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Category Archives: Column: Film and TV

How much sin can viewers take?: HBO’s Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire has achieved a similar status to the gangster films of the 1950s, bringing the state of television’s serial narrative — to borrow a phrase from Roland Barthes — to a more than adequate gestuary of ‘cool’. The pilot episode of the HBO series, the fifth … Read more »

Is the ‘Director’s Cut’ better?

As we reach the business end in another prolific year of film, where critics squabble over their ‘top ten’ lists with excessive pedantry and award-politicking reigns supreme, the case of the ‘director’s cut’ inevitably bubbles to the surface. This often leaks into the public domain when a … Read more »

Not so ‘quiche’: Chris Lilley’s Ja’mie: Private School Girl

If we’ve learnt anything from Chris Lilley’s latest series Ja’mie: Private School Girl, it’s that no one in their right mind wants to see Ja’mie topless. Once you look past Ja’mie’s bizarre and frankly creepy on-stage disrobing at the climax of the series (if you even can … Read more »

All Hallows’ magic: supernatural films through the ages

All Hallows’ Eve is traditionally a time for honouring the dead, and also a time for feasting, so why not feast on some of the more spellbinding supernatural films this Halloween. Häxan (1922, directed by Benjamin Christensen) Danish film Häxan (subtitled Witchcraft Through the Ages for its … Read more »

Fools rush in: why fast-tracking TV doesn’t slow downloading

Commercial television sure does love talking up the wonders of fast-tracking. That’s the process whereby instead of sitting on a television show until an airdate that suits their programming department, they put it to air within a day or two of it showing in its country of … Read more »

Space terror and dystopian realities: Hollywood’s sci-fi resurgence

In her seminal essay, ‘The Imagination of Disaster’, Susan Sontag declares that science-fiction films are not about science–they are about disaster, ‘the aesthetics of destruction, with peculiar beauties to be found in wrecking havoc.’ This is inherently true: film is quite possibly the greatest medium through which … Read more »

Going with the flow: new ways of watching films

I was in New York recently, where my time was mostly spent seeing films in the Allan Dwan retrospective series at MoMA. During my month long visit, I was most excited about seeing Escape To Burma (1955), starring my favourite Old Hollywood actress Barbara Stanwyck. So, it … Read more »

They’re all gonna laugh at you: the rise and rise of Adam Sandler

  Excited for Adam Sandler’s new movie, Grown Ups 2? You should be: he’s the biggest movie star in the English-speaking world. Lets just let that sink in for a moment. The former Saturday Night Live comedian who left television to play an idiot in Billy Madison … Read more »

Masterpiece or Misfire?: Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives

  In Nicolas Winding Refn’s provocative new film, Only God Forgives, boxing club manager-drug smuggler Julian (Ryan Gosling) finds himself hopelessly trapped in the realm between heaven and hell, a state of hyper-reality where he is physically and mentally beaten down by two menacing individuals who control … Read more »

Slim recognition: on the presence of women in film

On July 30, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences appointed a new president; Cheryl Boone Isaacs will be the thirty-third head of the Academy, but only the third woman to hold the position. This is almost as bad as there being only one female winner … Read more »