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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #5!

A very brief Scannain podcast for a very busy week!

Discussing the latest in film news here and abroad, the Scannain podcast is a weekly podcast discussion of what we watched, what we talked about, what is dominating and the box office, and what is lurking on the horizon film-wise. This week we talked about everything from food bullying to Ryan Murphy to the upcoming slate of Irish horror films, along with usual features like the top ten.

I’m thrilled to be part of a panel including returning guest Grace Duffy and new guests Nicola Timmins and (late arrival) Daniel Anderson. Give it a listen below.

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CinÉireann – Issue 4 (February 2018)

The latest issue of CinÉireann had just been released.

I’m delighted to have contributed several pieces to the magazine, talking about the Oscars, about Netflix and about Black Panther and the IMDb. There is some fantastic talent involved, and it is an honour to be involved.

As ever, thanks to the fantastic Niall Murphy over at Scannain for letting me be a part of it.

You can read CinÉireann as a digital magazine directly. You can even subscribe and get future issues delivered to you directly. Or click the picture below.

Star Trek: Voyager – Dragon’s Teeth (Review)

In many ways Dragon’s Teeth demonstrates the chaos that marked the start of the sixth season.

On paper, Dragon’s Teeth looks to be a big blockbuster episode of Star Trek: Voyager. It has top-notch production, a large guest cast, an impressive special effects set-up, a new alien menace, and an emphasis on momentum ahead of character or theme. Just looking at Dragon’s Teeth, it has the look and feel of an “event” story. It seems like an episode with a bold statement of purpose, from the opening teaser that suggests an epic scope by unfolding in the distant past of an alien world through to the ominous closing line that promises that Dragon’s Teeth is just the beginning.

Let sleeping dragons lie…

It seems like the sixth season’s answer to earlier mid-season two-parters like Future’s End, Part I and Future’s End, Part II, Year of Hell, Part I and Year of Hell, Part II, The Killing Game, Part I and The Killing Game, Part II, or Dark Frontier, Part I and Dark Frontier, Part II. It even broadcasts in roughly the same stretch of the season as Future’s End, Part I and Future’s End, Part II, Year of Hell, Part I and Year of Hell, Part II or Timeless. It is an early November episode, intended to help boost ratings during Sweeps.

However, what is most striking about Dragon’s Teeth is how much it feels like a non-event. The episode has all the markers of a big event story, from the promise of a shortcut home to the sight of the ship landing on a planet surface, but the story is actually incredibly generic. Dragon’s Teeth is not necessarily bad, it is simply competent. There is a strange sense watching Dragon’s Teeth that a phenomenal amount of effort has gone into ensuring that the episode works, rather than trying to make it excel.

Sweet dreams.

Of course, this makes a certain amount of sense. Dragon’s Teeth aired almost a third of the way through the season, but it was produced earlier. In terms of broadcast, it fell between Riddles and One Small Step. In terms of production, it came between Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy and Alice. As such, it was produced in the midst of the chaos following the sudden departure of Ronald D. Moore and the reinstatement of Kenneth Biller. More than that, it was the first episode of the season to be written by Brannon Braga since that behind the scenes shake-up. As a result, it makes sense it should feel “off.”

Dragon’s Teeth is an episode that spends so much of its energy trying to remain upright that it never manages to take flight.

Oh, mummy.

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #4!

The Scannain podcast is back, baby!

Discussing the latest in film news here and abroad, the Scannain podcast is a weekly podcast discussion of what we watched, what we talked about, what is dominating and the box office, and what is lurking on the horizon film-wise. This week we discussed everything from Paul Thomas Anderson to P.T. Barnum, the launch of The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix and the evolution of “direct-to-video” schlock.

I’m thrilled to be part of a panel including Niall Murphy and Stacy Grouden. Give it a listen below.

Non-Review Review: Finding Your Feet

Finding Your Feet is a fairly placid and mostly unobjectionable film that adheres to an increasingly familiar formula, a gentle reminder that life can often begin at sixty.

Finding Your Feet largely coasts off the charm of its cast, who seem to be having an enjoyable time with one another and appreciating the opportunity to find themselves cast as romantic leads in a globe-trotting adventure. In particular, there is something disarming in seeing Timothy Spall cast as a charming romantic lead, a disarmingly sincere lovable rogue who inevitably scrubs up quite nicely. Finding Your Feet offers very few surprises, but that is part of the attraction, perhaps worried that too many surprises might throw off the presumed viewer.

Spall good, baby.

However, Finding Your Feet is too awkward and clumsy to allow the audience to get entirely caught up in the familiar beats and rhythms of the tale. The familiar plotting of Finding Your Feet helps compensate for some strange storytelling decisions, with major character arcs unfolding off-screen and the film trying to fill its run time with things happening rather than focusing on the people to whom these things are happening.

Finding Your Feet is bland and inoffensive, its central cast providing a disarming charm that the movie never quite earns.

The sequel will feature a new addition to the cast and will be titled, ‘So You Think You Can Charles Dance?’

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65. Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) – “Two Guys Die Alone 2018” (#152)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, a Valentine’s treat. Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries.

Professor Isak Borg embarks upon a road trip to receive an honourary doctorate from his university, but soon discovers that the fourteen hour car journey represents a trip into his past, reflecting on life lived and love lost as he comes to terms with his decisions and his relationships.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 152nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Black Panther Movement: IMDb Vote Rigging and the Politicisation of Everything…

Everything is political.

And not just in abstract sense any longer. Over the past two years, it has become clear that popular culture is not insulated from politics, and cannot be insulated from politics. There are any number of markers along this road; the rise of socially-conscious film criticism, the election of a reality television star as President of the United States, debates about diversity and representation on screen and in organisations. It is fair to debate all this, to wonder whether it is a necessary step on the road to maturity or another way in which it has become harder to escape into pop culture.

Over the past few weeks, Black Panther has become another front in the perpetual and never-ending culture wars, a battleground much like Gamergate in which views that would have been socially unacceptable even half a decade earlier are spilling out into the mainstream. Weeks before the film was released it found itself subjected to organised vote brigading and troll campaigns, racist fear-mongering and dogwhistling, panic and chaos. This was before the public had been given the opportunity to actually watch the film. Black Panther became a pop culture totem.

Much has been made of Black Panther as a progressive milestone. It is not the first black superhero movie, but it is the first Marvel Studios film with a primarily black cast and focusing exclusively on a black hero. It is perhaps the first true black superhero film of the superhero boom that the Blade trilogy helped to kickstart, but subsequently stood apart from. Black Panther is undeniably compelling from that perspective, a bold and necessary step forward. However, one look at social media demonstrates that there is still a long way left to go.

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