Intoxicology: Another Round (2020)

Imagine the following: you’re a teacher, male, middle-aged. Your adolescent pupils barely notice you, that’s one thing, but worse: so does your wife. When you ask her whether you’ve become boring, she doesn’t give you the reassuring answer you crave – nor the bluntly honest one you fear, which is somehow just as bad. It’s not that your life is bad – you have a well-paid job, a nice house, kids, friends -, it’s just that you suspect you’re not very good at living it, and you haven’t been for a long time.

What do you do?

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #29: The Outsider

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!

After the first two episodes of The Outsider, you might be forgiven for thinking it is meant as a meditation on relentless anguish. The cinematography alone is so bleak – if it isn’t nearly pitch black, it is almost sepia – you can almost feel the crushing weight of it, even with the sound off.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Another Night (or Knight?) at the Round Table

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.

Another pretty busy week for all of us, though not on A Damn Fine Cup of Culture – so please bear with us while activity isn’t exactly peaking. We’ll be back before long, promise!

Nonetheless, there was a post on Friday: Mege swerved the weekly Six Damn Fine Degrees feature in a surprising direction, giving the wonderful character actor Bill Camp his due. His rare but great appearances in The Leftovers are worth the price of admission, even if The Leftovers may be one of the most difficult series to recommend to others based on a first season that at times is gruelling and very hard to watch. (Which doesn’t change the fact that it is one of Matt’s favourites… or, some may ask, is that why he likes it so much?)

Anyway, here’s a trailer for The Night Of, which features a characteristically strong, memorable Bill Camp performance.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #28: Bill Camp

I admit I am probably slightly more name-driven when it comes to picking my movies. Plus, if there is a face popping up in several different genres, I might get hooked. Bill Camp seems to pop up in very diverse movies; it is really rather ironic that, for all the various genres, he often plays an unlikable character, or at least one with an impossible task or a hidden agenda. I have never consciously seen him cheerful or happy or anywhere near exuberant. It is to his credit that I never thought of him as anywhere near typecast. Speaks to the quality of his acting.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Slippers and Rita and nuns, oh my!

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’s amazing how time flies during a pandemic, sometimes leaving little time for blog posts other than the bare minimum… On Friday, Matt wrote a blog post about his discomfort with camp (the style, that is, not the thing where as a kid or teenager you go away for a week in the woods, only to get killed by a hockey mask-wearing maniac). Though these days Matt is much more comfortable with camp of any sort – and you can’t start a post with a picture of Dorothy’s ruby slippers and not follow up!

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #27: Fear of a Camp Planet

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!

Camp, adj. - Ostentatiously and extravagantly effeminate (typically used of a man or his manner); ... deliberately exaggerated and theatrical in style. (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

For the longest time, I would shy away from a lot of media that I associated with camp. From what little I could see, I thought it was tacky, in poor taste and attention-grabbing: “Look at me! I’m in your face! I’m different – and I’m unafraid to be different!”

I’m still not automatically a fan of things that I consider ostentatious and in-your-face, and I guess there is a lot of camp that leaves me non-plussed. But that’s true for a lot of art – and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If I’m entirely honest: looking back, I wonder how much of my negative reaction to it was that, as little as I like to acknowledge it, young Matt was a teensy bit of a homophobe.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: And now for some animated conversation

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.

Does Death only play chess? Or could he also be talked into a different challenge, say, Mario Cart or Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64? Then again, if you’re a Swedish knight returning home from the Crusades, it’s probably the Game of Kings that lends itself to the situation. So yes, you’ve probably guessed correctly: The Seventh Seal was the most recent stop on Matt’s travels with Ingmar. Hey, it doesn’t get much more iconic than that!

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #44: Isao Takahata – radical naturalism

When Isao Takahata died in 2018, the world lost one of the uncontested masters of animation. Takahata, long-time creative partner of Hayao Miyazaki and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, created some of the most striking, memorable anime there is. Together with guest Patrick Martignoni, Eric and Matt discuss Takahata and his thematic and aesthetic concerns, especially his idiosyncratic, experimental take on naturalism and how animation can be used to get to the essence of characters. In our discussion, we focus mainly on Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), Pom Poko (1994) and what is arguably Takahata’s magnum opus, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) – but we don’t forget to look in on his TV career, as all three of us were raised on Heidi, Girl of the Alps. Join us as we remember the great, idiosyncratic and surprising storytelling of Isao Takahata!

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #26: That ’70s Gay Cliché!

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!

Last week’s fascinating look by Alan at previously coded gay relationship between Marvel cartoon characters made me once again fully aware of how secretively (and also inventively) homosexual characters and relationships were allowed to feature in mainstream popular culture before the proper arrival of LGBTQ+ cinema in the past two or three decades or so.

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The Compleat Ingmar #22: The Seventh Seal (1957)

It’s been a while since we last visited with the Swedish master of existential crisis, but we’re returning with what is probably his most famous, most iconic work. Mention Bergman’s name, and what do people think of? Max von Sydow on a desolate beach playing chess with Death, probably.

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