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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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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 6, Episode 22 (“Biogenesis”)

Coinciding with The X-Files‘ move from Vancouver to Los Angeles, there has also been a shift at The X-Cast. Tony Black is no longer running the show, but it is instead now being run by Sarah Blair, Kurt North and Carl Sweeney. I was thrilled to join Carl to talk about the sixth season finale: Biogenesis.

Following Two Fathers and One Son in the middle of the sixth season, Biogenesis is a very odd season finale for The X-Files. It’s the only season finale that doesn’t have the luxury of hanging on the central mythology and which isn’t designed to serve as a potential finale for the series as a whole. As a result, it’s a very odd episode of television, and offers an interesting prism on the tropes and conventions of The X-Files.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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228. Interstellar (#29)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Andy Hazel, 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, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

Cooper is a former astronaut who has resigned himself to life on a farm, raising his two children Tom and Murph. However, when the fates align to send Cooper back out into space, he finds himself faced with the terrible choice to leave his kids behind with no idea of when – or even if – he might return.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 29th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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220. Pulp Fiction (#8)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guest Scott Mendelson, The 250 is a weekly journey through the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Three stories unfold across Los Angeles over the course of three days, featuring an interlocking set of criminal characters who find their lives on an unexpected collision course. Is there any rhyme or reason to the course that these characters chart, or is it all arbitrary chaos? That’s ultimately up to the viewer to determine for themselves.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 8th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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203. Kundun – Summer of Scorsese (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn, Jay Coyle and Darren Mooney, 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, continuing our Summer of Scorsese season, Martin Scorsese’s Kundun.

Martin Scorsese is one of the defining directors in American cinema, with a host of massively successful (and cult) hits that have shaped and defined cinema across generations: New York, New York, Raging Bull, The Colour of Money, Goodfellas, Casino, Shutter Island, The Irishman. The Summer of Scorsese season offers a trip through his filmography via the IMDb‘s 250.

The fourteenth Dalai Lama navigates the complicated web of faith and politics at a highly volatile time in the history of Tibet, meditating on both his divine responsibilities and the looming threat of Chinese intervention as the world changes around him.

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

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“There’s Nobody Here to See Us”: The Untamed Frontier in Martin Scorsese’s “Casino”…

The podcast that I co-host, The 250, continued our belated Summer of Scorsese last week with a look at Goodfellas. This week, we’re looking at Casino. It is a fun and broad discussion that is well worth your time, but it spurred some of my own thoughts about Martin Scorsese’s 1995 gangster classic.

When Casino was released, it experienced something of a minor backlash.

Part of this backlash was motivated by the film’s perceived similarities to Goodfellas – Scorsese had made another soundtrack-heavy period-piece mob movie starring both Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, adapted from the work of Nicholas Pileggi. To a certain extent, this was fair. There were legitimate concerns that Scorsese was simply repeating himself, and that any comparisons to Goodfellas did not flatter Casino.

These problems were compounded by content. At time of release, Casino was Scorsese’s longest movie, clocking in at just shy of three hours. That is a lot of mobster movie, particularly if that movie felt in anyway derivative of the appreciably shorter Goodfellas. There were also rumblings of the movie’s brutality and violence, which was seen as being particularly excessive and graphic. These complaints circulated even before Casino hit cinemas. Peter Travers summarised the mood, “Even before Casino opened, the black cloud of letdown hung over Scorsese’s epic tale.”

However, time has been kind to Casino. Although the film undoubtedly still exists in the shadow of Goodfellas, it has come to be recognised as one of the great crime films and to merit some appreciation on its own terms. Casino is a fascinating piece of work. It is bold and ambitious, epic and sweeping. However, what is most striking about Casino is not how it compares to Goodfellas, but how it contrasts. The differences are instructive.

Casino is often categorised as a mob movie, and it is definitely that. It is a story about gangsters and organised crime. However, it is also a western. It is perhaps the closest that Scorsese has come to making a traditional western in his entire cinematography. More than that, while Goodfellas is anchored in the character of Henry Hill, Casino lacks a similar hook. Both Sam and Nicky are much more oblique characters than Henry; Sam is less proactive, and Nicky is much more brutal. They are harder to invest in, tougher to root for.

However, this allows Casino to take a much wider view of this world and the people that inhabit it. Casino is arguably a religious parable, a story about mankind’s destruction of paradise and the inevitable exile that followed. In that sense, Casino feels like more of a bridge between Goodfellas and Scorsese’s more overtly religious-tinged parables like Bringing Out the Dead or Silence than it initially seemed. This is a story about heaven on earth, and the fallen sinful human beings who turn that heaven into a nightmarish hell.

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