10 years and 200 commentaries

tysto-logo3It almost came and went without my noticing, but this site has now been going for more than 10 years now, and I’ve done 200 commentaries. I first started the site in early 2004 as a place to hold my movie reviews and travel photos and my opinions on culture and government, but by late 2006 I found I was more interested in doing commentaries for movies.

I started where it’s only natural—the classics: Casablanca, La Dolce Vita, and the Firefly TV series. I’ve made quite a number of friends and had some great times watching movies with some of them, and my commentaries get enough feedback that I feel people are enjoying them, so it’s worth it to keep going.

And now that I have a fresh look for the site, I feel like I might just keep tinkering and musing for another 10 years and 200 commentaries.

Thanks for listening!

New look

I don’t know what caused my template to get messed up, but I’ve decided that after 10 years, it’s time to freshen the look. So I’m going to look for a new template that looks good and I can adapt to accommodate the PodPress plugin and commentary list.

Look for it soon!

Tell me what you think!

Commentary: Mission: Impossible 200th commentary extravaganza

Mission: ImpossibleNetflix IMDb
Join me as I explore the first of Tom Cruise’s action movie tours de force, adapted from the nearly actionless TV series of the same name. Impossible, you say? Oh quite possible indeed if you throw out everything the TV show did.

I examine the differences between the movie’s treatment of IFM and the 1960s TV show. I consider Tom Cruise as a thinking-man’s action movie star, Brian De Palma as a director, Jon Voight as an IMF lead, and the locations as locations. I compare it to Rafifi, Topkapi, Die Hard and Knight and Day. I consider the idea of taking the TV show’s premise and complicating it until it becomes ridiculous. I pull apart story elements like the insider-gone-bad and the nonsensical parts of the plot like the use of bible verses.

NOTE: I’m shocked to find that in fact Gideons distribute full bibles to hotel rooms. The New Testament only version is typically handed out. So it’s not the huge mistake I thought it was at all. Sorry for the error.

I’m watching a DVR version. I think there’s only one version of the film. Start the film after the MGM logo on the countdown.

Commentary: Good, Bad, & Ugly (w/ Rob Caravaggio!)

Good-Bad-UglyNetflix IMDb
Join me and Rob Caravaggio of Rob Caravaggio Commentaries as we tackle one of the great films of the western genre and indeed of all time. We compare the stories of each of the three characters and the careers of the men who play them. We admit that the film is a bit long and try to decide what to cut. We contemplate westerns, Eli Wallach, circles, stray dogs, cripples, the film industry in the mid-1960s, war films, and actual wars. And we try to figure out what “good” really means in this context.

We compare the film to the previous two films in the trilogy, Tarantino’s work, Kurosawa’s work, and film noir. We recast the film with other 1960s actors. I say no Steve McQueen movie is on my top shelf but also that I love The Magnificent Seven, which is impossible obviously; TM7 is terrific. We praise the music and titles, the cinematography, the set design–pretty much everything. I call the film nearly perfect. Rob gives away the magic of podcasting (we sometimes have discussions off-mike). Bonus: I get the obsessive-compulsive gun stuff out of the way early.

NOTE: Rob notes that he mentioned a “Winchester ’76” where he meant to say “Winchester ’73”, same as the movie. However, there was in fact a rifle known as the Winchester ’76, so since I’m the one who made the connection to the movie, I’m really at fault.
Also, technically this is explicit, but just barely. (And that really is Rob’s fault.)
Also, also: it’s been pointed out to me that Colt did offer cartridge conversion kits by the time the movie is set, so Blondie’s gun isn’t really an anachronism, altho it does switch from percussion cap to cartridge depending on if he needs to fire it in the scene.

We’re watching the American release of the extended cut. Start the film after the MGM logo on the countdown.

Commentary: Nazis at the Center of the Earth

nazisNetflix IMDb
Join me for a sight-unseen examination of The Asylum’s heartwarming tale of research scientists in Antarctica falling in and out of love and encountering (I don’t want to spoil it for you) certain challenges. I complain about the dialog and lack of active protagonists, and I root for Hitler OR DO I?

I compare the film to Futurama and, uh, films and examine the artistic choice of slow-motion. I question the science a time or two, and the choice of lenses used on Dominique Swain. I do not question the lenses used on Jake Busey. Use any lens you want; the man can’t be photographed badly.

I’m watching a streaming version. Start when and where I tell you to and don’t make any false moves, if you know what’s good for you.

Commentary: Dr Strangelove (w/ Speakeasy!)

strangeloveNetflix IMDb
Join me and Hardy Lynch of The Speakeasy for my FIRST Stanley Kubrick commentary! It’s the heartwarming story of a nation whose rogue member starts World War 3 and the brave men (and only men) who make a vague and ineffectual effort to stop it. We compare it to Fail-Safe, which came out the same year, as well as Kubrick’s other films, Mars Attacks, and Norbit.

We discuss the careers of Kubrick, Sellers, and Keenan Wynn. We analyze the brilliant screenplay, the analogy to Cold War tensions, and the films possible affect on the audience, including America’s leaders. And we try to recast it with Mike Meyers, Sam Rockwell, Josh Brolin, and James Earl Jones (in the Ripper role this time).

NOTE: I forgot to say it, but I regard this as a NEARLY PERFECT FILM.

I’m watching an HD copy off DVR. Hardy is watching the PAL DVD and has to repeatedly sync with me, so there are several times that we announce where we are. Start the film on the countdown before anything because I get the disclaimer crawl first and he gets it after the Columbia logo.

Commentary: Tango & Cash (w/ Jimmy B!)

tango-cashNetflix IMDb
Join me as I’m joined for the first time by Jimmy B from the Friends in Your Head forum and Extended Edition podcast for a look at Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell’s big team-up. We compare it to Lethal Weapon, Police Story, Die Hard, other buddy-cop comedies of the time, and James Bond movies.

We also marvel at their hair and suits, and at a still-humble Teri Hatcher. We stand in awe that the film ever saw the light of day because, at some point, everybody but Stallone got replaced at least once.

Jimmy’s microphone betrays us, and he’s a bit difficult to understand at times. (I mean aside from the Scottish accent.)

Technically, this is explicit, but not really.

We’re watching the Blu-ray. Start with the Warner Brothers logo, on the countdown.

Commentary: Flash Gordon (w/ Film Bin!)

Flash GordonNetflix IMDb
Join me as I join the entire Film Bin crew to have a look at the wonderfully campy and adventurous Flash Gordon. It’s the heartwarming tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl are kidnapped by a scientist and forced to travel to space, where they are kidnapped by a dictator, girl loses boy, boy is kidnapped by another girl, then imprisoned by her boyfriend… Long story short, boy gets girl and only has 14 hours to save the earth.

We compare it to Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones movies, Highlander, the original film serial, Barbarella, Doctor Who, The Wizard of Oz, and Buckaroo Banzai. We analyze the physics of Mongo, the force of nature that is Brian Blessed, and the possibility that Klytus designs all the costumes on Mongo. We fix Hollywood action movies and align the DC universe and Star Wars universe with this one.

We’re watching the Blu-ray/region 1 DVD. Start the film at 0:00:00, right before the Universal logo appears, on the countdown.

Commentary: Batman Begins (w/ Speakeasy!)

Batman BeginsNetflix IMDb
Join me as I join the Doctor and Lynch for a second go at the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batmen. We compare the film to the comic books, other Nolan Batmen, Burton/Schumaker Batmen, and The Shadow. We examine the logic of the villains’ plans and Batman’s response. And we recast Morgan Freeman as a bad guy.

I’m watching the Blu-ray. Start the film right after the Warner Brothers logo has stopped turning, on the countdown.

Running commentaries that you listen to while you watch the movie.