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143. Once Upon Time… in Hollywood – This Just In (#127)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Phil Bagnall, 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, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

It’s February 1969. Everything is changing. Hollywood itself seems to be facing an inevitable collision with the turmoil that has engulfed the rest of the world. Against this backdrop, lives intersect and collide. Returning from the United Kingdom, Sharon Tate moves in next door to washed up fifties western star Rick Dalton, both completely unaware of how profoundly their lives will impact one another.

At time of recording, it was ranked 127th on the Internet Movie Database’s list of the best movies of all-time.

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Night Stalker – The Five People You Meet in Hell (Review)

This January, to prepare for the release of the new six-part season of The X-Files, we’re wrapping up our coverage of the show, particularly handling the various odds and ends between the show’s last episode and the launch of the revival.

The Five People You Meet in Hell makes it quite clear that Night Stalker is not going to have an easy life. (As it turned out, the show was not to have a particularly long one, either.)

The Five People You Meet in Hell was not originally intended to be the second episode of the show. The original plan had been to broadcast Into Night as the second episode of the season. However, the network shifted the broadcast order, opting to air The Five People You Meet in Hell in second place and bury Into Night much later in the season. In fact, Into Night would not be among the six episodes of Night Stalker to air on ABC; the show would be cancelled before the production team would get a chance to broadcast the show.

Eye see...

Eye see…

The reason for the shift is quite obvious. Into Night is not a great episode of television, but it is one that aligns quite neatly with what Night Stalker is supposed to be; it opens the mummification of two office workers and goes from there. In contrast, The Five People You Meet in Hell is much more generic. Sure, it involves mind control and psychic projection, but it is a much blander piece of television. The Five People You Meet in Hell is very much Night Stalker as a forensic procedural with paranormal elements than an accurate representation of the show.

Shifting the broadcast order around in order to prioritise The Five People You Meet in Hell suggests that the network is not entirely comfortable with the show they have commissioned. Two episodes into the first season, that is not an ideal signal to be sending.

A stab in the dark...

A stab in the dark…

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The X-Files – Shapes (Review)

Shapes feels like something of a companion piece to Shadows. Both are very traditional horror monster stories, feeling a little dated and out of place among the more modern paranoia of The X-Files. Shapes might carefully avoid using the word “werewolf”, instead dressing up the classic movie monster in loose fitting Native American mythology, but it feels like an attempt to pay homage to one of the definitive Hollywood monsters. Unfortunately, like Shadows, it winds up feeling a little stale and tired, a little too familiar and cliché.

It’s a werewolf story that lacks bite.

Chew on this...

Chew on this…

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Non-Review Review: Virtuosity

Virtuosity is a hybrid monster, a veritable Frankenstein’s monster stitched together from various ideas and concepts you’ve seen done elsewhere and better. In a way, it feels like the logical combination of Hollywood’s fascination with two nineties genres that the studios never really understood. One part cybernetic internet-era technological thriller to one part serial killer movie, Virtuosity feels like a volatile cocktail that needs to be handled with care. If there is a way to work this curious blend of genres, it’s with a very delicate and nuanced. Unfortunately, neither Eric Bernt’s script nor Brett Leonard’s direction can really make anything of what should at least be a pulpy premise. Russell Crowe does do an excellent job as the cybernetic serial killer, though.

Crowe’s agent should screen his scripts better…

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Non-Review Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

The feature debut from director Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene, is a shockingly powerful piece of cinema. Deeply unpleasant and uncannily unsettling, Durkin’s debut is occasionally a bit awkwardly paced, but is intensely gripping for most of its runtime. While the film is making waves for a breakout performance from Elizabeth Olsen, it’s John Hawkes who steals the show as the enigmatic and sinister cult leader, known only as Patrick.

A cult film...

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