A Damn Fine Espresso: May 2022

In the mood for a little cup of culture? Tune in for our May espresso, in which Alan and Matt discuss the latest addition to the MCU, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Spoiler: While they both enjoy the MCU, they were less than taken with Sam Raimi’s return to superhero movies. They both agree, however, that the MCU would benefit from having more Benedict Wong in it. After their discussion in January, following the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Alan and Matt talk about the MCU at this point, what pitfalls it would do well to avoid, and what their hopes are for the coming Marvel attractions. But: how do Ingmar Bergman and LEGO figure into all of this? Well, there’s only one way to find out!

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #56: Summer of Directors – Jane Campion

Never mind that May is still firmly spring in most people’s minds: we are launching the Summer of Directors, a series of podcasts, each of which is dedicated to one particular director, and we’re doing so with an episode dedicated to two-time Academy Award winner Jane Campion, who first took the little statuette home for her original screenplay for The Piano (1993) and, more recently, as the director of The Power of the Dog (2021). We’ll be looking at those two films in particular, focusing on the ways in which Campion portrays and questions gender roles. How does Holly Hunter’s Ada McGrath make her way in 19th century New Zealand as a woman displaced in many ways? How does Campion portray male and female modes of communication? And how do we read that marvellously ambiguous ending? Moving on to The Power of the Dog, we look at different kinds of masculinity – and how Campion’s film may have unusual, fascinating things to say about what kind of masculinity is finally more resilient. Join Matt, Julie and Sam as they explore all the black and white keys on Jane Campion’s keyboard and all the kinds of music she elicits from them!

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A Damn Fine Espresso: April 2022

We’ve now been doing monthly podcasts for almost five years at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture – and today we’re starting A Damn Fine Espresso: shorter, more impromptu small doses of all the cultury goodness you’ve come to expect from us! To launch the new smaller cups of culture, join Julie and Sam as they have a chat about what they’ve checked out recently. From Parisian getaways and serendipitous record stores to bad moustaches, worse CGI and films that can’t decide what they want to be…

Starting with this episode, you can get your monthly espresso where you get all of your Damn Fine goodness – so indulge in a tiny cup of our pop culture musings and let us know what you think!

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #55: Based on a true story

What is your reaction when you read those words? Is a story better if it actually, really happened? Or are all stories partly fiction, partly true? Where does truth lie in fiction, and where does a story begin to turn into a pack of lies? Join Julie, Sam and Matt as they discuss these questions on Oliver Stone’s conspiracy epic JFK (1991), the four-part true crime/black dramedy hybrid Landscapers (2021) and Sam Mendes’ 1917 (2019). What are the ethics of telling stories based on actual events? Can fiction get at deeper truths? What are the lines each of us draws when it comes to tales based on true stories?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #54: Movie Geography – Our Home Towns on Film

Ever watch a film made in a place you know very well, only to find that the movie’s geography doesn’t make any sense: that street does not lead to that bridge, and how would you get from this church to that square – which isn’t even in the same city? Join Sam, Julie and Alan as they discuss three films – Dick Maas’ serial killer schlockfest Amsterdamned (1988), Michelangelo Antonioni’s London-based mystery thriller Blowup (1966) and the Bern-based scenes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the sixth Bond adventure – that were filmed in their metaphorical back yards. What kind of expectations, experiences and disappointments come with seeing your home town on the big screen? And what’s the relationship between real geography and movie geography?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #53: Exactly the right number of notes – Amadeus (1984)

Some of us remember when we first heard that high-pitched giggle at the cinema, and watched as a thoroughly mediocre man, though one with an eye and an ear for genius, vowed to destroy the greatest composer of his generation: in 1984, Milos Forman’s film adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s stage play Amadeus came out – and made a great splash the following year at the Academy Awards, being nominated for eleven Oscars and winning eight of those, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (though, admittedly, it had doubled its chances of getting the latter by nominating both of its leads – a delightfully meta continuation of the Salieri/Mozart rivalry depicted in the film). Although Amadeus is often called a biopic, our baristas argue that it is something different altogether, and something infinitely more interesting at that. Join Julie, Sam and Matt as they revisit the 1984 hit and discuss its legacy.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #52: The State of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

A new year, a new slew of Marvel movies and TV series! After 2019’s grand finale Avengers: Endgame, what felt like an infinite number of new films, shows, characters and storylines were announced – and then a certain virus that shall not be named thwarted the plans of Disney. 2020 came and went without a single new MCU movie, but 2021 more than made up for this, with four films – starting with Black Widow and ending with Spider-Man: No Way Home – and various Disney+ series continuing the ongoing adventures of the Marvel heroes and heroines. Join Alan and Matt as they talk about the franchise and their response to it. What were their expectations after the big snap-and-back climax of Infinity War and Endgame? How did they bridge the one-year gap caused by the pandemic? Were they excited by the upcoming Marvel avalanche, or was it all getting to be too much? And how do they feel about where the franchise is now, leading into 2022?

By the way, this is a Very Special Episode of the Damn Fine Cup of Culture podcast: for the first time ever, it was recorded in front of a live studio audience with everyone on the podcast not only in the same country but the same room, talking into the same microphone! Which means that Matt’s Christmas wish did come true. How better to start 2022?

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast Christmas Special 2021

Certainly, 2020 and 2021 have been strange years (and perhaps I shouldn’t say too much, since there is still one week to go until we get to the end of the latter), they have been difficult and draining in many ways, and Christmas 2021 is likely to be more lonely for some of us than we would like. The pandemic has been a drain on everyone, and it’s not over yet. But in spite of this, we have had some good times this year, we’ve watched some great films and TV (and admittedly some that were not so great), we’ve read some great books and we’ve played some fun games – not least the wonderful board game Pandemic Legacy, which at least gives us the feeling that this thing can be beaten… provided our medic isn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For the Christmas Special 2021, Julie and Matt are joined, albeit remotely in space and time, by regulars Alan, Mege and Sam as well as by our favourite returning guest Daniel Thron of Martini Giant, and we talk about the damn fine things we’d like to see under the Christmas tree – from the purely material but greatly enjoyable to things that are elusive but all the more necessary for that. Join us – and have happy, safe and healthy holidays! Wishing all of you the very best for what remains of 2021, and thanks as always for hanging out with us.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #51: Denis Villeneuve’s Dune

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture couldn’t let the year end without celebrating one of the most anticipated films of the year, nay, the pandemic: Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune. For this, Julie and Alan are joined by Daniel Thron of Martini Giant, who had previously come by for a damn fine cup to discuss Stephen Soderbergh with us. Did our intrepid cultural baristas enjoy Villeneuve’s take on Herbert’s seminal novel? Did Hollywood do justice, in terms of storytelling and aesthetics, to a novel that many others – including David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky – failed to successfully bring to the screen? So, face your fear, permit it to pass over you and through you, and spend an hour in the desert landscape of Arrakis with Dan, Alan and Julie!

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #50: Daniel Craig’s Bond farewell in No Time to Die

No, A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, we expect you to podcast… Obviously we cannot let a cultural phenomenon such as Daniel Craig’s final James Bond outing go uncommented – especially since Alan, Julie and Sam already talked about the Bond franchise a year ago in preparation for the (oft postponed) release of James Bond: No Time to Die. In the meantime, it has been time to watch No Time to Die, and our three intrepid baristas return to finish their mission. Did they enjoy Daniel Craig’s last hurrah as MI6 agent James Bond? What were they shaken and/or stirred by most? What did they think of the villain, the women, the hidden lair – and especially the ending? Just as importantly: whither James Bond? Where do we want the franchise to go next? And… who do we want to have a crack at the iconic secret agent next?

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