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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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The name’s Welles. Orson Welles.

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, our Summer of Welles (Editor’s note: Not a real thing.) continued with Sam’s post about Welles in Portugal and Spain. What better opportunity to take Sam’s mention of the dreadful 1967 Casino Royale and post this trailer for it, a great indication of just how dreadful the film is?

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The Corona Diaries: “When you play the game of Pandemic…”

… you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Yeah, well, shut up, Cersei.

Remember that global pandemic? In so many places, people act as if it’s a thing of the past, but at the same time numbers have been spiking again – just the cases were much more manageable, both individually and in sum. So many people who hadn’t yet contracted the virus were getting ill, and even some that had been ill already.

My wife and I had thus far been spared by COVID-19, but almost two weeks ago she started feeling under the weather – and the next morning, BOOM. Two purple lines. A fairly high fever, coughing, and man, was she tired. The weird thing is that, if anything, I should have been the one to catch it and pass it on to her, because I am out of the flat and among people more often – but no, she was positive before me, and a couple of days later I joined the club as well.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #95: The Awesome Wells of Portugal and Spain

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!

Piece of evidence #1: Orson Welles as a deceptive conjurer in the awful comedy version of Casino Royale (1967) – or just deceptively conjured up himself?

The train has left the station. The literal one, no metaphors, no fakes: The blissful travels of my current teacher timeout have brought me across Spain all the way to Portugal within the past ten days. As I’m leaving Porto Campaña station en route to Lisbon, I marvel at Matt’s shocking revelation from last week about the impossibility of Orson Welles‘ existence. Could it really be true that one of the most famous directors was just a figment of our imagination, an image of one towering director to deceive us all?

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