Old friends return in the new teaser for J.J. Abrams’ eagerly anticipated ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Posted in Film, Previews, Trailers
By Sam Bathe on 17 Apr 2015

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Easily the most-anticipated movie of the year, with every passing minute, even non-franchise fans are getting more and more excited about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A match made in heaven for director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams, The Force Awakens will be the first in a very welcome new cluster of films for the Star Wars canon. Set approximately 30 years on from the events of Return of the Jedi, the three new leads certainly don’t look out of place alongside a few old favourites set to reprise their roles. Details on plot are still light so for now this new 110-second teaser will have to do, with plenty of Easter eggs and callbacks for fans to pour over. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is due for release on December 18th.

Thisispaper launch their stylish and summery S/S15 linen, sailcloth and denim bag collection

Posted in Products, Style
By Sam Bathe on 16 Apr 2015

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Magazine-turned-online lifestyle store, Thisispaper, get ready for summer with their new collection of linen, sailcloth and denim bags. Including the Handle Backpack – a hybrid between a tote bag and a backpack – plus a slew of other backpacks, the Top Roll roll top rucksack, a larger gym bag and the smaller Pocket Bags, all of Thisispaper’s bags are handmade in their Warsaw studio from the finest Polish materials. Varying from two natural linens to cotton denim and cotton sailcloth, all with vegetable-tanned leather details, the collection is available in five colourways and starts at €80 from the Thisispaper online store: www.thisispapershop.com

Film Review: The Salvation

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 13 Apr 2015

The idea of a Danish western starring Mads Mikkelsen was an intriguing one – perhaps a little more intriguing than The Salvation, Kristian Levring’s homage to the well-trodden genre, actually turns out to be. But that’s ok, because while The Salvation ultimately takes more from than the western canon than it adds to it, it is nevertheless a well made, enjoyable film. Show the rest of this post…

We begin in the American Frontier, where Danish immigrants Jon and Peter (Mads Mikkelsen and Mikael Persbrandt, respectively) have been living for some time. Jon is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his wife and son, whom he hasn’t seen for years. Their arrival unfortunately coincides with the release from prison of a gang leader’s brother, who, after a disagreement, ends up killing John’s wife and son. What then happens is a spiral of revenge, in which John and gang leader Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are intent on ending each other’s lives.

The film is very solidly put together, its South African landscapes standing in admirably for the American West. It borrows heavily from its predecessors in the genre, as almost all westerns do, but does so in a loving way. So much in here – from the framing to the soundtrack – is reminiscent of classic films. There’s even a dark joke about a coffin I particularly enjoyed, which reminded me of a great Clint Eastwood line in A Fistful of Dollars.

What the film doesn’t do is give us a fresh perspective on the genre, or anything particularly radical. The fact that our protagonist is Danish actually factors very little into the plot. He could be from anywhere really, and Levring and his screenwriters don’t seem overly interested in exploring the immigration angle, even though it’s hinted at in the opening scenes. So what we get is a tried and tested revenge narrative which, while efficiently presented, doesn’t establish any set pieces or, crucially, characters, worth remembering.

Mads Mikkelsen is a very good actor, but the role of Jon isn’t one for the western canon to really savour, and similarly Jeffrey Dean Morgan, while suitably nefarious as Delarue, isn’t a memorable villain. Eva Green, thanks to the nature of her character, really doesn’t get much chance to show what she can do, and the presence of Eric Cantona in a tiny role feels like stunt casting.

Most things about The Salvation are solid, workmanlike and safe. There’s little to really complain about, save a couple of instances of iffy scripting, but the overall  sense of familiarity leaves the whole thing feeling not much more than efficiently done. That doesn’t make The Salvation a bad film by any means, but I wanted more from it.

3/5

Le Cord upgrade Apple’s stock white Lightningcables with woven leather and rope colourways

Posted in Technology
By Sam Bathe on 8 Apr 2015

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Not a new idea, but one of the best executions, Le Cord have taken Apple’s boring stock white cables, and turned them premium with leather or colourful with rope. Certified and approved by Apple and using original parts and components, the braided leather and rope models come in a multitude of colours with wood or plastic housing the port. All USB to Lightning, the cables will work with a multitude of iOS devices, including the latest iPhone and iPads. Le Cord’s cables are available in two lengths, 40cm and 1m, and start at €29.90 from their online store: www.lecord.se

The London List: Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers chocolatiers open their long-awaited Shoreditch storeThe London List

Posted in Food, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 6 Apr 2015

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Hip chocolatier brothers, Rick ahd Michael Mast, have become the go-to independent chocolate makers. Out of their Brooklyn factory and shop, Mast Brothers has built up a almost cult-like following, and have now opened their long-awaited flagship location in London. A factory in the back and shop and brewbar in the front – separated by little other than a wall-to-wall glass window – Mast Brothers have taken up residence on Shoreditch’s happening Redchurch Street. Following their pop-up at the Ace Hotel around the corner, the Redchurch Street factory/store offers Mast Brothers’ full range of bars, gift boxes and handmade truffles plus their brewed chocolate hot drinks.

Mast Brothers London, 19-29 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ
www.mastbrothers.com

Film Review: Fast & Furious 7

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 3 Apr 2015

There aren’t many films where when the plot makes absolutely no sense, it doesn’t make a difference to how much you enjoy the movie. The last two Fast & Furious films probably fall into that category, as the petrolhead franchise took a turn into heist action thrillers, and Fast & Furious 7 is more of the same. Show the rest of this post…

What plot there is follows on directly from Fast & Furious 6. Having defeated Special Forces soldier-gone-rogue, Owen Shaw, in the last film’s climactic showdown, now his brother Deckard (Statham) is out for revenge. After killing Han in Tokyo, the rest of the F&F crew are next on the list, so Dom decides to take the fight to Deckard instead. Agreeing to help free a kidnapped ally for a secret government black-ops team, they’ll be granted access to a computer programme to track down Deckard Shaw, only Shaw isn’t that easy to keep tabs on.

It’s a convoluted plot with twists and turns that only succeed in throwing you off the movie. Most of this rambling around happens in the opening act when Fast & Furious 7 certainly does its best to bore. Characters popping up at ridiculous times, in ridiculous situations will make you laugh at the film, rather than with it, but when the action sequences take hold and the movie really gets into its groove, things quickly improve.

Like the last two movies, and in particular Fast 5, this franchise has the capacity to be a huge amount of fun. The action and chase sequences in Fast & Furious 7 are visceral and triumphant and are easily its jewel in the crown. There are two sequences in particular – on the alpine roads and in Abu Dhabi – that are some of the most riveting action scenes I’ve seen in quite a while. The film parodies itself successfully too, and when you’re in the mood, those ridiculous moments turn into crowd-pleasers instead. Most surprisingly, the cliffhangers even leave you wondering if our heroes will make it to the end. Fast & Furious 7 certainly does a better job at that than any James Bond movie ever managed.

However, it’s not all good news. While the cast do a decent lumbering around with a clenched fist and or at the wheel of a car, they really struggle in a number of mishandled emotional scenes. Telegraphed with teary music and long, drawn-out shots, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson are completely exposed and would be better steering clear of the emotional stuff going forward. Michelle Rodriguez is better and Dwayne Johnson’s natural charisma is a lifeline in the film, I just he had more time on the screen.

But the biggest issue is director James Wan’s relentless objectification of women, and the misogynistic streak that runs all the way through Fast & Furious 7. Seemingly picking up where Michael Bay left off with the Transformers series, the drag race start sequence in the desert is disgustingly leery, while how Roman (Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) talk about Ramsey (Emmanuel) when by the pool has no place in modern filmmaking, or society in general. Fast & Furious 7 is telling young men that it’s OK to treat women with total disrespect, which is completely irresponsible of the filmmakers and producing studio Universal Pictures.

The film goes out on a sad note, marking the passing of star Paul Walker with a touching and heartfelt goodbye. It is surprisingly well-handled and the perfect way to say farewell to someone who was clearly loved by cast and crew. It means you will walk out of the theatre with a slightly less bitter taste in your mouth.

Fast & Furious 7 is a vapid, one-note romp. The emotional connection built up with the characters over the course of the seven movies goes some way to saving it in the end, but despite some hugely impressive action sequences, the misogyni c and leery attitude does derail the film. Which is a shame, because some parts are handled with real joy, and for distinct segments of the films, there’s bundles of fun to be had.

3/5

Martin Starr tries to keep up in Pete Livolsi’s fantastic short ‘Leonard in Slow Motion’

Posted in Film, Short Films
By Sam Bathe on 2 Apr 2015

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Living in slow motion while the rest of the world runs at regular speed, life can be tough for Leonard. Struggling to keep up in work and love, when Leonard discovers his office crush is getting transferred to another office, he must somehow figure out a way to get up to normal speed or risk losing her forever. Brilliantly played by Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Party Down), how the filmmakers achieved the two-speed effect is a technical marvel, directed by Pete Livolsi.

Tom Blachford shoots Palm Springs’ classic mid-century architecture in his series ‘Midnight Modern’

By Sam Bathe on 1 Apr 2015

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With rare access from the Palm Springs Modern Committee, Australian photographer Tom Blachford‘s latest project takes in the gorgeous mid-century properties of Palm Springs. Shot under moonlight, the mysterious series looks like it could be straight from an ’80s slasher movie, albeit the most stylish John Carpenter film to date. Try to spot the architectural aristocracy, the Kaufmann House designed by legendary architect Richard Neutra is featured in Blackford’s series too. Show the rest of this post…

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You can buy prints from the series from the Midnight Modern website: www.midnightmodern.co

Dan Deacon goes on a journey through the afterlife in the video for single ‘When I Was Done Dying’

Posted in Music, Music Videos
By Sam Bathe on 31 Mar 2015

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As bizarre and magical illustrations visualise the lyrics of the fantastical track, Dan Deacon takes a tour of the afterlife in the video for track When I Was Done Dying, produced for Adult Swim’s Off The Air. Featuring work by nine talented illustrators and animators, the lever of detail is so high and the styles are so diverse that everytime you rewatch it, you’ll pick up on something new. Directed by Dave Hughes.

Film Review: While We’re YoungFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews
By Nick Deigman on 30 Mar 2015

While We’re Young opens with title cards featuring dialogue from Ibsen’s The Master Builder. A conversation between Solness and Hilde. The middle-aged professional, stooping under the weight of his life, and the beautiful, wicked young siren who will lead him to his downfall. Show the rest of this post…

If Noah Baumbach wishes us to carry this idea forward into his story, then Josh and Cornelia are our Solness. All lust for life, lost. They’ve forgotten how to enjoy the pursuit of their half-fulfilled objectives, and are now buried beneath them. Josh’s documentary, eight years in the making, remains unfinished. He can barely bring himself to look at it. They’re trapped in the shadow of Cornelia’s famous documentarian father, Leslie. Cornelia produces his films while Josh has never quite lived up to the mantle of Leslie’s ‘protege’. Not helping matters, their best friends have just had a child and can speak of nothing else. They’re happy for them, of course; but nothing amplifies life’s metronome like watching your best friends play happy families while you forget the plot line to Goldilocks & the three bears.

Jamie and Darby are our Hilde. Married twentysomethings living the Brooklyn Renaissance dream. “They just make things, all the time!” Incorrigible, unjaded, filled with that youthful, malleable passion that can be redirected at a moment’s notice. They make ice cream, they make desks, they make documentaries. They have a record collection that should have taken three decades to amass. Their apartment is filled with “all the things we threw out, but they make it look cool”. Record players, typewriters, old projectors, books, vintage furniture.

While Cornelia and Josh are playing iPhone games and watching Netflix, Jamie and Darby smoke weed and cook and listen to old records. The young, steal our youth. While we’re constantly trying to keep up with the present, they’re building their future out of the wreckage of our pasts. And when we turn back to stare, it throws the even tenor of our lives into a tail spin that is as alluring as it is disorientating. If life’s a race, we hope it’s at least a straight one. But moments like this make us realise we’re running through a hall of mirrors.

The two couples become friends when Jamie, hoping to become a documentarian himself, sneaks into an evening class that Josh teaches. Josh sees in this young man a sort of selfless, boundless passion that he wishes desperately to rekindle, not just in his career, but in his relationship with Cornelia. Their flirtation with this youthful couple is not just for kicks. It is an honest attempt to burrow backwards into their own lives to work out where things started to go wrong. Or, rather, where things just stopped feeling “right”, and enjoyable for their own sake. Baumbach does an astounding job of making a mid-life crisis seem less about foot-dragging and immaturity, and much more about the desperate attempt to right the wrongs of the past before it’s too late.

Ben Stiller creates an almost loveable character in Josh. Rounding off the edges of that misanthropic, wincing sarcasm, making it look more like pathos. Adam Driver channels Jamie effortlessly: the dopey, handsome over-confident shyster, masking a timidity that still shows in the eyes. Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried do their best to match up to their male counterparts, but they’re never given the time. Perhaps exhausted from the wonderfully nuanced and feminine Frances Ha, Baumbach has made a film here that is most certainly about men.

Josh buys a fedora and helps Jamie with his fledgling documentary project. Cornelia chooses hip hop dance classes over spending time with her maternal best friend. They sack off a weekend cookout in Connecticut with their middle-aged friends to attend an ayahuasca ceremony with a bunch of childish hipsters and hippies. But it can only ever be a flirtation. The more they discover about themselves, the more they realise it’s probably too late to change.

In order to regain our youth, we must see the world through young people’s eyes. And it is always a different world, with different morals, different attitudes, different neuroses. You cannot simply default back to 26-years-old. It’s not the crow-s feet that will give you away, it’s the lens you see the world through that is old.

And the more they discover about Jamie and Darby, the more they realise things may not be as they first appeared. Has Jamie masterminded their friendship from the beginning in order to gain their support for his documentary? Is Darby the sweetness and light she at first appeared to be? Is their young marriage as pure and impenetrable as they make out?

Baumbach’s latest film ambles along in this slightly hazy, directionless fashion from start to finish. It is to be applauded, really. He allows short bursts of impeccable, comedic filmmaking – with sharp editing, a masterful attention to pace, and wonderful performances – to build slowly in the midst of life’s whimsical funk. You never feel as if he is leading you anywhere in particular. His films do have an economy and discipline that makes 97 minutes slip by quickly, but they are well hidden. There will be moments where you begin to feel bored, but then before you know it you’re laughing again. And then, at some point, the lights come up, and you make your way out of the theatre with a grin and a furrowed  brow. In that respect, it might almost be said that Baumbach does have a touch of Ibsen about him. It’s a very generous parallel, but if he wants it, I’ll give it to him.

4/5

FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

We’ve been featured on the front page of Reddit and produced off-shoot club night Friday Night Fist Fight, launched a Creative Agency and events column The London List.

FAN THE FIRE is edited by founder, Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief, Sam Bathe. Site by FAN THE FIRE Creative.

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