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Non-Review Review: One Chance

It’s very easy to dismiss reality television. Personally, I wouldn’t be the hugest fan of the genre. However, it’s worth remarking that – in the right hands – it can be elevated to an artform. While the use of the word “reality” is applied loosely, it comes with its own narrative conventions – its own strengths and limitations. Carefully micro-managed, painstakingly edited and even sometimes clumsily scripted, reality television is simply another format of televisual entertainment.

It’s not that reality lacks a central crafted narrative or story arcs or character beats. These exist in reality television, albeit in a hyper-stylised meta-textual form. Just as some might advise you to read A Song of Ice and Fire to fully appreciate Game of Thrones, the meta-narrative from reality television spills out the side of the television set, unfolding in tabloids or gossip website. Characters are defined as rigidly, arcs are plotted just as carefully, it’s just that the narrative is crafted differently than it would be in an hour-long scripted drama or a half-hour sit-com.

One Chance, then, feels like the feature length adaptation of one such narrative. The story of Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts (“like the Cambodian dictator?” a nurse inquires in the opening scene), One Chance often feels more like the adaptation of a much-loved novel than an attempt to tell a true story.

Sing when you're winning...

Sing when you’re winning…

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The Adventures of Batman & Robin – Deep Freeze (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Heart of Ice is a phenomenal piece of television. Paul Dini’s sharp script somehow managed to take one of the most camp and forgettable theme villains in Batman’s iconic selection foes, and elevate them to a prime position. After all, were it not for that reimagining of the villain, Victor Fries would likely be a footnote in Batman history, ranking not too far above the Killer Moth or the Calendar Man in the dregs of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. However, while the story provided a concrete and grounded origin for an otherwise Z-list villain, it also raised some interesting questions about where the character could be taken after that.

His second appearance in the series, Deep Freeze seeks to answer those question. While, ironically, it’s considerably shallower than its predecessor, it’s still an interesting look a villain defined by this show.

Freeze frame…

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Non-Review Review: Collateral

Collateral is a masterpiece. I think the only Michael Mann movie I’d rate against it would be Heat, which puts it in very good company. It’s probably my favourite neo-noir film, and I actually ranked it as my favourite film of 2000-2009. There are a lot of reasons for that: I think it’s the best example of digital video cinematography I’ve ever seen, the script is superb, the two leads are fantastic and it’s an utterly compelling examination of urban isolation. The screenplay was originally set in Manhattan, but I think the decision to transpose the story of a cabbie and his client to Los Angeles was actually quite clever – there’s generally an eerie emptiness and anomie to how life in Los Angeles is portrayed, and Collateral captures it perfectly.

Top gun...

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