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The X-Files – Sleepless (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Vietnam casts a long shadow over The X-Files, just as it casts a long shadow over the rest of American popular culture. It was a conflict that left a scar on the American psyche, prompted no small amount of soul-searching and naval-gazing, forcing the country to contemplate its role on the global stage. The issues of war guilt and veterans rights haunted America well into the nineties, with films like Forrest Gump and Heaven and Earth still trying to make sense of it all.

Along with Watergate, Vietnam came to embody the disillusionment and disengagement of the seventies. While public discomfort with American involvement the Korean War never climbed above 50%, public disapproval of American involvement in Vietnam would reach almost 75% in March 1990. Vietnam remains a boogeyman, with memories of Vietnam arguably informing Clinton’s reluctance to commit American ground troops to foreign theatres during the nineties and serving as a frequent point of comparison to twenty-first century entanglements in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Howard Gordon’s first solo teleplay for The X-Files, Sleepless is an episode that explores Vietnam as a perpetual waking nightmare.

Preaching to the choir...

Preaching to the choir…

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Non-Review Review: The Blues Brothers

I had the pleasure of catching a Jameson Cult Film Club screening of The Blues Brothers earlier this evening. And it was awesome. Really, really great night. Might have been the best yet. I’ll have more details on it later in the week, but now seems like a good time to revisit the classic.

It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Hit it.

– Elwood and Jake

It might seem a bit redundant to say it, but The Blues Brothers has soul. Not just the funky music, though it has plenty of that. Nor an evangelical message, although the two brothers are, as they claim, “on a mission from God.” No, The Blues Brothers has a core of pure exuberance, a sense of joy that is all too rare – it doesn’t seem like writers Dan Ackroyd and John Landis threw ideas at the wall to see what stuck, so much as they demolished the wall and threw it at another wall. The Blues Brothers is, by turns, absurd, wry, grounded, sarcastic, charming, heartwarming and sardonic, with those elements frequently overlapping to an almost insane degree. In many ways, like John Belushi’s scheming, manipulative and aggressive Jake Elwood, it’s far more charming than it really should be. But we love it for it.

It’s a dirty business…

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