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New Escapist Column! On the Narrativisation of the “Birds of Prey” Box Office…

I published an In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last Friday, discussing the inevitable armchair quarterbacking of the Birds of Prey box office.

The film under-performed at the box office in its opening weekend, particularly relative to some of the more bullish predictions. It pulled in an opening weekend box office closer to similarly budgeted films like Kingsman: The Secret Service and Ford v. Ferrari than breakout smashes like Deadpool or 300. As a result, there’s a been a rush to account for those results, which often boils down to an attempt to narrativise the film’s failure – to argue that the causes for that result are easily discerned by outside observers. Of course, those analyses often handily fit various pre-determined narratives.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Birds of Prey” and Marginalised Characters…

I published an In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week, to mark the release of Birds of Prey.

One of the interesting aspects of Birds of Prey is the way in which it’s essentially a story about marginalised characters, characters who have historically been pushed to the edge of comic book narratives – erased and reinvented by the demands of universe-wide reboots, defined primarily in relationship to more popular male characters, and just generally subject to the whims of the shared universe. Part of what makes Birds of Prey so interesting is the way in which it builds that into the narrative, creating a story for its characters where the absence of Batman and the Joker is the entire point of the exercise.

It’s a very clever approach to the source material, and one which suggests a more fundamental understanding of the source material than many critics credit it. In some ways, it is a more faithful adaptation of the Suicide Squad concept than Suicide Squad, building itself around the flotsam and jetsam of DC continuity. It helps that Birds of Prey finds an emotional hook into this story and uses it to offer a feminist perspective on this familiar trope. After all, its notable that so many of these marginalised and erased characters are women.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Oscar Success of “Joker”…

I published a piece at Escapist Magazine earlier this week, looking at the success of Joker at this week’s Oscar nominations.

Joker is an interesting film, primarily because of the passion and enthusiasm that it generates on both sides of the debate. It is a film with a strong following and a very strong opposition, and it seems that every observer must pledge allegiance to one side or the other. This is ironic, because it’s arguably the most interesting thing about a film that is largely remarkable for how safe it plays most of its creative choices – the irony only enhanced by how that modesty seems almost dignified amid the cacophony around it.

As such, it’s easy to miss how successful Joker has been, and how it has positioned itself as an obvious choice for the Oscar-nominee frontrunner. Of course, the polarisation around the film makes it highly unlikely to actually win the prize, but any sensible assessment of the film – its performance, its influences, its pedigree, its impact – would concede that it is very much the definition of a slam dunk for the Oscar nominations. More than that, the fact that it swept up the Oscar nominations is arguably a good thing for the Academy Awards, a welcome a long overdue reminder that big and popular films can succeed.

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

New Escapist Column! “Joker” as a Perverted Superhero Origin Story…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday. Naturally, it tackled the big release of the moment, Todd Phillips’ Joker.

Joker has been the source of a lot of controversy and attention. However, one of the most interesting debates around it has been the discussion over whether it counts as a superhero story at all – director Todd Phillips and actor Marc Maron have been quick to distance the film from the genre. However, despite these claims, Joker actually works very well as a perversion of the archetypal superhero origin story. In doing so, it suggests something interesting about the state of the genre at the current cultural moment.

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

Escapist Column! How “Mindhunter” Deconstructs the Serial Killer Procedural…

Hey there.

A few weeks back, I launched a new column at Escapist Magazine, titled In the Frame. The idea is to look at pop contemporary pop culture – whether film or television or anything else besides. I’d like to thank Nick Calandra and Samantha Nelson for their support and encouragement in making this happen. Over the course of this week, I’ll be posting links to the columns that have already been published.

First up, a piece looking Mindhunter, and the way in which it plays with the format and structure of the conventional serial killer procedural to produce something much more interesting and compelling. Give it a read, I hope you enjoy. You can read it here, or click the picture below.