Review: ‘Phantom Thread’ (2017)


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a director and writer, Paul Thomas Anderson is undeniably hard to define. The scope of his filmography defies the bounds of genre, tone and convention to make a uniquely diverse repertoire of work. His only other collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood, resulted in a richly gothic and absorbing study of a man and his relentless pursuit of wealth during the oil boom of the early 20th Century in Southern California. In Phantom Thread, Day-Lewis takes on another compellingly ruinous character, demonstrating once again his mastery of portraying the most complex and inscrutable of men.

phantom_thread_teaser_instgrmSet against the backdrop of 1950s London, the majority of the film unfolds within the walls of a lavish Georgian townhouse in Fitzrovia. It acts as the home and workplace of distinguished dress-maker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister, both at the centre of the British fashion industry. Women are shown to be fleeting in Reynolds’ life, providing only fleeting companionship. This promptly changes when he meets the willful and headstrong Alma (Vicky Krieps), who becomes his muse and lover. Once meticulously ordered and planned, Reynolds finds his life to be irrevocably changed by her influence. (source)

Continue reading


The Power of Framing in Xavier Dolan’s ‘Mommy’ (2014)


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Xavier Dolan’s 2014 feature Mommy is the kind of film that warms you from the inside out. It presents you with a life less than perfect, unafraid to show to the characters’ vicissitudes of fortune. It is brutal and unnerving at times, but in the end you find yourself enamoured with the characters; not in spite of their flaws, but because of them.

(N.B. I have included some minor spoilers from this point on. Though there is nothing major in regards to plot, I recommend you watch the film before reading as it has the best effect when you go in with a blank slate.)

The audience gets a distinct and singular sense of the film being vital and alive in every way possible, the events on screen being only one sense of this.  Continue reading

Practical (and realistic) study hacks to get you through university


, , , , , , , ,

Hi all! I’m going to do something slightly off my usual arts and culture track today and share with you my top study and organising hacks I’ve learned through school and university. Now I say these are university hacks, but you could use any of these tips and tricks for any level or area of study you would find yourself in. Many of these small things have helped to reduce my stresses and anxieties over the course of my degree, and so I hope by sharing I’ll do the same for anyone nail-biting over their academic life. Enjoy!
(Featured image for this post courtesy of @studyskylar on tumblr)

Continue reading

Feats of simplicity: the drawings of Henri Matisse


, , , , , , , , ,

French Realist painter Edgar Degas once commented that ‘drawing is not what you see but what you must make others see.’ This statement may have held true for Degas, but it is certainly accurate of the drawings of Henri Matisse. Though he is known primarily for the cut-outs produced later in his life, Matisse produced a wealth of drawings in a variety of formats. These drawings, despite being the most stylistically simplistic of his works, exhibit as much nuance and artistry as his fully realised paintings and deserve their own share of Matisse’s spotlight.


Continue reading

film focus: ‘The Bad Batch’ (2017)


, , , , , , , ,


Generally, almost any piece of cinema can fit comfortably within one of two categories: it is either a film which revolves around plot or a film based on mood. And what is clear from the outset of The Bad Batch is that it is most definitely the latter.

Before watching this film, I have to admit I was skeptical. I hadn’t heard great things about it. With a very mixed bag of reviews, including a barely there Metacritic score of 61 and just 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, it wasn’t shaping up well, even before it started rolling. However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The film has an oddly hazy brutality and offhand charm which is utterly entrancing to those who surrender themselves to it.

The basic premise, which is not given up easily to the viewer, is that those whom mainstream society deem to be undesirable, whether they are criminals, oddballs or just illegal immigrants, have been branded as ‘the bad batch’. They are henceforth exiled to desolate, fenced-off Texas desert to live out their lives separate from civilisation and the rule of law.

Continue reading

‘a connotation of infinity’ by e e cummings: a short study


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Ever since I first laid eyes on e e cummings’ most famous poem ‘i carry your heart with me (i carry it in’, I have been utterly in love with his gorgeously offhand response to traditional poetic form.

In digging around his work, I was drawn to ‘a connotation of infinity’. It is one of his less popular pieces, but is so rich in meaning and allusion that I never grow tired of reading it:

a connotation of infinity
sharpens the temporal splendor of this night

when souls which have forgot frivolity
in lowliness, noting the fatal flight
of worlds whereto this earth’s a hurled dream

down eager avenues of lifelessness

consider for how much themselves shall gleam,
in the poised radiance of perpetualness.
When what’s in velvet beyond doomed thought

is like a woman amorous to be known;
and man, whose here is always worse than naught,
feels the tremendous yonder for his own—

on such a night the sea through her blind miles

of crumbling silence seriously smiles

 — e e cummings

Continue reading

book corner: Thérèse Desqueyroux by François Mauriac


, , , , , , , ,

I’m not ashamed to admit that I plucked this book from a shelf in a charity shop almost solely because of its distinct Frenchness. It was a lovely little Penguin Modern Classics edition with a Expressionist painting on the cover, so as someone who loves books as artefacts I was compelled to buy it. And I was far from disappointed by its contents. I could feel this book becoming a new favourite as I was reading it, practically pencil-marking every other sentence for the expression being utterly perfect.

Set in the Bordeaux region of France, the novel opens as a court case closes; Thérèse has been acquitted of the crime of poisoning her husband, Bernard. This lays the groundwork for the subsequent events of the novel, exploring both the causes and the repercussions of her seemingly morally devoid act. Her unhappy marriage, unwanted motherhood and the intense social pressures upon her build a picture of a woman driven to unimaginable extremes by those around her.

Continue reading

film focus: ‘Drive’ (2011)


, , , , , , , ,

Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2011 work is one of the most stylish, nuanced films I have ever seen, and I’m going to tell you why it’s my favourite.

For the duration it feels as if you’re holding onto your breath, teetering on the edge of something fantastic, waiting for a release of some kind; a kiss, a murder, even just a voice. It completely controls you until its end and captures your imagination even after the credits roll.

But that’s just my bias talking. I’m going to take you through three main aspects of this film which make it such a rewarding watch, both the first time and the tenth…

Continue reading

hello and welcome!


, , , , , ,

For a while I’ve had blogs or spaces where I post my general brain mess concerning things I’m enthusiastic about, but I’ve always started over countless times because I am an unproductive combination of mercurial and self-critical. So with this last fresh start I am determined to be consistent.

First of all, thank you for taking some time out of your undoubtedly busy life to read this. I hope not to disappoint your (hopefully) low expectations.

In any case, I’m Bella. I am a second year BA English undergrad at the  University of Nottingham (UK). My preoccupations in life are mainly, but not exclusively, literature, art, plants and music. Which isn’t really specific at all, if you think about it. But I digress.

I’ll be posting on all that you’d expect an Arts student to be thinking about, be it books or film or general creativity. If you’d like to continue to read my mildly interesting ramblings then please come back and visit soon (or even follow if you’re feeling especially generous).

Much love,

Bella. x