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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #36!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Grace Duffy and Ronan Doyle to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, we discuss the appeal of Tony Scott’s (arguably) underrated late film Domino, which Jay claims as a cinematic classic and Ronan watched while hung over. We talk about the true horror lurking in Ghost Stories. We debate whether Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation is a Sacha Baron Cohen show as a horror movie.

We also talk about the films that the “young ones” will be watching as part of the back-to-school programme at the Irish Film Institute, the ongoing Dublin Festival of History and the first look deal between Element Pictures and Fox Searchlight that speaks to the viability of Irish film as award fare.

In terms of the top ten, there’s in-depth discussions of both Black ’47 and The Little Stranger, all four panelists having seen those films.

The top ten:

  1. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  2. The Predator
  3. Christopher Robin
  4. The Little Stranger
  5. Mile 22
  6. The Nun
  7. A Simple Favour
  8. Crazy Rich Asians
  9. Black ’47
  10. The House With A Clock In Its Walls

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #34!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle, Grace Duffy and Andrew Quinn to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, we discuss the work and legacy (and delayed appreciation) of Agnès Varda, the charm of When Harry Met Sally, the appeal of the original Halloween and the horror of The Exorcist.

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

Top Ten:

  1. The Nun
  2. Black ’47
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  7. Incredibles II
  8. The Meg
  9. Searching…
  10. Ant Man and the Wasp

New Releases:

  • A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot
  • The Predator
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • King of Thieves
  • The Rider

“Black Panther”, “Crazy Rich Asians”, and American Dreaming in 2018…

The silver screen is not just a window, it is occasionally a mirror as well.

The cinematic gaze reveals a lot. Not just about the object in focus, but about the filmmaker (and the audience) behind the gaze. Although independent and arthouse cinema is thriving in the twenty-first century, and though home media is fundamentally changing the way that people consume media, the cinema will always be a communal space. A group of people sitting in a room together, bathed in projected light. There are obviously debates to be had about to what extent cinema reflects culture as much as it acts upon it, but there is undoubtedly a symbiosis there.

Cinema reveals a lot about contemporary culture, and not just “worthy” cinema that tends to get cited by critics as “the most important” or “the most timely” media of its particular moment. Indeed, there is perhaps something more revealing in looking at media that doesn’t consciously invite these comparisons, that doesn’t trumpet the manner in which it speaks to a particular moment. Sometimes it is more revealing to look at the films that aren’t saying anything, or at least are not consciously or overtly saying anything, about the current political moment.

In fact, it’s often a lot easier to get a sense of what is bubbling through the popular consciousness (or even the popular subconscious) by looking at low-budget “disposable” fare like horror movies than it is be interrogating more respectable and self-conscious fare. It is no coincidence that the past decade has seen a resurgence in haunted house and home invasion horror like The Conjuring, The Strangers, The Purge or even Don’t Breathe, reflecting anxieties about the American home as a site of horror in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Popular cinema is similarly a fascinating prism through which to examine contemporary American culture, to get a sense of how the United States sees both itself and its relationship with the rest of the world. It’s a glimpse into the nation’s psyche, offering a messy and dynamic dive beneath the polished exterior. It cuts through a lot of contemporary politics, foregoing accuracy in favour of a general aesthetic. It is a sketch more than a portrait, but that sketch can be instructive and revealing of itself.

In particular, the twin releases of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians over the past year suggest something interesting about modern conceptions of the American Dream.

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Non-Review Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The romantic comedy is, by its nature, an aspirational genre.

At its core, the romantic comedy is built around the idea that love conquers all, that soul mates exist, that there is one person in a million for every other person and that they are destined to find one another. The romantic comedy is aspirational in its presentation of love: the idea that everybody lives happily ever after, that every obstacle can be navigated if two people love one another. Of course, reality doesn’t always work out like that. This is just one reason why we tell stories; not just to tell us how the world is, but to insist how it should be.

Crazy, stupid, rich love.

This is perhaps why the romantic comedy is so often wedded to other fantasies; consider the ostentatious wealth depicted in most romantic comedies, but especially in Nancy Meyers films like It’s Complicated or Home Again. Romantic comedies present an idealised depiction of family life, where all differences can be reconciled and where practical concerns need never even be articulated. Even romantic comedies that aren’t explicitly about wealthy families luxuriate in a fantasy of wealth; very few families could realistically afford even the starter pack romantic comedy wedding.

There is nothing inherently wrong with aspiration, to be clear. Action movies and superhero films tend to indulge in a similarly idealised fantasy of heroism and strength of will, imagining worlds where many of the complications of everyday life can be shuffled into the background or wrestled into submission. However, the aspirations baked into romantic comedies are more tangible and more immediate, more recognisable even in their outlandishness.

“I mean, I’m rich. But I’m not crazy rich.”

Very few people will find themselves liberating a soccer stadium from terrorism, but most audience members have romantic relationships and many have weddings and even families. Even those audience members who don’t have their own spouses and children would have grown up within something resembling a familial structure. As a result, even the most outlandish romantic comedy offers something that more closely approximates lived experience.

Crazy Rich Asians fundamentally understands this aspirational nature of romantic comedies, and takes a great deal of pleasure in its display (and even celebration) of absurd wealth. The film’s title is a bold statement of purpose. There is something exhilarating in that.

Love don’t rom (com).

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