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279. The Conversation (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Ciara Moloney and Dean Buckley, The 250 is a weekly 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.

So this week, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation.

Harry Caul is one of the best surveillance operators in America. However, when Harry finds himself in possession of a potentially inflammatory recording with very real consequences, he finds hismel at a crossroads. Can the professional eavesdropper remain a passive observer in the drama unfolding around him, or will events force him into a more active role?

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! “The Batman” as a Paranoid Conspiracy Thriller…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With The Batman releasing this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at Matt Reeves’ take on the Caped Crusader.

Reeves has discussed the influence of seventies cinema on The Batman. The film draws heavily from paranoid films of the era, movies like The French Connection, Klute and The Conversation. However, it is more than just nostalgia at play. The Batman finds an interesting thematic overlap between the seventies and the present day, particularly in its recurring fascination with voyeurism and surveillance. The Batman is many things, but it’s also a story about the importance of looking into the darkness, but realising that looking alone is not enough.

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

Millennium – Blood Relatives (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Blood Relatives is the best episode of Millennium to air within the first half of the first season. It is an episode that seems to recognise the potential of a show like Millennium to be more than just a formulaic procedural, acknowledging that the show needs to find its own unique narratives in the same way that The X-Files did during its first season. Blood Relatives adheres rather loosely to the serial-killer-of-the-week format, but is rather more interested in the stories of the characters around the murders than in the murders themselves.

Blood Relatives is also notable as the first Millennium script written by Chip Johannessen. Johannessen would go on to become one of the defining voices of the show’s run, writing some of the best episodes of the first two seasons and steering the show through its troubled two years. Johannessen was good to Millennium, and Millennium was good to Johannessen. It transitioned the writer from shows like Married… With Children, Beverly Hills 90210 and The Monroes towards 24, Dexter and Homeland.

Not cut out for all this...

Not cut out for all this…

As with his next script, Force Majeure, Johannesson hones in quite beautifully on the potential of Millennium. Blood Relatives is an episode of television that is almost perfectly tailored for Millennium. While it retains the elements of a procedural, it is hard to image the episode working on something like Law & Order or CSI, more rigidly-structured television shows with clearer boundaries. Indeed, it seems like Johannessen recognised Millennium as a show spun out of Irresistible, and chose to play Blood Relatives on the same sort of themes about loss and dysfunction.

Blood Relatives is a superbly constructed piece of television, one that marks Johannessen as a talent to watch going forward.

Wading in...

Wading in…

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Non-Review Review: Cabin in the Woods

Part of me wonders when it’s appropriate to start ranking the year’s films. I say that, because I’ve just had the pleasure of catching The Cabin in the Woods, which is easily one of the best films of the year so far, and the best horror movie I’ve seen in a long, long time. I know those sound like trite clichés, but Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s exploration of the horror genre just bristles with a raw energy that sweeps up the audience.

It’s a rare horror film that has you laughing when it wants you to laugh, while keeping you anticipating shocks that you know it knows you know are coming. In many ways, it seems like Cabin in the Woods comes from a very raw and personal place from both director and writer, one conflicted over the genre as a whole. From the outset it’s clear that Whedon and Goddard truly love the conventions and the thrills, while loathing the inherent voyeurism and nihilism that is almost inseparable from those aspects. It’s a weird dichotomy, and Cabin in the Woods is a weird film, but weird in that most brilliant of ways.

Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?

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Non-Review Review: Three Colours Red

This week we’re taking a look at Krzysztof Kieślowski’s celebrated “Three Colours” Trilogy. We’ll be publishing reviews on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so check back and sound off.

Three Colours Red has been described as “the best film among equals”, and it’s a position I can’t quite bring myself to disagree with. While I adore the beautiful synergy between the colour, the imagery and the mood of Three Colours Blue, I think that the final film in the trilogy perfectly captures the essence of what director Krzysztof Kieślowski seems to have been trying to accomplish. Three Colours Red beautifully ties together his central themes about the way that people relate to and interact with each other. It’s a film that works well be itself, viewed in isolation, but it’s also a fitting end to a piece of cinematic history. And, like so much of Kieślowski’s work, it’s dense without being oblique and elegant without being exclusive. For all we talk about the depth of meaning in the work, it’s just an astoundingly well-made piece of cinema.

A model citizen?

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Reality (TV) Bites…

For reasons beyond my control (and the same reasons that might lead me to slow my contributions over the next weeks) I found myself watching late night reality television on TV3. Until now, reality TV and I have observed something resembling a mutually peaceful existence – I don’t bother it and it doesn’t bother me. However, watching an hour of Gordon Ramsey swear like he’d just bought a sailor’s thesaurus really just hammered home how uncomfortable I am watching reality television. What’s my problem?

Reality TV in a nutshell...

Reality TV in a nutshell...

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