Your spy novels are cheesy crap!

Argylle (2024)   That Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn currently seem to be churning out interchangeably meta spy movies – with some of the same cast members – might be seen to imply that both are now functioning clones – along with, quite possibly, some of those same cast members – working to AI scripts. Quite possibly too, significant portions of the movies are AI/CGI facsimiles (beyond the bits that are obviously CGI, quite possibly more obviously CGI than in decades past so as to contrast with the seamlessly good CGI that isn’t). Certainly, Argylle plays like an AI prompt

That’s a good omen. Seeing deer.

Leave the World Behind (2023)   Netflix’s latest serving of seasonally suspect apocalypse porn, and in the wake of White Noise, another prime cut of predictive programming to boot. Albeit, where White Noise offered an account of actual Black Hat event that came to pass a few months later, Leave the World Behind seems, on the face of it, implemented to confuse and agitate – at the behest of producers Barrack and Big Mike – with regard to the reasons for any imminent EBS (ie when it comes, it can’t be good, and what’s more, it will spell the end

Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)   John Frankheimer’s MKUltra masterpiece still packs a hefty punch, not only for the manner in which it puts it out there – reveals method, if you will – but also the entirely unembroidered, stark depictions of its central characters. Meanwhile, the nominal politics of East/West, Red Menace villainy make for something of a witty veneer – even if The Manchurian Candidate stops short of implying both sides are puppeteered from higher up the totem – something that’s fresher than ever when the tools of mass manipulation, indoctrination and, yes, brainwashing have never been more in

Better move fast, kid. The end is near.

2012 (2009)   This is where the bigger-budget disaster-movie cycle reaches its zenith. Or nadir, depending on your take. After this, global destruction would largely be down to clashing superheroes. And after this, alleged 33rd-degree freemason Roland Emmerich’s star would be in the descendent, the “vanity” projects he had his eye on floundering along with the presumed safer ground of standard-issue blockbusters. 2012 might have been one such, were the example of End of Days and the Millennium taken as indicative, but it lashed together the disaster-movie formula – and the Emmerich disaster-movie formula at that – with gleefully undisguised

The Hollywood sign is gone! It’s just shredded!

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)   Eco-disaster porn! And who better to deliver it than go-to predictive-programming purveyor, alleged 33rd-degree freemason – alleged on the degree, rather than being a mason – Roland Emmerich? Not for Roland this “graduating” to serious, adult, Oscar-grab movies of the director (the berg) he’s often credited with ripping off malarkey. No, Emmerich’s quite content to wallow in his pit, the occasional “serious” conspiracy (Anonymous) or personal (the much-derided Stonewall) movie aside. The Day After Tomorrow saw him operating at the peak of his ’70s-disaster-cycle-redux powers, to the tune of half-a-billion dollars gross at the

Enough with this anomaly horseshit!

Armageddon (1998)   A movie that appears expressly designed to make NASA-designated space seem sensible by contrast, given pretty much everything here is so transparently, gleefully ridiculous. Armageddon, the biggest movie of its year, is now universally derided, it seems. Or perhaps just by the voices on the Internet, and Joe Public still quite likes it. There’s a disclaimer on the end credits, to the effect that “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s cooperation and assistance does not reflect an endorsement of the contents of the film or the treatment of the characters depicted therein”, but who are they trying

What difference does anything make anymore?

Deep Impact (1998)   It says something for millennial-angst programming that Hollywood was able to churn out not one but two not-very-good apocalyptic-dread movies in 1998, both of which were hits. Deep Impact came first – screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin suggests Disney surreptitiously swiped his pitch – and can boast a screenplay from Hollywood’s resident quasi-spiritual comfort-food sellers Michael Tolkin and Rubin. Both have, individually, come up with a few decent ideas during their time in Tinseltown, even if the finished articles have tended to be mixed. Deep Impact has ample opportunity for metaphysical rumination yet settles for pat sentimentality

I’ve never heard such a farrago of unscientific rubbish in all my life.

Doctor Who Season 9 – Worst to Best   Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks were well into their stride as Doctor Who’s producer and script editor by Season 9, and some would suggest this confidence rather shows itself detrimentally, that a hint of resting on one’s laurels has crept in. Season 8 may have suffered a surfeit of the Master, but it was as much its own thing as Season 7 had been (if arguably less aesthetically and tonally at odds with the show’s prior template). With Season 9, though, we find the series’ first wholesale embrace of fandom’s eternal

We are going to beat these capitalists at their own game.

Tetris (2023)   The latest biographical project from producer Matthew Vaughn and personally groomed leading man Taron Egerton – following Eddie the Eagle and Rocketman – qualifies as both more fascinating subject matter than their previous collaborations and conversely an illustration of the perils of “sexing up” the core material. Turning Tetris into a full-blown thriller, rather than relying on the essentials of the story, pushes an initially engrossing little-man tale – even if he’s effectively working for a big Japanese corporate – into the realm of absurd, cliché-strewn spy yarns. I’m all for having fun with material, such as

You were asking me a “public function” question.

The China Syndrome (1979)   One of the prize exhibits in the movie museum of nuclear panic. So real, a real event with grim parallels occurred “coincidentally” twelve days after its release. At least, that’s what we’re told to inhale. Such is the diabolical nature of predictive programming and the elusive web of fact and fiction, we can have a recent Ohio toxic spill debated as a psyop, owing to its “eerie” similarity to events in Netflix’s recent White Noise. The arena of cinematic sleights fosters an array of feasible effects, depending on who is pulling the strings and to