Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. In their first ever bonus episode, Ciara and Dean continue discussing the Bourne Trilogy because, frankly, there’s a lot to say about the Bourne Trilogy. Whenever the Bourne Trilogy isn’t on screen, people should be asking: where’s the Bourne Trilogy? They talk about mass surveillance, MKUltra and how much Paul Greengrass loves handheld cameras.
Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. In a rare role-reversal, Dean shows Ciara a popular mainstream film she has bizarrely never seen: The Bourne Identity, starring Matt Damon. They talk about its difficult production, how evil the CIA is, and The Long Kiss Goodnight.
The history of pop punk is something this series frequently gestures towards but has never really sketched out in any detail. Partly this is because discussing pop punk’s relationship to punk itself is usually aimed at dismissing pop punk as punk’s poser kid brother, and the founding concept of this series is taking pop punk seriously when no-one else will. Partly it’s because – even if Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ is as old as I am – pop punk still feels like a baby of a genre, so that it kind of takes me by surprise that it has history enough to be worth explaining. Partly it’s because it never occurs to you whether someone might need or want a map to your hometown. Isn’t everyone born knowing those particular twists and bends, the shortcut to the cinema and the best place to cross the street?
We are in the midst of an improbable pop punk revival. It’s incredibly exciting. But too many people who try to write about that revival don’t have that bone-deep sense of the genre’s history and themes and conventions. “Today’s pop punks go to therapy,” The Guardian writes in the latest of their triennial articles on how a new generation of pop punkers break new ground by writing songs about feeling shitty. It makes me feel insane. It betrays a depth of knowledge that doesn’t extend to the biggest bands’ biggest singles. Today’s pop punks might go to therapy, but pop punk has always been about being depressed.
So: I’ve invented seven eras of pop punk from whole cloth and made playlists for each of them. I hope they can guide you through the history of the genre, but as more of a sketch map than a satellite photograph. Each playlist is somewhere between ninety minutes and two hours long, and, hopefully, acts as a launching pad, and at the very least, a fun listen. These are my playlists, so are informed by my own blind spots, biases, and tastes. So, you know: sorry to Bowling for Soup for not including you, maybe try sucking less next time.
Chasing Amy does not exactly hold an esteemed position in the cultural memory. Partly this is because of Kevin Smith’s current station: the director of films no one likes, and the author of the worst tweet ever. But the bigger problem is that its logline makes it sound genuinely offensive: Holden (Ben Affleck) falls in love with lesbian Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). And she falls in love with him right back.
I wrote an impassioned defense of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy on its 25th anniversary over at Crooked Marquee! You can read it here.
Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. Ciara hits Dean with another classic horror double bill as he watches James Whale’s Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. They talk about the censorship of the first film, the queer themes of the second and ask: who’s the real monster anyway? (It’s Dr. Frankenstein.)
You know what? There were a ton of really, really great films released in the last year. It didn’t really feel that way for a long time, what with cinemas opening and closing and opening and closing so much hardly anything had the chance to become a hit, not to mention the biggest non-starter of an Oscar season in decades. But as it came time to look back on the year that was, we found we had loads of movies to talk and enthuse about, far more than we had time to praise here.
Just like every year, we gave one award for each of the eight major Oscars: we care about most of the others (except for the fake awards like Best Original Song) but this post would be absurdly long if we picked those too. We each did out our personal nominees and then selected the winner by consensus, so the winners only come from films that both of us have seen and nominated, but we’ve each picked a personal runner-up regardless of whether the other has seen or nominated it. We also each gave a Special Achievement Award for something that doesn’t fit our other categories, and our first ever Career Achievement Award to a group of cinematic artists long overlooked by an industry that doesn’t deserve them.
You can see each of our full slates of nominees at the bottom of this post, which we strongly encourage you to check out if you’re looking for recommendations. This year really was rich with fantastic films, and we only got to award a small fraction of them.
I’m not much given to ranking such things, but if you put a gun to my head and asked me to rank my favourite sitcoms, The Likely Lads would easily make the top tier. It aired three seasons on BBC between 1964 and 1966—which, because it’s British television, means twenty episodes and a Christmas sketch—following Terry and Bob, two young men working in a factory in the north-east of England. It was commissioned because The Beatles were big and that made someone at the BBC want a show about young northerners, even if they ended up in Newcastle instead of Liverpool.
Terry and Bob are instantly, vividly realized: they are united in their shared ambitions of getting drunk, picking up girls, and watching football, but there is always a tension between Terry’s pride in being working-class and Bob’s ambitions for social mobility. Bob will always blame Terry for his bad behavior, but the phrase “pushing an open door” was invented specifically to describe Bob. While many 1960s sitcoms are warm, wholesome and full of wacky misunderstandings, The Likely Lads is vulgar, realistic and incredibly modern. Season one’s “Older Women Are More Experienced”—in which Terry dates an older woman and Bob dates a younger one—ends on a punchline that wouldn’t feel out of place in Peep Show. It’s a show I adore, that I will evangelise for any chance I get.
Of the twenty episodes produced, only ten survive.
This February, I watched all the Fast & Furious movies for the first time.1 It felt like a big hole in my pop cultural lexicon, right up there with my general James Bond ignorance and never having seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So I bought a boxset of films one to seven from CEX2 and borrowed the rest from the library,3 and got to work.
After directing Australian New Wave classics Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave, Peter Weir made The Plumber, a television film that — like Steven Spielberg’s Duel — was released theatrically in overseas territories. It’s a forgotten middle child of Weir’s filmography. Not a ground-breaking piece of art like the dreamily stylish Picnic at Hanging Rock nor a universal cultural touchstone like later Weir films Dead Poets Society or The Truman Show. But beyond its beginnings on television, the pleasures The Plumber offers are more off-kilter. It goes down satisfyingly sour.
I wrote about Peter Weir’s TV movie The Plumber for Certified Forgotten! You can read it here.