I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that

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.

Other than David Lynch himself, the person who perhaps left most of a fingerprint on Lynch’s work is the composer Angelo Badalamenti, who died a week ago. Matt shared his thoughts and memories of Badalamenti’s work, in particular on the various incarnations of Twin Peaks (which we’ve written and podcasted about, the latter more than once).

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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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Six Damn Fine Degrees #68: The trouble with Sci-Fi

To quote Harrison Ford: it took me a long, long, long, long, LONG time to warm up to sci-fi.

You travel through space and time and end up with what is supposed to be an exciting new planet with an unknown species – played by clearly human actors standing around in what looks like – oh, I dunno, the Moroccan desert? Yes, I know, there is a limit to every budget, but sci-fi has such promise to dazzle me with something I have never ever seen before, only to disappoint me with the constraints of movie-making and its financial limits. If you want me to follow you to a place where no man has gone before, make sure the make-up department isn’t already there before us, setting up their trailer. Needless to say, I was never a Trekkie and never understood the exuberance of the operatic derring-do of something like Star Wars. To me, A New Hope looked like fun, but it was essentially a western set in space. It was all too familiar because most things and places and beings looked… too close to home. Not strange enough.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Love and Death in the Middle Ages

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.

If a week begins with Stanley Kubrick, it can’t be all bad: Matt started the Criterion Corner, a new feature exploring his Criterion back catalogue, starting with Kubrick’s The Killing. Again, not a bad start for anything.

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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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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: You’ve always been the Petula Clark

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.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy: on Friday, Alan took us back to the Overlook Hotel, to talk about Shelley Duvall’s performance in Stanley’s Kubrick seminal Stephen King adaptation The Shining.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #30: Shelley Duvall in The Shining

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!

In the inaugural awards ceremony for The Golden Raspberries back in 1980, Shelley Duvall was nominated for her performance as Wendy Torrence in The Shining. This fact is a useful reminder as to how mixed to hostile the critical reception was for the film on its initial release. And that the annual exercise in lazy trying-to-be-cool snobbery that is the Razzies really don’t know what they’re talking about.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Lolita (1955)

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!

It took me ages to read Lolita. No, that’s not quite correct: it took me ages to get around to reading Lolita. I avoided the book for a long time because it sounded offputting: an older guy lusting after a young girl. You don’t need to read literature, you see that everywhere, every day already. In the end, my first encounter with Lolita was, well, not even the 1962 adaptation by Stanley Kubrick but the glossy, shallow film version by Adrian Lyne. It’s a miracle I ever did get around to reading Vladimir Nabokov’s novel after that.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Dispatches (1977)

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!

Michael Herr’s Dispatches is a slim book, but it’s so densely written that I couldn’t get through it in one day. It’s his own personal diary from the Vietnam war, condensed into such sparse prose that you will have to set it down eventually. Herr throws you into the the mess of war and explains only what is crucial for the rest of the text so that the reader is set to feel very much like a newly drafted soldier joining the conflict – you have basic training, but no clue about the area they drop you in. The reason for that immediacy might be that Herr is not really a novelist, but a journalist. He volunteered to go to Vietnam, joined the reserve there in 1967, returned to the US, had a nervous breakdown, couldn’t write anything for five years and finally published this book in 1977.

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Mad Howling in the Red Dark

If you are ready for an agonisingly slow descent into hell, then Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy is the film for you. There are many reasons to instinctively refrain from watching it in the first place: yet another Nicholas Cage over-the-top performance; outrageous violence and buckets of blood; killer demons on motorcycles. What’s more, the film might change from one viewing to the next, but for me, it worked because I was in the right kind of mood, and that might prove crucial with movies like this. And I never watched a chainsaw duel I didn’t like. Continue reading