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).

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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.”

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #112: String Quartet Kraftwerk

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!

Robots It was their cover of Robots I first heard. I can’t exactly remember on what radio show. An evening show in 1992, no doubt, as I sat in my teenage bedroom pretending to do homework. I was fascinated by this reimagining and resolved to wait till the end to learn the name of the artist – The Balanescu Quartet.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #111: Plays Metallica by Four Cellos

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!

I’ve always liked music. From an early age onwards, I played various instruments: pretty much anything with keys and anything that you had to hit with a stick or a mallet. But, as a kid and as a teenager, my musical tastes – and, really, my musical experience – were weird, and not necessarily in interesting ways. I liked big orchestral stuff, I liked film music, mostly of the Elmer Bernstein and John Williams variety, I enjoyed music that I’d heard in movies and TV series. Obviously I also listened to the pop and rock of the time, whatever was on Sky Channel first and later on MTV (which means that I associate much pop and rock first and foremost with the music videos), but I didn’t own a single album pre-CD, and even once I started buying CDs, it was almost exclusively film and TV music. My first, and for a long time my only, pop/rock album was Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell.

Which also means that as a male teenager growing up in the ’80s and ’90s I never had a heavy metal phase, and not only because I never had the hair for it.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #110: A Heavy Metal Christmas with Christopher Lee

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!

I’m sure we all have it: That odd Christmas album we unearth whenever the Holiday Season comes along, even though we know it’s atrociously kitschy and truly awful by any musical standards. For our family, Roger Whittaker single-handedly put us in a terribly festive mood with his German (!) carols. These days – besides certified classics by Leontyne Price, Joan Baez and Mahalia Jackson – I sneak in the occasional Julio Iglesias or Ivan Rebroff schmaltz onto my turntable.

My Christmas music collection, however, is bound to become a little bigger in the wake of a completely new discovery by one of the actors lending his voice to the Neverwhere audiobook (mentioned in last week’s post by Julie): Sir Christopher Lee’s three incredible Heavy Metal Christmas albums released between 2012 and 2014!

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #109: Neverwhere

A homeless person lies on the street covered by blankets

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!

Different people experience London very differently. But for Richard Mayhew, the London he ends up in is nothing like any version of London we are familiar with. Well, not if we’re lucky. Up until that point Richard has led a regular life. Office job, an apartment, a fiancée and the small worries that entails. Until, that is, he finds a severely wounded woman on the street and decides to help her. In this world no good deed goes unpunished, and soon after this chivalrous rescue, he starts to become invisible. Or unnoticeable, rather, as his colleagues and even his fiancée seem not to notice him unless he gets right in their face and speaks to them. He has slipped through the cracks into another, more peripatetic London. He rapidly loses everything. Job, apartment, fiancée; because to the people around him he has all but ceased to exist. And so he can think of only one option: descend to the underground into London Below, find the woman he rescued, and somehow make a way back to his previous life.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #107: Late Remedy for The Cure

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!

There must be something sad and desperate running after your own twenty year-old success. The Cure had their last real hit in 1992 with “Friday I’m in Love”; since then, only hardcore fans might have followed their music for the last 30 years. Curiously, their concert in Basel was sold out, hinting that maybe their show might be a greatest hits show with their new, lesser known music mixed in.

But no. Except for “Lovesong”, Robert Smith et al. insisted on playing their more recent, lesser known stuff so that there was not a flicker of delight among the audience. Granted, we didn’t come to the concert to find party-time cheer and a frightful mosh-pit, but their first 90 minutes were too melancholy and funereal to allow for any kind of musical quality to be remembered.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #106: The doubtless pleasure of Donald Pleasance

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!

It’s amazing that it took us one hundred and five installments to finally connect to Donald Pleasance (whom Matt mentioned in last week’s post)! After all, Pleasance (according to IMDb’s statistics) is the actor with the second-most closeness centrality in movie history, connecting most directly to almost everyone in the acting business (second only to Christopher Lee)! And isn’t that what our Six Damn Fine Degrees are all about: connecting our movie interests in seemingly random ways, creating a massive network of connections?

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #105: (Don’t Fear) The Shape

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!

Warning: oversimplification ahead. In horror films where the threat is personified in one primary antagonist, you tend to get one of two types of bad guys. Type 1: the characters. They are defined quite clearly, they have motivations and a personality. They may be driven by a dark, dramatic backstory, but to some extent this background is less important than how they behave in the present of the stories they’re in. Especially in the horror films of the ’80s, they have a signature style. They quip. They’re the Freddy Krugers and the Pennywises, the Chuckies and the Pinheads.

And you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever found any of these particularly scary.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #104: They Live! (1988)

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!

They are among us. An alien race, seeking to control us via finance, politics and the media. They are visible only to those who can See. They are everywhere. In the police force, on our newscasts, among our colleagues, and perhaps even in our beds. Some of us humans enable them, perhaps because they believe they can never beat them, because they are intimidated, or because it is in their own self-interest to do so. That is the plot of They Live! (1988).

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