• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

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.

Continue reading

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.

New Escapist Column! On “The Snyder Cut” and Superhero Apocrypha…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Over the weekend, some new details came to light about Zack Snyder’s plans to restore his original vision for Justice League, particularly the assertion that it would not be “canon” with Warners’ other superhero films.

To a certain extent, this is obvious. There is no way to make Snyder’s version of Justice League fit with the films that followed, like Aquaman or Shazam! However, it’s a somewhat bolder statement. Since the emergence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the shared universe has been treated as a romantic ideal towards which these films should aspire. Indeed, a large part of the justification for recutting Snyder’s film was to protect the brand. As such, it seems appropriate that The Snyder Cut rejects the idea of the canon for apocrypha.

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

New Podcast! The Movie Palace – “Summer of Psycho: The Shower Sequence”

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 various elements of the iconic horror film. I was thrilled to join Carl for a discussion of the movie’s infamous shower scene, one of the famous memorable and distinctive sequences in the history of cinema. So we discuss what it means and how it works, both in the context of Psycho and outside of it.

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

Non-Review Review: She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow is very much a modern indie horror movie, in that’s decidedly absurdist and surrealist, and perhaps scariest in a vague existential sense.

It’s interesting to consider the development of this particular strand of modern horror cinema. In some ways, it reflects the development of the indie comedy in the early years of the twenty-first century, once it became clear that these sorts of films could be financially and critically successful. This led to a strange situation where movies that were essentially off-kilter dramas were marketed as comedies, films like A Serious Man, Nebraska or The Kids Are All Right. (This approach to comedy arguably even spilled out into television, where even comedies adopted a prestige sheen.)

It’s not the end of the world…

Something similar has been happening in terms of prestige horror. A large part of this is due to the emergence of smaller studios supporting genre fare from writers and directors with strong visions – Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes at Night, Ari Aster’s Hereditary. These films blended the sly aesthetics and stylistic sensibilities of independent cinema with the trappings of horror, producing a strand of horror that was reasonably successful, highly praised, and strongly distinctive.

Of course, all of those films are drawing from the genre’s rich history. Hereditary is perhaps the most obvious example, and it’s possible to draw a clear line between Hereditary and New Hollywood experiments with the genre in films like The Exorcist or Don’t Look Now. As such, it isn’t that this is an entirely new approach to horror that came out of nowhere. Instead, it is a logical extrapolation of certain trends and sensibilities, pushed to their logical extremes.

Looking out for herself.

She Dies Tomorrow clearly fits within that framework of modern indie horror cinema, along with films like The Lodge or The Lighthouse. However, She Dies Tomorrow pushes itself much mroe confidently towards the rhythms and structures of a blackly comic psycho drama. She Dies Tomorrow is a film about existential loneliness, the frustrating death drive, and suffocating dinner parties populated by people who can barely stand one another. It is very much a standard low-budget indie drama. It’s just flavoured with a dash of existential horror.

It’s a cocktail that doesn’t quite work. Writer and director Amy Seimetz offers a film that is intentionally disjointed and disconnected, but one that is ultimately more frustrating than it aims to be. She Dies Tomorrow has a number of striking images and interesting ideas, but punctuates them with scenes that play almost as a parody of arthouse drama.

Dial it back.

Continue reading

New Escapist Column! On the Future of Cinemas…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier today. With the summer effectively lost, the future of cinema is a subject of much discussion.

Will cinemas open soon? If they open soon, what will they show? If they have films to show, will audiences turn up? If audience show up, how will basic safety measures like social distancing and masks impact their financial bottom line? Will cinemas be among the attractions that people are most eager to revisit when the chance presents itself? More than that, what will a visit to cinemas actually be like? To answer these questions, I actually took a trip to a recently reopened cinema in Ireland.

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

192. Hamilton: An American Musical – This Just In (#20)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Deirdre Mulomby, 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, Thomas Kail’s Hamilton: An American Musical.

Reconstructed from a pair of live theatrical recordings and additional material compiled in June 2016, Hamilton features one of the last performances from the original Broadway cast of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s record-breaking smash hit cultural sensation, available on streaming for the first time.

At time of recording, it was ranked 20th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading