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Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.

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Dry Cleaning - Sweet Princess EP Music Album Reviews

These six cerebral, spiky songs extract something touching and tragic from the mundanity of social media and social anxiety.

On “Goodnight,” the opening track of South London post-punk quartet Dry Cleaning’s debut EP Sweet Princess, vocalist Florence Shaw performs the role of digital archaeologist, pasting together a series of absurd comments mined from YouTube videos. The words link into a demented chain of paper dolls, muttering lines like, “During what was probably the longest two and a half months of my life after a near-death experience... the only thing that kept me going was Saw 2.”


Dry Cleaning brings together longtime friends bassist Lewis Maynard, drummer Nick Buxton, and guitarist Tom Dowse. In late 2017, they recruited Shaw, an artist, university lecturer, and photo researcher, as the group’s singer. Though never a performer, she’d always kept lists—neuroses, daily annoyances, advertising copy—with the idea to one day use them in her drawings. Her excavations became the starting point for Sweet Princess, six cerebral, spiky songs that extract something touching and tragic from the mundanity of social media and social anxiety.

“Followed by another porn account on Instagram,” Shaw notes dryly on “Conversation,” a song about dating and the painful task of interacting with a person you resent yourself for wanting to impress. On “New Job,” a sing-song tribute to a couple called Jimmy and Olga—the kind you might imagine scratched into a bathroom stall or a school desk—transforms into a spoken list of anxieties: conversational missed connections, overstepped boundaries, desperate attempts to grasp something in common.

Stripped of context, collected fragments like, “Who’s the Pride of Britain?/Michelle blasts Mark/I was shot in the head by my kid,” mean little. But the things that strike Shaw’s fancy, that prove silly or strange enough to warrant pulling out a pen, betray what she values. Spliced together and set to tight, unpolished guitars, “Traditional Fish”’s recollections of signage and newsstands offer a grimy reflection of mundane British life as written in tabloid headlines.

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Enter Meghan Markle. From the Sex Pistols to the Specials, British punks have long rallied against their heads of state. But over spirals of guitar that conjure memories of the Raincoats or the B-52’s, first single “Magic of Meghan” offers a staccato accounting of Markle’s graces. The Duchess of Sussex is illustrated as if she’s a young guidance counsellor who lets Shaw call her by her first name, or a friend from school she admires from afar. On the day of Markle’s engagement, we learn, Shaw was moving out after a breakup. The way she writes about Markle is almost like fan fiction: a morsel of celebrity bent and manipulated until it forms a new narrative specific to its author. It’s so endearing that it could almost stand to be a touch more critical of, you know, the monarchy.

Like empty bottles melted down and repurposed as stained glass, Dry Cleaning’s assembled observations capture the distortion of life on and off the internet, of spewing our deepest emotions into an anonymous void but biting our tongue when we encounter a real person. Type what you really feel, then close the tab and delete your history—maybe Florence Shaw will find it.


View my Flipboard Magazine.

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