For our May espresso we’ve got a crimson-coloured, deeply unsettling treat for our listeners. Italian horror-thriller maestro Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red, Phenomena) already featured prominently in our Summer of Directors a year ago, but a spine-tingling encounter of the unmissable kind has brought Alan and Sam back to the mic to talk about him: the BFI’s recent Argento screenings and a unique Q&A with the director himself! Along the way, they chat about which of his films the event has put on the map for them, what the map of Turin, Italy has to do with Argento’s cinema, and how a high-profile exhibition at that Italian city’s National Cinema Museum has recently shown how Argento is well on his way to the Italian as well as the international movie Olymp. And, last but not least, Alan has met the next generation of Dario Argento fan. Join us to find out more!Continue reading
A Damn Fine Espresso: April 2023
Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is not an easy watch – and for a long time it was especially difficult to find an opportunity to watch it, but thanks to its top slot in the Sight & Sound critics’ poll in 2022, it returned to a number of cinemas, giving some of us a chance to watch (or even rewatch) Akerman’s contribution to radical cinema. At 3 hours and 21 minutes, during which little happens that would make up the plot of conventional movies, Jeanne Dielman asks a lot of its audiences – but, as Julie and Alan argue, it gives a lot back. What did the two of them get out of Akerman’s film dedicated to three days in the life of a widowed bourgeois housewife and occasional sex worker? How does its running time and structure work? And will their suggestion to shorten the title to a potentially catchier JD stick? Tune in to find the answer to, well, most of these questions!Continue reading
A Damn Fine Espresso: March 2023
Hooray for Hollywood… OR IS IT??? It’s the weekend of the 95th Academy Awards, and Alan and Matt got together in cyberspace to talk about this year’s Oscars. What are their thoughts on the Academy Awards in general? Are they big fans of the Oscars? And what do they think of this year’s nominees for the big awards: Best Actor, Best Actress and, obviously, Best Picture? What are their thoughts on who should win – and, perhaps as importantly, who shouldn’t? What do the nominations say about 2023 Hollywood? And how easy is it to watch a performance in a film you consider flawed or even bad and judge whether it’s worthy of receiving an award? Featuring Polish donkeys, blue anti-colonialists, Freudian symbolism, #metoo conductors, with a generous helping of war being hell and a pair of Irishmen who just don’t like each other no more!Continue reading
A Damn Fine Espresso: February 2023
When we talk about cinematic serial killers, we usually think of the likes of Hannibal Lecter: charismatic sociopaths, individuals that are intellectually brilliant but utterly amoral, and whose killing usually follows some grand aesthetic design, making them queasy stand-ins for artists. Saeed Hanaei, the man who murdered sex workers in Mashhad, Iran in the years 2000 and 2001, isn’t that kind of serial killer, and Iranian director Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider isn’t that sort of film. In this month’s espresso episode, Alan and Matt talk about Abbasi’s film, which got an ambivalent reception when it came out at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022. Choosing to put more of a focus on the killer than on his victims, and staging the murders starkly, Holy Spider was accused of some of being exploitative – but how does a film go about depicting a series of killings in which an entire society is implicated responsibly and tactfully? Tune in to hear our duo’s take on Holy Spider, its depiction of violence against women and how Abbasi’s film uses a fictionalised journalist protagonist (played by Zar Amir Ebrahimi) to tell a story about, as the director puts it, “a serial killer society”.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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!Continue reading
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?Continue reading
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!Continue reading
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?Continue reading
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?Continue reading