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IT’s Mourning in America: Modern Cinema’s End of the Eighties…

IT and Atomic Blonde touch on an intriguing (and renewed) interest in the end of the eighties.

There are a number of other examples scattered across contemporary pop culture. Halt and Catch Fire recently jumped several years in the gap between its penultimate and final seasons, straddling the end of the eighties and exploring the existential chaos of the early nineties. Mindhorn finds its central character unable to escape the shadow of a beloved cult television show that was retired in 1989, his fame ending with that decade. Although the true story that inspired it unfolded in the mid-nineties, Gold is set in the late eighties.

Part of this undoubtedly simple nostalgia. After all, the current generation of cinema audiences most likely came of age in the late eighties and grew in the nineties. This explains the wave of eighties and nineties nostalgia sweeping through popular culture, from the relaunches of shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files to belated sequels like Independence Day: Resurgence and Jurassic World. People tend to be nostalgic towards their own childhoods, and this explains the pull of pop art like Stranger Things to modern audiences.

At the same time, it is interesting to wonder whether there is something deeper at work in all of this, if this very focused fascination with the end of the eighties is in some way intended as a commentary or reflection on the contemporary world, whether these films are trying to make sense of the modern climate through the framework of the transition from the late eighties into the nineties.

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Non-Review Review: IT

IT works best as a fusion of weird fiction with a classic coming of age story.

IT is arguably one of Stephen King’s most iconic and influential works. Pennywise the Dancing Clown is perhaps King’s most instantly recognisable creation. King’s work seems to recognise this. The monster clown haunts his fiction, making various appearances in other works, suggesting that the creature is an infection spreading across the author’s vast tableau. There are lots of reasons for IT‘s success and status, but a lot of it comes down to the fact that IT is an encapsulation of many of King’s pet themes and plays to many of King’s strengths.

Bill Skarsgård used his other 98 red balloons on Atomic Blonde.

Director Andrés Muschietti seems to understand this. In fact, IT serves as a smorgasbord of cinematic King adaptations, drawing upon and even quoting from various other successful adaptations of the author’s work. Most notably, IT owes a surprisingly large debt to Stand By Me. The decision to exorcise the “present day” sequences of the novel from this film, leaving them to a potential sequel, means that IT is even more overtly and consciously a coming of age narrative.

However, IT is very much a coming of age horror story, a grotesque and unsettling expression of the nightmares lurking just behind familiar childish fears.

There’s something in water.

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Critics Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I Dislike the “They Don’t Get It” Argument…

I like to think I am open minded. Just a few weeks ago, I published an article defending big budget blockbusters from their detractors. However, I find myself growing frequently frustrated when it comes to fans using the old “critics don’t like fun” argument to defend a given movie from any sort of meaningful debate and criticism. It happens a few times a year, most spectacularly with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen back in 2009, but also this year with Sucker Punch. The film has received a critical lambasting, but fans are always quick to rush to the internet to critique the critics, claiming things like “they don’t get it” and “they don’t understand” or nonsense like that.

And, you know what? That’s just plain wrong.

Movie for suckers?

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King of the World: Thoughts on Stephen King and Popular Culture

How does Stephen King do it? He manages to churn out an astonishingly prolific back catalogue, but maintains a reasonably high quality. As with all authors, he soars above and he dips below, but – taken on average – he is a very strong writer than manages to churn out up to four books a year. How does the man do it?

It's good to be the King...

It's good to be the King...

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