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84. Touch of Evil (#241)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and this week with special guests Charlene Lydon and Grace Duffy, 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 Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil.

A murder in a small border town stokes local tensions, as Ramon Miguel Vargas finds himself drawn into an investigation overseen by Police Captain Hank Quinlan. As Quinlan pursues his lines of inquiry, Vargas quickly comes to realise that his would-be partner is not what he appears to be.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 241st best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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The X-Files – John Doe (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

A man without a past on a show without a future.

John Doe opens with John Doggett on the floor of a dusty warehouse, an addict stealing his shoes. Doggett chases the thief out of the warehouse, stunned to realise that he is actually in Mexico. His pursuit of the addict culminates in his arrest by local law enforcement, a couple of cops demanding to see his identification papers. Doggett pats himself down looking for something, but the horror of his situation seems to dawn on him. Asked for his name, all Doggett can offer is an awkward “I don’t know.” His past has been stolen from him.

"Woah, boy. Computer-generated film grain. I'm either in Mexico or a CSI flashback."

“Woah, boy. Computer-generated film grain. I’m either in Mexico or a CSI flashback.”

Four days after the initial broadcast of John Doe, it was announced that there would be no tenth season of The X-Files. Fox and Chris Carter were retiring the show after a phenomenal nine-season run. Of course, production had wrapped on John Doe long before the decision had been made; the crew were working on Scary Monsters when news filtered down about the looming end of the show. However, there was something quite appropriate about the timing of all this. John Doggett lost his past in the same week that The X-Files lost its future.

There is almost a weird poetry in that.

Breaking Decent.

Breaking Decent.

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The X-Files – El Mundo Gira (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.

The X-Files is a show that sometimes has difficulties when it comes to portraying minorities.

There are lots of episodes that offer insightful and thoughtful explorations of isolated subcultures, without veering into offensive stereotypes or awkward cliché. Fresh Bones and Hell Money are two examples of the kinds of stories that do offer those sorts of interesting and respectful depictions of minorities. In contrast, the show can sometimes seem a little close-minded and xenophobic. Excelsis Dei, Teso Dos Bichos and Teliko are episodes with somewhat questionable depictions of other cultures.

Illegal aliens.

Illegal aliens.

Writer John Shiban likes his horror tropes. He adores the classic horror movie trappings, and revels in a very old-school approach to scary stories. Unfortunately, the horror genre has an unfortunate history of exploitation and racism when it comes to the portrayal of “the other.” The easiest way to make something scary and unknown is to make it foreign, suggesting that the outside world is filled with horrors and monstrosities. Shiban would hit on this trashy exploitation vibe repeatedly during his tenure on The X-Files.

El Mundo Gira is very much a companion piece to Shiban’s other stories about foreign monsters – the indigenous cat-people of Teso Dos Bichos and the butt-dwelling Indian fakir of Badlaa. It is a not a story set in the world of Mexican-American immigrants; it is a story set in a clumsy stereotypical depiction of the world of Mexican-American immigrants, as channelled through unfortunate racial stereotypes.

Green haze...

Green haze…

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Non-Review Review: We’re the Millers

We’re the Millers is a fairly humorous premise extended well past breaking point. The basic set-up (a bunch of strangers pretend to be a family to smuggle drugs into the United States) is a solid enough starting point for a comedy, but We’re the Millers often feels like it’s running on fumes trying to stretch the gag out. There are long lulls of the film where nothing seems to happen, and entire subplots that seem grafted in simply to eat up precious minutes. Does the film really need a teenage romance subplot?

We’re the Millers has a few hilarious moments, and Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston have enough charm that it’s never too painful to watch, but the film’s extended runtime means that its cynical premise can only maintain its wry thrust for so long before it’s brought down to Earth by the oppressive weight of sentimentality. For a film that starts out cheeky and subversive, the movie meanders into sappy and cheesy territory with considerable speed.

Family fun...

Family fun…

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Star Trek – Operation — Annihilate!

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.

How do you follow The City on the Edge of Forever? The previous episode is one of the best-loved episodes of Star Trek ever produced, one of the great science-fiction television episodes of the sixties, and one of the best science-fiction romances ever written. It’s a gigantic and massively influential piece of television, one of the cornerstones of Star Trek and perhaps the best indicator of just how thoughtful and how genuine the franchise can be when it tries. So, what’s next? Where do we go from here? What is the next shot after that last scene of Kirk abandoning the Guardian of Forever on a desolate rock?

It’s always interesting to compare the first season of Star Trek to the first year of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The former can be counted among the very best of the show’s thirty televised seasons, while the latter can be counted among the worst. However, they do have something in common. They both probably should have ended an episode early, with The City on the Edge of Forever and Conspiracy serving as effective caps on each show’s first season, leaving the audience a chance to digest what they had seen.

Unfortunately, neither show ended on anything that could be measured among the strongest show of a given year. The Neutral Zone ended the first season of The Next Generation with a moralising whimper. While Operation — Annihilate! is quite entertaining on its own terms, it doesn’t rank among the best of the season. Still, it’s a solid pulpy science-fiction tale, which might not be the worst thing.

Man of action!

Man of action!

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Non-Review Review: Blood Rising

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

It is sometimes quite tough to review documentaries. It’s tempting to confuse a worthy cause with a worthy film. Blood Rising is certainly about a worthy cause. It explores the “femicides” that have been occuring in Juárez, Mexico since the nineties (if not earlier). Women are kidnapped, raped and murdered – and the local authorities have done next-to-nothing to help stem the tide of abuse. Those who dare speak up have been hounded out of the area, with some advocates even continuing the cause “in exile.” It is a very compelling and a very worthy cause, and one that deserves as much attention as it can garner.

However, even factoring in the very worthy cause and the fact that its heart is in the right place, Blood Rising feels like a rather ill-judged piece of cinema.

bloodrising2

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Non-Review Review: Casa De Mi Padre

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012. It was the first “surprise” film.

Will Ferrell’s Casa De Mi Padre is perhaps the most esoterical comedy ever produced. The comedian has his legion of loyal fans, but it’s difficult to imagine that there’s a large crossover between those who enjoy Ferrell’s work and those with an affection for Mexican telenovelas. Filmed in “Mexico Vision”, with pretty much all of the dialogue in Spanish (rather than, as one DEA agent puts it, “American”), the movie displays an astonishing commitment to its basic premise, which is effectively one joke sustained over its runtime. I can sense already that Ferrell’s latest project will be his most divisive to date, dividing film fans into “love it” or “hate it” camps. I fall strongly into the former.

A que no me alcanzas!

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