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New Escapist Column! On “The English” and the British Western…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the release of The English on Amazon Prime in the United States and on BBC in the United Kingdom, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the peculiar phenomenon of the British western.

The western is a quintessentially American genre. It is a foundation myth for the nation. As such, it is an awkward fit for British pop culture, given Britain’s historical relationship to the United States and the fact that Britain’s frontiers have never looked like that. However, given the intricacies of Britain’s relationship to its former colony, it is no surprise that the western has long been the subject of fascination for the British, and that the nation has put its own slant on the genre.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Complicated Postcolonial Politics…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. This week marks the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and so it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the movie’s complicated postcolonial politics.

Wakanda Forever is a movie fascinated by the consequences of colonialism. Wakanda is defined by the fact that it has never experienced colonialism or imperialism, and Wakanda Forever throws the nation state into conflict with Talokan, a nation with an entire history shaped and defined by colonial violence. This gets at one of the central tensions of Wakanda Forever, in that it is a movie fascinated by the violence commited by victims of colonialism, rather than the violence inflicted by colonial powers.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Black Panther” and the Limits of Exceptionalism…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever this weekend, it seemed as good an opportunity as any to look at what sets the film apart from so many modern superhero movies.

Wakanda Forever is a superhero movie with an absent centre, built around the loss of actor Chadwick Boseman. Writer and director Ryan Coogler leans into this, building a superhero movie that is essentially about the limits of exceptionalism and the understanding that sometimes excellence alone is not enough to prevail. In a genre that is shaped and defined by power fantasies, Wakanda Forever embraces and explores a form of powerlessness that is radical within the confines of the superhero narrative, and one that grants the movie a thoughtful resonance in light of the years since the original’s release.

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

New Escapist Video! “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a Loving Tribute and a So-So Film”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie and television reviews on The Escapist. 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 a five-minute film review Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is releasing in cinemas this weekend.

New Escapist Column! On “The English” as a Love Letter to Sergio Leone…

I published a new piece at The Escapist yesterday. This week marks the premiere of The English, a co-production between the BBC and Amazon.

The English is effectively a spaghetti western with a very British sensibility. It is written and directed by Hugo Blick. It stars Emily Blunt, and its supporting cast is populated with British and Irish character actors like Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall and Stephen Rea. However, it is a thoughtful exploration of the genre, and an obvious love letter to the exploitation movies of the sixties and seventies. The show is occasionally a little to reverent to its inspirations, but it is beautifully shot and deeply moving, anchored in two great central performances from Chaske Spencer and Emily Blunt.

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

New Escapist Column! On How the Future of Streaming Looks a Lot Like Old-Fashioned Television…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the recent launch of Netflix’s ad-supported tier, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at the larger trends in contemporary streaming.

Streaming services have moved away from the binge model. They have become more transparent in their ratings. They have begun scheduling the release of particular episodes across various days of the week. They have even begun releasing some episodes in prime time. The plotting on these shows has become a lot more reminiscent of turn of the millennium zeitgeisty mystery box shows than early streaming stories. All of this is to suggest that the future of streaming seems to look a lot like old-fashioned television.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Third Season of Lower Decks is Enjoyable, Old-Fashioned Star Trek”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie and television reviews on The Escapist. 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 a five-minute film review of the third season of Lower Decks, which is on Paramount Plus.

New Escapist Column! On the Variety of Prison in “Andor”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Nobody’s Listening! continues the third arc of this first season, largely built around Cassian Andor’s trip to the penal facility on Narkina 5. However, the episode also builds out from that idea, suggesting that Andor isn’t the only character on his show to be trapped. In their own ways, the various other leads have also been imprisoned by the Empire, locked in depressing and suffocating situations with no tangible possibility of release. Andor argues that all of its characters live in cages, some are just nicer than others.

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

New Escapist Video! On “The Rings of Power” and the Limits of the Franchise-Era Mystery Box…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at The Rings of Power, the prequel series to The Lord of the Rings. In particular, the way that it is built around so many mystery boxes. It’s a problem facing a lot of modern franchise media, where these shows attempt to keep audiences hooked by building elaborate mystery boxes around established lore. The mystery box was a problem for early serialized television at the turn of the millennium, and it is a shame to see it return in the streaming age of franchise media, where the answer is always nostalgia.

New Escapist Video! “House of the Dragon is a Worthy Return to Westeros”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. 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 a five-minute film review of the first season of House of the Dragon, which is on HBO Max.