Death in Stockholm

Talk about serendipity – there I was in Stockholm on 14 July, the day that would have been Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday, and they were showing The Seventh Seal. What better way to enjoy a hot summer afternoon on vacation than to spend it in the company of a knight undergoing an existential crisis and the Grim Reaper himself?

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Twin Peaks: A Postscript

We’ve already talked about Twin Peaks – The Return for an hour on our recent podcast – but, if anything, the process of thinking and talking about the series has generated more thoughts. While watching The Return, I greatly enjoyed it, but I’ve come to realise that I’m finding it quite difficult to reconcile it with the original series. At the same time, my idea of what Twin Peaks is (or was) is a highly selective one: when I think of “that Twin Peaks feeling”, as I put it on the podcast, I think of BOB and the Little Man dancing in the Red Room; I think of Leland Palmer crying and dancing and crying again, I think of the Giant going, “It is happening again.” I think of nightmares, which The Return offered in spades – but its nightmares feel very different.

Twin Peaks

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #12: Twin Peaks – The Return

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3Tune in for episode 12 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, in which we finally return to the quiet (or is it?) town of Twin Peaks, say hello to Special Agent Dale Cooper and talk about death, nostalgia and David Lynch over a slice of pie and a fresh cup of joe. Did Twin Peaks – The Return deliver what we wanted or did it give us what we deserved? We also briefly visit the Civil War US and the land of the dead in Lincoln in the Bardo, experience the horror, the horror in Apocalypse Now Redux (now with more Playboy Bunnies!) and answer that age-old question – can a used condom be art? – as we chat about The Square.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Lincoln in the Bardo (2017)

In 2017, Eagles on Pogo Sticks ended its ten years of soaring and went into a steep yet controlled ascent. After a quick dip into one of the few remaining phone booths, a suspiciously familiar-looking blog emerged: A Damn Fine Cup of Culture. Now, almost a year after we reinvented ourselves (or, more accurately, revealed ourselves as the cuppaholics we are) we’re launching a weekly feature: The Rear-View Mirror, where each Friday we’ll look at the cultural goodies, whether grande, venti or trenta, that may appear closer than they really are. We’re starting in the year of our (re-)launch, 2017. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Lincoln in the Bardo

Back when I was a student, I was pretty much subscribed to the Booker Prize winners. From Midnight’s Children (which, admittedly, I read more than 15 years after its release) via the likes of The Remains of the Day and The Famished Road, The English Patient and The God of Small Things to Amsterdam and Disgrace, I knew that the winning novels would be well worth reading. When I left university, though, I realised that life is very different when you’re not paid to read literature. After a day at the office doing things other than literary criticism, I found that my brain wasn’t necessarily in much of a state to plonk down with a book, and instead I’d watch an episode of something or play video games for an hour. The Booker Prize lost its appeal as any new books I ordered piled up on one of my Billy shelves. I still enjoy reading a lot, but it’s no longer the thing I do most of the time on most days, it’s something to do before going to bed (if I’m awake enough), over the weekend and especially on holidays. Continue reading

Sick rom-com, bro!

What makes for a good romantic comedy? To be honest, I may be the wrong person to ask, since I have it on good authority that my narrative preferences lean towards the melancholy, if not the downright depressing. Which probably makes me the last person who should argue the qualities of good romantic comedies. Most entries in the genre strike me as manipulative, dishonest and often toxic in their notions of romance and courtship, not to mention their views on masculinity and femininity. And, last but not least, I have pretty dim views of the genre’s infatuation with phony happily-ever-after tropes.

The Big Sick

So it may not be a huge surprise that what may be my favourite romantic comedy of the last ten years (okay, nine years – I liked (500) Days of Summer quite a bit) revolves around one of the main characters almost dying and being in a medically-induced coma for much of its running time. Nothing more romantic than that, eh?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #11: Westworld

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3Tune in for episode 11 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