Special thanks to returning commissioner Sean Ray for having us devote a few hours to Oliver Stone’s 1991 political thriller, JFK. The film is a weird duck. In our opinion, the movie is a work of pure flim-flam. However, it’s also one of my favorite movies to watch, because it’s a really well done, and interesting piece of flim-flam that belies it’s crazy long run time and features Oliver Stone using every last ounce of his considerable film-making skill to confuse, beguile and bedazzle his audience. This movie is so star studded that few films are capable of approaching it on acting wattage alone. The sound track by John Williams hits all the right notes, from sweaty, cigarette-hazed and mentally crazed late night conspiracy theories to soaring patriotic hymns. Aside from it being, you know, mostly fiction, we’re also uncomfortable with the Grand Gay Conspiracy angle that’s being pushed. But it also sparks a lot of conversation about conspiracies in general, America’s uncomfortable relationship with Vietnam and the truth, and just why the hell is material related to the JFK assassination still classified, anyway?
Jim and A.Ron went to see Bad Times at the El Royale and give it mixed reviews. Writer/Director Drew Goddard throws a lot of slow, character and dialog driven set pieces at the audience, mixed up and out of order, until finishing the movie with a spasm of violence and action. Jim enjoyed the performances and the movie held his interest throughout, whereas I thought the ending didn’t do enough to justify the other two hours, and thought a lot of the characters were pretty thin for a dialog and character driven movie. But the film is stylish and slick enough that perhaps you’ll be able to forgive it’s flaws?
Thanks to Sean Ray for commissioning the classic 1992 western, “Unforgiven”. Directed by and starring a perfectly-aged Clint Eastwood, the story has him reconciling the man he was in his drunken youth with the man he wants to be, and more importantly, the man his dead wife would have him be. Where does he come down on it? It’s a classic so you probably already know but one of us didn’t and the discussion is interesting.
Special thanks to Sarah Sugas for commissioning 1944’s Laura, a film-noir set around a hard boiled detective attempting to solve the mystery other murder of a remarkable young woman.
Special thanks once again to Sean Ray for commissioning thus podcast for the 1982 John Carpenter sci-fi/horror classic, The Thing. The location, sense of isolation and paranoia, and atmosphere of dread this film is able to generate is incredible. Kurt Russel is iconic in his role as everyman bad*ss. And the gruesome, disturbing practical effects work still effectively sells the horrific alien action.
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!
Mandy is a film by Panos Cosmatos starring Nick Cage. It is both a slow burn, 70’s style horror film dipped in acid, and a gonzo Nick Cage action film. It continually suffers from being torn in these two very different directions. A.Ron dug it, Jim wants nothing to do with it. This film boasts near universal acclaim on Rotten Tomatoes and yet is a tough one to wholeheartedly recommend. Please enjoy our spoiler free review and discussion of new trailers and upcoming films, but if you want to hear Jim and I argue about Mandy’s merits, you’ll have to be a Club Member!
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”.
Jim and A.Ron put on their brown pants tonight to go out and see The Nun, the latest installment in The Conjuring universe, but only one of us needed to. The film’s getting mixed reviews; and Jim worries that co-writer James Wan’s bag of tricks are getting played out and the movie suffers from inconsistent internal logic. Perhaps I’m the biggest wuss alive, but the movie got my hair standing up on the back of my neck fairly consistently. Your mileage may vary!
Jim and I had high hopes for the Gothic horror film, The Little Stranger, thinking it would be an ultra atmospheric mash up of The Witch with Downton Abbey. Instead, we got a commentary on upper class angst during the 1940’s as their fortunes crumbled alongside their estates masquerading as a dull, drab little ghost story. At no point does the film ever manage to generate anything but mild disquiet and malaise. Which is a shame, because all the pieces were there for genuine horror. An interesting core idea, excellent cast, excellent location, and fantastic atmosphere that were all unfortunately squandered with disinterested filmmaking.