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298. The Sound of Music (#243)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this time with special guest Síomha McQuinn, 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, Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music.

Maria is a young woman lacking purpose and direction in her life. Exiled from a convent, Maria is assigned to work as governess for the von Trapp family, caring for seven children who recently lost their mother and are struggling to connect with their emotionally distant father. Maria strikes up an unlikely connection with Captain von Trapp, but the family soon finds their idyllic existence threatened as historical realities come to bear on Austria.

At time of recording, it was ranked 243rd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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287. Top Gun: Maverick – This Just In (#50)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Luke Dunne and Joe Griffin, 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, Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick.

More than thirty years after graduating, top naval figther pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is summoned back to Top Gun. His assignment is to train a new generation of hotshot fighter pilots for a seemingly impossible mission. However, Maverick quickly discovers that what is past isn’t ever truly past.

At time of recording, it was ranked 50th 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 Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Will Black Widow Have Us Russian Back to Cinemas?”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Richard Newby for the twenty-first episode of the year. With the release of Black Widow on streaming and in cinemas, there was only one movie to discuss. So we went for a deep dive into Marvel’s interquel, its character-centric movie for a dead Avenger.

You can listen to back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On What “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” Bodes for the Future of Anime…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which is both the highest grossing movie of 2020 at the global box office and the highest grossing film of all-time at the Japanese box office.

The success of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is striking, because it is a very different sort of anime movie than the kind that normally breaks out. The Japanese box office has traditionally been dominated by anime films like Your Name, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and others. The anime films that have typically broken out global are movies like Akira or Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion. These are all films with a very strong artistic viewpoint and a very consciously artisanal approach to storytelling.

In contrast, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is a much more conventional sort of blockbuster in a much more modern style. It is a film written by a group credited under the corporate brand “Ufotable” and adapted from a manga written by an unknown author. It picks up directly from a television series, serving as a bridge between two seasons, with little attempt to orient casual viewers as to the character or plot. It is difficult to discern what exactly Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is saying about the world or even just about Japan, except for the broadest sorts of platitudes about duty and service.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train feels like a cultural shift, representing a transition within Japanese popular animation that arguably just reflects broader shifts within global culture over the past decade or so. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Mulan” is Coming to Disney+, and Studios Are Leaving America Behind…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier today. With the news that Mulan will be streaming on Disney+ – for a hefty $30 fee – it seemed worth discussing the real story.

A lot of the discussion around Mulan releasing on Disney+ has revolved around the studio’s plan to charge an additional fee, on top of the subscription, for it. This is reasonable. It is a big shift in the American cinematic market. However, it is only part of the story. The video-on-demand release of Mulan will not be enough to turn a significant profit of itself, and it’s clear that the decision to release Mulan at all is rooted in the fact that the international theatrical market is coming back to life. Disney are banking big on Chinese box office.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Narrativisation of the “Birds of Prey” Box Office…

I published an In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last Friday, discussing the inevitable armchair quarterbacking of the Birds of Prey box office.

The film under-performed at the box office in its opening weekend, particularly relative to some of the more bullish predictions. It pulled in an opening weekend box office closer to similarly budgeted films like Kingsman: The Secret Service and Ford v. Ferrari than breakout smashes like Deadpool or 300. As a result, there’s a been a rush to account for those results, which often boils down to an attempt to narrativise the film’s failure – to argue that the causes for that result are easily discerned by outside observers. Of course, those analyses often handily fit various pre-determined narratives.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Just Create New Female Characters” Argument…

I published an In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week, on an interesting and age-old debate.

The question of how best to foster diversity in cinema and wider pop culture is a challenging one. Whenever the suggestion of race- or gender-shifting an existing character like the Doctor or James Bond comes up, the responses are always the same: “just create new characters!” It’s a strong argument conceptually, because it’s rooted in the (entirely correct) moral presumption that women shouldn’t need to repurpose old characters, but instead should have new characters. However, it also glosses over the economic and cultural realities of the current cinematic climate. The debate is more complicated than it might appear.

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

164. Cats – This Just In (-#34)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Phil Bagnall, Jenn Gannon and Luke Dunne, 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.

This time, Tom Hooper’s Cats.

Abandoned by her owner in a surreal wasteland of early twentieth century London, the young cat Victoria finds herself drawn towards the neighbourhood’s feline inhabitants on the night of a most special and peculiar celebration.

At time of recording, it was ranked 34th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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141. Escape Plan 2: Hades – This Just In (-#100)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and with special guests Babu Patel and Giovanna Rampazzo, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 100 worst movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Steven C. Miller’s Escape Plan 2: Hades.

At time of recording, it was ranked 100th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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