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267. Some Like It Hot – Christmas 2021 (#136)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Charlene Lydon and Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair, 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, Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot.

In late 1920s Chicago, band members Joe and Jerry witness a brutal mob hit. Forced to flee for their lives, the pair disguise themselves as women and join an all-female band taking a trip down to Florida for the winter. However, things very quickly become complicated when the duo encounter a blonde bombshell Sugar Kowalczyk and attract the romantic attentions of a lonely millionaire named Osgood Fielding III. Hilarity ensues.

At time of recording, it was ranked 136th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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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.

New Escapist Column! On The Genre Dissonance of “Hawkeye”…

I published a new column at The Escapist at the weekend. With the release of Hawkeye on streaming, it seemed worth an opportunity to take a look at the show.

In particular, there’s a fascinating genre dissonance between what Hawkeye is trying to be and what it actually is. The show positions itself as a feel-good holiday buddy comedy, but it also inherits the weight of a film noir. It is essentially a six-episode series rooted in the title character’s attempts to recover the one piece of evidence that links him to mass murder, but the show absolutely refuses to let any of these considerations get in the way of its desire to be “fun” and “chirpy.” The result is an interesting tonal clash between what Hawkeye wants to be, and what it actually is.

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

New Escapist Video! On How “Star Wars” Killing the Adult-Skewing Christmas Blockbuster….

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 is a slightly older one, one that was prepared for both Christmas and for the fifth anniversary of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I looked at one of the film’s most understated and under-explored legacies: the way in which the arrival of The Force Awakens killed one of the few spaces in the calendar where the adult-skewing blockbuster could thrive and prosper.

New Escapist Video! On “Die Hard” as a Christmas Movie…

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.

It’s not the 8th of January yet, so it still seems like an appropriate time for Christmas movie discussion. As such, I took a look at one of the great film debates of our time: whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

New Escapist Column! On “Die Hard” as a Christmas Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s Christmas, so it’s worth reopening the old chestnut: is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

Obviously, what is and is not a Christmas movie is highly subjective. Everybody has their own movies associated with the holiday. That said, Die Hard occupies a strange space in the Christmas landscape. It is a movie set at Christmas, and which has gradually become more and more associated with the holiday over the years. More than that, its structure and themes are inexorably tied to the season of peace on earth and goodwill towards all men. There’s even a bearded man flying through the sky at the climax.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Batman Returns” as the Most Unconventional Christmas Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s Christmas, so it seemed like a good time to take a look back at one of the most underappreciated Christmas movies ever: Batman Returns.

Batman Returns is a decidedly unconventional Christmas movie, packed with weirdos and freaks, commercialism run amok and climaxing with the aborted mass murder of an entire city’s firstborn sons. However, it is this weirdness that makes Batman Returns such a delightful Christmas movie, and one that is arguably perfectly suited to this most strange and surreal Christmas. At its core, Batman Returns is a mood piece built around what it feels like to be lonely at Christmas.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “The Force Awakens” Killed the Unlikely Adult-Oriented Christmas Blockbuster…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It has been five years since the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. While this anniversary has been discussed and dissected from countless directions over the past few weeks, there is one under-explored aspect of it.

In the early 2010s, as blockbuster cinema came to dominate the cultural landscape, something interesting happened in the Christmas release window. Movies like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street somehow managed to thrive in the Christmas corridor, by offering reasonably-budgeted adult-skewing movies that could draw crowds over the holiday season, safe from the blockbuster pile-up over the summer. Sadly, The Force Awakens signalled the end of this.

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

213. Black Christmas – Christmas 2020 (-#75)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Doctor Bernice Murphy and Joey Keogh, 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, Sophia Takal’s Black Christmas.

As Christmas settles on Hawthorne College, something more unpleasant is in the air. A series of attacks on female students suggests that a killer is loose on campus, but the young members of the Mu Kappa Epsilon sorority begin to suspect that there is something far more toxic at work.

At time of recording, it was ranked 75th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Jingle Jangle – A Christmas Journey

The big question with Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is simple: what do audiences want from a Christmas film?

Jingle Jangle exists in the context of Netflix’s recent efforts to build a sturdy collection of modern holiday cinema, from the classic animation of Klaus to the adventure of The Christmas Chronicles to the formula of A Christmas Prince. These are clearly part of an effort to buttress the streaming service’s library with a collection of films that audiences can enjoy in the holiday season. Jingle Jangle marks the latest glitzy addition to that selection, starring Oscar-winner Forrest Whitaker and produced by Oscar-winner John Legend.

The Greatest Snowman.

Jingle Jangle is a fine execution of the standard Christmas movie formula. There are songs. There are children. There is a framing device involving a story that appears to blend fantasy and reality. There is lavish production design. There are morals about the importance of family. There are ominous deadlines that count down very specifically to Christmas. There are toys. There is missletoe. There is an improbably (and yet also inescapably) happy ending. There are also no surprises waiting beneath this lavishly decorated Christmas tree.

Then again, maybe that is the point. Maybe people don’t want surprises at Christmas, but instead the warm comfort of familiarity.

Going by the book.

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