Month: August 2022


On the Edinburgh to Kings Cross I avidly read through Book 2 of Dune.

I follow Paul as he is tested by the Fremen, the mysterious tribe of the desert. He is challenged to a fight to the death, and despite having a vision of himself dying, is victorious – fulfilling yet another of the religious prophecies that foretell him as their saviour. Paul and his mother Lady Jessica are then taken to their new sietch – the underground collective of Fremen to whom they have banded.

Now, we have only heard about the sietches on the planet, and heard rumours about how many Fremen there actually are and so as I change trains, and a bunch of several dickhead children and parents alike hop on board, I scramble for my headphones and my iPod nano, because apparently I too have ancient customs, in the hopes that I have some appropriate music. Evidently I’d cleared off my frightfully perfect Clint Mansell scores and the only relatively instrumental music I find is Four Tet’s Randoms from 2016 – a compilation of odd tracks.

It begins electronic, clanky and thumping, giving enough noise to cancel out the tinny phone videos that are playing throughout the carriage. Good stuff.

The sietch! There are many thousands of people. At the heart of this meeting, Lady Jessica is partaking in a ceremony, the details of which remain unknown to her, and us. Only that it involves meeting the Fremen Reverend Mother, a wise and wispy mystic. We are told she hasn’t long to live. Lady Jessica is then presented a sackful of water and told to drink, she is hesitant but can’t stop it from happening. We are in Lady Jessica’s thoughts as time slows down.

At this point the track For These Times comes on in my ears. It is up tempo and industrial, not necessarily something I’d have chosen for this scene. But then the vocals fade in, simply repeating the word ‘Time’. Lady Jessica perceives that the water is drugged and is poisonous, but she feels the effect of the drug allowing her to perceive time much slower and is able to force her body to react to the water she is ingesting. The beat drops, the vocals persist: time, time, time. This is perfect, I am wearing a shit-eating grin and feel a contact high, a rush of psychedelic symbiosis.

Lady Jessica is not only protecting herself from the water, but taking in this psychoactive drug and experiencing many sensations. As the Reverend Mother touches her, they speak almost psychically, and begin to merge – Lady Jessica takes in all of this woman’s life experiences, and the Reverend Mother’s that proceeded her. These are ancient people, that have lived long before the Bene Gesserit, her own bloodline of witches.

Next song is Pockets, opening with an alien whining, a tractor beam that comes in waves, fading to digital twinkling notes and a repetitive beat that take me deeper in. Lady Jessica is not only protecting herself from the water, but making it safe for others to consume; through this ritual she is becoming Reverend Mother, but something is wrong. She is pregnant, and this stream of information is passing through her and her unborn daughter without protection. Those alien waves again. This unfiltered surge of information threatens to make Jessica’s unborn daughter insane and so she must do whatever she can to protect her – finding the best way is to send her thoughts and feelings of pure love.

The music stops suddenly and there is the sound of one voice. A young girl sings a phrase that repeats. Gradually other voices speak in the breaks as a subtle synthetic wave washes underneath. It sounds like call and response. A young girl repeats the words ‘I love you’.

Lady Jessica offers the water out to everyone so that they may share in its effect now that it is safe. Paul retreats with a young Fremen girl that he recognises from a dream. She shares in his visions as they make love.

Book 2 ends and I am left electrically charged. I look at the iPod to the name of the track: Gillie Amma I Love you. We arrive at the station and I practically float home. Once in, with all of our luggage, I rush to look up the song. It is in Tamil, and performed by the Light of Love Children’s Choir from Southeast India. And only just now as I write this did I Google translate the lyrics from Tamil:

Oh mother…mother…mother you are
You are the embodiment of love
Belong to the world like you
No one

Some people think God talks to them through the synchronicity of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

Pretty sure he just licked my face.

Flux Gourmet (2022)


This past weekend I began the day with a booze-fuelled brunch, followed by afternoon cocktails and an evening BYO BBQ. The hangover came late on Sunday but the real pain lay in wait. I spent three days in agony before finally seeing a doctor to find out that I’d fucked the acidity levels of my stomach. This being my first visit in 17 years, Dr. Chang gives me some ulcer medication for what is more like acid reflux.

I pop a pill from my prescription and head straight to a screening of Peter Strickland’s latest: Flux Gourmet. Within the opening moments, the protagonist is diagnosed with something akin to acid reflux. He describes the same symptoms of trapped wind that I have been enduring, that I continue to endure, the pain as well as its social stigma. The audience laugh; I laugh. Bums and farts are undeniably funny, children know this instinctively. And still we chinstrokers of the dark guffaw, not at the sound of a particularly melodic or prolonged parp, but of a man describing the torture that he experiences abdominally in trying to avoid slipping one out.

Perhaps its laughter in the absence of farts, laughter at the wondrous farts of our collective imagination. Or maybe it’s because we empathise and understand, we know the base level of humour, and therefore the inevitable shame. I for one know the fucking pain, I feel it pulsing inside me between laughs, a knot of tension that daren’t be untied in such a confined, public space. Still, on with the show.


Flux Gourmet is delightful.

Focussed on a Sonic Catering Institute and the culinary band they have in residence, it plays in this world whilst wringing out the tropes of bands whose members are filled with sexual tension and rivalry, pompous performance theatre and classic horror cinema – and yet never feels insincere.

Not so much tongue in cheek, but twitch at the lips, glint in the eye. At points it seems deadly serious, others extremely playful and yet the two are intrinsically bound.

Serious ideas, ailments, psychology and human drama are explored, purposefully encased in art that announces ahead of time that it is in on the joke, and you’re laughing at the wrong part. And yet that glint in the eye.

It is so stylistically imagined, so wonderfully composed and deliberate that it feels perfectly balanced. Kaleidoscopic Giallo nightmares are cemented in assurance by the score, pricked with occasional nonsense that allow you humorous relief, that sly wink that lets you in – it is carefully designed. This is no accident, which means there is masterful subtlety at work.

Unlike contemporary Yorgos Lanthimos, the absurdity here is just so, allowing you to forget the silliness of the world before being reminded with a bang, by the disgruntled culinary band The Mangrove Snacks as they throw a terrapin through the window. It flirts with the obscene and taboo, but once again puts it in a frame and strokes its chin before nudging you with its elbow, snickering under its breath.

Our narrator, the one diagnosed with a disturbance in his gut, is a portly Greek man who speaks in a bassy, confessional manner. Combined with the endless scarlet backdrops and food arrangements, it feels at times like Almodovar. Rather than comment on the events playing out before us, he talks of the torture of his own physical ailments – his endless discomfort revealed to the audience in confidence, but due to the nature of his complaint, and the flatulence that it entails, it is made comical. And yet this pain is real, and its depiction authentic. A Buñuellian raised eyebrow, a judgement we the audience must question ourselves.

Flux Gourmet combines many of the themes present in Stricklands former films, the middle segment of a Venn Diagram that contains horror, sex, food and death. It feels most like his previous film, especially in the way that it satirises the experience of shopping – with In Fabric dissecting clothes shopping as a kind of capitalist ritual, whereas this puts food shopping on a stage, drawing attention to minor shared experiences like some form of Lynchian observational comedy.

A treat.