A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #23: The Lives of Others

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3For the June episode, join your cultural baristas as they discuss The Lives of Others (2006), the Academy Award-winning drama about East Germany in the 1980s, Stasi surveillance, the redemptive power of art and its tragic limitations. When not listening in to the artist couple in the apartment on the floor below, we also talk about Amazon Prime’s adaptation of the near-apocalypse, Good Omens, Béla Tarr equine mood piece The Turin Horse and Richard Powers’ 2003 novel The Time of Our Singing.

P.S.: In keeping with the thwarted surveillance motif, Matt’s recording equipment wasn’t quite up to the task this month. We apologise for any problems with the audio quality and promise to do better in July.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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!

So you’ve got zombie fatigue, too? I don’t blame you. Even my teenage daughter has given up quite a while ago on Rick Grimes and his merry gang (and resorted to vampires, but that’s a story for another night). Even the most ardent zombie fan has to admit that the survivors of a zombie apocalypse are much more dangerous than those slouching, moaning, shuffling undead. In a way, George A. Romero had it easy: when he made his Night of the Living Dead in 1968, zombies were not yet a (excuse the pun) recurring staple of horror movies. And indeed, Romero’s debut doesn’t even use the term. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

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!

If there was alien life out there that had discovered a method to objectively measure charm and they used that to discover intelligent life in the universe, they would surely have discovered the Earth after the release of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969, directed by George Roy Hill, written by William Goldman, but most importantly starring one of the greatest double acts in Hollywood history, Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the titular characters. The effortless chemistry between Newman and Redford, combined with Hill’s assured direction and Goldman’s wit, make the film a master class in ’60s cinema. There are few films that are as purely enjoyable as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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Breathing freely for the first time

He is quiet, almost sullen, but there is also a coiled tension there, as if he’s ready to react – possibly more strongly than expected, possibly violently. Talk to him the wrong way, touch him perhaps, and he might lash out. His new colleagues have their suspicions about him: a young man his age, practically still a boy, who has been in juvenile detention for the past five years? There’s almost only one kind of crime that could account for that.

Atmen

So perhaps it’s the best thing for everyone involved if the work he applies for, in order to appeal for early parole, has him dealing with those who are already dead.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

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!

I must have mentioned it before: I’m not a fan of film musicals. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t like the genre, but I don’t like something just because it’s a musical. At the same time, there are a lot of musicals that I do like a lot, and they generally find ways of elevating the material, of making it more effective, because the characters in them have this odd habit of breaking into song every now and then.

Fiddler on the Roof

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Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?

In an instant, they were gone. Family, friends, lovers. You turned around for one moment, and when you turned back they were gone. Where? Why? Who knows. How to go on? Who knows. And how can you ever hold on to anyone again if you don’t know whether it might happen again?

No, I’m not talking about the Snap. (We’ve done enough of that elsewhere.) I’m not talking about the Rapture either, not quite. What I am talking about is one of the strangest, saddest, most infuriating, most hopeless, most hopeful stories I’ve seen, on TV or elsewhere: The Leftovers.

The Leftovers

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #22: Avengers: Endgame

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3How’s that for galactic serendipity? For our 22nd episode, we’re strapping on our Infinity Gauntlets and snapping our fingers to discuss the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Avengers: Endgame. Is it a worthy finale to the Infinity Saga or is it a titanic misstep? Were these particular fans serviced to their satisfaction or did they leave the cinema with a frown? Did we laugh, cry and cheer as the original Avengers line-up do their victory lap? Join us and find out! Beware: major spoilers for Infinity War and Endgame (and no, we don’t mean the play by Samuel Beckett)!

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