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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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Marika Hackman - Any Human Friend Music Album Reviews

The British singer-songwriter’s third album is a singular, extraordinarily horny, and occasionally bleak pop record largely about the complexities of queer desire.

In Marika Hackman’s telling, life as a twenty-something in a major city means nights where you kiss strangers, consume substances, and stay up until it becomes light again. It also means nights where you stay inside of your apartment and talk to no one. This polarity is the basis of the British singer-songwriter’s third album, Any Human Friend, which is a singular, extraordinarily horny, and occasionally bleak pop record largely about the complexities of queer desire.


Hackman is not interested in being coy or mincing words. As a result, there is much sex to be had within the album’s 40 minutes. On “All Night,” she coos “Kissing (eating)/Fucking (moaning)” in multi-tracked harmonies while a guitar screeches atop languid synths. The snarkily titled “Hand Solo” is about, well, sex for one: “It’s all right/I’m jerking!” goes one extremely emblematic line. Jokes aside, “Hand Solo” is also about feeling lovelorn: “It’s hard to be alone,” she sings at the start, adding “I love this” moments later. You can feel the anomie creeping in as the song rides out its disaffected groove, sounding like pop rock by way of a chilled-out Annie Clark or Hélöise Letissier.

As far as straight-up pop goes, “Blow” is the closest Hackman has come. She has dipped her toe into writing big hooks before, but “Blow” is her most committed and fully realized effort, with thumping drums, a Strokesean guitar snarl, and a very Italians Do It Better synth part. It’s relatively new territory for her, and it suits her coolly unimpressed alto.

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There are a few dull moments, like “Conventional Ride,” which explores how it feels to be the object of other people’s sexual curiosity. The lyrics are less cutting and sly than Hackman is capable of, especially considering how adept she can be at tackling the difficulties of being a queer woman under the straight gaze. The broad sloganeering of “The One” draws laughs and eyerolls: Hearing Hackman refer to her audience as “fuckers [that] want my dick” is a little much, and a joke about BDE being a venereal disease feels more like a tweet from the summer of 2018 than it does a line in a song, but it gets a laugh nonetheless.

Any Human Friend reaches its high point with the quietest song. “Send My Love” is not a love song, but it is about love, and what it means to be betrayed by someone you trusted. Hackman sounds totally at peace as she asks, “Did you love me tonight/Or any night of our lives?” This is the continuum that Hackman’s record lives inside: those quiet moments of reckoning with what it means to be alive, young, and cautiously enamored of it all.


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