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66. Singin’ In the Rain (#92)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and this week with special guest Grace Duffy, 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 second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s Singin’ in the Rain.

Regarded as one of the best musicals ever made, Singin’ in the Rain focuses on the transition from silent film toward talkies. With his studio embracing sound, leading man Don Lockwood begins to question his ability and his ability in a rapidly-changing industry. But love and good fortune are waiting just around the corner.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 92nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane is a beautiful piece of speculative paranoid horror.

The plot follows Michelle, a young woman who is involved in a car crash. She wakes up to find herself in a strange concrete bunker, under the care of the mysterious (and more-than-slightly sinister) Howard. As she comes to her senses, Howard advises her that something horrible has happened; the world has ended outside and they are sealed safely inside an air-tight self-sustaining bunker. However, Michelle has a healthy degree of skepticism about Howard’s claims, wondering what exactly is going on and just how trustworthy Howard actually is.

At home at the end of the world. Maybe.

At home at the end of the world.
Maybe.

To reveal any more would be to spoil the film. 10 Cloverfield Lane is very much a “mystery box” production, in keeping with various other JJ Abrams projects from Cloverfield to Super 8 to Star Trek Into Darkness. Although Abrams is not directing, 10 Cloverfield Lane retains a lot of the director’s aesthetic. It is a film that is designed to be seen with the bare minimum of information, to the point where the unveiling of the movie’s title came surprisingly late in the release process.

However, writers Drew Goddard and Daniel Casey (working from a story by Matthew Stuecken and Josh Campbell) and director Dan Trachtenberg use that mystery box structure in a manner distinct from Abrams’ blockbuster sensibilities. 10 Cloverfield Lane plays like a feature-length high-budget episode of The Twilight Zone, a story that looks and sounds great but would (mostly) lend itself to a stage play adaptation. 10 Cloverfield Lane feels very much like a classic high-concept science-fiction horror, in the best possible way.

Music to his ears...

Music to his ears…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Carbon Creek (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This April, we’re doing the second season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Although it was the second episode of the season broadcast, Carbon Creek was the first episode of the second season produced.

There are a variety of reasons for this. The fact that it only featured three primary cast members would have meant that everybody else got a little extra vacation time. With a lot of location shooting and a production design outside the Star Trek norm, it likely made sense to get it out of the way first. From a budgeting and production standpoint, the show likely benefited from a bit more time than episodes like Shockwave, Part II or Minefield.

"We come in peace...

“We come in peace…”

However, even outside of these pragmatic production concerns, Carbon Creek helps to set the tone for the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise. It is a largely nostalgic and romantic exercise, a rather light stand-alone episode that feels like it wallows in the iconography and conventions of Star Trek. Indeed, the teleplay is credited to Chris Black, the only new writer to survive the writing staff departures that Mike Sussman jokingly referred to as “purges.”

Black is in many respects the first “native” Enterprise writer – the first writer to last more than a season who had not worked on Star Trek: Voyager. As such, it seems only appropriate that he should set the tone for the season ahead.

Vulcan hustle...

Vulcan hustle…

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Star Trek (Gold Key) #1 – The Planet of No Return! (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Star Trek comics published by Gold Key are somewhat infamous additions to the Star Trek canon. The company began publishing comic book tie-ins in July 1967, in the gap between the first and second seasons of the original Star Trek show. They continued to publish those tie-ins until 1978, when the license passed to Marvel. These early comics have become the source of much derision over the years, with fans dismissing them as hollow cash-ins produced by people with little understanding of the franchise itself.

However, recent years have seen something of a reappraisal of these early comic books. Once IDW Publishing secured the rights to produce tie-in Star Trek comic books, they devoted considerable effort to archiving and releasing classic and little-seen material from the franchise’s history. They released the Star Trek newspaper strips in a two-volume set, before turning their attention to the classic Gold Key comic books. It is a very worthwhile attempt to provide fans with a glimpse of oft-overlooked chapters in the franchise’s history.

Plant life...

Plant life…

The Gold Key Star Trek comics are messy. A lot of the criticisms hold true. There are all manner of continuity errors in the production of the comic. Artist Alberto Giolitti takes quite some time to figure out what Scotty looks like, and the colourists take a bit of time to figure out what uniforms various cast members should be wearing. The writing is similarly clunky, with characters sounding a little out of sort as the basic plot details seem to stand at odds with still-relatively-small Star Trek canon had been established by the closing credit of Operation — Annihilate!

And yet, despite all these considerable flaws, these comics do make for an interesting time capsule. They don’t feel quite like Star Trek so much as an impression of what Star Trek would look described to somebody who has never seen it, filtered through the lense of fifties and sixties science-fiction comics. The early issues feel like three blind men describing an elephant, and it is glorious.

Branching out...

Branching out…

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Non-Review Review: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Sleeping Beauty is very much a product of the fifties, with the movie’s production spanning most of the decade. The story work commenced in 1951, with vocal performances recorded the following year. The movie was eventually released in 1959, to lukewarm critical and commercial success.

However, Sleeping Beauty reflects the fifties in other ways. The story about a young woman who needs to learn to do as her guardians instruct her, how marriage is really the ideal prospect for a woman of sixteen, and about how people we label as “evil” are unquestionably beyond redemption, Sleeping Beauty really plays to a very fifties mindset.

(Appropriately enough, the high budget and lacklustre box office performance of Sleeping Beauty would be a major part of the reason that Walt Disney would post its first annual loss in 1960.)

Sleep well...

Sleep well…

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Non-Review Review: Grabbers

Grabbers is a fascinating little premise, executed in a delightfully quirky and off-kilter manner. Very much an affectionate homage to classic creature features (you can spot Night of the Living Dead playing in the background of one early scene), director Jon Wright and writer Kevin Lehane are sure to give the story a delightfully stereotypical Irish twist. While the Americans might defeat a potentially hostile alien invasion with moral certitude and superior firepower, or the the British might best those otherworldly monsters with a stoic stiff upper lip, the inhabitants of the even stereotypically named “Erin Island” take on their visitors using the sheer unmitigated power of the pub lock-in.

It’s a premise that could easily collapse under its own weight, or become one joke extended well past the point of hilarity, but it’s to the credit of Wright, Lehane and the cast that it flies through its hour-and-a-half runtime.

Catching them off-guard…

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Non-Review Review: L.A. Confidential

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir.

Over the next week, I’ll be taking a look at the more modern films inspired and descended from film noir. It’s been tough trying to classify them all, to narrow down what I wanted to cover in the seven days that I had. In many cases, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to successfully link the films back to the original genre. Trust me when I say that I had tonnes of films on my shortlist to look at as part of this event – many of them were on and off the list at various times as I attempted to include a bit of variety or range. However, there was one modern film that was always near the top of list of films that I wanted to cover – L.A. Confidential.

Best Buds?

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