Monday 31 August 2020

Sects Education #6: The Children Act (2017)

(Spoilers.You know the score.)

In The Children Act, Emma Thompson plays Mrs Justice Fiona Maye, a judge with a reputation for making decisions on divisive and high profile family cases. At the start of the film she makes the call to allow a hospital to separate a pair of conjoined twins, knowing that one will die rather than both, against the parents' wishes. She is called upon to make a judgement about Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), a boy of 17, only a few weeks from adulthood, who is sick in hospital and needs a blood transfusion to live. The boy is a Jehovah’s Witness, and neither he nor his parents wish the procedure. The hospital seeks an injunction to enable them to save the young man’s life. Fiona's marriage is however faltering – her husband (Stanley Tucci) announces he's planning on an affair – and in a lapse of judgement she goes to see Adam in hospital. He turns out to be bright and they connect over a song (her passion, it turns out, is music, and so is his). Of course she makes the judgement to save his life. He survives, turns 18, and begins to pursue her, because he has a crush on her. She rejects him eventually, but because of her own emotional state, does not know how to respond appropriately, and the ending is inevitable, tragic and wholly predictable.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Room 207 Press Seminars #10: Your Move, Darwin – humanity, hope and meaning on the Planet of the Apes

Some science fiction franchises are more evolved than others. 

When Disney announced the acquisition of Fox, one of the big surprises was the announcement that plans were afoot to revive the Planet of the Apes franchise. First very loosely adapted from Philip “Bridge on the River Kwai” Boulle's novel La Planete des Singes, the story of an idealistic misanthrope stranded on a planet where evolution had taken a sideways lurch became notorious for having one of the greatest twist endings in history, a genre-defying mindbender that turns boilerplate space opera into something strange, disturbing and thought-provoking. A run of poetically scripted sequels and two TV series followed, both retreading the original tale, but more pertinently exploring how we get from a planet of humans to here. Revived by Tim Burton in 2001 and then with a run of three perverse, thrilling and hairy prequels from 2014 through 2017, the enduring low-key popularity of the series seems to defy all received wisdom: with a movie series that invites us to root for the end of human rule is anything but monkey see, monkey do. 

It seems bananas that Planet of the Apes might have endured for so long. What is it about these adventures that strikes such a chord with viewers? Why do these films tell us so much about ourselves? 

On Monday, I'l be asking just that in the next Room 207 Press Seminar. As ever, backers of my Patreon get a free ticket to this, and access to the videos of all previous seminars. 

It runs twice, as usual, at 8pm BST and then at 8pm Eastern Daylight Time (US/Canada). The ticket gets you into either or both sessions.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Room 207 Press Webinars #9: Sects Education: The Dark-Eyed Stepchildren of Mainstream Christianity

If you've ever walked past the Jehovah's Witness stand, or closed the door on them, ot had a strangely intense conversation with a pair of clean-cut young men with “elder” written on their badges, you know that the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints exist. And they're not alone. What about the Seventh Day Adventists, the Christadelphians and the Exclusive Brethren? 

How do you feel about them? And what does cinema tell us about these sometimes secretive, isolated offshoots of Protestant Christianity? Can we gain insight through film? 

 This week's Zoom seminar is about just that, as I provide an introduction to Christian Sects and look at how they're portrayed in everything from serious dramas to quirky comedies. Find out what The Children Act has in common with Napoleon Dynamite and Son of Rambow.  

The talk is as ever going to be held twice, on Monday 17th August, at 8pm UK time and 8pm Eastern Time (US/Canada). Ticket cost is £10, but Backing my Patreon for as little as $1US a month not only gets you a season ticket to all the talks, including this one, but access to videos after the fact, along with all the other benefits.  

Sects Education: The Dark-Eyed Stepchildren of Mainstream Religion

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Cult Cinema #30: On the Pagan Village Conspiracy

The Wicker Man (1973); Kill List (2011); Midsommar (2019)

(There will be spoilers, as ever.)

Before I even define what one is, I need to say this: outside of works of fiction, there is no such thing as a Pagan Village Conspiracy. Hold that thought.

As a fictional concept, a Pagan Village Conspiracy film has some or all of the following: an outsider protagonist goes to a rural area where they come into contact with a community who turn out to be engaged in pagan or occult practices. Every significant character in this community is part of the conspiracy, which is not usually centred around the pagan/occult practices themselves, but in how they relate to the status of the protagonist. “It was you they wanted all along” is by far the most common twist in the Pagan Village Conspiracy Movie.

Saturday 1 August 2020

The Question in Bodies, Appendix: SexOD 2.0

This essay was first published in 2016, and then abandoned, and then rewritten at a friend's request over a year later. I'm resurrecting (reactivating?) it now because Monday's Room 207 Press Webinar looks at these issues, and I think this is a sort of a taster. I'd love you to come along. Book a place here.

So. Let’s talk about fembots.