I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The hunt is on

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’re getting closer and closer to the end of our monthly trips into the oeuvre of Bergman. This week, Matt wrote about Waiting Women (AKA Secrets of Women) – another one where there’s no trailer available, it seems, so here’s a little-seen preview for something called Women and Bergman, which seems to have been shown at the Stockholm International Film Festival in 2007, the year of Bergman’s death.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #59: Summer of Directors – Robert Altman

Our Summer of Directors continues with Robert Altman, the maverick director whose subversive takes on quintessentially American genres helped shape 1970s Hollywood cinema. Join Alan, Matt and frequent contributor Daniel Thron from fellow film podcast Martini Giant as they discuss three Altman classics: the darkly satirical neo-noir Chandler adaptation The Long Goodbye, the revisionist western McCabe & Mrs. Miller and the scathing quasi-musical critique of American society and culture, Nashville. Why is it that many of Altman’s films can rub viewers the wrong way the first time they see them – or is the wrong way in fact the right way, considering the venom of some of Altman’s satire? What changes for us when revisiting these films? What are the targets of Altman’s critique, and what is its collateral damage? To what extent did the director deplore the world and society he depicted – and how much affection does he have for them? And why oh why doesn’t Shelley Duvall, the perfect Olive Oyl, get more recognition than she does?

You can find more of Dan’s movie takes in our podcast episodes on Steven Soderbergh’s Schizopolis and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, and of course at www.martinigiant.com, as well as on YouTube and TikTok.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #90: The scene’s the thing

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!

Will the Coen Brothers ever make another film together? Or will Netflix’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs remain their last collaboration? Obviously it’s rather ungrateful to look at a filmography that includes greats such as Fargo, Barton Fink and No Country for Old Men and whine that there won’t be any more – but at the same time, is there anyone else who makes films that compare with their genre-busting and their often oddball tone? (The closest I’ve come to considering anything Coenesque is probably the British true crime black comedy-drama – which is what Wikipedia calls it, and anything shorter couldn’t begin to do it justice – Landscapers, which we talked about in one of our podcasts.)

Then again, besides their most recognised films, there are a number of movies by the Coen Brothers that didn’t receive the same praise. Some of them were downright disliked when they came out, sometimes more justifiably so (The Ladykillers), sometimes less (The Hudsucker Proxy). One Coen film that I’ve always felt deserved more attention than it got is The Man Who Wasn’t There, a film noir pastiche starring Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand that in many ways exemplifies the particular tone that the Coens excel at: somewhere between parody and homage, with a sprinkle of something decidedly stranger. I mean, which film noir classic ever included a subplot that concerns dry cleaning, or a scene featuring a UFO?

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The Compleat Ingmar #36: Waiting Women (1952)

There have been times over the course of Criterion’s Bergman collection where I couldn’t really say why they went from this film to that one, but those instances have very much been an exception. Obviously a chronological sequence would’ve been very easy for them to do, but it’s clear that they had ideas about how these films fit together: relationships on the rocks, theatre and actors, God’s silence. Having such a curated collection may be somewhat leading, suggesting certain approaches to interpretation over others, but this gives the collection a shape that mere chronology does not (leaving aside that chronology isn’t a neutral approach either). At the same time, the sequence chosen by Criterion’s curators can work against a film – watching the fourth or fifth variation on one of Bergman’s insufferable husbands vacillating between expressing smug superiority and neurotic inferiority towards the women in their lives, the Bergman tropes can become a bit tiresome, especially if the strongest film featuring this particular trope has already come up. After Scenes from a Marriage, many a Bergman male seems yet more tiresome because they cannot have the nuance that Bergman and his actor Erland Josephson brought to Scenes‘ male lead, Johan, in five hours of material.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Phone Home

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.

This week, Matt continued his ongoing battle with his Criterion backlog – and although he ordered Nicholas Ray’s crime drama They Live by Night by accident, he ended up enjoying it a lot. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a good trailer for the film on YouTube, so here’s a trailer for the adaptation of the same material Robert Altman made a few decades later: Thieves Like Us.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #89: Fred & Ginger in Carefree

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!

They don’t make ’em like they used to. It’s a familiar refrain when people talk about old movies, to the point of being a cliche. Frequently it’s trotted out by rose-tinted nostalgics who want to decry that modern films aren’t as good as they were in their day. But it can also apply when you watch a film from yesterday that has a plot that, for strikingly obvious reasons, you couldn’t – and definitely shouldn’t – tell now.

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Criterion Corner: They Live by Night (#880)

Being a self-confessed Criterion junkie, I have once or twice bought a Criterion release by mistake. I managed to order Persona twice (which, to be fair, makes perfect sense, considering the film). I once bought a DVD version of Le Samouraï from some Amazon reseller that turned out to be a Korean bootleg – and it didn’t even work. And I ordered They Live By Night (1948) after attending a lecture on Ida Lupino, where the lecturer showed a scene of the film that made it look intriguing and thrilling.

Turns out that film with Ida Lupino was They Drive by Night, of which there isn’t a Criterion release. As that great American philosopher said so memorably: D’oh. On the plus side, the Ida Lupino lecture was by Johannes Binotto, who joined us for our recent podcast on Lupino.

And while we’re talking about the pluses of me ordering the wrong film: They Live by Night is very good.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The Comic-Con Edition

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.

Some films don’t quite come together but are still worth it for their individual components. Matt saw Petrov’s Flu recently, and while he thinks the film gets in its own way in the end, there’s a lot to like about it… if you’re looking for a fever dream of a film

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #88: Harry Potter and “O Children”

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!

This should come with a lot of caveats, but the Fantastic Beasts films have given me a new, albeit partial appreciation of the Harry Potter films. Remember those? Orphan discovers he’s a wizard, goes to a wizarding school, makes friends with some kids, is bullied by others, and all the while this noseless evil wizard threatens the world. For some reason the whole thing, starting with the books and definitely not ending with the films, was a huge success – so You Know Who started a massive media franchise and shared fictional universe, and they roped in the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law and Colin Farrell – no, Johnny Depp – no, actually it’s Mads Mikkelsen – to make more of these films and make more money. Sadly, while I found the first of the Fantastic Beasts messy but surprisingly charming, the sequels that have since come out have made it blatantly obvious that whatever magic they lucked on with the original novels and their movie adaptations, this new series would need a lot more wizardry, dark or light, to be successful. Both The Crimes of Grindelwald and The Secrets of Dumbledore suffered massively from plots that were both overly complicated and utterly irrelevant. Momentous things happen, only to turn out that, really, they didn’t matter at all.

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Delirious in Yekaterinburg: Petrov’s Flu (2021)

Petrov isn’t doing well. It’s nighttime, he’s on a bus at night, and he’s got a fever. He sees, and takes part in, things that probably, hopefully, aren’t actually happening: violence, murder, weird, weird shit. The people around him may not have come down with the flu, but the snippets of conversations he hears are just as weird and ominous: the people are highly unpleasant, they’re selfish and paranoid and judgmental, happy to throw each other to the wolves. If Petrov wasn’t ill, he might even almost be relieved when the FSB stops the bus, drags him off and throws him into a van – but it turns out that while this episode really does seem to happen, it’s not the FSB but a bunch of mates of Petrov’s. Oh, and a coffin with a dead person inside. It’s one of those nights, and it’ll only get stranger.

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