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278. The Godfather: Part III/Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Jenn Gannon and Jason Coyle, 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, both Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.

It is 1979. Michael Corleone has solidified control of the Corleone crime family, and hopes to take the family business completely legitimate by striking a deal with the Vatican Bank. Trying desperately to reunited his fractured and divided family, Michael quickly discovers that organised crime isn’t the only place where criminals are lurking, ready to strike.

At time of recording, neither movie was ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: West Side Story

In some ways, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story is a match made in heaven, a union that feels as perfect as the story’s central romance.

After all, West Side Story is one of the quintessential American texts. In its review of the classic Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins adaptation, The Hollywood Reporter described the film musical as “the one dramatic form that is purely American and purely Hollywood”, and West Side Story is a musical that takes that idea to its extreme, with a show-stopping number literally titled In America. More than that, the previous cinematic adaptation stands as one of the virtuoso examples of classic Hollywood studio filmmaking, with its beautiful production design, large cast, and beautiful backlot.

“Do you want to dance or do you want to fight?”

Steven Spielberg is perhaps the most purely American and most purely Hollywood director of his generation. He is just as much a monolyth of American popular culture as West Side Story or even the cinemative musical. Writer Arthur Ryel-Lindsey might have sarcastically declared that “Steven Spielberg is American culture”, but there’s a great deal of truth in it. Depending on who you ask, Spielberg is “the defining American populist of his generation”, “possibly the greatest American director”, or even simply “synonymous with cinema.” So West Side Story feels like a wonderful synthesis of material and director.

Plus, you know, Spielberg knows how to direct sharks.

“Maria, you gotta see her…”

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262. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (#250)

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.

This time, F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.

In the countryside, a married man finds himself tempted by a visitor from the city. Deciding to murder his wife and escape from his mundane life, the man has a last minute change of heart. Their passion reignited, the married couple embark on an adventure to the big city, where they might get lost in the crowds and perhaps find each other once again.

At time of recording, it was ranked 250th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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261. Gladiator (#44)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Stacy Grouden and Joe Griffin, 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.

This time, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.

As Rome extends its dominion over the rest of the world, General Maximus Decimus Meridius dreams only of returning home to his family. However, fate has other plans. When Maximus winds up accidentally involved in a sinister conspiracy surrounding the beloved Emperor Marcus Aurelius, his entire life is thrown into chaos. Maximus finds himself abandoned and left for dead. Recovered by a slave trader, Maximus is sold to an older entertainment manager Proximo, who sees a lot of potential in “the Spaniard.”

At time of recording, it was ranked 44th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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254. All About Eve (#134)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Donald Clarke and John Maguire, 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.

This time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve.

Late one evening, after a performance of Aged in Wood, Karen Richards find young Eve Harrington waiting outside the stage door. Taking pity on the young girl, Karen invites Eve backstage to meet her idol, the actor Margo Channing. Even very quickly insinuates herself into Margo’s life and it becomes clear that the young woman has ambitions that extend beyond mere fandom.

At time of recording, it was ranked 134th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On Christopher Nolan’s Deal at Universal…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. With the news that Christopher Nolan will be making his next movie at Universal, there was some extreme internet reaction to the deal that Nolan signed.

The overblown and performative online outrage is interesting, and says a lot about the internet’s strange obsession with Christopher Nolan as the only director who really gets to make personal projects at this level. Indeed, the most interesting thing about the internet outrage was how ill-informed it was. Nolan’s terms aren’t especially unusual in the world of directors working at that level. Nolan’s deal is similar to those struck with directors like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino or even Tyler Perry. It is business as usual.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Contradictory Generational Conflicts of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an interesting mess of contradictions. On the one hand, it is a classic story of generational conflict about a son who needs to defeat and vanquish his evil father in order to determine his place in the world – like Star Wars. However, it is also a story about a prodigal son who needs to connect with his roots and let his older relatives provide him with an identity that he cannot determine for himself. It’s a weird juxtaposition that creates an irreconciliable conflict at the heart of the movie.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Return of the Hollywood Epic…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Green Knight, and the upcoming releases of movies like Dune and The Last Duel, it seems like the old-fashioned Hollywood epic might be making a comeback.

This is interesting, as the genre has long been a Hollywood staple. Most people obviously think of the big biblical epics from the middle of the twentieth-century – Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis? However, there was an interesting revival at the turn of the millennium with the release of Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Hollywood failed to really reignite the genre. However, that failure has not been for lack of trying.

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

New Escapist Column! On the the Folly of Franchising the Predator…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With news that Dan Trachtenberg’s new Predator film might receive an edit for PG-13, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the difficulty in trying to reshape the iconic eighties movie monster into a modern franchise.

The appeal of the Predator is very simple. It hunts. It’s a concept that is perhaps best suited to a mode of franchising that doesn’t really exist any more, a set of reasonably budgeted sequel films that swap out characters and locations while retaining the core concept. However, modern franchises demand more. They demand world building, mythology, scale, spectacle and a shared universe. There’s something absurd about trying to retroactively apply that to the Predator as a concept.

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

Non-Review Review: Malcolm and Marie

The reactions to Malcolm and Marie have been divided, to the say the least.

On one extreme, some critics have been quick to laud Sam Levinson’s black-and-white character study as a surprise late addition to the awards race, a bracing old-fashioned character drama anchored in two compelling performances that interrogates a relationship that never seems certain whether it will implode or explode. It is the kind of film that invites comparisons to works like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Boys in the Band or even something like Autumn Sonata: characters trapped in a confined space, with the drama ready to boil over.

On the other extreme, critics have been quick to argue that Malcolm and Marie is an indulgent mess anchored in a grossly unlikeable and shallow protagonist that never digs beneath the skin of its central characters. More than that, Levinson seems to use the film as an opportunity to work through his own issues as a promising (and privileged) young filmmaker who feels like he has not necessarily been given the critical respect that he deserves. Malcolm and Marie is a series of self-serious monologues delivered in the aesthetic of a (very pretty) Calvin Klein commercial.

As ever, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.

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