Fists in the Pocket: The Sundae Presents Episode 13

Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. It’s a return to normalcy as Dean once again makes Ciara watch some film you’ve never heard of that he watched on a whim: Marco Bellocchio’s 1965 film debut Fists in the Pocket. They talk about its complex portrayal of disability, ambiguously amoral characters and mad incest vibes.

Fists in the Pocket The Sundae Presents

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Gimmicks Aside, The Tingler is Fucking Fantastic [Unwinnable]

William Castle, King of B-movies, loved gimmicks. Giving audience members a certificate for a one-thousand-dollar life insurance policy in case Macabre caused them to die of fright. Red/blue glasses so you could see or hide the ghosts in 13 Ghosts. A forty-five-second “fright break” to leave and get a refund if you were too scared to watch the rest of Homicidal.

I wrote about The Tingler for Unwinnable! You can read it here.

Whedon v Snyder: The Justice League Special: The Sundae Presents Episode 12

Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which they each make the other watch films they haven’t seen. Ciara and Dean each brought a film this episode, but also… the same film? For their first (proper) double episode, Ciara made Dean watch the Whedon Cut of Justice League, and Dean made Ciara watch the Snyder Cut. They talk about corporate heartlessness, the inherent silliness of superheroes and Batman getting old. They also laugh at the bad guy a lot.

Whedon v Snyder: The Justice League Special The Sundae Presents

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2021 in Film(s That Didn’t Come Out in 2021)

Check out previous installments here, here, here and here.


2021 was, I’m sure we can all agree, the most recent year in the Gregorian calendar. Though, that being said, Ciara now exclusively understands the passage of time through self-programmed film seasons (e.g. Soviet June-ion, Silent September, Shane Black Christmas) and Dean has lost track of linear time altogether. It was a year of surprises in film: Zack Snyder finally got to finish his four-hour superhero epic and Sylvester Stallone, for better or worse, finally got to cut the robot from Rocky IV. We started a podcast, The Sundae Presents, where we take turns showing each other favourite films of ours the other hasn’t seen (catch up now!). We published lots of good pieces, including the first guest contribution to our pop punk series. Ciara finished watching all the Nightmares on Elm Street (except the remake, obviously) and Dean watched every Gus Van Sant film, then immediately got super into pirate movies for some reason. 

We’ll be looking back at our favourite films released in 2021 on Oscars weekend, which we guess is in March this year? This is a look back at some of the best films from other years that we watched for the first time, spanning eighty years of cinema from the earliest days of animation to the earliest days of Paul Verhoeven’s post-Hollywood career. At the risk of repeating ourselves, one of the few upsides to a year where staying inside was, at the very least, highly recommended was a lot of time to watch movies, and these represent less than five percent of them, so you know they come highly recommended. We’ve got Arthurian myth and silent romance and four films from the seventies, because we can’t pretend we don’t have a period bias. Check them out and stay tuned to The Sundae for more cold takes and fresh pods in 2022!

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It’s a Wonderful Life: The Sundae Presents Episode 11

Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which each of us makes the other watch films they haven’t seen. For our first Christmas Spectacular, Ciara helps Dean rid himself of one of his most grievous shames: never having seen It’s a Wonderful Life. They talk about its view of capitalism, the brilliance of its final act and whether there’s even such a thing as corny.

It's a Wonderful Life The Sundae Presents

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Ikiru: The Sundae Presents Episode 10

Ciara and Dean co-host The Sundae Presents, a podcast in which each of us makes the other watch films they haven’t seen. This episode, in a shocking twist, Dean shows Ciara a film widely acknowledged as one of the greatest of all time: Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru. They talk about its humour and humanism, Kurosawa’s influences and how the main character’s son is a complete piece of shit.

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It’s Been a Long, Lonely December

This article is part of In Defense of the Genre, a series of critical and personal essays in praise of pop punk. Previously, Tina Kakadelis’s ode to The Summer Set.

This year I entered a truly unprecedented third emo phase. My first was the usual one, in my early teens, sad and lonely and ready to burst out of my skin. My second was in college, an instinctive reaction to a mental health crisis that had me climbing out windows so I wouldn’t have to see my roommates. It’s odd, then, that my third came this year, when – despite living in the apocalypse – things have mostly been fine for me. The overwhelming panic that would have me hiding in bathrooms, the worry worry fluttering in my stomach that made it so hard to speak, has, if not subsided, then become something I can cope with.

But I listened to more pop punk than I have in years. I listened to all of All Time Low, a band with a consistently mixed discography who finally fulfilled their promise with 2020’s Wake Up, Sunshine. I had my triennial Blink-182 hyperfixation, so deep that I happily watched livestreams of Mark Hoppus doing the Sunday crossword. I got into Modern Baseball, Stand Atlantic and Something Corporate. I listened to this one Good Charlotte song five million times.

It wasn’t the lightning strike epiphany moment I had back in 2012: after pop punk got me through my first year at college, I don’t think I could ever turn my back on it the way I did in the back half of secondary school. It felt like “it’s not a phase, mom” had finally reached the fullness of truth. It felt like it was pointless still delineating waves in the face of the tide.

I spent February this year listening to ‘December’ by Neck Deep on repeat and thinking about people I don’t know anymore. Like Motion City Soundtrack were in a faraway city the guts of a decade ago, it was the wintery soundtrack of my spring.

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Too Pop for the Punk Kids

This article is part of In Defense of the Genre, a series of critical and personal essays in praise of pop punk. Previously, Say Anything’s final album, Oliver Appropriate, and its position in the marvellous history of challenging, transgressive, vulgar queer art.

I found The Summer Set the same way everyone found their favorite band in 2007: on MySpace. Coincidentally, it was also MySpace that would lead to the formation of The Summer Set.

Formed in Scottsdale, Arizona, The Summer Set was born from remnants of Last Call for Camden. After releasing one album, Last Call for Camden disbanded and drummer Jess Bowen, bassist Stephen Gomez, and guitarist John Gomez put an ad on MySpace for a lead singer. Enter Brian Dales. Together with guitarist Josh Montgomery, they formed the lineup of The Summer Set from 2007 to when they took a hiatus in 2017.

Most of the time when talking about the heavy hitters of pop punk, The Summer Set aren’t included in the conversation. They have spent their entire career trying to bridge the gap between the two worlds. Sure they were staples on Warped Tour for a few years, but they were also crowned the winner of Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star Award. It was a combination that didn’t make much sense. One day, they’d be sharing a stage with Sleeping With Sirens or All Time Low and the next, they’d be opening for The Backstreet Boys.

They were both pop punk, but they summed it up best in “Figure Me Out” with the opening lines: “I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids / but I’m too punk for the pop kids / I don’t know just where I fit in / ‘cause when I open my mouth / I know nobody’s listening / to the words of a prophet / who still can’t turn a profit.”

It’s frustrating to be in that position of not fully existing in either world. Part of this conflicting pop punk personality comes from their plethora of musical inspirations. They would list off New Found Glory, Blink 182, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, The Last Five Years Broadway musical, Sarah Bareilles, Bright Eyes, Green Day, A Goofy Movie soundtrack, Something Corporate, Taylor Swift…and somehow all of that came together into their ultimate style of ‘80s-twinged arena anthems with pop punk energy. As someone who grew up loving ‘80s power ballads and pop punk, The Summer Set felt they were made especially for me.

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