The Glasgow Guardian Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” So goes John Berger’s description of the male gaze in the seminal Ways of Seeing. In recent years, the female gaze has been applied occasionally to men — in films such as Claire Denis’ Beau Travail, for example — but the male gaze pervades in representations of women. In part, this is because female directors find it so hard to secure funding, especially for female-centred projects, and in part is because the majority of established female directors are heterosexual. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, then, in spite of its fairly traditional structure, is something rare and different — a lesbian love story directed by a lesbian (the incredible Céline Sciamma), which exists as separately as possible from the world of masculinity.

April 25, 2020
The Glasgow Guardian Review: The Irishman

The last act is where this film really comes into its own. We reach the time we’ve been seeing flashes of for two hours — Frank in a nursing home, still unable to reckon with his actions. What had been a saga about friendship and loyalty now becomes something else entirely, recontextualising the rest of the film within the frame of old age. Scorsese is showing us the consequences, finally, of the violent lives he has so often portrayed. Frank has outlived his own story, the world has spun on without him. His contemporaries slowly die off in prison and, in the end, he and God are the only ones left who know what he did.

Feb. 2, 2020
The Glasgow Guardian Review: Monos

It’s about as teenaged as a movie about war could possibly be — more visceral in its adolescence than many films whose express purpose is to describe that period of our lives. Certainly, most of us did not spend our adolescent years as soldiers, but when you’re a teenager everything feels like life or death — you’re invincible, but you’re also always one step away from destroying yourself. Teenagers are moody, hormonal, and vicious, all exacerbated by this toxic and high-stress environment. We don’t need to know what happened to these children for them to have ended up fighting a war — something traumatic, certainly, different for each of them. And trauma builds on trauma, especially when they move into the jungle, each one passing their fury onto one younger, a cycle that ends with a boy chained and starving. In an effort not to self-destruct, they instead destroy each other.

Dec. 2, 2019
The Glasgow Guardian Should we nationalise social media?

We are each now inextricably connected to the internet. Even if we deleted all of our accounts and communicated exclusively on an old Nokia, there’d still be an imprint left over: a digital ghost that is nigh-impossible to completely exorcise. I don’t think I need to make the argument here that social media is a necessary evil — we can, of course, survive without it; but living off-grid is becoming more and more insurmountably impractical. In that case, how do we make it work for us?

Sept. 15, 2019
The Glasgow Guardian #MeToo, the great loser of the Oscars 2019

Last year, awards season was all about #MeToo. Stars wore all black to the Golden Globes, there were pointed remarks about the “all-male nominees for best director” from Natalie Portman, and conversations led by Frances McDormand about inclusion riders. Controversy over Casey Affleck having been sued for sexual harassment meant that, against tradition, the best actress award was not presented by the previous year’s best actor winner. James Franco had been on track to receive a best actor nomination for The Disaster Artist, but was snubbed after accusations of sexual misconduct broke a day before Oscar nomination ballots were due. It felt, perhaps, as though a change was in the air.

Feb. 23, 2019
The Glasgow Guardian Student stress is at breaking point

There is a mental health crisis in this country and at this University. Everyone knows this by now. There are year-long waiting times for unhelpful counselling services, and no help from your GP other than the offer of a prescription — which can be helpful, of course, but often needs to be combined with therapy. Even though we’re aware of the crisis, we still don’t really explore the causes.

Jan. 6, 2019