Special thanks to multi-multi-multi-commissioner Sean Ray for dialing up the number to Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007). This edition is intended by director Ridley Scott to be the definitive version. The interesting thing is, Jim and I have always been a bit “meh” on the classic Blade Runner experience. Sure, we see how influential it is, and can understand why it was highly regarded “for it’s day”. We both felt like we saw the film with fresh eyes on this cut. Their are problems with world building and pacing here and there, but everything tracks so much cleaner, and the third act which was always a standout is now a pure joy. Thanks again, Sean! It’s not every day that a commission completely has us do a 180 on a project, this is one of those rare times!
Special thanks to commissioner Jaimie T. for having us check out the classic 1946 British film classic, “A Matter of Life and Death”. Featuring a story that pits love against the cosmic law of death, it explores post World War 2 tensions between the England and the Unites States. Both of us see the film’s obvious charm; lavish and colorful visuals, inventive special effects and set design, and appealing lead actors. We also have a few third act quibbles and thematic issues, but not enough to sink the film that’s been called the “British It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Special thanks to our commissioner for today’s podcast, Sean Ray. You may recognize him as the man behind such classics as It Follows, and Black Rain, which if nothing else is unique. Today he selects the great A Few Good Men, where a gruff Colonel in the US Marine Corps takes issue with the USMC’s kinder, more gentler ways of discipline and organization, leading to the death of one of the men under his command. Tom Cruise and Demi Moore are effective as the counsel for the defense, and are given a lot of juicy material to work with. Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, the script is packed with Sorkinisms and shot with a steady, confident eye. The performances are phenomenal, especially Jack Nicholson’s elemental performance of Col. Jessup.
Special thanks to Brian Strader, previous commissioner of the podcast for the underrated sci-fi saga, Babylon 5. This time he’s back to, as he says, “play ‘TV Show Dumpster Fire’ roulette.” Unfortunately we think he may have lost by betting on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. We were suitably impressed with the detail of the animations, certain aspects of world building, and the themes were philosophically engaging here and there. Unfortunately, other aspects of the world building struck us as silly or worse, the dubs and probably general translation on the version we watched were almost universally bad, and the themes that were otherwise engaging have been either dated or made more engaging by later works such as Altered Carbon.
Thanks to Paul Kilgore, who commissioned this podcast for his wife Alexandra in honor of her favorite movie, the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice. I’ve never seen this particular version but am familiar with the source and other adaptations and like historical fiction in general, while Jim had no idea what to expect. What will we make of some early 19th century high romance? Is it physically possible for Keira Knightley to play a plain Jane, err, Elizabeth? What does culturally enforced manogamy look like in practice? How did English noblemen acquire such impressive art from the antiquities? Were 30 foot high water fountains even possible in the 1800s? All this and more is pondered!
Special thanks to Ajas, who commissioned a very special project; our first commissioned Live Watch! If you don’t know, a Live Watch is where we watch a show and record commentary for it, which you can sync up to watch with us at home with your own personal copy. And this movie is one of the craziest, over the top action films of all time. A John Woo picture, starring Chow Yun-fat, it features a hard-boiled detective desperate to put an end to the violent gang of gun runners who murdered his partner. Boasting an improbably number of bird and bullets, and featuring stunts that are just slightly less lethal than filming actual gunplay, the plot makes no sense but the gonzo nature of the film more than makes up for it. You thought Jason Statham’s baby routine in Fate of the Furious was crazy? You haven’t seen nothing!
Max commissioned one of his beloved films from high school (shout out to the Class of ’95!), Hackers. Directed by Iain Softley and starring Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie, Hackers is a mostly ridiculous look into mid-90s hacker culture that’s core plot is a rehash of Office Space, which is to say it’s a rehash of Superman III. We discuss the film as contemporary computer nerds and as grown men looking back at the naivety of early hacker culture and the weird prescience the move shows.
Today’s commission is courtesy the kind support of Sean Ray, a five time commissioner! He selected It Follows, an extremely clever and inventive horror flick written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. It has big ideas, and while it struggles to live up to them in places, the concept and performance of the plucky cast of likable yet relatively obscure young actors really makes the film shine. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to think about, and it’s fun to talk about. How would you survive being hunted by “It”? That and a few beers is a topic that can easily kill a whole evening of hanging with your friends.
Special thanks to our buddy Jason Shankel hailing from the Nattercast for commissioning this podcast for the 1986 sci-fi action fantasy film Highlander, directed by Russell Mulcahy and starring Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert. Jason and his friends also did a deep dive on Highlander, so please check that out if you’re looking for a very affectionate and informed take from life-long fans of the franchise. As for us, we thought Highlander was cheesy fun. The film boasts an excellent soundtrack, exciting and varied sets for the extended sword fights, and some of the sturdiest and most interesting fantasy bones to hang a franchise on. We walk away wondering why hasn’t anyone rebooted this?
Special thanks to Stephen Moore, whose original commission of Home Alone we thoughtlessly trampled upon during our holiday revelries. For his make-good podcast, he has selected the classic 1973 horror film, The Exorcist. Directed by William Friedkin and starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Jason Miller, it tells the harrowing tale of a mother who turns to Catholic priests as her last hope when her daughter gets possessed by an ancient evil spirit. I’ve got to be honest, I was skeptical that the film would hold up, but does it ever. Not only does it still manage to be genuinely disturbing, but it elevates the form of the horror flick into a generally excellent film in terms of art.