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New Escapist Column! On “Babylon” As the Evil Twin of “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With the release of Babylon over Christmas, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at Damien Chazelle’s latest feature film.

Babylon is a movie that obviously exists in the context of great Hollywood movies about Hollywood. In particular, Chazelle draws overtly and heavily from Singin’ in the Rain in this parable about Hollywood’s migration from silent films to talkies. However, Chazelle does something interesting, stripping out a lot of the romance of these narratives in favour of something approaching brutal honesty. Chazelle rejects a lot of the romantic nostalgia of these sorts of films, instead offering a much grittier take. At times Babylon feels like the coke-addled evil twin of something like Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “Morbius Was Bad, Black Adam is Worse”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a five-minute film review of Black Adam, which is in cinemas now.

 

308. feardotcom (-#67)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Diamanda Hagan, 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, William Malone’s feardotcom.

Detective Mike Reilly has spent the past few years in pursuit of the online serial killer who goes by the name of “the Doctor”, a murderer who streams his crimes on the internet for all to watch. Reassigned after failure to show any results, Reilly finds himself investigating a seemingly unrelated case of contagion that is spreading through New York City. However, Reilly soon discovers that the two cases are more closely linked than he could have imagined.

At time of recording, it was ranked 67th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! “Halloween Ends, Thank Goodness”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a five-minute film review of Halloween Ends, which is in cinemas and on Peacock now.

New Escapist Video! “Prey is Worthy of the Predator Brand”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Prey, which is streaming on Hulu from tomorrow.

New Escapist Video! “Jurassic World: Dominion is Bad… Very Bad”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Jurassic World Dominion, which is in theatres now.

270. Ratsasan (Raatchasan) (#250)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Ramkumar’s Ratsasan.

Arun Kumar aspires to be a director. He has the perfect serial killer script, but nobody will make it. Resigned to this reality, Arun accepts a job in the police force, working with his brother-in-law. However, it isn’t too long before Arun discovers that his unique insight into serial killers might help to catch a monster currently targetting teenager girls. It will take all of Arun’s wits and courage to earn his happy ending.

At time of recording, it was ranked 250th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How “Scream” is a Cutting Commentary on the Noise Around the “Star Wars” Sequels…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Scream this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to delve into the latest entry in the beloved horror franchise.

What is most interesting about the latest Scream is the extent to which it feels largely divorced and separated from the horror genre, particularly compared to the earlier films in the franchise. Instead, Scream seems much more engaged with the modern Star Wars films, borrowing key plot points and background lore from recent entries in the franchise. More than that, it’s a film that is very aggressively engaged with the fandom discussion around those films.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

269. Smolensk (-#35)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Antoni Krauze’s Smolensk.

After a horrific plane accident wipes out a significant portion of the Polish political class, people begin to question the official narrative. Nina is a journalist who initially sets out to confirm the official story, but who begins to spot gaps and lacunas, all of which point to something a little more sinister.

At time of recording, it was ranked 35th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

There is something inherently cinematic about Macbeth.

More than the other three of Shakespeare’s “big four” tragedies, Macbeth is a movie that lends itself to bold cinematic adaptations. To be fair, there are great cinematic adaptations of Hamlet and King Lear, but there don’t seem to be quite as many of them that linger in the consciousness. It’s interesting to wonder why cinema seems to be such a perfect form for this Jacobean tragecy. Maybe it’s the overt supernatural elements, or the grim setting, the intersection of stark morality and brutal violence. It might even be uncanny imagery suggested by the dialogue. Perhaps it’s all of these. Perhaps it is none of them.

Black and white morality.

Whatever the reason, from straight adaptations like those of Orson Welles through to Justin Kurzel and more abstract interpretations like Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, Shakespeare’s historical tragedy is one that really pops within these heightened and formalist adaptations. It helps that the play works in any number of registers: as tragedy, as horror, as drama, as morality play. Indeed, in the context of The Tragedy of Macbeth, it’s tempting to argue that Macbeth fits surprisingly well within the Coen Brothers’ larger filmography of inept and over-confident criminals undermined by their own incompetence.

The Tragedy of Macbeth is a worth addition to both this list of impressive adaptations and the filmography of director Joel Coen.

A doorway to madness…

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