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“They Are Touching Things!” The Aviator, and the Yearning for Human Contact…

I was thrilled to get back invited on The Movie Palace with Carl Sweeney to talk about Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. It’s a film that I hadn’t watched in quite a while, and which had a much stronger impact on me than I expected. You should listen to the whole podcast conversation, but I had some thoughts I wanted to more properly articulate.

Q-U-A-R-A-N-T-I-N-E…

The Aviator is about many things.

Most obviously, it is about famous Hollywood director and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. Hollywood had been trying for decades to bring Hughes’ life to screen. Directors like Christopher Nolan and Warren Beatty had failed to get their Hughes-related projects off the ground. Indeed, The Aviator almost feels like a work-for-hire project from Scorsese, who replaced Michael Mann as the director of this project at the behest of lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Having previously collaborated on Gangs of New York, The Aviator cemented Scorsese and DiCaprio’s partnership.

However, despite his late arrival on the project, The Aviator feels very much like a Martin Scorsese film. After all, the second half of the film is given over to an impassioned creator dragged out into the limelight and forced to justify a spectacular and costly failure while arguing for his exacting creative vision. This aspect of the film would undoubtedly have resonated with Scorsese, who had just come on to the project fresh from the debacle of Gangs of New York, which involving fighting with Harvey Weinstein over the cut of a movie “whose box office returns weren’t overwhelming.”

Still, there’s one aspect of The Aviator that feels much more pointed and resonant in the current context of global lockdowns and self-isolation. In a very fundamental way, The Aviator is a story about the paradox of touch. It is a story of a man who longs for human connection, but whose neuroses make that sort of connection impossible. The Aviator tells the tale of a man who locks himself away from the world, but must eventually find the strength to put himself back in it.

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New at The Sunday Independent! An Idiot’s Guide to Screening…

In one of those rare “I feel like a real journalist!” moments, I was asked to write a little piece at The Sunday Independent about streaming.

The film critics at The Sunday Independent, the wonderful Áine O’Connor and the sensational Hilary A. White, have put together a guide of what to watch on various streaming services. There’s a lot of really great material there, but there’s also a sense that this might be a new frontier for a lot of older readers used to physical media. So I put together a quick guide to service providers anf mechanics, and demonstrating what is available and how in terms of getting that streaming movie from your phone or laptop to your own big screen set-up.

It was great to be asked, and hopefully provide something of a useful public service in these turbulent times. You can read the article (and get those recommendations) here. Incidentally, I’ll be having a guide to some of the new releases available to stream early going up at The Escapist later on this evening.

Clip from Devil

The guys from Universal Studios Ireland sent over the following clip from Devil. It’s part of a proposed series of films from M. Night Shyamalan that’s he’s deeming “Night Chronicles”. In fairness, the director’s stock has taken a huge fall from its peak with The Sixth Sense (although I’ll argue Unbreakable is his true masterpiece), but it looks like he’s taking something of a backseat on this production – it’s actually directed by Drew & John Erick Dowdle, the guys responsible for the quite good (but not a patch on the Spanish original) Quarantine. Being honest, it could go either way, but the premise – several strangers trapped in a lift and one of them may be Satan – is intriguing enough that it could be the horror hit of the year or it could be terrible.

I guess we’ll see… Check out the clip below.

The Zombie Revolution Will Not be Televised…

I watched Quarantine with my aunt, uncle and brother last night. It was fairly okay – it did pretty much exactly what it promised on the tin, nothing more nothing less – but it was undermined by a fine third that revealed to us (and the characters) the reason for said outbreak. The reason wasn’t particularly smart or original – it was really exactly what you’d expect, which isn’t what you’re looking for in the final twenty minutes of a horror film. It got me thinking, are these horror films scarier the less we know about the beasts lurking in the darkness?

Hangovers were worse than usual at the office Christmas Party - no one could remember where they parked...

Hangovers were worse than usual at the office Christmas Party - no one could remember where they parked...

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Non-Review Review: Quarantine

We all caught Quarantine last night (which is a remake of the Spanish horror [rec]), and we were – for the most part – impressed as a family of horror buffs. Somewhat less irritating than most films shot on handheld cameras (it’s trick that is growing increasingly passé in horror, to be fair) it delivers more than its fair share of jump-in-your-seat shock moments. Still I’m not entirely won over. It’s a movie that does what it says on the tin, but nothing more, and falls apart in the third act.

I'd love to see the B-Roll...

I'd love to see the B-Roll...

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