One Not-So Giant Leap [aka The Kaleidoscope Dream & The Colliding Star]

*bravely stands up and looks around the room of watchful eyes*

Hi, my name is Jack…and…I’m an evil bastard. Well…not entirely evil but I am one of those lovely people who simply cannot help but laugh contently at the misfortune of others. Now hold on, before you start throwing tomatoes, booing and condemning my existence you should first understand that I don’t mean I simply revel in the hardships and lesser fortune of all people, everywhere. Homeless people, starving children, those kinds of things are not what I mean but if you are unlucky enough to trip and fall anywhere near me you better hope my eyes are closed otherwise I am going to laugh my proverbial ass clean off.

Friends and family often chastise me for the indiscriminate nature in which I laugh, highlight and metaphorically point at unsuspecting members of the surrounding or virtual populace. Sadly their words fall on deaf ears. It isn’t that I’m mean, choose to be heartless or any of that jazz, I am just a person who is quite easily amused as I take pleasure in the simple things. You know, watching the moon…sunsets…company of loved ones…laughing babies…somebody tripping and abruptly crumbling to the floor in a heap. The usual.

 

So why am I telling you all of this? Two words. Leg. Drop.

 

Now, for any of you who have access to the Internet – which I am assuming is you since you are currently reading this and it is online – I’m sure the mere mention of those words will trigger the instant association to the artist who goes by the mononym; Miguel.

This post was written a while ago – but became lost in the ether – so I am sure you all know the story already but incase you don’t know; the chart topping R&B sensation Miguel was clearly deep in the zone and feeling the high of being on stage because while belting out ‘Adorn’ he was compelled to make this performance unforgettable. Mission accomplished.

Miguel charged forward and attempted to leap from the main stage, across a gap filled with adoring fans, before landing a smaller stage walkway in the splits. In theory, it was a good idea. I am sure he saw it all play out perfectly well in his quiff covered head but the reality and gravity of the situation was clearly not quite what he was expecting as Miguel damn near broke a woman’s neck as he sandwiched her head between the walkway and his thigh with a flying leg drop that would have garnered Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker or Jeff Hardy at least a two count. I screamed in a fit of joy. The evil bastard in me teamed up with the life long wrestling fan and I almost had to chant “Ho-ly Shit, Ho-ly Shit!” as I giggled and went to replay the footage. Then it got better (or worst depending on who you are and how you look at it) because a curly blonde haired woman moved the guillotine victim to the side and then accepted a hug from Miguel who just carried on singing as if nothing happened! It is at this point I turned into a stereotypical American high school girl as my hands fluttered with excitement before my face and I was all like, oh my god, oh my god, is this life?! I mean seriously, he could have ended his entire career with one fell swoop because I don’t think anybody can continue in the entertainment business, forever being known as the one who killed a fan mid performance by letting his leg adorn her but in that moment I had to ask myself a question and luck had nothing to do with it. I proposed the question to my wonderful twitter congregation, which simply read: “is this professionalism or just no fucks given?” and it would seem most thought the latter but I do have to wonder, what would any other artist have done? I say to myself, if it were me I probably wouldn’t have attempted the leg drop *coughs* I mean stage leap in the first place BUT…if I did forget for a moment that gravity existed, and that I was wearing what appeared to be fairly tight trousers and that there were actual real live humans in the space between where I stand and where I hope to land, if all of that was negated from my mind and I went ahead clearly having R.Kelly’s voice filtering through my internal sound system…well that woman would likely have died instantly ‘cos I’m a fair few stone heavier than Miguel and if a show of mine went 4D you best believe it is over for whoever is beneath me. All that aside, if I did land on a person in that way I like to believe I would have stopped immediately and once I knew they were ok I would have started the performance again, if time permitted, or simply called it a night. But is that unprofessional? We have all heard the phrase ‘The show must go on’ and how many times have we seen artists take a fall on stage but continue instantly as if nothing happened? Was Miguel in the wrong for continuing? Or would he have been subject to disapproving fans and managers had he not continued? I suppose we will never know but it does make you wonder…what would you have done if you were in that position and what would have happened if Khyati – the fan – had died or been seriously injured? Luckily she wasn’t and she even got to meet Miguel backstage so for her the accident turned out pretty well but this story could have had a dramatically different ending.

 

The whole story made me wonder; can a performer ever really be overzealous? I mean, when we are lucky enough to see someone perform we do want them to give it their all and that is clearly what Miguel had in mind, but when it comes to being on stage is there ever a point of ‘too much’? Should there be a limit to how free and expressive a person is on stage? Or is a performance a no holds bared affair? Hmm…

 

Feel free to share your thoughts with me. Also, don’t forget to follow OnIn on twitter [@OnIn_London], bookmark the website [oninonline] and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date with everything London based and beyond. I will be posting most of my blog pieces there so be sure to check out myself and the other great writers.

Until next time, I hope you all have a wonderful day!

 

 

Much Love,

Jack

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A Minor Dissection Of Men & Women: 10 Things That Will Make Life AND Relationships Better

Earlier in the week I wrote a note on my phone which, through the joys of technology I was able to screen capture and post online via my iPhone/Instagram connection. Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A:

It was mostly a jovial note, sort of making light of the shaky nature of our current gender based social construct but it did make me think because, although the figures were just estimates and exaggerations with no testable fact in sight, the underline core of what made the words funny to people is they were riddled in relatable truth.

Human males are very simple creatures for the most part. A high number of said males are seriously suffering from a deficiency of intelligence while possessing a large amount of cunning. Human females on the other hand are seen to be complicated by in actual fact they are not. The reason they seem this way is because they are always having to second guess the validity of a males intentions and because, far too often, they operate from a basis which contains not even the slightest fragment of logic. Men, even though they may not seem like the sharpest of knives from time to time, they are very much a logic based mindset. “I want this, so in order to get this I must do this”, “I don’t like this, so I won’t engage with it”. These are the kinds of subconscious thought processes which will often exist within the male mind. Women, too often want something because they think they need it but not because they actually want it or even need it. How many times have you encountered, or you yourself been in a situation where a woman is with a guy who frequently mistreats her but she won’t leave him? It isn’t because she loves him, although she will try to rationalise it as such. It isn’t because she can’t do better, because the simple fact is she could. It is because she doesn’t want to be alone and because she feels that she can change him. Women, if a guy was going to change it will be for you but not because of you. I know that may seem like the same thing but it is not. It simply means this, guys are aware of the fact that they are largely assholes to you but even the biggest asshole will clean up his act for the right woman. Do not assume that you are the right woman because the fact is this, if you were he would have already sorted himself out. When you really love someone, when you really want to be with them, you do not even need for them to tell you that they upset at something you did. You can see it in their eyes and that is enough to break anyone who truly cares for you. If he wants to be with you, if he wants that life, he will assess what he needs to do to get it through the powers of logic. It would be wise for you, to indulge in some logic and stop chasing and trying to convert frogs into princes because you are missing out on something real while you’re dancing this dead end tango with Mr. Not Worth Your Time.
Too many males seem to subconsciously fit themselves into the box labelled ‘stereotype’. It is assumed that boys are sex craving, sex driven cretins who have few desires that exist outside of the realms of sex and or the receiving of physical pleasure. Now, while this is in many cases a true assessment of the general male psyche it does stand to reason that boys can only get away with as much as girls are willing to let them get away with. So, if you happen to know that a certain guy operates in a certain way it would be wise for you to stop assuming that you can or will be the one to break him because chances are, you will just end up on the deep end of a broken heart. Sure, if you just want sex and he just wants sex then it’s a win-win but if you know for a fact that you’re looking for more than that, why in the blue hell would you allow someone into your life that is clearly just trying to undress you?

Of course, I am not going to pretend that there aren’t a number of guys who can sweet talk their way into a woman’s heart knowing full well their interest doesn’t go beyond bustin’ a couple nuts and it is easy to get caught out there if the guy is good at what he does, but one of the problems that exists between the two sexes is the general lack of honesty and an overall lack of respect. Boys and girls, let me throw this out there right now: if you want something then speak your mind, if you don’t want something then speak your mind. It’s nothing fancy, no thrills involved just straight up honesty. Life is too damn short and often too complicated as it is without you adding more crap to the concoction. Boys, if you like a girl tell her you like her. If you want to have sex with her, tell her this and here is the real important thing: accept the answer given! As much as you have the right to want her, for whatever it is you want her for, she has the right to not want a single thing to do with you. Girls, if you like a boy, then tell him. If you just want to have sex with him, please stop worrying about what people will think of you. Fuck people. It is your life and as long as you are protecting yourself then what you do is your business as long as you are doing it because it’s what you actually want. Girls, if a guy tells you he likes you or he wants your number or something of that sort and you’re not feeling so inclined to give it to him, just say no. That’s it. You do not have to be rude about it like so many of you are and yes, I understand sometimes it becomes necessary because of the disrespectful nature that boys will often approach you with but what this does is it puts you in a situation where you are treating perfectly good and well intentioned individuals with animosity that actually belongs to the previous neanderthal that you had to deal with. Is that fair?

 

So here it is, a list of 10 things I think would make everyones lives a whole lot easier:

 

1. Be honestI cannot stress this enough. If you are honest with yourself and honest with other people, you will find that life will sail a fair bit smoother.

2. Treat each person as an individual – Just because one person was a certain way, it does not mean that another will be so when you respond to person B as if they were person A, all you are doing is increasing the chances of them becoming person A for their person B. 

3. Be respectfulManners costs nothing, you do not have to be rude to get your point across and always be considerate of how you treat people.

4. Think!This accounts for a number of things. Think about the way in which you present yourself and the way in which that may be received. If this perception alters from what you want people to think or worse still, from what you actually are then stop doing it. Before you assess another person, take the time to think about you and assess that first. Too often people go and mess up the mind and heart of an otherwise stable individual, because they didn’t sort out their own crap first.

5. Abolish fearIt sounds silly but seriously, a lot of the ways in which both men and women act toward each other is based around fear. Fear of rejection, fear of heartbreak, fear of being alone, fear of themselves. Do not be afraid, just live your life. Act and react. You see someone you like, smile at them. Go and talk to them maybe. If they do not respond in the way you want, it is ok the world will not crumble around you.

6. Stop being so judgementalThis is actually in regard to other people AND yourself. All that time you spend telling yourself you’re ugly, you’re nothing, you’re this, you’re that is time wasted and it is time that someone else will have to waste trying to convince you of why they care for you so much. This is time that you could spend enjoying each other’s company. Oh, and if someone rejects you, don’t go foetal and start thinking to yourself ‘what is wrong with me?’ You’re just not what that person wants, big deal. There are around 7 BILLION people on this place we call home. Need I say more?

7. Be aware of your surroundingsThis doesn’t mean be on the look out for ninjas lurking in the shadows or the awakening of a zombie horde, it just means be mindful of the company you keep. Do not surround yourself with people who cannot be honest with you, people who cannot be happy for you or people who are angry at the world. That shit is infectious if your mind is not strong enough to deal with it and the last thing you need, when your confidence has been shaken is to be with people who will perpetuate your negative feelings. This doesn’t even mean you need optimism because I am not an optimist. Surround yourself with people whose primary functionality is that of a realistic mindset then you are in good company because these people will tell it like it is.

8. Take chancesThis does sort of belong in the realms of abolishing fear but I think it is important enough to warrant its own standing. Sometimes people are very reluctant about taking chances and they don’t realise how damaging this is to their lives. You have only one life, so while you have it you better bloody live it. All that YOLO, YOLO jazz has been commercialised and almost exists now as a parody of itself or a mantra for people who are about to do something stupid but the message is still important. You do only live once, so take the chances and make use of opportunities. The worst that can happen is it goes wrong and you learn from it.

9. AppreciateThat surely seems to be a very vague thing to say, and I suppose it is but what it means is understand that as bad as things may seem they could always be worse and this is something to take great solace in. It also means to appreciate each other. A little appreciation can go a long way.

10. CommunicateAgain, this is one of those things that you could say belongs in one of the aforementioned titles but it is important so it has its own and it seems like a good end to the list because it is very much connected to the first thing on the list. Communication is extremely important and goes hand in hand with honesty. Whether you are in a relationship or trying to get into one, it is necessary that communication is always present and it is always honest.

 

I will close with a few quick additional pointers. Seriously boys, grow up. Girls, wise up. Boys, never underestimate the mind of a woman just because it operates in a way that doesn’t entirely make sense to you and please be aware that the world has a wonderful way of balancing itself out so, make no mistake about it, all those times you have fucked over a lovely young woman will come back to you. Girls, please stop being so easy to fuck over. I am tired of seeing women in situations that I know are going to end badly for them, even though they themselves seem are completely oblivious. Boys, please stop thinking that just because a girl is speaking to you that she wants to have sex with you. Girls, be aware that most boys think if you speak to them it means you want to have sex with them. Boys and girls, stop playing games. Nobody wins, in the end. I could really go on all night with this, listing things that are wrong on both sides of the coin but for now I will open the floor to you all. Let’s discuss this. I know you probably have much to say and I would love to hear it.

Don’t forget to use the buttons below to share this via twitter, facebook etc. Let’s get as many people as possible involved. Thank you for your time and until the next one, I leave you with this:

 

 

Much Love,

Jack

Superpowers Subsiding: Are E4’s Misfits Missing The Mark?

Back in the early winter of 2009, a group of 5 young people who had fallen on the wrong side of the law in one way or another were thrusted upon our screens. Following a freak storm this group of individuals were granted one superhuman ability each and I, like many others, found myself hooked instantly. Fans will likely already know that be aware that I am talking about the E4 sensation known as ‘Misfits’. The combination of beautiful and sarcastic Nathan [Robert Sheehan], who cares little for boundaries, the introverted and slightly odd yet adorable Simon [Iwan Rheon] and the brash, loud mouth nature of Kelly [Lauren Socha] made these 3 stand out as my favourite characters and really gave me a reason to come back every week. Nathan for me was the best of the best and there wasn’t a single week which went by without this character giving me ample reason to wholeheartedly laugh out loud so, needless to say I was saddened by the departure of Robert Sheehan from the show at the end of season 2.

Season 3 arrives and we are introduced to a new main protagonist in the form of Rudy [Joe Gilgun] and at first, I disliked him because I felt he was too much of a blatant attempt to replace the gaping hole left by the absence of Nathan. Though their characters were different, the similarities in mindset and nature were not even remotely subtle and I think I started off almost with the intention of hating him but as the week progressed I grew to love him more and more. (Not anywhere near as much as Nathan but my animosity had subsided) Season 3, though it did have it’s questionable moments, really intrigued me. It was great to see Simon come out of his shell and I love anything with a little time space continuum disruption and duality so, although I was still missing Nathan I was doing okay.

October 28th 2012, I am excited. Season 4 of Misfits is starting and there I am laying on my bed waiting to see how this all kicks off and…wait…just wait one goddamned minute, what is this? What is this?! Alisha, Kelly AND Simon are gone?! (*kneels down with his hands thrown towards the heavens and screams a very elongated “wwwwwwwhhhyy?!”) I swear, at this moment I damn near boycott the show altogether. Sure, Rudy is still here but come on. Now, without giving too much away, I have just watched this season’s third episode and I have to say that if I didn’t already love Rudy, I bloody well do now. Fans of Joe Gilgun already know he is a credible actor, but even if you have only seen him in Misfits portray, almost, polar opposites of the same character you know he can get his thespian on like a bawse. (Get his thespian on? Seriously…? That’s what you’re going with? Loser.) This episode sees him pushed a little further and deliver even more and now I’m just thinking please give Joe more air time because he deserves it and is more than capable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m marginally intrigued by the slightly tense will they/won’t they relationship between newcomers Finn [Nathan McCullen] and Jess [Karla Crome] (Marvel calibre name right there) and the seemingly sociopathic probation worker is sure to present something worth waiting for but generally, I don’t care too much about this season. Or at least, I didn’t until this episode. Now I am actually doing something I haven’t done for a while – anticipating the next episode. If writer Howard Overman can deliver more episodes like this one, then my waining faith if the show my very well be restored.

All that aside, how do you feel about the show? Do you enjoy it anywhere near as much as you did with the original cast? Do you prefer it how it is now? How do you feel about the departure of certain characters and the arrival of new ones? Who or what keeps you watching and what would you hope to see more of or see developed into bigger story arcs? Throw your answers at me, as well as anything else related to Misfits! I’m more than interested.

If you haven’t seen episode 3 then head on over to 4oD to check that out and if you don’t know Joe Gilgun outside of Misfits then please check him out too. ‘This Is England’ and ‘Lockout’ are good places to start.

 

Don’t forget to share this with everyone you know by using the handy links below (5 Point Rhyme) and, until next time, I leave you with this:

 

 

Much Love,

Jack

Amongst The In-Betweeners: Brandishing The Beautiful Bardo [Suburban Light @ Doomed]

I love ‘Doomed’. (Yes, that really is how I have chosen to start this.) It has quickly become my favourite gallery due to its versatility, its locality and simply because the two gentlemen at the helm [Ken Flaherty and Pascal Ancel Bartholdi] are genuinely lovely people to be around.

Amidst the stale smell of day-worn fish and rotting fruit, beneath the ever darkening barely star spangled blanket with its infinite reach that silently resides above, there exists a single warm light in a shallow doorway. Step inside and allow this light to transport you to a new and ever-changing world; one currently inhabited by the virgin convergence of four London based artists within the exhibition known as… (wait for it…)

SUBURBAN LIGHT

 

Suburban Light is four times a lady in this four woman strong exhibition, combining the works of Sophie Barr, Penny Dampier, Talitha Robert and Naa Teki Lebar who bring us an expose of the beauty within the in-between spaces of life, where urban and rural collide.

I entered the altered state of my familiar space, saluting Ken and Pascal as I descended the final set of steps, and literally found myself wowed by the existence of one of the most striking images my eyes have ever had the pleasure of digesting. I stood before the endless green-laden matrix of repetition that leapt out of the frame like the snake I thought I saw within. Fragments of almost blinding light, meet segments of darkness who both converse with masses of green, each tone and colour working together to highlight and emphasise each other while seemingly vying for your undivided attention in the very same moment. The piece, belonging to Talitha Robert, is actually an abstraction of a simple potted plant but with this skewed perspective at play it really creates an almost tangible new life-form that is powerful for its absence of clarity and clear classification. The stems and vines between leaves seemed to further enhance the reptilian aura with its invertebrate stance while, the fact that it was difficult to see where one thing ended and another began seemed to reverberate a notion of the interconnectivity of existence itself. We are all here and we are all part of this universe, this planet, this world, this thing called life. The variance of scale also added to the impact of this image; starting out bold in the middle while being small and concentrated at the beginning and end. And that’s life right? Or at least what we hope of it. To be bold, outstanding, memorable and captivating within the confines of repetition, between the bookends bestowed upon us by our beating hearts and the eight digits carved into the headstone which serves as a reminder that we were here once upon a time. (hmm…guess I got a bit carried away there huh?)
Another piece by Talitha I really enjoyed was the framed offering of a slightly sinister, practically naked tree who was somewhere in the valley of seasonal death and rebirth, reaching for the heavens like a soul in the centre of a prayer. The intercepting memoir from a plane between places lightly etched into the sky, spoke to me of us humans and the mark we leave on nature. Even when we have left a space, generally there will always be a remnant of our being, be it a physical mark or the shimmering silhouettes in motion within a memory.

It is probably clear at this point that there was a commonality  throughout the work on display, revolving around the signified. Sure, it could just be me reading into it and seeing more than is actually there (it’s not like that is unbelievable with my mind) – after all, that is one of the beautiful things about ‘art’, it can mean so many different things to so many different people – but whatever the case may be, there is something very special about these images.
The in-between is another commonality coursing through this exhibition as an array of photographs from Austrian artist, Naa Teki Lebar. Her set really seemed to delve into the idea of being between two circumstances. One image in particular stood out as such, displaying a man mid dive who is suspended over the anticipating still waters of a lake in such a way that it looks as though he could have been pushed or simply dropped in. A breath away from this we see a table littered with plates, adorned with cream centred cakes. Throughout each image I was filled with a feeling of these really being about life in progress, or more specifically life in suspended motion. Something about them made me feel like I was looking into a photo album; like these images were more than just quick camera snaps for the sake of an exhibition but that they were the capturing of memories which now exist as little fragments from within Naa. Here they rest, pinned to a wall, brandishing tales of a space in time occupied by something important to the eyes behind the lens. And when they have been taken down after the conclusion of their tenure, the surface on which they momentarily occupied will still speak of their presence by the dozens of little holes that now adorn the space in their absence.

This meeting point between the absence of presence and the presence of absence is undeniably one of my favourite things about Suburban Light. There is something very remarkable about the absence of presence which causes your mind to run wild. We as humans need to fill in the blank, place things in boxes and generally be able to identify and define so whenever we encounter a scenario where that is difficult or  far less than viable it forces our neurones into hyperdrive. It is for this reason that a piece by Penny Dampier has etched its way into my mind with ease. Her images had this unfocused shimmering appearance to them which made everything feel like the apparition of a fading memory. You know when you wake from a dream and you instantly begin to lose the image which was so very vivid just a moment ago, but the more you try to hold it the more hazy it becomes? That aching moment just before it vanishes. I can’t say that this is what she was trying to achieve, but this is certainly what I felt from it. There is a small white frame near the back end of the room filled with blue. I know that is not a very strong description but it is apt and the image is beautiful. I look at it and I feel like I am drowning. Sinking beneath the waves, looking up at the fading white light of the distorted sun and you could argue that doesn’t particularly sound like a beautiful thing, but I implore you to stand in front of this image and not love it. This is the power of absence. And continuing with this train of thought, I shimmied through the now thickening crowd that filled the room over to the work of Sophie Barr. Work which I can only describe as a disjointed photo album. We are presented with memory triggers in the form of postcards, placed in frames that they don’t quite fit into creating a fragmented display with bits crossing into places they don’t necessarily belong. This made me think; where does anything belong and more importantly where does anything belong if not where it currently is? Any space we occupy we only do so temporarily and while we are there, is that not where we belong? We are there for a reason, even if we cannot readily identify that reason. This is often the problem actually – the inability to identify and define has the tendency to freak us out. We are afraid of the space between worlds, the moments between this and that; so we search for clarity and yearn for the black or the white, terrified of the uncertainty of the grey without realising that generally the most beautiful things occur when two opposing things collide. The absence of certainty and the presence of that absence can lead to such wondrous things. As I began my walk home, my mind riddled with memories of what I had just experienced – memories which were probably already fading – and this barrage of thoughts thundering through my skull, I smiled upon noticing the absence of my footsteps against the concrete decorated with autumn debris. A reminder that we are actually always between states; sometimes more than two. That is the beautiful complex simplicity of life.

 

Suburban Light concludes this Sunday (Remembrance Day). Doomed is open from 12pm until 8pm Wednesday – Sunday so there is ample time to get down there and experience it for yourself. A new collection will be up next week Wednesday [November 14th] so please, get there in the next few days to avoid missing this masterpiece.

Here is the address: Doomed Gallery: 65-67 Ridley Road, E8 2NP (now you have no excuse)

 

Thanks for reading, please share with as many people as possible as this exhibition really is worth seeing.

 

I leave you with these:

 

 

 

Much Love,

Jack

Derren Brown: The End Is Nigh [Apocalypse Part 2]

Before we even start, the chances of this one being spoiler free are slim to none so please read the first part of this blog piece and more importantly watch the show using the following links: ‘Apocalypse-One’ & ‘Apocalypse-Part2’ With that said and done, let’s do this.

 

So here we are, round 2 of this possibly prophetic special constructed by Derren Brown. I previously avoided going into details but this time around, I’d like to open up more so come with me on this post-apocalyptic journey.

 

Derren Brown, being the mastermind manipulator he is, reached out for one special person to have a life changing experience. Mr. Brown took on the task of instigating and implementing the ‘end of the world’ for one young man. First of all, I have to say that things like this are why Derren is my favourite entertainer. I have seen the man live twice and watched every show and I can honestly say he never fails to amaze me. His conviction alone is admirable. To undertake a task of this magnitude is clearly no small feat, so the question is; was it worth it? (Any body else go Dirty Harry at that moment?)

Derren wanted to teach Steven to be more appreciative of his life as well as those around him, he wanted him to be more pro-active and actually take chances, take charge and utilise the life he has – something that many of us do not do. So Derren creates a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested world and dumps Steven in the middle of it with the intention of giving him a heart, courage and a brain.

Now, I’m not quite sure whether it is a result of my over-active imagination or just a strong sense of empathy but I always become very engrossed with the mental and emotional state of characters presented to me through media. This made the whole experience for me feel very real and quite tense at moments because, although I know it’s not real I also know that Steven believes it is real and, let’s face it, perception is the most important factor to consider when dealing with reality. So when Steven was experiencing, what can only be described as, very genuine terror it become very difficult for me to see it as nothing more than a constructed scenario – which actually made the whole premise of the special even more impressive for me.

 

Steven encounters three other ‘survivors’, all of which are designed to teach him specific things. Leona is our first entrant, and she really annoyed me at first. There were times were her acting just felt so false and empty that I kept thinking, damnit he is going to know it’s a hoax! But as time progressed, I enjoyed the relationship between them and it was really sweet to see Steven truly look out for her. She was there to teach him compassion for others as well as responsibility and he took it on quite valiantly. Many instances of the show made me feel like I was a parent watching a child grow before my eyes. So many proud moments.

Ian appears to reinforce Steven’s new role as a leader as well as giving him the chance to build upon his new found compassion. While Danny was a representation of Steven himself, selfish, uncaring and exploitative. A demonstration if you will, of the things Steven does that he needs to break free from as sometimes you really need to step away and look at yourself to realise your negatives. One moment in particular involving these two characters, I found really interesting.

 

The Search For Compassion

Ian and Steven are gingerly walking through a field of infected as they groan, shuffle and wail. This existed as another one of those moments where the empathetic neurones within begin racing around inside, accompanied by the suspense building sound of a violins crescendo in the back of your mind. We know it’s not real but because we have been with him from the beginning of this personal nightmare, it makes every placidly placed footstep as tense as the moment you hear a parent return home when you know you have done something bad.
We then enter a classic horror movie moment whereby the duo enter the ‘safe place’ only to find that someone is already there. We can tell by the night-vision green tinge that Steven and Ian are now in darkness (cue dramatic irony in three, two, one…) but wait! There! In the corner! Just standing there! Zombiiiiiieeeeeee!! I’m sat there feeling anxious and nervous for our new friends because, unbeknownst to them there is an unidentified individual just a few paces away from them. Luckily it is just Danny; another survivor. (“Luckily?” I, ask, before reminding myself that it’s not real) This exists as a moment where Steven has to take charge. He can choose to leave Danny there to die, or to take him back to the base. He chooses compassion and we smile. Derren, the proud puppeteer, sits back with some combination of glee and triumph fastened to his face.

 

The Battle With Selfishness

Enter Derren, boasting an exaggerated british accent as”‘Roger” who informs Steven that his family are safe. This is another one of those moments which demonstrates the power of the screen and the impact created through empathy. I can’t say this is the same way it will have affected everyone else but as I watched this play out, the elation expressed by each character, specifically Steven – as we are effectively Steven in this story – instantly infects me too. I know none of it is real and that it has all been orchestrated for the express purpose of teaching this young man a lesson in life but, I can’t help but feel happy for him that his fictional family are alive and well. (I say fictional because they were only ever in any danger within the confines of his mind as a result of the role he has been shunted into.) Everyone is overjoyed but just as it seems the sun begins to peak its head up through the clouds, here comes a deep grey rain cloud plump with rain: “Enjoy it while you can, tomorrow is another day.” The ominous words uttered by Derren, which really cut into the happy moment but actually also serve as a swift reminder that could easily resonate into our everyday lives if we let it. Tomorrow is another day and tomorrow will always come however, you may not be here to see it so enjoy today.

Ian is now ecstatic as Sarah has arrived at the gates. He charges over, shouting every word he speaks and as he does this I had the same realisation that I believe Steven did – stop shouting! You’re going to attract the attention of the infected! (See what I mean about it feeling real, even though I know it isn’t?)  Unfortunately, the worry that Steven and I shared was not the real issue; the infected were closer than just nearby lurking. Sarah, brandishing her red band, let’s us all know that she infected. My first thought is ‘what would I do in that situation? How would I feel? – actually I think my very first thought was “Oh, shit. No, not Sarah. Ah…Ian…” – but the question resonated. What would I do? I believe that I would impulsively do exactly what Ian did, and go out there. After all, you love this person so you would want to spend the last moments together right? But I have to wonder if confronted with the actual decision, would I stay or go? It’s hard to tell.
This serves as a defining moment for Steven the selfless, love driven act, means that Ian now hands the reins to Steven and passes the torch to him, bidding him farewell with a firm embrace. Ian tells Steven that he is now “the man” and that he is going to change his life. This is something else about the show I really enjoyed; Derren using his cunning and the power of suggestion to instil the desired attributes into Steven, through the characters. It is their words and actions, or lack there of, which help to reshape, reassure and reaffirm Steven’s alteration. We know it is all working because Steven takes control. He mentions to Danny that h needs to “be strong too”, which demonstrates either that he is or at the very least needs them to believe he is, strong now and will support them. And he does when the helicopter arrives; but we’ll go back to that in a minute.

Another Derren implant crops up when Leona makes a video message for her mother. She says, ” Mum, I appreciate everything you do. I don’t tell you that enough. I promise when (if?) I see you again, I’m gonna be the best possible person I can be.” This is of the promises we make to ourselves when we are fearful that something is going to go fatally wrong but it is also specifically intended to remind Steven of all the things his mother does for him that he takes for granted and never really showed any gratitude for. All these little nuances thrown in by Derren really made the show work for me.  The army fatigues given to Steven by Ian for example; perhaps to make our protagonist feel strong? To make him feel like a solider, subsequently increasing the chances that he will take charge and stand firm.

The arrival of the helicopter serves as the final moment in the battle with selfishness. Another horror movie moment where a tender and otherwise happy scene is shattered by the unwanted presence of the very evil you are trying to escape. Just outside the gates, between them and salvation, the horde has arrived in full force. Danny, the manifestation of Steven’s self-centred mindset, leaves Leona behind as they attempt to get to the chopper (Arnie voice) Steven is very angry about this, showing that he truly feels responsible for Leona and he goes back through the horde for her. He displays genuine fear through compassion actually, when he loses sight of her and again, although we the viewers are aware it’s all a ruse, for Steven it is very real. To him, the horde of zombies that surround him, the mass of bodies he has to run through, pose a very real threat. He is terrified and it makes you feel bad for him, which then makes you feel bad about yourself because there is another part of you that basically justifies this as something he deserves and something he needs. Throwing stones within the proverbial glass house.

Back in the safe house, helicopter and Danny gone, he makes a video for his family. Clearly trying to be strong and sort of lighten the mood by making the little joke “I’m a bit tired, just went for a jog” but the tone is about to change; here comes the remorse. He pours his heart out to his family, reassuring them that he loves them and he actually does appreciate the things they do for him. At this moment, I began to wonder how it was for his family. Watching this must be bittersweet. On one hand, they are getting what they want; he has changed or is changing. On the other, it still has to be awkward knowing he is going through such emotional and mental turmoil. (A situation they have essentially helped thrust him into. Tough love eh?)

 

A Sigh Of Relief And The Rise Of A Phoenix

As Steven and Leona begin to make the walk to Wales, an abandoned phone cues the end of this nightmare. Derren instructs Steven to sleep and the next time he opens his eyes, he is back home and in his bed. It was all just a bad dream. (What a way to spend your birthday eh?) He is clearly over the moon when he comes downstairs to find his family gathered around the dinner table. Steven is rightfully overjoyed and remarks, “I had this love for them that I’ve never really felt before” (I couldn’t help but cry here) After Derren gives the ethically required debrief, we to 28 days later (very clever Mr. Brown) and it is good to see that Steven has taken to his second chance so well. “I’m more engaged with life.” he informs a proud and happy Derren. But do they stick? Those desperate moments and the reformation which can follow? I think sometimes when confronted with the dangerous, grim reality of an unfortunate and unpleasant situation we make shallow promises. Sure, in that moment we may wholeheartedly believe them and intend to carry them through to emission but how often do we actually fulfil that order? How often do we make use of those rare second chance moments?

I must say, I really enjoyed Apocalypse. I had a particular connection with this, not because I felt I was wasting my life before but I went through a series of events that brought me to my absolute lowest. Lower than I ever thought I could be and lower than I would ever want to be again. However, I know how vital and valuable those events were. From beneath the dark depths of depression, I am now able to stand again and everything feels different. I am getting to grips with this new version of me, stabilising myself on this new equilibrium and so I can understand quite well how Steven feels. Within the ashes and the rubble of complete destruction, within the grace of absolute darkness, there is a chance for creation and the opportunity for the brightest of lights to shine through.

Derren will be back on our screens with ‘Fear and Faith’, this Friday [November 9th] at 9PM on channel 4. I’ll surely be tuning in and I hope you all do too.

 

Until next time, I leave you with this:

 

 

Much Love,

Jack

Paranormal Activity In The Last House You Should Be [aka On The Right Side Of Sinister]

Sinister (15)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone.

Director: Scott Derrickson

 

Released: Oct 5th 2012

 

 

 

When it comes to horror movies, every now and then something great slinks its way through the darkness, and thrusts itself into your life like the cold steel brandished by Mr. Kruger himself – Myers or Voorhees if you prefer.

Sinister is one such film.

Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you that this is the greatest horror film of all time, or tag it with that clichéd line of “this is the scariest film of the past decade” but it is definitely one of the best I have seen in the last several years.

 

I am going try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, because I personally hate when people give away fragments of the movie; I don’t even watch trailers because I feel they show too much and I prefer to go into a film with as little knowledge about it as possible. So this is all I will say: Ellison Oswalt, a true crime author researching his next book chooses to move himself and family into the house where a murder was committed. Yes, you read that correctly – he moved his family into the very house where a murder actually took place. I’d like to highlight this as one of those moments where I’m sat in the cinema thinking, I would never be in this position in the first place. And why is that? Simply because I would not have moved into the house in the first place. With this plot device in place, the movie plays out and I am delighted to say that the movie was brilliantly shot. The soundtrack was absolutely flawless and so perfectly complimented the pacing of the movie, the characters were believable, their relationships and dynamics were engaging and even hilarious in the right places.

There was one scene near the middle that bugged me because the initial impact of it was very well executed but instead of just allowing that one hit to be the home run they repeated the very same thing in slightly varying ways, which ultimately worked against them and diminished the power of the first moment. The end was a little shaky and I don’t think it truly did the rest of the film justice but, with the exception of these two faults, I loved everything else about it. I cannot tell you from personal experience that it was scary but I can attest to the fact there were plenty screams, yelps, gasps and jumps within the confines of that cinema.

 

As expensive as the cinematic experience has become, we can ill afford to waste money on films you can clearly tell the creators didn’t really care about so, with that in mind, I can assure you that this one is worth seeing. If you scare easily, I will give this little warning – there are images and ideas within the film that will stay with you so perhaps make sure you have someone to curl up to when bedtime arrives. It has been out for a while now so make sure you get to a cinema before they stop showing it. If you’re looking for a good horror movie to sink your teeth into then, I recommend this because Sinister definitely got it right. You see what I did there? Oh how I amuse myself.

Rating: 4/5

Look, Over Yonder Beneath The Horizon, The Weeknd Approaches!

November 13th will see the debut album release of Canadian R&B artist The Weeknd. I know what you’re probably thinking, that sentence isn’t grammatically correct because surely it should have said ‘artists’ and not ‘artist’, but if you thought that then you would be wrong. Confused? So was I. It was the same feeling I had when I found out that Vybz Kartel was just one person. I get that people choose their own stage names and they probably have what feels like very valid, interesting and ‘cool’ reasons for them but it does bug me a little bit when people give themselves names that would suggest they were a group or at least a duo. Sure, you could argue that ‘The Weeknd’ as a name doesn’t necessarily suggest any number of people and perhaps this is just me being fussy but seriously dude? Seriously? Ok, rant over.

 

Truth be told, I caught on a little late and I didn’t find out about him until he released his second mixtape – ‘Thursday’ – but from the very first static crackle of ‘Lonely Star’ to the very last guitar rift of ‘Heaven Or Las Vegas’ I was hooked. I often talk about the vibe and feeling generated when it comes to music, because that is very important to me. The way music makes you feel is directly connected to how you interact with it and what it means to you.

This album has a peculiar yet wonderful concoction of what feels like sex, intoxication and isolation. I don’t know how to categorise that as a vibe, and this may not be what it feels like to everyone else, but I just get lost in it. At times I would leave it on loop and never be aware of how many cycles I had been through. Needless to say, I was enthused in the months leading up to mixtape 3: ‘Echoes Of Silence’. I vividly remember the moment I first listened to it. Come with me into my memory…(Rhyme-5 *raises hand*…)

 

December 22nd. 7am; I was at work. The building was empty aside from my manager and I, preparing to work through the delivery. Earphones in, my finger slid across the face of my original 80GB iPod – yeah, I’ve still got that – in search of the new Weeknd mixtape. I locate it, hit play and it hit back.

The slow, mesmerising crescendo. The familiar words of Michael Jackson’s ‘Dirty Diana’ – one of my top MJ tracks – and I’m thinking, no way. He didn’t. He didn’t. This BETTER be good. Then BOOM! Three sharp drum hits and I damn near blow up right there on the shop floor. I yank my earphones out, connect my iPod to the nearest dock, select the track entitled ‘D.D.’ and crank the volume up. Play. It hits again and I distinctly remember shouting ‘Oh yes!”. At this point I have already decided that The Weeknd is my new love and as I progress through all 9 tracks, the feeling grows stronger still.

 

Meanwhile, in the present… I am irritated. Why? Because the “album” being released next month is actually just a compilation of the 3 mixtapes released last year. So I have to say this again, seriously dude? Seriously? Why not just wait until next year? That would give him the time to create an entirely new body of work instead of a compilation comprising of what we have been listening to for over a year now, with one additional song per disc. Realistically speaking, in an age where people generally download anyway, what makes him think that people are going to buy the album? Sure, it will sell a few copies and he may gain some new fans and additional recognition but enough to warrant what strikes me as a delay tactic? Perhaps I’m just missing something.

Either way, I must admit that I am looking forward to any new music this rising star creates and ‘Trilogy’ is out November 13th. If you don’t already know about The Weeknd then please do get involved. It is genuinely good music, and I don’t mean Kanye.

 

I leave you with this:

 

 

Much Love,

Jack

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