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New Escapist Column! On Clint Eastwood’s Complex American Masculinity…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Clint Eastwood turned ninety years old yesterday, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to write about the American icon.

For decades, Eastwood has embodied a certain ideal of American masculinity. However, he has also used his career to offer a more nuanced and sophisticated exploration of that masculinity than many observers will readily acknowledge. Eastwood is the rare movie star who completely understands his screen persona and the audience’s relationship with it, and uses that to engage in interesting discussions about what that says about American machismo.

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

184. Mommy – This Just In/World Tour 2020 (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Ronan Doyle and Phil Bagnall, 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, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy.

In a fictionalised 2015 Canada, widowed Diane “Die” Després finds herself forced to care for her young son Steve. Steve is a challenging child at the best of times, with his attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder leaving him prone to shocking mood swings. With the help of her neighbour Kyla, Die works desperately to strike a balance with Steve. However, whatever sense of equilibrium this dysfunctional family finds is destined to come crashing down around their ears.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How “The Snyder Cut” Went From Impossibility to Inevitability…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. The big news this past week has been that Zack Snyder has been given $30m to finish his cut of Justice League.

This is quite a complicated matter. There’s a lot of discussion and debate around it, about what this means for the future of Hollywood. However, the news about the release of The Snyder Cut is down to a number of unique factors aligning in completely unpredictable ways, meaning that a project like this one went from being the last thing that Warners would want to being exactly what they needed. In the course of a few months, the Snyder Cut morphed from seeming impossibility to inevitability. That is an incredible turnaround.

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

 

Non-Review Review: The High Note

The High Note doesn’t quite manage to hit the peak that it title suggests, but it hits most of the notes that it needs to.

The basic plot of The High Note concerns a personal assistant named Maggie who works for Grace Davis. Davis is a singer in the twilight years of her career, working hard to remain relevant and to stay afloat in an industry that seems ready to cast her aside. Maggie is convinced that her boss (and her idol) is capable of delivering so much more than her management and her record label expect of her, but finds herself trapped in an uphill battle to prove that she has a vision that is worth listening to.

She’s got the juice.

There are any number of obvious comparisons to be made with The High Note. The classic underappreciated-working-stiff-is-finally-recognised-as-a-prodigious-talent narrative unfolding against a Hollywood backdrop obviously evokes any of the myriad (official and unofficial) versions of A Star is Born. However, the emphasis within that template on a demanding ageing female star and the younger woman working under her feels like it is somewhat carried over from Nisha Ganatra’s previous film, Late Night.

The High Note is tremendously predictable, but it’s to the credit of Flora Greeson’s screenplay that the movie understands this. There are very few surprises nestled in the story, but The High Note leans into that. It is a surprisingly and endearing gentle movie about the path to stardom, one that keeps its stakes low and which tempers its formula with just enough self-awareness to avoid feeling stale or rehashed. The High Note is solid, sturdy and appealing – even if it seems to reflect the Grace Davis that audiences see, rather than the one that Maggie aspires towards.

Tune in for more…

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New Escapist Column! On “The Clone Wars” and the “Star Wars” Prequels…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. The Clone Wars wrapped up recently, and so I had occasion to binge the series.

The Clone Wars is an interesting artifact, existing largely space between the prequel and sequel trilogies, although briefly resurrected after the release of the sequels for an abridged final season. Watching the show, what was most striking about it was the way in which it felt true to the prequels, embracing and embodying the myriad complexities and contradictions of that divisive and polarising era of Star Wars output. This was reflected in everything from the kind of stories that The Clone Wars told to the ways in which it opted to tell them.

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

New Escapist Column! On “TENET”, and Christopher Nolan’s Fascination With Time…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. This week saw the release of the latest trailer for TENET, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk a bit about the work of Christopher Nolan.

Nolan’s filmography is absolutely fascinated by the flow and manipulation of time. It warps, distorts and bends around his protagonists. However, it’s a force that cannot be controlled or governed, but which acts upon the characters nonetheless. The trailer to TENET is interesting because it seems to suggest that the villain of his latest film has learned to manipulate time, which in the context of Nolan’s filmography suggests that he’s messing with the most primal of forces.

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

183. Koe no katachi (A Silent Voice) – This Just In/Ani-May 2020 (—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guest Graham Day, 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. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This year, we are proud to continue the tradition of Anime May, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. This year, we watched a double feature of Hayao Miyazaki’s Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta and Hauru no ugoku shiro. We’ll also be covering a bonus on a recent entry on the list next week, Naoko Yamada’s Koe no katachi.

This week, the third and final installment of this year’s Ani-May, Koe no katachi.

Teenager Shoya Ishida finds himself haunted by guilt over his merciless bullying of his deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya six years earlier. Coming back from a suicide attempt, Shoyo makes an awkward attempt to reconnect and reconcile with Shoko, but are either of them prepared for the strong emotions that this reunion will provoke and the consequences that it will have for their friends and their families?

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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