I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: I hate sand

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.

This week has been course, and rough, and irritating, and it got everywhere… Okay, not quite, but you probably see what we’re getting at: without us even planning for it, this has been something of a Tatooine week, starting with Matt’s disappointment at The Book of Boba Fett, a Star Wars story that first and foremost raises the question of why it exists.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #69: You’re not on Tatooine anymore!

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!

Coffeebreak for Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in the Tunisian desert? They are certainly not on Tatooine anymore!

I must admit I get the trouble with sci-fi Mege so pointedly discussed in last week’s post: I was also never quite an ardent fan of the genre as such, finding some of the choices made for supposedly far away worlds oddly quaint and cheap and some of the rubbery prosthetic creatures designed so unbelievably comical that I was not at all convinced any future or outer world would ever look like that. Of course there were great exceptions along the way: the creatures in Alien are suitably scary and beautiful and its realist spaceship and crew utterly believable, Star Wars is identifiably a fairy tale in space rather than science-fiction, and Star Trek’s universally humanist message sugarcoated all the tech talk I didn’t quite understand.

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Lost on Tatooine: The Book of Boba Fett (2021)

Imagine a series, a spin-off, whose protagonist is a character that originated in a film more than 40 years ago. He is a fan favourite because he has a certain mystique and, let’s face it, he looks cool. Imagine that series stripping this protagonist of his mystique (and, for much of the running time, his iconic outfit) by taking away pretty much every characteristic they had. And now imagine the series dumping its protagonist halfway through in favour of another character from another series that himself was clearly inspired by the original character.

Yes, I know how that sounds. Convoluted and nonsensical barely begins to cover it. Still, that’s pretty much what happened with The Book of Boba Fett, the most recent addition to the Star Wars canon. What’s going on here? Were they playing with our expectations? Was the series supposed to be subversive? Was COVID-19 to blame for this mess?

Or did The Book of Boba Fett simply turn out to be one of the most inept instances of storytelling in the franchise – rivalling the manifold issues that The Rise of Skywalker suffered from?

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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: Time. Space. Music.

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.

Let’s start the week with a bit of opera: on New Year’s Day in 1975, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute premiered on Swedish television. Almost 47 years later, Matt watched the film as part of his Swedish odyssey and wrote about it on A Damn Fine Cup of Culture. The Magic Flute‘s plot is strange, bordering on the nonsensical, but Bergman’s adaptation has a lot of charm.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #59: Watching Star Wars with my 10 year-old niece

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!

Do you remember when you first saw the original Star Wars trilogy? Did you possibly even see it when it first came out or, if not, at least upon the movies’ return to the cinema in their ‘improved’ version in the late 1990s? I was among the many who had gotten used to bad video tape quality since the late ’80s and was stunned when eventually seeing them on the big screen, just before the disappointment of Episode I (The Phantom Mess) hit. Even trying to think really hard, however, I can’t remember my first reaction to the big plot twists: did I suspect Darth Vader was Luke’s father? Or Leia his twin sister? Did I believe Vader would redeem himself at the end? And did I mind (as Matt so poignantly asked in last week’s post)?

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Trailer senses tingling!

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.

As we are hurtling towards the holiday season and things are getting busier and busier, we still find the time to write the occasional post – such as Friday’s Six Damn Fine Degrees about Matt’s increasing disillusionment with redemption narratives. Sure, many an engaging story was about bad boys trying to un-break bad, but should our focus always be on them?

Anyway, since Star Wars may be the pre-eminent franchise that fetishises redemption narratives, here’s a trailer for an upcoming Star Wars games – because redemption is twice as yummy if it’s the player trying to make up for their dark, dastardly actions, right?

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #58: Redemption song

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!

I used to be a massive sucker for redemption stories, in films, books, games, anything that tells a story. Darth Vader? Severus Snape? Buffy‘s Spike? Or, to choose a somewhat more seasonal example, Ebenezer Scrooge? Oh, yes, please, give me more of that! Conflicted villains that, at the last moment, find the goodness in their hearts were very much my thing.

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Footnotes: The Music Makers

We thought long and hard about whether we wanted to put musical excerpts in our podcast episode on movie soundtracks, but in the end we decided against it – not least because these pieces should be heard in their entirety, and they tend to work best when you listen to them along to the respective scenes from the films they’re from. So, below you’ll find our picks and some more of our thoughts about these wonderful tunes and composers.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #22: Ultima VIII

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.

Imagine a game that set you loose to roam a mediaeval world under the influence of a shadowy religious cult, that let you discover how to bake bread or milk cows while trying to save the world just because you could, a game that was dead serious yet could look upon itself with the wryest of smiles, a game that was shot through with a sense of familiarity and wonder in equal measure.

Now imagine a game that has none of that at all.

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