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123. The Sting (#100)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Gerry Mooney, 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, George Roy Hill’s The Sting.

When a simple con leads to horrific consequences, amateur con artist Johnny Hooker vows to avenge himself on crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. Enlisting the help of over-the-hill veteran Henry Gondorff and a motley crew of small-time hoods, Hooker sets in motion an elaborate con game with potentially disastrous consequences.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 100th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: The Highwaymen

The Highwaymen is an uneven and clumsy piece of work.

In many ways, The Highwaymen positions itself as a logical extension of the modern deconstructive western, the tales of men on the edge of the frontier grappling with the challenges of modernity. Sometimes, those stories are set in the old west as it faces massive social shifts; The Sisters Brothers is a recent, effective example. Sometimes, these stories unfold in a more contemporary setting featuring characters still processing how the world has moved past them; Hell or High Water may be the best of the recent examples. The Highwaymen positions itself somewhere on the spectrum between the two; an early scene has the Governor of Texas offering an elevator pitch for the entire film, “It’s 1934, Lee, and you wanna put cowboys on Bonnie and Clyde?”

This is the basic premise of The Highwaymen, and it is a good one. It is two different American archetypes thrown into stark opposition with one another, a story that pits two of the last cowboys in the old west against a newer and hungrier breed of American outlaw. The Highwaymen is the story of the two Texas Rangers drafted out of retirement to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. Forget Monsters vs. Aliens or Cowboys and Aliens or Alien vs. Predator, this is a pop cultural match-up for the ages. It is cowboys versus gangsters. (It might be more accurate to describe Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow as “public enemies”, but “cowboys versus public enemies” is not quite so evocative.)

With all of this in mind, it is disappointing that The Highwaymen feels so hollow.

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96. Paper Moon (#229)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, 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 Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode thrown in.

This time, Peter Bogdonavich’s Paper Moon.

Mose is a two-bit hustle who is passing through town in time to visit a funeral for an old flame. While there, the woman’s young daughter is thrown into his care. Mose immediately denies paternity of the precocious and intelligent young Adie, but the pair quick gel as they embark upon a string of hustles across Depression-era America.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 229th best movie of all-time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Daleks in Manhattan originally aired in 2007.

We must evolve! Evolve! Evolve!

– Dalek Sec has perhaps the most out-of-character moment for a Dalek ever

The concept of Daleks in the past is a great idea. However, with the exception of Evil of the Daleks, it is also a bit of a tricky one. Steven Moffat found that out with the first Dalek story of his tenure, Victory of the Daleks, bringing the Daleks to the Second World War. However, Russell T. Davies tried telling a Dalek story set in the past as part of the show’s third season. The Parting of the Ways had featured a Dalek story set in the future, while Doomsday saw the fiends lay siege to modern-day London. Placing the Daleks in 1930s New York seems a staggeringly ambitious proposition.

It's a hell of a town...

It’s a hell of a town…

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Non-Review Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is undoubtedly a well made film from a technical point of view. It stylishly evokes a collective memory of Depression-era America with a skilled romanticism, all beautifully staged and designed, scored with music clearly intended to tug at the heart-strings. However, despite the technical proficiency with which the film is crafted, it ends up feeling ultimately quite lifeless, and a little stale – like a mediocre circus, the movie is stylish and momentarily distracting, but it never manages to grasp its audience, or to engage.

He packed his trunk and said goodbye to the circus...

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