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New Escapist Column! On How the Paradoxical Nostalgia of “Star Trek: Lower Decks”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Star Trek: Lower Decks launched last week, the latest entry in the larger Star Trek canon.

Lower Decks is an interesting phenomenon. It is perhaps the most overtly nostalgic Star Trek show of the new era, given how transparently it harks back to Star Trek: The Next Generation in both form and content. However, the show’s aesthetics – an animated series with a modern comedic sensibility – are likely to alienate those fans most obviously yearning for a nostalgic Star Trek hit. At the same time, the show’s reverence for the trappings of Star Trek prevents it from working in the mold of good comedy – even good Star Trek comedy.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Captain Marvel” and the Perils of Prioritising Plot Above Character…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier today. With the news that Nia DaCosta will be directing the sequel to Captain Marvel, it seemed the right time to take a look back at the earlier film.

There is a lot to like about Captain Marvel. It is an extremely charming movie. However, it also suffers from one of the bigger recurring problems of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is structured around a major plot reveal that lands at pretty much exactly the halfway point. However, this plot reveal is both incredibly obvious and something that prevents the first half of the movie from engaging in any characterisation. Captain Marvel feels like an expression of the recurring sense that Marvel Studios movies are nothing more than plot delivery mechanisms.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On Edward Norton, “The Incredible Hulk”, and the Kinds of Movies Marvel Doesn’t Want to Make…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Prompted by a conversation with a colleague Matthew Razak, I took a look at the troubled second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Incredible Hulk.

I have always had something of a soft spot for The Incredible Hulk, in large part because it feels appropriate that a movie about the Green Goliath should find itself caught between extremes. The Incredible Hulk was caught in a conflict between Edward Norton and Marvel Studios. Norton wanted an introspective character-driven superhero film, and Marvel… didn’t. In some ways, The Incredible Hulk offered as clear a roadmap to the future of Marvel Cinematic Universe as Iron Man, if only because it served to illustrate what Marvel didn’t want from their blockbusters.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Video! Talking “TENET” on Turkish Television…

I had the pleasure of appearing on Showcase on TRT World earlier this week, to discuss the upcoming release of TENET and Christopher Nolan’s career in general. You can watch the segment below, if you want.

New Escapist Column! On How “Mulan” is Coming to Disney+, and Studios Are Leaving America Behind…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier today. With the news that Mulan will be streaming on Disney+ – for a hefty $30 fee – it seemed worth discussing the real story.

A lot of the discussion around Mulan releasing on Disney+ has revolved around the studio’s plan to charge an additional fee, on top of the subscription, for it. This is reasonable. It is a big shift in the American cinematic market. However, it is only part of the story. The video-on-demand release of Mulan will not be enough to turn a significant profit of itself, and it’s clear that the decision to release Mulan at all is rooted in the fact that the international theatrical market is coming back to life. Disney are banking big on Chinese box office.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2010 Predicted Our Post Truth Age…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With both Shutter Island and Inception turning ten years old this year, it seemed like an appropriate opportunity to look back on Leonardo DiCaprio’s interesting double feature from 2010.

There are some interesting parallels between Shutter Island and Inception. Both are stories about men who retreat into fantasy following the death of their wife in order to process their guilt and the sense of responsibility that they have for that death. These are probably DiCaprio’s two strongest performances, and it’s striking that they came so close together. However, rewatched a decade later, it’s amazing how well these two films have aged. In hindsight, they foreshadow the decade to come, offering a glimpse of the post truth era.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The Movie Palace – “Summer of Psycho: Gus Van Sant’s Psycho”

I had the pleasure of joining the great and generous Carl Sweeney on his excellent classic Hollywood podcast The Movie Palace.

To mark the sixtieth anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, The Movie Palace has dedicated a run of episodes to exploring elements of the iconic horror film. I was thrilled to rejoin Carl for a discussion of the infamous and divisive remake of the film, in which Gus Van Sant leveraged the success of Good Will Hunting to convince Universal to sign off on a full colour remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, using a largely unchanged script and even emulating a lot of the same camera angles. The result was a critical and commercial failure, but remains an interesting experiment.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On “The Terminator” as a Slyly Subversive Slasher…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier today. I rewatched The Terminator recently, and got thinking about the film as a horror movie rather than a science-fiction film.

The Terminator is often considered a landmark science-fiction film, and understandably so. However, The Terminator also works as a horror movie. It’s a slasher movie about a relentless force chasing a young woman through a nightmarish Los Angeles lit in shades of neon blue and green, so as to evoke a sense of insomnia. However, Cameron does more than just embrace the tropes of the slasher movie. He engages with them, and puts a subtly subversive twist on the standard rules of the genre.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

193. Gigli (-#19)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Louise Bruton and Jenn Gannon, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Martin Brest’s Gigli.

Larry Gigli is a low-level Los Angeles gangster who finds himself assigned the seemingly menial task of kidnapping and holding the brother of a district attorney hostage in the hopes of helping notorious criminal Starkman avoid prosecution. However, this seemingly simple assignment goes awry when a mysterious woman calling herself Ricki shows up, and Gigli finds himself warming to the young developmentally impaired man that he has taken under his wing.

At time of recording, it was ranked 19th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How Rhea Seehorn Made Kim Wexler the Best Character on Television…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The Emmy nominations were announce this week, and there was a lot of good news in there – with nominations for Watchmen, The Good Place and Succession. However, there was one notable and glaring omission. It was an omission all the more notable for it fifth occurrence: Rhea Seehorn was overlooked.

Over the past fives seasons of Better Call Saul, Seehorn has quietly turned the character of Kim Wexler into the most compelling and engaging character on television. This is particularly notable because Kim exists in the context of a prequel to a series in which she was never mentioned and did not appear. Kim was arguably created as a bit of padding around the show’s ties to Breaking Bad, but has emerged as the most complex character in the show: a collection of riveting contradictions with much greater depth than initially appeared. She is astounding.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.