How Film Changed Me

A bi-monthly column for Big Picture Film Club using film to understand millennial life, how it changes us, and what we can learn from it.

Featured Post

On Queer as Folk

  • On Queer as Folk
    Queer as Folk has an almost totemic place in queer culture. The original show, which aired on Channel 4 in 1999, is often evoked by gay men, and others, as something that introduced them to a metropolitan gay life that existed beyond the trappings of a regional existence. There is a recurring image presented by gays […]
  • On Musicians Who Act
    In 2017, when Christopher Nolan released his gritty war-film Dunkirk, the press asked whether the current Prince of Pop, Harry Styles, was any good in it? It was his debut role, and it came on the heels of a hotly anticipated solo album after the world domination of One Direction ended the year before. There were articles […]
  • On The Cannes Film Festival
    If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the past week trying to metabolise the 2022 Cannes Film Festival which wrapped up last weekend with a slew of headlines about who won what prize (and even more headlines about whether it was deserved!) Mostly, I’d been paying attention to Kirsten Stewart’s fashion choices (which are always top-notch) then all […]
  • On Conversations with Friends
    ‘Since 2017, a single writer has significantly influenced the publishing world: Sally Rooney. Her caustic and acerbic debut, Conversations with Friends, now adapted into a television series for the BBC and Hulu, took the world by storm. It inspired many copycats, ushered in a new cultural interest in Irish fiction that focused on millennial angst and even […]
  • On Modernised Adaptions
    When I was fourteen, my ringtone, for about six months, was Julia Styles’ poem from the end of 10 Things I Hate About You. Any time I got a call or a text it would buzz, and Styles’ voice would go from apathetic to emotional. It would crack as the emotion swelled in, and then I’d answer. […]
  • On Be Kind Rewind
    ‘Once, walking down Kilburn High Road in 2017, I surprised myself by knowing all of the Oscar nominations Nicole Kidman had received. My roommate and I had watched Eyes Wide Shut the night before and discussed it as we headed out to run errands on a warm Saturday in spring. Casually, my friend asked if Kidman had ever won […]
  • On Falling
    ‘A friend told me recently that she didn’t think of me as someone who fell. “I can’t picture it,” she said. “I’ve seen other people trip or end up flat on their face, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do it.” This was jarring to me. I felt I’d spent most of my […]
  • On Feeling Stuck
    “A third of the way through Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World, a woman stops time. Julie (Renate Reinsve) is a twenty-something woman looking for something to focus her and help her figure out what she wants from the world. She has fallen into a relationship with an older man, Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), […]
  • On Clio Barnard
    ‘Few debuts in British cinema have been as bold and assured as Clio Barnard’s. The Arbor, released in 2010, is a film that defies easy categorisation, weaving between documentary, drama, re-enactment, adaptation, essay, and, at its core, an exploration of the Bradford-born writer Andrea Dunbar. The film, so named for the street that Dunbar grew up […]
  • On Euphoria
    ‘Teen shows are not like they used to be. Gone are the days of Jessie on Saved by the Bell being “hooked” on caffeine pills to help her study, or Carlton on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air “accidentally” taking speed. It’s hard to imagine a lesbian kiss, much like Marissa and Alex shared on The OC in 2003, holding a lot of weight in the […]
  • On Station Eleven
    ‘Station Eleven begins with death. On stage, an actor, Arthur Leander, collapses while performing King Lear. From then on, the story follows several people connected to that death. There’s Jeevan, a freelance journalist, who is in the audience the night Arthur dies, and there’s Kirsten, a young child actor also appearing in the show, who watches him […]
  • On Joanna Hogg
    ‘A middle-class family enter a restaurant on Tresco, one of three islands that make up the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall. The place is empty, except for them, so they begin to decide where they should sit. One table is too dimly lit, another facing the wrong way. It would be nice […]
  • On Reinvention
    ‘Since the Babylonians nearly 4,000 years ago, people have been making New Year’s Resolutions. Of late, they’ve become something to mock and are essentially considered these annual idealised promises you make to yourself that you know, deep down, you’ll never keep. It’s cutting out carbs and joining a gym, vowing you’ll write a diary entry […]
  • On An Alternative Christmas
    ‘At this time of year, you likely see the same things as me. There are special holiday screenings of Home Alone (and, indeed, a remake now available on Disney+) and gifs of Will Ferrell dressed as an oversized elf screaming about Santa. There’s many an ad campaign utilising the recognisable (but incredibly creepy) note card scene in Love, Actually and […]
  • On Being “Old”
    ‘I can’t pinpoint precisely when these types of conversations began, but I can tell you when I first noticed their prevalence. I was sitting at my friends’ new dining table in the house they had just bought together. This couple had invited a few people over for an inaugural takeaway surrounded by half-unpacked boxes and […]
  • In Search of Difficult Men
    In 1998, Elizabeth Wurtzel published Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women. In step with the grungy brand of nineties feminism, the subtitle was intended to be confrontational; women are not meant to be difficult, and certainly should not be praised for being so – at least, so says the orthodoxy that flattens women because here, really, […]
  • On the “Modern Man”
    ‘ONCE EVERY FEW YEARS, the editorial sections of magazines introduce us to the “modern man”. At one time, this simply meant a man who thought his wife was a person and not an object Then it came to mean a man who merely groomed himself and took pride in his appearance (see: the rather ridiculously titled […]
  • On Jane Campion
    “A film like Jane Campion’s The Piano feels like it has always existed somewhere in my consciousness. Just like how I knew that deep water was dangerous and that the dark could contain horrors, I was always sort of aware that this film existed. Perhaps I saw images of Holly Hunter as Ada quite early on, her […]
  • On Anti-Escapism
    “The apocalypse appeared to have arrived and it was not yet apocalyptic,” Mohsin Hamid writes in his 2017 novel Exit West, “which is to say while the changes were jarring they were not the end, and life went on.” The novel concerns a young couple, Saeed and Nadia, living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country that […]
  • On Actor and Director Pairings
    ‘Last week, as the 78th Venice Film Festival came to a close, Penelope Cruz received the Best Actress Award for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s latest melodrama, Parallel Mothers. In the film, Cruz plays Janis, a 40-year-old single mother raising a daughter in Madrid who receives some life-changing news, and critics have praised her performance as “sure-footed”, “astonishing”, and […]
  • On The Hollywood Trickle-Down
    “In the autumn of 2017, I was sat around a table in a pub with about five or six friends. Aside from me, they were all female, and we had been sitting, catching up, for a few hours or so when the topic of the moment of that time came up: #MeToo. We were astounded […]
  • On the ‘New’ Stand Up
    “By the time Bo Burnham sings “Welcome to the Internet” during his latest comedy special Inside, the feeling of existentialism is already high. He sits at his keyboard – an image of Burnham we’ve become used to since his early days on Vine – wearing John Lennon-style sunglasses, and is surrounded by small lights projecting dots of […]
  • On the Return of Carrie Bradshaw
    ‘The first episode of Sex and the City begins strangely. We hear the voice of a woman, American and playful, describe a courtship between a female English journalist and a male Wall Street banker who met at an art gallery. At first, it’s as romantic as you might expect; they have passionate sex, they start looking at […]
  • On Queerbaiting
    ‘About a month ago, Billie Eilish released the latest single off her upcoming album, Happier Than Ever. To promote it, she posted a series of screenshots and behind the scenes photos from the accompanying music video on Instagram with the caption “I love girls.” The images featured Eilish surrounded by her female dancers, all dressed in beige and denim, laughing, joking, and hugging each other. Some fans took […]
  • On Things That Seem Gay (But Aren’t)
    ‘Of course, I thought. These kids are gay! I was lying on the sofa, quite tired after my first vaccine a few hours earlier, and, in need of something that wouldn’t demand too much of me, I’d put on Pixar‘s latest release, Luca. The two boys at its centre share a physical closeness and intimacy regularly reinforced […]
  • On Father’s Day
    ‘A few weeks ago, I started getting the emails; would my dad like a new BBQ, 50% off a takeaway meal at our local restaurant, a book on the history of the Second World War, or some fancy IPAs selected just for him this Father’s Day. Each new email that popped into my inbox like […]
  • On Friendship
    ‘Recently, through a somewhat convoluted series of events, I realised someone I used to be close friends with had removed me as a follower on Instagram. As I write this, I’m aware of the innate whiny-ness in those words, the teenage twang to them, but at the same time, in a way which language surrounding social […]
  • On Distance
    ‘My last message to K was ignored, and I – a perpetual over-thinker with a penchant for fantasy – began to extrapolate. The message had pointed out that I, someone who lacks attention to detail, had only just noticed we lived miles apart; 100 to be exact. We’d met on a dating app and, in my […]
  • On Millennial Comedies
    ‘After a drunken backyard BBQ last weekend, I climbed into bed and started messaging with a boy I’d matched with on Hinge. Spurred on by booze, which had warmed me up as the spring evening grew into a cold night, the conversation moved quickly – messages popping up as fast as I’d sent them in […]
  • On Teen Shows
    ‘There are two types of people: those who enjoyed their time at high school and those who didn’t. The former is easy to find as they extol the virtues of the good ol’ days and how they wish they could go back. When they get together, they pass stories around, like the joints, they once […]
  • On Needle Drops
    ‘The striking opening chords of Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” swoop in like a shockwave at the end of Xavier Dolan’s film Mommy. Though the film has been laden with bold music choices (from Oasis to Celine Dion,  Dido to Ludovico Einaudi), the cinematic and ethereal violins ring in a perfect ending as troubled teen Steve […]
  • On BFI Flare
    “The future. That’s what everyone is talking about. After a year of online film festivals, with unprecedented access to audiences all over the UK and beyond, normality is a glimmer on the horizon. In that faint glimmer, however, there are questions; what benefits have there been as a result of this shift? What does it […]
  • On Kathryn Hahn
    “If you’re alive, you know Kathryn Hahn. You might not realise it, but believe me, you do. To look at her IMDb page is to finally understand the word “versatile” in relation to actors; stints on well-loved sitcoms, supporting roles in charming indies, blockbuster comedies, star-filled ensemble dramas, HBO dramedies about sex and marriage, Oscar-nominated weepies, and […]
  • On Rewatching
    These days, at around 7pm, I face the same predicament: what to watch. This question is not exclusive to pandemic living, but it certainly feels heightened by it. There are, of course, fewer options. I am not wolfing down leftover Ragù so I can make it to the pub in time to meet friends, I’m not […]
  • On It’s A Sin
    I don’t remember learning about AIDS. When I started high school in 2005, it was frequently used as a homophobic insult or punch line – Gays give you AIDS – so I spent my teenage years denying any sense of difference for risk of being connected with it. Forced into submission by a post-Section 28 landscape, I […]
  • On Depressing Movies
    There are certain films I’ve only been able to watch once. Not because I didn’t like them, but because they were such an ordeal that I couldn’t stomach them again. Lately, I’ve been thinking about those films and why, even though I know they’ll tear me emotional-limb from emotional-limb, I choose to watch them in […]
  • On The Cultural Void
    ‘As 2020 drew to a close, writers and critics began to assess the year in terms of how film and television had managed (or struggled) as a result of the global pandemic. It was at this point that one writer’s assessment caught Twitter’s attention.’ You can read the full column here.
  • On 2020 in Film
    ‘2020 has been a year of reckoning for film. We lost access to cinemas for a considerable portion of the year, film festivals moved online, and online screenings became the norm. Big blockbuster releases ran the gauntlet early on, like Tenet, or retreated into 2021 like No Time to Die and Black Widow. Most films arrived via streaming platforms, […]
  • On Happiest Season
    ‘Anyone who knows me will understand that Christmas is not my thing. I do not get swept away in the magic, I rarely listen to Christmas songs unless they’re sad and gloomy (‘River’ by Joni Mitchell, come through!), and I don’t spend December watching Christmas movies. In fact, I have a list of only five movies […]
  • Nicole Kidman
    “If you, like me, are just desperate to feel something other than existential dread during Lockdown 2: Back in the Habit, then you’ve likely been watching The Undoing. If you haven’t, the twisty thriller, based on a book by Jean Hanff Korelitz, stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as a wealthy New York couple caught up in […]
  • On Sex Scenes
    “There is nothing that emphasises a dry spell more than your upstairs neighbours having near-pornographic sounding sex at 7am on a Thursday. It’s incredibly tricky when that dry spell is government-enforced. In May, the government in the Netherlands told single men and women they should organise a “sex buddy” if they wanted to enjoy physical contact during […]
  • On the Value of Youth
    ‘Hollywood’s preoccupation with youth goes way beyond the propensity for plastic surgery. At the 72nd Golden Globes in 2015, Tina Fey joked, as if explaining an alien concept to the room of actors, directors, and agents; ‘Birthdays are a thing people celebrate with they admit that they have aged.’ As such, youth is something highly valued, a […]
  • On Sofia Coppola
    ‘From the syllabus, I chose Tarantino, for my sins, and then I decided on Sofia Coppola. No one told me she was an auteur, but I’d recently watched Lost in Translation, and The Virgin Suicides in quick succession and her pastel pinks and blues, her muted silence, and the stiltedness of both films stood out me.  Her devotion to the female […]
  • On Trailers
    Sometimes I wonder if I love trailers even more than I love the movies themselves. As a kid (and, hell, even now) I never wanted to miss the trailers, the two-minute mini-movies that reek of possibility. Sure, I’ve seen most of them before, at previous screenings or on YouTube, but that doesn’t quell my excitement. […]
  • On Moving House
    ‘A classic car, maybe a people carrier, crawls slowly up a dusty drive. The young family inside crane their necks to look at a large house, one that’s kind of old and a little creepy. The car comes to a stop, and the kids (maybe a dog too) burst out from the backdoors and go […]
  • On I May Destroy You
    What hit me first was how the title edits itself. The words appear as if typed on a screen, the blinking cursor at the end awaiting its next command. I May Destroy You. Quickly then, milliseconds before the title card disappears, the cursor backspaces and deletes the ‘you’. I May Destroy. Destroy what, exactly? You? Me? Everyone? […]
  • On Change
    ‘On January 20th 2016, Kylie Jenner dubbed the year ahead as the ‘Year of Realising Things.’ Indeed, 2016 did seem to be a year in which things were realised. For example, a lot of white liberal Americans ‘realised’ racism still existed when You Know Who was elected, while we here in the UK realised that Brexit had […]
  • On the Great Outdoors
    ‘Slowly, we emerge. Blinking, stumbling, weary. Lockdown is lifting. Shops are opening again, we can see friends and family if we stay two metres apart, and we’re allowed outside for as long as we want. We can travel further, hop in the car and head for the hills, for the woodlands and lakes (as long […]
  • On Reese Witherspoon
    ‘There is an ancient adage. One as old as the trees around us, as the ground we walk on. It glides, delicately, on the wind allowing us to hear it, whispered on the summer breeze. It speaks softly of the truth, our desire to succeed, and our want of something good from this draining existence; What […]
  • On Adaptations
    ‘Lockdown has meant more time to read. Instagram has been filled with to-read lists, #Bookstagram, and snippets those currently being read posted to stories. Or, the other extreme has meant some people haven’t been able to read at all. As Candice Carty-Williams wrote in The Guardian recently, ‘My thoughts are scattered. The idea of writing […]
  • On Survival Without the Cinema
    ‘My first memory of the cinema is the mezzanine. Looking down at rows of empty seats, the art deco fixtures of a time long gone, and all of it lit up by the blueish light from the screen. I was with my Grandma watching a re-release of The Little Mermaid, my hands gripped the brass bar […]