Category: Guest bloggers

Music Review: Atreyu

Our guest music writer Robert Moody continuously trawls the country for live music. In this post he reviews Atreyu and Shvpes who played a sold out Rescue Rooms in Nottingham last week.  


The ‘Sold Out’ signs were on display at The Rescue Rooms on Friday night, as Metalcore pioneers Atreyu descended on the venue as part of their first full UK tour in nearly 5 years. Following a lengthy hiatus, the band had torn apart The Underworld in Camden back in April of this year, and were now playing the similarly sized Rescue Rooms as a warm up show for their appearances at the weekend’s Reading & Leeds festivals.

The sole support for the evening came from Birmingham quintet Shvpes, who wasted no time launching into an energetic set to get the crowd warmed up. Shvpes are an interesting band to critique – having previously been known as Cytota, they have been touring for several years now and feel like a familiar name.  Yet the band are still very young as they played their first shows when most of the band members were under 18. Because of this where many bands have had time to hone their craft in the confines of smaller venues, this band have done so in the limelight, often supporting much larger bands. Since bringing in new vocalist Griffin Dickinson just under a year ago, the band have really begun to gain momentum, and watching them tonight it is clear to see why. Griffin commands a great stage presence and has a powerful voice to complement it, notably on latest single ‘State of Mine’. By the end of the set the pits were breaking out and the band left the stage to a warm reception.

But there was no doubt which band had sold the tickets for this show. Atreyu walked onstage to a thunderous applause, and launched into ‘Becoming The Bull’, which like every song in their set was well received. However, it was fair to say that throughout the set, the deeper Atreyu went into their back catalogue the more raucous the crowd became. Such that the intro riff to ‘Right Side of the Bed’ was enough to open up a large space in the packed room. Moments later bodies were flying across the room and as they moved straight into ‘The Crimson’ the room erupted.

As the band revealed to us in an interview before the show, they are not planning on playing live shows as frequently as they did prior to their hiatus, and instead want to focus on giving their absolute all to every show they play. This is firmly evidident throughout the show with drummer Brandon Saller still managing to deliver a great vocal performance during the most complex drum beats. Whilst bassist Porter McKnight even found himself out amongst the crowd towards the end of the set, with them promptly organising a circle pit around him. Lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas seemed slightly more muted on stage, but later revealed that his initial jump into the crowd 2 songs in had not gone so well, so on this particular occasion he was understandably forgiven!

The band’s hour long set covered everything fans expected and had come to see, right down to their cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’. Yet it was pleasantly surprising to see the first of the band’s new songs ‘So Others May Live’ generating a huge reaction from the crowd. By the time the band closed out with the classic ‘Ex’s and Oh’s’ the capacity crowd were in little doubt that Atreyu are not just back, but they are back at their best. Fans of the band can only hope that the decision to the title their upcoming album ‘Long Live’ is as much a reference to the band’s future as it is to their past.

Playlist to get you moving

Our music writer Amber Carnegie has created a playlist to get you moving,  give it a listen and let us know what you think!

We are all guilty of loving those tracks that get us moving. I can’t resist a catchy chorus or something I can wield my leg as a pretend guitar to. So no apologies if this gets your feet tapping or if it makes you question your dance moves but hopefully as these playlists pick up you’ll be engrossed in throwback tracks or something you may have never listened to before.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Milk Lizard
The Dillinger Escape Plan were kind enough to come to the UK to play two festivals over my birthday this year so I cannot help but picture myself dancing around in a field as soon as the jazzy intro kicks in. Regardless of my questionable moves when their labyrinth of riffs pick up.

Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire
If you are familiar with the American version of The Office then you will agree when I say when anything goes wrong in my life I can fit the blame into the lyrics of this song.  There isn’t a better way to get over something rubbish happening.

Every Time I Die – We’rewolf
What gets you dancing more than a cowbell?

The Ghost Of A Thousand – Knees, Toes, Teeth
Every Birthday and Christmas I wish for this band to reform but as it’s yet to happen I’ll probably just continue to get my hopes up every time I hear this song start up.

Four Year Strong – Wasting Time
As cheesy as it is this is ‘my jam’ I cannot believe I just typed it – but it’s true.

Jason Derulo – Trumpets
I’d love it if someone felt the same way about me as Jason Derulo does in this song… or if they at least came with a marching band.

Frank Turner – Photosynthesis
Do you have a song that makes you dance like an idiot but it’s so good you couldn’t care less? This is that song. When the club lights come on and your spinning in circles with your best friend singing ‘I won’t grow up’ there isn’t a better way I could think of ending a night out.

Images from Itunes & YouTube

Drawing Inspiration: The Journey to a Tattoo

25-year-old novice Yogi Leanna Daley based in West Bromwich, has yet to go under the needle, in this post she talks about when she first became fascinated with tattoos and what ideas are inspiring her future tattoo choices… 

I remember as a child listening to the gentle chords of an acoustic or the energetic sounds of my uncle playing his electric guitar. Curious, I always found myself wondering (sneaking) into his room and exploring all the hidden treasures. This expedition is where I first came across tattoos. I would look through the bits and pieces of paper I found that showcased the tribal tattoo designs my uncle would sketch up in his free time. Then one day, he came back with a sprawling black tribal tattoo snaking from his wrist, circling his elbow and creeping all the way up to his neck. As a child I was consequently amazed. So growing up I was used to being around motorbikes, video games, sketches of all kinds and magazines.
Then, there is my mother, free spirit and hippie at heart who over the years would come back with another new tattoo adorning her body. Whether it is the midnight black cat, colourful butterflies or random Tinker Bell, it now results in her boasting nine small to medium tattoos, with intentions to expand to larger designs of candy-coloured skulls and a watercolour style design. Tattoos and hippy vibes were always part of my upbringing.

One of Leanna’s mum’s tattoos

Then there’s me. Always having the intention of getting tattoos and searching tattoo designs, but at 25 I am yet to go under the needle and my skin remains (frustratingly) untouched. I’ve always admired and perceived tattoos as pieces of art rather than a permanent statement of “coolness”. I’m a perfectionist at heart and that could be one of the reasons why I haven’t got tattooed yet. I think to myself “If I’m going to go through all that pain, I better choose a  design that I will love!” Tall order in reality as tastes change, but on the other hand they are permanent reminders of what you once were and who you are today. A visual ink diary, as you will.

The other reason simply put, The Fear. It is that threshold where you are intellectually aware that it will hurt, but due to never experiencing it, in reality you have actually no clue until you take the plunge. As my mother always says so eloquently “Leanna, it’s basically a needle scrapping through your skin. It’s going to hurt. End of.” There’s not much I can say to that.

Henna from a holiday in Marrakesh

And lastly, there is the constant stream of ideas filtering my head space; “dream catchers, wolves, the moon, native American goddesses, skulls, watercolour, a scaled skinned Mystique out of X-men crossed with Grendel’s golden serpentine mother in Beowulf with the headdress of a lion with scorpion and lion like features- a hybrid (they would represent my Pisces sun, Scorpio moon and Leo rising).” Filtering comes to mind here and thus with all of the above, my mind becomes overstimulated with possibilities. So I am determined to start my journey to getting a tattoo before any more ideas take hold. I’m done with persistent imaginings and feel it is the time now to put them into physical form. It all begins with visually compiling the inspirations and ideas that have been floating around my brain for way too many years.


As an avid astrology fan, anything to do with astrology especially Pisces, Scorpio and Leo inspires me every day. However, not in the popular designs you see on a day-to-day basis. I tend to lean to a more physical representation of the Zodiac signs. In addition astronomy has always been high on my list. I spend hours looking through NASA’s Instagram page and dream of the endless possibilities of tattoos with hints of watercolour to give that comic dreamlike effect.


A year ago I bought The Wild Unknown Tarot deck and was fascinated by the illustrations by Kim Krans. They all had a dark sketchy and haunting look, but was brought to life with the subtle vibrant hints of colours, again taking on a watercolour effect. Subtle shading, bold lines and geometric designs added variety to the deck. Then there is the ever present moon in all her glory. Visually I connected to the illustrations in the yearly calendar created by the Free People graphic team. The use of black and white strokes mixed in with inky watercolours gave that mystically dark edge that I seem to gravitate towards.
There’s constantly a stream of inspiration I come across every day in different mediums and now it is time to put that all together to create an actual tattoo! Next step? Discussing my ideas with a tattoo artist that can make these ideas into an actual form of art.

Have you started your tattoo journey, where do you gather your inspiration from?

Puddings in Film

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward

The Great British Bake Off is ensnaring everyone in its doughy tendrils and in spirit of all things cake, I’ve been thinking about some of the best scenes in cinematic history involving puds. So in no particular order of preference, here are my choices. I apologise in advance for Matilda not making the list.

Inglorious Basterds (2009) Apple Strudel


Apple Strudel

Who wouldn’t accept an invitation to eat apple strudel? Perhaps not if the invitation came from the “Jewhunter” or Nazi Colonel Hans Landa played by Christoph Waltz and not if you were a French Jewish woman named Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), whose family Hans Landa had slaughtered. As much as you want to hate him, Hans has all the charm and vocal fluency of a true Frenchman as he politely interrogates Shosanna about her cinema and her background. He also orders her some apple strudel and a glass of milk, which is what he was drinking when he rooted her family out. When the strudel arrives, he realises he forgot the cream. He orders Shosanna in French to wait for the cream in such an absurd comical manner it’s kind of scary. When the cream arrives, there is a hush and an intimate close up of the cream being spooned onto the strudel. This moment gives me goose bumps, not just because it makes me drool but for the quiet moment in such a tense scene. The same thing happens when Hans takes a moment to chew and the sound of his teeth working on the soft flaky pastry is so crisp and clear it makes my hair stand up. Pudding can cause tension.

The Shining (1980) Chocolate ice cream


Ice Cream

One of the spookiest yet most touching scenes involving a dessert, or dessert residue as the bowls the characters talk over look empty. Young Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd), whose dad has just started the caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel for the winter, has been invited to have ice cream with the hotel chef Mr. Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). The only thing sinister about this is that Mr. Hallorann invited Danny with his mind (probably the scariest invite for ice cream on film). Hallorann then goes on to explain that they can communicate mentally thanks to the special psychic gift they both possess. Danny says it comes from a little boy called Tony who lives inside his mouth. Thus begins a rather delicate conversation in which Mr. Hallorann attempts to explain in child’s words the hotel’s dark past that clings to its walls much as the ice cream residue clings to their bowls, before giving a stern warning not to visit a certain room. The audience, having already been informed of the hotel’s violent history, is given a fresh curiosity. Heavy stuff to discuss over ice cream. What increases the impact of this scene is, like in Inglorious Basterds, there is a lack of soundtrack and background noise, so the softness and menace of the atmosphere is heightened.

Jurassic Park (1993) Jelly



Remember, if you’re ever scoffing puddings with your sister/companion and they’re eating jelly, keep an eye on them in case they stare suddenly over your shoulder and start shaking so much the jelly wobbles on their spoon like an overweight belly dancer. Then would be a good time to scarper as they may have just seen a dinosaur’s silhouette, or a shadow-saurus.

Natural Born Killers (1994) Key lime pie


Key lime pie 

The opening scene of this carnage fest sees our star-crossed psychopathic lovers Mickey and Mallory (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) stop off at a diner on their cross-country murder spree. Mickey orders key lime pie while Mallory dances to the juke box. She is harassed by two hot-blooded rednecks and the scene explodes in violent hallucinogenic mayhem, ending in Mallory playing eeny-miny-mo with the two remaining survivors, and it all started with a slice of pie. This scene sets the mood for the rest of the film, as does the sharp but sweet, squishy and sickly green nature of the key lime pie.

Chocolat (2000)… Chocolate, of course



It is night in a sleepy French town, and a Catholic priest played by Alfred Molina freaks out during Lent and sabotages the delicious window display of his most hated chocolaterie. In the midst of his chocolate-smashing frenzy, a fragment brushes his lips and within seconds he’s cramming every chocolate sculpture between his teeth, consumed by a lust for sweetness as if he’s fallen into the lap of some chocolaty prostitute, before breaking down in tears and falling asleep. He is woken in the morning, smothered in brown residue amongst the wreckage, by the concerned chocolatier. We feel for you Father, we feel for you.

Long Term Illness and Tattoos

Our guest blogger is illustrator and crafter Rachel Rawlings, creator of Rachel Vs Body blog. On her blog Rachel writes  about her various chronic conditions and how they affect her life and have changed how she experiences the world. In this post she talks about her tattoos and how they help her to regain control of her body… 

The human body is an interesting thing. Take mine, for example. In 2012, I was in my final year of studying for my illustration degree, working as a healthcare assistant in my spare time, spending most evenings in the week cooking and hanging out with my friends and coursemates. I was 20 and everything was – for the most part – working fine. But then, I got sick.

It was just a virus to start off with, but over time, I didn’t get better. I was constantly in pain; I felt dizzy at the smallest motion; food became my greatest enemy, triggering nausea and cramps at the most pathetic nibble; my concentration was shot; walking became something akin to climbing mount Everest; and, above all, I was EXHAUSTED. Not tired; not fatigued; not sleepy or dozy; but that all consuming physical exhaustion that you get when you’ve had a particularly bad bout of flu. I was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalopathy) and P.O.T.S (postural tachycardia syndrome) on top of my existing health conditions (chronic migraine, IBS, eczema, eczema herpeticum and asthma), and three and a half years on I’m still undergoing tests to see what’s making me so unwell.

Moth by Paul Davies at Loki Ink, Plymouth

Things got progressively worse, and these days I can’t work or study as I’m mainly confined to my bed (although on good days I make it to my living room); I use a powered wheelchair ( or crutches if I’m feeling particularly perky) to get around because walking is so difficult; I’ve lost a lot of friends who can’t figure out how to cope with me being poorly. Trying to be well is my full time occupation.

With my body failing me in such an extravagant fashion, there is one thing that makes me feel like I have some modicum of control over it; getting tattooed. I got my first one in early 2014 while I was doing my MA and had been sick for a couple of years. It’s a small deathshead moth on my wrist done by Paul at Loki Ink in Plymouth, a subject matter I chose because of its connotations of transformation and freedom.

Connor Tyler at Joker Tattoo, Portsmouth

Getting tattooed is a bit of an ordeal for me. The actual tattooing is fine – I’m very lucky to have a high pain threshold (pain holds very little fear for someone on painkillers as strong as the ones I’m on) so I can sit under the needle for hours without it bothering me. The issue is everything else.

First off, I have to get to the place – which is hard. I usually only leave the house once a week, twice if I’m lucky, and always with someone else (it’s not safe for me to go out alone), so the logistics of organising that can be tough.

Then, getting there, I have to deal with the sensory overload of a place full of people and buzzing machines and music; with M.E., your senses are often in an extremely heightened state and any noise, light, touch can be excruciating. The noise is a particularly tough one for me as I get migraines and tinnitus, so I have to really prepare myself for the aural onslaught of a tattoo shop.

Chrissy Hills at Kingston Ink

Having to sit or lie in one position really still is hard for anyone, but when you get muscle spasms and convulsions on top of chronic pain, it can be … interesting for all involved. P.O.T.S causes tachycardia, dizziness and blackouts if you’re upright for too long, so I have to be in a position which is safe for my particular conditions. I have to bring my medicines, lots of water, layers of clothes, my walking aids, ear plugs, sunglasses, a whole bunch of nonsense just to get through the session. After a tattoo, I’m always in agony – but the tattoo itself isn’t the problem, the joint and muscular pain incurred is.

It took me a while to draw up the courage to get tattooed – not because of the pain (note the aforementioned painkillers), but because I was scared of doing something so permanent to myself. But my body was already permanently altered from the way it should be, so that was no longer an excuse. I was scared that people would judge me on sight – but if you’re a twenty-something having to use a wheelchair or crutches, people give you some odd looks anyway. So, sod it, I thought – let’s give them something to stare at.

Marcelina Urbańska, Rock’n’Ink, Krakow

It seems like a lot to go through just to get an image on my skin, but for me it’s worth it. After feeling like my body had turned traitor, I have taken back the reins and forced it into a form which makes me happy. Sure, I may be covered in scars, a bit chubby from the medication, pale as death and with eyes like pissholes in the snow, but I’m still in control of how my body looks – on a superficial level, at least. Tattoos have helped me accept the changes that have been forced upon me by letting me shape the way I look, even if I’m powerless to control the way my body works. There’s a lot to be said for a needle and ink and the power of positive thought – it might not make the crippled walk, but it can damn well make us feel good sitting down.

When Tattoo Culture and Fashion Collide

Our guest blogger is Jade-Bailey Dowling, fashion writer and creator of Nouvelle Noir, a blog dedicated to dark fashion. In this post she explores tattoos in the world of fashion… 

Fashion and tattoo art appear to have very little in common . While fashion is fleeting by its very nature – trends change twice a year – tattoos are a life-long commitment. Yes, there are, of course, “trends” in tattooing (take the tribal mania of the ’90s, or the current love of the mandala), but when deciding to get tattooed, you put far more thought into it than which new season shoes to purchase.

However, fashion has repeatedly looked towards the tattoo community to gain inspiration for their own craft.


Designer Jean Paul Gaultier has repeatedly drawn inspiration from body art in his designs. His signature style originated from nautical influence, and this too included the body art and tattoos sported by sailors. While the Breton stripe was prominent in his early work, traditional Japanese style patterns were seen in the Spring/Summer 2012 collection – printed on women’s shoes and handbags, as well as earlier in the Gaultier menswear. His tattoo infatuation was enhanced further when designing the Diet Coke bottles (also in 2012), a campaign that saw Gaultier cover model Daisy Lowe in temporary body art to promote the collection.

Coca Cola

And Jean Paul Gaultier is not alone in bringing tattoo art to haute couture. In 2012, Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel, sent models down the catwalk covered in Chanel-esque temporary tattoos. Designs included pearls, the brands signature interlocking Cs and brands namesake and creator, Coco Chanel’s favourite flower, a camellia. They had been designed by the brand’s former make-up director Peter Philips, and at £45 a sheet, fashionistas could get the tattoo trend without the commitment of a lifelong addition.


This seeming ‘tattoo trend’ looks to continue into Spring/Summer ’16, McQueen has designed a new take on the brand’s signature skull scarf to incorporate traditional flash style artwork alongside it. At £95, tattoo flash sheets become wearable in these silk scarves.

Alexander McQueen

Kate Moss is noted for having a small swallow tattoo on her wrist, but previously models, in particular female models, were discouraged from having large, visable tattoos in the fear of hindering their careers. This seems to be changing gradually, with the likes of Cara Delevingne proudly showing off her many visable artworks, including a lion on her finger. Also, at the Met Gala this year – a yearly fashion event held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by U.S Vogue editor Anna Wintour – Cara Delevingne decorated herself with cherry blossom airbrushed body art, done by New York tattoo artist Bang Bang, in keeping with the theme of Chinese Whispers: Through the Looking Glass.

W Magazine

More recently, cult shoe brand Dr Martens looked towards tattoo artistry for inspiration. Their Spring/Summer 2015 collection included shoes, satchels and dresses adorned with traditional style tattoo patterns. Similarly, for Brighton Pride 2015, Dr Martens teamed up with tattoo artists from the local area to come together for a charity raffle with prizes including shoes and bags custom decorated by local tattoo artists.

Dr Martens

Tattoos and fashion have collided in a more permanent way (forget the temporary tats) on the high street too… A few years ago, consumers could not only get their fashion fix, but they could also get a tattoo in the Metal Morphosis studio in Topshop’s flag ship store in Oxford Circus. And last year, legendary department store Selfridges had a pop-up tattoo parlour for two weeks.

Although it’s great that body art and tattoos are seemingly being more accepted into society, especially within fashion, taking inspiration from the late Yves Saint Laurent quote, perhaps trend seekers should remember that fashions fade, while tattoos are eternal.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Cost of Permanence

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the third of many posts to appear on, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Catch up on the first and second posts in the series. 

Aren’t you worried how dated your wedding photos will look when you’re older? How can you justify spending all that money on your wedding when there are starving children in the world? Don’t you think it’s a bit selfish getting married when some people who are still single might get upset about it? You’re wearing a red wedding dress, wow you must be a slut!? No men will ever find you attractive once you’ve gotten married. How on earth will you get a job after you are married, employers will just think you’re unreliable and unprofessional – needing all that time off to have babies!?

Be honest, you would never, ever say any of those things to a bride. Getting married is often an expensive affair that will change you and impact the rest of your life by a means of permanence. I use the wedding analogy as I and many other tattooed women face this strange barrage of questions on a regular basis. Yet there is no shame, no recognition that doing so is rude and insulting.



Backpiece by  Tacho Franch

Aren’t you worried what you will look like in your wedding photos with all those tattoos when you are older? How can you justify spending all that money on tattoos when there are starving children in the world. Don’t you think it’s a bit selfish getting tattooed when so many people are offended by them? You have tattoos, wow you must be a slut! No men will ever find you attractive once you’ve gotten heavily tattooed. How on earth will you get a job once you have visible tattoos, employers will just think you’re unreliable and unprofessional – scaring off all the customers!

It’s a given that people will be curious towards those of us who are tattooed, those who choose to go past the holiday dolphin on the ankle and cover a large part of our skin with ink. Most questions come from an innocent mouth, intrigued rather than insulting yet producing that result all the same. I’ve had a woman chase me down the street and try to lift up the back of my shorts to see a Sailor Jerry style wolf on the back of my thigh. When I turned around to give her a mouth-full I saw she was with her two young children so I bit my tongue and answered her question as to where I had gotten it done – how she could tell it was a good tattoo from the minuscule part of it that was on show I’ve no idea.


Wolf by Kelly Smith

By far my worst experience was a group of guys at a crowded bar talking loudly about my back piece as I stood in front them. I’d left the girls to guard our seats and battled to the bar for a round, suddenly I felt very alone. The bar was jam packed so I couldn’t escape and resigned myself to listening to them mutter, when one managed to saddle up beside me ‘that’s a big tattoo’ he yelled, ‘how far down does it go’ and he proceed to try and pull down the back of my dress. I couldn’t tell you what I said but luckily it was loud enough for the bar security to drag him out. ‘Bloody hell he didn’t mean any harm’ I heard his mates protest on the way out. Harm meant or not, it was caused, I’m now wary of going out at night with my back piece on display without my boyfriend. Anyone trying to pull down the dress of a non-tattooed girl would have been accused of sexual harassment. Us tattooed girls are tough, we spend hours upon hours having needles sunk into our skin, but experiences like that would upset anyone.

On a lighter note there are of course the ridiculous questions which can only be met with an entertaining answer. How much did your tattoos cost, how can you afford it? Oh I get paid extremely well from my high profile job – OMG yes tattooed people can have careers too. We also save up our hard earns just like people save up for a car, a holiday, a designer handbag. Why the choice to decorate your body with tattoos is still such an enigma for some I cannot answer, but I sure do enjoy a good witty comeback story!

Film Review: Wild Tales

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. On Harry will be writing a series of posts in which he will be sharing  his opinions on things he has watched. Read his first and second review. In this post Harry will be reviewing Wild Tales… 

Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes), 2014, cert 15, dir Damián Szifron, 4/5

A plane load of passengers realise they all have something in common. A waitress recognises a customer. Two drivers have a disagreement. A demolition expert is late for his daughter’s birthday. A teenage boy wakes his parents in the middle of the night. Newlyweds celebrate their special day.


So begin the six Wild Tales, a series of narratives in one film released in the UK this year and now on DVD. The tales are not related to each other. There are no random criss-crossing characters like in David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten novel, which makes connections between its stories for the sake of it. Wild Tales is more like watching an entire TV mini series similar to Inside Number 9, a British show that shares the film’s indulgence in wicked humour.

The only thing linking the tales is the theme of revenge, but they do not obsess over it in a Tarantino-esque, blood spattered manner. The director Damián Szifrón insists he did not have the linking theme in mind when he wrote the screenplay but that it materialised on completion. Thus the narratives feel very natural and there is no forced message. They are like little episodes, small windows into the characters’ lives (as short stories should be). So while we don’t get deep, complicated plots, we do get sharp, concentrated slices of action that somehow keep you gripped while covering a range of characters and issues.

This is not only the first film I’ve seen use this unique narrative structure, but the first Argentinean film I’ve ever seen. It’s produced by the legendary Spanish film maker Pedro Almodóvar and while Wild Tales does pay homage to Pedro’s style (stylish film work, passionate performances and a thick streak of black humour), it stands up on its own and is more concerned with plot and action rather than the emotional complexities of its character’s relationships, which Pedro is a master at.


Some of the stories manage emotional impact with hints of tragedy, while others are stark exercises in making us laugh then feeling guilty about it. The plane-based narrative at the beginning, for example, serves as a short but bold introduction that grabs your attention and ensnares it for the rest of the movie.

That’s not to say this film does away with emotions altogether. This is no cold expression of violence like a Haneke or Kubrickian film. Wild Tales is about real characters being thrust into extraordinary situations and their lives spiralling out of control. As Szifrón explains, each character find themselves losing their inhibitions and enacting primal fantasies that civilised society can only dream of.

All in all, this film is a sheer delight to watch. Everything about it works. Like the best films, it’s a spicy pot of humour, darkness and substance that’s carried along by outstanding performances and relies on smart filmmaking rather than dialogue to tell each remarkable story. Wild Tales has an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film this year and thoroughly deserves it.

What do you think? Do you agree with Harry? 

Images from IMDB

Director paraphrased from behind the scenes documentary and interview on DVD

Create a life you love with Sarah Starrs

Sarah is a 27-year-old writer, coach and creator of SarahStarrs a Punk Rock Personal Development blog. We chatted to her about her journey of self-love, achieving your goals and her beautiful tattoo collection… 

Can you tell me a little about your blog and what people can find on it? You can find my blog at, where I help women get their shit together & create a life they love. I mainly write about self-love, personal development, lifestyle design, creativity, and achieving your dreams. I believe that it’s absolutely possible to achieve your big goals and that it all starts with learning to adore yourself. But this doesn’t happen by sitting idly by and wishing for good things to happen. I show people how to get down and dirty with the universe to make magical things happen. But you have to do the work. That’s why I call it “punk rock personal development.” I’m launching a podcast with that name on 14th August, which I’m very excited about!

How did you become a blogger? I’ve been writing online in one form or another since I was a preteen – I had Angelfire, Geocities, Livejournal, Myspace, etc. My current website,, was born out of my old website The Laughing Medusa, which I launched in 2011. I started blogging that time around out of a kind of necessity. I felt really stuck and strangled in my job as a magazine editor. I was longing for a creative outlet and editorial freedom, so I decided to start a blog. At the same time I was undergoing a lot of personal transformations as I learned about personal development and got into healthy eating, so my online space became a place for me to explore these new interests. It began more or less as a personal/lifestyle blog, but has evolved a lot over time to become the business and resource it is today.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I’m most inspired by people who are balls to the wall following their passions and going after their dreams in an unconventional way. A lot of my writing is inspired by the things I learn from these types of people, as well as my own experiences learning to transform my life. But, as cliche as it sounds, I find that inspiration can spring from anywhere: a great conversation, an interesting film, a beautiful pattern, catchy lyrics… anything that catches my attention and gets me to look at things in a new way.

You are an advocate for self love and following your dreams how did this come about? Oddly enough, it started in a university philosophy class about existentialism. People know me as a positive, upbeat person who gets an idea and runs with it, but I wasn’t always like this. In truth, I used to be a bit of a neasayer. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression all of my life, but I also just didn’t think the things I wanted were possible for me. I let fear rule my decisions for a long time. Existentialism is based on the idea that all of us is radically free. We all face limitations imposed on us by physical realities, our histories, material circumstances, etc. But we’re always free to choose our actions and reactions. And that’s who we are: the product of our choices and actions.

That really struck a chord with me. To be honest, I resisted the whole thing at first. It’s hard to accept that our destiny is in our own hands. It’s a lot of pressure! Around the same time that I was taking this course, I started delving into the world of personal development, reading bloggers like Gala Darling and Alexandra Jaye Johnson. I saw a lot of similarities between the concepts of self-love and existentialism – namely an emphasis on personal responsibility and taking control of your own life. I started incorporating the things I was learning into my life and my mindset started to shift. As it did, it was like my whole world started opening up. Not all at once, but slowly I started to take risks because I knew I had to take complete responsibility for my life. The things I want were possible and it would be my choice if I denied myself them. Since then I’ve focused on making bold, sparkly choices and intentionally designing my life.

Has it taken you a while to love yourself? Do you have any advice for readers? I like to make it really clear that I am not finished learning to love myself; I do not have it all figured out. Self-love is a lifelong journey. I still have my bad days when my inner critic gets the best of me or I start comparing myself to other people and I want to give up on everything. I still struggle with my mental health and have dark periods that are difficult to crawl out of. The difference is that I now have a toolbox of strategies, practices, rituals, and mindsets that help me navigate those times with love and kindness for myself. Those are the things that I want to teach people. I know now that my mind can play tricks on me and my thoughts are not always real, but I have the ability to choose a more loving thought.

I’ve created a whole course on starting your self-love journey but if you’re looking for a simple place to start, I would look at incorporating some simple mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. I’m working on a post about this right now but a simple way to start doing this is just a spend a couple of minutes connecting with your breath and noticing your thoughts, perhaps labeling them as “planning,” “worrying,” etc. and then letting them float away. As you practice, you’ll strengthen your ability to clear your mind and you’ll gain more control over your thoughts. I’d also recommend either writing down the things you’re happy and excited or grateful for or just taking note of them mentally. It’s a great practice to do first thing in the morning and before you go to bed, so you’re starting and ending each day filled up by the good things in your life.

What first steps did you take to achieve your goals? I’m still very much in the process of achieving my goals, but I guess the first step was learning to put myself out there. It can be so difficult to share your dreams or your creative work when you’re so far from where you want to be, but that’s the only way that you’ll learn and grow. You have to take action or your dreams are just fantasies. When I started blogging, the work I was putting out there was so reiterative and my inspirations were so obvious. I had to write myself into my voice and find my unique message, but if I hadn’t put that early writing out there, I never would have gotten to where I am today.

Can you tell us a bit about the courses you have on offer? I offer a self-guided ecourse called Romance Yourself: A 40-Day Journey to Self-Love. I think of it as the guiding hand, encouraging voice, and kick in the ass I wish I’d had when I started my self-love journey. Self-love is pivotal to living the life of your dreams, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Romance Yourself will show you the way. The course provides a daily practice for you to start cultivating that feeling of love for yourself as well as daily insights and exercises to start exploring your thoughts and beliefs and creating a practice that is unique to you.

For anyone who’s feeling a little bit lost, I also have a free Define Your Dreams workbook to help start creating some clarity around your goals and what you want your life to look like. It’s completely free and you can download it from my website.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my new course, The Daydream Revolution, which is by far my biggest and best offering yet. It’s an 8-week course on achieving your dream and making big shit happen. If you have a bigger-than-life idea, whether it’s starting a business or going on an international adventure, or anything in between, but can’t seem to make it happen, this is for you. Through the course we’ll overcome resistance, tackle your fears, and drag your big dream into reality. At the end of the course you’ll walk way with a detailed action plan, a clear picture of how you can afford your dream, and the tools to stay motivated. Registration isn’t open yet, but if you hop over to my website and sign up for my newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when it does + you’ll get an exclusive discount.

What was your first tattoo? How old were you and do you still like it? What do you think about tattoo regret?  My first tattoo is a line of text that says “Dance like nobody’s watching” in my own handwriting around my wrist. I was 19; I got it for my birthday. It’s not my favourite tattoo but it’s unobtrusive and it’s part of my story. It’s not the quote I would be most drawn to now but it sums up my personal philosophy of living life on your own terms and always being true to who you are.

I think tattoo regret is part and parcel of being a tattooed person, the way I sometimes wake up and absolutely hate my hair, some days I wish I could wake up and erase one of my tattoos. But I’ve never experienced any lasting regret about any of my tattoos. I plan to be more or less covered in ink, so if I end up with a tattoo that I’m no longer wild about, it won’t stand out that much in the bigger picture of the canvas that is my body. And they’re all part of my story.

Which is your favourite tattoo? Do any of them have a special meaning?
All of my tattoos have some sort of special meaning attached to them, even if it’s just an association with a particular time in my life. If I had to narrow it down to my favourites, they’d be my chest piece which was done by Jessi James in Newbury. It represents self-love and personal transformation. And also the rose and bee on my knee by Cassandra Frances; I plan on getting the other one done to match. That tattoo was born out of a silly conversation with my friend about being “the bee’s knees” but I absolutely adore it.

Do you have any future tattoo plans? Are there any artists you admire? I want almost my entire body tattooed, but I like to think of it as a collection and I’m happy to curate it slowly as I can afford to get the work I want. I’m particularly keen to get pieces from Tiny Miss Becca, Emily Rose Murray, Rebecca Vincent, Peter Aurish, Danielle Rose, and Antony Flemming.

How would you describe your fashion style?
I describe it as technicolour punk rock chic! I’m a big fan of bright colours, fit & flare dresses, vintage silhouettes, statement jewellery, & motorcycle boots.

Series Review: Hannibal

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. This is the second in a series of posts in which Harry will be sharing his opinions on things he has watched. Read his first review here. In this post Harry is reviewing Hannibal

Hannibal, 2013- , cert 18, 2/5

American TV shows tend to annoy me. Of course there are exceptions and this is not going to be a rant about how everything produced by America is pig slop compared to the firm upholding columns of British art, because I enjoy more American films, book and music than such things from my own country.
However, it’s the way the ‘hottest’ US dramas are shoved in your face constantly while someone’s screaming ‘YOUR LIFE WILL NOT BE COMPLETE WITHOUT THIS.’ And when you bully your busy consciousness to pay attention to them, you realise that under all the hype, the glossy technical sheen and pretty actors, there’s not a lot going on.
‘Hannibal’ is no exception. For those not in the know, this series now in its third season is about everybody’s favourite cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter and is set way before ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and even before ‘Red Dragon’, the first Hannibal story.

In the show, Hannibal is somehow not yet suspected of being a serial killer (despite an overly sinister performance by Mads Mikkelsen) and he is asked by FBI man Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to be psychiatrist for Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a special consultant for the FBI who’s ‘too unstable’ to be an agent and is revered for his ability to fully emphasise with serial killers.
There have already been two films about Will Graham. In both ‘Manhunter’ (1986) and ‘Red Dragon’ (2002), Graham is presented as a brave, intelligent individual, battling his own demons. Hugh Dancy portrays him as a toddler constantly on the verge of a tantrum. He’s this fragile genius who everyone must dance around or he’ll snap and slaughter them all. Unfortunately the suggestion that someone who looks as threatening as a teddy bear can have a dark murderous heart isn’t very convincing.

His ‘gift’ is overblown too. In the films, Will simply sees the crime scene through the view of the killer, using psychology to pick out clues. In the show, Will can not only fully re-imagine the crime but also re-enact the whole thing, thus causing further annoyance when he pretends to be some big bad psychopath every episode. The replaying of the murder is impressive the first few times, but it gets a bit old when it’s done every episode.
The tendency to over-do things lets this show down big time. Every shot has to look sensuous and glamorous, whether it’s Hannibal’s cooking or a dismembered body. As impressive as the hallucinogenic scenes and perfect lighting is, every episode is an assault to the senses which gets exhausting. Yet under the flashy imagery, the dramatic emotions and heavy dialogue on psychology and murder, the show isn’t saying a lot. All it does it cater to society’s sick obsession with serial killers, of which there are a hundred other shows and films doing the same thing.

Every episode attempts to outdo the one before in terms of gore and violence. Every episode, Will and Jack are investigating a new killer in their local area, which just feels unrealistic. So does the amount of violence perpetrated by the killers. We’ve got killers building sculptures out of bodies, turning bodies into instruments or using them as fungus gardens. While the films attempted to be realistic and in depth with the psychology of their killers, the show just uses outrageous gore for gores’ sake, which feels shallow and sick.
The one thing that could have had more spice was Mad Mikkelsen’s performance of Hannibal. It’s cool to see a cold, restricted portrayal of the character, but Mikkelsen shows so little emotion in every episode that he gets a bit wooden. I still find Hopkins’ performance more chilling. He may be tongue in cheek but he demands your attention, whereas Mikkelsen comes across as a bit lazy.

But maybe I shouldn’t be complaining about something that has been written primarily for entertainment and I should just accept the fact that I do enjoy it for the nonsense that it is. However, what gets my goat is that it tries to be some deep philosophical drama when there’s not much substance under the style. And as for being a horror show, it’s not very scary. While the films went for the classic tools of suggestion and atmosphere to creep you out, the show just throws gore in your face. But if sensual overload is your thing, this show has a lot to offer visually, and Hannibal’s cooking did make me hungry…

What do you think? Do you agree with Harry’s review? 

Images from Sky