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268. Incendies (#110)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, 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, Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies.

Following the death of their mother Nawal, twins Jeanne and Simon find themselves dealing with dark family secrets bubbling to the surface. Nawal’s will includes two instructions for her children, to find both their father and their long-lost sibling. While Simon dismisses this last request as another manipulation from an emotionally-distant mother, Jeanne embarks on an epic journey to trace her family’s history and perhaps change its future.

At time of recording, it was ranked 110th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” Challenged “The Next Generation”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. This week marked the 29th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the show. In particular, the show’s relationship to its elder sibling, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Deep Space Nine had a surprisingly contentious relationship with The Next Generation, often positioning itself as directly adversarial to the more popular and more beloved Star Trek spin-off. There were points at which Deep Space Nine seemed positively iconoclastic, particularly in its establishing of a fraught relationship between Sisko and Picard. This approach would be controversial today, if it were even allowed within the framework of a modern franchise, but it allowed Deep Space Nine to boldly push itself in striking new directions.

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

Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks (Review)

“Here we are again.”

“Yeah, here we are again.”

In hindsight, it’s surprising that it has taken Doctor Who this long to do a proper time-loop episode. After all, this is a show about a literal time machine.

Time-loop stories are inherently fun. As Dan points out, Groundhog Day codified a narrative template that is easy to replicate while also being fun to play with. As recently as last year in the United Kingdom and the previous year in the United States, Palm Springs demonstrated how such a story could resonate in this era of a global pandemic, when the feeling of being stuck in an unending loop living the same day over and over again tapped into a fairly widespread feeling.

Shelf storage, am I right?

On a more basic level, these sorts of stories are fun for writers, directors and audiences. It has become increasingly common for television shows to have timeloop episodes. Star Trek: The Next Generation had Cause and Effect, which perhaps remains the gold standard. Stargate: SG-1 had the charming Window of Opportunity. The X-Files had Monday. Even Star Trek: Discovery had Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad. These sorts of stories are that rare blend of a simple high concept with an incredible range of narrative opportunities; they can be funny or tragic, straightforward or complicated, character- or plot-driven.

So it is strange that it has taken Doctor Who so long to attempt something like this, even if the results are depressingly familiar within the larger context of the Chris Chibnall era. It feels very much like a repetition of the era’s most glaring flaws, squandering a fun supporting cast and playful concept on a script that seems completely disinterested in capitalising on either. Instead, it just plays the clichés of these sorts of stories over and over again.

Lifting the holiday spirits.

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New Escapist Column! On How “The Matrix Resurrections” Utilises Franchsie Nostalgia…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the release of The Matrix Resurrections on HBO Max and in theatres, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film and its themes, in particular its relationship with the earlier films in the franchise.

The Matrix Resurrections exists as part of a larger wave of long-delayed nostalgic sequels to older franchises, from Space Jam: A New Legacy to Ghostbusters: Afterlife to Spider-Man: No Way Home. However, what distinguishes The Matrix Resurrections from these other examples is the way in which it uses nostalgia to a very specific purpose. It’s a film that is aware of both the passage of time since the original film and very engaged with the debate over the reason for its own existence. The result is a movie that has something meaningful to say about the modern movie landscape… and much beyond.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Matrix Resurrections” and the Rejection of False Binaries…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Matrix Resurrections on HBO Max and in theatres, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film and its themes, in particular its relationship with the earlier films in the franchise.

The Matrix Resurrections is a movie that exists very much in conversations with the previous films in the series, expanding and developing the core themes that made the original such a hit. In some cases, director Lana Wachowski has taken the opportunity to expand upon and develop the big ideas in the previous films. In particular, The Matrix Resurrections is a film that rejects the idea of rigid boundaries – the red and blue pills, the black-and-white green-tinted filter, “us and them”, even Neo and Trinity. It’s a very thoughtful and considered update of the ideas that underpin the larger franchises.

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

New Podcast! Your Feature Presentation – “What Worked and Didn’t Work in Spider-Man: No Way Home”

The Escapist have launched a new pop culture podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and KC Nwosu or the first episode. With the recent release of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Hawkeye, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the recent Marvel Studios productions.

267. Some Like It Hot – Christmas 2021 (#136)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Charlene Lydon and Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair, 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, Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot.

In late 1920s Chicago, band members Joe and Jerry witness a brutal mob hit. Forced to flee for their lives, the pair disguise themselves as women and join an all-female band taking a trip down to Florida for the winter. However, things very quickly become complicated when the duo encounter a blonde bombshell Sugar Kowalczyk and attract the romantic attentions of a lonely millionaire named Osgood Fielding III. Hilarity ensues.

At time of recording, it was ranked 136th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On Making Sense of “For the Fans”…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier this week. With the recent releases of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of SkywalkerGhostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the argument that franchise brand extensions exist “for the fans.” What does that even mean?

As a fan myself, I find myself unsettled and disturbed by the idea that these sorts of properties should exist primarily for the satisfaction and consumption of the existing fanbase, not least because it means validating certain kinds of fans above others and pushes franchises towards an aesthetic conservativism that often strangles them. Perhaps the best thing to do “for the fans” is simply to make media as good as possible and let history sort the rest out.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Matrix Resurrections Is a Winning Franchise Revival – 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 The Matrix Resurrections, which is in cinemas and on HBO Max now.

266. Spider-Man: No Way Home – This Just In (#8)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guests Graham Day, Luke Dunne and Bríd Martin, 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 second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Peter Parker returns home from a school trip to discover that his deepest secret has been revealed to the world: thanks to the villain Mysterio, now everybody knows that the teenage is the vigilante known as Spider-Man. Peter races to put the genie back in the bottle, but discovers that his plans might have unforeseen consequences.

At time of recording, it was ranked 8th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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