I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The One With Almost No Trailers

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 Bergman time again: this week, Matt stopped by one of Bergman’s early films, Port of Call. It may not be the most Bergman (the Bergmanest?) of all the Bergmans, but after a slow start it turned out… surprisingly engaging! Sadly, finding a trailer for Port of Call proved almost impossible.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #84: Why Indy 3 single-handedly ended my gaming career

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!

Matt’s confession in last week’s post about the scores of digital characters killed in his gaming career so far made me wonder about why I had never become a gamer myself. It wasn’t that video and computer games weren’t available in the late ’80s and ’90s (friends of our family were GameBoy addicts, for example) or that our family were somehow technological hermits (my grandfather had introduced us to his AMIGA Commodore by 1987 – game discs included). I also got off to a good start when our parents bought us a brand new computer for Christmas in 1994 and I was able to get my hands on fresh gaming content.

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The Compleat Ingmar #34: Port of Call (1948)

Port of Call doesn’t make a great first impression. In the context of Bergman’s complete oeuvre (if movie watching had a progress bar, we’d be somewhere between 80% and 90% through his filmography), its first fifteen, twenty minutes or so is more striking in its images than its storytelling, as the latter seems oddly impersonal, almost generic. Once past the initial hurdle of a decidedly middling beginning, however, there’s more to like about Port of Call than is immediately apparent.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Music and moonlight and love and… monsters?

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 a director can be on a wavelength too different from your own, and such differences may be irreconcilable. Will Matt ever learn to love Olivier Assayas, or will Irma Vep (1996) be as good as it gets for him?

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A Damn Fine Espresso: June 2022

We’ve talked about movies and music before, and for our June Espresso episode, Sam and Matt pick up the tune again, talking about two films they’ve recently seen that are all about the music. Sam watched Ennio, the 2021 documentary about iconic composer Ennio Morricone, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (of Cinema Paradiso fame), while Matt caught Academy Award winner Summer of Soul (2021) at the cinema, which combines the genres of documentary and concert film to celebrate artists from Mahalia Jackson and B.B. King to Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone and Nina Simone – and talk about the relevance of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival to African American culture and politics. Sam and Matt also discuss what, for them, makes a good film about music and musicians, and what is necessary for a musical performance to come to life on film.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #83: Talking and killing

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!

I made my first kill before the age of 10. By the time I was a teenager, I must have killed hundreds. By the time I reached the age of 20, I expect the number was somewhere in the five-digit range, at least. And I suspect that the same is true for so many people these days, at least in the west – because murder is just a click away.

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Criterion Corner: Irma Vep (#1074)

In 2021, we did a podcast episode titled “Second Chances” (which we’re hoping to turn into something of an annual thing). In it, we discussed films that, for one reason or another, didn’t work for us but that we’d been wanting to revisit because we thought it might’ve been a case of “It’s not you, it’s me”: that we watched these films with the wrong kind of expectation, or that we lacked the right lens through which to watch it.

Sometimes, though, there can be films (or books, plays, poems, TV series, albums, games etc. etc.) that simply work on a wavelength that we’re not receptive to. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad or that we’re wrong or stupid for not liking them. I’ve long believed that most art that is interesting won’t be for everyone. Ideally I can still get something out of culture that isn’t for me, but generally this is a matter more of appreciation than of enjoyment. Often these are works that I prefer to discuss or read or watch a good video essay about rather than to watch.

But these works still tend to leave me with lingering doubts, especially the ones that have elements or aspects that I genuinely do enjoy: a scene, a performance, or perhaps a shot that sticks in my mind. And the same can be true for certain directors: I don’t generally like their work, but there’s something about it that makes it difficult for me to just conclude that they’re not for me.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: I will show you fear in a drop of blood

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.

After something of a break from Nordic existentialism, Matt returned to his Bergman boxset, watching an early film by the director, Thirst (1949). Unfortunately the age of the film, and possibly the fact that Thirst isn’t exactly one of Bergman’s most memorable films, means that there isn’t a trailer to be found on YouTube – so, instead, please enjoy this trailer for Park Chan-wook’s 2009 vampire movie Thirst, loosely based on a 19th century French novel.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #82: Murder

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’s an ugly thing to kill someone, and more or less willingly, isn’t it?

There is the sanitized version of murder in countless whodunits, where the rules are clear: someone might be dead by the hand of another, and some clever brain will figure it all out, preferably in a showdown before a chimney fire, holding a long speech that ends in a big revelation. The rules are clear; the culprit, more often than not, is punished by the law, as if this was only slightly more atrocious than any hockey game. And while any sturdily waxed moustaches might have been replaced by squint-eyed scientists, the rules still apply. Miss Marple is never wrong, but science can’t lie.

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The Compleat Ingmar #33: Thirst (1949)

It’s a difficult act to follow Persona, and Criterion probably made the right choice when it decided to follow Bergman’s monolithic masterpiece with a number of his earlier, smaller films, in which he was trying to find his voice as a director. Thirst is one of those films. It’s by no means bad – in fact, some of the later films that are more clearly Bergman’s work are probably worse films (and yes, All These Women, I’m looking at you). However, it is a film that in the context of Bergman’s filmography feels like he was trying his hand at themes and techniques that he’d later use to better effect.

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