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New Escapist Column! On 2022 as the Return of Spectacle…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the year wrapping up, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the year in cinema. In particular, one of the big unifying trends in the year’s blockbusters, which balanced a celebration and a fear of spectacle.

This was the year that “movies were back.” Many of the year’s biggest blockbusters were celebrations of blockbuster cinema in its purest form, from the IMAX cinematography of Top Gun: Maverick to the immersive 3D of Avatar: The Way of Water to the breakout international success of RRR. However, there was also an anxiety about the power of spectacle and the toll that it takes, whether on its audience or on its subject. This played out in movies like Nope or Elvis. There was also a clear worry that this might be the end of it all, playing out in movies like Babylon or even Blonde.

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

319. Whiplash (#42)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Richard Drumm, 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 second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Damian Chazelle’s Whiplash.

Andrew Neiman is a young music student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York City. A jazz drummer, Andrew dreams of great things, of becoming a legend like Miles Davis or John Coltrane. However, he falls under the influence of band leader Terence Fletcher. Fletcher sees potential in Andrew, and draws the young musician into his orbit. The two find themselves trapped in a toxic push-and-pull relationship, with the stakes escalating quickly.

At time of recording, it was ranked 42nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “The Witcher: Blood Origin”, and What Happens When Television Becomes a Six-Hour Movie…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this week. With the release of The Witcher: Blood Origin on Netflix, it seemed like a good time to discuss an unsettling trend in modern television: the idea that modern shows are really just super-extended movies, and the consequences of that.

Blood Origin demonstrates what happens when a studio treats a television show like a movie. The series was written and filmed as six episodes, but was horrible cut down in the editting bay. Two whole episodes were stripped out of the show, leaving it incoherent and nonsensical. In many ways, this was exactly what happened with Joss Whedon’s cut of Justice League, which was similarly cut down to have a runtime of under two hours. If television shows are just films now, they are subject to the same sort of meddling.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Avatar: The Way of Water” is an Archetypal James Cameron Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Avatar: The Way of Water, it seemed like a good time to take a look at Cameron’s aquatic, which might be his most personal and intimate movie ever.

Cameron’s filmography is interesting and varied, working in a number of genres and registers across his career. However, he has a set of familiar preoccupations: water, industrialisation, militarism, environmentalist, parenthood, feminism and so on. However, it’s fascinating that one of the most consistent threads across Cameron’s filmography is an evolving idea of family. Cameron’s epics are often stories of families pulling themselves together in the face of crisis. The Way of Water is no different.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On “Willow” and Disney’s Fantasy Pitch…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Willow on Disney+ this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the show means for the Disney brand, and why it is so important to the company going forward.

The past couple of decades have seen an explosion in fantasy film and television: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. However, studios have quickly discovered that audiences aren’t necessarily enthusiastically engaged with fantasy, struggling to connect with the genres. Studios like Disney have invested millions trying to tap into that audience, with numerous high-profile failures. Willow represents the latest attempt by Disney to craft a live action fantasy universe with a built-in fanbase, and the company is using the same playbook that it did with Star Wars.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Black Adam” and the Debate Over Superheroes Killing…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at the debate over superheroes killing, which is a major thematic point in the recent blockbuster Black Adam. It’s an interesting point of discussion, but one that often overlooks and misses the larger trend within the superhero genre. That sort of debate doesn’t happen over other pulp heroes, like cowboys or gangsters or pirates, so what is it that makes superheroes a special case?

New Podcast! Vampire Videos – “Shadow of the Vampire (2000)”

I was thrilled to be invited to join the great Dan Owen and Hugh McStay for an episode of their new podcast, Vampire Videos.

It was a thrill to get to talk about, and revisit, Shadow of the Vampire. It was the first time I had watched the meta horror commentary in decades, so it was fascinating to return to it with new eyes and a deeper understanding of the film’s historical context. It’s a movie that ties together the history of the vampire and origins of cinema as a medium, constructing a pitch black horror comedy about the paradox of the movie camera as an instrument that both steals life and grants immortality.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

New Podcast! The Recap – “We Finally Got Some Real Action and Answers in The Rings of Power…”

We’re thrilled to be launching a weekly multimedia podcast at The Escapist, called The Recap. I’m hoping to be a regular fixture of it, stremaing live every Tuesday evening. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at the splurge of recent news from Marvel Studios, including new trailers, new writer announcements, the first big reveals about Deadpool 3, directorial departures, and streaming shows that are becoming movies. We also caught up with our opinions on Rings of Power, House of the Dragon and Andor. It’s a fun discussion. Check it out.

302. Requiem for a Dream (#84)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Richard Drumm, 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.

This week, Darren Aronofsky Requiem for a Dream.

Four Brooklyn residents navigate addiction and isolation in its various forms, through Summer, Fall and Winter. There is no Spring.

At time of recording, it was ranked 84th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “The Northman”, and the Desire to Make Movies Weird Again…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Northman in the United Kingdom this week and in the United States next week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at the welcome return of weird to the blockbuster arena.

Modern blockbusters are frustratingly generic. As budgets have ballooned and intellectual property has trumped high concepts, studios have grown increasingly conservative with their larger projects. This is part of what makes The Northman so interesting. It’s great to see a director like Robert Eggers receive a reasonable budget and a sizable platform in order to make a movie that speaks very specifically to his own aesthetic. It’s refreshing to see a movie this expensive that is this committed to its aesthetic.

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