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New Escapist Column! On The Reflective and Introspective Nature of Late Steven Spielberg…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the looming release of West Side Story, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the late career of Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg is a director who defined and shaped Hollywood, largely by inventing the modern blockbuster with Jaws. What is really interesting about so much of his twenty-first century output, starting with A.I. Artificial Intelligence and continuing into films like Ready Player One, is the sense in which Spielberg seems to be grappling with the long-term and unintended consequences of how he shaped cinema, to the point that many of his modern movies – from War Horse to The Post – seem to be the kinds of movies that he squeezed out of the market.

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

New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #11!

The eleventh edition of the new and revived Scannain podcast discusses the week that has been in Irish film.

This week, I’m joining Grace Duffy, Alex Towers and Daniel Anderson to discuss everything from Cannes to the great Irish films on television this long weekend. As usual, we discuss what we’ve watched over the past week or so, jump into the top ten, and talk about the new releases landing in Irish cinemas.

Check it out here, or give it a listen below.


Non-Review Review: Ready Player One

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Reader Player One is a very curious piece of cinema. It is an incredibly flawed piece of work, with a lot of its flaws so fundamental that they are threaded into the very architecture of the film. Screenwriter Zak Penn has offered a very thorough and involved reinvention of Ernest Cline’s source novel, a ground-up renovation of Cline’s catalogue of popular culture references and collection of narrative tropes. Indeed, Penn’s screenplay improves a great deal on the novel that inspired it; junking and reworking entire sequences, bulking up supporting characters, trying to find a beating human heart.

Worlds apart.

More than that, Ready Player One provides Spielberg with the opportunity to go “all out.” There is a sense watching Ready Player One that Spielberg has approached the film not as a collection of popular culture references and in-jokes, but instead as an attempt to reconnect with a younger audience. Whether or not Reader Player One is the right source material for such an attempt, there is no denying Spielberg’s energy and vigour. Ready Player One is a dynamic piece of film, Spielberg demonstrating all the technique for which he is known, but with an enthusiasm that puts younger directors to shame.

However, there is no escaping the biggest issue with the film remains its source material. The problem with Ready Player One as a film is that it is an adaptation of Ready Player One as a novel.

Back to the past.

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