A separation

It is not that Will is a bad father. He is caring, he looks after his daughter’s physical needs. He teaches her self-reliance, and her intelligence and resilience clearly indicate that he’s done a lot of things very well. In fact, if he hadn’t done such a good job of raising his daughter, she might never find the strength to tell him that he cannot take her with him.

Leave No Trace

Continue reading

My God, it’s Full of Stars

We have been to the edge of the cinematic universe together more than once, haven’t we? We have pinched shut our noses against the stench and filth of Aleksey German’s Hard to be a God with its very own weird cinematic language and drab medieval sci-fi outlook on life. We have waded through the seven-hour long Satantango, Bela Tarr’s masterpiece, puzzled by the fact that we didn’t know what the hell was going on. Both movies might take huge liberties in storytelling: they seem to redefine or even abuse the notions we have of plot, story, or dialogue. German’s movies pretend that they have never heard of a reaction shot.  There are whole takes that seem to go against anything that we seem to have learned about cinematic grammar, but no matter how shrewd or outlandish those movies might get, they still are – movies. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Master and Commander (2003)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

My enjoyment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe notwithstanding, I’m not the kind of moviegoer who regularly thinks, “When are they doing the sequel?” A film first and foremost has to be a world unto itself: before you can start to think about creating a universe, tell a good story. World building is fine, but as far as I’m concerned a movie is best served by being self-contained.

Master and Commander Continue reading

Further travels with my skull

I remember the sun piercing the clouds, the sound of waves lapping my boat. I remember the feel of Dillion’s skull hanging from my belt. I remember the staked and flayed bodies and the shapes, half-monstrous, half-familiar, lurking in the fog.

Most of all I remember the voices.

What is new, though, is that the world isn’t contained by a rectangle of light in front of me. No, Helheim surrounds me, it envelops me. Hell is wherever I turn.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Continue reading

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #15: U – July 22/Utøya 22. juli

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3In this month’s episode Mege and Matt discuss Erik Poppe’s U – July 22, a cineastic attempt to come to terms with the massacre of 69 young people on the island of Utøya, Norway, by a right-wing terrorist. Does the film do justice to its subject? What are the responsibilities of filmmakers depicting recent real-life atrocities? Also, Mege talks about the new Netflix series Maniac, starring Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and Justin Theroux, and Matt speaks of the joys of web-swinging through New York in the recently released game Spider-Man.

Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Primer (2004)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

I had been sightseeing on foot all day, Nairn’s London in hand, my legs hurt, and I just wanted to sit down and get my bearings back. There was a small movie theatre off Leicester Square, showing a movie I had never heard of. The title was Primer, and the poster showed some kind of cube-shaped contraption with cables coming out, or going in. I couldn’t resist and bought a ticket. It was a very strange movie. There were three, four white-collar guys who had invented a machine that did something technical, and they were sending out free hardware parts in order to get their project financed. It was hard to follow the movie because they talked like real people talked, and there were no subtitles. Continue reading

Homo homini lupus

Some films are so atmospheric, you can almost feel the temperature. Apocalypse Now evokes this hot humidity, Lawrence of Arabia and its burning desert heat make you want to open the three top buttons of your shirt and get another cold drink from the fridge. Hold the Dark goes the other way: there are few films that make you feel the need to huddle under a warm cover with a mug of hot chocolate like this one. The Alaskan tourism board may be pleased with how beautiful the state’s wilderness looks in Jeremy Saulnier’s latest film, but it is a forbidding beauty that makes you wonder whether it is worth the freezing temperatures and the apparent likelihood of being killed by a wolf. Doubly so if that wolf wears the skin of a human being.

Hold the Dark

Continue reading