Mystery Skulls step into a world dipped in gold in the video for new single ‘Magic’

Posted in Music, Music Videos
By Sam Bathe on 2 Mar 2015

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Teaming up with Nile Rodgers and Brandy for disco-influenced track, Magic, Luis Dubuc – better known as Mystery Skulls – has gone golden for the video. Off his Forever LP which was released late last year, the video for Magic is about “luxury in space” as a gold-dipped community come across a mysterious spaceship, and it’s silver. The video was directed by Double Ninja and produced by French company Cumulus.

Film Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 27 Feb 2015

Following the runaway success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), director John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) and screenwriter Ol Parker bring us second helpings in the form of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Show the rest of this post…

The sequel picks up more or less where the first left off: a group of British retirees (played by an ensemble cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Ronald Pickup) jaded by life in old Blighty seek refuge at a charming hotel for the elderly in Jaipur, India. This time around, we see the guests have settled into life in India, acclimatising to the ex-pat dating scene and even finding jobs.

Ostensibly, the plot is that Muriel (Maggie Smith) has joined forces with the hotel’s over-zealous proprietor Sonny (Dev Patel) to seek American investment for the hotel’s expansion: Step in new guest and suspected hotel inspector Guy (Richard Gere). Meanwhile, Sonny’s wedding plans are almost scuppered by rivalry and jealousy.

Is the plot all over the place? Yes. Does the plot really matter? No – because it is mere set dressing. The real pleasures of this film are to be found in simply sitting back, switching off and enjoying being in the presence of a charming ensemble cast, who have all done better elsewhere and are not being particularly taxed here. Between the lush locations (L.A., Mumbai and Jaipur) sumptuous costumes and Bollywood-style dance-offs (Sonny’s wedding), the cast of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel must have had a blast making this film, which is probably why it feels much like browsing a travel brochure.

It’s true that The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – like its precursor – is full of wall-to-wall clichés, characterisation that seems to go nowhere and flimsy, recycled plotlines. But, it is harmless and there are a still a few chuckles to be found in this light, bubbly confection of a film – perfect for lazy Sunday afternoon viewing.

Film Review: Focus

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 25 Feb 2015

Focus is the frothiest of Hollywood confections: a melange of costumes, glitzy locales and beautiful people which, if it doesn’t add up to much more than that, at least has a playful and catching sense of fun. Show the rest of this post…

Will Smith stars as master con man and thief Nicky Spurgeon – a role suited to a star of his charisma, and not something we’ve seen him do for a while. He bumps into Jess (Margot Robbie) in the opening scene, and it soon transpires that they share a penchant for Hollywood crime; that is, crime stripped of any moral consideration whatsoever, but it’s ok because they’re beautiful and charming. Nicky takes Jess under his wing, schooling her in the tricks of the thievery trade, until at the mid-way point the film leaps forward three years and throws them back together in new circumstances. Needless to say, Nicky has a big job underway, and Jess proves to be a wild card in its execution.

Smith and Robbie make for a charismatic pairing, working hard to make two pretty unlikeable characters worth rooting for. After watching them loot and pilfer the bags and wallets of countless innocent civilians, it’s to the actors’ credit that by the mid point we’re, sort of, on their side. Incidentally that mid point is worth mentioning: a lovely sequence in which Nicky faces off in an increasingly high stakes gambling confrontation with BD Wong’s giggling Liyuan.

Focus’ structure is slightly odd, but it works because it drives a wedge into a number of factors that will be brought up later. Never mind that the ending is a little lazy – there’s just enough foreshadowing, and it’s well played enough, that we can forgive it.

Elsewhere the film is enjoyable, but resolutely flimsy. Adrian Martinez, as Nicky’s partner Farhad, shows up now and again for comic relief (his stock in trade is sex jokes) and Rodrigo Santoro appears as a wealthy Formula 1 team owner, around whom the final act revolves. The film is dedicated enough to its light tone that it’s willing to make jokes about Australians (amusingly directed at Robbie, who is Australian) and set up intrigue at the same time.

Luckily Smith and Robbie (who will be reunited in next year’s DC Comics mash-up Suicide Squad) make the whole thing more fun that it probably aught to be. It’s nice to see Smith having fun in a role again, and Robbie, who made her name in The Wolf of Wall Street, makes for a go od partner in crime. The film won’t linger long in the memory, but for the duration of its runtime it’s pleasant enough company, primarily thanks to the double act at its centre.

3/5

Shawna X goes neon for new illustrated series ‘Need/Desire’

Posted in Art, Illustration
By Sam Bathe on 24 Feb 2015

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From Portland, Oregon, but now based in New York City, designer/illustrator Shawna X goes neon for new series ‘Need/Desire’. Combining geographic shapes, some human hands, and a technicolour rainbow, her illustrations feel like they’re been plucked from a seedy, neon backstreet. Show the rest of this post…

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Check out more of Shawna X’s work on her site: www.shawna-x.com

Montreal duo mpgmb combine round shapes and ribbed edges for a collection of one-off planters

Posted in Art, Design, Nature
By Sam Bathe on 23 Feb 2015

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Under their studio moniker mpgmb, artists and designers Marie-Pier Guilmain and Maud Beauchamp have created a new series of vases, pots and planters. Dubbed the Arizona Stoneware Collection, the rounded shapes and ribbed edges produce a striking look in both glazed stoneware and unglazed terracotta. Each piece a one-off, the collection spans low-profile pots to bulbus planters and sleek one-stem vases. Keep an eye on the mpgmb site for purchase details: www.mpgmb.com

Film Review: Blackhat

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Mary Clare Waireri on 20 Feb 2015

Blackhat is a tale of global cyber terrorism played out on the streets of Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Jakarta. The film stars Chris Hemsworth as Nicholas Hathaway, a hacker serving time in prison who is offered an early release in exchange for helping the FBI bring down a cyber-terrorist hell-bent on global destruction. Show the rest of this post…

Chris Hemsworth has a reputation for fronting Marvel-based action roles (Thor, The Avengers) but is miscast and unconvincing as the genius hacker, though he does his best with an underwritten and incoherent role. The fault for Blackhat, however, goes well beyond its baffling casting choices. The real issue is that it is thoroughly nondescript and, at worst, painfully dull. In a post-Bourne world, its action sequences seem hollow and uninvolving, while a weak screenplay leaves its cast with little to do. Even Viola Davis’ turn as Barrett – the FBI agent who secures Hathaway’s release from prison – can’t save Blackhat from the doldrums.

With a body of work that includes Heat and Collateral, it’s hard to believe that Michael Man was the director behind this colossal mess. Although stylishly shot in parts, Blackhat fails to showcase Mann’s trademark sharp, character-driven crime drama, and largely relies on visual and narrative clichés.

In the wake of Wikileaks, the NSA Equation Group scandal, and numerous other hacking-related news items, the essence of Blackhat‘s story is somewhat timely. However, those looking for an intelligent comment on the nature of global cyber-crime, government surveillance and terrorism in general will be sorely disappointed. The film fails to debate any of these important issues and the garbled plot  wears thing after a punishing 133-minute running time meaning that by the final (predictable) act, the only feeling is relief that the ordeal has rumbled to its eventual conclusion.

1/5

Things are about to get serious in season two of Mike Judge’s startup satire ‘Silicon Valley’

Posted in TV
By Sam Bathe on 17 Feb 2015

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Mike Judge’s excellent tech scene satire, Silicon Valley, returns for a second season this spring. After wowing the judges during the season one finale’s TechCrunch event, season two will see Pied Piper founder Richard Hendriks have to make a business of the start-up, something that get more terrifying by the second. Starring Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller, Zach Woods, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr and Josh Brener, Silicon Valley returns Sunday 12th April on HBO.

Vifa follow up their gorgeous Copenhagen speaker with the portable Helsinki and stay at home Stockholm models

Posted in Music, Technology
By Sam Bathe on 16 Feb 2015

Launching the supremely stylish Copenhagen speaker last year, Danish audio and design company Vifa break in 2015 with two new models. The Helsinki is a more portable speaker with hand and shoulder straps for easy transit. Connected via Bluetooth, jack or NFC, the speaker packs two 50mm Vifa driver units and back to back 60mm woofers. The Helsinki is available in four iconic Kvadrat textile colourways for €399.

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Vifa’s Stockholm speaker is meant for the home. At 1.1m long, the model packs two 28mm tweeters, two 80mm mid-range drivers and four 100mm woofer units for impressive range and power, while great wireless connectivity means you can still play what you want from wherever you are in the house. Compatible with virtually any phone, tablet, PC/MAC or TV through Bluetooth aptX, Apple AirPlay, WiFi direct and dlna music streaming, if you are on the same network, you don’t need to even be within eyeshot. The Stockholm is available in six Kvadrat colourways for €1,499.

The Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm speakers are available through Vifa worldwide resellers: www.vifa.dk/store-locator

Architect Andrew Franz turns an old Tribeca soap factory into a glorious, open, mezzanine apartment

Posted in Architecture, New York
By Sam Bathe on 9 Feb 2015

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In the shell of an 19th century soap factory building, Architect Andrew Franz has created a wonderfully open and bright mezzanine apartment. Located in Manhattan’s Tribeca district in New York City, a striking staircase allows for access to the roof terrace above, while a window wall floods the living space with natural light. Show the rest of this post…

Combining natural materials like wood and brick – a call back to the building’s industrial past – with colourful and stylish fixtures and fittings, the apartment feels so warm and inviting. Innovative storage solutions keep the apartment clutter free, with hidden shelving and compartments built into walls and corner cabinets folding out for extra holding space.

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Check out more of architect Andrew Franz’s work on his site: www.andrewfranz.com

Film Review: SelmaFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews
By Mary Clare Waireri on 6 Feb 2015

In the spring of 1965 Civil Rights activists took part in a series of marches from Selma to Montgomery – both in Alabama – to protest racist voter registration practices. The first march – subsequently known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ – was brutally suppressed, but the events attracted media coverage, publishing images of state troopers beating unarmed civilians with clubs, chains and whips. Show the rest of this post…

It cast a light on the brutal programme of racial terror faced by African Americans in the staunchly segregated South, and attracted followers to the Civil Rights movement. By honing in on these seminal events, Selma director Ava Du Vernay and screenwriter Paul Webb create a prism through which to explore the key figures and complex political machinations of the broader Civil Rights movement.

Selma expertly intersperses expansive historical scale with intimate vignettes, bringing the Civil Rights movement to life from multiple perspectives and grounding the events in real, individual experiences. David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Martin Luther King manages to be epic, provocative and angry yet vulnerable and also deeply human. We see the forceful orator capable of spellbinding crowds and commanding respect in the highest corridors of power, broken by fear, sorrow and marital strife – but King is neither deified nor romanticised. Supporting roles are illuminated with detail and skill; Tim Roth is notable as the caustic Alabama Governor George Wallace who refuses to protect protesters from racist mobs, as is Tom Wilkinson asq the prevaricating, indecisive President Lyndon B. Johnson, unable to keep pace with the changing tide of history. Finally, newcomer Carmen Ejogo turns in a poignant performance as Coretta Scott King, a woman living in the shadow of violent threats and besieged by the spectre of death and loss.

Oscar snub aside, Ava Du Vernay’s direction is effortless, confident and masterful. Not a single frame is wasted here; the pace is tense and a sense of imminent, visceral danger hangs over the entire film. Weaving in newsreel footage of the Selma ma rch sparingly but evocatively, interspersing brooding violence with light humour, Selma achieves the rare accolade of being a powerful period piece with stark contemporary resonance.

5/5

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.

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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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