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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #17!

A busy Scannain podcast, covering the week in film and other news.

This week, I’m joined by Grace Duffy, Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle, and Alex Towers to discuss the week in film – both Irish and international. The news includes coverage of Cannes, of Irish success at other international film festivals, and the upcoming release dates of notable Irish films. As usual, we also talk about what we watched, what is being released next week and what is currently in the top ten.

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

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Non-Review Review: Revenge

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

What if Nicolas Winding Refn directed a Blumhouse film?

Revenge is a neon-drenched and synth-saturated exploitation flick that takes some of the most familiar conventions of the survival horror genre and executes them with incredible style. Revenge puts a beautiful sheen on a very ugly film, constructing an effective revenge narrative full of striking imagery. As realised by director Coralie Fargeat, Revenge is a visceral experience. The film’s violence is almost tangible, the audience feeling every act of brutality inflicted upon the bodies of its cast.

A lot of this is down to the craft of those involved, working under Fargeat’s direction. Jérôme Faurel’s sound design ensures that the audience hears every drip of blood, every splash on every surface. Cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert and colourist Frédéric Savoir play up the contrast in the compositions, so the blood seems to burst off the screen against the bright yellows and the deep blues. Make-up effects artists Laetitia Quillery ensures that the cast carry every scar with them as the movie puts them through an endurance nightmare.

This attention to pure craft elevates Revenge above so many of its genre contemporaries. Revenge is undoubtedly trashy piece of cinema, but is never ashamed of what it is or apologetic for what it does. Instead, the film commits itself with an engaging and exhilarating enthusiasm. Revenge never views its genre as a limitation to transcend, but instead as a field in which to excel. And it certainly does.

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Jessica Jones – AKA 1,000 Cuts (Review)

AKA 1,000 Cuts continues to toy with the conventions of the superhero genre.

The revelations about Kilgrave’s past in AKA Sin Bin represented a rejection of the psychology traditionally applied to comic book villains, creating a villain who could not blame his sociopathic tendencies on a convenient childhood trauma. AKA 1,000 Cuts plays upon another standard genre convention, the idea of the superhero who doesn’t kill. In terms of superhero storytelling, the old “thou shalt not kill” rule is always a reliable source of existential angst for a suitably ambiguous hero.

image

As with many of the conventions toyed with on Jessica Jones, the trope is played relatively straight on Daredevil. Again, there is a sense of Jessica Jones as something of a playful twisted response to Daredevil, often subverting or undermining many of the genre conventions that Daredevil so skilfully embodied. At this point in the first season of Daredevil, Matt Murdock was wrestling with the question of whether or not to murder Wilson Fisk. Much hand-wringing and angst resulted, playing into the show’s masculine Catholic aesthetic.

While Daredevil seemed anchored in moral absolutes, Jessica Jones opts for a much more pragmatic and relativist solution. The question posed by Jessica Jones is not whether killing Kilgrave can be justified; the show embraces that reality quite skilfully in AKA 1,000 Cuts. The question is what it takes to justify it. AKA 1,000 Cuts offers a fairly harrowing answer.

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The X-Files (Topps) #23 – Donor (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Donor is the strongest of John Rozum’s work on The X-Files to this point. It might be his best work overall.

It is a story that very clearly and very strongly plays off the classic horror vibe that has been running through this stretch of episodes, taking the idea of supernatural revenge and poetic justice to almost blackly comic extremes. In many respects, John Rozum has pushed the comics towards a very traditional sort of moralistic storytelling – with characters frequently facing ironic consequences of their actions.

Organ grinder...

Organ grinder…

In The Silent Blade, a mass murderer kills himself with the blade that compelled him to kill. In The Kanashibari, a bunch of college kids who terrified an asthmatic classmate to death by locking him in a closet are themselves scared to death by a suffocating spectre. In Silver Lining, a killer murders innocent people to reclaim his good looks, only to lose them almost immediately in a fire while fleeing the FBI.

So Donor pushes this sort of storytelling to its logical extreme, as the resurrected body of Bruce Miller tries to reclaim the organs that his widow donated without his consent. Bruce Miller plans to take back what is rightfully his, harvesting various vital organs from recipients. Donor is a very dark little done-in-one story with a delightfully wry and cynical attitude that elevates it above many of its contemporaries.

"You have something that I need..."

“You have something that I need…”

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The X-Files – Piper Maru (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Piper Maru and Apocrypha continue a pretty clear thematic throughline for the show’s third season mythology episodes.

As with The Blessing Way/Paper Clip and Nisei/731, Piper Maru and Apocrypha tell a story about how we relate to the past. In particular, in keeping with the rest of the third season mythology, it is a show about the legacy of the Second World War. The X-Files is a show that is sceptical of the decisions made by the American government towards the end of the Second World War, particularly as those decisions shaped and moulded the present. In many ways, The X-Files is a show about history and legacy, trauma and consequence.

A fish out of water...

A fish out of water…

Piper Maru and Apocrypha are less direct about this connection than the earlier mythology episodes. They aren’t about the war criminals given safe habour after the Second World War in return for scientific knowledge or tactical advantages. Instead, Piper Maru and Apocrypha are shows about dredging up the past and confronting the consequences of past actions. These two episodes are not only steeped in American popular history, but also in the show’s internal continuity. The majority of what happens here is driven by events we’ve seen in the show.

At the same time, Piper Maru and Apocrypha represent an attempt to boldly expand and push the mythos forward in the same way that Colony and End Game did at this point in the second season. The result is an intriguing two-parter that feels a little muddled and messy, an example of the show stumbling slightly as it tries to grow outwards. Although the mythology is still working a lot more efficiently than it would in later seasons, there is a sense of clutter beginning to filter in.

The eyes have it...

The eyes have it…

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The X-Files – The List (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

The List taps into a lot of contemporary anxieties.

As with Chris Carter’s last stand-alone script for The X-Files, there is something very timely about The List. The late second season medical conspiracy thriller F. Emasculata had aired at a point where national anxieties about Ebola and other killer diseases were at a high, with the high-profile release of Outbreak and the publication of Crisis in the Hot Zone. One of Carter’s strengths as a producer and a writer was his ability to take the national pulse, and to make The X-Files reflect whatever made nineties America uncomfortable.

A capital idea...

A capital idea…

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Non-Review Review: GoldenEye

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

GoldenEye saved James Bond. Bond had wallowed in obscurity for six years by the time that Pierce Brosnan’s first appearance in the role was released. As a kid, James Bond was something that was dead to me. Sure, it came on television from time to time (mostly on holidays) and they filled up a shelf at the videostore, but I always felt like they were something that had happened in the past – like the original Star Wars movies, or any Star Trek films featuring Captain Kirk. Even though I lacked the sophistication to articulate it at the time, I think I felt that the entire James Bond franchise would be reruns for me. There was nothing new happening.

And then GoldenEye was released.

Brosnan is Bond...

And it meant business.

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