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 as 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.
Special thanks to Freddy C, friend of the pod and one of the heroes from our recent Groundhog Day charity drive, who commissioned the epic 1995 crime thriller, Heat. Directed by Michael Mann and starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, among many, many other notable stars, it features some of the best looking and sounding action ever committed to film, not to mention an inspired mano a mano acting showdown between some of the greatest actors of their generation.
Thanks to Melonusk for commissioning the 2005 french crime drama, De Battre Mon Cœur S’est Arrêté, or The Beat That My Heart Skipped. It tells the tale of a criminal operating in the lowest levels of French crime that has an unexpected opportunity to follow his dreams of being a concert pianist. Pulled in two directions by the expectations of his father and his equally demanding, far less criminal piano tutor, director Jacques Audiard (director of Bald Move fave Un Prophète) finds clever ways of increasing the tension between the two paths that lie open to him. We enjoyed the cyclical themes of father/son, teacher/student, infatuation/love and are once again impressed with Audiard’s storytelling ability, even if Jim questions how much story we’re actually being told.
Today’s commissioned podcast is Looper, the 2012 sci-fi action thriller directed by Rian Johnson and starring, Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. We have David Babulak to thank for this, as he’s the one who pulled the trigger and made the commission. This movie is really, really great, thought provoking, well made, and entertaining. It’s one of those podcasts where we sit back and think about time and space and what it’s like to meet yourself from the future, which is always fun. It’s not perfect, but it may not be possible to make a better time travel movie that’s this much fun to watch.