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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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New Escapist Column! On Why Chris Evans Returning to the MCU Would Be a Bad Idea…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Last week, there were rumours that Chris Evans might be returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following his departure in Avengers: Endgame.

This is interesting, because it potentially undermines one of the more interesting facets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. Comic books are largely shaped and defined by nostalgia, with beloved characters filling familiar roles in perpetuity, with any major change to the status quo eventually rolling back to the default. In contrast, a cinematic universe operates by different constraints: actors move on, age out and even die. This would force a long-form shared universe to evolve in a way that comics haven’t had to. This is a good thing, as evolution is necessary.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “The Force Awakens” Killed the Unlikely Adult-Oriented Christmas Blockbuster…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It has been five years since the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. While this anniversary has been discussed and dissected from countless directions over the past few weeks, there is one under-explored aspect of it.

In the early 2010s, as blockbuster cinema came to dominate the cultural landscape, something interesting happened in the Christmas release window. Movies like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street somehow managed to thrive in the Christmas corridor, by offering reasonably-budgeted adult-skewing movies that could draw crowds over the holiday season, safe from the blockbuster pile-up over the summer. Sadly, The Force Awakens signalled the end of this.

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

New Podcast! The Movie Palace – “Summer of Psycho: Gus Van Sant’s Psycho”

I had the pleasure of joining the great and generous Carl Sweeney on his excellent classic Hollywood podcast The Movie Palace.

To mark the sixtieth anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, The Movie Palace has dedicated a run of episodes to exploring elements of the iconic horror film. I was thrilled to rejoin Carl for a discussion of the infamous and divisive remake of the film, in which Gus Van Sant leveraged the success of Good Will Hunting to convince Universal to sign off on a full colour remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, using a largely unchanged script and even emulating a lot of the same camera angles. The result was a critical and commercial failure, but remains an interesting experiment.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

191. Sunset Boulevard (#64)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Charlene Lydon and Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair, 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.

This time, Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard.

Screenwriter Joe Gillis is found floating upside down in the pool of silent era film star Norma Desmond. As the authorities begin to piece together exactly what happened, Gillis’ corpse narrates a sordid tale of desperation, resentment, lust – and Hollywood haunted by its own past.

At time of recording, it was ranked 64th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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