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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.

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.

 

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.

New Escapist Column! On Versatility and Adaptability as Batman’s True Superpowers…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. It’s been a busy couple of weeks with actors talking about the role of Batman. Val Kilmer discussed it in a long-form interview with The New York Times and Robert Pattinson brought it up in his GQ quarantine profile.

Kilmer argued that the actor playing Batman was unimportant in irrelevant, which is both true in the general case and false in this specific situation. In a general sense, Hollywood is moving away from movie stars and towards intellectual property. However, Batman remains one of the few established brands that is flexible enough to allow a unique approach shine through; Adam West, Kevin Conroy, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Will Arnett and Ben Affleck have all offered distinctive takes on the Caped Crusader, each finding a different window to explore the cultural icon.

There is no single “right” interpretation of Batman, and this has contributed to the character’s ubiquity and endurance. Indeed, it’s arguable that Superman has struggled to remain relevant precisely because he doesn’t have that same flexibility. Superman remains largely stuck in a template defined by the Richard Donner movies, unable to escape their gravity and the pull of the nostalgia around them. Batman can be anything that he needs to be – and that is why he remains as popular as ever.

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

New Escapist Column! On Qui-Gon Jinn as the Flawed Figure at the Centre of the Phantom Menace…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Earlier in the week, a clip of Dave Filoni on Disney Gallery: The Manadalorian went viral, discussing the role of Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Filoni argued that Qui-Gon was a hero fighting for Anakin’s soul.

This is interesting, because it reduces Qui-Gon to a much more generic character than the version featured in the film. Qui-Gon is a deeply flawed character, one with several blindspots and one who is unable to assume the role of hero whether because of the audience’s understanding of the mechanics of a Star Wars prequel or because of the character’s increasing sense of disconnect with the larger universe. Qui-Gon is a character that means well, who positions himself as a hero in this story, but is unable to fulfill that function.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Avengers: Age of Ultron” as a Limit Case for the MCU…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Given that Avengers: Age of Ultron turned five years old, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at it.

Age of Ultron was an interesting film at the time, and it has become an even more interesting film in hindsight, following the release of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In many ways, Whedon positioned The Avengers as an argument in favour of the superhero genre as a romantic fantasy worthy of attention and respect. Age of Ultron feels like the flipside of that argument, a film about the limitations inherent in the genre and its perpetual second act. Age of Ultron is a deeply flawed film, but one flawed in very interesting ways.

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