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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2019) #6!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Ronan Doyle, Jay Coyle and Luke Dunne from Film in Dublin to discuss the week in film news. We have a broad and wide-ranging discussion of what we watched, asking tough questions like whether Flash Gordon really is the horniest movie ever made and ruminating on the visual power of Shrek Retold. There are also discussions of The Miseducation of Cameron Post and the thirties thriller Red Dust.

News-wise, awards season continues apace with the race settling down after the BAFTAs and Roma emerging as the frontrunner. Simultaneously, the Oscars continue to be struggle to get their show organised. Meanwhile, closer to home, the Irish Film Institute unveils its plans for 2019 and its evening course in British cinema since the eighties.

The top ten:

  1. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  2. Vice
  3. Mary Queen of Scots
  4. Glass
  5. The Mule
  6. A Dog’s Way Home
  7. Alita: Battle Angel
  8. Green Book
  9. How to Train Your Dragon III: The Hidden World
  10. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

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Non-Review Review: Alita – Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel is the result of a creative union between James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez.

This partnership makes a certain amount of sense. Both Cameron and Rodriguez are genre film-makers, and one suspects that the two men would have been fast friends had they emerged at around the same time; Cameron came of age making films like Piranha 2 or Terminator, and those are certainly of a piece with Rodriguez’s filmography from Desperado through to Planet Terror and even Sin City. Cameron has arguably elevated his work into the mainstream, in that it is impossible to imagine Rodriguez producing a mass-appeal cultural smash like Cameron did with Terminator 2: Judgment Day Titanic or Avatar.

Slice o’ life.

However, allowing for that core similarity, Cameron and Rodriguez are still fundamentally different film-makers. Their interests might align when it comes to genre work, but they construct their movies in a very different manner, with a different emphasis on different aspects of their technique. Cameron is much more interested in bringing polish to his genre work, in finding a way to transform otherwise niche high-concept tales into crowd-pleasing blockbusters with mass appeal. In contrast, Rodriguez revels in the grottier aspects of his genre work, believing that the lack of sheen is part of the appeal.

Alita: Battle Angel finds these two aesthetics at odds with one another. The story at the heart of Alita is pure Cameron, dedicated to world-building and social commentary while relying on exposition and centring on big set pieces. However, the delivery of Alita is very much in the style of Rodriguez, stressing cool beats and individual sequences rather than the singular cohesive whole. The result is jarring and deeply fascinating, but it doesn’t quite come together. Alita is an intriguing piece of cinema, but a less than satisfying would-be blockbuster. Like its central character, it seems constructed of parts that don’t quite fit.

Red is dead.

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