The Compleat Ingmar #38: Autumn Sonata (1978)

Is it fair to say that Ingmar Bergman was his own greatest rival? There are a number of films in his filmography that are good, interesting films featuring strong performances – but when you watch them, you think of other, better films that Bergman made. Autumn Sonata may be one of those films; it is certainly not his strongest psychodrama centred on a conflict between women too close for their own good. But it has something that none of the other films have: that other iconic Bergman in 20th century cinema.

Autumn Sonata (1978, Ingmar Bergman) – Offscreen
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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Stop and go

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

Sometimes we like to mix and match our forms of culture, so in this week’s Six Damn Fine Degrees Julie talked about the works of William Shakespeare adapted to the screen. There’s so much great cinematic Shakespeare to choose from, so here’s a trailer for a film about staging Shakespeare instead: Kenneth Branagh’s In the Bleak Midwinter (or A Midwinter’s Tale, as the Americans know it, if they actually knew the film).

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #61: Festival!

Summer is over, as is our Summer of Directors – and this also means that the main festival period of 2022 has come to an end. The last few years, festivals have been greatly affected by the pandemic, and especially in 2020 and 2021 many of the big festivals were vastly reduced or didn’t happen at all. But this year they came back – and after our five big courses focusing on directors, from Jane Campion via Ida Lupino to Martin Scorsese, here’s a palate cleanser in which Alan, Julie and Matt talk about their own festival memories and experiences. Whether it’s the classic open-air music festivals of our youth, contemporary arts or local film festivals: what are our thoughts on the format? Do festivals change how we enjoy culture? What are our favourite memories? How essential are schedules and spreadsheets to the perfect festival experience… and just how damn middle-aged have we become while we weren’t watching?

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #98: Adaptive Shakespeare

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

“My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me for a villain.” ~ Richard III, Act V, Scene III

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: In the Swiss mountains

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

It’s been, oh, months since we featured the last post on a samurai film, so Matt decided it was finally time to watch the Samurai Trilogy, three films about the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and starring the iconic Toshiro Mifune. He didn’t enjoy the films as much as, say, the samurai films with Mifune directed by Akira Kurosawa, but he still found things that he liked a lot.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #97: The Divine Comedy, Liberation and Promenade

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

In 1993, The Divine Comedy released their album Liberation. While, technically speaking, not the first Divine Comedy album, it marked the first release where musician Neil Hannon effectively operated as the band. He wrote, arranged and performed all the songs, with the help of a handful of musicians providing percussion and strings, and William Wordsworth providing a lyrical assist on the album’s final track “Lucy”.

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Criterion Corner: The Samurai Trilogy (#14-16)

I’ve said it before: there’s an effect not unlike Stockholm Syndrome that can come with long-form storytelling. If you follow the fates of a set of characters over a longer time, if you watch or read about a community over many chapters, seasons or volumes, it’s very well possible that you begin by bouncing off of, or even disliking, the story and its characters – but we are likely to hold on to the things we enjoy, minimise those we dislike, and over time we justify the time we’ve put into a story by investing in it emotionally. A film is usually over after two hours, and unless we revisit it at a later stage, it never really has this opportunity to win us around – but a series? A game lasting 50+ hours? A graphic novel that tells its story over ten volumes? At least for me it’s like this: either I stop early, or I keep going, because there are some interesting elements or characters I like, or perhaps I’ve heard from so many people that the story becomes really engrossing – and after I’ve put a certain amount of time into this story, I’ll find that I’m invested, because otherwise I’d have to tell myself that this time was pretty much wasted. Is it something of a psychological self-protection mechanism? Or do some stories simply need more time to have the intended effect? I suspect it’s a combination of the two – but, honestly, how am I to tell?

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Layer Cake

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

We don’t often have posts about music on A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, which is a shame – but usually when there is a post with a musical topic, it’s Mege, and this week he dedicated his Six Damn Fine Degrees to a loud, loud concert by Scottish band Biffy Clyro. Bands don’t usually come with trailers, but in this case we are lucky that they did the score for the 2019 film Balance, Not Symmetry. Enjoy!

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A Damn Fine Espresso: September 2022

Last month, Netflix released the first season of its adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel The Sandman – and seeing how Julie and Matt met on the Neil Gaiman message board and began their ongoing conversation about films, books, TV and all things cultural there, we couldn’t really let the opportunity pass. How well does Netflix’ Sandman work as an adaptation? What do we think about the changes? How does it address the fact that it’s been thirty years since Gaiman’s comic first started coming out? What do we think of the cast, starting (but definitely not ending) with Tom Sturridge as Dream and Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s Death? And what do we think about the series’ chances, seeing how Netflix and the Almighty Algorithm determine the fate of its original programming?

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #96: Biffy Clyro

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

So there are these three Scotsmen who formed a band back in 1995, starting out with unruly punk rock under the equally unruly name of Biffy Clyro, the meaning of which now even escapes the musicians themselves. That doesn’t prevent them from making up stuff – they once claimed that Biffy Clyro was the name of the first Scotsman in space. So anyway – they have become one of the most versatile bands around. They still make a hell of a lot of noise, but they also have one soundtrack (Balance, Not Symmetry), several beautiful ballads (Machines, Opposite, God & Satan) and at least one disco hit (All Singing and All Dancing) under their belt. But their mastery lies in guitar-loaded pop rock with an edge. Listen to the slick mainstream radio tune “Black Chandelier”, or try to heat your flat with “A Hunger In Your Haunt” all turned up. They are highly precise musicians, but they refuse to slow down. If you need a challenge for your ears, listen to the headfuck called “Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep”.

It’s the black oil zombie apocalypse, held in check by three fit young blokes with tats.

And so this guy here bought tickets for their March show a year ago, which got postponed because of some virus, and so finally, finally, they came round here in September. It was in a medium-sized concert hall, and that was part of the problem. The Biff played so loud that it was probably illegal for an indoors concert. My girlfriend, who is not one for earplugs, put them in after the first song (“DumDum”) made the hairs on her arm stand up. What helped her get through the gig was that, very early on, the three guys kept on rumbling half-naked. Not as tall as me, she tried to get glimpses of the trio who behaved like indefatigable Energizer bunnies on stage. She seemed cheerful. I love that woman to bits.

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