Five things on Friday #254

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AKA ‘The section about one movie, some personal stuff, and then some other related movie bits’.

“Because the truth about mental health and self-destruction is that for most of us it is not some deep perceptible trauma, but the fate of hard-wiring and conditioning that comes from little everyday realities. Whether feeling unloved or unsafe or even misunderstood, these situations tend to add up to the kinds of pathologies, behaviors, secrets, and choices that make up the conflict and pain within humanity.”

– Film Crit Hulk

I wrote about ANNIHILATION a few editions back. The point of that addition was to discuss Paramount’s choice to sell Alex Garland’s latest to Netflix outside of the US (vs putting it out on general theatrical release).

Since that time, ANNIHILATION has arrived on Netflix UK, I’ve watched it, and it is excellent.

There is much I could say.

If you’ve not seen it yet, perhaps seek it out later tonight. If you have, then I urge you to please please please read this phenomenal review/essay, by Film Crit Hulk, ‘The Horrors of Change‘.

I say again, do not read it until you’ve seen the movie – it goes over key parts of the film in detail. In short: there be spoilers here.

That said, as someone who has gone through a huge amount of internal change, this essay spoke to me on so many levels. So. Many. Levels.

Watch the movie.

Read the essay.

Reflect on them both.


Other movie-related stuff:

On my recent flight(s) + general adventures I caught a few movies that I’d been meaning to catch up on. 

  • THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Excellent. Did not see those story beats coming – and Sam Rockwell is excellent. 
  • CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. Better than Three Billboards – by a country mile. That last 15mins. The credits. Jesus. What. A. Film. 
  • DEATH OF STALIN. Brilliant. See it.
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE. What. Yes, I finally watched it. This is what I thought.
  • READY PLAYER ONE. 7/10. Worth seeing if you’re a film nerd or a gamer – (and a couple of excellent set pieces – the Kubrick one particularly was a stand out) but over and above all, a rare creature known as ‘a forgettable Spielberg’.



OK, so I get it. The past few editions have featured something from GQ. What can I say? They’re killing it at the moment (no, I’m not on commission). This next one I’m featuring is a profile of Eric Barone, sole creator of Stardew Valley.

Sole. One. Solo. Only him.

“…throughout the four and a half years, he never once reached out online by asking questions or speaking to another developer for advice. He hates asking for help. He prefers not having the subconscious feeling of owing a debt for a favor, so instead he does things all himself. Everything—literally everything—he learned about making games came from poring over pre-existing comment threads on forums and blogs until he found the solutions he needed to move forward.”

I guess ‘struggles to work as a team’ featured highly on his last 360? I jest.

This great profile does not only provide an insight into what obsession looks and feels like but also demonstrates what, when you have the means, it can deliver.

A good read.

PS. I’ve never played Stardew Valley. Shh.
PPS. This was written by an amusing chap I know on Twitter called Sam. You should follow him. 


Not news but certainly noteworthy.

If you missed the announcement, Instagram is apparently – FINALLY – making a much-asked-for algorithmic change to allow new posts appear closer to the top of your feed.

This absolutely is NOT a return to the chronological feed order of old BUT it is Instagram acknowledging that perhaps the millions upon millions of users that actually want to see new things first in their feed might actually have a point.

More here.

4. PROJECT EIGHTY-FOURWalking to work one morning, you look up and see a lone figure on a rooftop. You look again, the figure is flanked by another, and then another. In total, 84 men stand there in total.

Ready to step off.

Ready to take their own lives.

84 men in the UK take their own lives every week.

To illustrate that abominable statistic, men’s health and suicide prevention charity, CALM, made Project Eighty-Four. 84 sculptures that represent 84 real people that took their own life.

Why is this important to me?

1. I know someone who is related to one of the 84.

2. My old boss, friend, mentor, and CALM board member, James Scroggs, helped make this happen.

3. It’s right near where I work – it’s kind of unmissable.

4. I have experienced suicidal thoughts. They are not fun.

That last point, that’s the first time I’ve written that down. Let’s keep it between us. For now, please.

Consider, does your opinion of me change because of it? If it does, why? I’m nowhere near ready to articulate the where, why, or how.

Just understand suicidal thoughts, mental health deterioration – so to speak, can happen to anyone. On that note, if stuff is pretty awful for you right now, you can hit reply to this email anytime and say hi.

I always reply. Always.

Project 84 is important work.

You should read about it.


This article led me to this video.

Both are excellent, start with the former and then relax into the latter.




Three this week: 


B to the O to the N to the U to the S. 

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x