The Corona Diaries: “When you play the game of Pandemic…”

… you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Yeah, well, shut up, Cersei.

Remember that global pandemic? In so many places, people act as if it’s a thing of the past, but at the same time numbers have been spiking again – just the cases were much more manageable, both individually and in sum. So many people who hadn’t yet contracted the virus were getting ill, and even some that had been ill already.

My wife and I had thus far been spared by COVID-19, but almost two weeks ago she started feeling under the weather – and the next morning, BOOM. Two purple lines. A fairly high fever, coughing, and man, was she tired. The weird thing is that, if anything, I should have been the one to catch it and pass it on to her, because I am out of the flat and among people more often – but no, she was positive before me, and a couple of days later I joined the club as well.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Music and moonlight and love and… monsters?

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.

Sometimes a director can be on a wavelength too different from your own, and such differences may be irreconcilable. Will Matt ever learn to love Olivier Assayas, or will Irma Vep (1996) be as good as it gets for him?

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Sugar and spice and all things nice

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.

Over the last two years time has felt like it’s broken, or at least its batteries are way down. Nonetheless, it’s December, the holidays aren’t all that far away, and the twelfth of our monthly podcasts has gone up. (More on that later.) The pandemic is still going on, affecting our lives and our cultural habits, but that’s not going to keep us from making sure our cups are filled with damn great culture – such as Mike Leigh’s Naked, which Julie wrote about in this week’s Six Damn Fine Degrees.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Send in the frogs

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.

For one, this week’s Six Damn Fine Degrees looked at pictures that don’t move – although in your mind’s eye they absolutely do: Mege wrote about J.M.W. Turner’s painting “The Fighting Temeraire”. And since he so handily mentioned Mike Leigh’s 2014 film Mr. Turner, that makes the first trailer of this Sunday post quite easy to choose.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Shave and a haircut…

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.

What better way to start the Sunday trailer post than with barbers and meat pies? I mean, everyone needs to look good and everyone needs to eat – and who’s more aware of this than one Benjamin Barker… though most people might know him better under his alias: on Friday, Julie took our Six Damn Fine Degrees feature to dark places to write about Sweeney Todd.

Continue reading

Family ties: Mare of Easttown (2021)

Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the show’s pedigree, I might not have given Mare of Easttown much of a chance. It just looked like any number of other series: a grim, drab crime story about one young woman who’s been gone for a year, another who’s found dead, and the grizzled investigator working the case. At least that investigator isn’t male for once, but then it’s not like we haven’t had a fair number of female investigators investigating the murder of other women by now. What’s to elevate Mare of Easttown over so many other grim, drab stories of violence against women?

Well, other than it being an HBO series? And the title role is played by Kate Winslet? Oh, and there’s also Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart and Guy Pearce?

Okay, okay, streaming service: you’ve convinced me. I’ll give this a chance. Just know that it isn’t quite as easy as that to convince me. I might still watch the series and be frustrated by how much it wastes a great cast on a story that we’ve seen several dozen times already, right? Right?

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Don’t stop–

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.

Matt may not be as big a fan of Anthony Hopkins as many people, but he definitely liked The Father a lot, a film that’s worth seeing for more than just its acting. Check out his thoughts on Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his own play, Le pêre.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: At play amidst the strangeness and fear

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.

Do you like a good scare? Do you like feeling a tad miserable? And do you like great acting? Julie’s Friday post on the HBO adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider ticks all three boxes – so if you’ve missed it, make sure to check it out!

Continue reading

Six Damn Fine Degrees #29: The Outsider

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!

After the first two episodes of The Outsider, you might be forgiven for thinking it is meant as a meditation on relentless anguish. The cinematography alone is so bleak – if it isn’t nearly pitch black, it is almost sepia – you can almost feel the crushing weight of it, even with the sound off.

Continue reading

I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Do you think death could possibly be a boat?

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.

Last week it finally happened: A Damn Fine Cup of Culture was deemed too raunchy by Facebook. Okay, that may not be quite accurate – truth be told, we will probably never know why Facebook suddenly decided that we’d violated their T&Cs with the name of our page. Was it the “damn”? Was it that we made claims to the extraordinary quality of our cups of culture? Or was it something else entirely, like the wrong number of capitals? Anyway, we are now back on Facebook, complete with what some people might consider naughty words in our name. Let’s see what Mark Z comes up with next, shall we?

All of this happened on the same day that Sam posted another wonderful instalment of Six Damn Fine Degrees, in honour of two of the Grande Dames of dubbing: Marni Nixon, who featured in many a film musical without getting the credit she deserved, and Nikki van der Zyl, the woman who gave a voice to so many Bond girls. We can hear a (sadly, very small) handful of her lines dubbing Ursula Andress in the trailer for the Bond film that started it all, Dr. No.

Continue reading