‘Take Two’ review: 2017 Oscar Nominated Shorts

Oscar short films often get overlooked amidst the hype of Best Picture etc, so for your consideration, in the first of what hopefully will become a regular segment, Amy Peterson and Diana Nakelski – known collectively as Take 2 – bring us a blow-by-blow account of the shorts at the Academy Awards this year.

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Diana:  I have never understood why short films do not get much exposure in the US.  Short film-makers have 2 to 30 minutes to tell a story that is poignant and memorable.  It requires a high attention to detail, focus, and personal sacrifice to pull this off.  Often, these storytellers are young, visionary filmmakers working outside the scope of a major production company.  The resulting work can sometimes be raw, and simultaneously refreshing.  Continue reading

Welcome to Night Vale – Norwich Radical

I have been writing as a regular culture correspondent for The Norwich Radical since January, and it’s been… an experience. I’ve written about the ideological implications of Wrestlemania, the politics of Pulp’s Common People, and the romance of Romero’s zombie films, but I am making a shift into their community section covering local events on our political scene (don’t worry, HH will continue as always). It seems fitting then, that my last -regular- culture piece is about a totally irregular community radio show. You can check it out by clicking the linked sample-text below. Enjoy… -JB

The fact that so much of our ‘escapism’ is into worlds that are literally a living hell says a lot about the disconnect between capitalist ideology and the reality it actually delivers. It’s what game designers describe as an uncanny valley effect, where something is almost human but not quite, and so becomes more unnaturally terrifying than something blatantly false.

Companies that have sponsored the murder of trade unionists, who would sooner put nets up to prevent sweat-shop workers jumping from their rooves than improve pay and conditions, try constantly to convince us they care about our enjoyment —  and it is like being courted by a serial-killer. We are so desperate to escape from the unhinged pseudo-niceties surrounding us that we actively fantasise about the apocalypse — because at least the zombie horde never tried to charge us rent, and triffids never tried to be our friends. Within that realm though, the potential for something quite different, even radical exists. The opportunity to satirise the ills of the real world.

Welcome to Night Vale.

A Seismic Shift – the ideology of survival in San Andreas

For years, one of the greatest forces in the box-office at summer time has been the force of nature itself. Now, Jack Brindelli explores the shifting reflections of elitist ideology in the genre’s latest smash-hit San Andreas (2015).

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Even earthquakes don’t move The Rock.

For decades, artistic imaginings of the apocalypse, and humanity’s relationship to it have dominated summer cinema. Whilst the genre might be much maligned as being overly simplistic, unimaginative, and light on story, the disaster epic is often a signifier for the Hollywood elite’s perception of sea-changes in the global political climate. On the geo-political level, we can see this point emphasised by the career of Roland Emmerich – who continues to exemplify the genre with Independence Day 2 due next year – as the response to each crisis morphs along with popular preconceptions about US hegemony. Continue reading

Check out “Selling The North” on the Norwich Film Festival!

My new feature article for the Norwich Film Festival has gone live. It regards the exploitation of the myth of the Southerner in the light of two of this year’s Oscar contenders. It’s got slander, abuse, and KFC in it, so why not go check it out by clicking the sample text below, ya’ll?

Or else there will be Cage-based consequences…

Over the course of the 150 years since the American Civil War, Southern Americans have been the go-to group when it comes to a caricature everyone can get behind giving a good kicking. In the fallout of the war, the hillbilly character originated from Northern news writers, as a kind of primitive parallel to the ‘civilising’ process of industrialisation sweeping the country in the second half of the 1800s. The South had been left in ruin after the war, economically crippled and hit by bad harvests – and the ordinary folk there were subsequently painted as a primitive embarrassment. At the time America’s leaders were becoming obsessed with carving out a new image in the eyes of the world, and the poor, ‘ignorant’, ‘lazy’ South didn’t fit with their ambitions to expand the market empires they thrived from. One example to sum up this frustration, featured in Rich Hall’s brilliant BBC film The Dirty South (2010), comes from The Baltimore Sun in 1912, who suggested the only two remedies to such folk were “education and extermination.” Yikes – with an attitude like that if he’d been born a century later the writer could’ve landed a career in the ATOS PR department!