I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Ringing in the new year in style

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.

Welcome to the first day of 2023! Our main post this week (which, eerily, was published last year) had Matt looking back at the damn fine cups of culture he liked best in 2022, so let’s revisit some of those trailers. But first things first: Matt also wrote about four cellists and the heavy, metally things they did to Metallica in this week’s Six Damn Fine Degrees, so why not start with that (even though there’s nothing trailery about it)?

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That was the year that was: 2022

The last two years did a number on everyone, and I’m definitely including myself in that: my sense of time and chronology, and especially my memory, the pandemic and the series of crises of all shapes and sizes, these have all left their traces. I have to admit: I’d find it difficult without consulting my notes to say much about what damn fine cups of culture I enjoyed most in 2022. Even with the notes I’ve made in the draft version of this post, I find it difficult to say with much confidence that I remember these things most about the year.

Nonetheless, enjoy them I did – a lot, in fact, and these are some of the things that helped me through some of the harder times in 2022.

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They create worlds: Little Orpheus, and the limits of running left to right

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

Little Orpheus is gorgeous to look at. It is what we used to call a jump-and-run game; usually such games are called platformers these days, the various Super Mario titles probably being the most famous among them even to non-gamers, but ‘platformer’ is really less fitting in the case of Little Orpheus, which is all about running and jumping – and, as is customary in such games, running and jumping to the right most of the time. The character you’re controlling is the cosmonaut Ivan Ivanovich who finds himself in one pickle after another: pursued by pterodactyls and a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a take on the centre of the earth that is part Jules Vernes, part ’50s B movie, or navigating the innards of a giant while, or racing against the odds in mysterious Lemuria. Or actually, he’s telling these stories – which he may be making up on the spot – to the increasingly impatient General Yurkovoi, who is trying to find out what happened to his atomic bomb and how exactly this ridiculous little man sitting in front of him was involved.

Little Orpheus is undoubtedly beautiful – and yet, I felt less immersed in these worlds than I have in some technically and artistically more primitive ones. Is it that jumping and running doesn’t lend itself to immersion?

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: In the Swiss mountains

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 been, oh, months since we featured the last post on a samurai film, so Matt decided it was finally time to watch the Samurai Trilogy, three films about the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and starring the iconic Toshiro Mifune. He didn’t enjoy the films as much as, say, the samurai films with Mifune directed by Akira Kurosawa, but he still found things that he liked a lot.

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The Corona Diaries: “When you play the game of Pandemic…”

… you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Yeah, well, shut up, Cersei.

Remember that global pandemic? In so many places, people act as if it’s a thing of the past, but at the same time numbers have been spiking again – just the cases were much more manageable, both individually and in sum. So many people who hadn’t yet contracted the virus were getting ill, and even some that had been ill already.

My wife and I had thus far been spared by COVID-19, but almost two weeks ago she started feeling under the weather – and the next morning, BOOM. Two purple lines. A fairly high fever, coughing, and man, was she tired. The weird thing is that, if anything, I should have been the one to catch it and pass it on to her, because I am out of the flat and among people more often – but no, she was positive before me, and a couple of days later I joined the club as well.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Fight Night

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.

When it comes to boxing movies, there’s Rocky – and there’s Raging Bull. There are other types, other flavours, but these two pretty much define the territory. Matt wrote about Raging Bull this week, a relatively recent Criterion release, and while the film will never be an easy watch, it’s definitely made easier by this visually stunning release.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Only you can prevent forest fires!

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.

Matt’s been spending some more time in virtual worlds, in particular a digital version of 1980s Wyoming, spotting fires. He wrote about his experience here – which should go well with the Firewatch trailer.

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They create worlds: Firewatch

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

A lot of gaming is about power fantasies. Okay, perhaps most of us don’t fantasise about being a mustachioed plumber jumping on the backs of turtles or about manoeuvring oddly-shaped blocks in order to form lines, but the clichés are still true a lot of the time: you play in order to become a fantasy hero with a big sword or a soldier with a big rifle or a space warrior with a big raygun. These games can be tremendous fun (and not all power fantasies are as Freudian in nature), but the longer I’ve played games, the less they’re the ones that pull me in most. There are other fantasies (no, not that kind – at least not in this post!): games that let me exist in places where I could never be in real life. For me, it’s one of the main draws of the Assassin’s Creed games: not that they let me become a super stealth assassin with some cool threads and hidden blades, but that they let me explore revolutionary Paris or Victorian London or Ptolemaic Egypt.

And sometimes the fantasies are much more mundane – but fulfilling them is no less fascinating. I mean, how many of us have had the opportunity to become a fire lookout in a North American national park?

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They create worlds: Return of the Obra Dinn

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

There are certain experiences that would only be possible in video games – or perhaps in some medium that doesn’t even exist yet. In view of my woeful ignorance of this unknown future medium, I will come out and say that Return of the Obra Dinn could only exist as a game, in more respects than just one. And in the process, it is a wonderful example of how video games can be entirely unique and different.

And that’s before we even get to the – ah, but that would be a spoiler.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #85: Give My Regards To Broad Street

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!

When I was young I bought my pop music on Cassette. If you made a bit of money on your birthday you could head to the shops and buy yourself an album. (If you’d really cleaned up with the relatives you could get two.) The only vinyl player we had in the house was very much off-limits to the children, mainly the domain of curious spoken word affairs that the grown-ups found funny. Although they had covers that tended to give me nightmares.

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