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New Escapist Column! On How “The Last of Us” Finds a Fresh Angle on Familiar Clich├ęs…

I am doing weekly reviews of The Last of Us at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Sunday evening while the show is on, looking at the video game adaptation as the show progresses. This week, the show’s penultimate episode.

The Last of Us belongs to a genre that has been well-explored over the past few years, the post-apocalyptic horror. It’s a narrative template that has been thorough excavated and interrogated across a wealth of media. Audiences are familiar with the language and the logic of these kinds of stories, and there are perhaps only so many variations upon the archetypal theme. This what makes the season’s penultimate episode so compelling. The Last of Us wades into a familiar post-apocalyptic set-up, but finds a way to explore it that plays uniquely to the show’s strengths.

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

New Escapist Column! On M. Night Shyamalan’s Fascination with Faith…

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. This week, with the release of Knock at the Cabin, it seemed wothing taking a look at the films of M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan is a filmmaker with a unique perspective, and many of his films circle around the same sets of themes concerned with family and horror. However, Shyamalan is also a director fascinated by faith and belief. He’s often horrified by characters who hold firmly to seemingly irrational beliefs. More than that, though, Shyamalan’s films often mine a sense of dread and horror from something even more fundamental: the fear that, against all odds, these irrational understandings of the universe might be correct.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Thrills and Disappointments of “Knock at the Cabin”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist during the week. With the release of Knock at the Cabin this weekend, it seemed worth taking a look at the latest movie from M. Night Shyamalan.

Knock at the Cabin is by turns fascinating and frustrating. It is a movie that works really well as a claustrophic and ambiguous thriller, a home invasion movie that is essentially a battle of wills over belief. However, it suffers somewhat from the fact that Shyamalan can’t stay within the cabin. At various points, the narrative has to become bigger and more epic, and in doing so, it unravels the tension that makes the best scenes in the movie so compelling.

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

318. The Life of Brian – Christmas 2022 (#245)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Richard Newby, 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, a Christmas treat, Terry Jones’ Life of Brian.

Brian Cohen is a young Jewish man living in Jerusalum at the same time as Jesus Christ. Desperate to impress a girl and reeling from revelations about his heritage, Brian commits to join a local revolutionary paramilitary to resist Roman rule. However, nothing is quite as simple as it may initially seem, and Brian finds himself swept up in a messianic fervour well beyond his control.

At time of recording, it was ranked 245th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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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.

279. The Conversation (#—)

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, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation.

Harry Caul is one of the best surveillance operators in America. However, when Harry finds himself in possession of a potentially inflammatory recording with very real consequences, he finds hismel at a crossroads. Can the professional eavesdropper remain a passive observer in the drama unfolding around him, or will events force him into a more active role?

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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278. The Godfather: Part III/Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Jenn Gannon and Jason Coyle, 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, both Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.

It is 1979. Michael Corleone has solidified control of the Corleone crime family, and hopes to take the family business completely legitimate by striking a deal with the Vatican Bank. Trying desperately to reunited his fractured and divided family, Michael quickly discovers that organised crime isn’t the only place where criminals are lurking, ready to strike.

At time of recording, neither movie was ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On What Makes “Yellowjackets” the Buzziest Show of the Moment…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The first season of Yellowjackets wrapped up this week, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a look at what has become the buzziest show on television.

Yellowjackets has a premise very similar to Lost, featuring a time-shifted narrative following a bunch of plane-crash survivors trapped in the wilderness as potentially supernatural events unfold around them. However, Yellowjackets follows the survivors after their return to civilisation rather than before the crash. Yellowjackets is essentially a paranoid survival horror, and one that resonates with these divided and chaotic times. It’s a show about the horrors of what happens when civilisation collapses and when people turn to monstrous belief in sheer desperation, but also about what it’s like to live with that.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Green Knight” As the Year’s Best Christmas Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Christmas fast approaching, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at the year’s best new Christmas movie.

The Green Knight can make a claim to being a Christmas movie just in terms of setting. It is a movie that unfolds primarily across two consecutive Christmases. However, its festive themes run deeper than that. I n many ways, The Green Knight is an exploration of the clash between pagan belief systems and Christian theologies that speaks to the central tension of the holiday. This isn’t just a Christmas movie, it is in some ways, a movie about Christmas.

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

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