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132. Glitter (-#18)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Stacy Grouden, 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, Vondie Curtis-Hall’s Glitter.

Spotted as a back-up vocalist by fly D.J. Julian “Dice” Black, singer Billie Frank finds herself whisked away into a world of stardom and celebrity. However, Billie quickly discovers that fame and fortune do not offer the comfort and security that she has always craved.

At time of recording, it was ranked 18th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the worst movies of all-time.

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The X-Files – 4-D (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

In many ways, the ninth season begins with 4-D.

This is perhaps the perfect point for an “alternate reality” episode. After all, The X-Files has undergone a transformation; the reality of the show has been fundamentally and impossibly altered. It might have the same title, it might have an opening sequence that somewhat resembles the old opening sequence, it might even have continuity of characters like Scully and Skinner. However, something has changed. This is not Mulder and Scully, but this is still The X-Files. The show has transitioned. The world has changed around it.

A close shave...

A close shave…

The first three episodes of the season – Nothing Important Happened Today I, Nothing Important Happened Today II, and Dæmonicus – were all produced before 9/11, even though they were broadcast two months after the attacks. (9/11 actually fell during the production of Dæmonicus, with shooting stopping for a day.) The fourth episode of the season, Hellbound, was pushed back deeper into the broadcast order. As such, 4-D was the first episode to be both produced and aired after 9/11.

Appropriately enough, that means that 4-D exists in a different world than the episodes directly preceding it. It has been remarked that the events of 9/11 represented a break in cultural continuity, a line by which history might (relatively cleanly) be divided. There was the world “before 9/11” and “after 9/11.” Although the worlds might look quite similar – and even identical, in many cases – they should not be confused. The world is not as it was. Reality has come undone.

Well, Doggett could always make it as a stand-up comedian.

Well, Doggett could always make it as a stand-up comedian.

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The X-Files – Sanguinarium (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Appropriately enough, Sanguinarium is a bloody mess of an episode.

To be fair, it’s not a total write-off. There are some interesting ideas here, and the episode’s willingness to indulge in trashy horror is almost endearing… to a point. However, Sanguinarium often serves to illustrate just how much care and consideration is necessary to make an episode of The X-Files work. It is a very effective counter-example, an episode that demonstrates it takes more than just pulpy horror to make an episode work. Sanguinarium is almost as revolting and as graphic as Home, but it lack all the little elements that made the earlier episode work.

The doctor will see you now...

The doctor will see you now…

It’s cheesy instead of wry. It’s gratuitous instead of simply hyperactive. It’s blunt instead of subversive. Sanguinarium is not a misfire to the same extent as – say – Teso Dos Bichos or Excelsis Dei. It has a few ill-judged elements, but it’s more clumsy than offensive. It might be a bit much to suggest that there’s a classic episode buried just beneath the surface of Sanguinarium, but it seems fair to say that there is a much better episode somewhere in here. One suspects that pressure behind the scenes simply made it tougher to bring that episode to the fore.

Nevertheless, Sanguinarium is an interesting failure, if not quite a satisfying episode.

Blood work...

Blood work…

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Todd McFarlane’s Run on Spider-Man (Review/Retrospective)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

Todd McFarlane is undoubtedly one of the best artists ever to work on Spider-Man. His take on the character is iconic and influential. He really captures the sense of Spider-Man as a character who should be unnerving or disturbing – a character who is part insect, whose limbs are able to bend and contort in ways that would seem unnatural to a casual observer. His run on The Amazing Spider-Man with writer David Michelinie is one of the most underrated Spider-Man comics ever produced.

McFarlane was working at Marvel around the time that the company was investing more power in its artists. More and more, artists were becoming more essential to the creative process – whether credited as “plotters” or “writers.” Jim Lee was wresting control of the X-Men franchise from veteran writer Chris Claremont. Rob Liefeld was writing and drawing on his popular X-Force, launched from New Mutants.

Holding it together...

Holding it together…

In this context, it made sense to allow Todd McFarlane to branch out and write his own Spider-Man title. Launched to run alongside The Amazing Spider-Man, McFarlane’s adjectiveless Spider-Man remains one of the comic book success stories of the nineties, selling 2.5 million copied on initial release. It remains one of the best selling comic books of all time, with the original artwork recently selling for over $675,000.

As with many of its contemporary artist-drive series, McFarlane’s Spider-Man is a compelling read. It’s a glimpse inside the mindset of the comic book industry, a snapshot of trends that were still developing. McFarlane’s writing might be a little over-cooked, his plotting a little weak and he may not have the strongest sense of theme or structure. However, McFarlane’s artwork is absolutely spectacular, and there’s something very fascinating about McFarlane’s attempt to write Spider-Man as a horror comic starring the iconic web-slinger.

A sting in the tale...

A sting in the tale…

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Is It Ever Appropriate to Slam a Movie Because of a Star’s Appearance?

Hmmm… Okay, maybe this isn’t entirely a fair example, but the thought occurred to me while reading the Guardian’s review of Couples’ Retreat and the reviewer spent his first paragraph critising Vince Vaugn’s weight. I wish I were kidding, but here’s the quote:

Favreau was always on the chunky side, to be fair, and he’s been doing fine behind the camera with the Iron Man movies, but back in Swingers, Vaughn had the requisite skinniness to persuade us he really was a half-starved young Hollywood actor. Now he has boy boobs, love handles and back fat. And all this (a lot of this) in a movie that requires him to wear a swimsuit most of the time.

The review then goes on to make a somewhat valid criticism of his current career choices (while kicking Jennifer Aniston, which is just mean – if a little bit justified), but speaks little about the offending movie in general. I know that it isn’t really fair to complain about a review criticising a guy’s appearance – I acknowledge that woman are probably more affected by our image-conscious society – but is it ever really fair to slam a movie based upon the lead actor’s appearance?

Phat or fat?

Phat or fat?

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