A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #63: Monosyllabic horror

Is there anything more terrifying, more capable of evoking fear, than the one-syllable word? Obviously yes – but it is still noteworthy how many recent horror films have gone for a monosyllabic title (which suggests that A24 may have a limited contingent of syllables to make up their titles). In our latest podcast, Alan is joined by Julie and Sam to talk about three recent horror films whose titles fit into a single syllable: Julie has brought along Alex Garland’s folk horror Men, while Alan has picked Jordan Peele’s sci-fi monster movie Nope, and Sam chose the latest Scream, a meta extravaganza directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett calling itself a requel (now there’s the true horror!). What do our cultural baristas think of these three examples of modern horror movies? And just what makes monosyllabic titles so much more scary? Tune in to hear our answers – okay, perhaps not to that last question – in our December episode. Warning: May contain multisyllabic words!

P.S.: We had some technical issues when recording this episode and apologise for the variable audio quality… though it does make the podcast that much more scary, doesn’t it?

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A Damn Fine Espresso: November 2022

After our recent podcast episode on festivals, Sam decided to get in on the fun as well, so he and Matt took the opportunity to talk about a festival that Sam worked on for several years: Queersicht, the LGBTIAQ+ film festival held annually in Bern, Switzerland. Sadly, we just missed the 2022 instalment of Queersicht – incidentally, the 25th anniversary, which was postponed to this year due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, join Sam and Matt as Sam talks about his experiences on the organising and programming committee for the festival. How has the festival changed over the decades? How have its thematic emphases shifted over time? And just how does queer cinema differ from mainstream cinema focusing on LGBTIAQ+ characters?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #62: Second Chances (2)

Second Chances, second time: a little over a year ago we first decided to give a couple of films we’d not been overly enamoured with another try to see if time or adjusted expectations had changed anything – or if our first, negative take persisted. This year, it’s Alan and Sam’s turn to revisit films they didn’t like the first time around – and, in keeping with our directorial focus this year, they selected two films by the same director, David Fincher. Sam wanted to give Fight Club (1999) another chance after bouncing off of the film hard when it originally came out, and Alan thought it only fair to return to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Has time softened their views? Did they find anything else, anything new in the films – or did they find even more they don’t like? Join us for this Fincher/Pitt team-up double bill and for another set of second chances!

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A Damn Fine Espresso: October 2022

As with our September shot of espresso, in which we talked about the first season of the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, we’re staying in the land of Netflix: this month Julie and Alan talk about Andrew Dominik’s Blonde – again an adaptation, this time of Joyce Carol Oates garage-sized novel. What did our cultural baristas think of Dominik’s much-debated and much-derided film? Spoiler: though the two come at the film from slightly different perspectives, neither is a big fan of the film. Join them for their discussion about Ana de Armas’ performance, biopic vs Hollywood fable, and (of course) all the talking fetuses you want!

If you’re interested in more on Blonde and Marilyn Monroe, make sure to check out Christina Newland’s BFI interview with Andrew Dominik, Farran Nehme’s thoughts on the film (please note that this is behind a paywall) – and obviously our episode on Marilyn the icon, her movies and her legacy from September 2020!

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #61: Festival!

Summer is over, as is our Summer of Directors – and this also means that the main festival period of 2022 has come to an end. The last few years, festivals have been greatly affected by the pandemic, and especially in 2020 and 2021 many of the big festivals were vastly reduced or didn’t happen at all. But this year they came back – and after our five big courses focusing on directors, from Jane Campion via Ida Lupino to Martin Scorsese, here’s a palate cleanser in which Alan, Julie and Matt talk about their own festival memories and experiences. Whether it’s the classic open-air music festivals of our youth, contemporary arts or local film festivals: what are our thoughts on the format? Do festivals change how we enjoy culture? What are our favourite memories? How essential are schedules and spreadsheets to the perfect festival experience… and just how damn middle-aged have we become while we weren’t watching?

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A Damn Fine Espresso: September 2022

Last month, Netflix released the first season of its adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel The Sandman – and seeing how Julie and Matt met on the Neil Gaiman message board and began their ongoing conversation about films, books, TV and all things cultural there, we couldn’t really let the opportunity pass. How well does Netflix’ Sandman work as an adaptation? What do we think about the changes? How does it address the fact that it’s been thirty years since Gaiman’s comic first started coming out? What do we think of the cast, starting (but definitely not ending) with Tom Sturridge as Dream and Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s Death? And what do we think about the series’ chances, seeing how Netflix and the Almighty Algorithm determine the fate of its original programming?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #60: Summer of Directors – Martin Scorsese

Our Summer of Directors comes to an end: after Jane Campion, Dario Argento, Ida Lupino and Robert Altman, we’ve arrived at Julie’s choice of director: Martin Scorsese. Poor Marty has come under attack in recent years, especially from fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – but ironically, Julie takes issue with Scorsese’ statements on the MCU more than the two resident MCU-heads Alan and Matt. What else do the three of them think of Scorsese as director and film buff extraordinaire? Join us for a discussion of some of Scorsese’s less-discussed works, The King of Comedy (1982), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), and the 1995 documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. And let us know what you thought of our Summer of Directors!

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A Damn Fine Espresso: August 2022

Sam’s been travelling, and in this month’s espresso episode, he talks to Alan about his first-time trip to the place that is a byword for American cinema: Hollywood! What’s it like for a European movie geek to visit the city? And what kind of stardust memories has Sam added to his portfolio? Seeing how one of the films he saw while on the road was Thor: Love and Thunder, Sam discusses the movie – one of the few Marvel films he’s seen – with Alan, one of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture’s resident Marvel fans. What did the two of them think of Taika Waititi’s second go with Asgardian fan favourite Thor?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #59: Summer of Directors – Robert Altman

Our Summer of Directors continues with Robert Altman, the maverick director whose subversive takes on quintessentially American genres helped shape 1970s Hollywood cinema. Join Alan, Matt and frequent contributor Daniel Thron from fellow film podcast Martini Giant as they discuss three Altman classics: the darkly satirical neo-noir Chandler adaptation The Long Goodbye, the revisionist western McCabe & Mrs. Miller and the scathing quasi-musical critique of American society and culture, Nashville. Why is it that many of Altman’s films can rub viewers the wrong way the first time they see them – or is the wrong way in fact the right way, considering the venom of some of Altman’s satire? What changes for us when revisiting these films? What are the targets of Altman’s critique, and what is its collateral damage? To what extent did the director deplore the world and society he depicted – and how much affection does he have for them? And why oh why doesn’t Shelley Duvall, the perfect Olive Oyl, get more recognition than she does?

You can find more of Dan’s movie takes in our podcast episodes on Steven Soderbergh’s Schizopolis and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, and of course at www.martinigiant.com, as well as on YouTube and TikTok.

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A Damn Fine Espresso: July 2022

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture has talked about musicals before – but this month’s espresso is a special treat: Alan has seen the production of Cabaret that is currently being shown at the Playhouse Theatre in London. He and Julie talk about the production and how it compares to Christopher Isherwood’s original stories that Cabaret is based on, as well as the 1972 film by Bob Fosse, featuring Liza Minelli in her iconic turn as Sally Bowles. How do the various production choices change the characters and the overall depiction of Berlin during the Weimar Republic? And, obviously, what are Alan’s thoughts on the stage production: is this time jump to 1929 Berlin worth taking if you happen to find yourself in London?

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