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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 13 (“Never Again”)

I had the pleasure of popping by The X-Cast again, this time to discuss Never Again with the wonderful Deana Ferrer.

Long-time readers of the blog will know (or at least suspect) that Never Again stands out as one of my favourite episodes of The X-Files. Most days, it’s a toss up between that and One Breath. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think the most obvious is that – as I’ve gotten older – I’ve found myself identifying more with Scully than with Mulder. Scully’s anxieties and uncertainties here, her self-doubt and her insecurity, all resonate with me more and more as I get older. More than any other X-Files episode, I understand the feelings that drive Never Again.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. It is also a fantastically constructed episode of television, an interesting illustration of how continuity is an external construct in long-form narratives, and something that pushes very strongly at certain ideas of what The X-Files is and what The X-Files is about. So it was a pleasure to join Deana to discuss the episode, to break it down and to try to make sense of it all. I know it’s a controversial episode, so I simply hope that we make a relatively coherent argument for it.

As ever, you can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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102. Silence of the Lambs (#23) – Halloween 2018

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with Doctor Bernice Murphy, 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, a Halloween treat. Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 23rd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch – Episode #44 (Never Again/Memento Mori)

I’m thrilled to be a part of The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch, a daily snippet podcast rewatching the entirety of The X-Files between now and the launch of the new season. It is something of a spin-off of The X-Cast, a great X-Files podcast run by the charming Tony Black. Tony has assembled a fantastic array of guests and hosts to go through The X-Files episode-by-episodes. With the new season announced to be starting in early January, Tony’s doing two episodes of the podcast per day, so buckle up. It’s going to be fun.

My second appearance of the fourth season is actually my second appearance with the wonderful Clara Cook. We’re covering the episodes Never Again and Memento Mori, in which I have some… perhaps unconventional opinions about the relative quality of these two episodes. I think I’ve admitted before, I alternate between One Breath and Never Again as possibly my favourite X-Files episode ever, so it was a thrill to get to talk about it.

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Non-Review Review: Money Monster

Money Monster works better as a heightened thriller than as righteous social commentary.

There is a lot to recommend Money Monster, beginning with the basic premise. Lee Gates is the fast-talking abrasive host of a hyper-masculine financial television show, who finds one Friday afternoon broadcast hijacked by a disgruntled investor who followed his advice. Tensions quickly escalate, as Gates finds himself trying to stay alive while also unravelling a thread of conspiracy and deceit that seems to tie the financial markets together. Gates and his assailant find themselves part of an unlikely team-up to blow this corruption wide open.

Money talks. It can also dance.

Money talks.
It can also dance.

Money Monster hinges on the combination of Jodie Foster’s direction and the cast’s charm. George Clooney remains one of the most charismatic performers on the planet, and there is a reason that Julia Roberts was one of the most successful lead actors of the nineties. While Clooney and Roberts add star power to the film, Foster benefits from casting Jack O’Connell as the irate-investor-turned-would-be-suicide-bomber. While performers like Dominic West and Giancarlo Esposito are horribly underused, they do add gravity to the film.

Jodie Foster is smart enough to keep the film moving. Even as a high-concept thriller, Money Monster is absurd. The characters frequently act irrationally. The plot never feels like an organic series of rippling consequences, with the author’s hand consistently visible. It is a movie that hinges on contrivance, with Foster working very hard to prevent the audience from catching their breath long enough to question the logic of what is unfolding on-screen. In some respects then, it has more in common with the world of high finance than it would care to admit.

Taking stock.

Taking stock.

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The X-Files – Never Again (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.

Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life.

Yes but it’s m–

– Glen Morgan and James Wong take their bow; David Chase eat your heart out

...

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The X-Files – The Jersey Devil (Review)

And with The Jersey Devil, the first season of The X-Files hits its first major snag. The first four episodes have done an efficient job laying down the character arcs and the ground rules for this new conspiratorial series. The rest of the season – like a lot of first seasons – has a great deal of difficulty trying to figure out a formula that works using those elements.

The Jersey Devil is, by all accounts, an episode that should work. It has a nice pseudo-scientific premise. It is written by the creator of the show, and who – at this early stage – could claim a better idea of how the series works than Chris Carter? It gives us some personal insight into both of our protagonists, and it sort of clarifies that Squeeze is not going to be the exception – that there will be a lot of anthology-style episodes.

And yet, despite all that, it doesn’t quite work. The premise is never as interesting as it should be. Chris Carter confirms that while he is a fantastic ideas man, he is not the strongest writer on his own staff. The best of these insights into Mulder and Scully were already made much better in Squeeze, and the rest feel somewhat trite. Despite the fact that it’s only the show’s second anthology-style episode, The Jersey Devil feels like it’s trying to hard to stick to the framework outlined by the three UFO episodes in the series’ opening quartet.

Casting light...

Casting light…

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Non-Review Review: Elysium

Elysium is good old-fashioned high-concept science-fiction. With production design alternately evoking the seventies (the upper class satellite that gives the movie its name) and eighties (the apocalyptic wasteland of future Los Angeles), Elysium feels like a conscious attempt to evoke classic genre films. Blomkamp builds in a healthy amount of social commentary, and there’s something quite satisfying in seeing a large-scale science-fiction film that isn’t afraid of big bold ideas.

However, the execution feels just a little bit muddled. The plotting is a little convoluted, and the third act becomes incredibly messy. The characters inhabiting the world never seem organic, with their motivations and behaviour prone to change rapidly to meet the rapidly-changing demands of a very messy script.

In a bit of a fix...

In a bit of a fix…

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