Nicholas Ragovis / AKA Doctor_Nick, victor of the Bald Move Fantasy Football League, has come to claim his spoils; a commissioned podcast! He has a great film for us, the 2006 German film The Lives of Others. Written and directed by Henckel von Donnersmarck, the movie offers a look into the brutal repression and paranoia of the East German State Police during the 80s, and the effects it had on the lives of those that had to live under it. But there is hope in the form of a Stasi captain that has to confront his own conscious and humanity during an assignment to monitor an esteemed playwright. This movie has us thinking about totalitarian regimes past, current, and future, the strength of the human spirit, and how we as citizens need to keep the hands of the joyless off the levers of state power.
Special thanks to Hatorian, who by right of conquest in the Bald Move Fantasy Football leagues has won his prize; a commissioned podcast of his choice. He has chosen wisely, selecting the classic 1994 prison/drama/inspirational The Shawshank Redemption. This is a nearly perfect piece of filmmaking, with a confidence in pacing and direction from Frank Darabont matched by the nuanced work of the film’s two leads, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. We had a lot of fun watching and discussing this one Hatorian. Hopefully, it won’t be the longest podcast of your life…
Michael from Arlington, Virginia was nice enough to commission this podcast in honor of his lovely and talented wife, Susanna. Michael wanted to do something positive with his commission. He wanted to recognize and celebrate the hundreds and thousands of people; the artists, craftsmen, pencil pushers, the caterers, that collectively make our favorite movies and television shows possible. So often the below the line types toil near anonymously from project to project, but not on this podcast. Using the special feature, “Star Wars Within A Minute” as a guide, we go department by department to talk about the things small and large the contribute to your average Hollywood blockbuster. Whether you’re moved to sit through credits, study more about filmmaking, or perhaps look for a local project to get involved in, we hope you enjoy this podcast.
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?
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!
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.