Just what we needed: there’s a new pandemic. This one doesn’t kill, though, at least not in any conventional sense – it just leaves an increasing number of people unable to remember who they are. You might be walking down the street, driving your car or just taking a nap, and suddenly you don’t remember anything. From one moment to the next, you – that is, the person you were – is gone.Continue reading
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.
Horrible rulers? Court intrigue? Perfectly cast historical satire? Huzzah, indeed: last week, Matt blogged about the first season of The Great, written by Tony McNamara of The Favourite fame. The Great, a darkly funny mostly-comedy, may not be quite as scalpel-sharp as Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2018 film, but it’s still well worth checking out – though perhaps not in the company of children, unless you want them to ask interesting questions about sex, death and history.
At a first glance, the historical (though perhaps don’t take that adjective too literally) comedy-drama The Great looks suspiciously like a TV spinoff of Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2018 The Favourite – which isn’t too surprising, since both were (co-)written by the Australian playwright Tony McNamara. Both Lanthimos’ film and the series are bleak, black farces about incompetent, neurotic rulers, the people at their mercy, and central female characters that attempt to change things by manipulating the people in power. Both are irreverent, blatantly sexual to the point of crudeness, and ruthless, depicting the deadly ridiculousness of hereditary rule, and the corrupting effects of power.
Seeing how there isn’t much that’s even remotely comparable to the works of Yorgos Lanthimos on TV – or anywhere, really, other than in Lanthimos’ films -, it’s definitely unique and not a little thrilling to find something like The Great on TV. However, it doesn’t entirely do The Great a favour to watch it through that particular lens, because while it is undoubtedly entertaining as pitch-black historical comedy, it doesn’t have the same kind of sharp, icy edge that The Favourite has. It is only when looking at what the series does differently that it truly comes into its own.Continue reading
And there goes another year and the ever more sci-fi sounding 2020 is just around the corner. We’ve had some good laughs, we cried, we watched the TV in terror, then disillusionment and then resignation, name-checking Kübler-Ross along the way – but that was just politics. In terms of media, 2019 hasn’t been a bad year at all, has it?Continue reading
In the movies, the past has a certain specific look. Depending on which era is depicted, the film stock is different, the grain is more pronounced, colours are graded according to decade. The ’60s have the yellow-tinted look of an old photo, the ‘80s look neon, and anything before the First World War looks like a painting, its colours burnished. If the past doesn’t look like the past, well, it ain’t authentic, is it?
Three women: a queen, fragile of body and mind. Her confidante, advisor and lover, ready to do what it takes to protect her monarch and her country – however much pain it will cause. And then there’s the social climber who, willing to do anything so she’s no longer a victim, tears them apart.
Add nonsensical social rules, wanton psychological cruelty, hilariously strange dancing and lobster references, and yup: we’re in Lanthimos Country.
Tune in for episode 6 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture podcast, which returns us to a long time ago (all together now!) in a galaxy far, far away: what did we think of The Last Jedi? What role did that mega-franchise play in our childhood? And has Rian Johnson ruined or renewed Star Wars? Also, some thoughts on The Leftovers – the novel, not the series – and on Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Even before bad things start to happen, it’s clear that something is seriously off in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. There’s a cringy neediness to teenaged Martin who goes to see cardiologist Steven at the hospital every single day, but it’s more than that: without ever spelling it out, he demands the older man’s attention and care, as if the heart surgeon owed him. As if the young man had something on him. There’s more than a hint of blackmail in the daily visits, the disproportional gifts he gets from Stephen, the teenager’s wheedling but insistent voice – and the complete absence of any resistance on Steven’s part. It’s as if he already fears the punishment that might follow.
The Lobster is one of the most unsettling comedies I’ve seen in a long time. It might not be a comedy at all. What unsettled me was not only the world it is set in, but also some of the scenes of the movie. To wit: If you are single, the authorities pick you up and bring you to some cheerless high-end spa hotel where you have to find a partner because they are of the opinion that the world is a better place when there are two of something. This is why your one hand is tied behind your back for the first two days at the hotel. There are also silly dumb shows about how twosomeness is much safer. If you don’t succeed in finding a partner within 45 days, you will be transformed into the animal of your choice. The hotel manager (Olivia Colman) patiently explains that this will solve the problem of endangered animal species. That’s coercion for the greater ecological good; it’s a throwaway line because the movie also works without it, for instance as an absurd utopia, but it made my skin crawl.