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New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “The Only Thing Horrifying About New Mutants is How Bad It Is”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Stacy Grouden for the thirteenth episode. We discussed rumours of a new Predator film, and the franchise’s troubled history. We raved about the pulpy thrills of Run. We then discussed Hillbilly Elegy.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On the Morality Plays that Ground Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and Christmas is fast approaching, so it seemed like as good a time as any to talk about the heartwarming morality of director Quentin Tarantino.

Tarantino arrived in the early nineties as something of a provocateur, and caused no shortage of outrage among older and more traditional audiences. One of the more frequent criticisms thrown at Tarantino suggested that the director was nihilistic, that he presented worlds without meaning or sense beyond violence and chaos. While this might superficially appear to be true in that many of Tarantino’s films feature both violence and chaos, it fundamentally misunderstands the director.

On the contrary, Tarantino is arguably one of America’s most morally conscious filmmakers. His films present characters with worlds in which arbitrary forces sweep through their lives, reflecting the reality of living in a world outside of an individual’s control. However, many of Tarantino’s protagonists react to that chaos by fashioning their own order out of it – discerning their own meaning, constructing their own reasons. Although obscured by Tarantino’s preference for non-linear structure, his stories are often miniature morality plays.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Terrible “Terminator” Metaphor at the Heart of “Hillbilly Elegy”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Hillbilly Elegy arriving on Netflix tomorrow, it seemed like the right moment to take a look at one of award season’s biggest misfires.

There are a lot of problems with Hillbilly Elegy, many of which have been explored by writers with a lot more probing insight and personal experience than I have on the matter. That said, one aspect of the film has stuck with me since I first watched it: Hillbilly Elegy has possibly the worst Terminator metaphor that I have ever seen. It’s impressive how terrible the metaphor is. It relies on both a fundamental misunderstanding of the Terminator franchise, but also on a misunderstanding of what Hillbilly Elegy is trying to say.

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

New Escapist Video! “Mank – Review in 3 Minutes”

I’m thrilled to be launching 3-Minute Reviews on Escapist Movies. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute the first three-minute feature film review to the channel, discussing David Fincher’s Mank.

New Escapist Video! On “GoldenEye” and an Unchanged Bond in a Changed World…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with the Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With that in mind, here is last week’s episode. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of GoldenEye, we took a look back at the first James Bond film of the nineties, which introduced the suave secret agent to a whole new generation. Indeed, the genius of the film lay in its understanding of Bond. It presented a version of Bond that had no changed, even as the world around him had.

New Escapist Column! On How “Return of the Jedi” Reduced “Star Wars” to Formula…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special releasing tomorrow, I thought it was worth taking a look back at Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.

In particular, the way in which Return of the Jedi sets an outer limit on what Star Wars can be. After the previous film in the series pushed the franchise outwards, the third film in the original trilogy folds the series back in on itself and sets a clear boundary on what Star Wars is and what Star Wars will forever be. It is a creative choice that has arguably hindered the franchise in the years since, restricting its capacity to push beyond that template and embrace new ideas and new concepts.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Mandalorian – Chapter 11: The Heiress”

I’m thrilled to be launching 3-Minute Reviews on Escapist Movies. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’ll be doing weekly reviews of The Mandalorian.

The review of the third episode of the second season, The Heiress, is available below.

New Escapist Column! On “Creed” as the Perfect Legacy Sequel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because Creed is five years old this month, it seemed like an appropriate time to look back at one of the defining legacy sequels.

Creed arrived at a point in time when these sorts of movies were becoming a lot more common; Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens would premiere a month later. However, there is a lot that later legacy sequels could learn from Creed and how it approaches the idea of passing the torch from one generation to the next. Creed is a love letter to the Rocky franchise, but never loses track of its own identity, accomplishing the rarest of balances.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Mandalorian – Chapter 10: The Passenger”

I’m thrilled to be launching 3-Minute Reviews on Escapist Movies. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’ll be doing weekly reviews of The Mandalorian.

The review of the second episode of the second season, The Passenger, is available below.

New Escapist Column! On “GoldenEye” and a James Bond Out of Time…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because GoldenEye is twenty-five years old this month, it seemed like an appropriate time to look back at one of the more underappreciated entries in the franchise.

GoldenEye arrived in a changed world, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Many of the underlying assumptions of the Bond franchise were no longer relevant to the new world order. At the same time, the Bond franchise was in an existential crisis following the commercial disappointment of the previous film and the longest gap between installments to date. However, GoldenEye hit upon a novel solution to this problem: instead of fighting against the idea of Bond as a man out of time, it would embrace it.

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