I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: No country for cold men

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 finally caught up (at least somewhat) with Alan and Julie, watching the Criterion release of Ernst Lubitsch’s comedy Design for Living almost two years after their podcast on the complicated women of pre-Code cinema. Even for someone not much versed in the films of the era preceding the Hays Code, Design for Living more than delivers with its wit and its wonderful trio of protagonists.

Continue reading

Six Damn Fine Degrees #114: Vertigo Restored (my first DVD)

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!

Do you still remember the first DVD you ever purchased? I will certainly never forget mine: the restored version of Alfred Hitchcock’s ultimate classic, Vertigo. Not because of the 70+ Swiss francs I paid for it – a fortune for a 17-year old back then and yet a pittance for the movie-hungry teenager that I was – but how it increased my love affair with Hitchcock and this particular movie. And how it left me in awe at the restoration process that brought this masterpiece back to life on the then-state-of-the-art DVD format – a process that back then topped everything that had gone into salvaging film stock before (thanks to Julie’s post from last week for reminding me of it).

Continue reading

Criterion Corner: Design for Living (#592)

Three young, smart, attractive people – Gilda, a commercial artist, the painter George and the playwright Thomas – meet on a train to Paris. Their initial conversations may not be entirely friendly, but the sparks that fly as they exchange zingers make it clear that the men are attracted to Gilda, and vice versa – and how could they not be? They’re witty, they’re attractive, and they’re in Paris. Soon they fall: both of the men for Gilda, and Gilda for, well, both of them. She can’t choose, and she won’t choose – so Gilda, George and Tom come up with a plan: they live together as Gilda is a friend, a muse and a critic to both men. They make a gentlemen’s agreement to make sure that this will work: no sex.

What could possibly go wrong?

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: You say ‘Sunday’, I say ‘Monday

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 had to happen sometime – it was Sunday evening, we were tired… and we entirely forgot that trailer posts don’t post themselves. At least not yet, though I’m sure that GPT-3 or whatever AIs are currently being created in dark IT labs by mad computer scientists will be more than up to the task. When Skynet stages its coup, we’ll recognise the terminators because they’ll have too many fingers and too many teeth.

And talking about too many teeth: Matt found himself liking Top Gun Maverick a surprising amount, while finding Avatar: The Way of Water dull and unengaging. And there’s something surprisingly poignant about Tom Cruise finally starting to show his age. What if Tom’s just one of us?

Continue reading

A Damn Fine Espresso: January 2023

For our first espresso episode of 2023, Julie and Sam got together to once again share their love of good film soundtracks and to talk about soundtrack concerts. What is the experience of watching a film while a live orchestra is playing the soundtrack? What’s the overall state of film music and movie concerts? What are some of the duo’s favourite movie soundtracks? And how do Sam and Julie end up talking about some of the lesser-known Billy Wilder movies?

If you enjoy our conversation about film soundtracks, make sure also to listen to our podcast episode #49, “The Music Makers”, about some of our favourite soundtrack composers and films where the music is central to the experience.

Continue reading

Six Damn Fine Degrees #113, Metropolis: Félix-Didier and the Raiders of the Lost Reels

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!

On Tuesday, July 1st 2008, Paula Félix-Didier, museum director in Argentina, traveled to Berlin from Buenas Aires with something extraordinary in her luggage. Disembarking on a hot summer’s day, temperatures rising to up to 30 degrees, she was to meet with three experts, there to review what she had brought. She had previously confided in an editor of German newspaper Die Zeit, Karen Naundorf, as she thought Germany would be the perfect place to publicise her spectacular piece of news: she may have just uncovered missing footage, long presumed lost, from the 1927 Fritz Lang tour de force Metropolis. Any reconstructions of the film before that time, still offered the sad little insert: “More than a quarter of the film is believed to be lost forever.”

Continue reading

Let’s blow this thing and go home: Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) and Top Gun Maverick (2022)

I can’t really claim to have been particularly invested in either Avatar: The Way of Water or Top Gun Maverick. I watched Tom Cruise’s 1980s navy erotica as a teenager, off of a VHS copy, and I remember very little, other than snippets of Goose’s death. Meanwhile, I enjoyed watching the piece of Na’vi erotica that was the original Avatar when it came out, but it proved utterly forgettable, and when we recently rewatched it, I found its spectacle tacky and its white-saviour narrative too trite and bland even to be particularly offensive. When the reviews of the two decade(s)-late sequels started to come in, I was surprised to find almost universal praise for Maverick and some surprisingly positive takes on James Cameron’s return to Pandora, even if a lot of the reviews weren’t exactly enthusiastic – including some very complimentary reviews from critics who aren’t exactly fans of big CGI blockbusters.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: I’m Thinking of Joaquin Phoenix Things

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.

If Alan had wanted to make it as difficult as possible to come up with a trailer to fit his Six Damn Fine Degrees post on The Balanescu Quartet’s string covers of Kraftwerk tunes, he definitely succeeded. The closest we could manage? Wim Wender’s The End of Violence features some Kraftwerk on its soundtrack – but instead, let’s go with The Big Lebowski, which may not have any Kraftwerk (or Balanescu Quartet) music on its soundtrack, but its German nihilist character played by Peter Stormare used to play in a band called Autobahn, an obvious homage to the titans of experimental krautrock. Take it away, Dude!

Continue reading

The Compleat Ingmar #40: Fanny and Alexander (theatrical version) (1982)

So, here we are. The last of the stations on my travels with Ingmar. (Or not, as there are some epiloguy bits to follow.) The theatrical version of Fanny and Alexander, about a month after having watched the TV series in its full, 5+ hour glory, and a couple of weeks after Christmas, so close enough to the film’s natural habitat, seasonally speaking.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The Two Nicks

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.

Time flies yet again: we’re already at the second trailer post of 2023 – and it begins with the classic Bong Joon-ho joint Memories of Murder, which Matt wrote about earlier this week.

Continue reading