Soma Water return with another limited edition run, this time a new colourway for their Pitcher

Posted in Design, Food
By Sam Bathe on 20 Nov 2015



After selling out of last year’s limited edition Soma Black Carafe in less than 24 hours, this year the Kickstarted water filter company are back with a black edition of their pitcher. With only 2,400 made, and $15 of the price going to charity: water – Soma’s own scheme that supports clean water projects around the world – the carafe is sustainable by design, using coconut shell carbon and a plant-based casing for the filter. Lasting 40 gallons, or about two months, before you’ll need to change the filter, the Soma Black Pitcher will set you back $49 with one filter, or $99 with six, available from the Soma online store:

The London List Review: Bradford Cox opens for himself for a fantastic Deerhunter, Atlas Sound double-bill at Shepherd’s Bush EmpireThe London List

Posted in London, London List, Music
By Tim Baggott on 8 Nov 2015

If any other frontman chose to open for themselves on the final night of their UK tour, it would seem like a cynical move. But for some reason, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, gets away with it tonight. Show the rest of this post…

A reverb-drenched, improvisational opening set from Atlas Sound saw each song take on a new form. Featuring a haunting rendition of Shelia from 2009′s Logos and an almost unrecognisable version of Cold as Ice from 2008′s Let The Blind…, the set was as spellbinding as it was unpredictable.

Perhaps acting as a Bradford Cox palette cleanser, when Deerhunter finally take to the stage they open with Desire Lines, a track sung by Lockett Pundt (guitarist). The set that follows is dominated by tracks from the latest record, Fading Fontier. Album opener All the Same was delivered with resounding confidence and was definitely the punchiest of the new tracks.

However, it was still the fan favourites from 2008′s Microcastle that received the best response from the crowd. The crushing guitars on Cover Me (Slowly) sounded colossal, filling the venue from wall to wall and the build up during the extended conclusion of Nothing Ever Happened whips the audience into an all-too-brief, beautiful frenzy.

Film Review: TheebFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews
By Josh Cabrita on 6 Nov 2015

Theeb is a Western, with guns, outlaws and savages, depicting a world on the brink of change and gentrified order; a frontier moving toward industrialization. The narrative has a foreigner with secrets and a quest across the desert all interspersed with a few shootouts. The only thing missing is the iconic tumbleweed that is hard to come by in Bedouin deserts. Show the rest of this post…

Submitted by Jordan for the Oscar for foreign language film, Theeb is actually an “Eastern”. Art-house festival pickups are usually the only Arab films that get distributed outside their domestic fortresses. The ones that escape are typically controversial and held on a pedestal by liberal Western critics. But Theeb seems to be an anomaly; Western critics (winning Best Director at Venice last year) and Arab audiences both love it. This film is an endearing testament to the power of classic Hollywood storytelling and its ability to cross the boundaries of race, religion and rigidity.

A detailed portrait of Bedouin tribes in a remote portion of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, Naji Abu Nowar, Theeb’s first-time feature director, crafts a twisted world: a wild, wild East. Amidst the vast expanse of the desert and picturesque sand, bandits and revolutionaries overrun the trails. Rather than idealize nature, Nowar views it as dangerous and oppressive, budding with pesky flies and bugs. The landscapes are something you could see in a John Ford classic and the plot might resemble the typical Western formula, but don’t be misled, Theeb is a masterfully layered story dressed in an accessible and familiar package.

Despite some similarities to True Grit and a prop that is almost used as a McGuffin, Theeb’s uniqueness is not only in its appropriation of the Western genre to tell an Eastern story but it also has an interesting perspective on the Ottoman Empire during the Great War. The film mainly centers on Theeb, a boy coming of age, as he accompanies his older brother who is directing a mysterious Englishman (probably one of TE Lawrence’s guys) and his Arab companion. Theeb is frightened yet enchanted by the Englishmen. He knows nothing of the war and has presumably never seen a white man.

The way the film handles their relationship is masterful, balancing a kind of subtle playfulness with a lurking sense of dread. In one of the film’s best moments, Theeb puts his ear to the British man’s watch as he curiously listens to it mechanically tick forward. Time will move on. Modernity will progress forwards. And it will be the English who help to disband the Ottoman Empire and alter the region’s historical trajectory.

A large part of this film’s success is owed to the nearly wordless performance by the non-professional child actor Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, who plays the boy like a young Clint Eastwood, internalizing all his emotions and silently hinting a development towards the predatory nature that his name implies (Theeb means wolf). Theeb is a delightful surprise . It’s not boring. It’s not shallow. It’s not predictable. Watching this film is like opening a generic Carlton card to find powerful and poignant poetry written inside.


The London Listings: 6a Architects’ Hanover Yard House feels warm and lived-in yet effortlessly modernThe London List

By Sam Bathe on 5 Nov 2015



Located on a private mews in suave Islington, this two-storey home by 6a Architects features an amazing open-plan space and stunning interior filled with picture frames, pottery and books, everywhere you look. Though unfortunately most of the lived-in warmth will leave with the current owners, the loft-style Hanover Yard House is still perfect for the new owners to make it their own. Show the rest of this post…

The kitchen, dining area and living space are all inter-connected, with the bedroom only loosely divided from the rest of the open-plan first floor. A spiral staircase connects to the fully-irrigated roof which also houses a number of solar panels, which alongside an eco-friendly heat pump and underfloor heating help the property to be environmentally-friendly. Downstairs, the ground floor features a reception room plus two separate artists’ studios, accessed from across the mews.

On the market for £3.8m, while a lot of the value is in the ultra-accessible location, such a unique, charismatic space doesn’t come up on the London property market very often either.









The Hanover Yard House is on the market for £3.8m through The Modern House:

Mark Havens’ shoots the deserted motel neighbourhoods of Wildwood, New Jersey, in photo series ‘Out of Season’

Posted in Art, Photography
By Sam Bathe on 4 Nov 2015



A small barrier island at the tip of southern New Jersey, Wildwood is home to the highest concentration of mid-century modern motel architecture in the United States. But with only a short three-month tourist season, for the rest of the year, Wildwood is near deserted, frozen in time until the next summer season rolls around. Photographer Mark Haven captures the nine months of silence. Show the rest of this post…








Check out more of Mark work on his site:

Film Review: Our Brand Is Crisis

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Josh Cabrita on 30 Oct 2015

After the childishness of the recent Canadian election, I was primed for the cynicism in Our Brand Is Crisis. Promising to be a biting satire but succumbing to the juvenility it loathes, this film feels like it’s still teething, unable to chew on a political jawbreaker. Show the rest of this post…

During the Canadian election, a campaign ad attacked the young Justin Trudeau using the pun “he’s just not ready”. “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is one of the masterminds behind these kinds of political name-calling, using campaign ads, slogans, TV interviews, and crafty buzz-phrases to change perceptions. Out of commission after years of putting tyrants into office, she is approached by two American advisors for a corrupt presidential candidate in Bolivia. Jane is tentative to lead the candidate until she finds out that Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), the man who has beaten her out in every campaign they’ve run against each other, is turning tricks for the other side.

Jane is a prostitute for this system, selling her virtues to create misleading narratives. She pitches Castillo as a tough and uncharismatic man who is the only one fit to face the country’s “crisis” – a broad term that is never defined or flushed out. She stages an attack against her own candidate in order to make her negative campaign seem like a defensive strike. Remember when your younger sibling tattled on you so he could call you a “poopy head” without getting in trouble? That’s what Jane is doing.

Our Brand Is Crisis links the political campaigns’ mudslinging with puerile mischievousness. When Castillo’s campaign bus races against his competitor on a narrow back road, the two sides make faces, throw objects, and Jane even flashes her rear through the window. They act like a group of children on their way to school, not civilized politicians en-route to leading a country. The sequence is a hilarious metaphor for corrupt political campaigns; Jane even asks the bus driver how much she’ll have to pay to get ahead, a bribe for power that is like a childish game.

The idea of this sequence, and many others in the film, is smart, layered and funny, but in execution it’s uninspired and seemingly unaware of its own depth, playing it for slapstick knee-slaps and not satirical belly-laughs. Every character speaks in anecdotes and pretentious quotations, but they’re played earnestly as if we’re supposed to learn something from their façade. The director, David Gordon Green (George Washington, Pineapple Express), seems to misunderstand the screenplay, while Bullock, who does a lot of the film’s heavy lifting (or in her case, slouching), can’t nail the timing or deeper point of many of the jokes. She is constantly winking and making us aware of the film’s screwball humor, instead of playing it straight for dual-meaning.

As a storyteller Green’s work is as lazy as a lying politician. Dishonestly dramatizing the events by using manipulative montages and David Wingo’s forgettable score, Our Brand Is Crisis fails as comedic cynicism or uplifting inspiration: an odd tonal mish-mash in need of Jane’s stark sense of how to craft a story. To signify passages in time, graphics frequently appear on screen to fill us in on how many rungs Castillo has to climb to reach the top of the leaderboard. Seeing Castillo near the bottom of the ladder is the equivalent of getting to the quarter marker on a hike. We realize there is a lot more gruel to withstand.

Amidst the stupidity, one great moment is staged. Preparing for a debate in an enormous and empty auditorium, Jane challenges Castillo’s arrogance by boldly declaring he is just a front – a puppet for all those seats in the room. For Castillo, the people are absent, unheard voices calling for change. The echo of the room eerily hints at a people unheard.

By manipulating people with false narratives, Jane shows the essential flaw in democracy. As Winston Churchi ll once said “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Our Brand Is Crisis is the best film about democracy, except for maybe all the others.


Film Review: Rock The Kasbah

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Josh Cabrita on 23 Oct 2015

The only thing that rocks about Rock The Kasbah are the ones you’ll want to throw at the screen. In form and content, plotting and politics, the film is egregiously disguised as a smug, inspirational piece, but in reality, it is the cinematic equivalent of being offered free hugs from Donald Trump. Show the rest of this post…

Rock The Kasbah wants to sing Kumbaya to Western audiences, avoiding the implications of its racial representations, gender politics and thematic messages, in a singalong meant to raise our spirits from the guilty feelings of contributing to Afghanistan’s troubles.

But c’mon, a fish-out-of-water comedy that stars everyone’s favorite uncle, Bill Murray, can’t be that harmful! We get to see the guy butcher Smoke On The Water at the top of his lungs, and even be bound to a bed with a wig and lipstick. He might even save the day by intervening in Afghan affairs by selling weapons to a group of fundamentalist villagers to defeat a warlord too. Aw shucks Uncle Bill, aren’t you a funny guy! Except for the last part, maybe just forget about that one.

Murray is Richie Lanz, a washed-up music manager who we’re first introduced inside a make-shift office at a drive-in motel room. He may be down on his luck and irresponsible, but we know we’re supposed to like the guy because he is a douche that sarcastically patronizes a bad singer during an audition. Don’t fret; she’s fat. It’s supposed to be funny.

Richie soon takes off to Afghanistan with Ronnie (Zoey Deschanel) – a drugged-up singer he represents – to play a few gigs at some venues in Kabul. But, when she takes off to Dubai with his passport and all of his money, Richie has to pay back an American mercenary (Bruce Willis) by being the middle-man in an arms deal with a local town that is going to be attacked by a war lord (for no apparent reason). Meanwhile, he has a fling with a local prostitute (Kate Hudson) and tries to convince a young woman with a “phenomenal” voice (she’s actually auto-tuned), to participate in Afghanistan’s version of American Idol. She can’t, though. Afghani customs forbid women from being on television.

No conflict is properly developed, and some of the film’s reels seem to have been lost along with Murray’s reading glasses. Scene to scene, Mitch Glazer’s screenplay has an undefined plot and a consistently inconsistent tone, but worse yet, the redundant dialogue avoids subtext like a landmine. Barry Levinson’s direction is somehow spellbindingly worse. There are laugh-out-loud formal choices and sound editing that would be barely appropriate for a high-school film class, a kind of bad filmmaking that could be endured for self-loathing catharsis; that’s only if the messages weren’t so confused and borderline racist.

Like being given a thank you card for punching someone in the face, Rock The Kasbah is designed to make us feel better about American intervention in the Afghanistan War. The group of villagers, who never develop beyond two-dimensional caricatures, are seen as sexist, violent and rash, but we’re supposed to care about their fate because, really, they’re good at heart. Their world has been ravaged by an extremist war lord (forget that they themselves are extremists), and they are the damsel in distress hopelessly waiting for the brawny American to intervene. They are incapable of saving themselves. We have to do it.

Similarly, the film’s representation of gender seems to be in conflict with itself, especially since a major thematic through-line is a critique of the sexism in this Islamic State. Women are horribly repressed and stripped of personal expression by being forced to wear burqas, and yet there are sequences where Kate Hudson is pointlessly sexualized, not being allowed to develop beyond the “hooker with a heart” stereotype.

It’s a film that wants to be digested as an innocent, sweet fruit, without us realizing it’s being given by an endenic serpent. The clash (reference intended) between unfunny antics and misguided representations is wielded about as eloquently as one of George W. Bush’s speeches. There is a joke where a sold ier makes a passing comment about how “women” (notice the universal) steal men’s money, but the actual joke is Rock The Kasbah’s hypocrisy and how it will steal yours.


Film Review: The Connection

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Nick Deigman on 19 Oct 2015

Marseilles, in the 1960s, was the heroin capital of the world. Post-war migration saw an influx of Corsican mobsters to the sleepy industrial port city, who brought connections to Turkish opium, and opened up the lucrative American market. Show the rest of this post…

By 1969 the Marseilles mob was responsible for around 90% of all heroin arriving into the United States… and all of this just as Nixon’s War on Drugs was heating up. The mobsters took control of the city’s bars and clubs, spreading their influence throughout the police force and political establishment. The Marseilles authorities, under fire from the DEA, were powerless to act. The mobsters gradually unified under one title: La France, or, translated… The French Connection. Their leader: a tyrannical ex-enforcer by the name of Tany Zampa.

The Connection tells the real life story of a fearless young judge, Pierre Michel (Dujardin), who would stop at nothing to bring Zampa down. Michel is a puritanical workaholic: an ex-gambler, driven by some unflinching moral desire to eradicate heroin from his city. From day one, it’s clear he means business. “We’ll find charges later” becomes something of a catchphrase. He’s not scared of the Connection, and he’s not above using dirty tricks like planting evidence and arresting mobsters wives to slowly choke Zampa into submission. He alienates loved ones, colleagues, and powerful figures in the judiciary as he embarks on his crazed one-man crusade.

The Connection could be seen as a sister film to William Friedkin’s >The French Connection, exploring what really happened in Marseilles while Popeye Doyle was skulking around a grey and lifeless New York City. The irony is that while Friedkin’s film was fictionalised, it was handled with a greater respect for realism and the slow burn of honest drama. Marseilles native Cédric Jimenez – who grew up in the era of the Connection and counts Zampa’s daughter amongst his group of friends – has eschewed such high-mindedness in favour of all-out genre fare. The Connection is a big, blustery Cops ‘n’ Robbers crime film. It feels more like a descendent of Scorcese’s ballsy, cocaine-fuelled storytelling circa Goodfellas and Casino.

It’s a classic genre story: the lowly puritanical cop slowly closing in on the purring, all-powerful alpha kingpin, hiding in plain sight. It’s familiar. We see the tale unfolding before our eyes from the beginning. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It’s a fast-paced story, confidently told. Originality takes a backseat, allowing adrenaline and smooth-talking charm to take the wheel.

The film is lavish in its production design and styling. While Friedkin was making a ‘present day’ film back in 1971, and had to make do with Irish cops wrapped up in grey wool coats on blustery New York wharfs, Jimen ez takes great pleasure in depicting the most romanticised vision of 1970s Marseilles – ovular sports cars, azure seas, Gallic hippie rock music, coiffured hair and well cut suits.


Film Review: Crimson Peak

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Josh Cabrita on 16 Oct 2015

Mainstream audiences are like the color blind, only seeing the world in stale monochromes, but Guillermo del Toro, stripping his films from the production line’s homogeny, offers us vibrant views we have yet to experience. Show the rest of this post…

In an age of “orangy” blockbusters, readymade Marvel movies and underexposed horror films, Crimson Peak is a pleasure to behold.

Del Toro’s influences are numerous – gothic painting, giallo and even editing techniques from silent cinema – yet Crimson Peak is unique, not for any specific detail, but because of its vast palette of allusions. The film is otherworldly and expressionistic, yet there is an industrial quality to some of the visuals: machines associated with the beginnings of modernism play a key role here.

With sumptuous reds, luscious costumes and sensual candlelight, the mise en scène rivals Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin (this week’s other gorgeous delight) in terms of a shot-to-jaw-drop ratio. Working in a gothic milieu and the mid-20th century, del Toro manages to poke fun at some of the genre’s absurdities while adhering to its potential for poetry. A menacing painting of a woman is played for laughs but an old decrepit house, with crumbling plaster and a giant hole in the roof, is unironically mysterious. Sure, someone could have fixed the roof or repainted the walls but that wouldn’t be as interesting to look at.

But there’s a reason I’ve written close to 400 words without mentioning the story, and Crimson Peak is a film more concerned with style than characters and the mystery/romance/horror plot; despite an interesting theme, the characters are thin and the plot is predictable.

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), who was haunted by a spirit of her dead mother as a child, is the daughter of Carter, a wealthy, self-made man during the Industrial Revolution in America. When the enigmatic Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) comes to town with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), Edith quickly falls for him despite her father’s disapproval. Supposedly, because he isn’t of a higher class, Carter forbids Thomas’ relationship with Edith. Following a tragedy, Edith marries her lover and moves into his decrepit mansion that is segregated from city life.

Although Crimson Peak is being sold as haunted house horror, it’s more a romance with a bloody climax. In terms of del Toro’s oeuvre, Crimson Peak, which is slowly paced, fits alongside films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Devil’s Backbone more than Pacific Rim or Hellboy. Thematically, it examines the protagonist’s repressed feelings through supernatural fairy tales. And, similar to the director’s other films, Crimson Peak is also concerned with how the historical context impacts the characters’ motivations and feelings.

Set against the backdrop of the industrial revolution and the myths of early capitalism, Edith’s father refuses to fund Thomas’ entrepreneurial venture because his hands aren’t dirty enough; he hasn’t worked hard to earn his place among the elites. As the population migrates closer to the cities to find work, Thomas’ mansion, which lies far on the outskirts, has been neglected and forgotten. It’s the product of a feudal system that has been brushed aside.

Where fantasies in cinema and literature are typically an escape for the characters, a coping mechanism to withstand their harsh world, del Toro uses the mystical as a sinister reflection of everyday realities. The haunted house, which is explicitly said to represent the past, is not only an expression of past evils that Thomas and Lucille have committed, but a symbol of the shift from the feudal to the industrial. With his invention that mechanically extracts coal from the ground, Thomas is attempting to transition into this new world and seek riches at all costs.

But, primarily, this story is a playground for del Toro’s imagination, and of all the compositions he imagines in Crimson Peak, my favorite is a simple shot of two hands – one outstretched, the other hesitant to grab on. Because it conveys a character’s decision and emotion in a subtle gesture, it’s a moment that is formally rigorous and also emotionally raw, the rare profound i nstance in a film that otherwise favors aesthetics over pathos. Crimson Peak looks like a new color on the rainbow. The story, sadly, isn’t the pot of gold at the end of it.


Ann Veronica Janssens latest installation explores colour and light at the Wellcome CollectionThe London List

Posted in Art, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 15 Oct 2015


Invading the Wellcome Collection with mysterious coloured mist, Ann Veronica Janssens’ Yellowbluepink installation explores perception through the use of colour and light. One of the artists behind the Hayward Gallery’s remarkable Light Show back in 2013, Janssens again revels in the immateriality of such a medium, here playing with the notion of what you see, and how you see it. Yellowbluepink launches States of Mind, the Wellcome Collection’s year-long investigation into the experience of human consciousness.

Yellowbluepink is on show at the Wellcome Collection until 3rd January 2016
Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE

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.

We’ve been featured on the front page of Reddit and produced off-shoot club night Friday Night Fist Fight, launched a Creative Agency and events column The London List.

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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