A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #31: Mind the gaps

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3We’re back after a three-month break – and right in the middle of a pandemic. What better time than this to listen to some new podcast goodness, though? And what better time to look at the gaps we’ve all got in our film-watching track record?

This month, Julie and Matt talk about the huge swathes of cinema that we’ve missed so far – the genres, eras and countries we’re barely aware of, the directors that everyone loves but we bounced off of, the films we’ve got on an ever-growing pile on a bookshelf that we keep telling ourselves we should finally watch. Grab a hot, fresh cup and join us for episode 31 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture! Continue reading

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3We’re back after a three-month break – and right in the middle of a pandemic. What better time than this to listen to some new podcast goodness, though? And what better time to look at the gaps we’ve all got in our film-watching track record?

This month, Julie and Matt talk about the huge swathes of cinema that we’ve missed so far – the genres, eras and countries we’re barely aware of, the directors that everyone loves but we bounced off of, the films we’ve got on an ever-growing pile on a bookshelf that we keep telling ourselves we should finally watch. Grab a hot, fresh cup and join us for episode 31 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture! Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Harry Dean Stanton (1926)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

I first saw Harry Dean Stanton in Alien, I think, though it is just about possible that I’d previously seen him in another film (Private Benjamin, perhaps? Or one of the TV episodes he’d done previously?), but I don’t think I would’ve noticed him. I have to admit that even in Alien he didn’t stand out as such, but that’s because that film was perfectly cast. Everyone ended up being perfect in their parts, so you can’t really blame Stanton for not being more perfect than everyone else.

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Flame on, you crazy diamond: Ema (2019)

Some men just want to watch the world burn, someone once said. Perhaps the same can be said for some women. Not necessarily to harm or hurt, not for revenge or hatred. But perhaps there are people who, when they are told that they shouldn’t play with fire, what they hear is a taunt or, worse, a prison sentence being pronounced. Freedom means that you can burn whatever, whoever, whenever – and if someone really, truly loves you, they should understand that you need that flame to be available. So what if it burns someone?

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The Corona Diaries: It’s the pictures that got small

Matt here, waving at you wearily from that little country in the centre-left of Europe. So, for what will soon have been two weeks – but what feels like at least twice that – Switzerland will have been on partial lockdown. We’re still allowed to leave the house, though if we congregate in groups of more than five people, the Corona police will descend on us and… cough on us, perhaps? I’m not quite sure, because I’m being a good little boy, which means I’m practicing social distance with the best of them. My wife and I still go out to catch some sun and fresh air every day, but we stay at least two metres away from others, eyeing them cautiously.

It helps that we’re not exactly the biggest extroverts in the world. Our idea of a fun evening out rarely involves other people, at least not actively. Sure, before the Coronavirus epidemic we’d often be found in groups of dozens, sometimes even hundreds – but that’s what you get when you go to the cinema several times a week.

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The Compleat Ingmar #12: Saraband (2003)

For the last week or so, my wife and I have been mostly at home, except for the occasional trip to the shops or a short walk every day to get some fresh air and catch some sun. Other than that, we’ve been good, keeping our social distance, barely seeing, let alone talking, to others. It’s just the two of us.

What better time than this to visit our old friends, Marianne and Johan, everyone’s favourite dysfunctional couple?*

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The Rear-View Mirror: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

There has rarely been a story as good at portraying the conflict between belief and organised religion as that of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans, the peasant girl that believed to have seen archangels and saints and whose fight for her king and her god finally led her to a martyr’s death at the stake.

And while I haven’t seen any of the more recent cinematic takes on the story, I doubt that any of them are as harrowing as Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.

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Play it again, Cath: The Truth (2019)

A new film by Hirokazu Kore-eda is always a good reason to look up and take note. Ever since I first saw one of his films, the witty, inventive After Life (1998), the gentle giant of Japanese cinema has not disappointed me. Not all of his films are equally strong, but especially after his Cannes-winning Shoplifters (2017), I was sure I’d want to be there to see his latest at the cinema.

However, I would not have expected the new Kore-eda to be a thoroughly French éclair of a film starring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche.

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The ineffable sadness of being: About Endlessness (2019)

I saw a priest drowning his sorrows in sacramental wine, calling out to a god he no longer believed in. I saw a man mourning the death of a daughter he had killed himself. I saw another man, facing a shooting squad and begging for his life. I saw many, many soldiers stumbling through the snow towards a prison camp they might never reach. I also saw joy, glimpses of grace – but mostly I saw sadness in many facets. And beauty.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Dracula (1931)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

I am entirely the wrong person to write this entry. It should be Julie. It should be anyone other than me, really. Because I’ve tried, I really have. I went and got the Universal Monster Box set of Blu-rays. I don’t have any problems with black and white. I don’t mind melodrama or cheese. Horror doesn’t have to be gory for me. Vampires haven’t altogether lost their glitter, as far as I’m concerned.

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Dazzled by the mob: The Godfather Part II

In cinematic terms, I sometimes wish I’d already been around during the 1970s. It’s the big films of that decade that I most regret seeing at the cinema. Thank god for good repertory cinemas, though: thanks to my favourite rep cinema, I’ve been able to see the likes of Apocalypse Now on the big screen – and the theatrical experience definitely makes a difference in terms of how potent these classics are.

Last week, as part of a series on migrants (which includes such different fare as Jan Troell’s The Emigrants and The New Land and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9), I was finally able to see Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II on the big screen. The film is gorgeous to look at, with Gordon Willis’ Rembrandtesque cinematography an absolute triumph, and it’s a joy to see Pacino and De Niro in peak form, their acting specific and nuanced and entirely unlike the personas we’ve seen them embrace all too often since. The way I watch the film has changed in other ways as well, though, and these have nothing to do with the big-screen format. That difference is due to me having watched the entirety of The Sopranos in he meantime.

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