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238. To Be Or Not To Be – w/ The Movie Palace (#199)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Carl Sweeney, 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, a crossover with The Movie Palace, Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not To Be.

War rages across Europe. Hitler is on the march. In Poland, a troupe of actors find themselves cast as the most unlikely heroes in a daring mission to prevent vital intelligence from making its way to the Nazi authorities. Saving the day will require courage, guile and the ability to hit their marks.

At time of recording, it was ranked 199th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Disobedience

Disobedience is the statistical mean derived from its premise, filtered through the lens of modern awards fare.

Disobedience is the story of two women trapped within the Orthodox Jewish community in contemporary (or close to contemporary) London. Ronit Krushka returns home upon receiving word of her father’s death. Her return shocks the community, which is still recovering from the scandal of her departure years earlier. Ronit arrives to discover that her old friend Esti and her cousin Dovid have married in her absence, Ronit’s return serving to stoke old tensions and poke at still-healing wounds within the community.

Rachels’ Vice.

Disobedience is an adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel, and is very much an archetypal example of contemporary prestigious drama. Disobedience is effectively a delivery method for a set of striking performances from its leading triptych, but is also largely anemic; this is a movie that confuses inertia for profundity and lethargy for restraint. Disobedience is populated by characters who seem more comfortable talking around things rather than about them. There is undoubtedly an argument to be made about such an approach seeming naturalistic, but here is largely dull.

Disobedience seems afraid of its central tensions, wary of navigate a minefield that it has chosen for itself. The result is a movie that feels largely ornate. It has a great cast and some big ideas, but never seems to know quite what to do with either.

Touching reunion.

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The X-Files – Kaddish (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.

Kaddish is the last solo script that Howard Gordon wrote for The X-Files.

The writer would remain part of the writing staff until the end of the fourth season, contributing to scripts like Unrequited or Zero Sum. However, Kaddish would be the last script credited to Howard Gordon alone. So Gordon does not quite get the clean farewell that Darin Morgan got with Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” or that Glen Morgan and Howard Wong received with Never Again. Instead, Howard Gordon remains a pretty significant presence on the show even after writing his final solo script.

The word made flesh...

The word made flesh…

Nevertheless, Kaddish is packed with a lot of the images and themes associated with Gordon’s work. As with Fresh Bones or Teliko, it is a horror story set within a distinct ethnic community. As with Firewalker or Død Kälm or Grotesque, there is an element of body horror at play. As with Lazarus or Born Again, this is essentially a supernatural revenge story. Kaddish offers a distilled collection of the tropes and signifiers that Gordon helped to define for The X-Files, making it an appropriate final script for the writer.

It helps that Kaddish is a surprisingly sweet and thoughtful little horror story.

The outside looking in...

The outside looking in…

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