sent him on his way. Nigel Farage has spent the last year posing for photo ops in local pubs. Nazi’s, in the Western world, are now called the ‘Alt Right’ – as if they are just a different version of the right wing, not bigoted maniacs. There was even an outcry when self-confessed Nazi Richard Spencer was punched live on air. I’d recommend watching the remixes here – very satisfying stuff. 

In Look Who’s Back, we watch in shock and horror as Germans around the country salute to Hitler, take selfies with him and agree with him on foreign policy. The hard-right is alive and well in Europe, and one of the reasons why Brexit ended up quite how it did. The thing is, the first half of Look Who’s Back posits itself as a comedy. We laugh at Hitler (what’s he like!), until he decides that actually, someone needs to really take back control of the country. We all laughed at the idea of Trump becoming President, but this is where we are now. Too late.

 

Dr Strangelove

There’s two very important reasons for including Dr Strangelove. Firstly, the image of twenty or so white men sitting round a table, very incompetently discussing nuclear warfare is something I think we will be very familiar with in the Trump administration. Sure, they’ve already had a room of white men discussing abortion, and (I quote twitter) there are more black people in Beyonce right now than there are in his whole administration.  I can just see Mr Trump on the phone to Putin, apologising for the small misunderstanding regarding the nuclear warhead that is now heading directly towards them. Then, boom. We’re all dead.

Secondly, Dr Strangelove depicts the American military as people who will go along with orders without questions, regardless of the possible consequences. I don’t imagine this will change much with Trump in charge. Though we have seen certain members of the judiciary system speaking out against his executive orders, we have yet to hear anything from the military. We all know that the US Army and patriotism go hand in hand, and judging by Trump’s inauguration speech – that isn’t going to change much.

 

Snowpiercer

Last but not least, we come to the environment. There’s no doubt in any of our minds that global warming is going to get a whole lot worse (hotter) because Trump believes it’s a conspiracy from China, and without EU regulation, the UK doesn’t have to adhere to climate change reform. So we should all be buying factor 50 as soon as possible.

Snowpiercer actually depicts a world which has tried to combat global warming, but has failed with disastrous consequences. Having left it too late to reverse the effects naturally, scientists attempt to cool the earth down but the effect is to plunge the plant into an Ice Age, the only surviving inhabitants circumventing the globe on a never-stopping train. Of course, Snowpiercer also depicts a world where the poor are shunned, exploited and made to live in horrendous circumstances for the benefit of the rich – which doesn’t sound too dissimilar from our current situation where 62 people have the equivalent wealth of the rest of the world put together.

It is the harsh realities of making the planet uninhabitable though which makes Snowpiercer a film to add to this list. The frozen tundra rolls by the windows of train, reminding all the passengers that they are stuck in their locomotive world due to their own incompetence. The inability to save the planet. I don’t believe that we will end up on a train, circling the Earth. It might be a lot worse. Especially considering that London went over it’s yearly air pollution “allowance’ for the year, within the first five days of 2017. This is in addition the fact that Trump thinks that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy… 


 

The one silver lining we can possibly take from this list is that there is always a glimmer of hope for the protagonists. Also, the protagonists are (quite firmly) not racists, misogynists or Nazis. In fact, it’s the antagonists that encompass these charming values. And what do we know about films? They are always right, right?

Hiatus + Recs (November 2016)

Hello readers!

So I am going to be taking a short hiatus from the blog as I am going travelling for a month! I am desperately trying to line up some posts for scheduling while I am away but in the (very) likely event that this doesn’t happen, the next time I post will probably be December!

In the meantime, to keep things ticking over, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite books/tv shows/films and articles that I have been reading, watching and consuming recently. Enjoy!

Books

BOATING FOR BEGINNERS / Jeanette Winterson

A re-telling of various parts of the bible, Noah is a small business owner who rents out rowing boats. Truly funny, original and very feminist. If Monty Python is your thing, read this book.

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WHITE TEETH / Zadie Smith

Maybe I enjoyed this book so much because I am very familiar with the London locations, but I loved ‘White Teeth’. It’s slightly melodramatic, reminiscent of a soap opera but orchestrated by academics… I couldn’t put it down.

 hygge

THE BOOK OF HYGGE / Louisa Thomsen Brits

Hygge – the latest trend to hit London, all the way from Denmark. Don’t let the hipsters put you off though! Hygge is so much more than getting cosy with blankets and candles, it’s about having meaningful moments with friends, enjoying good wine and finding small things that bring you happiness. This is a great book and a super easy read.

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SURFACING / Margaret Atwood

Maybe I am biased but Margaret Atwood just cannot to a thing wrong. ‘Surfacing’ is an emotional journey into the psyche of the protagonists mind whilst also exploring the connection that we humans have to nature. Very deep.


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FAT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE / Susie Orbach

This book has actually changed my life. Orbach explores the stigma of the word fat, compulsive eating and how food is intrinsically linked to the security/insecurity of a many women.

Films

(a mix of recent releases and new to me films that I’ve watched recently)

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Amanda Knox (Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn, 2016)

Interesting documentary on the infamous trial(s) of Amanda Knox. Despite obvious bias, it succeeds in questioning the conduct of the police, courts and more so, the “journalists” who reported on the case. 4/5 stars

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Mascots (Christopher Guest, 2016)

New Netflix comedy, whilst delivers a few laugh doesn’t really ever get going. The mascot from Croydon is the best one. 2/5 stars

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My Scientology Movie (Louis Theroux, 2016)

Lighthearted and very entertaining. Less about Scientology and more about the difficulty in making a documentary about it. Fans of Louis Theroux will love it. 3/5 stars

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Into The Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)

Beautifully shot, phenomenal scenery and a fantastic performance from Emilie Hirsch. Questionable protagonist, but asks some pretty huge  and important questions without preaching.

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Movern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002)

You know that feeling that your life was somehow incomplete before you watched a film? Yeah, this is one of those for me. Incredible, beautiful and possibly (?) my new favourite film ever?

TV Shows

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Black Mirror

Read my full review of season 3 here!

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Star Trek: Voyager

So I’ve been re-watching Voyager from the beginning and (despite a very slow start) I forgot how bloody great it is! Amazing female characters, engaging plots and graphics that are marginally better than either TOS or Next Generation. Winner.

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Limmy

So, here’s the thing. Limmy is pretty much the funniest person ever and if you aren’t watching his sketch show on Netflix, you are doing something wrong.

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Gotham Season 2

Season 2 of Gotham starts strong but becomes a bit repetitive towards the second half. It also manages to lose most of it’s female characters (though just wait for the series finale…)

crazy

Crazy Ex Girlfriend

I wasn’t mad keen on ‘Crazyy Ex Girlfriend’ and though I am still not sure I entirely understand what it’s trying to do, I am very much up for the journey.

 

LFF Round-up: 13th

An exploration of the prison system and race in the US, 13th takes it’s name from the 13th amendment. To paraphrase, the amendment states that the restriction on rights associated with slavery will not be upheld for any citizen in the United States, except those who have committed a crime. Safe in the hands of the extremely talented Ava Duvernay, 13th paints an astonishing and appalling picture of the longstanding systematic racism that has led to 1 in 3 black men being incarcerated at some point in their lives. From the slavery, to the phenomenon that is mass incarceration, Duvernay produces a compelling documentary that screams out for change.

I don’t pretend to know much about the legal system in the States (equally I know very little about it in my own country) so the first thing that struck me about 13th was how accessible it is for a uninformed audience. Roughly chronologically, Duvernay takes us on a journey from the tail end of slavery, segregation, through various Government administrations right up to present day legislation – all through the lens of ‘law and order’. A commonly used phrase, as we see, and one that has been used time and time again to justify racist legislation. 13th uses infographics combined with archive and interviews in order to explore the racism inherent in the criminal justice system under the guise of ‘law and order’. For someone who is aware of the issues, but has little understanding of how it got the point we are at today, the film is saturated with information, as well as being visually and emotionally compelling.

Without giving too much away (because it’s far better to listen to people like Angela Davis, Marie Gottschalk, Jelani Cobb etc talk about this, than to read my words on it), there are some jaw-dropping statistics. The United States makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet 25% of the world’s prisoners are in the States. Likewise, 1 in 3 black men in the United States will, at some point in their lifetime, do prison time. 13th charts the rise of the prison population from the Nixon era (ending in 1974) to the end of the Clinton administration (2001), where we see the prison population of America basically quadruple in size.

It’s very easy for documentaries to spout statistics, but without context and explanation they are essentially meaningless. Duvernay validates these disturbing figures by surrounding them with interesting and articulate interviews with a wide variety of professionals, academics, senators and activists – many of whom have been on the front-line of this battle. Davis is one of the most emotive interviewees, her words made stronger by archive footage of her arrest in 1970. She talks at length about the crimes being done to black communities, the level of systematic violence directly targeted at black men and women. Her words, though 45 years old now, are still so relevant today.

The word ‘criminal’, and it’s association with black folk, recur several times throughout the film – exploring how the word ‘criminal’ is now interchangeable with black people. Of course it’s incredibly important to have an understanding of where this came from, and how society (black and white alike) have been conditioned to see the black population of the US as criminals. There is a segment of the film which focuses on analysing the DW Griffith film, The Birth of a Nation, a film which is full of racism and bigotry – but a film that was still being heralded as a masterpiece when I attended film school (only a few years ago). The Birth of a Nation is often talked about in these terms, being one of the first films to use the editing techniques we still see today in cinema, yet it’s representation of black people (all played by white actors in blackface) is key in understanding how society views race today. They are presented as criminals, rapists, degenerates. Did you know that the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan was a direct result of the release of The Birth of a Nation? I didn’t…

Duvernay concludes the film in the present day – with talk of what comes after mass incarceration, and the work that the Black Lives Matter movement do on a daily basis. Though the footage of victims of police brutality (Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice amongst many, many others) have been shown repeatedly on media networks, watching them in the context of the film is a very different experience. This footage, shot on mobile phones, is even more horrific (if that’s possible) when we have just seen the complete history of state sanctioned violence against communities of people. There is raw emotion behind these sequences, the strong editing giving the film real conviction in it’s message.

A lot of reviews (Guardian, LA Times)  have described 13th as ‘fiercely angry’, yet I feel this undermines the incredible work that has been done here. Describing it as ‘angry’ only plays into lazy stereotypes of black people (black women in particular) – irrationally angry. Naturally there is a lot of anger around the subject, but the film itself is calm, collected and polished. It speaks to both those who have an understanding oppression and institutional racism, and to those who are coming to the film with no previous knowledge of it.

13th is an accomplished documentary speaking out about a taboo topic. It’s controversial and incredibly important. Every interview, every animation is detailed and precise – and it definitely warrants a second viewing. Duvernay, though propelled to fame for her fiction films, draws heavily on her past in documentaries and has produced a stunning film.  I’ve barely scraped the surface talking about it here, it is really one you should see for yourself.

To learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, click here.

 

Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari): An Absurdist Take on Modern Masculinity

Athina Rachel Tsangari’s latest feature, Chevalier, picks apart hyper masculinity, male competitiveness and the state of the human condition – all on a luxury yacht in the Aegean Sea. It’s hilarious, absurd and well worth a watch. Read my full review at Film Inquiry here.

‘Vagina: A New Biography’ (Naomi Wolf) – Book Review

I can’t decide whether Naomi Wolf is legit insane or a secret genius. That’s probably not the most eloquent or informative way to begin a book review, but it’s honestly how I feel. Continue reading “‘Vagina: A New Biography’ (Naomi Wolf) – Book Review”

Veep’s ‘The Choice’ & How To Write A Good Abortion Episode

It took me three seasons to get into ‘Veep’. Actually, it took me until the second episode of season 3 to get into ‘Veep’ – an episode called ‘The Choice’. Continue reading “Veep’s ‘The Choice’ & How To Write A Good Abortion Episode”

The Intricate Lifestyle of Nature: Upstream Colour (Shane Carruth, 2013)

Upstream Colour (2013)  is Shane Carruth’s second feature film, produced almost ten years after his sci-fi cult hit Primer (2004). For anyone who has seen Primer, and either loved it or loathed it (it seems to be like Marmite in this way), Carruth repeats his one man show of producing, directing, shooting, lighting, composing and starring in with Upstream Colour.

Continue reading “The Intricate Lifestyle of Nature: Upstream Colour (Shane Carruth, 2013)”