• Domestic Horror and Trans-Femininity in Jamie Crewe's Ashley

    Published on: 5 November 2020

    As the current pandemic has transformed our sense of home with feelings of entrapment and isolation, Jamie Crewe’s film Ashley (2020), premiered only a few weeks before the UK went into lockdown, speaks almost prophetically to the anxiety that has come to define our relationship with the domestic sphere in the past months. Ashley is the first stand-alone, cinematic work by the Glasgow-based artist, whose videos often form part of multi-media exhibition projects. Ashley was realised with a commission Crewe received as the recipient of the 2019/20 Margaret Tait Award, the most prestigious Scottish moving image prize awarded to artists for experimental and innovative work. Crewe described the 45-minute film as an ‘isolated film about isolation,’ which follows a single character played by the artist, Ashley, while they are spending a weekend away in a remote cottage in the Scottish countryside.… continue reading.

  • Home and Englishness in the films of David Lean

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    From his modest upbringing as an accountant’s son in a Quaker household in Croydon, and beginning his career in the film industry as tea-boy at Gaumont Studios, David Lean (1908-1991) developed into the most internationally acclaimed director of English cinema. He is responsible for epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and A Passage to India (1984), which are about as far removed from his suburban background (which he hated), in terms of location, as one could imagine.… continue reading.

  • Home: The Domestic Interior on Screen

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    The book I am writing explores the creation of the home on screen from the perspective of the production designer using in depth case studies with designers. The case studies use a methodology developed for the analysis of production design called Visual Concept Analysis. The approach works through the five key ways a script is visualised by a production designer: 1) Space, 2) In and out, 3) Light, 4) Colour and 5) Set decoration. The case studies illustrate how decisions about the five elements are linked and return to the logic of the central visual concept driving the design.… continue reading.

  • Taste, Class and Domestic Décor in Abigail's Party

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    Abigail’s Party, Mike Leigh’s excruciating comedy of suburban manners is one of the writer/director’s most enduringly popular and iconic works. First performed at the Hampstead Theatre in London in April 1977, its posterity was assured by a BBC One television adaptation later the same year as part of their Play for Today strand. The play is a claustrophobic portrayal of a nightmarish neighbourhood drinks party, hosted by a socially ambitious (newly) middle class couple; Laurence, a workaholic estate agent and Beverly, a former beautician and ‘a suburban harridan of memorable awfulness’. Their guests are working-class Angela and Tony, plus Sue, an older, upper-middle-class divorcee and mother of the eponymous but never seen Abigail, an adolescent punk.… continue reading.

  • Henry Rollins on Screen: Domesticity, Home and the Ballistioscene

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    Henry Rollins, whilst reflecting on his career and time as lead vocalist in the American Hardcore band Black Flag, had the significant insight that “home, if I have one, is the road.” The way we might frame a group of celebrated movies filmed during the period of the initial Hardcore scene — The Decline of Western Civilisation Vol. 1 (1981), The Slog Movie (1982), Another State of Mind (1984), Black Flag: Live (1984), Reality 86’d (1991) — is open to revision now, due to a number of more recent movies which have returned the spectator to this most fascinating and durable of American music cultures; including Instrument (1999), Salad Days (2014), and Desolation Centre (2019).… continue reading.

  • Kitchens and the Construction of Middle Eastern Female Identity Onscreen

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    As one of fourteen grandchildren in a migrant, Lebanese family, one thing I was taught from infancy is that food equals love – and if you love Teta, you will eat just one more falafel, but if you really love Teta, and you happen to be one of her granddaughters, you will let her teach you how to cook. In this paper, I argue that the kitchen in both Middle Eastern and European films about Middle Eastern women holds a privileged position in the home. It emphasises the cultural expectations that Middle Eastern women uphold the traditions, rituals and social conventions of their homeland. The representation of Middle Eastern women and cultures onscreen is inextricable from the kitchen, from which women’s role in traditional households is cemented as that of a ‘cultural carrier’. In short, as Dubsich notes, ‘culture enters through the kitchen’ (1986) – oftentimes via the women who inhabit it.… continue reading.

  • No Place Like Home

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    During the past months, Blaise Pascal’s claim that all mankind’s problems stem from an inability to sit quietly at home may have seemed truer than ever for many of us. While we have been feeling the strain of staying in, one way out of Pascal’s quandary might have been to catch up on our to-watch lists. Perhaps appropriately watching something that gives a new sense of perspective and possibility to our perception of the domestic sphere we find ourselves spending more time in. In this article, I wish to argue that not one but three films, the so-called Salta trilogy, by the visionary Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, achieve exactly that. They offer us the opportunity to challenge the way we view home as setting and as social realm, notably through two main strategies: letting us perceive what is repressed and excluded within the home, and encouraging us to perceive the home from estranged, unconventional perspectives. … continue reading.

  • Widescreen Melodrama and the American Home

    Published on: 4 November 2020

    Contemporary media technology encourages us to frame our homes for outside spectators: what to include in the background of a job interview, increasingly conducted by video call? The Twitter account 'Bookcase Credibility' (100K+ followers) began by asking similar questions about prominent interviewees on television news, reviewing their domestic decor from a tongue-in-cheek perspective during the global lockdowns this summer. Zoom's optional 'widescreen mode' presents even more space for communicative savvy in social and work routine, though shooing the cat from view might be more pressing than capturing swathes of cased books. This ‘shot conscious’ way of socialising reminds me of teaching widescreen melodrama at the University of Bristol, where students discuss how the home is constructed to relay vital information about its inhabitants in a fictional cinematic context.… continue reading.

  • Home is Where the Hurt Is: EMI Films and the 1970s British Home

    Published on: 3 November 2020

    This year, we became more intimately acquainted with our homes than we ever thought possible. Although our domestic environment may now feel sickeningly familiar, this is something that is not unique to our times; instead, Britain’s connection with the home has always been fraught with tension, as any fan of sitcoms or horror films can attest. Yet there are moments in British society when our place of residence becomes a site of unusually enhanced interest; 2020 will be remembered as one of those years, played out across television news and social media. Fifty years ago, a similar story was developed, albeit via the nation’s cinema screens.… continue reading.

  • Sounds of Oppression

    Published on: 31 March 2020

    Two video essays on Reggae Innovation and Sound System Culture. Sounds of Oppression The history of the reggae sound system inheritance passed down through generations in various music styles (Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dancehall and various sub-genres where it has fused with other cultures). The words and phrases describe the same fight concerning social exclusion within… continue reading.