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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Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 16 September 2023

Nick and Roger rewatch the film that could have been Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fourteen years early: Big Trouble in Little China.


Thanks to Robert Wolfe for suggesting that we watch this!

We also highly recommend the music video that's a quick summary of the film: Lo Pan Style.

  1. Posted by Robert at 08:39pm on 18 September 2023

    I'm very happy my estimate of our preference was not far off base.

    Two observations on the film of my own.

    This is a particularly formative TTRPG movie for me because of Jack's operating in the narrative without recognizing his role in the narrative and because of his mostly single-minded goal of getting his truck back. I have very often run for and been part of a group of players who became obsessively engaged with a minor goal (revenge on a local gem merchant for example) while ostensibly involved in saving the world.

    On the topic of cultural appropriation, I think this has a particularly US twist. It approaches it almost from a first generation immigrant vs assimilated population viewpoint. That is, the focal Chinese characters have brought their culture with them ("China is here Jack") and Jack is the result of years of residence. He has lost his defining cultural traits. Jack, and the audience through his viewpoint, never try to assimilate into or be a savior or chosen one of the other culture. Jack is like a tourist but he accepts that rather than fighting it or insisting that the environment he's landed in adapt to him. He remains authentic and he accepts what's around him authentically. I think that results in an original feeling missing from many other narratives even though this is an undeniably cartoonish presentation. Perhaps it's that a genuine cartoon holds together better than an insincere photograph.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 12:42pm on 19 September 2023

    I think it's also a good example of something I have trouble with, linking the little local adventure to the big world-saving plot. In order to get his truck back (and help out his buddy), Jack has to get involved in the high-stakes fight.

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