Special thanks to Sean Ray (previous commissioner of the Insidious series, and Blood Simple) for commissioning this late 80’s Ridley Scott crime thriller, Black Rain. Michael Douglas plays a cop alongside Andy Garcia that gets mixed up in a gang war between the Yakuza and a rival upstart over counterfeit US currency. The film explores the intercultural exchange as Douglas’s corrupt and brash NYC cop runs into the brick wall of Japanese police decorum and honor, but how successful it is in that exploration is an open question. The film is great looking, has some solid action sequences, and hilarious Michael Douglas hair, and it’s concepts don’t quite stand the test of time. But Andy Garcia’s chest hair is magnificent.
Today we’re here to talk about the 2004 SyFy reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Jim loves this series, I have problems with it. Still, we talk for nearly two hours and find what we think will be a lot of common ground with any fan of the show. Despite my misgivings I do recognize it’s quality and importance to Sci-Fi in general. So say we both. Special thanks to our intrepid community of commissioners who made this podcast possible. To Jay “Nothing-has-corners-for-some-reason” Russo, Jeff, Anubus21, ClevelandPunk, Manoj, Matt from Boston, Devin from Maine, Ben from Yronwood, Isd5u, sam.n, leaplizard, elstenger, shenson90, jeffrey.w, enquiries, Shayne Bowman, nikhonesty, thank you for your generous support!
Today’s commissioned podcast is one for the pantheon, Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece of satire, Dr. Strangelove. Kubrick set out to make a nuclear thriller, but instead decided to lean heavily into the existential absurdism that was and still is the world’s nuclear weapon deterrent, mutual assured destruction. Hey, it’s worked for sixty years, let’s keep the streak going! Special thanks to our committee of commissioners, “Breaking Bad Fest” Jennie, Gulleen, Manoj, Flash Gordon, Anthony, leaplizard, hiroprotagonist2002, tingudu, Don M, Zack Z, Sean R, and Alex K for making this happen. We loved revisiting this film and it’s as funny and relevant today as it was back in ’64. Enjoy!
Once again commissioner Fernando Rodriguez (you may better know him as FernNYC17 on our forums) steps up with a choice selection, this time the oft maligned Return of the Jedi. Often dismissed as derivative or childish when compared to A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back respectively, we have nothing but love for the climax of the story of Skywalker. It’s got the best space battle, the best lightsabre battle, and the best puppets in all of Star Wars. The Special Edition changes? Not so much love.
Special thanks to Ethan and Allison for commissioning Batman Begins, the first in the Nolanverse Batman trilogy (you can see our podcast on Batman: The Dark Knight here). This is a fantastic comic book movie that also happens to be a fantastic film in it’s own right. We love the fusion of gritty realism with the strong emotional core and exploration of Bruce Wayne and his struggle to walk the narrow path between justice and vengeance. Excellent casting, excellent performances, and while the third act perhaps leaves something to be desired in light of a decade of super hero movies continually trying to outdo themselves in terms of spectacle, the movie holds up like a champ and is an undeniable part of what makes the sequel work so superbly.
Special thanks to Steven Sprague, celts77, Laura Hamilton, ztziemke, and Don C for commissioning this podcast, on the 1992 Quintin Tarantino crime drama, Reservoir Dogs. We discuss the writing, the performances, our opinions on the true meaning of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, the insights QT has on crime and society, and debate it’s place in the Tarantino pantheon. Thanks again to all of our commissioners, we couldn’t do it without you!
Special thanks to our twin commissioners, Steven S. and Mozbeet for commissioning one of my very favorite films, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, directed by Peter Weir and based on the Patrick O’Brian series that is my very favorite books of all time. Thank god Jim thinks it’s awesome too, or there might have been bloodshed. We discuss the film’s historicity and verisimilitude, the unique relationship between Captain Jack and Doctor Maturin, life aboard an 19th century Man o’ War, and I make a pitch for reading the original novels towards the end. Thanks again Steven and Mozbeet, this was a real treat!
Special thanks to Tyler Shumway for commissioning the 2008 musical web series, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog for our review. The creative fruit of the 2007 WGA strike, Joss Whedon employed his Hollywood friends and family for a whimsical take on Superheroes and Villains, casting Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion as a dynamic duo struggling to control the heart of their city, and one particular woman who dwells within it. From that fairly silly premise, a surprisingly good musical with plenty of heart is born. Also, there is an accompanying musical commentary track to go along with it. That’s something you don’t see every day.
For this week’s commissioned podcast, we got to watch one of the many great collaborations between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, the 2010 psychological thriller, Shutter Island. While neither of us think this movie cracks the top 5 of either gentlemen’s work, it is an effective film with a pretty good twist, and features a solid Leo performance that drifts into “great” territory later in the film, and has great supporting performances in Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow, among many others.
Special thanks to DrKen (previous commissioner of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) for commissioning this great thriller from the 90’s, The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford as brilliant doctor wrongfully accused of the murder of his wife evading the dogged pursuit of Tommy Lee Jones as U.S. Marshal. This is one of the tightest films you’ll ever see, effortlessly moving from one set piece to another, drawing strength and vitality from the charisma and presence of it’s two brightest stars, achieving the rare balance where you want the protagonist and antagonist to find a way to both win. We have fond memories of this film from our youth, and we found it held up like Ford’s Finger ‘O Doom. Thanks again, DrKen! If you ever have to evade justice, we got a couple of bucks and a bed in the basement for you!