Why Films, Games and TV are Good for Mental Health.

In this post I will explore what mental health means to me, and why I think that films, games, TV and more are good for it. I also have some recommendations for feel good watches.

Its Mental Health Awareness Week and that’s why I think it’s a good time to write a post like this.

It’s important to look after yourself and that takes on so many various forms and isn’t the same for everybody.

If you ever need to reach out, please do. Even if its here on this blog.

Mental Health and Me.

My own mental health is not something I have always reflected on. Those that know me unfortunately know I’m extremely rational. Things make sense in black and white. I always thought if I’m sad, don’t be. What a fucking idiot.

My second year of uni should have taught me this wasn’t the case and looking back, I am certain I was suffering with depression. I was a mess, all over the place, I’m surprised some of my friends stuck around. I will be forever in their debt. I also apologise to those I lived with, they didn’t deserve my erratic, crazy behaviour because I didn’t deal with my mental health well.

I finished this year in particular getting extremely ill on an attempt at a working holiday. When I came back, it was only uphill. I met my fiancé shortly after and couldn’t be more grateful. She is the love of my life. She’ll read this and well yeah.

I also struggle to burden people with my thoughts. I have that trait of ‘no one wants to hear’ so I don’t tell anyone. My biggest challenge these days is thinking that the people I like talking to don’t want to, so I wont. Sometimes this gets a bit much but I know how I can help myself.

I am coming to terms with what mental health means to me.

It’s taken a long time.

I however have spent a lot of time reflecting, thanks to a certain little virus. I am coming to terms with what mental health is to me and how I live with it.

To me mental health isn’t about being in a mood (she always asks if I’m grumpy just to make sure), its about being uncharacteristic. I know that something isn’t quite right when something isn’t happening like it should. Do I take ages to get to sleep? Is my sleep disturbed? Am I eating regularly? Do I want to play games? Watch a film? Go out? Can I concentrate?

If the answer is no, then I should look after myself. As I said, I’m quite rationale so one thing has to mean another. I struggle in the grey areas that mental health brings out. These grey areas blur all these things together and you can’t figure anything out, so you just don’t.

All of a sudden you’re just sat in bed all day, spilling tea and can’t be bothered to do anything about it and just reach for another biscuit.

This goes from a few hours into a daily pattern for weeks. Everyone knows you’re fine because you said are.

Its important to understand if you’re not. I did this for a year and punished myself for it. I ruined my degree and probably spoiled one of those life events you’d get an achievement for on The Sims.

I did however find that I coped with what was going on around me by renting movies from Blockbuster. Its not even that long ago I just loved the walk and back. Playing games (mostly on my own) and watching TV shows recommended through Tumblr.

These all helped me get through a difficult time. They didn’t mend me, or necessarily make everything okay but they did take my wandering mind away from the grey.

So why Films, Games and TV?

At the top I said these were good for Mental Health. I think this because they are, extremely. Most people will admit that by now they’ve binge watched a show. That could be Game of Thrones, Top Gear, Love Island or a documentary about monkeys.

Everyone that has will have said they were engrossed, couldn’t get more and stopped thinking about anything else for that short period.

Some professors will tell you that media is a form of escapism (bet its Stuart Hall, it was ALWAYS Stuart Hall). They’re right. The stories we get involved with aren’t our own, so we prefer them when things get difficult.

Mental health doesn’t have a reason sometimes, it just goes a bit down.

Without them we would spend more time in the grey areas of our own head. The same applies for films albeit for a shorter period of time. But this could also mean a trip to the cinema, potentially with friends. This time is so invaluable and could have been the springboard you didn’t realise you needed.

Video games allow for more engagement but serve in the same purpose. They let you live out another life completely. You could be a treasure hunter, demon slayer, soldier or race driver. I love playing a good game more than anything. If I enjoy a game, sometimes that lifts me generally and it goes back to being black and white.

Mental Health doesn’t have a reason sometimes and it just goes a bit down, but for the same reason, watching Finding Nemo could be the medicine and you come out of it feeling okay. Below are some of the recommendations I have if you’re looking for a feel good experience.

Feel Good Recommendations

Black Mirror – San Junipero

First up is Black Mirror’s San Junipero episode. Black Mirror isn’t known for being feel good or happy. Charlie Brooker’s creation is a commentary on how we interact is technology and the dystopia this creates.

Most of the time it is dark, thought provoking and pretty grim. San Junipero is not the same however. Arguably Black Mirrors greatest episode this follows the journey of a woman called Yorkie (played by Mackenzie Davis) looking out for someone that made them feel something for one night.

Through Yorkie’s explorations through various time periods and settings we realise that San Junipero is a alternate reality designed for those that are towards the end of their life. It allows them to live young and free again.

This episode is so heart warming when it ends you wont help but have a smile.

Bring It On

This is for one of my best friends.

Recently I sat down with some of my friends to discuss what feel good looks like to different people. One of them mentioned the film Bring It On. To them feel good was more about what they remember bringing them joy and holding onto that.

Bring It On is nothing special as a film. It is a sort of coming of age/ underdog movie about a cheerleading team. Kirsten Dunst leads this pic trying to make her team champions and prove to everyone she can do it. Meanwhile there’s teen love stories, great tunes and humour.

Films don’t have to be The Godfather to be good though. This film brings more joy to someone that some of the greats ever would and that to me is great.

Die Hard

John McClane is some peoples Santa

From that conversation came Die Hard. One of my best friends will turn to some great action to feel better. Why not hey? Just seeing some great fight sequences, or chases or edge of the seat moments can help us feel more alive and give us a thrill.

Die Hard is a Christmas movie like no other. Its one mans mission to save his wife and other from a Christmas party gone wrong. One of the most iconic films to date.

There’s plenty more as well Brooklyn 99 (Netflix), Finding Nemo (Disney+) and Stardew Valley (PS4, Xbox and PC) are all brilliant, feel good forms of escapism. I know my fiancé would turn to something like Star Wars, Enchanted or Stardust for a good ol’ movie day.

All in all, without my love for Media (and music massively), I’m not sure how that year at uni would have gone, probably worse. Also now, whenever I’m feeling a bit out of character I turn to something like these above and think ‘I can’t wait for that’ and always feel a little better afterwards.

Find what works for you, share yours and we can all help each other when things get a bit more grey.

The Snyder Cut – Why I Don’t Think it’s a Good Thing.

Warner Bro’s announced this week that the much campaigned for ‘Snyder Cut’ of Justice League will be shown on HBO next year.

Snyder seems to be teasing a ‘darker’ look to Justice League

While I am looking forward to seeing what the ‘re-imagining’ would bring, simply because of my love for superhero films, I do not think that this is overall a good thing.

It Gives to Much to Fan Power

Fan power is a dangerous game. For the most part the film industry generally doesn’t care for fans thoughts pre or post production. You’ve never seen a twitter poll from the casting team have you? If they did care, this very studio would have avoided using Amber Heard in Aquaman. We team Jack Sparrow here.

Giving into fans in this way hands them the creative opinion few feel they should have and that could have a domino effect. I imagine its too late for Star Wars but could we not see a J J Abrams number 8? or 10? After all that’s what the series deserves.

Its quite dramatic but this campaign will be repeated, particularly against Warner Bros.

Its only a matter of time

“But Nathan (that’s my actual name FYI) the fans do dictate the film industry by not watching films, reviews etc“. That’s a fine point and that’s how it should remain. Batman v Superman was bad enough, Suicide Squad didn’t help (I’m being kind) but Wonder Woman was cause for Celebration. Maybe Patty Jenkins should have had a say. In the end, we should have not gone to the cinema and protested with our wallets as there wasn’t any evidence to suggest they deserved our money.

This pressure from fans could increase if a release isn’t up to the fans standards. Studios are used to a bad review or a loss, but media campaigns are arguably worse.

My point here is that unlike taking feedback on board (again very rare a production company would) caving into fan pressure is a scary journey that could lead anywhere.


Who Actually Gains From This?

The fans? Sure lets stream it on an American service that requires a subscription. What about those outside of the US (not sure how I’m watching it just yet)?

Also there is a cost. Likely a large portion of their target audience have bought cinema tickets, blue rays and then a subscription the eventually watch something that they hope will be at their standard.

Furthermore, a small portion of this audience paid for the campaign to release this cut.

Zac? Well he’s going to be known for not having enough pull to give him the time needed to create a film and potentially needs a couple of attempts.

The crew? They likely are sick of this, the initial release was badly received and that will impact any creative person. Moreover, some will now have to work on it again, what if its badly received again? Kick a person while they’re down don’t we.

The cast? Maybe it’ll only enhance their profile with the PR that will come from this. Surely we won’t want more Batfleck? We have Pattison now, unless, another campaign?

Warner Bros are the only ones that might gain from this, financially of course but still its been a massive cost so far.

It Could Just be a Bad Film.

Have we considered this? This one is Marvels fault. Firstly they stormed ahead in the superhero race, that up till the cinematic universes, DC were well ahead in.

Wrong film, wrong time.

Have we considered this?

Next Marvels worst in the MCU is Iron Man 2 and that is still watchable. Age of Ultron is their least favourite collection film which is still way better than Justice league (love me some Ultron, maybe I’m bias? Nah surely not). Anyway I digress, Warner tried to catch up quick and it didn’t work. They were last in the race and tripped over their shoe lace.

Maybe, however, this film as a result of trying to catch up, is, just bad. They haven’t taken time to establish the characters in this universe.

I love The Flash but he’s a passenger in this film. Cyborg seem to be complex as a character and would make for an awesome story on its own. Aquaman is a laughing stock, no thanks to appearances in Big Bang Theory and Spongebob Squarepants.

The plot relies on Superman being a one man army, everyone else is useless in comparison and the tone is all over the place. This could be wrong film, wrong time.

Snyder is relying on his favourite slow motion action sequences and fan favourite characters to carry this film. Unless he’s writing a different version of the film, surely not?

Image subject to copyright.

To Conclude…

I think the Snyder cut is damaging for the film industry and Warner and DC’s relationship, could lead to more of the same and more studios taking less risks.

No one will want to take on a big franchise for fear of getting it wrong and receiving the same back lash and that would be a huge shame. Film is art and art isn’t never repeated. Lets keep it that way.

What are your thoughts? There’s a whole counter argument to this that I’m happy to hear.

After Life Review

The Ricky Gervais Netflix original has just aired its second season, so what’s the deal with this emotional telling of grief?

You could be forgiven for hearing that the British comedian and part time actor, known for his sarcastic commentary on this world, has written and directed a new series and you’d rather miss it, thank you very much.

Seasons 1 and 2 now showing on Netflix

But here’s why maybe, just maybe you should take a (small 12 x 30 minute episodes in total) amount of time to give it a chance.

After Life is a simple concept, how do we cope with grief? It centres around an early 50’s character named Tony that recently lost his wife to Breast Cancer. In a P.S I Love You style she left him a video telling him not to be the, how do I say this, grumpy old man (she uses a not so nice ‘C’ word i’d rather not include), that he inevitably will become.

“It will make you laugh and cry in equal measure”

If you’ve lost anyone or know anyone who’s been through cancer, grab some tissues.

Does he listen? Does he fuck. She asks him to do one thing. Since Lisa departed Tony has taken the opportunity to say whatever he would like because being nice doesn’t get you anywhere. Throughout Tony talks about the want to kill himself and would have, if it weren’t for his dog. He refers to this like a superpower because if he ever went to far, he’d commit suicide and that would be that.

Once we get past the establishment that Tony is played by Ricky Gervais the show begins to let us into his life. We see his job, the regular people he meets and what he’s been not getting up to. The cast are charming and full of people you mostly recognise for one reason or another.

Tony and Anne – Something in common

Its an honest as possible take that suits Ricky down to a tee. His comedy works because he explains why ‘its like a superpower‘. You excuse his behaviour, when once you may have found it not so funny or original.

The humour is consistent but not overbearing and its balanced by the emotions Ricky displays when he explains why everything is so painful. The lowest parts come when he is watching his old videos of Lisa, dealing with drugs or alcohol and seeing his Father in a care home. You’re sad for someone that used to be so happy.

“A charming slice of village life”

Tony impacts all the characters he meets and takes several steps of development in grief in season 1.In season 2 he realises its too far and dials back to his comfort zone but is less of a dick to everyone around him.

I wouldn’t expect too much of the other characters or development. They’re likable and we get to know them slightly but not attached. This can be frustrating as throughout season 2 Tony does get ever so slightly tiresome (we get it you’re Ricky Gervais and Tony is sad).

Just as you start to feel this way you’re reminded of why Tony is like this or the show shares another video and charms you in a sad kind of way.

Overall After Life does a very good job of letting you into one mans journey through grief and trying to move on. its a charming slice of a little village life and what loss can do to you and those around you.

It will make you cry and laugh in equal measure.

Definitely going to TV heaven out of 10.

p.s If you’re struggling with anything please, please reach out. We should all take care of ourselves and each other at all stages of our life. Some people do some great work for example Samaritans or Mind.

Why my Fiancé Loves Animal Crossing.

What is it about this game that has everyone hooked? A 3rd party perspective.

On March 20 my fiancé was eager to get started with Animal Crossing. In fact soooo many people were but why? I had only heard of it because of this release as if the previous version on the Wii was some stellar experience that needed an update.

But, I did what any fiancé would do and facilitated the purchase of both a Switch Lite and the game. Little did I know the world I just bought a ticket to.

Image courtesy of Nintendo

She’s never really played games that much. We would play Skyrim side by side at the start of our relationship and Destiny online together. She played Assassins Creed: Origins because of her love for Egypt but nothing since.

My expectations were pretty low, I thought a few days, maybe a week and she would be over it. How wrong was I, 220 hours later?

No longer was I the main male in her life. Tom fucking Nook had taken over like some weird sugar daddy. Was I complaining? Actually, no (despite the profanity earlier). I could get on with almost anything.

Animal Crossing has tasked her with finding mostly lovable pet like ‘villagers’ homes on the best island possible. Mr Nook finances it and you repay interest free.

To decorate your island you need to find items and crafting ‘recipes’. These are mostly random because ‘how do they have so many things?!’ There is a shop so a lot can be bought.

‘Not what my island looks like now’ – Fiancé 12/05/20

You make money by collecting just about anything and selling it back to the island. Some things are worth more and the quickest way to get rich is to sell Turnips.

BUT you don’t just sell turnips. Oh no no no. Any ol’ amateur can sell a turnip, but on your island you are the Wolf of Animal Crossing and will conquer the turnip stock exchange. You will bathe in turnip funded riches.

For some however your island is not good enough to be rich so you must explore. Your friends may have good stocks (turnips), maybe a social media follower or even a stranger from the internet. Animal Crossing lets you explore other peoples islands, which is pretty cool.

Going to another Island instantly makes you a exterior and interior designer with years of experience, casting your opinion on others hard gamer hours. Its like going to use someone’s homework and commenting on their handwriting. Everyone’s island is different so you could do this all day. ‘Oooh I like that’, ‘I haven’t got that item’ and ‘there’s too many flowers’ are some of the things you’ll here.

If being a crafty stock market dealer isn’t your thing, maybe you could try tarantulas? fish? fruit? There are so many ways. Tarantulas maybe the most rage inducing as you try to master the run, swivel & catch technique (or set up a trap). However just like any other game, various profanities are shouted if that spider nabs you on the knee.

Size does matter.

She’s at the point where villager choice is a thing, It seems that villagers pose you with a choice should they stay or should they go. The right answer depends on your affection for a villager. Nothing would make you happier seeing a villager wear a gift of clothing (this must be a rare chance they appreciate the free rent, food, clothes and friends) but some can rightfully fuck off because I want space for Raymond.

Villagers are like some weird and quite literal Farm Market with a whole host to select from and purchase in the form of Amiibo’s (or from other peoples islands). This absolutely impacts your island life as no one wants to talk to Isabelle everyday.

However all of this cannot be achieved in mere normal people time so what you gonna do? Become a god damn Doctor Who that’s what. Time travel is real and its a moral choice. Some do, some don’t, but who wants to wait till tomorrow, right? Some things like buying clothes, art or special vendors are on a daily refresh by Nintendo so you’re only half a Time Lord really.

All in all, I have so much respect for this game and its simple concept. I’ll never play but I’m glad she does. Her ups, downs and investment are what a good video game is all about. Cheers Tom.

Marvels SpiderMan PS4

Swinging in with the review of Sony’s entry into the Spider-Man universe on PS4.

I haven’t played a proper Spider-Man game since Spiderman 2 on Playstation becuase, well that is the last relevant one worth playing.

But, after neglecting it for so long, I checked out the PS4 entry. A long line of single player entries have come before it on Playstion (God of War, Last of Us, Uncharted just to name a few). So I was eager to see what this game had in store.

I just want to start with how glorious this game is to look at. In general quality flows throughout this game. Almost every aspect is at a high quality of production and is seamless.

Most of my time was spent swinging around, taking in Manhattan Island. The only time i’ve spent as much time exploring in a video game was Assassins Creed Odyssey.

“…every aspect is at a high quality”

The voice acting for characters is stellar, the collectables are interesting and the combat is super fun in a arcade style kinda way.

After I visited all of Manhattan, on the closest thing i’ll have to a holiday during this Pandemic, I thought, best start playing this game. Probably the greatest compliment I can give the creative team.

I will admit, I was expecting an all out Spider-Man adventure. I had just taken down Fisk to leave a criminal size hole in New York.

And, well, the brakes were truly put on. I started to collect your typical ‘open world’ collectables, earn experience and skill points (everything you expect from an open world rpg). I was saddened that each collectable told me abit about what Spidey had already done before I got there. I had already taken down Rhino, Electro, Scorpion etc.

The story centers around a New York being taken over by a ‘Demon’ gang hell bent on letting loose a bio weapon made at Oscorp. In the meantime Peter is juggling helping Otto and getting back MJ. Every Spider-Man thing you would expect shoved onto a disc or digital downlaod (preference right?).

Mister Negative – Main Villian

“Insomniac definitely left it late but got it right.”

The story is unbalanced as I found out when I eventually got to the final 25%. This part, my god, it fucking killed it. Insomniac definitely left it late but got it right. I, however, had kind of got to a ‘is this finished yet’ feeling.

Combat had started to get tedious (gadgets, skills and suits keep it fresh until about the 75% mark). The story and villian (as shown above) were not that interesting until this stage and I had constantly cleared the map.

If the final 25% made up more of the game I would say this is a top 3 Playstation exclusive but alas Spider is still trying to figure out how to crawl past Ellie, Joel, Nathan and Kratos.

Better than the movies/ 10.

Photo Mode featuring a little Marvel magic
A taste of the late game

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Review

“may the fourth be with you”

As The Rise of Skywalker has now hit Disney+ I thought it would be good to kick everything of in a grand ol’ Star Wars style.

Star Wars was for old people, yuck.

Nathan – circa 2000

This is also a brilliant film to start with becuase my god man it is up and down. Good and bad. Cathartic and frustrating. That does depend on where you are in the Star Wars fandom…

Star Wars has grown with me, it was this film series that my parents enjoyed or I would hear them discuss but that was for old people, yuck.

Fastforward to 1999 ( i was a grand old age of 7) and this series is going through a comeback. Amazing that this franchise was getting the updated, amazing CGI we had on the tip of a new millienium.

Buuuuuuut. Not quite it didn’t exactly soar in fact it actually managed to fall without a parachute.

Fastforward another 16 years and its happening again. This time we wont see the same mistakes. In fact The Force Awakens tried so hard to be more of a 4 than a 1 it basically was A New (Same) Hope.

Wait, this was meant to be a review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker??

Here we are with The Rise of Skywalker the ‘Return of the Jedi’ Disney version. Alot of the core Star Wars fans I’m sure would deny that this is a Star Wars film and well they could be correct. But with how much it has used from the original trilogy its hard to ignore.

I for one did enjoy it mostly. I was tired of the Skywalker Saga at this stage. I want original, I think thats why Prequel feels different but good. The characters are fresh despite being names we’ve heard.

Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver (Girls, Blackkklansman, Logan Lucky) has the best story and is possibly the most redeeming part of this story. The once destined leader of the Dark side is on a journey to advoid but ultimately meet redemption for his actions previously.

Kylor Ren by https://www.instagram.com/ajmartist__

Rey played by Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express, Peter Rabbit) is determined for Kylo to meet his redemption or does she want to kill him? Its easy to get lost. BUT she does want to find out who her parents were because you can’t just be force sensative with good genes.

The pacing is fast paced, but not in a good way, more of a it all goes so fast that you almost can’t see that there’s alot wrong that J J Abrams is trying to put right. All of a sudden you’re at the end trying to catch up like Finn trying to catch up to Rey.

Much of the supporting cast do not have a story arc worth writing about, so I won’t, much. Poe is Han Solo 2.0 (he has so much potential, played brialliant by Isaac Oscar). Some characters were needlessly depreived of screen time (look at you Rose) but the effects and CGI are stellar.

Not the worst (could have been Solo). Not the best (not as iconic as V) / 10