A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #11: Westworld

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3Tune in for episode 10 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture,in which we visit Westworld, look back at season 1 and discuss whether its Hosts are more human than human. Is the series great, cerebral sci-fi or is it a puzzlebox too far? We also talk about festivals, theatre and otherwise, and pay our respects to the late, great Sam Shepard, by way of Michael Shannon. Continue reading

Fog of Law

The men walk along the river. It is night. In the distance, the lights of the city glimmer. The man walking behind raises his arm, brings it down again, hard. A muffled sound of impact. The man in front goes down.  The man behind – the murderer – hits his victim again.

Again.

Again.

Once he is done and his victim is dead, he sets fire to the body and watches the flames.

The Third Murder

This is how The Third Murder begins. As may have become clear to the director’s fans: this is not your usual Kore-eda. Continue reading

What did you do in the war, Dad?

For many people, the 1982 war between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the archipelago known by one side as the Falkland Islands and the other as Islas Malvinas is little more than a historical footnote, or at best a handy conflict used by the leaders of both countries as a means of drumming up nationalist support in the last years of the Cold War. (Well, the original Cold War, not the off-brand sequel that seems to be fomenting these days.) It’s not the thing that comes to most people’s mind with respect to the early 1980s. They remember E.T., Ronald Reagan, Eye of the Tiger and Chariots of Fire, Dallas and Dynasty – but the Falklands War rings very few bells.

Campo Minado / Minefield

This is decidedly not true for the Argentinians – and, more so, for the soldiers who fought during those absurd 74 days. The Falklands War happened almost forty years ago, yet it is still very present.

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The Loneliness of the Superstore Employee

There is a strange beauty to it all: the geometry of the almost deserted aisles, the precarious stacks of beer crates, the discrete whoosh of electric pallet carriers zooming to and fro (to “The Blue Danube”, no less!), and all of it during the graveyard shift. In the half-dark, the superstore is less of an abomination that is part supermarket, part warehouse: it is a refuge for the assorted sad sacks and losers that work there, most likely because they wouldn’t find anything else. These are the outskirts of East Germany almost thirty years after Reunification, and the reality is drab and depressing – but at night, in the aisles, you may just find something you don’t have anywhere else: a home.

In den Gängen

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Combing the beach for joie de vivre

Marie Bäumer has been compared to Romy Schneider for so long that it was really only a question of time that she would play her. Emily Atef’s black-and-white 3 Days in Quiberon uses that likeness to great effect, so much so that when I picked the stills for this post, I had to check twice which actor I was looking at. The movie revolves around Schneider’s stay in a rehab resort on the French coast in March 1981, where she wants to give an interview to journalist Michael Jürgs from the German magazine Stern. It seems to be shot at least partly in its original locations. There is history between her and her favorite photographer Robert Lebeck, and she asks one of her friends, Hilde Fritsch, to come and keep her company. For Schneider, any interview was a double-edged sword because she inevitably would be asked about leaving Germany for France, the suicide of her first husband and the custody battle for her son, and of course about the Sissi trilogy. On the other hand, she was eager to go on making movies. Continue reading

We need to talk about Tracy

I was very much looking forward to Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. It took me a while to warm to Anderson’s films, but I fell hard for his stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, even though I first saw it on a tiny screen in a cramped airplane, so the thought of another animated Wes Anderson joint featuring talking animals definitely appealed to me. I was lucky to finally see Isle of Dogs in a magnificent cinema in Florence, Italy – and much of it I enjoyed a lot. The craftsmanship is exquisite, the cinematography inventive and much of the canine characters’ writing and acting funny and endearing.

Isle of Dogs

However, a Fantastic Mr. Fox this ain’t. While the film’s premise is fine, the overall plotting feels like a draft in need of rewrites. The animal characters are quirky and neurotic but they rarely coalesce into something more genuine than the assembly of quirks that Anderson’s characters tend towards at his worst. More than that, though, there is a Tracy-shaped problem that makes you wonder: what was Anderson thinking? Continue reading

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #10: Avengers: Infinity War

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3Tune in for episode 10 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, in which we look in on the Avengers & friends and a certain titan with a temper. Is Infinity War a worthy culmination of ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? (Beware: heavy spoilers for Infinity War, including the ending.) Also, Mege’s looked into a different kind of infinity with Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó, and Matt wishes he hadn’t seen the trailer last year’s indie darling Lady Bird five times before watching the film, and we share our impressions of Jon Bernthal in Netflix’ The Punisher and Cécile McLorin Salvant in concert. Continue reading