How Hereditary Invokes The Fears of Neurodivergent Families

I’ve just started a new series on Film Inquiry, where I write about portrayals of mental illness, health and wellness (both explicit representations and interpretations) in film.

I have a lot of ideas for this series as it goes on, but first of all I’m writing about this year’s biggest horror movie: Hereditary.

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Bullet to the Head: The “Anti-Buddy Movie”

The Netflix preview image for Bullet to the Head features Sylvester Stallone and Jason Momoa swinging wildly at one another in a one-on-one axe fight. This image promises a much more entertaining movie. On the other hand, an action movie starring Stallone in 2012 could have been a lot worse.

Stallone’s career has some definite peaks and troughs. Coming off the brilliant surprise Rocky Balboa and the crowd-pleasing Rambo, he launched into the remarkably unremarkable Expendables and Expendables 2. Following the latter up with an action movie called ‘Bullet to the Head’ didn’t inspire much confidence, and neither the reviews nor the box office receipts did it any favours.

Bullet To The Head

It ended up being Stallone’s worst opening weekend gross in 32 years, failing to make up half of its $40 million budget. But while this is by no means a top tier Walter Hill project, or a top tier Stallone film, many of its apparent failures seem to me to be a deliberate evasion of the tropes of the buddy cop sub-genre. Continue reading →

Minor Scenes: Springfield’s Culture

Minor scenes is just a series where I can write some shorter posts on small scenes from TV and film that I think are worth talking about, even if they don’t warrant a full essay.


The Simpsons Season 5 Episode 6 | Marge on the Lam

There’s something very distinctive about small town culture – or, more accurately, the lack of it.

Moving from a middle-of-nowhere village or town to a city, or even just visiting one, gives you a taste of what there is out there. It always seemed odd to me, having the ability to grab cheap tickets to the next up-and-coming indie band as a teenager, go to your first play at eleven years old, and have the only real obstacle for spending an empty day in the calendar be money.

This is one of the many, many ways that the writers of The Simpsons nailed a specific feeling, or tone, of a place that many of us have felt like we have lived. Springfield, while set in a different country to my own and full of all sorts of colourful characters, plot-specific districts and an amorphous geography, always seemed like a reflection of my own hometown.

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Not only do the characters of the show not have the ability to view or take part in certain cultural events or art scenes (in the early seasons at least), but they don’t have the context to understand it. There are those like Lisa, who finds small avenues of culture where she can and desperately longs to move somewhere where she’ll find more of it – but her parents are a little different.

With little awareness of what they could have, this generation are fine to live without it for the most part. This is best summed up in the episode ‘Marge on the Lam,’ when Marge gets tickets to the ballet. Homer insists that he enjoys “all the meats of our cultural stew,” but is oblivious to its true meaning, happily fantasising about something far less… sophisticated.

As a second hitter to this gag, it turns out Homer isn’t the only one.

Telling his co-workers that he’s got to take his wife to the ballet that evening, Lenny replies: “Gonna go see the bear in the little car, huh?”

Homer doesn’t actually make it there, but Marge does – making a new friend in neighbour Ruth Powers

Once she’s there, Marge finally gets her outlet and sees one of the meats of Springfield’s cultural stew – perfectly happy to see her town’s less refined version of the performative dance.

Previous ‘Minor Scene’:

Captain’s Orders

Minor Scenes: Captain’s Orders

Minor scenes is just a series where I can write some shorter posts on small scenes from TV and film that I think are worth talking about, even if they don’t warrant a full essay.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a big step up for the MCU, which until that point had been putting out solid, entertaining movies confident enough in their balance of comedy and set pieces to not really change. 2014 was the year to shake things up, first with this spy thriller variation on the superhero sub-genre, then the irreverent space opera that was Guardians of the Galaxy capping the year off.

Bringing a character like Captain America to the big screen isn’t easy – and likely even harder than other straightforward and upstanding superheroes like Superman. America itself isn’t exactly the most popular country on the planet, so how do you sell a man who not only comes from an era where jingoism was the name of the game for comic books – but wears the stars and stripes as his uniform?

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Well, the answer is that you focus on something else: Steve Rogers. A man blindly serving his country isn’t particularly compelling, but a man whose life offered him no respite from tragedy yet still puts himself on the line for the sake of doing what’s right? That is something that you can sell – and it worked.

The Winter Soldier saw his character confronted with the moral greys of government oversight and preemptive warfare, and so gives us a character whose arc is to not really change. Luckily, the people around him, and the situation itself, gives us plenty to work with, from secondary characters to people you would assume wouldn’t even get a name in the credits.

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Why A Ms. Marvel Movie Needs To Happen

Since its inception, the course of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe has been mapped out. Iron Man promised that a team of heroes would come together, and The Avengers proved that they could. The 2012 movie promised that they would return, with the real big bad behind it all still to come. The saga is now concluding with Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel, leading us to ask: What next?

I can’t deny I’m a little intrigued by the possibility of further sequels or another crossover event (Secret Invasion is a safe bet), but they can do better than that. If they want to make the most of their dominant position on the blockbuster scene and keep things feeling fresh and new, they really need to broaden their horizons and bring in new characters.

Characters like Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel.

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Marvel’s Big Bad: How Thanos Is A Dark Reflection Of Blockbuster Heroism

A lot has happened in the eight years since Thanos made his big screen debut in The Avengers. While the mid-credits scene was essentially an ingenious way to keep an audience invested in a vaguely-defined future release, it was also one of the most memorable and bold moments in blockbuster cinema – a thrilling mystery to close a world-changing event movie. Thanos’ smile promised something greater to come, but his central role in Avengers: Infinity War this year gave us more than we anticipated.

Following a streak of well-written villains from Marvel Studios’ rapidly expanding cinematic universe – with Ego and Killmonger leaving the likes of Malekith and Whiplash in the dust – as well as his own prolonged build-up across multiple movies, Thanos had plenty to live up to. Yet rather than give what comics fans were expecting – a mad nihilist hopelessly seeking the approval of the physical embodiment of death – we got something a little more human.

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