Déjà-Vu is the new Orange

There is a multi-layered irony at work in Russian Doll. To start with, it’s almost as if they airlifted Nicky Nichols out of Orange Is The New Black and gave her a series of her own. What happens in Russian Doll could, in fact, easily be Nicky’s alternate backstory: the protagonist in it, Nadia Vulvokov, is just as sharp-witted and foul-mouthed as Nicky. And then of course, both Nadja and Nicky are played by the same actress, Natasha Lyonne, who must be wholly unafraid of being typecast. Both Nadja and Nicky say what they want and do what they want, and they choose the man or woman they want to have sex with. They both have a drug problem, but Lyonne manages to keep it interesting. Continue reading

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #18: The Aviator

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3For the first episode of 2019, Julie, Mege and Matt revisit Martin Scorsese’s much-awarded but rarely-discussed The Aviator. Is it one of Scorsese’s best or a bit of a mess? Does Cate Blanchett’s Katherine Hepburn enter parody territory, and is it any less awesome for this? Will Mege pounce in defense of Leonardo DiCaprio? Find out the answers to all these questions and more, as the gang of pop culture baristas serves up some smaller helpings on AMC’s The Terror (a heady blend of Master and Commander and The Thing) and the interactive Black Mirror episode, “Bandersnatch”.

Also, we’re premiering our new theme tune “Mystery Street Jazz” at the end of the episode, so make sure to give it a listen. Thanks to composer Håkan Eriksson for his damn fine tune!

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #17: The Haunting of Hill House

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3This month Mege and Matt are visiting with the Cranes at Hill House. Will we make it out alive or will we be stuck forever with the shades and phantoms wandering its forlorn corridors? We also stop by Colombia, fashionably late, to talk about Narcos and its take on Pablo Escobar, and we catch a glimpse of the American criminal justice system as illustrated by Cleveland, Ohio, guided by Sarah Koenig & Co., in the third season of Serial.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Spaced (1999)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Oh boy. How do you do justice to a year like 1999, wchich produced films such as The Matrix, Being John Malkovich and Magnolia? That gave us the HBO gateway drug The Sopranos as well as a The West Wing, whose idealism would be much needed these days? Let alone games such as System Shock 2 and Planescape: Torment, milestones of the immersive sim and of choice and consequence in video game storytelling? I can’t pick the film, series, book or game that was most meaningful, but I will pick one that has been wrongly overshadowed by its creators’ careers since.

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The Rear-View Mirror: CSI Crime Scene Investigation (2000)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Today, my dearly beloveds, let’s talk about guilty pleasures. I know you have them because I have them. In a way, it’s the emotional continuation of reading under the covers when you’re a kid, flashlight in hand, way until after midnight. And already I’ve talked myself into a corner because now I have to reveal one of my guilty pleasures while you can keep silent about yours. Here goes, then: one of my guilty pleasures was, and still is, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the original one set in Las Vegas. Would you believe that it ran from 2000 to 2015? Its finale is only three years old. And yes, I watched every single sodding episode, until the bitter, bitter end. It wasn’t easy. I’m not proud of it. The guilt had outweighed the pleasure years ago. Continue reading

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #15: U – July 22/Utøya 22. juli

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3In this month’s episode Mege and Matt discuss Erik Poppe’s U – July 22, a cineastic attempt to come to terms with the massacre of 69 young people on the island of Utøya, Norway, by a right-wing terrorist. Does the film do justice to its subject? What are the responsibilities of filmmakers depicting recent real-life atrocities? Also, Mege talks about the new Netflix series Maniac, starring Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and Justin Theroux, and Matt speaks of the joys of web-swinging through New York in the recently released game Spider-Man.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #14: The End is Nigh

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3It’s September, and the world is coming to an end on this month’s episode. Join Mege and Matt as they talk about the post-apocalypse in pop culture, from Obsidian’s epic role-playing game Fallout: New Vegas via Mad Max: Fury Road to – bear with us on this one – the HBO series The Leftovers. We also discuss Spike Lee’s latest joint, BlacKkKlansman, and talk about Sarah Vowell’s book Assassination Vacation.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Luther (2010)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Look, I get it. Luther is no longer the same now, compare to its first season in 2010. We still get to see Idris Elba playing the lead, his loyal sidekick DS Justin Ripley, gruff DSU Martin Schenk, Benny Silver and many other cool names that turn up for a few episodes or a whole season, like Saskia Reeves, Rose Leslie, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Indira Varma or Sienna Guillory. But since Alice Morgan dropped out of DCI John Luther’s life (and Ruth Wilson out of the series), something is missing.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #13: The films of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3Join us for another A Damn Fine Cup of Culture podcast, in which we have a look at the indie horror and sci-fi films of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, from the huis-clos Resolution via Spring‘s dreamy summer body horror romance to cosmic horror/sibling drama The Endless. On the way, we also stop by 1970s New York with The Deuce and dark, original genre mix Colossal, in which Anne Hathaway inadvertently destroys much of downtown Seoul – hey, it’s happened to all of us.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Halt and Catch Fire (2014)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Whenever there is something technical to be done about this site, it’s not me. I don’t have it in me, and I need constant technical advice and supervision. So the joke is probably on me when I tell you that I really like the first season of Halt and Catch Fire, an AMC series that started in 2014 and ended last year with its 4th season. HaCF is about a small Texas computer hardware company called Cardiff Electronics in the 1980s, where three employees go rogue and secretly want to beat giant blue chip IBM in building a better, affordable computer. Continue reading