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319. Whiplash (#42)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Richard Drumm, 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, Damian Chazelle’s Whiplash.

Andrew Neiman is a young music student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York City. A jazz drummer, Andrew dreams of great things, of becoming a legend like Miles Davis or John Coltrane. However, he falls under the influence of band leader Terence Fletcher. Fletcher sees potential in Andrew, and draws the young musician into his orbit. The two find themselves trapped in a toxic push-and-pull relationship, with the stakes escalating quickly.

At time of recording, it was ranked 42nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “The Witcher: Blood Origin”, and What Happens When Television Becomes a Six-Hour Movie…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this week. With the release of The Witcher: Blood Origin on Netflix, it seemed like a good time to discuss an unsettling trend in modern television: the idea that modern shows are really just super-extended movies, and the consequences of that.

Blood Origin demonstrates what happens when a studio treats a television show like a movie. The series was written and filmed as six episodes, but was horrible cut down in the editting bay. Two whole episodes were stripped out of the show, leaving it incoherent and nonsensical. In many ways, this was exactly what happened with Joss Whedon’s cut of Justice League, which was similarly cut down to have a runtime of under two hours. If television shows are just films now, they are subject to the same sort of meddling.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On “Willow” and Disney’s Fantasy Pitch…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Willow on Disney+ this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the show means for the Disney brand, and why it is so important to the company going forward.

The past couple of decades have seen an explosion in fantasy film and television: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. However, studios have quickly discovered that audiences aren’t necessarily enthusiastically engaged with fantasy, struggling to connect with the genres. Studios like Disney have invested millions trying to tap into that audience, with numerous high-profile failures. Willow represents the latest attempt by Disney to craft a live action fantasy universe with a built-in fanbase, and the company is using the same playbook that it did with Star Wars.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Better Call Saul”, “Andor” and Slow-Burn Classics…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier this week. As Andor winds down its first season, garnering rave reviews but not attracting as strong an audience as its predecessors, comparisons come to mind concerning Better Call Saul, which has quietly become one of the best television shows of the decade despite never reaching the same level of popularity as its predecessor.

What do Better Call Saul and Andor have in common? What is it that makes both shows so compelling, but which also makes them a tougher sell to audiences than what came before? Are they both just out of step with the zeitgeist, reflecting a mode of television production that doesn’t have the same cultural cachet that it once did? And, most importantly, does any of that matter if they are both creative triumphs? It’s interesting to explore and unpack.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Black Adam” and the Debate Over Superheroes Killing…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at the debate over superheroes killing, which is a major thematic point in the recent blockbuster Black Adam. It’s an interesting point of discussion, but one that often overlooks and misses the larger trend within the superhero genre. That sort of debate doesn’t happen over other pulp heroes, like cowboys or gangsters or pirates, so what is it that makes superheroes a special case?

302. Requiem for a Dream (#84)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Richard Drumm, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

This week, Darren Aronofsky Requiem for a Dream.

Four Brooklyn residents navigate addiction and isolation in its various forms, through Summer, Fall and Winter. There is no Spring.

At time of recording, it was ranked 84th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! “The Northman is a Breathtaking Blockbuster”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of The Northman, which is in theatres in the U.K. and Ireland now and in the United States next week.

277. The Batman – This Just In (#67)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Graham Day and Niall Glynn, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, a new entry: Matt Reeves’ The Batman.

Bruce Wayne is in the second year of his war on crime in Gotham, and things are not improving. Indeed, the city is thrown into anarchy when a new villain calling themselves the Riddler begins targetting city officials and threatening to unmask the city’s darkest secrets. Can Bruce survive what is coming? Can the Batman? Can Gotham?

At time of recording, it was ranked 67th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On Overthinking “Jackass”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Jackass Forever this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the cultural phenomenon.

It’s possible to look at Jackass as the intersection of three overlapping traditions in entertainment, particularly American entertainment: the freak show, the silent comedy and early reality television. There’s a fascinating and heady cocktail at play in this, and Jackass exists as a curious modern hybrid. There is sense of evolution here. There’s perhaps something to admire in the way that the cast of Jackass retain control of their narrative.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Dearth of the Monoculture…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier this week. It’s been an interesting few weeks and months in terms of pop culture. There’s been a lot of debate about critics and the role of critics, there’s been a lot of news about pop culture that the internet doesn’t seem too excited about, and there’s been a lot of coverage about mundane aspects of The Batman.

All of these things speak to an interesting and ongoing anxiety about the “monoculture”, the idea of pieces of pop culture that are seismic enough to become part of the shared vernacular. The pandemic has had a number of major impacts on the production and the consumption of popular culture, and part of that has been an increasing sense of disconnect from a shared sense of the monoculture. However, is the monoculture truly dead? Or is it simply resting?

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