A Damn Fine Espresso: January 2023

For our first espresso episode of 2023, Julie and Sam got together to once again share their love of good film soundtracks and to talk about soundtrack concerts. What is the experience of watching a film while a live orchestra is playing the soundtrack? What’s the overall state of film music and movie concerts? What are some of the duo’s favourite movie soundtracks? And how do Sam and Julie end up talking about some of the lesser-known Billy Wilder movies?

If you enjoy our conversation about film soundtracks, make sure also to listen to our podcast episode #49, “The Music Makers”, about some of our favourite soundtrack composers and films where the music is central to the experience.

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A Damn Fine Espresso: December 2022

This year’s December espresso is a very special episode: a few weeks ago, Alan and Matt visited the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the London College of Communication, a place replete with scripts, research materials, production and post-production documents, props, costumes, sound tapes, publicity material and much, much more. Sadly, it’s obviously not possible to enter the Archives and dive into these documents and materials much like Scrooge McDuck likes to dive into his immense wealth – but we still felt like children in Santa’s grotto (if Santa was the kind of guy who’d direct A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut). Prior to our visit, we’d asked to see pre-production materials for 2001: A Space Odyssey and script versions of A.I.., the film that Kubrick himself never got to make. Join us as we talk about this fascinating experience and one of the coolest pre-Christmas presents a bunch of film geeks could ever ask for.

A big thank-you to everyone at the London College of Communication and the Stanley Kubrick Archive for granting us our wish!

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A Damn Fine Espresso: November 2022

After our recent podcast episode on festivals, Sam decided to get in on the fun as well, so he and Matt took the opportunity to talk about a festival that Sam worked on for several years: Queersicht, the LGBTIAQ+ film festival held annually in Bern, Switzerland. Sadly, we just missed the 2022 instalment of Queersicht – incidentally, the 25th anniversary, which was postponed to this year due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, join Sam and Matt as Sam talks about his experiences on the organising and programming committee for the festival. How has the festival changed over the decades? How have its thematic emphases shifted over time? And just how does queer cinema differ from mainstream cinema focusing on LGBTIAQ+ characters?

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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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A Damn Fine Espresso: September 2022

Last month, Netflix released the first season of its adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel The Sandman – and seeing how Julie and Matt met on the Neil Gaiman message board and began their ongoing conversation about films, books, TV and all things cultural there, we couldn’t really let the opportunity pass. How well does Netflix’ Sandman work as an adaptation? What do we think about the changes? How does it address the fact that it’s been thirty years since Gaiman’s comic first started coming out? What do we think of the cast, starting (but definitely not ending) with Tom Sturridge as Dream and Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s Death? And what do we think about the series’ chances, seeing how Netflix and the Almighty Algorithm determine the fate of its original programming?

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A Damn Fine Espresso: August 2022

Sam’s been travelling, and in this month’s espresso episode, he talks to Alan about his first-time trip to the place that is a byword for American cinema: Hollywood! What’s it like for a European movie geek to visit the city? And what kind of stardust memories has Sam added to his portfolio? Seeing how one of the films he saw while on the road was Thor: Love and Thunder, Sam discusses the movie – one of the few Marvel films he’s seen – with Alan, one of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture’s resident Marvel fans. What did the two of them think of Taika Waititi’s second go with Asgardian fan favourite Thor?

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A Damn Fine Espresso: July 2022

A Damn Fine Cup of Culture has talked about musicals before – but this month’s espresso is a special treat: Alan has seen the production of Cabaret that is currently being shown at the Playhouse Theatre in London. He and Julie talk about the production and how it compares to Christopher Isherwood’s original stories that Cabaret is based on, as well as the 1972 film by Bob Fosse, featuring Liza Minelli in her iconic turn as Sally Bowles. How do the various production choices change the characters and the overall depiction of Berlin during the Weimar Republic? And, obviously, what are Alan’s thoughts on the stage production: is this time jump to 1929 Berlin worth taking if you happen to find yourself in London?

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A Damn Fine Espresso: June 2022

We’ve talked about movies and music before, and for our June Espresso episode, Sam and Matt pick up the tune again, talking about two films they’ve recently seen that are all about the music. Sam watched Ennio, the 2021 documentary about iconic composer Ennio Morricone, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (of Cinema Paradiso fame), while Matt caught Academy Award winner Summer of Soul (2021) at the cinema, which combines the genres of documentary and concert film to celebrate artists from Mahalia Jackson and B.B. King to Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone and Nina Simone – and talk about the relevance of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival to African American culture and politics. Sam and Matt also discuss what, for them, makes a good film about music and musicians, and what is necessary for a musical performance to come to life on film.

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A Damn Fine Espresso: April 2022

We’ve now been doing monthly podcasts for almost five years at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture – and today we’re starting A Damn Fine Espresso: shorter, more impromptu small doses of all the cultury goodness you’ve come to expect from us! To launch the new smaller cups of culture, join Julie and Sam as they have a chat about what they’ve checked out recently. From Parisian getaways and serendipitous record stores to bad moustaches, worse CGI and films that can’t decide what they want to be…

Starting with this episode, you can get your monthly espresso where you get all of your Damn Fine goodness – so indulge in a tiny cup of our pop culture musings and let us know what you think!

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