Articles and Lists

Why the Best Popular Film category is the rebirth the Academy needs.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its first new Oscars category since 2001: Best Popular Film. The award will honour those films which have had huge mass appeal, yet typically not the artistic reverence necessary to take the standard Best Picture gong. The runaway favourite for the first Best Popular Film statuette is the critical and commercial smash hit Black Panther. There are even rumours that a behind the scenes Disney campaign led to Best Popular Film...

Flashbacks to ‘93: The Fugitive

In my article for the BANNED! Series on The Toolbox Murders, I talked about how, when I was a kid, I wasn’t able to watch many films that I wasn’t supposed to be seeing. That was why I considered the 12 certificate - which came in in 1989, the first release being Tim Burton’s Batman - a great innovation. There had always been such a wide gulf between PG and 15, and it was ridiculously easy to fall into the...

Flashbacks to ‘93: So I Married An Axe Murderer

It seems that every comedian with a movie or two under their belt turns pretty quickly to the romantic comedy, and with good reason. The rom-com is a fascinating genre, at once rigid in its long established rules and structure, yet infinitely malleable in the genre hybridisations that can be created within it. Mike Myers’ attempt at this most mainstream of genres, So I Married an Axe Murderer, its title might suggest, falls on the darker end of the spectrum....

BANNED! Mikey (1992)

The 1993 murder of James Bulger was shocking both in its brutality and in that its perpetrators were just ten years old. It seemed that both the public and the press were at a loss to understand how it happened, how two children ended up committing such a violent murder. When something like this happens there is, I think, a need to find something to blame, to find a problem that will explain the event away and allow us to...

Flashbacks to ‘93: Free Willy

I remember Free Willy less as a film and more as a playground joke. Willy, you see, is British children’s slang for penis. The many jokes inspired by the potential misunderstanding of the title of - get this - a KIDS film were clearly the very apex of sophisticated humour. I eventually saw the film on video, I imagine it was rented at the behest of my brother rather than me, and that I dismissed it at the time as...

Flashbacks to ‘93: The Thing Called Love

Peter Bogdanovich got off to a filmmaker’s dream start. Between 1968 and 1973 he made his first four films. Targets was a highly promising debut; a tense thriller, a triumph of ingenuity to use a few days of filming that Boris Karloff owed to Roger Corman. Then he made The Last Picture Show; a beautiful elegy for a small town that is maybe my favourite film of all time. He followed that with the glorious screwball comedy What’s Up Doc?...

BANNED! Headless Eyes (1971)

The famous list of so called ‘Video Nasties’, which was pivotal in bringing cinema style censorship to home video through the Video Recordings Act of 1984, was divided into two sections. Section 2 is the list that anyone with a passing interest in censorship and extreme cinema knows. These films, when seized, would make the dealer subject to personal prosecution for supplying obscene materials. Section 3 were considered less obscene, not likely to be convicted under the OPA, but still...

Flashbacks to ‘93: Hocus Pocus

Most of us cinephiles have formative films, the ones that turned us from consumers into viewers and began the process of forming a lifelong love of movies. Mine was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I confess I’m surprised by the fact that, for more than a handful of people, Hocus Pocus was the gateway drug, or at least part of it. I’m confused as to why I’m writing about this film now. Well, I know WHY, it’s because this...

Flashbacks to ‘93: In The Line Of Fire

The 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy cast a long shadow over the second half of the 20th century and as its 30th anniversary approached there were several films that looked, some more directly than others, at its lasting echoes. In 1991 we had Oliver Stone’s conspiracy fueled JFK, late 1992 brought the still underseen Love Field, and with it an Oscar nomination for Michelle Pfeiffer. In The Line Of Fire isn’t directly about the assassination, but it figures...

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