Wednesday, July 08, 2020

This blog has moved

 
This blog has moved to another platform: it's now integrated with my barnflakes.com portfolio site, where regular posts will hopefully resume soon. I've had this same template for 14 years, and it's been out of date for at least a decade, so it's about time.

The newly-designed barnflakes site also has new sections for Barndoor Books, Barnacles, Barngains and Homeless Movies. I've actually been wanting to do this for years; hopefully readers will enjoy exploring the new site (which is still very much a WIP, especially the blog, where the text and images from this blog didn't seem to import properly. Sigh. Only 1,000+ posts to manually amend).

For sentimental reasons I'll keep this blog active for a while, but they'll probably be no more posts here and eventually I'll make it seamlessly redirect to the new site.

Thanks for reading.

barnflakes.com/blog

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

St. Decay in Cornwall Today

My book of infrared photos of Cornwall, Welcome to St. Decay, is featured in this month's Cornwall Today magazine, available from most supermarkets and book shops in the county. Photos from the book grace the cover and a six-page article (which I also wrote). I'm extremely grateful to the team at Cornwall Today, in particular Tim Dixon, for featuring my photos.

Previously on Barnflakes
Welcome to St. Decay

Barndoor Books

A selection of recently printed Barndoor Books, from left to right: Pulp Poetry, Welcome to St. Decay, Rashisms, It's A Shame About Ray and Collected and Selected Poems.

Here's what some people are saying about some of them:

WELCOME TO ST. DECAY
'The whole concept of this and these mesmerising images of alien-like landscapes of Cornwall taken on an infrared camera are so incredibly haunting, evocative and simply staggeringly beautiful.'
– Christian B

'Quite wonderful'
– Naomi

'Stunning'
– Tim

'I really love your book. It’s novel, beautiful, intelligent and ascerbic in places – just like Cornwall. I think you’ve created something that says something new about Cornwall and I love it!'
– Rachael

'Should be in the Tate Modern'
– Frances

'Great'
– Chris

'Clearly a labour of love'
– Helen

'Amazing and challenging images of where we grew up'
– Bob

IT'S A SHAME ABOUT RAY
"U r a fucking genius!!!!!!"
– Christian G

"Makes me want to meet the legend"
– Mel

"You must have a lot of time on your hands"
– Caspar

"Brilliant work"
– Narinder

"No comment"
– Ray

SELECTED AND COLLECTED POEMS
'You Are The God! Colossal respect, sir. To me, this book is what the world needs – badly!'
– Malcolm

Welcome to St. Decay and Pulp Poetry are available to buy on Etsy.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Like Hevon, but more fun

Inspired by those two fine wordsmiths Nind and Ray.

Previously on Barnflakes
Welcome to St Decay
Corn + Wall = Cornwall

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts video

It was almost thirty years ago that I linked up two VHS recorders and created Blood and Rain, a montage of film clips and footage I'd shot of rain, to the soundtrack of Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall*. For better or worse, that video (along with the now-classic Red Lipstick) got me into film school.

Well, all these years later, I'm still editing film clips to the tune of Bob Dylan, now with help from YouTube and an Apple Mac. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts is a song from Dylan's classic Blood on the Tracks album. The song has spurned two screenplays, neither of which got made into films. It seems now that Luca Guadagnino, director of Call Me By Your Name, intends to make a film out of the entire album.

Dylan has apparently only sang the song once live and I don't recall hearing any cover versions, so it's great to hear folk singer Naomi Bedford's wonderful version, for which I have created the video for. The song contains vocals from Naomi as well as twenty other singers and musicians, including her partner and Dylan fan Paul Simmonds (of The Men They Couldn't Hang fame) on guitar, and her son Noah in charge of mixing. The poster image is by Chris Riddell, illustrator and political cartoonist for the Observer.

All proceeds from the recording will go to community causes chosen by We Shall Overcome. 

Bob Dylan's new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, his first LP of original songs since 2012's Tempest, has also just been released. It's been getting rave reviews, with The Guardian calling it "a testament to his eternal greatness". Three of the songs, including the 17-minute epic Murder Most Foul, were released during lockdown to critical acclaim.

Previously on Barnflakes
The Rebel Soldier
Seven Days of Nothing
Without Joy

Elsewhere on Barnflakes
YouTube Channel

*Unfortunately, the YouTube version prohibits using the actual song A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall so I uploaded a silent version. You'll need my DVD Homeless Movies to get the full version.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Viva la lockdown!

For about half an hour in the middle of April 2020, a dozen editorial staff in The Guardian got excited about a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a greener, brighter, fairer future. Then McDonald's, Primark, car parks and offices opened up again and it was all over.

I already look back on lockdown with a half-forgotten, half-imagined nostalgic fondness as if it happened many years ago. Did I really walk outside and hear birds singing and children playing? Were there really no cars on the roads? Were car parks and offices really shut?

Most people I was in contact with were enjoying lockdown as much as me, appreciating nature, being productive and creative, spending quality time with loved ones – surprisingly, even those who are usually extroverts, who I'd assumed would go stir crazy, relished either some time alone or being with loved ones, usually a bit of both. Aside from being productive and creative, I enjoyed nature more than I have ever before in my life.

So it seems bizarre that, as a whole, the nation seems so keen to return to the moronic 'normal' of before. You know, people driving 100 miles to get to soul-destroying office jobs every day, grabbing a £3 milky bucket of hot liquid apparently called coffee; at the weekend spending it in a soul-destroying shopping centre. The queues for our local drive thru KFC, McDonald's and Costa, and for Primark and Sports Direct, have left me speechless. The morons are back.

Lockdown was a time of hope, reflection, creativity, love, support. We realised who we were and what we valued. We also realised who was worthless – our politicians, our CEOs, our celebrities (not counting Bob Dylan, naturally).

Cars, car parks, offices, jobs, shops, cafes, restaurants, gyms, sport, cinema, planes. Couldn't. Give. A. Damn. About any of it. I had nature on my doorstep; books and art materials at home; a flask for hot drinks; a phone for keeping in touch with family and friends.

I'll be like the Japanese soldiers in the holdouts after the end of World War II, unaware, or unwilling, to believe the war was over and continuing to fight. I will continue my right to fight – for lockdown!

Previously on Barnflakes 
Shakespeare in the time of Coronavirus, a top ten
Kill Bill(ions)
Top ten things to be positive about during the Coronavirus pandemic
Staying at home: a guide to enjoying lockdown
Armchair atlases

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Notes on Fay Godwin, photographer

Fay Godwin is perhaps my favourite British landscape photographer – a label she hated, insisting on being called a documentary photographer instead. Born in 1931, Fay Godwin's interest in photography began with taking shots of her young children in the 1960s; she had no formal training. There could be said to be two halves to her photography career: the first half consisting of portraits of famous authors and poets of the 1970s, from Kingsley Amis to Philip Larkin, whom her husband, a book publisher, introduced her to.

The second half to her career was as a documentary photographer (she said she would have been a photo journalist if it wasn't for her children) – though, to be fair, she is documenting landscape, and the changes made by humans. Humour me for a second, if you will, and Google the term 'landscape photography' – the result is beautiful, over-saturated sunsets and misty mornings; picture postcard depictions of our idea of a traditional landscape, unchanged since paintings of old. Fay Godwin rejected traditional notions of landscape and beauty. By all accounts a strong-willed, opinionated and daunting woman, she found most postcard photography "absolutely revolting". Despite her objections to such concepts, her photos are actually beautiful, but with a mythical depth much modern photography lacks.

She separated from her husband in 1969; he died suddenly in 1976. Around the same time Fay was diagnosed with cancer, but it didn't stop her stomping around the countryside in all weather carrying a heavy tripod and medium format camera or becoming president of the Ramblers' Association (from 1987-1990). Godwin developed her landscape photography throughout the 1970s and 80s, and produced several photography books to critical acclaim. She called England a "grotty little country" but she liked the light and the history.

In her later years she embraced digital and colour photography, using Photoshop and a scanner to scan objects found on the beach. She died in 2005, aged 74.

Previously on Barnflakes 
Notes on Nicholas Syracuse, photographer
Notes on Max Pam, photographer
Notes on Stephen Gill, photographer

My daughter's top ten films and books, aged 14

TOP TEN FILMS
1. Howl's Moving Castle (Miyazaki, 2004)
2. Ocean's 8 (Ross, 2018)
3. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
4. My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)
5. Moana (Clements, Musker, 2016)
6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (Watts, 2019)
7. Ponyo (Miyazaki, 2008)
8. Star Wars (Lucas, 1977)
9. The Truman Show (Weir, 1998)
10. Tomorrowland (Bird, 2015)

TOP TEN BOOKS
1. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
5. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
6. More Than This by Patrick Ness
7. 5 Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
9. Ingo by Helen Dunmore
10. After the Fire by Will Hill

Previously on Barnflakes
Top ten Studio Ghibli films
My daughter's top ten films, aged 13
My daughter's top ten books, aged 12½ 
My daughter's top ten films (aged 12) 
My daughter's top ten films (aged 11)
My daughter's top ten films (aged 10)

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Neil Krug and Pulp Art Book

I love Pulp Art Book, a psychedelic, LP-sized tome of Cindy Shermanesque, fictional B-movie stills taken with sun-bleached out-of-date Polaroids of Joni Harbeck, model/girlfriend, then wife, of photographer Neil Krug. The creative duo Krug and Harbeck first published the photos on Flickr, causing a wave of publicity, which resulted in two volumes of Pulp Art Book bring published, Vol 1 in 2011, and Vol 2 in 2012.

I originally assumed the pictures were taken in the 1960s or 70s, and Krug a grizzly veteran from the counter culture movement. Au contraire; he is a 36-year old, L.A. based art director, creating album covers for the likes of Tame Impala (above, a deserted desert diamond mine town in Namibia I've always wanted to visit) and Lana Del Rey.

Notes on Nicholas Syracuse, photographer

Young American photographer from Arizona who travels the States photographing drifters. The above photos are from his black and white project Highway; his other project, Traveler, is in colour. Both can be found on his website.

Alternative Call Me By Your Name poster

I love the film Call Me By Your Name; I love the soundtrack album, and I love the book. The only thing I hate is the poster design, which is the same for the film, soundtrack and book. Eugh. it’s so bland and generic. And I hate that hand-written font in yellow. And the weird embrace of the characters. Now listen – I don't say mine, above, is any better – but at least it combines the main elements of the film: music, the infamous peach and the rescued antique arm from the sea, which Elio shakes hands with whilst Oliver holds it.

Look at other alternative posters – usually called 'fan art', which makes it sound so teenagerhere. (Whilst browsing, I hadn't realised its acroymn, CMBYN, was a thing, and half-read it at first as a cross between CORBYN, former Labour leader, and CMYK, the four colours – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – used in printing. Go figure.)

The soundtrack proved immensely popular, which is odd considering how eclectic it sounds – it ranges from modern classical to awful 80s Europop, and helped hugely by a few Sufjan Stevens classics – yet perhaps that's part of its attraction. The vinyl releases in particular, including, naturally, a limited edition peach-scented version, sold out immediately. Then there's a limited edition blue vinyl, a transparent red and even a regular boring black vinyl.

Previously on Barnflakes
I'mpeach
Poster for The Last Movie
The Morris Dance Murders Movie 
See You Next Tuesday & Wednesday

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Barnaby's cupboard

Guest post by Graham J Macey, author of On the Road with Heitor: Journeys of Hope, Healing and Peace, Further on up the Road, Volume 1 : A Journey through Corona: A Winter in Spain and Volume 2: 'Lockdown', all available on Amazon

I like my old nose. If I could get it out the cupboard and put it on, 
then I would.
Katie Price

Everyone is discovering things these days – small things and big things – nice things and not so nice things… everyone is an explorer on their own unique journey of discovery and adventure… here are just a few examples of these wondrous journeys of self-discovery…

One of my brothers discovered that he likes growing beards – while my other brother discovered that he most definitely doesn’t.

Some people have discovered that empty roads are great places to find out how fast your car or motorbike or truck or tractor will actually go – while others have discovered that they like working from home and that the kids can now draw patterns in the dust on the car.

I have discovered that I quite like cooking and that it’s nice to keep some food in the fridge after all – but I have also discovered that the local Pizza shop do free home deliveries on orders over £10.

A lot of people, it seems, have discovered that they like being a racist and blaming ‘foreigners’ for all their problems – while many have discovered that caring and looking-out for others turns out to be the very best way of caring and looking-out for yourself.

Some people have discovered that if you over stock on toilet rolls then you can’t always rely on being able to return them for a full refund – while lots of other people have discovered that they like painting rainbows and hanging them outside their houses, and that they like clapping and saying thank you.

Many have discovered that they love and treasure their family and their home more than they ever imagined – while others have discovered that they would rather fix the catch on the garden gate than spend another five minutes with their partner.

Boris Johnson discovered that he is not invincible after all – while some of his friends discovered that, if you’re going to tell people to stay at home, it might be a good idea to do the same.

Some politicians discovered that it’s a real wheeze to stand in from of the camera and promise people all kinds of benefits and support – and then spend the rest of the day inventing loopholes to get out of paying them a penny.

There are at least one or two sad souls in this world who have discovered, when faced with their balance sheets, that the numbers just don’t go high enough – while their employees have discovered, to their immense relief, that you don’t need so many toilet breaks when you can’t afford to eat.

Some people have discovered that it’s fun to spy and report on your neighbours – while others have discovered that it feels good to ask their neighbours if they need anything.

I have discovered that writing is really hard if you can’t sit outside your favourite café in the sunshine with a notepad and a pen – while my good friend Barnaby has discovered that the strange blank featureless piece of wood in his kitchen that he has puzzled over and mused over for so long, is actually a sneaky little cupboard in disguise…

Way to go, Barnaby!

Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things
Noam Chomsky

Flickagrams #19

Close-up of a feather.

Untitled (L.A. in Cornwall reflection)

Previously on Barnflakes
Untitled (Fish & Hips)
Untitled (legs in air)

I've never seen The Wolf of Wall Street

I used to work with a guy called Joe who said he had never seen Star Wars (and, presumably, neither its sequels and prequels), which he mentioned about once a week (like me saying I have no TV), and it became a thing (almost a cliché). The thing with a thing is, it becomes consuming, and you have to keep it up. He could never see Star Wars, ever. He couldn’t see it once and say, I didn’t watch Star Wars for the first 35 years of my life, then I watched it. I mean, that’s not bad actually, not watching it for 35 years, but not as good as being able to say you’d never watched it.

It would be like being an alcoholic falling off the wagon: I didn't touch a drink for 35 years, then I did, and got raging drunk – Joe's equivalent would be binging on all nine Star Wars films one Saturday night. And, like an alcoholic, the temptation is always there – in the supermarket, the off licence. In Joe's case, Star Wars, on TV, online, in the supermarket, the charity shop. I know how Joe feels: Wolf of Wall Street is free to watch on Prime*, so it’s right there. I could watch it and not even tell anyone I’ve seen it.

It was a boast, implying he had no time for such things, that he had better taste, a kind of moral high ground — he's better than you or me; though he wasn’t, he was as mainstream as anyone else. It came across as a bit pretentious: he could almost be saying I haven’t seen Star Wars but I have seen Werckmeister Harmonies, but I doubt he'd ever watched any foreign films. I actually felt sorry for him, and there was a slight tinge of sadness in his voice, as if he was deprived, as if it was inevitable he had never seen Star Wars and never would.

I've Never Seen Star Wars is apparently also a comedy talk show on Radio 4 and a TV programme. The concept came from creator Bill Dare, who had never seen Star Wars. The format of the show is to have guests try out new experiences, such as actor Nigel Havers watching The Simpsons, getting a tattoo, eating a MacDonald's and listening to The Smith Hatful of Hollow – you know, stuff the rest of the planet does on a daily basis.

The Guardian also have a regular film column, The classic film I've never seen.... (insert classic film from Chinatown to The Shawshank Redemption).

It may not be a classic but I have never seen The Wolf of Wall Street but also, I haven't liked any Scorsese film since Goodfellas in 1990, and haven't seen a lot of them. Now, I tell people I haven't seen Wolf of Wall Street and they're like, Why Not? And I have to say I really don’t approve of hedonism or money or late-period Scorsese, and perhaps sound more pretentious than Joe. No one ever asked Joe why he'd never seen Star Wars. It was just greeted with quiet awe. Or indifference.

Most Scorsese post-Goodfellas, from Casino onwards and continuing with Cape Fear, Bringing out the Dead, Shutter Island and The Irishman, amongst others, feel like insincere Scorsese parodies of himself. It happens to us all, with age. Robert de Niro has done a similar thing with his latter acting career.

I thought I’d always love Scorsese films; it was Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The King of Comedy which got me into cinema. But unlike, say, football, where a fan will follow their team through thick and thin, I feel no such loyalty to Marty when he makes such clunkers as Hugo.

Killers of the Flower Moon, the new Scorsese flick currently in production, a crime film starring DiCaprio and De Niro (or DeCapriNiro – they should be a coffee, right?), does not, unsurprisingly, excite me at all.

*I avoided The Wolf of Wall Street one more night recently by watching Happy as Lazzaro on Amazon Prime, an extraordinary Italian film from 2019. What starts off as an Italian neo-realist film in the style of Tree of Wooden Clogs turns into a time-travelling slice of magical realism, with hints of The Village.

I'mpeach

Journey to Exeter Services

Though local traffic had almost got back to ‘normal’ levels, we were surprised to find the highway virtually empty, leading me to surmise that we were in a post-apocalyptic road movie, which was sort of true (lockdown mostly felt over). The trees and foliage either side of the highway felt wildly overgrown and green (a good thing); there were birds of prey perched on the median strip, various abandoned car parts were littered along the shoulder and signs of fresh road kill were abundant (a bad thing).

We did some shout-singing on the way; we were euphoric screaming U2’s Without or Without You, and just reached the “Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh” bit at the end when the traffic news on the radio suddenly interrupted us. It was a huge comedown; the “Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh” became an anti-climatic “Oh”.

The Moto Services didn’t dispel my apocalyptic road movie feeling. Most of the shops and food places were shut but the toilets were open. The lights were on, music was playing from loudspeakers, but no one was home. Traffic cones, warning signs and black and yellow hazard tape reinforced my feeling.

Anyway, we successfully handed over the merchandise, a teenage girl, and went on our way. I tried counting the traffic cones for some roadworks along the highway, gave up. I estimated it to be 4,000. Then I looked up how many cones are in the UK: impossible to know precisely, but 1.3 million approximately, 140 million worldwide.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Welcome to St. Decay


Cornwall as it's never been seen before, in glorious infrared. Welcome to St. Decay – the book – celebrates Cornwall's mining heritage through a luridly-bright colour palette.

Taken over a six-month period walking and cycling around the Cornish countryside from St. Agnes to St. Austell, the book explores nature's gradual but inevitable reclamation of the man-made, focusing on abandoned engine houses where ivy climbs the chimneys and walls. For me, these engine houses are as grand and beautiful as any cathedral or castle and deserve to be celebrated.

All photos were taken by me with an infrared camera, and the book was designed by myself.

Book specifications:
Softback, full colour, 62 pages, size 120x120mm.
£9.99.

Get it on Etsy now!

Top ten songs about films

1. Song: The Seventh Seal by Scott Walker
Film: The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)
"Anybody seen a knight pass this way?
I saw him playing chess with Death, yesterday"

2. Song:
Debaser by The Pixies
Film: Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel/Dali, 1929)
"Got me a movie
I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs
I want you to know" 

3. Song: Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen*
Film: Badlands (Malick, 1973)
"I saw her standin' on her front lawn just twirlin' her baton
Me and her went for a ride sir and ten innocent people died"

4. Song: 2HB by Roxy Music
Film: Casablanca (Curtiz, 1943)
"Oh I was moved by your screen dream
Celluloid pictures of living
Your death could not kill our love for you
Take two people, romantic
Smoky nightclub situation
Your cigarette traces a ladder
Here's looking at you kid"

5. Song: Brownsville Girl by Bob Dylan** 
Film: The Gunfighter (King, 1950)
"Well, there was this movie I seen one time
About a man riding 'cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck
He was shot down by a hungry kid trying to make a name for himself
The townspeople wanted to crush that kid down and string him up by the neck" 

6. Song: E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite 
Films: Performance, Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, the Man Who Fell to Earth and Insignificance, all directed by Nic Roeg.
"Man dies first reel, people ask, "What's the deal?
This ain't how it's supposed to be; Don't like no Aborigine" [Walkabout]
"Took a trip in Powis Square, pop star dyed his hair" [Performance]
"Met a dwarf that was no good, dressed like little Red Riding Hood
Bad habit taking life, her calling card a six-inch knife" [Don't Look Now]

"Space guy fell from the sky, scratched my head and wondered why" [The Man Who Fell to Earth]
"The King of brains, Queen of the sack; executives have heart attack
It's assault course celluloid the money makers would avoid
Sometimes notions get reversed – centre of the universe" [
Insignificance]

7. Song: Like Dylan in the Movies by Belle and Sebastian 
Film: Dont Look Back (Pennebaker, 1967)
"Don't look back
Like Dylan in the Movies"

8. Song: Lyla by Coco Rosie 
Film: Lilya 4-ever (Moodysson, 2002)
"It reminded me
Of a movie I just saw
About a little girl
From Yugoslavia
She got sent away
They made her prostitute
She ate McDonald's all day
And never had a chance to play
Lyla" 

9. Song: The Union Forever by The White Stripes 
Film: Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
"Sure I'm C.F.K.
But you gotta love me
The cost no man can say
But you gotta love me" 

10. Song: Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something
Films: Roman Holiday (Wyler, 1953); Breakfast at Tiffany's (Edwards, 1961)
And I said "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?"
She said, "I think I remember that film
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it."


*Springsteen also wrote a song called Badlands which has nothing to do with the classic Malick flick of the same name.
**Film references and dialogue litter the songs of Bob Dylan, most frequently on his 1985 effort, Empire Burlesque. One keen Bobcat has found references to 61 films in Dylan songs..

Flickagrams #18

After heavy rains followed by sunshine, the remnants of arsenic and copper create beautiful, surreal colours in the Tailings lagoons at Wheal Maid, near Redruth, Cornwall.

Previously on Barnflakes
Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Top ten British seaside films

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside... especially when it involves Teddy Boy gangs, radioactive children, prostitutes, murder, drugs, desolation and hopelessness. Things sure have changed since Carol Reed's Bank Holiday (1938).

1. Brighton Rock (Boulting, 1948) BRIGHTON
2. The Damned (Losey, 1962) WEYMOUTH
3. Bait (Jenkins, 2019) CHARLESTOWN
4. Quadrophenia (Roddam, 1979) BRIGHTON 
5. The Birthday Party (Friedkin, 1968) WORTHING
6. Wish You Were Here (Leland, 1987) BRIGHTON, WORTHING & BOGNOR REGIS
7. Archipelago (Hogg, 2010) ISLES OF SCILLY
8. Last Resort (Pawlikowski, 2000) MARGATE
9. London to Brighton (Williams, 2006) BRIGHTON
10. Bhaji on the Beach (Chadha, 1993) BLACKPOOL

Elsewhere on the web
Films on the Strange British Coastline at Celluloid Wicker Man

Previously on Barnflakes
Fisherman's Friends vs Bait
Art of the seaside 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Phone box bookshops

BT's Adopt a Kiosk scheme (which costs £1), introduced in 2009,  has given a second life to hundreds of the iconic yet defunct red phone boxes around the UK – from miniature museums and cafes to defibrillators and nightclubs (though the best I've seen is undoubtedly an aquarium) – yet the most popular enterprise seems to be the book shop (or swap shop or library). I can imagine them lasting about a day in London but there are three within a mile of us here in Cornwall, including the brightly-painted one pictured above. With bookshops, libraries and charity shops still shut, these phone boxes are the only place to find books (without using the internet, I mean) at the moment.

Here's my lockdown reading so far:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Absorbing recasting of Thomas Cromwell as the good guy.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Classic haunted house story, made into several films and TV series.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Apparently the zeitgeist novel of the decade (the last one, presumably), featuring two, erm, Damaged People. Similar in plot and technique to David Nicholl's One Day.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Wildly imaginative and entertaining novel featuring the devil and his cat coming to Moscow in the 1930s and causing havoc, interspersed with Pontius Pilate's trial of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness by Erich Fromm
Classic text exploring man's tendency to destroy or control life.

Previously on Barnflakes
Don't Just Be Yourself
The top 100 books
Notes on Giles Gilbert Scott
Sex workers' cards Gilbert and George style
London through its charity shops #12: Kingston

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Worst five all-female films

 
Who you gonna call? The Samaritans, probably. 

1. Ocean's 8 (Ross, 2018)
2. Ghostbusters (Feig, 2016)
3. Hustlers (Scafaria, 2019)
4. Charlie's Angels (Banks, 2019)
5. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (McG, 2013)

How many women make an 'all-female film'? 3? 8? What makes an all-female film? A lack of men? Women behaving like men? Women behaving worse than men? Women getting one over on men? All of the above?

What's interesting – and I realise I'm now perpetuating this – is how many articles there are highlighting the failure of these all-female films (not Hustlers, mind, which inexplicably got 4 stars in the Guardian – we (one of whom is a woman) found it unwatchable; I mean, not just that it was boring and had no plot or characters; no, rather that this is what a feminist film apparently is: women getting their own back on men. And buying lots of expensive handbags.), but any recent film consisting of a female reboot – Ghostbusters in particular bore the brunt – is automatically going to be accused of cashing in on the #metoo movement rather than being a genuine celebration of womankind.

Of course there are lots of excellent, genuine films featuring strong, female characters who are not just out-doing men: look at virtually the whole Studio Ghibli output, most Ingmar Bergman films, the recent Little Women adaptation, The Duke of Burgundy, 3 Women (inspired by Bergman's Persona, and a dream), Bridesmaids, and the French 8 Women and Girlhood are a few that spring to mind.

Previously on Barnflakes
My daughter's top ten films, aged 13

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Notes on Max Pam, photographer

Max Pam (b. 1949, Melbourne, Australia) is my favourite photographer no one's heard of. I came across an exhibition of his randomly whilst living in Sydney in 1999: Signature Works – 25th Anniversary Exhibition was showing at the Australian Centre for Photography. I was blown away by the exhibition and some of Pam's books on display, including the award-winning Going East, which looks at his Asia photos over a twenty year period. I'd arrived in Sydney after spending six months in SE Asia; Pam's extraordinary black and white travel photos resonated with me.

With a spirit of adventure, Pam had set off for India, aged 19, having never left home before. Influenced by 19th century British photographers and travellers John Thomson and Samuel Bourne, who were some of the first photographers to record China and India respectively, Pam spent the next two decades photographing the continent with a medium format camera, from vistas of the Himalayas to intimate portraits of prostitutes in Manila.

Shooting with a wide angle lens and a long exposure (up to five seconds), many of Pam's photos are 'street portraits' – outdoor, posed shots of people who he builds a rapport with, maybe two or three individuals, with all manner of life going on around them – and often at least one blurred element, usually a person moving. For Pam, aside from the connection to the 19th century pioneers (who didn't have fast exposures for their cameras), the blurring represents "that power that is swirling all around... it's that energy that is inherent in everyone." (Pam never takes candid photos, going so far as to call them 'stolen' photos and an aggressive act.) But it's hard to pin Pam down. He also takes wonderful shots of nudes, and pictures of hands holding strange objects. In his books, he's interested in the juxtapostion of the double page spread.

Like Stephen Gill, Alec Soth, Martin Parr (who has published three volumes on the subject; Pam's Going East features in volume two) and many other contemporary photographers, the photo book is paramount to Pam. Drawing inspiration from traditional Indian illuminated manuscripts, and admiring of the sketchbooks the painting students filled in whilst he was at art college in the 1960s, Pam has produced many photo books which contain journals, found objects, drawings, maps and collage. In this respect, they are similar to the work of Peter Beard, the photographer once described as 'half-Tarzan, half-Byron', who died a couple of weeks ago. His extraordinary collage books contain extracts from his diaries and journals which contain all manner of found objects and photos, densely multi-layered, from blood and calligraphy to paintings and pressed flowers. The Journals of Dan Eldon – the English photojournalist stoned to death in Mogadishu in 1993, aged 22 – published as The Journey is the Destination, also contains a delightful and intimate mix of collage, painting, found objects, writing and photography.

All three photographers – Max Pam, Peter Beard and Dan Eldon – blur the line between photographer and artist, their diaries and journals are living, chaotic and creative accounts of their lives, with photography being just one element in the multi-layered mishmash of writing, painting, graphic design, collage and found object.

Pam has published twenty books in a career spanning fifty years. He now teaches photomedia in Perth.

Visual Instincts was an Australian TV series and book, edited by Max Pam, published in 1989 which explored five contemporary Australian photographers: Emmanuel Angelicas, Jon Lewis, Fiona Hall, Grant Mudford and Max Pam. The series can be found free to watch on Kanopy, which I mentioned recently.

There is a Max Pam on Instagram but there's only a few shots of book spreads on there. Anyway, a missed opportunity – he should have gone for the username InstaPam.

There's an interesting interview with Pam at The Kitab, an Indian website which explores the photo book.

maxpam.com

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Notes on Stephen Gill, photographer

I've been admiring Stephen Gill's photography since first seeing his work in The Guardian Weekend magazine in the early 2000s. Initially focusing on London's East End where he lived after moving from Bristol, Gill built up an experimental and conceptual body of work on all aspects of his chosen part of London, from its ponds and waterways to its markets and allotments, its themes ranging from cultural to environmental.

Like Alec Soth, who is everywhere all the time for no apparent reason (I'd never heard of him until a year ago, even though I recently found I'd had a photography book of his for years), Gill is keen on the idea of the photographic book, and self-publishes them through his company, Nobody Books.

In 2014 Gill moved to Sweden, where he spent over four years working on his book, The Pillar, which came out last year. Ostensibly a bird book, though possibly not one twitchers or professional nature photographers would approve of as such; the stunning photos were taken with a low-resolution motion sensor camera set up next to the titular pillar, a wooden post nearby to Gill's home in the wilds of Sweden. Capturing a variety of birds from a sparrow to an eagle, the birds often appear awkward and contorted yet somehow more natural than we're used to seeing them.

As Karl Ove Knausgård writes in The Pillar: "I’d never seen birds in this way before, as if on their own terms, as independent creatures with independent lives. Ancient, forever improvising, endlessly embroiled with the forces of nature, and yet indulging too. And so infinitely alien to us."

stephengill.co.uk

Monday, April 27, 2020

Max Klinger: A Glove

A Glove, or Paraphrase on the Finding of a Glove, is a series of ten etchings produced by the German artist Max Klinger in 1881, when he was twenty-one. The sequential series tells the story of the artist himself finding the glove of a young woman at a Berlin ice rink. The seeming normality of the narrative soon descends into nightmare and obsession as the artist imagines losing the glove at sea, retrieving it again, only for it to be stolen by a winged beast.

The ten etchings, titled Place, Action, Yearnings, Rescue (pictured, top), Triumph, Homage, Anxieties, Repose, Abduction (above) and Cupid, have a dream-like logic and display a mastery of the techniques of engraving, etching and aquatint, especially for one so young. They were an immediate success when first exhibited, and Klinger would go on to produce further narrative cycles of etchings, but none matched the darkness and desire of A Glove.

The etchings, created towards the end of the 19th century, seem to prefigure numerous 20th century concerns, such as surrealist (see Max Ernst and Dali) and metaphysical (see Giorgio de Chirico) art, fetishism, materialism, Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and the graphic novel.

See them all here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Notes on Ilse Breit

Not much is known about the Austrian artist Ilse Breit (1908-1992) except that she painted lovely pictures of girls being attacked by cheeky farmyard animals. This one, a lithograph called Goose Girl or Girl Beset by Geese, was painted when Breit was a young teenager. She was taught, along with many other children, by Frank Cizek in Vienna. A portrait and landscape painter, Cizek was also a pioneer in art education. In 1897 he established art classes for children, called Jugendkunstklasse, at the School for Arts and Crafts in Vienna.

Dr Mary V Gutteridge, a contemporary teacher, describes walking into one of Cizek's classrooms in 1929 thus: "...most striking was the riot of colour springing from every wall, desk, and easel, and even from the floor. Against the drabness of the walls, the wet and smeary windows and murky November light, there seemed to be living color and form in paintings and art objects."

And: "No restrictions, no orders, and, it appeared, no instruction was given. The children, painting as they felt and as they wished, looked as if they had entered heaven."

Cizek's teaching methods would still be considered controversial today, let alone over a hundred years ago. He advocated minimal teaching for children, encouraging them to foster their own imagination and express themselves freely. His classes became famous the world over, with exhibitions of his students' art shown at home and abroad in England, America and Australia. Poster reproductions of the students' paintings were popular in nurseries, schools and peoples' homes.

Yet there's something slightly sad about all the wonderful illustrations and paintings that came out of Cizek's classes: there's no biographical information about any of the artists (though there's plenty about Cizek). Ilse Breit and her sister Herta, Berta Zuckermann, Gretl Hanus, Steffi Krauss, Grete Blatney, Hansi Bauer and many others (mostly girls) were all accomplished artists by their early teens. Many of their works are now owned by the V&A Collections. But what became of the young artists? Presumably none went on to become prominent artists, otherwise there would be information about them.

Nevertheless, Cizek and his ideas were influential on many educators and theorists, and his teachings left a legacy for the child art movement and art therapy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Shakespeare in the time of coronavirus, a top ten

"Now is the spring of our discontent"
– Richard III, Act I, Sc I

"We have seen better days"
– Timon of Athens Act 4, Sc 2

‘A hearse! a hearse! my kingdom for a hearse!"
– Richard III Act 5, Sc 4

1. A Detergent of Venice
2. ASDA You Like It
3. The Taming of the Barbeque
4. Bronchitis Andronicus
5. Two Gentlemen of Corona
6. A Tragedy of Carers
7. Henry IV, Part Achoo
8. Leisure for Leisure
9. Not Too Much About Nothing
10. Coronalanus

Thanks to Ray and Nind!

Previously on Barnflakes
Kill Bill(ions)
It's a Shame about Ray – the book
50 Shades of Ray / Catching some Rays
Top ten Prince food songs
Lionel Richie tea

Monday, April 20, 2020

Notes on cyanotypes

A cyanotype is a cameraless photography process that originated in 1842, not long after the birth of photography. It involves coating paper (or any other material) with a mixture of two chemicals – ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide – and exposing it to sunlight or UV light. When the paper is rinsed in water it oxidises to create beautiful Prussian blue (not exactly cyan) images.

By placing interesting objects (leaves and feathers are always a winner but any object with a distinctive shape will do, making it the perfect lockdown project – there's no need to leave the house) on the paper in the sun, the paper exposed to the light will go blue, leaving a white silhouette of the placed object.

If this sounds technical or complicated, it's not, for I accomplished it with ease. Look online for packs of cyanotype or sun sensitive paper. On a sunny day, place the paper either outside in the sun or on a sunlit windowsill inside. Put the objects on the paper for 10-30 minutes, depending how sunny the day (if using flat, light objects like leaves or feathers, it's a good idea flattening them with a piece of glass against the paper; the images will turn out sharper and they won't blur the picture by moving). Rinse the print in cold water for a minute, then leave in a shallow tray of water for five. If you're into photography and will probably never have a darkroom, watching the image magically appearing as you rinse it is probably the nearest you'll get to the darkroom experience.

It's much easier buying pre-coated paper in packs, but if game why not try buying the two chemicals and coating your own paper or other material (I've seen examples online printed on shells).

Cyanotypes were invented by Sir John Herschel. He thought they had no artistic merit, and indeed the process was used by engineers up to fairly recently to produce architectural blueprints. Photographer and botanist Anna Atkins used the process to illustrate her herbarium. Although the intention was largely scientific, the results were beautiful, and her 1843 book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, is said to be the world's first photographically illustrated book.

On Flickr
A cyanoytpe I did years ago of water pistols turned out pretty cool, like an X-ray.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Recent random cinematic top tens

For your lockdown viewing pleasure.

TOP TEN FILMS ABOUT CULTS
1. Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, 1968)
2. Kill List (Wheatley, 2011)
3. The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973)
4. Race with the Devil (Starrett, 1975)
5. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Durkin, 2011)
6. Midsommar (Aster, 2019)
7. Mandy (Cosmatos, 2018)
8. The Endless (Benson & Moorhead, 2017)
9. Children of the Corn (Kiersch, 1984)
10. Holy Smoke! (Campion, 1999)

(NB: Quentin Tarantino chose to rewrite the history of the Manson Family in last year's Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood.)

TOP TEN BLACK & WHITE CULT FILMS
It doesn’t have to be low-budget, weird, sleazy and violent, but it helps.

1. Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)
2. Carnival of Souls (Harvey, 1962)
3. Freaks (Browning, 1932)
4. Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel, 1929)
5. The Honeymoon Killers (Kastle, 1970)
6. Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955)
7. Onibaba (Shindo, 1964)
8. Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968)
9. Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! (Meyer, 1965)
10. Killer of Sheep (Burnett, 1978)

TOP TEN RABBITS IN FILMS
1. Watership Down (Rosen, 1978)
2. Harvey (Koster, 1950)
3. Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001)
4. Fatal Attraction (Lyne, 1987)
5. Alice (Švankmajer, 1988)
6. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Box & Park, 2005)
7. Us (Peele, 2019)
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Zemeckis, 1988)
9. Inland Empire (Lynch, 2006)
10. Night of the Lepus (Claxton, 1972)

TOP TEN FRENCH THRILLERS
1. Pickpocket (Bresson, 1959)
2. Le Boucher (Chabrol. 1970)
3. Les Diaboliques (Cluzot, 1955)
4. Le Samouraï (Melville, 1967)
5. L'Appartement (Mimouni, 1996)
6. The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Audiard, 2005)
7. Tell No One (Canet, 2006)
8. A Prophet (Audiard, 2009)
9. Cache (Haneke, 2005)
10. La Haine (Kassovitz, 1995) 

TOP TEN FILMS FEATURING DEER HUNTING
A little while ago, it felt like every other film we watched started with a deer hunt, usually as an ironic metaphor for the movie to come: the hunter will soon become the hunted.

1. Bambi (Hand, 1942)
2. The Deer Hunter (Cimino, 1978)
3. The Hunt (Vinterberg, 2012)
4. Hanna (Wright, 2011)
5. Captain Fantastic (Ross, 2016)
6. The Hunger Games (Ross, 2012)
7. Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013)
8. Straw Dogs (Lurie, 2011)
9. Last of the Mohicans (Mann, 1992)
10. Big Game (Helander, 2015)

(NB: Yorgos Lanthimos' excellent Killing of a Sacred Deer does not feature any deer at all; come to think of it, his 2015 film The Lobster contains no lobsters.)

TOP TEN WOMEN IN WESTERNS
1. Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar (Ray, 1954)
2. Julie Christie in McCabe and Mrs Miller (Altman 1971)
3. Millie Perkins in The Shooting (Hellman, 1966)
4. Shirley MacLaine in Two Mules for Sister Sara (Siegel, 1970)
5. Natalie Wood in The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
6. Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon A Time in the West
(Leone, 1968)
7. Jane Russell in The Outlaw (Hughes, 1943)
8. Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again (Marshall, 1939)
9. Jane Fonda in Cat Ballou (Silverstein, 1965)
10. Doris Day in Calamity Jane (Butler, 1953)

Alternative cinematic streams

If, like me, you don’t have or like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+ (though I occasionally watch them), there are still plenty of places online to watch great – or at least interesting – free films.

Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn scored a hit with Drive, which I always rename Drivel, but then he made Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon, which were even worse. Anyway – Refn is a collector of obscure old black and white exploitation films. He started restoring them, initially as a hobby, but since 2018 Refn has put them online to watch for free, on his byNWR.com website.

It's a lovely website and I applaud the intention and execution: divided into volumes with such titles as Smell of Female and You Ain't No Punk, You Punk, with accompanying essays and photos, it's a lovingly curated project of forgotten cult films. My only problem with it is some of the films themselves. Now, I don't mind low-budgets and amateur acting but some of the films are just plain bad. Nevertheless, the director's favourites are certainly not without merit. The most famous film in the collection is undoubtedly Night Tide, a bona fide cult classic, starring a young Dennis Hopper as a sailor who falls in love with a mermaid.

Spring Night, Summer Night, shot in 1969, feels like a Walker Evans or Robert Frank photo come to life. Set in a small town fallen on hard times in rural Ohio, it tells the scandalous story of a young woman who has an affair with her half brother and becomes pregnant. Lyrical and poignant, the film comes across as a slice of Italian neorealism of a bygone era. There is a great, extended scene early in the film of a Friday night in the crowded local bar that feels like a documentary. Sadly, the film was re-edited soon after its initial release and re-released as an exploitation flick. Refn, and others passionate about the film, lovingly restored the film and it's one of the best on the website.

All you need is a library card to access and watch thousands of free films through Kanopy, a streaming service provided by your public library or university. From foreign arthouse films like L’Avventura and Wadjda, to great documentaries including The Act of Killing, Kanopy has a fine selection of challenging films. The only caveat is that no more than six films a month can be viewed.

Open Culture, ‘the best free cultural & educational media on the web’, is a blog with links to a huge amount of free culture, including free courses and audio books. It also includes 1150 films, from Hitchcock to Vertov. UbuWeb is ‘All avant-garde. All the time.’ It features art, magazines, music, sound, writing and a huge section of film and video, featuring hundreds by and about artists, from Laurie Anderson to Orson Welles. The Internet archive has millions of free books, music and films, including silents, shorts and home movies.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to get free trials. Aside from the obvious big streamers, it’s worth looking at less well known providers. Criterion Collection DVDs have an online channel with over 1,000 classic and contemporary films. Annoyingly, the channel and 14-day free trial seems to be only available in the States. The BFI Player has a library of free regional archive films, a rental section for recent films plus a subscription service for classic films, which is £4.99 a month, with a 14-day free trial (though if you access the BFI Player through their Amazon Prime Channel, you get a free 30-day trial). MUBI has everything from ‘cult classics to modern masterpieces’ and has a 7 days free trial, after which it’s £9.99 a month.

Of course YouTube has billions of free films. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed films from the Cult Classics channel, including Larry Cohen's God Told Me To (starring Tony Lo Bianco, also seen in the classic cult film the Honeymoon Killers), Carnival of Souls and Ride in the Whirlwind, to name just a few from the collection of sci-fi, film noir and westerns.

I forget that most people probably own Smart TVs (I still famously/pretentiously don't own any kind of TV), but if you don't, there's the BBC iPlayer, ITV and Channel 4, including Film4, online too.

Previously on Barnflakes 
Top 30 films on Amazon Prime right now
Lifetime subscription

Friday, April 17, 2020

Kill Bill(ions)

 
Exciting news that Quentin Quarantino is to remake his classic 2003 movie Kill Bill by giving it a Coronavirus reboot. Tentatively titled Kill Billions, the film is to be shot entirely in Quarantino's bedroom. It will feature a star-studded cast of cardboard cuts outs, including Ben Affliction, Harrison Bored, Bradley Bupa, Nicholas Caged In, Tom Handkerchief, Brad Spit and Goldie Yawn. Not coming to a cinema near you soon...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Top ten things to be positive about during the Coronavirus pandemic

With millions of people around the globe entering isolation, losing their jobs and getting into debt, as well as thousands dying, it’s understandably hard to remain upbeat at the moment. Here’s ten ways to look on the bright side.

1. Air pollution in the UK halved during the first day of the lockdown; similar results have been recorded in Europe and Asia.

2. When I’ve been out for my daily walk, I’ve heard the sound of children playing and birds singing, instead of cars.*
3. Nature is loving it. Birds and animals are everywhere. Nature is able to breathe.*
4. People are generally being friendlier, and it’s mostly bringing out the best in them.
5. Spending more time with family doing things – creative projects or games.
6. Doing proper cooking and baking at home (my daughter, aged 13, has made olive bread and naan bread, and cooked a curry, so far)
7. Everyone has instantly been cured of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), an anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere. Don’t worry, it’s not.
8. You’re not in an office.
9. There are loads of free stuff online, from concerts and plays to films and apps, including two cool synthesiser apps from Moog and Korg.
10. It's a great time to be an introvert – extroverts have had their day (if only social media didn't exist)!

*On our brief country walk today, we encountered a woodpecker, horses, swans, squirrels, crows, dogs, cats, a partridge, water rats, a rare North American black fox, goats, two emus and a reindeer (I'm cheating slightly here – the last four were seen whilst walking through Feadon Farm, though we were lucky the fox was being taken for a walk as we wandered past).

We had a brief chat (from a distance, obvs) with a couple who pointed out to us two water rats in the lake at Tehidy Woods.
Enjoying your walk? They asked us.
I said it's a beautiful world without cars or people.
The man agreed, though said he was ready to get back to reality.
Reality?
This is reality. Nature. What an artificial bubble we created with offices, cars, shops, roads. A false reality. Nature was here before us and will be here after.

Previously on Barnflakes
Staying at home: a guide to enjoying isolation
Armchair atlases

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

National Explosives factory site at Hayle awarded heritage status

Initially built to provide dynamite for the mining industry, the National Explosives Factory at Upton Towans near Hayle went on to supply the Royal Navy with explosives during the First World War. On the advice of Historic England, last year it was given heritage protection by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The site is situated in an expansive, undulating area of sand dunes overlooking Hayle beach, where golden sand runs for three miles. Acres of sand dunes, rolling grassy hills and windy paths form Upton Towans, and the area feels like a golf course for giants, with sand dunes as bunkers. It is littered with various architectural remnants from the factory site, including what is believed to be the earliest surviving mass-concrete magazines from the 1890s (one of which is pictured above).

From the beginning it was mainly women who worked in the factory, with the number of staff increasing more than tenfold with the start of the First World War, from 175 to 1,800. The factory was state of the art for its time, only overtaken in the 1950s by Goonhilly as the most technologically advanced project in Cornwall.

Previously on Barnflakes
Abandoned gunpowder works at Kennall Vale, Ponsanooth, Cornwall
The Fuse Factory, Tuckingmill

Monday, March 23, 2020

Top 30 films on Amazon Prime right now

At first glance, the films free to watch on Amazon Prime (UK) seem severely limited (a fact I’ve probably moaned about previously). Bizarrely, the worst films on Prime are the highest-rated (Letters to Juliet, Saw V, The Book of Eli). However, it doesn’t take long to find something decent (though I’ve wasted hours over the years trawling through their lists of films, to the extent that it's bedtime by the time I still haven't found one, so I just go to bed). Anyway, catch them whilst you can – another annoying thing about this streaming lark is films come and go frequently with no warning.

1. 8½ (Fellini, 1963)
Other Fellini films also available: La Dolce Vita,
Juliet and the Spirits, I Vitelloni
2. Repulsion (Polanski, 1965)
Other Polanski also available: Cul de Sac, The Tenant,
Knife in the Water
3. Under the Skin (Glazer, 2014)
4. Toni Erdmann (Ade, 2017)
5. The King of Comedy (Scorsese, 1983)
6. LA Confidential (Hanson, 1997)
7. Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
8. The Man With The Golden Arm (Preminger, 1956)
9. Once Upon A Time in America (Leone, 1984)
10. The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, 1938)
Other Hitchcock films also available: The 39 Steps,
The Man Who Knew Too Much, Jamaica Inn, Stage Fright,
Secret Agent, To Catch a Thief
11. Carol (Haynes, 2015)
12. Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos, 2017)
13. The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach, 2005)
14. Suspiria (Argento, 1977)
Other Argento films also available: Phenomena, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Opera, plus the much maligned but pretty good Suspiria remake from 2018
15. November (Sarnet, 2017)
This black and white Estonian film is stunningly beautiful, profoundly weird and often hilarious, conjuring, as it does, the obscure symbolism of Parajanov, the animation of Svankmajer and early Borowczyk, and characters straight out of a Grunewald painting. It evokes that cold (it's usually snowing), poverty-stricken but magical feeling of 1960s medieval-set films by Tarkovksy and Frantisek Vlacil, in a pagan, supernatural tale of doomed young love.
16. The Gospel According to St Matthew (Pasolini, 1965)
Other Pasolini films also available: Accattone, The Anger
17. Cold War (Pawlikowski, 2018)
Another sumptuous recent black and white film about doomed love.
18. Midsommar (Aster, 2019)
19. Cube (Natali, 1998)
20. The Dead Zone (Cronenberg, 1983)
Other Cronenberg films also available: A History of Violence
21. 12 Years a Slave (McQueen, 2014)
22. Room (Abrahamson, 2016)
23. Charade (Donen, 1963)
24. Green Book (Farrelly, 2019)
25. Four Lions (Morris. 2010)
26. Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky, 2000)
Other Aronofsky films also available: The Fountain, Pi
27. This is 40 (Apatow, 2013)
28. Booksmart (Wilde, 2019)
29. Blinded by the Light (Chadha, 2019)
Guardian journalist Sarfraz Manzoor's memoirs, Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll, form the basis of Blinded by the Light, starring Viveik Kalra as Javed, a Bruce Springsteen-obsessed teenager growing up in 1980s Luton. If it seems unlikely that a Pakistani teenager in 1980s Luton would find much in common with Bruce Springsteen, then it's then equally unlikely that I would find much in common with a Pakistani teenager in 1980s Luton... except we studied English Literature A Level in the same year (Hardy's The Return of the Native is mentioned) and got into Bruce Springsteen at the same time, and for the same reasons (however, perhaps more important than the Springsteen influence is that of his English teacher, who encourages his writing and submits it to competitions for him), so the film struck a chord with me. Period details are depressingly spot on – mainly, the Arndale Centre and Job Centre. Unfortunately, the poster depicts Javed looking like a camp Kevin Rowland from the Come on Eileen video instead of a macho Springsteen.
30. Fisherman's Friends (Foggin, 2019)
These mawkish musical films are turning up everywhere (see Blinded by the Light, Yesterday, Military Wives) – this one's also rubbish but I've seen it three times.

Previously on Barnflakes
Fisherman's Friends vs Bait
A Study in Scarlett
The films of Dario Argento
Notes on Charters and Caldicott
The films of Sergei Parajanov
The films of Walerian Borowczyk