Six Damn Fine Degrees #33: Donnie Brasco

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!

It has been a little forgotten, hasn’t it, that little gangster flick called Donnie Brasco (1997)? It hasn’t anything as iconic to offer as The Godfather‘s ascent to power or The Godfather: Part II‘s empty shell of a mob boss, although it does have Al Pacino at its center, too. It’s not a Scorsese-style hellride that could make us like or at least weirdly admire the hard men of organized crime we are supposed to condemn outside of a movie theater.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: You’re older than you’ve ever been – and now you’re even older

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.

From Talia to Tessa: following Sam’s Six Damn Fine Degrees post on The Godfather‘s Connie’s Corleone and Rocky‘s Adrian, Matt followed up this week with Tessa Thompson, who played Bianca, the female lead in Creed, Ryan Coogler’s 2015 follow-up to the Rocky saga – and arguably one of the most charismatic stars of present-day Hollywood.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #32: Tessa Thompson

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 Rocky, Talia Shire does a great job of depicting a character that is painfully shy and seems exceedingly mousey at first, but who reveals depths of emotion and loyalty as the film progresses. She’s a good fit for Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, also a character who doesn’t fit the bill of archetypical heroic lead at first. Whatever the Rocky franchise turned into, both the movies and their leads started off at a point where they were downright antithetical to what they’d become later – not least in Rocky IV, in which the title character was pretty much the embodiment of Reagan’s America during the late stages of the Cold War. Rocky and Adrian were engaging characters, but as depicted by Stallone and Shire their charisma wasn’t readily apparent.

Fast-forward 39 years, to 2015 and to Creed, a quasi-sequel or spin-off to the original Rocky series. Yes, I can already hear you: did the world of cinema need to continue turning that particular dead horse into a punching bag? That’s pretty much what I thought – and then I saw who was involved: Ryan Coogler, pre-Black Panther but post-Fruitvale Station. Michael B Jordan, who has come so far since he played poor, doomed Wallace in the first season of The Wire.

And then there was Tessa Thompson.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Mysterious, Secretive, Lonely, Haunted

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.

Talia Shire is one of those actors that rarely get the limelight, yet in the right part they’re absolutely essential to the functioning of the film they’re in. Take Rocky, in particular: while Stallone works fantastically well (these days, it’s easy to forget what he could bring to a film), without Shire, the film wouldn’t work nearly as well. On Friday, Sam wrote about her contribution, to Rocky as well as to the Godfather films, and it’s a great reminder of Shire and her roles.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #45: Ripley vs Ripley – who’s the most talented?

For our June episode, we’re sending the cultural baristas on a holiday in sunny Mongibello, Italy, where rich, pretty young ex-pats spend their time and money on the beach – though there are others who may be less harmless… Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel The Talented Mr Ripley was turned into two films: René Clément’s Plein Soleil (released as Purple Noon in the English-speaking world, in spite of a distinct absence of purple-hued noons), starring a young Alain Delon, and Anthony Minghella’s 1999 adaptation, which took the title from Highsmith’s book, featuring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. Ripley is a fascinating character, a sociopath reflecting the identities of those around him back at them, and it’s fascinating to compare these two very different interpretations of the character. Join Sam, Julie and Matt as they sail the treacherous waters of the mid-20th century Mediterranean and compare the talents of the various Messrs Ripley!

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #31: Talia Shire in Rocky and The Godfather

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!

Alan’s shining piece on why Shelley Duvall is the true star of The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Stephen King adaptation, reminded me of another late ’70s star almost forgotten for the emotional impact she had on audiences while staying in the background of strong male leads – and doing it twice in the most successful and critically acclaimed films of the decade: Talia Shire in The Godfather and Rocky series of films.

Woman in the shadows, but always at the very heart of each of her Rocky outings: Talia Shire as Adrian.
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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: You’ve always been the Petula Clark

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.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy: on Friday, Alan took us back to the Overlook Hotel, to talk about Shelley Duvall’s performance in Stanley’s Kubrick seminal Stephen King adaptation The Shining.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #30: Shelley Duvall in The Shining

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 the inaugural awards ceremony for The Golden Raspberries back in 1980, Shelley Duvall was nominated for her performance as Wendy Torrence in The Shining. This fact is a useful reminder as to how mixed to hostile the critical reception was for the film on its initial release. And that the annual exercise in lazy trying-to-be-cool snobbery that is the Razzies really don’t know what they’re talking about.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: At play amidst the strangeness and fear

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.

Do you like a good scare? Do you like feeling a tad miserable? And do you like great acting? Julie’s Friday post on the HBO adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider ticks all three boxes – so if you’ve missed it, make sure to check it out!

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