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New Escapist Column! On How “Superman and Lois” Finds Superman Saving Smallville…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Given the premiere of Superman and Lois this week, it seemed like a good time to take a look at the new show, and the new spin that it puts on the classic Superman mythos.

Smallville has always been an essential part of Superman’s backstory, even before it was named as such. When Superman was created, it made sense to bring some rural values into anonymous and hostile cities, with Superman importing many of the progressive ideas that he inherited from his adopted parents to the crime- and depression-ridden American cities. However, times have changed. Superman and Lois finds Clark returning to a version of Smallville that is at once unrecognisable and familiar. Superman and Lois shrewdly reverse’s the character’s classic journey.

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

218. Warrior (#162)

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, Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior.

Brendan and Tommy are two brothers that have lived very different lives, but find themselves on a collision course. Brendan is a struggling teacher who is going to lose his family home, while Tommy is a war veteran with a mysterious past who seems to need a mechanism to work through his trauma. Both men find themselves embroiled in a brutal mixed martial arts tournament with a life-changing prize fund. However, the two might need to go through one another to earn it.

At time of recording, it was ranked 162nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! Twenty Years Later, “Battle Royale” Still Stands Apart…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because Battle Royale is twenty years old this month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the iconic Japanese film.

In the years since the release of Battle Royale, there has been an explosion of dystopian young adult fiction based around similar premises: the idea of children forced to kill other children to survive. There are plenty of examples of this subgenre, most notably The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. However, Battle Royale has aged better than these other films for two core reasons. First of all, it acknowledges the horror of its premise, rather than sanitising it. Second of all, it understands that this social decay is perhaps more mundane than sensationalist.

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

Potter Might Have a Point: Perhaps It’s Not Such a Wonderful Life After All…

I don’t have your money here! It’s in….Bill’s house…And…Fred’s house!
What the hell are you doing with my money in your house Fred?
The PTA Disbands, The Simpsons

I finally saw Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. The Helix over at DCU was screening a variety of modern and classic films in a cinema setting, and they chose the Jimmy Stewart classic as their Christmas movie. And quite right, too. However, watching the film, I couldn’t help but get the sense that things weren’t quite as simplistic as the movie made them out to be and that, while George Bailey might be one heck of a nice guy, there’s absolutely no way I’d trust him to handle my finances. While the town’s old miser, Potter, might as well have a moustache to twirl, I can’t help but think that maybe he might have a point or two about George Bailey, something the movie never really addresses.

The deficit is thiiiiiiiis big...

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The Cautiously Conservative Cost of Film-Making In the Recession…

When it first became clear that we were in for a long recession, there was a lot of fear about what that would mean for cinema. With less money to go around, and the ever-present fear of financial disappoint, a lot of people speculated that it would lead to a serious downturn in the production and distribution of “indie” movies by the major studios, a concern validated by the closing of various speciality divisions within major studios. While it has undoubtedly gotten significantly harder to produce and sell independent film, one look at last year’s Best Picture nominees suggest that these little gems are doing relatively okay – with films as provocative as Black Swan, as alternative as The Kids Are All Right and as gritty as Winter’s Bone all making the cut. Still, if the indie apocalypse that was foretold hasn’t come to pass, I do have to wonder what the cinematic cost of the current economic climate might be.

Hollywood's taken the occasional slap on the wrist over the past few years...

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Non-Review Review: Up In The Air

Sometimes a movie lands (pardon the pun) at the right time. If you had told me that a movie about a guy looking to earn 10,000,000 frequent flyer miles in first class would be arguably one of the most interesting explorations of the recession that Hollywood would offer, I would have laughed in your face. But, against all odds, it works. That the guy in question is George Clooney and the man behind the camera is Jason Reitman undoubtedly helps.

It isn't plane-sailing for Ryan...

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Film on Film: Is Now the Time for Showbiz Movies?

I’ll admit that I’ve never really understood why Hollywood is so preoccupied with showing the rest of the world how show business works. It was announced today that the book I’m Dying Up Here will be getting the film treatment. That particular bestseller offers a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of the New York stand-up comedy scene, culminating in the famous strike over pay. The characters on screen will be any number of world-famous comedians, from Tim Allen to Robin Williams. Part of me wonders if the recession is a suitable time for this sort of Hollywood introspection.

You may be dying up here, but the celebrity-based bio-pic is alive and well...

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Man Launches Attack on Pat Kenny; English Language

Well, the whole point of Frontline was to offer a more realistic and “grounded” discussion of current affairs, where anything could happen. So – in a way – the three-minute rant that Kenny was subjected to last night seems to be almost a proof of concept: this is no-holds-barred television, not choreographed or airbrushed. The rant seems to have split public opinion (at least from listening to Newstalk this morning), but I think we’ll all avoiding the real elephant in the room: if you’re going to hijack the spotlight on a current affairs show, at least make your point in a way that isn’t simply mashing up a handful of words (“hypocritical”, “600,000”, “eleven hours”, “credibility”, “pontificating”) in a variety of permutations for three minutes.

frontline

Quite literally on the front line...

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How Is Hollywood Dealing With Recession?

Hollywood. It’s the place where dreams come true. Where normal things like traffic don’t bother heroes like Jack Bauer, credit ratings and mortgage payments don’t halt Carrie’s spending spree and Bruce Willis never has to fill out an insurance claim form. No wonder they used to call it Hollywoodland, like some sort of fairytale kingdom (in actuality it was to advertise a housing development). This magical quality (or, if you’re cynical, ‘disengagement’) means that Hollywood can take its time in reflecting the tastes of the common people and the issues that really affect them.

High-flying corporate executive...

High-flying corporate executive...

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Is Children of Earth about the Recession?

I’ve been thinking about the tendency of science fiction to use allegories and metaphors for morals and lessons. I’ve also been thinking about the rather epic and excellent Children of Earth miniseries that the Beeb ran last week and the Americans are receiving next week. With the report from An Bord Snip Nua being released today, it got me thinking about where the recession would force us to make cuts. And who would be the victims. It got me thinking: Is Children of Earth about the recession?

What a load of bankers...

What a load of bankers...

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