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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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New Escapist Column! On “The Batman” as an Argument for Superheroes…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the release of The Batman this weekend, it seemed a good opportunity to take a look at the film, and what it says about the state of the superhero genre.

The superhero genre is arguably the dominant mode of American blockbuster cinema, the prism through which the populist form must be viewed in its present incarnation. Perhaps the superhero is best understood as a descendent of the classic pop archetypes like the cowboy or the gangster. However, very few superhero films actively engage with what that transition actually means, what makes the superhero a more modern American archetype than the cowboy or the gangster. The Batman is the rare superhero movie engaged with this question.

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

276. The Godfather: Part II (#3)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Deirdre Molumby and Brian Lloyd, 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, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II.

In 1901, Vito Andolini is evacuated from the small town of Corleone, fleeing to the new world in the hopes of a new life. In 1959, his son Michael Corleone continues his efforts to legitimise the family business. However, will Michael’s efforts to maintain control of the empire that Vito built ultimately lead to the collapse of what both men held most dear?

At time of recording, it was ranked 3rd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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275. The Godfather (#2)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Philip 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, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.

Michael Corleone has spent most of his life running away from his family connections, enlisting in the United States Marines to avoid the siren call of his father’s organised crime empire. However, when Michael returns home for his sister’s wedding, events conspire to draw the prodigal son back into the family business.

At time of recording, it was ranked 2nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On the “Planet of the Apes” Prequels as the Last Great Movie Trilogy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of The Batman, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Matt Reeves’ other recent films. In particular, Reeves directed the last two films in the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy.

The recent Planet of the Apes prequels are the rarest of things: beautifully made and powerfully resonant blockbusters. The films are constructed with genuine artistry and craft, but – more than that – they speak to the particular moment in which they were released. These are films that against all odds manage to capture something of the soul of America on celluloid, beautifully encapsulating a deeply troubled era, and skilfully using their nostalgia in a way that deepens their themes and enhances their resonance.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Peacemaker” and “MacGruber” as Reckonings with Reagan Era Action Heroes…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the recent release of MacGruber and Peacemaker, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to reflect on two comedy streaming shows that are very firmly anchored in a very particular nostalgia for a certain kind of eighties Reagan era action hero.

MacGruber and Peacemaker are essentially extended riffs on a very archetypal form of American heroism, a very militaristic and jingoistic expression of heroism. While both shows are reasonably affectionate and surprisingly sympathetic to its subjects, they are also quite aggressive in their desconstruction of this archetype. Both MacGruber and Peacemaker are shows about characters who are deeply unpleasant and incredibly juvenile, in what feels like an interesting interrogation of the action heroes of the era. It’s an interesting angle on this nostalgia, feeling at times like a tempered reflection.

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

 

261. Gladiator (#44)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Stacy Grouden and Joe Griffin, 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, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.

As Rome extends its dominion over the rest of the world, General Maximus Decimus Meridius dreams only of returning home to his family. However, fate has other plans. When Maximus winds up accidentally involved in a sinister conspiracy surrounding the beloved Emperor Marcus Aurelius, his entire life is thrown into chaos. Maximus finds himself abandoned and left for dead. Recovered by a slave trader, Maximus is sold to an older entertainment manager Proximo, who sees a lot of potential in “the Spaniard.”

At time of recording, it was ranked 44th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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