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“Anything Goes!” The Curious, Qualified Appeal of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”…

This August, the podcast that I co-host, The 250, is doing a season looking at all four Indiana Jones films as part of our “Indiana Summer.” This week, we’re looking at Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and I had some thoughts on the film.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom occupies an interesting space in the cultural consciousness.

Released as a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film was generally considered something of a disappointment. Despite a higher profile and a higher budget, the film grossed slightly less than its direct predecessor. The reviews were generally unkind. People Magazine decried the movie as “an astonishing violation of the trust people have in Spielberg and Lucas’ essentially good-natured approach to movies intended primarily for kids.”

A bridge too far?

Many of those involved with the film seem to have accepted this criticism and taken it to heart. Kate Capshaw quipped that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom only really endured because it was packaged as part of trilogy re-releases, joking, “Thank goodness it’s a three-pack, or we wouldn’t have made the cut.” Spielberg was already apologising for the movie in the pre-release publicity for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, admitting, “I wasn’t happy with the second film at all.”

To be clear, there are a lot of valid criticisms of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It would almost be a cheat to concede that the film “has not aged well”, as that would imply that its portrayal of the Indian subcontinent was not horribly dated on its initial release in the mid-eighties. However, accepting and allowing for these very real problems, there is still something interesting and engaging about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It’s not a movie that is appealing in spite of its darkness, but one that is appealing precisely because of it.

Fortune and glory.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a messy and brutal movie. It’s angry and it’s unpleasant. However, it is interesting for precisely that reason. It stood out in the context of Steven Spielberg’s career at the time because Spielberg had cultivated an image of himself as a wholesome and wondrous filmmaker. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom marks the first real challenge to that image, perhaps paving the way for the director’s later forays into darkness and cynicism with movies like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Munich and more.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom feels like the work of Steven Spielberg at his most unguarded, cutting completely loose and working through a lot of stuff. It’s a very candid and very explicit film, lacking a lot of the polish and the cleanliness of Spielberg’s other major works from around this time. That’s what makes it such a fascinating artifact.

“Why did it have to be snakes?”

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247. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Indiana Summer 2021 (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn, Tony Black and Darren Mooney, with special guest Alex Towers, 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, continuing our Indiana Summer, Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Escaping a botched deal in Hong Kong, intrepid explorer Indiana Jones finds himself in India with two unlikely partners. Jones is quickly drawn into a mystery involving stolen artifacts and a village of missing children, which offers the adventurer the opportunity for “fortune and glory.” However, dark secrets are buried beneath Pankot Palace, and it may take an archeologist to unearth them.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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245. Tumbbad – This Just In (#250)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Joey Keogh, 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, Anand Gandhi, Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad’s Tumbbad.

In a remote Indian village, something ancient and evil is lurking beneath the surface. As the country moves towards independence, Vinayak Rao finds a way to exploit the mysteries of Tumbbad to his own advantage. However, nothing comes without a price.

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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243. Dabangg 3 – This Just In (-#86)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The Bottom 100 is a subset of The 250. It is a journey through the worst 100 movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Prabhu Deva’s Dabangg 3.

Veteran police officer Chulbul Pandey is living a seemingly idealistic existence, when a simple people trafficking case brings back a ghost from his own past. Confronting an old enemy and painful memories, Chulbul Pandey finally learns what it means to be truly fearless.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 86th worst movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Torchwood: Miracle Day – Rendition (Review)

Rendition serves as a demonstration of the flaws with Torchwood: Miracle Day. While some of those flaws – the flaws inherent to the production between the BBC and Starz, the difficulty with scale – were built into The New World, Rendition hits upon quite a few more. Most obviously, it’s an entire episode dedicated to filler. Pretty much the only plot line that advances in a meaningful way is that involving Oswald Danes. Otherwise, Rendition feels like a bit of a holding pattern, a time-wasting exercise designed to pad out the season to ten episodes.

Dead on arrival?

Dead on arrival?

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Non-Review Review: Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain”)

This film was seen as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2019. Given the high volumes of films being shown and the number of reviews to be written, these may end up being a bit shorter than usual reviews.

The Man Who Feels No Pain is the best film at this year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.

Written and directed by Vasan Bala, The Man Who Feels No Pain is a delightfully self-aware Hindu action comedy which focuses on a young man who – as the title suggests – was born without any capacity to feel pain. Surya has lived a sheltered life, raised by an over-protective father and an over-eager grandfather. Surya’s life has been shaped and defined by the steady stream of popular culture that his grandfather has fed him, in lieu of access to the outside world. Surya’s moral compass is shaped and defined by comic books and eighties action movies, instilling in the boy a very firm sense of right and wrong and giving him a moral certainty about how best to respond to injustice.

When Surya is thrown out into the world as a twenty-year-old adult, there is a serious question as to whether Surya or the world is ready for the experience. The Man Who Feels No Pain is many, many things. Most immediately and superficially, from its opening scenes, it is a loving and knowing parody of eighties action movies and the superhero cinema that they spawned. It works incredibly well on these terms, managing to expertly balance the demands of both the action sequences and the comedic beats. However, the most endearing and engaging aspect of The Man Who Feels No Pain is the way in which it blends this celebration of contemporary pop culture into a broader exploration of growing up.

At its core, The Man Who Feels No Pain is an exploration of that old C.S. Lewis adage that growing up means putting away childish things; including the fear of being seen as childish.

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43. Dangal – The Indian Film Festival of Ireland 2017 (#72)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a fortnightly 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 week, the pair are joined by Babu Patel and Giovanna Rampazzo, with thanks to Siraj Zaidi and The Indian Film Festival of Ireland.

This time, Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal.

When professional wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat fails to fulfill his dream of winning a gold medal by wrestling for India, he vows that his sons will take home that prize in his stead. However, Phogat never fathers any sons; instead, he becomes parent to four girls. Undeterred, Mahavir commits himself to the idea that his daughters Geeta and Babita will realise that dream, regardless of any social pressures that might stand in their way.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 72nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Dangal is being shown as part of the Indian Film Festival of Ireland. It will be shown in Rathmines Public Library at 12pm, next Saturday 16th September 2017. Admission is free. Any Irish listeners of the podcast interested in watching the film are more than welcome; the film is introduced in broad terms at the start of the podcast.

Giovanna Rampazzo is also introducing a screening of two short films and the movie Waiting at 1pm, next Saturday 16th September 2017 at DIT Aunger Street.

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The X-Files – Badlaa (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

Badlaa is a disturbing and unsettling piece of television.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about it might be the fact that this is the last truly memorable monster of the week.

"Well, this sure beats the way I got in."

“Well, this sure beats the way I got in.”

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My 12 for ’13: Stoker & A Vampire Story Without Vampire

This is my annual countdown of the 12 movies that really stuck with me this year. It only counts the movies released in Ireland in 2013, so quite a few of this year’s Oscar contenders aren’t eligible, though some of last year’s are.

This is number 5…

Stoker is one of the most underrated gems of the year. Released early on, Chan-wook Park’s psychological horror easily gets lost in the shuffle. Which is a shame, because it’s a wonderfully disturbing little thriller, one crafted with an incredible eye for beauty. Even the name is somewhat appropriate, evoking the creator of the modern vampire story. Stoker is in essence a vampire movie made without a vampire, although Matthew Goode’s Uncle Charlie is a convenient stand-in.

stoker4

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Non-Review Review: Stoker

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Stoker is, without spoiling anything, essentially a vampire movie without a vampire. It’s a psychological thriller with a decidedly charged sexual undercurrent. It’s also a story of the things we keep secret, the dangers of blood and unwholesome desires. Park Chan-wook does an excellent job adapting Wentworth Miller’s screenplay for film, and the result is a strange and macabre beauty, a film that is occasionally a little too ethereal for its own good, but remains compelling and uncomfortable viewing.

Shear terror...

Shear terror…

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