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Reviews in Retrospect: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

When I first began writing this review of Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 masterpiece, Their Eyes Were Watching God, it was an understatement to say that I felt daunted. Many have said that the novel defined the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, and prolific writers such as Alice Walker (author of The Colour Purple) have said that, “There is no book more important […] than this one”. Nevertheless, the reason why I jumped at the opportunity to write about it, is that when I read the book, on a rainy-day during quarantine, the sense of wonder I felt for the novel’s protagonist made me want to share it with everyone. Continue reading Reviews in Retrospect: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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Politics on Screen: Sitting in Limbo

At the start of June BBC One aired Sitting in Limbo, a factual drama about the consequences of the Windrush scandal of 2018. Despite the programme flying largely under the radar, nearly two months after I watched this important piece of television, I still reflect on it and the way it made me feel. Continue reading Politics on Screen: Sitting in Limbo

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Review: The Kissing Booth 2

The Kissing Booth, directed by Vince Marcello and starring Joey King, Jacob Elordi and Molly Ringwald, caused a bit of a stir in the rom-com genre when it was first released on Netflix in May 2018. Not least because it was based off a published Wattpad series by Beth Reekles, written when she was just fifteen years old. As someone who used to frequently read (and occasionally attemptto write) Wattpad stories, I maintain that it is a valuable platform for creating and consuming content in its most preliminary form; though I do wonder if there were other less damaging narrative that Netflix could have picked up and transferred to the big screen. Continue reading Review: The Kissing Booth 2

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Review: Royal Shakespeare Company: Othello

Iqbal Khan’s Othello is a haunting rendition of psychological unravelling. With a stage bathed in blue light, a set reminiscent of a gothic church, and songs performed like elegies, Shakespeare’s controversial tragedy undergoes a thematic dismantling. Khan’s Othello recontextualises the play’s depictions of brutality and injustice. Costumes wander in a realm between modern and timeless, and additional dialogue involves the multi-racial community exchanging racist insults using current language. Most notably, the dynamic between Othello and the manipulative Iago shifts, with the compelling casting choice of a black actor as Iago. Continue reading Review: Royal Shakespeare Company: Othello

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.5

‘How much longer?’ Benji asks. He’s playing on his Switch in the back-seat; the tinny sound effects an accompaniment to Daisy’s strained breathing. ‘Not long, the sat-nav says ten minutes.’ I flit my eyes between the screen and the road, gently turning the steering wheel. ‘A whole ten?’ He groans, shifting about on the leather. ‘Why don’t you put your game away, look out the … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.5

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Beer Gardens: A Place to Fear?

Since lockdown restrictions have been lifted, I’ve been making the most of socialising with my friends, whether it be a walk through the countryside, a takeaway or meal out, or, of course, a drink at one of my local pubs. Although I’ve heard bad things about some pubs in my area and across the country as a whole, I’ve only had fairly positive experiences in regards to social distancing. I’m happy to be able to get out to pubs again, as long as I feel reassured that they are definitely safe and socially distant. Continue reading Beer Gardens: A Place to Fear?

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Holiday at Home?

The holiday culture first took over the UK in the eighteenth century, when the wealthy began to discover spa breaks in places like Bath. By the nineteenth century, holiday resorts across the UK such as Blackpool and Southport first opened. Although foreign holidays were popular in the twentieth century, they appeared only available to the rich. For any fellow fans of A Room With A … Continue reading Holiday at Home?

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Reviews in Retrospect: Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum is a TV series both written and staring Michaela Coel. Originally airing on E4 in 2015, I first heard of it a few weeks ago when it was added to Netflix. The programme’s debut on Netflix comes after Coel’s new drama I Will Destroy You was released on BBC in June. This led to one of my housemates suggesting we watch it because … Continue reading Reviews in Retrospect: Chewing Gum

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Review: I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel’s masterpiece deserves your attention.
Social media has been ablaze with rave reviews of Michaela Coel’s latest work for weeks. From the moment the first episode aired in early June, my Twitter feed was awash with people declaring it a masterpiece, and its creator ‘the new Phoebe Waller-Bridge’. My interest was piqued. Still, I was hesitant as I hit play, not quite sure whether the show would live up to my expectations. Fast-forward a couple of weeks and you’d find me lying on my floor, trying my best to contemplate what I’d just seen in the show’s finale. Subversive is too soft a word for the twisted, confusing, uncomfortable, incredible half hour I’d just experienced. I was fully ready to declare I May Destroy You a work of genius. Continue reading Review: I May Destroy You

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Review: Mrs America

When I first learned about Phyllis Schlafly and her battle against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) during my history lessons at school, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend why somebody would be in opposition to the legal affirmation of their own rights. Mrs America (BBC 2/FX on Hulu) offered me a more in-depth insight into the historical narrative of the motivations behind her activism. This … Continue reading Review: Mrs America

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Review: folklore by Taylor Swift

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Over the last three months of lockdown, everybody seems to have had their own quarantine project, and ten-time Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift, is no different. However, whilst we, the common people, baked bread and ran 5Ks, Swift was writing and producing her eighth Studio Album, folklore, which she announced and dropped within 24 hours, complete with a music video she directed. Continue reading Review: folklore by Taylor Swift

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.4

When you are twelve, you lose interest in the difference between a stag beetle and a dung beetle. It’s not cool to like insects or play in fields anymore. I had started ‘big school’ as Mum promised. I hung out with a group of five boys; we would play football in the playing field after lessons, staining the grey trousers that were ironed for me, … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.4

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Review: Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods (2020) is Spike Lee’s latest release after his critically acclaimed BlacKkKlansman (2018), which won him his first Academy award. Lee’s constant stream of provocative and profound pieces has proven time and time again that he has “his finger on the pulse of modern America” (Mark Kermode). The plot follows four ex-GIs who return to Vietnam to recover the remains of their fallen comrade, the almost mythical, Black Panther-esque Stormin’ Norman. At least that’s their cover. In reality, they return to retrieve bars of gold that the American army stole from the North Vietnamese all those years ago. Continue reading Review: Da 5 Bloods

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Flesh and Femininity: How Body Horror in Raw Externalises Female Sexual Awakening

Julia Ducournau’s directorial debut Raw follows 16-year-old Justine as she attempts to navigate the complexities of becoming a woman alongside her newfound and unconventional desires. Coming from a high-achieving family of entirely vets and vegetarians, Justine is ready to start her first year at vet school, where her older sister, Alexia, also studies. During some time-honoured and intense hazing rituals, the ‘rookies’ are drenched in pigs’ blood (Carrie, anyone?) and forced to eat raw rabbit kidneys as a form of initiation. After eating meat for the first time, unexpected consequences emerge as Justine is overcome with an all-consuming craving for human flesh. Continue reading Flesh and Femininity: How Body Horror in Raw Externalises Female Sexual Awakening

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Review: NT Live: Amadeus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is, to most, synonymous with classical music. The composer is widely adored, and his music is often played by students to help them concentrate when pulling an all-nighter or cramming some revision. The play Amadeus, perhaps contrary to what the title may suggest,does not focus entirely on this complicated individual, but rather on Antonio Salieri, the composer creating at the same time as Mozart. This heavily dramatised account acts as part confession and part swan song of the dying artist in his last few hours on earth. The plot is full of activity, though rather simple to follow, as Salieri invites the audience to listen to his tale, the character imagining us as ghosts of the future judging his supposed actions. What we witness is a hard-working and deeply religious man making a name for himself on the Viennese court and whose outputs are minimised when compared with the works of Mozart. Continue reading Review: NT Live: Amadeus

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Zoos in Lockdown

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought with it uncertainty and hardship for everyone. With families split, businesses closed, and many staff furloughed, life has been turned upside down indefinitely. However, for some businesses COVID-19 has placed excessive strain on the existence of their assets and zoos are at the forefront of these hardships. After being closed due to lockdown in March, zoos have been relying on charity from the public to maintain their animals for almost three months. Zoos require daily management in order to feed, clean, and care for the thousands of animals that they house, and the extended and unexpected closures had the potential to be devastating for many of these wild animals across the country. Despite zoos being allowed to reopen on the Monday 15 June 2020, the lack of income over the last few months has meant that many zoos (including Living Coasts in Torquay) have been force to announce their permanent closures. Continue reading Zoos in Lockdown

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Changing Spaces: Learning to Love the Box Room

Growing up I never understood how being sent to your bedroom was a punishment; the potential of spending an hour in my own space acted not as a deterrent, but if anything prompted me to be cheeky so I could escape helping unload the dishwasher. However, after spending four months in lockdown, cooped up in my childhood bedroom, I’ve begun to understand the intended unpleasantness behind this overused penalty. Continue reading Changing Spaces: Learning to Love the Box Room

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Making Herstory: How TIME is Foregrounding Women’s Excellence

In response to the historic gender exclusivity of their ‘Man of the Year’ issues, published for 72 years, TIME Magazine recently launched a project, recreating 100 covers, each celebrating a ‘Woman of the Year’ from 1920 to 2019. The project aims to turn the spotlight to the achievements of women which were historically overshadowed by those of their male counterparts. From renowned fashion icon Coco Chanel to mathematical revolutionary Emmy Noether, from the champion of Indian independence Amrit Kaur to sporting legend Serena Williams, TIME’s project truly presents an incredible compilation of female champions. Continue reading Making Herstory: How TIME is Foregrounding Women’s Excellence

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.3

Summer 2005. I was ten. It was two years ago that I had seen the baby fox and their mother. I would sometimes wonder if they were still out there, flashing through the woods. I stomped through the landscape, looking for fun, growing bored of what the countryside of Devon could offer.I was growing restless in the fields and hedgerows, which manifested in a lethargy. … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.3

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Review: Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan

From familiar folk-rock instrumentals spring songs of the self. Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album Rough and Rowdy Ways ​was released on June 19th, to high praise from critics and fans alike. Listeners have found in these songs a window to escape lockdown through —​ ​and yet, like all of Dylan’s greatest albums, this one refuses to turn away from reality. Continue reading Review: Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan

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Theatres in the Dark: Here’s How You Can Support Your Local Playhouse

When theatres fell dark on Monday 16 March 2020, few could have imagined that nearly four months later their doors would remain closed. Their auditoriums decidedly empty and their stages eerily quiet. While lockdown has meant we’ve been able to enjoy award-winning productions streamed directly to our homes, performers, technicians and audiences alike are now eagerly anticipating a return to normality, itching for theatres to raise their curtains once more. Continue reading Theatres in the Dark: Here’s How You Can Support Your Local Playhouse

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Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

When it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest, I would not class myself as the ‘average viewer’. If anything, I am a huge fan of the wonderfully wacky contest. So I, along with tens of thousands of people from all over Europe and around the world, was ready to head to Rotterdam this May to enjoy its week of spectacular weirdness. However, COVID-19 has put these plans on hold. I do not want to in any way diminish the awful effects the current crisis has had on every aspect of life. I just find that it is unfortunate, but understandable, that the contest had to be postponed. Continue reading Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

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Beautiful Bodies and Damaging Diets: TikTok and Body Image

If you haven’t spent significant time in lockdown on TikTok, either you have been living under a rock or simply have better willpower than the rest of us. What began as a platform for lip-syncing videos (musical.ly), has now become a popular social media app broadcasting diverse content from short travel videos, daily lifestyle vlogs, challenges, trending dances, and different memes. Especially with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, … Continue reading Beautiful Bodies and Damaging Diets: TikTok and Body Image

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Reading Corner: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo’s debut book charts the emotional and sexual lives of three women who, despite being radically different to one another in their circumstances and experiences, are bound together in ways that are difficult to pinpoint. Having heard a great deal throughout the year about how ground-breaking and excellent Three Women was, I decided to make it one of my lockdown reads. I was surprised … Continue reading Reading Corner: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

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Four Decades On, Patti Smith is Still the Godmother of Poetry and Protest

Few things match the feeling, as a fifteen-year-old girl, of hearing a woman in a classic rock song tell you: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” At once, you’re aware of the magnificence of living honestly and boldly. You also realise that if you’re too nervous to attempt that yourself, you can always turn up the volume, and ​live vicariously through someone who’s less afraid. Continue reading Four Decades On, Patti Smith is Still the Godmother of Poetry and Protest

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Glastonbury in my Garden? – Virtual Festivals

We were all ready for the 2020 festival season, but as the Coronavirus pandemic grounded the UK to a halt in March, there remained little hope that any festivals would be taking place as usual this year. But don’t pack away the bucket hats just yet – many festivals have taken to the internet to provide festivalgoers with some virtual experiences to aid the lockdown … Continue reading Glastonbury in my Garden? – Virtual Festivals

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Review: Athlete A

Content Warning: Sexual Abuse Netflix’s new documentary Athlete A is undoubtedly a must-watch, regardless of whether you are a fan of gymnastics. I’ve always loved the sport. For a few years, I participated in gymnastics from a young age and, while I was never that good, I enjoyed it immensely and found training on all the different apparatus exciting. I still like watching gymnastics when … Continue reading Review: Athlete A

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Cooking and Conversation

They say the first sign of insanity is talking to yourself, but for me it is a sign I’m cooking. I admit, there is a certain flair of insanity to my culinary methods. I defy measuring, exchange ingredients routinely, and follow recipes how I follow most advice – listening but rarely enacting. Cooking is a language for me. I’ve confessed and drank wine with Nigella, I’ve laughed and ranted with Ramsay, and I’ve questioned Oliver on many occasions. Cooking is a warm hello in the shape of tender meat and clouds of mash, it is an apology sweetened with strawberries, it is a declaration of love infused with chillies, and it is a get well soon in the shape of a bowl of garden vegetable soup. Continue reading Cooking and Conversation

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Footballer or Philanthropist? Rashford Speaks Out

When Marcus Rashford walks out onto the pitch donning the white shirt of England’s international football team, we see a star footballer, who is representing his country as one of the best in the world. What we don’t see, however, is the young boy who received free school meals as a child, whilst his mother struggled to make ends meet. Like Rashford, this is the harsh reality for many families in the UK, with 1.3 million children claiming free school meals in 2019. The government’s Free School Meal scheme allows children from low-income families to receive free meals during their education, right from nursery age. Continue reading Footballer or Philanthropist? Rashford Speaks Out

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My Culture Comforts: 10 Things I Hate About You

I think we all have that one film which we gravitate towards in times of anxiety and stress. As a film student, I am burdened with a sense of shame when it comes to enjoying “bad” films. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is in no way a bad film, but it’s definitely no Citizen Kane (1941). Today, I reject shame. Whenever I feel … Continue reading My Culture Comforts: 10 Things I Hate About You

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Creative Corner: NinaValentine Designs

During the early stages of lockdown, when I still had a dissertation to write and exams to sit, I was able to keep the boredom at bay. Even though it was hard to motivate myself to do work, at least I had something to aim for. Once I was finished however, suddenly I had all this time on my hands with nothing to do. All of my summer plans were cancelled, jobs and internships were postponed, and I had to find something to do to fill my days – so I wouldn’t go completely mad! Continue reading Creative Corner: NinaValentine Designs

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Part. 1

I was the type of child that adults liked. I was polite, timid, and entertained myself. ‘What a lovely young man,’ old women would coo over me, and ‘gosh, isn’t he well behaved,’ fathers would nod, holding back their own snarling boys. At the school gates, at the end of the day, parents would arrive, ready to embrace their children, who were either exhausted or … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Part. 1

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Melodrama and Me

I remember the first time I listened to Melodrama; in the dark of my bedroom on release night, with the volume up full. When Lorde told us she was about to “make em’ all dance to it”, she wasn’t lying. Three years on, this is still an album I revisit regularly. With her vocals, song writing, and production melting together to construct a soundtrack of adolescent loneliness, Melodrama deserves all the critical acclaim it receives. Continue reading Melodrama and Me

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My Culture Comforts: Peter Kay’s Car Share

Re-watching comedies is one of my favourite things to do and days in lockdown have been spent happily returning to the worlds of The League of Gentlemen, Outnumbered and Stath Lets Flats, to name a few. I have particularly enjoyed re-watching (for the hundredth time) Peter Kay’s Car Share, after all 12 episodes became available on BBC iPlayer a few weeks ago. It has been … Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Peter Kay’s Car Share