The Road Not Taken: Revisiting Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road

2022 has been a year of rom-com milestones. There’s Annie Hall (forty-five years), Moonstruck (thirty-five years), and My Best Friend’s Wedding (twenty-five years), just to name a few. This year also marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of a film about love, which for various reasons, didn’t receive the same level of attention as the more formulaic rom coms of its time. But it’s more than likely the world just wasn’t ready for it yet. 

In 1967 Stanley Donen, the director behind Singin’ in the Rain and Funny Face, took a risk and released Two for the Road to a mainstream film audience. Borrowing from the French New Wave style of the time, it tells a non-linear story of a couple, Joanna and Mark Wallace (played by Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney) and their long term relationship. The film’s style freely moves back and forth between various timelines as it follows their ups and downs. The transitions appear seamless as it uses the same location to tie the narrative together (it all takes place on holiday in the French Riviera at different points throughout the years). This was (and still is) completely different to other rom coms in its way of telling a love story in film. It focuses on the entire relationship, not just the exciting parts of love, like the meet-cute or the courtship. But what really set it apart in a market chock-full of sickly-sweet romance was its honesty about human behavior.

Continue reading “The Road Not Taken: Revisiting Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road”

Brazil: The Sundae Presents Episode 17

Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. Dean shows Ciara his actual favourite film of all time, Terry Gilliam’s 1985 dystopian sci-fi comedy Brazil. They talk about its infamously tumultuous production, its nonideological dictatorship and its retrofuturist aesthetic.

Listen on Anchor

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Amazon Music

Listen on Audible

Listen on Stitcher

Listen on RadioPublic

Listen on Pocket Casts

Listen on Castbox

The People’s Tramp [Current Affairs]

Even if you’ve never seen a silent movie, you know Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp. His too-big trousers and too-tight jacket, his bowler hat, his toothbrush mustache, his cane, his too-big shoes pointed at right angles to his body: you can recognize him from his silhouette. Samuel Beckett doodled him in his manuscripts, and Pam on The Office dressed up as him for Halloween. You can buy a poster of the Tramp in every pop-up poster shop in the world. He is the most iconic figure in classic cinema, one of the most iconic figures in any visual art, and was certainly one of the most beloved.

A hundred years or so later, it’s fascinating to consider that The Tramp was a character living in extreme poverty and frequently homeless—that is, the kind of character who has almost no place in the biggest, most popular movies of our time, even as homelessness and extreme poverty are as endemic as ever.

I wrote about Charlie Chaplin for Current Affairs! You can read it here.

Singin’ in the Rain: The Sundae Presents Episode 16

Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. Ciara finally shows Dean one of the most absurd films he’s never seen: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s musical classic Singin’ in the Rain. They talk about the history of the movie musical, how funny Donald O’Connor is and whether or not the main characters are in a throuple.

Singin' in the Rain The Sundae Presents

Listen on Anchor

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Amazon Music

Listen on Audible

Listen on Stitcher

Listen on RadioPublic

Listen on Pocket Casts

Listen on Castbox

Bourne Again: The Sundae Presents Bonus Episode 1

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.

Bourne Again The Sundae Presents

Listen on Anchor

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Amazon Music

Listen on Audible

Listen on Stitcher

Listen on RadioPublic

Listen on Pocket Casts

Listen on Castbox

The Bourne Identity: The Sundae Presents Episode 15

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 Bourne Identity The Sundae Presents

Listen on Anchor

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Stitcher

Listen on RadioPublic

Listen on Pocket Casts

Listen on Castbox

Seven Ages of Pop Punk

This article is part of In Defense of the Genre, a series of critical and personal essays in praise of pop punk. Previously, Ciara wrote about listening to ‘December’ by Neck Deep on repeat and thinking about ex-friends.

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.

I don’t want to grow up

the blueprint: 0-1993

Continue reading “Seven Ages of Pop Punk”

In Defense of Chasing Amy, 25 Years Later [Crooked Marquee]

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.

Frankenstein / Bride of Frankenstein: The Sundae Presents Episode 14

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.)

Frankenstein / Bride of Frankenstein The Sundae Presents

Listen on Anchor

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Stitcher

Listen on RadioPublic

Listen on Breaker

Listen on Pocket Casts

Listen on Castbox