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Total Recall’s ending

[For Esquire magazine, June 2014]  It’s 24 years since Total Recall opened in cinemas worldwide, but it seems that audiences still don’t really get the reality of Arnie’s surprisingly cerebral movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of the 1980s and early ’90s were largely exercises in crowd-pleasing dumb violence. Red Heat, Predator, The Running Man, Commando, and…

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Prima cinema

Home cinema worthy of the name… if you can afford it Let’s start with the bad news. There is an informal club called the Bel Air Circuit and you’re probably not a member, nor will you ever be invited to join. Founded decades ago by movie moguls including Louis B Mayer and Daryl Zanuck, it’s…

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How trailers became spoilers

Film reviewers try not to give too much of the plot away and avoid spoilers, lest they find their inbox full of complaints from angry readers. The actors doing interviews are under strict instructions not to reveal too much, while anyone on a film message-board who fails to warn people in the title of a…

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’60s Batman: What I’ve Learned

Robin and I are just good friends. Sometimes I just pretend I didn’t see the Bat Signal; especially if it’s really late at night and it’s cold and raining. Just send out some damn cops; my taxes pay for them, so in a way I’m still saving the city. And I pay a lot of…

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Who really votes for the Oscars?

The Academy Awards are voted for by the 5,783 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [AMPAS], but the list of who those people are is not entirely public. And the process is obviously open for criticism. The Academy is made up of fifteen branches, including directors, those who produce visual effects,…

Peanuts

Still working for Peanuts

Arguably the greatest piece of Christmas television is 45 years old this month. And it’s never been more relevant, even if the meaning has, once again, been lost. The first time they saw it, the powers-that-be hated A Charlie Brown Christmas. The 1965 television debut for the comic strip was to be a cautionary tale…

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Wayne’s World

John Wayne is one of the great screen idols and symbols of traditional American values. But as the documentary John Wayne: The Unquiet American shows, there was another side to the man who helped define what ‘a man oughta do’. By Matt Pomroy ‘There’s right and there’s wrong. You gotta do one or the other.…