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Reading Derek Jarman Is Strangely Consoling



Earlier this month, a bit of good news from the U.K.: Prospect Cottage, once the seaside retreat of the late Derek Jarman, has been acquired by the Art Fund, an arts charity. Jarman, the filmmaker and artist, bought the cottage, in Dungeness, Kent, in 1986, the same year in which he tested H.I.V.-positive. He lived there until his death, in 1994, at the age of fifty-two, and the cottage passed to his longtime companion, Keith Collins. When Collins died, of a brain tumor, in 2018, it was feared that the cottage and its accompanying garden, which had been designed and tended by Jarman, would be sold to a private owner. Friends of Jarman rallied to raise the money to buy it. They include Tilda Swinton, who got her start as an actor in Jarman’s films; David Hockney, whom Jarman got to know in the nineteen-sixties; and Sandy Powell, the costume designer, who auctioned off a calico suit that she wore during awards season, which was adorned with the signatures of more than two hundred celebrities, among them Elton John and Joaquin Phoenix. In addition to those high-profile contributors, over eight thousand individuals donated to the effort, which raised more than four million dollars.

Derek Jarman 's house and garden.
Jarman bought Prospect Cottage, in Dungeness, Kent, in 1986, and lived there until his death, in 1994. The cottage was recently acquired by the Art Fund, an arts charity.Photograph by David Mansell / Eyevine / Redux

Prospect Cottage, which Jarman would reach by train and then taxi from his flat in London, looks like a child’s drawing of a cottage. Made from pitch-stained shingles, it has two big yellow-painted windows on either side of a yellow front door, its steep roof topped by a chimney pot. Once positioned on the water’s edge, the cottage is now fronted by a lonely road and a wide, shingled shore declining to the sea. Only a child as unusual as Jarman would draw in the background, behind the cottage, a nuclear power station, which has occupied the flat, windswept Dungeness headland since 1965. Jarman described it as “a great ocean liner moored in the firmament, ablaze with light: white, yellow, ruby.” And only a child as imaginative as Jarman would depict, in front of the house, his peculiar garden, which featured not just roses and crocuses and holly bushes but rock arrangements and cacti. (Dungeness is one of the driest, sunniest parts of Britain, with an almost desert-like terrain.) Jarman—whose films include the Latin-language “Sebastiane,” about the martyrdom of the saint; “Caravaggio,” in which Swinton made her début; and “Blue,” which he made after losing his sight—cultivated the garden in what would turn out to be one of the final creative projects of his life. “It isn’t a gloomy garden,” Jarman wrote in “Modern Nature,” a journal about his life at the cottage, which was published in 1991. “Its circles and squares have humor—a fairy ring for troglodyte pixies—the stones a notation for long-forgotten music, an ancestral round to which I add a few new notes each morning.”

The Art Fund intends to make the cottage available for a residency program. For those of us unlikely ever to have the opportunity to work within Jarman’s own walls—and for all of us, currently shuttered within our own homes, unable to enjoy much of the outside world, except through our own windows—“Modern Nature,” which was republished by Vintage in 2018, offers a tonic, and intensely moving, journey into Jarman’s consciousness and habits of observation. The book is a beguilingly hybrid work, weaving together a gardener’s diary—“the first wild rose came out this morning; the sage is in bloom, and wild poppies blow and scatter their petals by lunch”—with recollections of Jarman’s childhood, spent in fear of his reproving father, an officer in the Royal Air Force. “My father flew his Wellington bomber straight as a die through the war, never avoiding the flak,” Jarman recalls at one point. “At four he threw me through a window and the arguments grew terrible. They remained like that throughout my childhood.”

Jarman went to King’s College, in London, in 1960, before later enrolling at the Slade art school. “London could hardly be said to ‘swing,’ ” he wrote. The only sign of the avant-garde was one student whose trousers without turn-ups “rocked the college refectory.” “Modern Nature” provides vignettes of Jarman’s London, which, in the course of his youth, became less sexually repressed, as did he. Jarman, who made his H.I.V. diagnosis public early on—he declared himself incapable of keeping a secret—catalogued his growing ill health, the night sweats and the day chills. “As I sweat it out in the early hours, a ‘guilty victim’ of the scourge, I want to bear witness how happy I am, and will be until the day I die, that I was part of the hated sexual revolution; and that I don’t regret a single step or encounter I made at that time,” he wrote in September of 1989.

Jarman was diagnosed with H.I.V. before effective antiretroviral treatments had been developed. So were many of his friends, whose illnesses and deaths he charts in the book with bleak helplessness. He writes of speaking on the phone to Howard Brookner, the film director, in New York, in April, 1989, when Brookner was only two weeks from death. “I don’t know if he understood a word—long silences, and the low wounded moaning,” Jarman wrote. “The echoing emptiness of those groans encircling the world by satellite.” Facing his friends’ deaths, he reckons with the prospect of his own. “I refuse to believe in my mortality, or the statistics which hedge the modern world about, like the briar that walled in the sleeping princess,” he writes. “I have conducted my whole life without fitting in, so why should I panic now and fit into statistics?” Elsewhere, though, there are tears.

Reading Jarman’s dispatches from amid the AIDS epidemic while in isolation during our current pandemic is a resonant experience. More than a quarter century after Jarman’s death, the world currently lies as quiet as the princess under enchantment, while, in our hospitals, struggles multiply like the blown petals of Prospect Cottage’s poppies. But reading Jarman at this moment is also strangely consoling. He gives expression to the experience of the fearful and the unknown. Jarman’s descriptions of succumbing to his condition fill the gaps in what we can only guess at from reading the Twitter feeds of emergency-room doctors, or from watching the rare televised report from within the COVID-19 wards. Jarman, who was hospitalized for weeks with a fever that wouldn’t subside, undergoing chest X-rays and arterial blood taps, writes with vivid precision about living in the land of illness and emergency. After months of being terrified by night sweats, he recounts, “The bed is awash but I have decided to enjoy them rather than fear them. It’s like deciding to enjoy the rain rather than scurrying into a shelter.” He was discharged from the hospital, only to return, engulfed by pneumonia.

“The shadowy black bats of breathlessness swarm through the evening, roost in my lungs,” he wrote. “There is nothing quite as frightening as losing your breath in an attack of coughing. Clasped by the velvet wings of the bats, I throw the sheets back.” In that crisis, Jarman’s thoughts turned to what type of burial stone he’d be given—tacky white marble or black Purbeck? “Nurses rush by,” he went on. “They are short staffed. The oxygen bubbles away. In the night it roars like a river in full flood. The doctor worries that the sun will disappear before the weekend. I say not to worry: before his time’s up he might wish he could switch it off.” Jarman’s grave is marked by a simple slate stone incised with his signature, at St. Clements Church, in the village of Old Romney, Kent, a few miles from Prospect Cottage.


Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact




Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie. 

Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo. 

But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way. 

The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake. 

The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.

Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either. 

Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price. 

Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity. 

Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well. 

Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Liu Yifei made no outright apology. 

Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas. 

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5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!




American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations. 

Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.

Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes

Year of release: 2019

1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre. 

Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2020

Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.

This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2018

The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes

Year of release: 2020

For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.

Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.

This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes

Year of release: 2016

The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.

The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!

Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses




When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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