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319. Whiplash (#42)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Richard Drumm, 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, Damian Chazelle’s Whiplash.

Andrew Neiman is a young music student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York City. A jazz drummer, Andrew dreams of great things, of becoming a legend like Miles Davis or John Coltrane. However, he falls under the influence of band leader Terence Fletcher. Fletcher sees potential in Andrew, and draws the young musician into his orbit. The two find themselves trapped in a toxic push-and-pull relationship, with the stakes escalating quickly.

At time of recording, it was ranked 42nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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313. Ratatouille – Bird Watching 2022 (#219)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Deirdre Molumby and Graham Day, 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.

This week, we’re continuing a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s Ratatouille.

Remi is a French rat with a taste for the finer things, quite literally. Remi longs to be a chef. When circumstances bring the young rat to Paris, and into the kitchen of a legendary restaurant, Remi is given the chance of a lifetime to seize his dream. He just needs to grab it by the hair and pull hard.

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 How “Peacemaker” As a Story of Redemption Through Art…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, which is streaming weekly on HBO Max. The seventh and penultimate episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Much of the discussion around the show has focused on the soundtrack, with James Gunn drawing heavily from hair metal bands. This gives the soundtrack a unique texture in the modern superhero genre, but it also plays into the larger themes of the show itself. The choice of hair metal says a lot about the character of Christopher Smith, particular compared to everything else that the show has told the audience about the protagonist. Indeed, hair metal suggests something close to a path to redemption for a character who struggled to find other means of escape and exposure.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Mythic Quest” Understands the Creation as a Collaborative Process…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Mythic Quest wrapping up its second season next week, it seemed like a good time to take a look at what is quietly one of the best shows on television.

Mythic Quest is a workplace sitcom about a video game studio. It is also one of the most insightful studies of the creative process ever made. A large part of this is down to the fact that Mythic Quest understands that creation is an inherently collaborative process, that it does not happen in a vacuum and that it involves lots of people working together towards the same ends. It’s a very mature reflection on how creativity works.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Justice League” and the Triumph of Art Over Content…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, following the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the theatrical release of Justice League. In particular, the differences between the two cuts and the way in which the theatrical cut was a cynical plot to erase any distinct identity from the film and reduce it to empty superhero “content.”

226. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (#86)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Graham Day, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Zack Snyder’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Following the death of Superman, Batman sets about putting together a team of superheroes to fight a threat that is charging at Earth from across the cosmos.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 86th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On the Horror of Joss Whedon’s “Justice League”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League this week, it seemed like an appropriate opportunity to take a look at the original theatrical cut of Justice League, which remains one of the worst blockbusters of the past decade.

What makes the theatrical cut of Justice League such an insidious film isn’t just what it is, although it is terrible on its own terms. It’s what the film represents. It’s a very conscious and very deliberate erasure of a distinct vision of an expensive creative project, in the hope of serving reheated nostalgic leftovers that fans might gorge themselves upon. It’s pure, empty, vacuous content – a pale imitation of what other companies do better, without a single unique perspective of its own.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the Arbitrary Lines Between High and Low Culture…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with the Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, with the renewed and ongoing debate between “high” and “low” culture, between “art” and “content”, it seemed like a good time to take a look at one of the more fascinating films to straddle that line. Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth entry in a long-running franchise, a film essentially built around a long car chase and explosions. However it’s also as pure a piece of cinema that has ever been made. It demonstrates the fungibility of those perceived boundaries.

New Escapist Column! On “Mad Max: Fury Road”, and the Elastic Boundaries Between “High” and “Low” Culture…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. There’s been a lot of debate recently about the boundaries between “art” and “content”, which can frequently sound like a debate about “high” and “low” culture, so I thought it was worth taking a look at how porous those boundaries can be.

On paper, Mad Max: Fury Road should be a standard franchise film. It’s the fourth film in the Mad Max franchise, serving as a vague sequel or even reboot to one of Australia’s most successful movie franchises. It cost a lot of money. It features a lot of special effects. It has very little dialogue. However, in spire of that, it is arguably as pure an expression of cinema as an artform as has every existed, and demonstrates how elastic and how illusory arguments about “high” and “low” culture truly are.

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

New Escapist Column! On Understanding “Twin Peaks” Emotionally, Rather than Intellectually…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday. With the thirtieth anniversary of Twin Peaks, I got to talk a little bit about the show and David Lynch.

Lynch has a reputation as a “difficult” artist for audiences, a filmmaker whose art is challenging and provocative. It’s easy to see why. On a simple mechanical level, it can be very difficult to explain what happens during a David Lynch film or television show. More to the point, two different audience members might provide two very different descriptions. However, that’s always been what I admired about Lynch. As a critic, he forces me to engage emotionally with his work because an intellectual understanding is never enough. I feel Lynch’s work, even if I don’t comprehend it.

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