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Non-Review Review: Parkland

There are few moments that hold as much sway over American popular consciousness as the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Perhaps only the moon landing or the news footage of the 9/11 attacks could compete from the last half-century of history. The assassination and its aftermath have been discussed and reconsidered countless times in the decades since those shots rang out in Dallas. There are those who continue to believe in some sinister conspiracy, while others seem to accept the probability that the nation was rocked by the actions of a single disturbed individual.

Parkland offers relatively little to the discussion, focusing on the stories unfolding around the assassination and the lives that intersect with the famous historical figures who pass through the narrative. While it’s a nice idea in practice, these sorts of historical ensemble pieces can be tricky, as Bobby demonstrated rather recently. There’s a sense that even some of these characters who find themselves caught up in events larger than themselves have become figures of interest themselves, and a scant 93 minutes isn’t enough to peel back any layers or reveal anything particularly insightful.

Sadly, the characters are not as well developed...

Sadly, the characters are not as well developed…

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Star Trek – Errand of Mercy (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

Ah, Klingons. It feels strange to think that we’re almost at the end of the show’s first year and that we’re only meeting the franchise’s most famous aliens now. More than that, in the original version of the show, their distinctive model space ships didn’t appear until the third season, in Elaan of Troyius, the same episode where their iconic imperial crest appeared. They wouldn’t get their bumpy foreheads for over a decade, until Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And a lot of what we’d take for granted about Klingon culture would only be established in the tie-in novel The Final Reflection and later in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Still, Errand of Mercy welcomes the Klingons to the franchise, and offers a demonstration of why the aliens had such staying power. It’s also a rather wonderful Cold War analogy, feeling like something of a companion piece to Gene L. Coon’s A Taste of Armageddon.

I bet a lot of people were surprised that they could Klingon to their reputation as Star Trek's top alien for so long...

I bet a lot of people were surprised that they could Klingon to their reputation as Star Trek’s top alien for so long…

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Non-Review Review: The Candidate (1972)

The Candidate is that rare movie that is anchored firmly in its own time, released in June 1972, but remains relevant through until today. Writer Jeremy Larner won an Oscar for his screenplay, and his portrayal of election politics seems worryingly plausible. The Candidate is remarkably frank about its politics, but also in its depiction of the system. There’s no pussyfooting around for fear of alienating the audience with hostile political ideas, instead the film embraces its political position and runs from there. While it feels like it was written in the shadow of the then-looming 1972 Presidential election, it does seem to be quite applicable to modern politics.It remains relevant, perhaps an illustration of how little has changed.

If anything, it seems like The Candidate is relatively tame compared to current political realities.

“I came here to chew gum and get elected… and… well, I’m not out of gum.”

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X Marks the Spot: Taking the X-Men Back to Relevance…

I am quite looking forward to Matthew Vaughan’s upcoming X-Men: First Class, which looks to be the first “retro” superhero film. You could, of course, make the claim that the accolade belongs to Watchmen, which was set in the eighties, but it was an alternate eighties at that – where Nixon was President and big blue men wandered around with their glowing privates on display. However, it’s fascinating that the X-Men are the film franchise to really do that, to actually construct a period piece set amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis while John F. Kennedy was squaring off against the Soviet Union. Perhaps it’s ideal, because the sixties and seventies were undoubtedly the time at which the mutant metaphor was at its most potent.

Click to enlarge...

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Non-Review Review: Dr. Strangelove (Or: How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

What I’m about to say is grounds for excommunication from the church of film geekdom, but I am not a huge Stanley Kubrick fan. I admire and appreciate his work from a technical level and there are a few of his films I would credit as genuine classics – and yet there are others that I am markedly indifferent to. Cinematic purists will balk when I suggest The Shining – that most commercially Hollywood production – is my favourite of Kubrick’s film. Dr. Strangelove (Or: How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) is widely regarded as a classic of Cold War cinema, but I must concede that I can’t help but feel a little disconnected from it. Of course quite a large portion of the film (particularly the broader comedy) is still hilarious, but the film refers to a world that I never really knew – I was born in the twilight of the Soviet Union, disconnected from this heated level of nuclear paranoia.    

There's nothing strange about the love for this film...

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The Palmers: A Reflection of the Kennedys?

Senator Ted Kennedy passed away last week amid a media frenzy. What interested me most about the Senator’s passing was the revelation of how he spent his final days: watching Bond movies and the entire run of 24. There are worse entertainments to be found, to be sure. I wonder if he watched that hallmark American television show enthralled by the actions of Jack Bauer, or if he saw something more hidden away? He wouldn’t be the first to find parallels between the show’s African-American Presidential family and the illustrious Kennedy dynasty. Did he see a reflection of what might have been, in another life?

I like the flag. Patriotic touch.

I like the flag. Patriotic touch.

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