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Feature Screengem

Peter and the Wolf: Objects of Torture and Triumph in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog

Spoilers Ahead… Beware! It was the English screenwriter Angus MacPhail who first coined the term MacGuffin in the early 1930s while working with Alfred Hitchcock to describe objects that help to drive the plot of a story but are insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in themselves.   Jane Campion’s latest film The Power of the Dog, […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: The Polaroid Pictures in The Verdict (Sydney Lumet, 1982)

Rock bottom. While we’ve all seen it portrayed in countless movies, have any of us actually hit it? In a scene a few minutes into Sydney Lumet’s 1982 courtroom drama The Verdict, we are left in no doubt that disgraced former star attorney Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) is staring rock bottom full in the face, […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: The Red Shawl from The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard, 2018)

Ms. Amelia Partridge is never seen at any point during the 122 minute runtime of Jacques Audiard’s 2018 wistful comedy-western The Sisters Brothers, but her presence looms large for one particular character in this film based on Patrick Dewitt’s 2011 novel of the same name. The year is 1851. Hired assassins Eli (John C. Reilly) […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: The bridge in The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957)

Spare a thought for Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) in David Lean’s World War II drama, at the mercy of his Japanese captors in a deep jungle POW camp, tortured, baked in the sun in a tiny corrugated “oven” after procedural and ethical clashes in the lead-up to the construction of the titular monument – an […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: Duncan’s bike in The Way Way Back (Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, 2013)

The year was 1982. I’d recently moved to Los Angeles from London and had settled into a seemingly idyllic sun-kissed life by the coast. I was however branded the ‘new kid’ at school; a tag that comes with a certain amount of anxiety, and so one of my favourite activities was to head off on […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: The spittoon in Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

Old pals John Wayne (as Sheriff John T. Chance) and Ward Bond (as Pat Wheeler, soon to be murdered, shot in the back) have a conversation that says much about the good guys’ dilemma in Howard Hawks’ classic Western Rio Bravo (1959). Wheeler: A game-legged old man and a drunk. That’s all you got? Chance: That’s […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: Otto’s single earring in Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984)

In Alex Cox’s directorial debut Repo Man (1984), Emilio Estevez’s character Otto Maddox muddies the traditional code of appropriate masculinity with his brazen take on counterculture sartorial expression. His swagger and screw the man credentials are made manifest by his solo earring, seen petulantly swaying from his left ear. There is a nebulous sensuality to […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: The ‘Comanche Uprising’ fictional movie poster from… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

While very much a buddy movie, thrilling potboiler and rambling revisionist period piece, at its core Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a modern(ish) urban fairy tale with its focus squarely on one man: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio). We know as much since the start of the film is a 2 minute slow pan-out […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: The Dude’s Ralphs card in The Big Lebowski

The first time I went to Los Angeles was in 2002. My friend Wayne picked us up and drove us South to his home in Temecula a couple of hours away, where we stayed with him for a few nights. While staying there, we drove past a Ralphs supermarket. I had to go in. Ralphs plays […]