Director: Rick Bieber
Writer: Rick Bieber
Release Date: 29 September, 2017
This review is part of our 31 Days of Horror series. You can check out the other posts by clicking these words.
On World Mental Health Day our very own photographer Manpreet Singh wrote a personal piece on our website where he articulates what it is like living with depression. When I read it, I paused a few times and wondered why in this world today do we not understand that mental health is one of our biggest killers. Why do we not teach our children the impact and importance of mental health, and why do we not support those that are directly impacted by it, whether it be the sufferer, friend, family or colleague? If there was ever a fitting documentary that highlights the importance of ensuring there is enough support in place for those affected, then the Netflix Original Kingdom of Us is that supporting piece.
Whilst mental health isn’t something we at Ready, Steady, Cut! would ordinarily dedicate entire posts to, we collectively feel it appropriate and in our duty as a largely-used online source to both support and encourage breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Have some personal insight from our own photographer and writer at Ready, Steady, Cut!, Manpreet Singh:
Although I’m usually seen gallivanting around this website showcasing my photography, I felt it only appropriate to discuss something which is on everyone’s mind for a change today: mental health. If not for mental health, I’d say it’s very unlikely my passion for photography would even exist. My name is Manpreet Singh, and those who know me well enough know about my encounters with mental health (namely, depression) and those who don’t know me that well probably know of it, too – it’s not something I’m quiet about anymore.
The town is Volterra, a sun-dappled rustic swatch of Tuscany. The blue sky is streaked with cottony clouds, and the rolling hills, here the green of a snooker table’s felt, there the amber of a traffic light, they extend to the edge of sight, lost eventually in the shade of gnarled trees that reach and clench from the ground like arthritic hands. At the top of such a hill is Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra, a real-life, once understaffed and overcrowded asylum that has fallen into disuse and disrepair. Now it lies abandoned and unoccupied, rusted over and scrawled with graffiti. But it’s once again about to open its doors to a patient.
Her name is Renee. As a young girl she was committed to the asylum shortly before World War II; as an adult she has returned to revisit the now-empty rooms, hung heavy with misery and rot. Many games have been set in asylums, and we’ve been taught what to expect from them. But The Town of Light is not really that sort of game, and so we get something different from it. The beds are still fitted with thick leather straps, and the mangled wheelchairs and gurneys still screech in the quiet, but the ghosts here don’t float along the corridors – they’re suffused into every brick, and the memories of every patient who was committed to a system that, at best, profoundly misunderstood their problems.
Warning – minor spoilers.
Atypical is a new TV series on Netflix which follows the life of an eighteen-year-old boy called Sam (Keir Gilchrist) who’s on the autism spectrum. It follows many intricate aspects of his life and the lives of those closest to him.
You see his mum, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), battle between balancing her life as a mother to both a child with autism and a “neurotypical” child. Her attention seems to be consumed by Sam due to his complex needs, which can sometimes leave Sam’s sister to mature beyond her years. Elsa battles trying to remain social, which as it happens has dire consequence. She tackles prejudiced views expressed by her peers who don’t fully comprehend Sams life and Elsa’s complicated life.
You see Sams sister, Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) struggle between balancing her own love life. She meets her first boyfriend who she at firsts resists against which has a small amount to do with Sam’s troubles. She ends up handling family secrets which seem to reveal themselves far too frequently and also being another guardian to her brother. It’s often hard to remember which sibling is older than the other, a sign of how her role as younger sister is confused due to her unintentional responsibility towards her brother. There’s also a very specific moment where you see Casey potentially sacrificing futile prospects due to worries about her brother and how he would cope.
Burning Sands originally appeared at the Sundance Film Festival on January 2017. Netflix snapped it up. They are slowly becoming the platform that exploits the festival market for their own advantage despite leading figures in the industry having reservations about streaming. Burning Sands is a drama story about an African-American fraternity.
Five young black men pledge Lambda Lambda Phi fraternity at Frederick Douglas University. The men have to endure a week of big brother hazing at the campus and in the fraternity house. Leading the pledge is Zurich, who himself has to balance his education, family and personal life. This is the premise for a majority of the movie. You have to patiently stay with it in order to appreciate the movie’s conclusion.
In order for somebody to enjoy the characters, they would have to relate to them at some level. During my travels in the USA, I worked in a relatively rich area for a hotel/restaurant. At all the house parties I attended there were ‘brothers’ from other fraternities from different universities. Due to their status, they often grouped together at social events because of what they had in common. Let me put it this way; the weird events that I saw amongst these fraternity men were weird. Simple as that. As the British guy, I did not achieve common ground at all. It was obviously impossible. I did not get it. It is hard to contemplate and I appreciate the fact you have to be in it to feel it.
By the way, I am not saying all sorority and fraternity groups act like this. I appreciate that they all come in different shapes and sizes. Some require finances and reputation and others are just, well, normal. I hope.
The fraternity groups I came across indulged themselves in proud masculinity.
Beware: as this is an opinion piece there will be spoilers.
To The Bone is a touching film about a young girl named Ellen (Lily Collins) battling her way through life with anorexia nervosa. The list of reasons why I like this film is endless; for me it’s definitely a film that’s on the top of the list. The main reason could have something to do with the fact that its personal to me. It touches upon the multiple times I’ve become victim to this insufferable illness.
The potrayal in the film is without a doubt the pinnacle point for me. Contrary to some people’s opinion, this offers a very grounded potrayal as to what this illness is about. At some point in the film, the line “there’s no such thing as skinny enough” hits home. Numerous times throughout the film we see Collins stripped down and resembling a skeleton more than anything else. For me this is essential. My personal worst was back in 2014. I was eating one toasted bagel every two days. This was the case for more than two/three weeks before help came in the form of my current partner. However, my point is, the portrayal of this in the film is one that couldn’t be any more accurate. There is no such thing as skinny enough. I had so many bones poking out of me I could have gouged someone’s eye out. It was physically stressful to think about preparing a meal and having to face eating it, so much so I started getting stress pains in my chest; I’d get so worked up thinking about having to eat, like it was a chore. The little things in the film really make it too, like Collins measuring her arm fat by clasping her fingers around her upper arm, taking the opportunity to walk anywhere just to burn as many calories as possible, being completely distraught when you looked at the scale to find you’ve put weight on. It’s all relevant and all so realistic.