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Non-Review Review: Palm Springs

On the surface, Palm Springs is instantly recognisable as a genre-savvy update of the classic Groundhog Day template for the twenty-first century.

The basic plot finds two young adults – Nyles and Sarah – trapped living the same day over and over and over again. There is no escape from this nightmare, which finds the pair constantly reliving the wedding of Sarah’s sister Tala. As befitting the more modern media-literate approach to these sorts of stories, Palm Springs joins Nyles at a point where he has already been trapped in the loop for an extraordinarily long amount of time. He is already as familiar with the rules and limitations of this sort of narrative as any audience member who watched Groundhog Day on loop.

Making a splash.

This level of self-awareness in a story is potentially dangerous, encouraging ironic detachment. It’s very each for stories about these sorts of genre-savvy protagonists to feel more like plot devices than actual characters, particularly when operating within constructs that audiences only recognise from other films. “It’s one of those infinite time loop situations you might have heard of,” Nyles casually explains to Sarah early in the film. Sarah responds, aghast, “That I might have heard of?”

There are certainly moments when Palm Springs feels like it might be just a little too knowing and a little too arch, its own story too consciously framed in terms of familiar narrative devices. Most notably, even though the film is not directly named, one of the big emotional beats in Palm Springs seems to be lifted directly from Jurassic Park. Released the same year as Groundhog Day, it exists within the same nostalgic framework and was just as defining for an entire generation of movie-goers. Moments like that feel just a little bit too heavy-handed.

Some “him” time.

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The X-Files – Monday (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

It always ends the same way. As is appropriate for a story about a time loop, Monday begins with an ending. The teaser catches the last few minutes of one of the episode’s repeating time loops. It is a striking image. Everybody dies – including Mulder and Scully. How could the episode possibly continue past that point? It is simple. Time resets. The universe snaps back into shape around Mulder and Scully, much like it did at the climax of Dreamland II. Everybody gets another chance to set things right. The show bounces back to its status quo, as it did with One Son.

Time for a do-over. Revise it until it’s right.

A ticking clock...

A ticking clock…

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Non-Review Review: The Monster Squad

The Monster Squad is an affectionate celebration of the monster movies of yesteryear, written from the point of view of a generation that grew up with the Universal Horror monsters. When Dracula conspires with his monstrous brethren to conquer the world, it’s up to a gang of plucky kids and their knowledge of horror movie tropes and clichés to stop the lord of the vampires from swaying the balance of good and evil once and for all. It’s an understandably cheesy celebration of those old monster movies, one that benefits from never taking itself or its subject matter to seriously. However, there’s a deep and abiding affection to be found in The Monster Squad, a polite and endearing salute to the iconic monsters of the thirties (through the fifties) from a generation that has its own scary subjects to worry about.

Staying under wraps…

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Non-Review Review: Source Code

A special thanks to the guys over at movies.ie for sneaking us into an advanced preview screening.

Duncan Jones really grabbed our attention with Moon, one of the most boldly original films of the last decade. However, it’s often the second film of a promising young director that is the most fascinating to watch, as the weight of expectation is measured against a (typically) larger budget and profile. Too many young talents fizzle out or stumble at the second hurdle. I’m glad to report that Jones manages to make it safely across. While Source Code might lack the power of his debut, it’s still a fascinating little science-fiction thriller, one I’m still thinking of hours after I left the screening. And that is certainly a mark of quality.

Has Colter gone off the rails?

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