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New Escapist Column! On “The Last Jedi” as a Movie About Optimism in a Cynical Time…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. Given that Star Wars: The Last Jedi just turned five years old, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on one of the most ambitious franchise films of the twenty-first century.

In the years since its release, a certain narrative has settled around The Last Jedi, arguing that the film is a subversion or deconstruction of the larger franchise. However, this seems unfair. At its core, The Last Jedi is a fundamentally optimistic movie, a celebration of the importance of standing against tyranny and a rejection of moral relativism in the face of oppression. It is an unabashedly earnest and sincere movie that believes that some things are worth fighting for, even when the situation seems grim and odds are stacked in opposition. It is an unapologetic love letter to the romance of Star Wars.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Atlanta” as One of Television’s Great Liminal Spaces…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Atlanta wrapping up its final season earlier this month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at one of television’s great liminal spaces.

Creator and lead actor Donald Glover frequently compared the show to Twin Peaks and The Sopranos, two very interesting choices for a show that has the basic structure of a sitcom built around four central characters. However, over the course of its four season, Atlanta became a surrealist study of millennial Black life in the United States, in particular the constant sense of being stuck “between” places without a firm status quo. Atlanta is a show that largely unfolds in shopping centres, nightclubs and hotels, and parties and in altered states. It’s a show that often feels dreamlike, its characters drifting through a chaotic world.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The English” and the British Western…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the release of The English on Amazon Prime in the United States and on BBC in the United Kingdom, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the peculiar phenomenon of the British western.

The western is a quintessentially American genre. It is a foundation myth for the nation. As such, it is an awkward fit for British pop culture, given Britain’s historical relationship to the United States and the fact that Britain’s frontiers have never looked like that. However, given the intricacies of Britain’s relationship to its former colony, it is no surprise that the western has long been the subject of fascination for the British, and that the nation has put its own slant on the genre.

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

305. Batman Begins – Batman Day 2022 (#126)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Alex Towers and Phil Bagnall, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.

Following the death of his parents, billionaire Bruce Wayne finds himself struggling for a way to make sense of the world. Studying under the mysterious Ra’s Al Ghul, Wayne vows to devote his life to a war on crime itself. However, on returning home to Gotham, Bruce very quickly discovers that something very sinister has taken root in his home city.

At time of recording, it was ranked 126th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How “The Rogue Prince” Lets “House of the Dragon” Reflect the Modern World…

I am doing weekly reviews of House of the Dragon at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Sunday evening while the show is on, looking at the Game of Thrones prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

One of the more interesting aspects of Game of Thrones was the way in which it was a high fantasy series that used the language and conventions of the genre as what felt like a compelling commentary on American identity, filtering the anxieties of the War on Terror through the prism of dragons and free cities. House of the Dragon continues that trend, offering a show that seems to reflect a particularly anxious and unstable moment in American history.

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

290. Network (#219)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Ciara Moloney and Dean Buckley, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s Network.

Howard Beale is a veteran newscaster on a struggling network. When he is given his two weeks’ notice, Beale threatens to shoot himself live on the air as his final broadcast. The television journeyman becomes a media storm and ratings sensation, as the network eagerly seeks to capitalise on what could be a once-in-a-generation phenomenon.

At time of recording, it was ranked 219th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “Top Gun” as a Monument to Reagan’s Eighties…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. With the release of Top Gun: Maverick at the weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the original Top Gun.

It is debatable whether Top Gun is a good movie. However, it is a defining movie. There are few movies that so profoundly and so effectively capture a time and place on film. Top Gun is a movie that is very much in step with the era around it, the story of a nation still recovering from the trauma of Vietnam and embracing a rugged individualist fantasy as a way of working through the lingering after-effects. At its core, Top Gun is a movie about the necessity of letting go of one’s guilt or responsibility towards others in order to be the best that one can be.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” as a Parable About the Dangers of Rejecting Reality…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the film.

Despite its title, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness seems refreshingly wary of the multiverse as a concept, understanding that the collapse of reality is not necessarily a good thing. Indeed, despite the title, the film is largely about the importance of embracing and accepting one’s original reality, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of retreating into fantasy. In particular, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a horror story about the lengths that people will go to preserve their fantasies – and the consequences of those actions.

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

282. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (#67)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Jason Coyle and Aoife Martin, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

The unthinkable has happened. At the height of the Cold War, American bombers have been ordered to enter Russian airspace and deploy their ordinance at the order of General Jack D. Ripper. The President of the United States scrambles to stop the crisis from escalating further, but the situation becomes even bleaker when it is revealed that the Russians have just deployed a failsafe that could wipe out all life on Earth in case of a potential American attack. Powers on both sides of the Iron Curtain find themselves racing against time, with the fate of the world in their hands.

At time of recording, it was ranked 67th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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277. The Batman – This Just In (#67)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Graham Day and Niall Glynn, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, a new entry: Matt Reeves’ The Batman.

Bruce Wayne is in the second year of his war on crime in Gotham, and things are not improving. Indeed, the city is thrown into anarchy when a new villain calling themselves the Riddler begins targetting city officials and threatening to unmask the city’s darkest secrets. Can Bruce survive what is coming? Can the Batman? Can Gotham?

At time of recording, it was ranked 67th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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