Thursday, January 14, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: The High Window (1942) by Raymond Chandler

I've been thinking a bit about the difference between the Continental Op work, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.  Brighter minds than me have surely covered this - but you're here reading this, so...  here we go.

To be sure, there are more similarities than there are differences.  Working class detectives working in a shadowy world where wealth buys your way into indulging your perversions and clear of ignominy.  Low class hoods are always on the make.  Dames who can work an angle have it made, until they don't.  And then they wind up cold and stiff.  It's not whether everyone you meet has an angle, it's what their angle is - and if they don't have one, they're a chump.

Mostly, anyway.

The Continental Op doesn't have a heart of gold, but he's a square guy.  He's a brawler, almost always has a gun and will throw some lead around.  Sam Spade has a heart in there, too, one that's more likely to fall for a dame than the Continental Op, who knows he's no looker and has reason to distrust any dame that gets too close.  But Hammett's detectives never really warm to much of anyone, even when they tell you otherwise.  At best, they tolerate others and try not to admit it when any women get too close.

Alan Rickman Merges With The Infinite

This week is going down as a week I'll remember for all the wrong reasons.

News has hit my feed that Alan Rickman has passed.  Like Bowie, he was 69 and it was cancer.

We all know Rickman from his many roles, and, at the end of the day, when we think about it - there really weren't too many actors working in our favorite movies that showed his range or depth.

He will be sorely missed.

Bowie Watch: Labyrinth (1986)

We watched this one for obvious reasons.  It's been a while, and I was surprised how well I actually liked the movie.  I don't really remember how I felt about it upon release, and as it's essentially a long allegory for a young woman learning important life lessons about the transition from childhood to young adulthood - maybe being 11 was not the right time to be getting some perspective.  But I remember liking Bowie in the movie.

Of course I've seen it since.  Heck, we own a copy (seems like a Jamie purchase if ever there was one), but we haven't seen it in years.

A bit sad, of course.  Henson passed decades ago.  Bowie has gone into the cosmos.  But for the kids who want to see some amazing visual effects, practical FX and how it was done in a pre-CGI era, this is a heck of a movie.  Yeah, yeah.  The owl is CGI in the opening.  I know.  But you know what I mean.  And, hey, Bowie looks like he's having good fun with his pals.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Batman! The 50th Anniversary!

Longtime readers will know - Batman, the TV program, is probably ground zero for everything you see here at the ol' blog.  Born in '75, obviously I was too not-yet-in-existence to catch the show when it premiered in 1966, and I think my dad was in Vietnam and my mom was in college and not watching TV when the show hit the airwaves.

Family history says my first words included "Batman".  Or, more specifically, "Mat-man", as I couldn't quite work that "b" sound quite yet.  The story is that my mom needed to fix dinner for my brother and myself, and at some point she figured out I'd hold perfectly still for half an hour each week night when she'd point me at the TV while Batman played in syndication, and the rest just sort of played out.

As big as Star Wars may have been in my early childhood, so, too, was this version of Batman - or so I am told.  But I have almost no memory of watching the show at this age, I just remembered the characters and sounds of the show.  It fell off the syndication wagon in my local viewing area for a number of years, and didn't return until 1989, when the popularity of the Michael Keaton Batman meant someone decided to cash in.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saying Good-Bye to David Bowie - Starman Merges With The Infinite

I was up too late for a Sunday night, still Googling into Monday morning, when Cavendar's facebook prompted with the simple question "David Bowie?"

I don't know why, but I knew it was not a question about the album, and in a Google search I found "David Bowie Death Hoax" and a post from just two days prior.  But then, when I hit the same search again two minutes later, The Hollywood Reporter was in agreement.  Then someone linked to the twitter account of Duncan Jones, Bowie's son, confirming the rumors.  David Bowie was dead.

By now literally millions of people will have said something.  I don't know that there's any more to say, but that's never stopped me before, and I want to say good-bye to one of my favorite humans, someone whose work helped shape the universe not just for me, but for millions or billions.

The Alamo Drafthouse affiliated publication and website Birth.Movies.Death. had a post up this morning, and it's right on.
As with God, everybody’s relationship with Bowie is deeply personal. Everybody’s relationship with Bowie is one-on-one.
Born in '75, my early awareness of Bowie stems from the Mick Jagger "Dancing in the Streets" era, with "Blue Jean" and "China Girl" in tow.  I can't separate the three, all staples of early MTV.  At any rate, I was well aware of the existence if not cultural influence and legacy of Bowie by the time I caught Labyrinth at the Showplace 6.  

But I think the first time I was just stopped short by Bowie wasn't even when he was on screen or playing music. I couldn't tell you how old I was when I saw The Breakfast Club, but of course the movie ended with the lyrics from "Changes", and it was the first time I saw an adult acknowledge that I might have some self-awareness, that I was not a dumb beast in need of constant correction, to have what was patently obvious explained to me.

“... And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They're quite aware
of what they're going through...”

David Bowie has Merged with The Infinite

Edit:  The New York Times is confirming Bowie's passing.  

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say good-bye to this tremendous artist, especially as we had just purchased his latest album and had liked what we heard.  He seemed ready for yet another round.

We will miss you, sir, and we know the world is better for what you brought us.

I will be honest with you - I am not sure the passing of someone I didn't know has seemed this... sad and devastating in years and years, and I can tell from the comments online, I'm far from alone.

Original Post:

For the past 30 minutes I've been trying to sort through social media and now traditional media sources stating that David Bowie has passed.  It's on as news for January 10th and Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, has confirmed the passing.  If this is a hoax, it seems intensely elaborate and cruel to Bowie's family and friends.

It's all a bit odd.  He has tour dates on his site, and there's no mention of his illness prior to today.  And this is far from the first time Bowie has been reported dead on social media.

I don't need to tell any of you about Bowie's legacy.  You know.  You have your favorite songs and albums.

My first date with Jamie was taking her to see Bowie and Nine Inch Nails at a venue that's been plowed under and is now a sprawling strip shopping center a few miles from my current home.  That was October of 1995.  Needless to say, we've both long been fans of the man's work.

I'll assume the stories are true and I'll head off to bed.  I would like nothing better than to wake up and learn this was all a hoax or misunderstanding.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Superman Watch: The Death of "Superman Lives" - What Happened? (2015)

Of course in Superman nerd circles there was a lot of noise about the documentary The Death of "Superman Lives" (2015) when it was going around on Kickstarter and other fundraising sites.  It's a film about the failed 1990's Jon Peters produced Superman movie, a flick that never quite made it into production and has, in recent years, achieved a sort of legendary status among nerds as "wouldn't that have been awesome?" sort of project.  Most of this opinion is garnered from 20 and 30 somethings who only know Nic Cage from the post Con Air era, and think of him as the "not the bees!" guy who makes shitty action movies and has a seemingly absurd personal life.  They do not know the Leaving Las Vegas Nic Cage or the Adaptation Nic Cage or even the Wild at Heart Nic Cage.  It seems impossible most have seen Moonstruck.

Way, way back in the mid-90's when the project was in pre-production, I was of the solid opinion that: No.  This is not going to be awesome.  And, in 2016, I stand by that same notion.  Much better to look at the art produced and hear people talking about what could have been than get dragged through a movie that could have accelerated Superman's loss of cachet in the pop-consciousness and, who knows?  Could have prevented the entire cycle of superhero movies we've enjoyed since X-Men and Spider-Man back 15 years ago.

Hats off to this very small production for landing interviews with big names associated with the project, from legendary producer Jon Peters to Tim Burton to Kevin Smith and a host of crew members (who are still passionate about the work they did), and a few comics luminaries including an intro with Grant Morrison summing up Superman in a few sentences.