Darkman: 25th Anniversary

Darkman was the blockbuster stepping stone between Army of Darkness andSpider-Man for Sam Raimi, and that’s exactly what it feels like. When the director couldn’t get the rights to various other existing superhero properties such as Batman and The Shadow (their loss), he decided to create his own inspired by the movies he grew up with. It pays homage to Universal’s horror films of the 1930s, noir cinema, and The Phantom of the Opera. Continue reading →

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Death Matters in True Detective

Last year Nic Pizzolatto brought us a fascinating meditation on masculinity within the crime mystery genre. It was a showcase for the acting talents of both Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, while making use of the less restrictive format of a television mini-series. While HBO shows like The Sopranos and The Wire paved the way with slower-paced plots that had more time to spend on deeper characterisation and world-building than cinema, True Detective brought Hollywood actors into the fold. In season one episode four ‘Who Goes There’, Cary Fukanuga ended on an astounding six-minute tracking shot of a failed robbery and the subsequent escape. This year, also at the mid-point of the season, ‘Down Will Come’ culminated with a disastrous police raid. Continue reading →

The Enduring Appeal of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

After 10 seasons and 114 episodes, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia turns ten years old this week. For a sitcom that follows the exploits of a group of depraved, horrible people, this is quite an achievement. Most descriptions fail to highlight what makes it such a smart and funny show, and had I been told that it’s about the offensive behaviour of a group of relatively wealthy white bar-owners, I would have never started watching. There’s an attention to detail that means these characters can be believable as human beings, even when they’re taking part in bizarre schemes motivated by outrageous beliefs. Every storyline is put into motion by each character’s egotism, greed and ignorance, and in return their failure to succeed or grow in any significant way becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their unity is never solid – any of them would quickly drop another for personal gain, but they tend to realise that they need each other, simply because no one else will have them. While they rarely are adequately punished for their misdeeds, we see the destruction left in their wake. It’s a compelling indictment of those whose privilege allows them to operate on their own terms, and oppress anyone that they have power over, out of some misguided sense that they are the ones being wronged. It’s Always Sunny accomplishes the difficult task of making a show about awful people who never really change and have it still feel fresh ten years on.

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