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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #44!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast! Almost live from the Dublin Feminist Film Festival this week.

Recorded late on Wednesday evening, following the screening of the festival shorts and Parklands. Directed by Kathryn Millard, with cinematography by Mandy Walker, Parklands is notable as Cate Blanchett’s first starring role. So Jay Coyle, Ronan Doyle and I talk a little bit about our reactions to both the shorts and the film itself.

As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week outside of the festival. In this episode, Jay discusses both the massive list of great films he has to watch before the end of the year, and his decision to watch both The Meg and Skyscraper instead. Ronan has seen two of the films in the top ten, having very strong opinions about both A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody.

There is a lot to cover in news, including the announcement of a new Criterion streaming service risen from the ashes of Filmstruck, the awards at the Cork Film Festival, the Irish Film Festival London, the Polish Film Festival at the Irish Film Institute and the launch of Screen Skills Ireland. So a busy week.

The top ten:

  1. Overlord
  2. Johnny English Strikes Again
  3. Burn The Stage: The Movie
  4. Smallfoot
  5. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  6. Widows
  7. A Star is Born
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. The Grinch
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

Non-Review Review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is essentially a high concept shorn of any sense of authorship.

Lisbeth Salander is one of the very few breakout fictional characters of the twenty-first century, a concept that immediately latched on to the public imagination following the publication of Stieg Larsson’s Män som hatar kvinnor in 2005. Salander was a character who seemed to speak to the turbulent new century, a digitally native avenging angel who unleashed her wrath against a violent and misogynist establishment. Salander seemed to speak immediately and viscerally to her moment.

Phoning it in.

A Swedish language film was released four years later, featuring a career-defining performance from Noomi Rapace, which seemed to be enough to singlehandedly assure the young actor an English-language career. Hollywood quickly noticed and immediately commissioned a remake that would be directed by David Fincher, and which would go on to be nominated for five awards. Rooney Mara would effectively launch her career with a Best Actress nomination for her performance of Salander.

All of these are incredible accomplishments for a character and concept that in someways seemed clichéd and nineties. Män som hatar kvinnor was the kind of serial killer narrative that has been ubiquitous in the nineties, but largely supplanted by terrorist stories in the new millennium. As an archetype, Salander was very much of a piece with cyberpunk hackers with which Hollywood had clumsily flirted in movies like Hackers or The Matrix or Johnny Mnemonic.

Snow escape.

Salander was elevated by two things. The first was a prescient understanding of the appeal of a feminine avenging angel dismantling systems of misogynist oppression. If anything, Salander seemed ahead of her time, and should be perfectly pitched for the #metoo moment. However, the other important aspect of Salander was a strong sense of authorship and craft. Noomi Rapace embodied the character in the Swedish-language original, and David Fincher helped to elevate pulpy material to top-tier filmmaking in the American reimagining.

All of this makes The Girl in the Spider’s Web an interesting , if deeply unsatisfying case study of what happens when anything resembling a distinct creative voice is ripped away from Salander and she is stuck in a much more bland and conventional film. The results are deeply frustrating, but affirm the level of talent involved in the character’s earlier adventures on page and screen.

Everything burns.

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