A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #65: Dog Day Afternoon

It is a truth universally acknowledged that at least some of us here at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture have a general aversion to films that are based on a true story – but it is just as true that some of the greatest films of all time took their inspiration from real events. One such film is Sidney Lumet’s 1975 crime drama Dog Day Afternoon, which tells the story of a failed, fateful armed bank robbery in ’70s New York. The film, which stars Al Pacino and John Cazale, was nominated for six Oscars at the 48th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor and Editing, and it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (written by Frank Pierson of Cool Hand Luke fame). Join Julie, a big fan of the film, as she talks to Sam, who watched it for the first time for this episode, as they discuss Lumet’s classic and its sensitive, nuanced and empathetic handling of its characters and themes

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #64: No movies!

For most of our podcasts, and many of our posts, A Damn Fine Cup of Culture talks about films – which makes sense, because we love cinema, but there is so much more to culture. Why is it that the conversation usually defaults to movies? And why don’t we talk about other media more often? In our first episode of 2023, Julie, Matt and Sam decide to amend this and to talk about the other damn fine cups of culture they’ve enjoyed recently that didn’t show on a big screen. Sam’s brought along three books – And the Band Played On (1987) by Randy Shilts and When We Rise (2016) by Cleve Jones, two non-fiction books about the the LGBT activism of the 1970s and 1980s and the AIDS epidemic in the US, and Swiss Book Prize winner Blutbuch (2022) by Kim de l’Horizon (which is currently only out in German, but is set to come out in English in 2023). Matt talks about two streaming series he very much enjoyed in 2022, namely Severance (Apple TV+) and Star Wars: Andor (Disney+). And yes, even when we talk about media that aren’t cinema, we don’t fully get away from the movies: Julie recommends the podcasts You Must Remember This (by Karina Longworth) and The Secret History of Hollywood (by Adam Roche) about the real stories of classic Hollywood. The book she mentions is Watergate, a New History by Garrett M. Graff.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast Christmas Special 2022

It’s that time of the year again: join the gang at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture for a festive celebration and a look back at the year. In keeping with our big summer series, the Summer of Directors, we’re thinking back on the five episodes where we talked about Jane Campion, Dario Argento, Ida Lupino, Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese. Featuring contributions from our regulars Sam and Alan as well as this year’s wonderful guests Johannes Binotto, lecturer and video essayist, and Dan Thron of Martini Giant (who’s also had a lot to say about Steven Soderbergh and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune in the past). It’s been quite the year, but we’ve been able to enjoy many a good film, book, series, game, and even a concert or two, and obviously many good conversations about all of these things. We’ll be back soon, with more Damn Fine Cups of Culture – and in the meantime, we wish all of our listeners, and all of our guests, happy holidays!

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #103: Occupants of Interplanetary (Most Extraordinary) Craft

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!

People don’t seem to get abducted by aliens anymore. Or, at least, if they still are being abducted we don’t get to hear about it. Because one of the strongest memories of my youth was the fact that, like Quicksand and Rabies, Alien Abduction was an ever-present danger. Indeed the whole idea that the Earth was being visited by Extra-Terrestrials was supported by so much anecdotal evidence that it seemed inevitable that they just had to be out there and it would all soon be revealed.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The Comic-Con Edition

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.

Some films don’t quite come together but are still worth it for their individual components. Matt saw Petrov’s Flu recently, and while he thinks the film gets in its own way in the end, there’s a lot to like about it… if you’re looking for a fever dream of a film

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #81: Heavenly Creatures (1994)

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!

Caveat: here be spoilers.

Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures begins, after a 1950s type commercial for Christchurch, New Zealand, with two young women, girls really, running through shrubbery screaming hysterically. Covered in blood, they are found by a tea shop owner. “It’s Mummy,” says one, “she’s been terribly hurt.”

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #80: One Does Not Simply Fly Into Mordor

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!

“Mount Doom” by Pete McKinstry

“Why didn’t they just send the Eagles to drop the Ring into Mount Doom?”

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #78: Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer, 1997)

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!

Men play at tragedy because they do not believe in the reality of life tragedy which is actually being staged in the civilized world. ~ Jose Ortega Gasset (Quoted in Into Thin Air)

By Randy Rackliff, from Into Thin Air*
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Six Damn Fine Degrees #76: Tales From Viking Times

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!

As a kid, I was a massive fan of listening to stories on cassettes. Far more so than music. Music cassettes inevitably had those tracks you wanted to skip past, leading to fiddling attempts to fast forward the right amount (…and miss it and go back and overly compensate going back and so try to jump forward and – uh-oh, I think the tape is chewed up now). Whereas a good story tape was immersive. You were there for the ride for at least the rest of the side.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #71: Agatha Christie and the desert

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!

While Agatha Christie is possibly most famous for her many fictional English villages or mansions or lodges or what have you, my imagination was always drawn to the books she set in the desert. Preferably, though not necessarily, on archaeological digs. Because, although she herself keeps insisting she will not describe any scenery in her books, she has a knack of picking out details which bring these fantastic places to life. The sound of the waterwheel, the flowers, the sparsely furnished accommodations. In Murder in Mesopotamia, a group of archaeologists are working at a dig, very near the fictional town of Hassanieh. And although the plot is one of her weaker ones, the characterizations of the people and the description of their routines seems to evoke a world that just seems more real to me than St Mary Mead or Chipping Cleghorn. The reason for this, as I found out much later, is that they are, in a sense, more real – or rather, they represent Christie’s later years, ones imbued with more affection and gratitude, her second lease on life.

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