Photo by Emily KenCairn of Apiary Studio on Unsplash

Four “noble truths” underpin Buddhist philosophy. The first has always struck me with the most force. It has a cutting quality. Strikes the bell of truth cleanly.

“Life is suffering.”

The idea is straightforward. Everything that lives, suffers — it’s simply the natural state of existence for all living things. As natural as breathing. It’s part of the deal and should be expected. (Though the remaining three noble truths are all about eliminating suffering, oddly enough.)

There’s real wisdom in this. To remind ourselves as often as possible that whatever suffering we’ve been doing lately, it’s essentially the same basic…


Writer-director Emerald Fennell, in her debut feature film, delivers a modern rape-revenge movie that blends in aesthetics and narrative situations from the rom-com. The film stands out for a memorable performance by Carrey Mulligan and a sharp script that cuts into and examines aspects of sexual abuse and cultural support systems that protect abusers. In some ways bleak, it has a revenge movie plot structure and plays with rom-com conventions, making it dramatically engaging throughout.

Unexpectedly, the film could be said to walk in the footsteps of Kill Bill (2003): our heroine, Cassandra, is a wounded lone wolf with an…


The cinematic experience: a shared viewing in a darkened room, enormous screen and booming speakers that envelope the senses. Projected on that screen, commonly explosions, fast cars, gunshots, carnage, blood & guts. Action. Time-honoured and adrenalin soaked ingredients that feel baked into the fabric of cinema itself.

Nobody is an unusually pure form of this brand of cinema, and for those who have missed going to the theatre lately, the visceral immersion it offers might be what the doctor ordered. It functions as a simple, hyper-violent action film. …


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For the best part of two decades my movie collection has been digital. No discs. I once owned a handsome collection of VHS cassettes & DVDs, but broadband became fast enough to download movies at some point in the early 2000s, then fast enough to stream movies, and soon enough I stopped buying DVDs. I never made the jump to Blu-ray.

For a long time I thought this worked just fine. When I wanted to watch a movie, I usually had a way to watch it. Only in recent years, oddly enough, as options for reliable HD streaming have multiplied…


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A character trait central to many toxic behaviours concerns a narcissistic kind of reality distortion.

Some individuals believe they possess the authority to dictate reality, setting their own terms, to the world around them. They are self-appointed reality dictators. Different from someone deluding themselves, reality dictators may not believe the narratives they create: they are designed to serve their interests when imposed on others. It is others that are expected to believe their narratives. Or at least be unable to successfully challenge them.

The dictator believes they determine what people think of as real or not. Facts are made use…


Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

2020 has been a shit hammer of a year for cinema. Fuck, it might spell some kind of End. That outsized canvas upon which the dreams of the world’s most imaginative visual artists are thrown could be in jeopardy. The tea leaves may spell D-O-O-M for the boys and girls of the silver screen.

A yearly comparison of global box office receipts paints a high contrast picture with politically unsettling overtones. The top three hit movies of 2019 were Avengers: Endgame ($2.8b), The Lion King ($1.7b), and Frozen II ($1.5b). 2020?


Photo by Luca Campioni on Unsplash

OK, so here we go.

I’m starting with speed on this idea, putting down some foundational logs, roughly around the site of the camp fire, before shooting off to do some tasks. But first to put something down in black and white, or I fear I never will.

Today I’ve been self-propelled at one thousand miles an hour. Run off my feet every waking moment, right up until this one. My aim was to slow down and do as little as humanly possible. …


Dark skies have been on my mind. I mean, really dark skies: those ones flooded with rich blacks interrupted only by the cosmos, and celestial bodies layered infinitely back in time towards the universe’s moment of birth. Skies where the galactic core of the Milky Way is visible with the naked eye on moonless nights and its endless midriff hangs in the firmament like a natural ghost, arching over our insy planet, charging up every soul on it with who-knows-what. Hovering, alive. Its intentions unspeakable. Skies free of light pollution.

With man-made climate change posing an increasing threat to life…


Christopher Nolan must be a self-tortured perfectionist, because Tenet seems like the product of spending years reworking Inception (2010) into a better form in his mind: thinking of themes he wished he incorporated, simplifications that could be made to the reality distortions at its heart, and new depths of mind-bending complexity the plot could drop into off of it. And yeah, by the end of the film I was convinced: he has taken apart the pieces, re-assembled them into a fresh form, and the result is a better film.

Worth mentioning is the photography. It has a super rich, dark…


Bob Dylan’s new album, wrapped in mystery and dropping unexpectedly like a consolation gift amidst the pandemic (or ‘in the dark, in the wee small hours’, to borrow a line from one of its songs), is a major, lively, and beautiful release. It also marks another shift in musical style and creative direction, just when it looked like Dylan had settled into covering standards from the Great American Songbook.

Lyrically Rough and Rowdy Ways has been described as impressionistic — like layering colourful brush strokes of thought to build tone and emotion, more than to lay down coherent and focused…

James Lanternman

Writing film reviews, political diatribes, short fiction.

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