Criterion Corner: Europa (#454)

Has there ever been a director as Marmitey as Lars von Trier? And, let’s be honest, that’s exactly how von Trier likes it. At least for a while, there were few directors as keen as him to cultivate their own bad boy image. Which in turn makes it difficult to consider his films independently from one’s reaction to von Trier himself – and as a result, I’m always surprised to find that I truly enjoy many of his films (though for now I keep avoiding Breaking the Waves and The House that Jack Built).

Europa, the third stop on my tour of my Criterion backlog, is no exception. Of the three films I’ve watched since beginning this series, this is probably the one I’ve enjoyed most immediately.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: A bad apple a day keeps the husband away

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.

Hoo boy! This was a busy week here at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, starting with Matt’s post on the mildly absurdist Greek dramedy (such a bad word for such a wide range of stories!) Apples. He wasn’t entirely won over by it, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #48: None More Noir

It all began when she walked into our coffee bar… It’s September, but really, we’re starting Noirvember early: join Alan, Julie and Matt as they discuss what some have called that most cynical of genres, the film noir. Obviously, there’s no way around the big granddaddy of them all, Billy Wilder’s blackest, bleakest of jokes, Double Indemnity (1944), or indeed Roman Polanski’s magisterial, tragic Chinatown (1974), each of these iconic examples of the genre – which, arguably, didn’t even exist yet when Wilder made his film. From classic noir to neo-noir, we finally take a trip to a Californian high school to check out Rian Johnson’s Brick (2004) as an example of postmodern noir, before we finish on a discussion of the future of the genre. Do we need any more compromised private eyes and femmes fatales – and, if so, what would they look like for the 21st century?

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Criterion Corner: The Killing (#575)

While I’ve enjoyed the Stanley Kubrick films I’ve seen, I couldn’t say that I have a clear idea of what makes a Kubrick film. I recognise certain aspects or qualities, certain directorial quirks, but I couldn’t say that I recognise a red thread going from Paths of Glory, Spartacus via Lolita and Dr. Strangelove to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon and finally Eyes Wide Shut, to name just a few. Every now and then there are scenes that remind me of the other films, such as 2001‘s notorious stargate sequence and Strangelove‘s aerial photography – but tonally, I couldn’t claim I have much of a grasp of who Kubrick is as a director, if he even has a typical tone. If anything, I would say there is a drily, drolly, sometimes even bleakly ironic streak that I’ve found in several of his films – but not in all.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Touch of Evil (1958)

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!

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Touch of Evil most resembles a house of mirrors. In some parts you may feel you have gone backstage in some kind of carnival or circus. The direction is very Welles-ian, very masterful and very distinct. In the first minutes, we see a bomb placed in the boot of a car, and then the camera follows the car in one shot for a full 3 minutes and 20 seconds. We see shop-fronts, a souvenir seller moving his cart, some livestock and even two of our protagonists, who are walking the same route as the car. The bomb explodes, as it has to, and our story begins.

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