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New Escapist Column! On the Complicated Seventies Nostalgia of “Poker Face”…

We’re launching a new column at The Escapist, called Out of Focus. It will publish every Wednesday, and the plan is to use it to look at some film and television that would maybe fall outside the remit of In the Frame, more marginal titles or objects of cult interest. With the end of the first season of Poker Face last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the show.

Poker Face is obviously designed as something of a seventies throwback. The show is very obviously a hybrid of classic seventies television like Columbo and Kung-Fu. However, there’s more than simple nostalgia at play within the series. Poker Face is a show about grappling with the memory and legacy of the seventies, of understanding why these stories resonate in the modern world. It has a nuanced and complicated relationship with the era from which it draws, which makes for compelling television.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as an Embrace of 1970s Retrofuturism…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist last week. With Andor continuring to be very good, it seemed as good an opportunity as any to talk about the show’s unique aesthetic, and how that relates to the original Star Wars.

Andor manages to thread a very fine line. It takes the audience to places that were largely unseen in the original trilogy, from prison planets to remote highlands to sprawling urban centres. However, it does this in a way that manages to feel faithful to the aesthetic of the original films. It does this by embracing the culture and aesthetics of the era around those movies, embracing a version of the science-fiction world that feels very much in step with seventies cinema. The result is something that manages to feel both part of the larger Star Wars universe and also something new to it, while remaining very contemporary.

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

New Escapist Column! “The Batman” as a Paranoid Conspiracy Thriller…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With The Batman releasing this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at Matt Reeves’ take on the Caped Crusader.

Reeves has discussed the influence of seventies cinema on The Batman. The film draws heavily from paranoid films of the era, movies like The French Connection, Klute and The Conversation. However, it is more than just nostalgia at play. The Batman finds an interesting thematic overlap between the seventies and the present day, particularly in its recurring fascination with voyeurism and surveillance. The Batman is many things, but it’s also a story about the importance of looking into the darkness, but realising that looking alone is not enough.

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

The X-Files – End Game (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Towards the end of End Game, Mulder stumbles across a nuclear submarine that was attacked in the episode’s teaser. The craft was disabled by a strange craft it picked up in the ocean. Now, following a mysterious alien figure across the world in a quest to find his sister, Mulder approaches the location of the lost American submarine. As he does, he notices the submarine’s coning tower, bursting through the ice.

It’s one of those beautifully iconic television moments. It’s an image that is audacious and stunning and beautiful and breathtaking. It immediately gives End Game (and Colony) a sense of scale. All of a sudden, this isn’t just a bunch of stuff happening under the radar in some small town somewhere. This is the hijacking of a nuclear submarine by a hostile entity. This is Mulder going to the ends of the Earth to get his sister back.

Not so green any longer...

Not so green any longer…

It’s also worth noting that the symbolism is beautiful. Even looking at a picture of Mulder on the ice conjures up all manner of associations. Coupled with the non-linear storytelling employed by Colony and End Game, it calls Frankenstein to mind – Frankenstein serving as a massively influential text on Chris Carter. However, the idea of Mulder finding important existential answers on an Arctic soundstage also evokes Clark Kent’s self-discovery in Richard Donner’s Superman films, playing into the sense that this is an episode framed in cinematic terms.

The rest of the episode could just be dead air, and End Game would still work impressively well. However, End Game remains a fantastic piece of work in its own right, effectively codifying how a two-parter is meant to work.

The truth is out there...

The truth is out there…

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