The Corona Diaries: It’s a small world after all

I felt a range of different emotions when the COVID-19 crisis began, and a lot of different thoughts went through my head. One was a profound sense of unreality: this kind of thing happens in movies, not in real life, and definitely not here, in Switzerland, in one of the wealthiest, most privileged countries in the world. Another was constant, low-level stress and the feeling that my brain and its usual processing power was off, somehow, that my thinking was constantly woolly and my ability to remember things (never exactly my strong side) was pretty much shot.

However, not all of what I was feeling was confusing, confounding or plain bad. There was also a sense that for the first time in my life we were experiencing something as the whole world. Even if we were stressed, anxious and confused, we were sharing this. No other event I’d ever experienced felt as truly global, and that was a good feeling: we were all in this together.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Have we reached the comic book singularity yet?

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest installment 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.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1912)

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!

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect… ‘What has happened to me?” he thought. It was not a dream.”

When I read Kafka’s classic novella The Metamorphosis (written in 1912, first published in 1915) as a teenager, that first, audacious sentence grabbed me – but it’s the one that comes a little later that punched me in the gut. Kafka’s story about a man who finds himself turned into a beetle should be dreamlike, but the telling is deadpan, if at times a little droll, and it never once allows the reader to go for that easiest of interpretations: it’s a dream, it’s all metaphors, it’s one big symbol. Certainly there is symbolism there, but as we’re reading Kafka’s story, he doesn’t grant us that facile emergency exit of consigning it all to the realm of unreality. Kafka’s prose makes it seem, and feel, all too real.

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The Corona Diaries: Drunk on Déjà-Vu

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A month ago, most stores and businesses have reopened around here. That includes movie theaters, many of which show the films they were showing the day they had to close. Those films are also already out on DVD and BluRay, so you are in the luxurious position to be able to choose whether you would like to watch 1917, Onward or Once Upon A Time in Hollywood at the movies or at home. There are movie drive-ins and movie open-air festivals, the closest of which will open tonight and last until Sunday. Better times, for now.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The common denominator of the Universe? Serial killers and badass nuns.

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest installment 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.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #34: Xeno-who? The Alien franchise

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3For our July podcast, we’re heading to space, where no one can hear you podcast: join Julie, Matt and special guest Alan for a chat about Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic Alien and all the wacky hijinks that ensued, with a special focus on James Cameron’s space marine extravaganza Aliens and the much maligned third film and David Fincher’s motion picture debut, Alien³. Strap in and get ready for incisive, acid-dripping, chest-bursting discussion that will wake you from hypersleep in a jiffy!

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d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3For our July podcast, we’re heading to space, where no one can hear you podcast: join Julie, Matt and special guest Alan for a chat about Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic Alien and all the wacky hijinks that ensued, with a special focus on James Cameron’s space marine extravaganza Aliens and the much maligned third film and David Fincher’s motion picture debut, Alien³. Strap in and get ready for incisive, acid-dripping, chest-bursting discussion that will wake you from hypersleep in a jiffy!

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The Rear-View Mirror: Lois Weber – Suspense (1913)

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!

Even according to Wikipedia, J.W. Griffith “seems to have been the first to understand how certain film techniques could be used to create an expressive language”. Griffith is credited to have been “the first” to invent such innovations as intercutting, or even, absurdly, the close-up. However, he did not. There were many filmmakers before him to use such innovations, and during the span of his career, there were many others using these techniques to great, or better, effect. It is often difficult, seeing how much early film is lost, to determine who was “the first” to do anything. But it is certain that many early filmmakers used such techniques to “create an expressive language” before Griffith’s career was made by the massive, though controversial, success of his racist, excessive tour de force in 1915.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: money, mermaids, MeToo, and Miranda

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest installment 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.

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The Rear-View Mirror: James Joyce, Dubliners (1914)

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!

Now that most of us have so much time to read – did you pause and think about Bloomsday the other day? That’s June 16, and it’s the day that James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place. The whole weighty tome is set on less than 24 hours. Every year, there are people who walk the city of Dublin on that day, novel in hand, and go from one location to the next.

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Sad, little rich boy: HBO’s Succession

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Look, here’s the thing about being rich, it’s like being a superhero, only better. You get to do what you want. The authorities can’t really touch you. You get to wear a costume, but it’s designed by Armani and it doesn’t make you look like a prick.”
— Tom Wamsgans, Succession

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