Ribbon of Memes

It's been over a century and a quarter since the first moving picture was committed to celluloid - the "ribbon of dreams", as Orson Welles mellifluously intoned.

And so, welcome, one and all, to Ribbon of Memes, a new podcast in which Roger Bell_West and Nick Marsh supply grateful listeners hot takes about films considered masterpieces by critics or filmgoers in general.

The rules: we choose one "masterpiece" from every year from the earliest days of cinema to our dreadful modern dystopia. Do we agree these films are classics? Are we entertained? Did we even understand what the film was trying to say? The questions are endless!*

We start in 1973 (for reasons explained in the first podcast) and progress vaguely chronologically (unless we think of another film that makes an interesting comparison to the one we have just seen, or are otherwise distracted by shiny new things).

Yes, that's right, we decided that what the world really needed was two more uninformed middle-aged white guys telling the world about media largely produced by similar people. Find out whether we were right or not herein!

*Actually, no, that's most of them.

We're also on iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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Badlands (1973) 26 June 2021

In our inaugural episode, Roger and Nick discuss Badlands.


Tags: crime

  1. Posted by Lieven Marchand at 09:50pm on 29 June 2021

    Just finished listening. I think Kubrick is one of the greatest directors ever so I'm curious about Nick's views on him if/when it's his turn.

    Your definition of a masterpiece as something that changed the world of cinema feels a bit weird to me. A masterpiece in my view comes in the middle or at the end of a full grown tradition as a culmination. The innovator movie that first comes up with something is rarely a masterpiece.

    I also didn't quite get why 1973 as the starting date. I can get not wanting to go back to the very early era, although I think for me Körkarlen (1921) was the first I could watch as a movie without thinking it's ok for its time. People are still arguing how Sjöström did the special effects.

    For comparison, this is the list for 1973 in the 1001 movies book:

    • The Sting
    • La Maman et la Putain
    • Badlands
    • American Graffiti
    • Papillon
    • Enter the Dragon
    • Mean Streets
    • The Long Goodbye
    • The Wicker Man
    • La Nuit Américaine
    • Don't Look Now
    • Sleeper
    • Serpico
    • The Exorcist
    • Turks Fruit
    • El Espíritu de la Colmena
    • La Planète Sauvage
    • Amarcord
    • The Harder They Come
    • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

    From the ones I've seen, The Exorcist, Serpico and American Graffiti are probably better and more influential. The Long Goodbye is still classic noir when you're already lassifying Badlands as the start of neo-noir and I think you're right on that.

  2. Posted by Nick Marsh at 08:55pm on 30 June 2021

    Thanks for the feedback Lievsn! Here’s a little in return...

    I’ll probs my expand upon this in the future, but whilst I admire Kubrick’s considerable skills as a director, I find his films leave me cold, in an emotional sense. His worldview feels sufficiently different to mine that we seem to have little common emotional ground and consequently I don’t particularly enjoy his films (with exceptions). It’s not his dark side or misanthropy (I adore Werner Herzog’s work, for example) but something in his execution which leaves me unmoved.

    On ‘masterpieces’ - to clarify, if that didn’t come across - we broadened our definition of them to -include- trailblazers and innovative films, but I agree that these films aren’t always (or often) the pinnacle of the form, and we’ll be exploring many others that are. I appreciate your feelings on other significant films of the year, but our definition boils down to ‘Was this film considered either a milestone in cinema or the foundation of a new genre or style, either at the time or since?’ Cinema being what it is, I agree there’s many many films which will fit that definition in every year. Picking the films after that is somewhat arbitrary but it doesn’t mean we consider it -the- film of year XXXX, just an important one.

    As to 1973 - we picked it because it’s where I happened to be in my watch through when Roger expressed an Interest in joining me. Personally I started back in 1916 with ‘Intolerance’ but we’ll circle back around in that direction eventually.

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