The Compleat Ingmar #25: Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)

Sawdust and Tinsel tells a story of love, humiliation, abandonment, broken dreams and the pathos and piteousness of art, artists – and men. It is, you could say, a typical story for Ingmar Bergman – but while there are elements (and faces) here that by now are familiar when it comes to the director’s work, what the film made me think of is Fellini. The world of Bergman is more commonly that of the bourgeoisie – but the characters at the heart of Sawdust and Tinsel are outsiders who travel around with the world apart that they have made for themselves.

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Forget yourself: Apples (2020)

Just what we needed: there’s a new pandemic. This one doesn’t kill, though, at least not in any conventional sense – it just leaves an increasing number of people unable to remember who they are. You might be walking down the street, driving your car or just taking a nap, and suddenly you don’t remember anything. From one moment to the next, you – that is, the person you were – is gone.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Our Lady of Perpetual Crime

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.

Did we need another crime miniseries about smalltown murder and violence against women? Is Kate Winslet enough to make it worthwhile? Matt recently finished Mare of Easttown, and his thinking is that while Winslet is great in the series, there’s plenty more there to make it worthwhile. Check out his post, and enjoy this trailer – though remember that the series is much more lively and, yes, even funny than the trailer makes it out to be.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #43: Juggernaut

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!

Richard Lester’s Juggernaut (1974) was probably the first Richard Harris film I ever saw. It’s very likely it was also the first time I ever saw a film starring Omar Sharif, Anthony Hopkins, Ian Holm or Freddie Jones. It’s most definitely the first time I encountered that time-honoured trope where a bomb exposal expert faces two differently coloured wires and has to decide which one to cut: one will defuse the bomb, the other will mean death, for him and for everyone else in the building, on the plane or (in this case) aboard the ship.

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Family ties: Mare of Easttown (2021)

Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the show’s pedigree, I might not have given Mare of Easttown much of a chance. It just looked like any number of other series: a grim, drab crime story about one young woman who’s been gone for a year, another who’s found dead, and the grizzled investigator working the case. At least that investigator isn’t male for once, but then it’s not like we haven’t had a fair number of female investigators investigating the murder of other women by now. What’s to elevate Mare of Easttown over so many other grim, drab stories of violence against women?

Well, other than it being an HBO series? And the title role is played by Kate Winslet? Oh, and there’s also Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart and Guy Pearce?

Okay, okay, streaming service: you’ve convinced me. I’ll give this a chance. Just know that it isn’t quite as easy as that to convince me. I might still watch the series and be frustrated by how much it wastes a great cast on a story that we’ve seen several dozen times already, right? Right?

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Kings, heroes, villains and… spacemen?

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.

Let’s start with the humanoid killer shark in the room: the big-screen DC movies haven’t always been all that much fun to watch, so it was quite a pleasant surprise for Matt to find out that The Suicide Squad succeeds at being just that. Who needs mopey Bats and grimdark Supes when you can hang out with Harley Quinn & Co?

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Criterion Corner: In Cold Blood (#781)

I’ve never read In Cold Blood – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Truman Capote. I have seen the two competing films about the writing of In Cold Blood, though, Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006), in which the idiosyncratic author was played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toby Jones respectively, so I was quite aware of what Capote’s novel, and its 1967 film adaptation, would be about. I was also aware of the whole discourse about the non-fiction novel, the genre that Capote adopted. Did Capote create, or at least shape, the format that we’ve come to know as true crime? Or did he just reflect cultural anxieties and currents that were already forming?

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #42: Embracing darkness: Richard Harris

Harris in the studio recording an LP in 1971 (Image: Jack Kay / Daily Express / Getty Images)

“There, I gave you the stuff about Harry Potter”, Richard Harris pointedly remarks to his interviewer at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2001, just before the world would change. “But try to use the rest of what I said as well. Because, you see, I don’t just want to be remembered for being in those bloody films, and I’m afraid that’s what’s going to happen to me.”

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The Definite Article: The Suicide Squad (2021)

Some people have a visceral hatred for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016). I don’t. I found a lot of it annoying, but most of all I found it forgettable, apart from a few bits and pieces. It introduced us to Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, a character (or, rather, a version of the character) that proved more durable than the film in which she originated. Other than that, though? There was a Will Smith character and someone with a boomerang, and someone with… some sort of fire thing? A crocodile-skinned dude? A guy with a gun? No, as much as I try, I simply don’t much remember the film. I remember Folding Ideas’ video essay on the film better than I remember Suicide Squad itself (though nothing against Folding Ideas, and his video essay on Suicide Squad is great).

Having said that, I like the idea. If handled right, I can absolutely see the appeal of taking a bunch of goofy comic book villains and putting them together in a Dirty Dozen-style adventure, where no one is exactly good, everyone is unpredictable, and death might strike pretty much anyone at any time. I have little attachment to these characters, I don’t consider myself particularly invested in the continuity, so yeah, if you offer me a good time and a chuckle while you have fun with your action figures, then, yeah, I’m in. Man lives not by Bergman alone.

And that’s exactly what James Gunn delivers with what is less a sequel than it is a second chance (and we’re fond of those here at A Damn Fine Cup). Silly, inventive, blackly humorous fun. Something that the superhero genre definitely could do with at this time.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: From Cassandra to Sandra, from Green Knights to Last Nights

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.

Pandemics and cinema produce interesting things. Is The Cassandra Crossing one of these, or is it trash – and if so, is it the kind of trash that’s fun to watch? Check out Sam’s Six Damn Fine Degrees post to find out!

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