Photographer Jeffrey Milstein shoots another perspective of the east and west coast for aerieal series ‘LANY’

Posted in Art, Photography
By Sam Bathe on 24 Jul 2015

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Capturing the urban neighbourhoods of Los Angeles and New York, photographer Jeffrey Milstein‘s LANY photoseries gives another perspective on the order and chaos of modern city living. Above the fascinating man-made patterns of America’s two most famous cities, Milstein compresses the high-rise and sprawling suburban street to a single layer. Show the rest of this post…

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Check out more of Jeffrey’s work on his site: www.jeffreymilstein.com

Film Review: Maggie

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 24 Jul 2015

Perhaps understandably, much of the interest surrounding Maggie – the debut feature from director Henry Hobson and screenwriter John Scott 3 – has been the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a low-key dramatic role. With a remit to emote as a grieving father, and stripped of the option to slip into action sequences, can Arnie hold his own? Show the rest of this post…

That has become the narrative surrounding Maggie, but what’s actually important is that the film – which is a sort-of mash-up of the family drama and zombie genres – is generally successful in what it tries to do.

Set in a blighted future, Maggie depicts a world suffering after the outbreak of a virus that turns people into zombie-like creatures before killing them. Once bitten, the victim will turn steadily more feral, more unable to recognise their humanity and, eventually, die. Arnie plays Wade, a father whose daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has just been released from hospital after having been bitten. With her fate seemingly sealed, how will the family cope?

The film is a sombre meditation on a stressful family ordeal, and very rarely stretches beyond that. Those expecting a horror film will be disappointed – this is rarely scary in the traditional sense. But what works, crucially, is the bond between father and daughter, and the haunting sense that Maggie’s days are numbered. In a way, the structure is reminiscent of a standard tearjerker: Maggie’s condition is established, and we’re then allowed to build a relationship with her before things get worse. But the film’s twist on the zombie genre helps it to avoid feeling overly exploitative – as to do the lead performances.

Arnie (who, incidentally, is also one of the producers) is top billing for this low-budget production – understandably, the promo material is focusing on the biggest name involved – but the film belongs primarily to Abigail Breslin, who is on good form as a girl coming to terms with what could be her final few weeks on Earth. It’s not an easy role, but she gives it believability, even when the film strains a little too hard to be earnest. Opposite her, Schwarzenegger gives one of the deepest, certainly one of the most subtle, performances of his career. Yes, he’s required to be meditative for much of the runtime, but this is a heavy role and he carries the emotional moments too. There’s one very nicely played scene while Wade fixes his car and Maggie reads nearby that has a lovely, familial feel; it just goes to show that Schwarzenegger can be a better actor than we tend to think, given some decent material to work with.

The film doesn’t really stray from its primary register of gently dispensed despair (occasionally drifting close to cheese), but its single-mindedness is a strength, too. David Wingo’s at times lovely score holds it all together, although I did feel it could’ve been used a tad more sparingly at  times. There are one or two hiccups in the script, but in general Hobson and Scott are proficient at portraying Maggie’s decline without resorting to too much explanatory dialogue.

3/5

The London List Abroad: Amangiri finds ultimate luxury in amongst Utah’s otherwise inhospitable Canyon PointThe London List

By Sam Bathe on 23 Jul 2015

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On a vast 600 acre plot against the dramatic backdrops of Canyon Point, Utah, Amangiri – meaning ‘peaceful mountain’ – is a stunning luxury resort and the ultimate getaway from civilisation. Constructed largely from concrete with white stone floors, textured natural furnishings accent a space that sits so effortlessly against the rocky surroundings. Show the rest of this post…

A 25-minute drive from the nearest town of Page, Arizona, and just 15 minutes from the stunning Lake Powell, Amangiri features 34 suites, huge swimming pool, library, restaurant, indoor and outdoor living spaces, a yoga pavilion and the Aman Spa, offering floatation therapy, sauna, steam room, and cold plunge and step pools.

Amangiri, 1 Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, Utah, 84741-0285, USA
www.amanresorts.com

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Pixar is ready to pull on your heartstrings again with a prehistoric friendship in ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Posted in Film, Previews, Trailers
By Sam Bathe on 22 Jul 2015

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Riding high on the critical and commercial success of Inside Out, Pixar have released the first full trailer for their second movie of 2015, The Good Dinosaur. Imaging a world where the asteroid missed Earth, when a young Apatosaurus named Arlo becomes separated from his family, he makes an unlikely human friend as they traverse the harsh and mysterious landscape hand-in-hand. While the overbearing music almost overshadows the trailer, the teaser features almost no dialogue, a bold move that is said to be a trait of the movie, with the almost photo-realistic backdrops apparently modeled on real locations around the world. Directed by Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy) and with a vocal cast that includes Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin and Frances McDormand, The Good Dinosaur hits theatres November 25th.

Film Review: Ant-Man

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 21 Jul 2015

Ant-Man, the latest addition to Marvel’s unstoppable comic book film series, may not look like a trickier cinematic proposition than last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy (which introduced five new main characters at once), but I think, in the end, it has proven to be just that. Show the rest of this post…

In this film – originally slated to be directed by long-term Ant-Man fan Edgar Wright (who retains script and story credits), but now in the hands of Peyton Reed – Marvel has given the cinematic treatment to one of its most obscure heroes: thanks to the power of a suit developed in the 60s by scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), former burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) can shrink down to the size of an ant (at which size he has super strength) and communicate with other ants.

It’s a heist film, essentially, albeit a super-powered one, in which Lang must infiltrate the hi-tech facility where Pym’s former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is about to put the finishing touches to his own shrinking formula, and weaponise it for the highest bidder. This, for obvious reasons, is bad.

Ant-Man is a valiant but only partially successful attempt to dramatise a fundamentally difficult and, it has to be said, faintly ludicrous character. The fact that it works at all is a compliment. The film is jovial enough that the sillier elements don’t rankle as they might have done, and the central concept – a tiny superhero attacking a science lab with an army of ants – is, remarkably, fairly convincing. It’s actually in the human relationships that the script wavers most frequently. There is good stuff in here between Pym and his daughter, played by Evangeline Lily, but there are times when the emotional content feels forced, and the script is far too on the nose. One particularly platitudinous line, which is unfortunately used twice in quick succession near the beginning, whiffs of by-the-numbers writing.

The need for Scott to have a ‘crew’ to help him infiltrate the building is a staple of the heist genre, but the film presents his associates as clichéd and uninteresting stereotypes which, barring Michael Peña’s amusing sidekick, add nothing to the film. Thankfully Paul Rudd, graduating from the primarily comedic roles of his past to comic book hero, is a likeable lead, grounding the film even when the material he’s working with isn’t the strongest.

There are moments of real wit in the script, (many of which come from action scenes taking place in ordinarily uninteresting or impossible locations, such as inside a briefcase, or a child’s bedroom), but these are too fleeting for the film to really make an impression. The film also suffers from the fact that, like so many comic book films, it boils down to two characters with almost identical powers brawling until one is victorious. Yes, it injects some wit and invention into proceedings, but it’s still an overly familiar final act. It doesn’t help that the villain is pretty underwhelming, and is actually more interesting before he dons a suit of his own.

So Ant-Man is an admirable but flawed attempt to expand the Marvel canon. The script is far from Marvel’s best and, considering the film aims to be light hearted, lacks the laughs that bolster so many of these films. Whether it would’ve been different with Wright at the helm is academic now. Scott Lang will return to the Marvel universe, we know that much already; here’s hoping the scriptwriters  find new ways to approach the character. Note: As an aside, what is The Wire’s Wood Harris, who plays a policeman here, doing in a such a tiny role with almost no dialogue?

3/5

Film Review: Inside OutFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 21 Jul 2015

As an animation brand, Pixar enjoys a similar reputation for quality that its parent company, Disney, has carried at various intervals since it began the field of feature-length animation back in the late 1930s. Disney has been through a few so-called ‘golden eras’ in its long animation history, and as Pixar has grown, it too has begun to show signs of emulating that peak and trough pattern. Show the rest of this post…

Since the extraordinary run of success Pixar put together in the second half of the noughties (beginning with Ratatouille and ending with Toy Story 3), there has been, by the company’s high standards, a bit of a lull. Cars 2 was light, not matching its predecessor (which was itself one of the studio’s lesser pictures), Brave was sweet but ultimately unmemorable, and Monsters University, while very good, wasn’t up to the level of the original. So while it would be unfair to say Pixar had something to prove, it’s fair to say that Inside Out, the studio’s latest feature directed by Up’s Pete Docter (alongside Ronnie del Carmen), had a fair amount riding on it. This could, and hopefully will be, the start of a new ‘golden era’ at Pixar. Inside Out is everything the studio can be when at its absolute best.

Inside Out’s main characters are the emotions inside a girl called Riley’s mind. Together, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust must program this developing human brain to comprehend and react to the situations around it. They store Riley’s memories, recalling them when necessary, and decide how she should react in the real world. All of this is set inside the abstract canvas of the mind: an endlessly changing landscape filled with thoughts, memories and islands representing key personality deciders, including ‘family’, ‘friendship’ and ‘honesty’. When Riley’s home life is disturbed by her parents’ intention to move to the city, the emotions must find a way for her to deal with change, and the inherent issues of growing up. Problem is, Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) have become lost in Riley’s mind, leaving the more combustible emotions in charge.

The film is an emotional rollercoaster, pun intended, a visual treat and a triumph of dramatic imagination. It, like all the best family films, is smart and un-patronising, both for kids and adults alike. The ideas are as colossal as ‘imagination’, ‘memory’ and ‘emotion’ but the film dramatises all of this through the medium of adorable, lovable and beautifully written characters. Riley’s reactions feel real, as does the sometimes twisted logic of her emotional controllers, but the film doesn’t ever relax too much into its winning setup; instead, Docter constantly pushes his film towards the next idea, the next logical progression of this metaphorical world, and the film, as a result, is not only emotionally complex and richly rewarding, but also varied and thrilling. The fight to restore Riley’s emotional balance, while retaining the core memories that make her who she is, is achingly beautiful, and the film regularly pulls on the heartstrings in the most raw and satisfying ways.

Inside Out’s brilliant screenplay, by Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, allows its characters time to breathe without scrimping on dramatic and action sequences to keep everything moving, but dedicates real love to all of its characters, even the minor ones. There are so many details in here – even in throwaway elements such as the imaginary boyfriend generator in Riley’s mind – to make the whole thing a joy. What’s even more impressive is that the film is only 90 minutes long. How they squeezed such a dense tapestry into such a tight runtime is a minor miracle.

I haven’t even mentioned Michael Giacchino’s tender score or the quality of the voice acting. The quality of the animation we can take as read. Suffice it to say, all of Inside Out’s elements come together to make it a memorable addition to Pixar’s list of hits. Docter’s film builds on the emotional resonance achieved in earlier Pixar films, in particular his own Up, and eloquently expresses those feelings on a canvas rich with invention. There’s even time for an amusing coda showing the activities of emotions in the brains of minor characters, and as always there’s a charming short film preceding the feature, in this case Lava , written and directed by James Ford Murphy, which isn’t one of Pixar’s very best shorts, but will raise a smile nonetheless. All in all, Pixar’s latest is an unmissable treat.

5/5

Matt Gibson Architecture’s ‘Concrete House’ creates its second floor with a remarkable hollow contrete block

Posted in Architecture
By Sam Bathe on 17 Jul 2015

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A spectacular, hollow concrete rectangle sitting atop the ground floor, Matt Gibson Architecture‘s Concrete House is designed to forge a direct relationship between inside and out. With the living spaces facing the north and bedrooms towards the south, the contemporary build looks just as remarkable from the back as the front with a near mirror image in its appearance. Show the rest of this post…

Located in Melbourne, Australia, the Concrete House maintains privacy in the front thanks to a timber frame, with no windows on the side of the property. The garden houses a pool and tennis court for the owners to enjoy too.

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Check out more of Matt Gibson Architecture’s work on their site: www.mattgibson.com.au

Burberry creates a modern, preppy look for the library and the beach with their new ‘Scholar’ eyewear collection

Posted in Products, Style
By Sam Bathe on 16 Jul 2015

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Inspired by the signature shapes of Oliver Peoples, Burberry‘s new FW2015 eyewear collection channels a suave and stylish look. Available in a number of colourways for both reading and sun glasses, the collection starts at $225 in a circular and more squared off model. Titled ‘The Scholar Collection’, Burberry’s new eyewear range will hit Burberry stores and select retailers later this summer.

Netflix takes on the notorious Columbian drug war with new Pablo Escobar drama ‘Narcos’

Posted in TV
By Sam Bathe on 15 Jul 2015

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Shot on location in Columbia, Narcos is the new series from Netflix about the growth of the Medellin drug cartel and its infamous leader, Pablo Escobar. Set in the 1980s and starring Wagner Moura in the lead, the series will explore Escobar’s battles with the authorities, with the US sending a Mexican DEA agent to Columbia to kill him. All episodes of Narcos will premiere August 28th on Netflix.

Everything’s coming to a head in the second trailer for Zach Snyder’s superhero epic ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

Posted in Film, Previews, Trailers
By Sam Bathe on 12 Jul 2015

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The talk of this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the second trailer for Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sees motives tested amid an almighty storm that’s coming to our planet. As Bruce Wayne starts to revolt against Superman’s self-appointed duties and Lex Luthor also waiting in the wings, Batman v Superman will also debut Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ezra Miller as The Flash. The first big step in Warner Bros. and DC’s plan to create a film network to rival Marvel’s interconnected universe, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theatres March 25th 2016.

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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