A Damn Fine Espresso: October 2022

As with our September shot of espresso, in which we talked about the first season of the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, we’re staying in the land of Netflix: this month Julie and Alan talk about Andrew Dominik’s Blonde – again an adaptation, this time of Joyce Carol Oates garage-sized novel. What did our cultural baristas think of Dominik’s much-debated and much-derided film? Spoiler: though the two come at the film from slightly different perspectives, neither is a big fan of the film. Join them for their discussion about Ana de Armas’ performance, biopic vs Hollywood fable, and (of course) all the talking fetuses you want!

If you’re interested in more on Blonde and Marilyn Monroe, make sure to check out Christina Newland’s BFI interview with Andrew Dominik, Farran Nehme’s thoughts on the film (please note that this is behind a paywall) – and obviously our episode on Marilyn the icon, her movies and her legacy from September 2020!

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Phone Home

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.

This week, Matt continued his ongoing battle with his Criterion backlog – and although he ordered Nicholas Ray’s crime drama They Live by Night by accident, he ended up enjoying it a lot. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a good trailer for the film on YouTube, so here’s a trailer for the adaptation of the same material Robert Altman made a few decades later: Thieves Like Us.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #47: Second Chances

What happens when we watch a film, don’t like it – and then we return to it, half a dozen years (or more) later? Why do some of the films we don’t enjoy still stay with us, and what’s necessary for us to change our minds? In the August episode of our podcast, Julie and Matt talk about these questions and give two films a second chance: Julie’s brought along Mildred Pierce in its 1945 adaptation by Michael Curtiz, starring Joan Crawford, and Matt has rewatched the more recent Killing Them Softly, adapted for the screen and directed by Andrew Dominik in 2012. Why did we bounce off of these films when we first saw them? Was it them or was it us? Are we seeing the films through different eyes, or do they still not convince us? Join us for a conversation about expectations, being in the wrong mindset or mood, and what happens when you revisit a film ten, twenty years after you’ve first seen it. And, who knows? We might just give this format more than one chance!

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The Rear-View Mirror: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

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!

“Do you want to be like me? Or do you want to be me?”

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Jesse James, as played by Brad Pitt, is a canny creature. He observes the nervous, deferential Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) and sees a fanboy, though one whose adoration and longing could easily turn into something else, something darker. If you can’t be your hero, what can you do? You can depose him. You can kill him.

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