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New Escapist Column! On Clint Eastwood’s Complex American Masculinity…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Clint Eastwood turned ninety years old yesterday, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to write about the American icon.

For decades, Eastwood has embodied a certain ideal of American masculinity. However, he has also used his career to offer a more nuanced and sophisticated exploration of that masculinity than many observers will readily acknowledge. Eastwood is the rare movie star who completely understands his screen persona and the audience’s relationship with it, and uses that to engage in interesting discussions about what that says about American machismo.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Clone Wars” and the “Star Wars” Prequels…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. The Clone Wars wrapped up recently, and so I had occasion to binge the series.

The Clone Wars is an interesting artifact, existing largely space between the prequel and sequel trilogies, although briefly resurrected after the release of the sequels for an abridged final season. Watching the show, what was most striking about it was the way in which it felt true to the prequels, embracing and embodying the myriad complexities and contradictions of that divisive and polarising era of Star Wars output. This was reflected in everything from the kind of stories that The Clone Wars told to the ways in which it opted to tell them.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Avengers: Endgame” as a Shared Cultural Experience…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Given that Avengers: Endgame is one year old, it seemed only fair to mark that anniversary with a reflective piece.

I’m not a huge fan of Endgame. I think it’s a modest movie that works very hard to avoid doing or saying anything substantive, wrapped up in the power fantasies that drive so much of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet, in spite of that, I admire Endgame as something that has become increasingly rare in the twenty-first century: a piece of shared cultural experience that ties us all together.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Trolls World Tour” Might Be the Most Important Movie of 2020…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday evening. It’s 2020, so of course Trolls World Tour might end up being a film that redefines the cinematic experience.

Trolls World Tour was released directly on to digital platforms following the coronavirus pandemic. The movie apparently managed to earn more in three weeks as a digital rental than the original Trolls earned in its entire five-month theatrical run. Naturally, this has made Universal bullish, suggesting that they might look at day-and-date digital releases for films like Jurassic World: Dominion and F9, which would radically change the cinematic landscape. Understandably, cinemas are less than thrilled with this.

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

 

New Escapist Column! On “The Last Jedi”, “The Rise of Skywalker” and What Makes a Good Sequel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine on Friday.

It seems like the arguments over Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker have at least entered that “justification” stage. This week, editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey reopened the conversation by trying to shift the blame on to Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, claiming that it represented a betrayal of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. This is nonsense, of course, but it does invite a larger debate about what exactly makes for a good sequel. What does a follow-up owe to an original?

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

New Escapist Column! On “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Finding Hope Amid the Apocalypse…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. There’s understandably been a lot of talk about the end of the world lately, understandably, but I thought it was worth unpacking Mad Max: Fury Road.

Fury Road is one of the best blockbusters of the past decade, appearing on countless lists of the best films of the 2010s. However, what distinguishes it from a lot of apocalyptic cinema is that it embraces hope in a very meaningful and practical way. Fury Road is largely about the impulse to retreat from horror and from untenable situations, to abandon a world that appears to be fallen. However, the film argues that such an impulse is ultimately self-destructive, as eventually such a retreat runs out of road. Instead, Fury Road contends that the proper response to a broken world is to turn around and face it head on, to fix it from the inside. It’s a brave and empowering message, and a large part of the film’s appeal.

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

New Escapist Column! On COVID-19 and a Globalised Film Industry…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. Ironically, it’s probably already well out of date.

In the time since the article was published last Monday, the COVID-19 pandemic has only escalated further. Movie and television studios have halted production and distribution of various major titles. However, all of this illustrated how incredibly globalised the modern film industry truly is, both in the stories that we tell and the manner in which we are telling them. These are films that rely on global audiences, and so an outbreak in Japan and China has major repercussions within Hollywood itself.

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