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.
It had to happen sometime – it was Sunday evening, we were tired… and we entirely forgot that trailer posts don’t post themselves. At least not yet, though I’m sure that GPT-3 or whatever AIs are currently being created in dark IT labs by mad computer scientists will be more than up to the task. When Skynet stages its coup, we’ll recognise the terminators because they’ll have too many fingers and too many teeth.
Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!
On Tuesday, July 1st 2008, Paula Félix-Didier, museum director in Argentina, traveled to Berlin from Buenas Aires with something extraordinary in her luggage. Disembarking on a hot summer’s day, temperatures rising to up to 30 degrees, she was to meet with three experts, there to review what she had brought. She had previously confided in an editor of German newspaper Die Zeit, Karen Naundorf, as she thought Germany would be the perfect place to publicise her spectacular piece of news: she may have just uncovered missing footage, long presumed lost, from the 1927 Fritz Lang tour de force Metropolis. Any reconstructions of the film before that time, still offered the sad little insert: “More than a quarter of the film is believed to be lost forever.”
I’ve seen seven or eight films by Akira Kurosawa, but other than Ikiru and Dreams, the latter of which I saw about twenty years ago and don’t remember particularly well, it’s all been the Jidaigeki films, i.e. period dramas set during the Edo period (more or less) and featuring samurai, ronin and the like. Even Ikiru, which isn’t clearly set in the past, feels like it is about the past to some extent, as it is the story of an old man looking back at his life.
High and Low immediately makes for a striking contrast: it is set in the present day in a big city, its protagonists are businessmen and police detectives. More than that, while the film was released in 1963, there are many elements that would easily translate into our present day, and while High and Low comments on class in specifically Japanese contexts, much of its commentary could work equally well outside Japan. All of this comes together to make High and Low feel modern, in terms of the story, characters and the filmmaking itself – even almost sixty years after its release.
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.
Sometimes they come back: since our last episode, where we discussed black and white movie psychopaths, couldn’t contain all the cinematic psychoses, we’re dedicating a second episode to our favourite psycho killers. Starting from the question what we consider the archetypical pop culture psychopaths, our three intrepid pop culture baristas embark on a journey, beginning with the capo of New Jersey from HBO’s The Sopranos. Is Tony Soprano a narcissistic psychopath or does he really care about those ducks? We then move on to ’60s and ’70s San Francisco and gaze into the absence at the centre of David Fincher’s Zodiac, before the episode finally ends on American Psycho and the dark, cold, empty heart of Wall Street psychopathy.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out episode 24, where we talked about movie psychopaths and psychopath movies, from Night of the Hunter via Fritz Lang’s M to the psycho granddaddy of them all: Norman Bates and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.