Footprints in beach sand: on ‘The Force Awakens’, and riding out the hype

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What are we all going to talk about after The Force Awakens has been released? This is surely a matter of international concern. Ever since the announcement in October 2012 that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and would be making more Star Wars, every media outlet in existence has wrung out every drop of speculation, obsessed over every detail, and mined every tangential topic. And now, in the days leading up to release, we have reached peak Star Wars.

The Force Awakens has – prior to anyone having actually seen it – been dubbed ‘the biggest film of all time.’ There have been pieces written about the significance of Han Solo’s blaster and the design of Kylo Ren’s mask. There is Star Wars ice cream. There are people getting married in the premiere queue, and astronauts watching the film in space.  This is the hype. There have been pieces asking whether The Force Awakens will live up to the hype  and pieces assuring us that it will indeed live up to the hype.  There have been pieces about how to avoid the film altogether.  And now, here I am, writing a piece about how too much is being written about Star Wars.

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The wimp’s guide to scary cinema

I scare easily. I’m not ashamed. (OK, maybe a little bit.) I don’t watch ‘proper’ horror films because my poor overactive imagination can’t handle it. But I do enjoy a bit of menace and weirdness and darkness in my fiction, so it’s a constant toss-up between watching what I want to watch and getting a good night’s sleep afterwards.

In honour of this spooky time of year, here are a few of the scariest films I have ever subjected myself to.


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5 questions to ask about… James Bond

© Sony Pictures Releasing, 2015.

Some honesty, upfront: I am not much of a Bond fan. Both in the sense that I haven’t seen a lot of Bond, and in that I’m not hugely keen on what I have seen. Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t grow up watching old Bond films, so they don’t even have nostalgic appeal for me. But I recognise that for many people, they offer just the right kind of escapist entertainment.

The release of a new Bond film is a major cultural event, and it’s well worth pausing to ask why. Here are some questions to reflect on as Spectre, ostensibly Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, hits cinemas.

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5 questions to ask about… Back to the Future


Yup, it’s finally here. After months of seeing doctored versions of this image all over the internet, the real Back to the Future Day has arrived. Don your self-lacing trainers, get on your hoverboard, re-hydrate a pizza, and celebrate Doc and Marty’s arrival in our present.

I hope that you, like me, will be re-watching BTTF2 tonight. In the meantime, here are five questions to ask about this classic series of films.

  • Why does Back to the Future have such enduring appeal? Films become classics for a reason. The original BTTF is a blast of pure entertainment: it’s got action, it’s got comedy, it’s got a fantastic soundtrack, it’s got romance, it’s got crazy science. It’s got a cast who all knock it out of the park. But more than anything, it’s centred on a perfect gem of a story idea.
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future (1985)
  • What can we learn from the films’ vision of the past? What happens when we start seeing our parents as people? Do we inevitably inherit their flaws, or can we change our own destiny? Nostalgia tells us that the past was a cleaner, more innocent place: but is this really true?
  • What can we learn from the films’ vision of the future? What hopes and anxieties can we read into the second film’s vision of the year 2015? Did any of these actually come to pass? What kind of future do today’s Sci-Fi films imagine?
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
  • Why are we so fascinated by Back to the Future Day? People have been sharing that image for months – why do we get such a kick out of it? Are we amused because the real future is better than the one the film imagined, or disappointed because it’s not as good? Does it make us feel old, and maybe even a little frightened, to know that the future is now the present?
  • Why does Marty’s paternal grandmother look exactly like his mother? And who, I ask, who in the world, thought those Irish accents were a good idea?
Back to the Future Part III (1990)


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