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New Escapist Column! On “Ted Lasso” and How We Watch (and Discuss) Television…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. With the end of the second season of Ted Lasso, and with the ongoing discussion around the show, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the evolving conversation around the series.

The discussion around Ted Lasso has followed an interesting arc. It premiered to lukewarm reviews, that seemed almost grudgingly positive. However, the first season seemed to find its audience in hindsight. Once it was completed, the season drew both serious consideration and enthusiastic praise from a variety of outlets. Many viewers came to the first season as a complete object, a collection of episodes that they could binge at their own pace. In contrast, this growing audience watched the second season week-on-week. It’s interesting to wonder if this shaped the more divisive response to the second season.

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

New Escapist Video! “Dune Is One of the Year’s Best Movies – Review”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Dune, which is released theatrically in Europe and the United States next weekend.

Non-Review Review: The Last Duel

The Last Duel is a thorny and compelling medieval epic. It’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s undeniably part of the appeal.

The Last Duel is adapted from the book of the same name by historian Eric Jager. As its title implies, the film offers an account of the last judicial duel permitted by the Parlement of Paris. That duel was fought between two noblemen: Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris. The challenge was offered over allegations that Le Gris had raped de Carrouges’ wife, Maguerite. The assumption was that divine authority would ultimately determine where the truth lay in the matter, that the victor in this mortal combat would ultimately be vindicated.

Duel narratives.

Naturally, the events that inspired The Last Duel remain contentious. Historians are not entirely sure what happened, and how much of the various accounts reflect the truth of what happened or have been shaped by the convenient narratives of the victors. The film, with a screenplay from Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener, leans into this ambiguity. The film is structured similarly to Akira Kurosawa’s Roshomon, outlining three separate accounts of the events leading up to the trial from the perspective of each of the key figures: Jean, Jacques and Maguerite.

The result is a film that touches on the blurred boundaries between history and narrative, and explores the way in which these sorts of stories are shaped by wounded pride and vain ego. It’s an uncomfortable and unsettling film, occasionally a little clumsy in its execution, but which grapples with big ideas.

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New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Ultron Won & The Watcher Broke His Oath?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the last two episodes of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! On “What If…?”, and How We Measure What Stories “Matter”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because What If…? wrapped its first season last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show.

In particular, What If…? demonstrates one of the tensions within modern pop culture. How does modern pop culture measure the worthy or value of a particular story? Historically, stories have been judged on their own quality, making arguments for their own value. However, with the emergence and evolution of shared universes like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it increasingly seems like audiences are being told that they should measure the value of a given story by how it “matters” to the continuity of the larger franchise. A story no longer has worth because it is good, but because it promises a return down the line.

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

255. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (#250)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Aoife Martin, Jason Coyle and Ronan Doyle, 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 time, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

In the early twenty-first century, Senator Ranse Stoddard returns to the dreary town of Shinbone. What was once a frontier outpost has become a modern town, and the locals are surprised to see such an important figure making the journey. Stoddard has come home to attend the funeral of an old friend, but the occasion brings old memories and dark secrets to the surface.

At time of recording, it was ranked 250th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “No Time to Die”, and the Limits of a Changing Bond…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the American release of No Time to Die, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the movie’s ending, now that everybody has had a chance to see it.

One of the big questions hanging over Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond is the extent to which the character can evolve or change, whether he can grow with the times or must remain fixed in stone. In contrast to Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of James Bond as a professional who seemed to enjoy his work, Daniel Craig offered a more introspective version of the superspy, one who seemed to wonder about what he did and why he did it. As Craig’s final film in the role, No Time to Die has the opportunity to truly grapple with the question of whether Bond wants to change and whether he can change.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below. Note that the piece contains major spoilers.

New Escapist Video! On “Venom” as a Superhero Throwback…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Venom. It’s a bad movie, but an endlessly fascinating one. More than that, it feels like a conscious throwback to an older style of superhero movie, one that predates the modern blockbuster template.

New Escapist Column! On “No Time to Die”, and the Strange Insecurity of the Modern James Bond Franchise…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the international release of No Time to Die, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the larger Daniel Craig era of James Bond.

One of the more consistent recurring themes of these five movies has been the question of Bond’s enduring relevance in a rapidly changing world. Each of the five films tackles – whether directly or indirectly – the idea that James Bond is a character and an idea past his relevence. This is a very strange obsession for the franchise, particularly given the critical and (especially) commercial success of the recent films. Daniel Craig’s iteration of James Bond has outlasted most of his cinematic competitors, so why is the franchise so insecure?

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

New Podcast! Enterprising Individuals – “Gimme Some Mooney”

I am always thrilled to get a chance to talk about Star Trek with other fans, so I was thrilled at the invitation to join the wonderful Aaron Coker on Enterprising Individuals to talk about That Which Survives. The main feed episode went live last week.

However, our conversation tended to be a bit broader and a bit more wide-reaching than that, so we talked about everything from the recent release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to the completion of the Rebuild of Evangelion series. It was a discussion that managed to cover everything from Quibi to workers’ rights to the future of Doctor Who. It was a fun chat, and I hope that you enjoy.

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

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