Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

75. Amadeus (#82)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Phil Bagnall, The 250 is a trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT, with the occasional weekend off.

This time, Miloš Forman’s Amadeus.

Following a failed suicide attempt, ageing composer Antonio Salieri is consigned to psychiatric institution while babbling incoherently. When a young priest comes to visit, Salieri offers an account of his life. In particular, he elaborates upon a confession that he made on the night that he tried to take his life, that he murdered an illustrious young rival by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 82nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Truth

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Truth is a truly repugnant piece of work.

It is quite plain to see what Truth aspires towards. It wants to be a prestige picture about the erosion of journalistic freedom in twenty-first century America; it positions itself alongside films like Spotlight and All the President’s Men (and even television series like the fifth season of The Wire) in contending that a free press is an essential organ of a functioning democracy. It is entirely correct in this respect. Truth is bookended by reminders of how the press exposed scandals like Abu Ghraib and held those in authority to account.

truth

However, Truth is spectacularly ill-judged. The film clearly wants to tell a story about journalists who find themselves under intense scrutiny for reporting something that those in power would not want exposed. There are very candid stories to be told about the failure of the American press in this role during the early years of the twenty-first century; the role of the media in the march towards the Iraq war, the death of newspaper journalism and the rise of messier (and uglier) system in its place.

Unfortunately, Truth chooses the worst possible story upon which to make this stand. What clearly aspires to be a drama about journalistic integrity becomes a tone-deaf testament to journalistic incompetence. Then again, perhaps Truth picked its subject matter perfectly.

truth4

Continue reading

The X-Files – The Truth (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

It is interesting how the popular memory of a thing can differ from the actual thing itself.

Memory was always a key theme of The X-Files, particularly in the early years of the show. Although the aliens and the conspirators were plucked from the demented imaginations of the most paranoid tinfoil hat enthusiasts, a surprising amount of the show was rooted in real history that had been allowed to slip by under the radar: the genocide of the Native Americans; the resettlement of German and Japanese war criminals after the Second World War; radiation experiments upon prisoners; the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

Daddy's home.

Daddy’s home.

The truth is contained in the gap between memory and history. In a way, then, it feels entirely appropriate that the popular memory of The X-Files should remain quite distinct from the show itself. The popular memory of The X-Files tends to suggest that the mythology makes no sense, that it does not fit together in any tangible form. This is an opinion repeated so often that it has become a critical shorthand when discussing the end of the show; much like the assertion “they were dead all along” tends to come when discussing Lost.

The truth is that the mythology of The X-Files largely made sense. Sure, there were lacunas and contradictions, inconsistencies and illogicalities, but the vast majority of the mythology was fairly linear and straightforward. It had been fairly straightforward for quite some time. The show had been decidedly ambiguous in its first few seasons, only confirming that colonisation was the conspiracy’s end game in Talitha Cumi at the end of the third season. Elements like the black oil and the bees tended to cloud matters, but the internal logic was clear.

Everything burns...

Everything burns…

Significant portions of both The X-Files: Fight the Future and Two Fathers and One Son had been dedicated to spelling out the finer details of the mythology in great detail. Mankind were not the original inhabitants of Earth; the former occupants had returned and were making a rightful claim; the conspirators had agreed to help them, selling out mankind for a chance to extend their own lives. Everything else was window dressing. The production team had laid everything out during the fifth and sixth seasons.

Still, the general consensus of The X-Files was that it was a show driven by mysteries that was always more interested in questions than answers. This was certainly true, but it was somewhat exaggerated. When the cancellation was announced, the media immediately demanded answers. A month before The Truth was broadcast, Tim Goodman complained about how the show offered “precious few answers to Carter’s riddles.” Two days before the broadcast, Aaron Kinney wondered of the conspirators, “Who are these people and what is their agenda?”

The Truth on trial...

The Truth on trial…

It does not matter that these answers have mostly been provided and that the truth is mostly know. This was the context of the conversation unfolding around The Truth, and it likely explains a number of the creative decisions taken during the production of the episode. The Truth plays as an extended video essay dedicated to providing answers that were offered three or four seasons earlier in relation to mysteries that are no longer part of the show. The Truth is a passionate and intense argument that the mythology of The X-Files does make sense.

For viewers tuning back into the show for the first time in years, this means long expository monologues and skilfully edited montages that do not tie into the plot of the episode in any significant way. For those who stuck with the show for these past few seasons, it means rehashing everything that the show has taken for granted since the fifth or sixth season. While it feels like The Truth is desperately longing for vindication, to the extent where the show puts itself on trial in the person of Fox Mulder, this does not make for compelling viewing.

Happy ending.

Happy ending.

Continue reading

The X-Files – Dreamland I (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

It occasionally seems like the sixth season of The X-Files is having something approaching a midlife crisis.

It has gone through a fairly massive change in routine and lifestyle; the show recently pulled up sticks and moved to Los Angeles. It has gotten a lot more ostentatious; it looks to be spending a lot more money than it was before, and it is hanging around with a whole new caliber of guest star. It has reinvented itself completely; no longer the brooding and atmospheric show it once was, it is now downright goofy and silly. Old acquaintances would be forgiven if they had trouble recognising the show. And it’s perfectly understandable.

Back to back...

Back to back…

This is the sixth season. Dreamland I is the one-hundred-and-twenty-first episode of The X-Files. The show is well past what Chris Carter had originally planned, and well past just about any measure of success. Most shows are lucky to reach a sixth season, let alone come into the sixth season off the back of a summer film and with a great deal of security about the future. David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Chris Carter were all committed through to the end of the seventh season. There was even talk of a sequel to The X-Files: Fight the Future being released in 2000.

Dreamland I and Dreamland II just externalise that midlife crisis, using the classic “freaky friday” body swap set up putting Fox Mulder in a dead-end job with a family that hates him as Morris Fletcher tries to help the FBI agent grow up just a little bit.

"Yep. It's a little... out there."

“Yep. It’s a little… out there.”

Continue reading

The X-Files – Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” (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.

Then there are those who care not about extraterrestrials, searching for meaning in other human beings. Rare or lucky are those who find it. For although we may not be alone in the universe, in our own separate ways, on this planet, we are all alone.

– Darin Morgan takes his bow

It came from beyond the stars...

It came from beyond the stars…

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

The X-Files (Topps) #10-12 – Feelings of Unreality (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.

Feelings of Unreality marks the end of Stefan Petrucha and Charles Adlard’s first year on Topps’ licensed X-Files comic book.

It also marks the end of their extended arc. It became clear around six issue into their run that Petrucha and Adlard were really just telling one large and expansive story that could be broken down into small bite-sized chunks. From Not To Be Opened Until X-Mas through A Dismembrance of Things Past through Firebird and Silent Cities of the Mind, these were all separate pieces of a larger puzzle waiting to be fitted together. Feelings of Unreality marks a conclusion to this ambitious and expansive arc.

Slightly unreal...

Slightly unreal…

What has been fascinating about Petrucha and Adlard’s run on The X-Files comic book as been the way that the team has adapted the show’s format to fit within this distinct medium. Writing a tie-in like this, it would would be very tempting to do “a television episode, in comic book form!” There’s a very serious argument to be made that the comics would be pushed in that direction after Petrucha departed. However, there’s something much more compelling about a story that takes advantage of its own medium, rather than offering a flat imitation of another.

For all its flaws, Feelings of Unreality – like Petrucha and Adlard’s epic Firebird before it – feels like a comic book story. It’s pulpy, exciting, ambitious, expansive, silly. And just a little brilliant.

Lift me up...

Lift me up…

Continue reading