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New Escapist Column! On the “Joker” Controversy, One Year Out…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s been roughly a year since the release of Joker, so it seems appropriate to take a look back at the controversy surrounding the film.

The controversy around Joker is interesting, because it was at once so loud and so meaningless. In the lead-up to the film’s release, there was a lot of hyperbole around the movie, arguing that it might empower or encourage a certain audience – angry young men – to commit acts of violence. This made the release of the film something of a wry practical joke, with Joker ultimately bending over backwards to avoid any potentially inflammatory choices. The result was a storm that raged in a tea cup, but which seemed eager to bubble over.

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

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “The Excellence of The Haunting of Bly Manor”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard for the eighth episode. It was a light enough week for film news, so we talked about Disney’s pivot to streaming, the rumours about the upcoming sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and the joys of The Haunting of Bly Manor.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Snyder Cut and the Future of Pandemic Cinema…

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 month, it will be releasing on the Thursday.

With that in mind, here is last week’s episode, covering the long-looming release of The Snyder Cut of Justice League, and why this might represent an attractive model for studios desperately looking for new (and affordable) content in the midst of a pandemic.

New Escapist Column! On “Antebellum” and What Makes a Good Twist…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. Since Antebellum has been out for two weeks now, it seemed fair to discuss the movie’s twist – and, in particular, what it is that makes a “good” twist and how such a twist serves the movie of which it is part.

Arguably, any movie with a twist has to be two movies: the movie that the audience watches for the first time blind, and the one that they rewatch knowing the twist. As such, for a movie with a twist to be truly good, it has to succeed as two (occasionally wildly) different movies. That’s a lot of pressure, and illustrates why truly great twists are so rare and why they are often elevated to the status of cinematic legend. However, a bad twist can ultimately undercut both of the movies that it needs to be, making the failure even more noticeable.

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

Burning unease.

New Escapist Column! On the Joker’s Attempts to Hijack “The Dark Knight”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because the Monday column is now published with a companion video, we thought it might be worth trying something a bit more visual than usual. Because TENET is still in wide release, we thought it might be interesting to try something visual that was related to Christopher Nolan.

The Dark Knight is an interesting film for a number of reasons. Interestingly, it is the rare Christopher Nolan movie that is almost entirely linear. Nolan’s other films tend to jump around a lot in time, but The Dark Knight progresses quite clearly from beginning to end. This is interesting, because it serves to provide an interesting and compelling contrast to the Joker. Because The Dark Knight is so linear, there’s an interesting tension as the Joker struggles to take control of the narrative and bend the view to his perspective. Sometimes in a very literal manner.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Childish Wonder of “Black Panther”…

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.

With that in mind, here is last week’s episode, covering Ryan Coogler’s use of childish wonder in Black Panther. You can watch the pilot video here, and read the companion article here.

New Escapist Column! On the Planning of Disney’s “Star Wars” Sequel Trilogy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because the news cycle around Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker never dies, it seemed like an appropriate time to look at the famous refrain that Disney needed a “plan” for their Star Wars sequel trilogy.

In truth, this is at best a simple solution to a complex problem. After all, fans have hardly proven themselves willing to offer movies the benefit of the doubt because they were “planned” in advance. The Star Wars prequel trilogy was not greeted with any greater warmth or understanding because George Lucas knew where he was going. Instead, the problem is that The Rise of Skywalker needed a strong vision of what it wanted to be and what it wanted to say.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Black Panther” and Childlike Wonder…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman over a week ago, I have been thinking a lot about Black Panther. In particular, what makes it special.

It isn’t simply that Black Panther was the first superhero movie on this scale to feature a predominantly black cast from a black director. It was also the extent to which director Ryan Coogler understood the power of superheroes. Very few superhero movies are written with an understanding of what superheroes represent and why they are important, instead often falling into the trap of power fantasies rather than empowerment fantasies. Black Panther is the rare superhero movie that dares to see its world through the eyes of a child, and is more powerful for that.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Interstellar”, “TENET” and the Competing Visions of the Future…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier today. With the release of TENET, it seemed worth taking a look at some of the core themes of the film.

TENET has most frequently been discussed in the context of its relationship to Inception, but it is perhaps most interesting to discuss in relation to Interstellar. Both of those films are about the relationship between the present and the future, exploring the dynamic between mankind and a projected future version of themselves. Interstellar is a story about the hope held by the future, but TENET offers a more cynical perspective.

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

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Chadwick Boseman And Broken Time”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Bob Chipman for the second episode, primarily discussing the passing of Chadwick Boseman and the summer of broken time typified by TENET, i’m thinking of ending things, Palm Springs and Bill & Ted Face the Music.

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