Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dan Aykroyd Double Bill: SW Watches "Ghostbusters" and "Trading Places"

With the announcement of the upcoming relaunch of Ghostbusters, I had the movie on my brain.  So when it showed up on Bravo last night after Captain America ended (and it seemed Bravo was playing Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 over and over last night), I tuned in.

There's nothing new to say about the movie at this point, and I kind of feel like any discussion of the movie needs to be refereed by or deferred to Stuart, our resident Ghostbusters nut.

This does give me an opportunity to say that I really like the four announced stars of the Ghostbusters reboot, and I hope the movie does them justice.  But I also hope it's a complete reboot, keeping mostly the concept of a for-profit ghost hunting venture and then paving their own way.  Making the same movie over sounds tedious at best, and the best way to keep us Ghostbusters fans happy is not to just remind us "this is the same but different" with, I dunno, a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who is a cowboy instead of a sailor.

There's also been the spate of Ghost Hunters-type TV shows that Leslie Jones, herself, has spoofed on SNL that I think would make a welcome launch pad for a different take on the concept.*

And, because it's the weeked and I still have basic cable, I watched the 1983 Eddie Murphy/ Dan Aykroyd/ Jamie Lee Curtis movie, Trading Places this morning for absolutely no reason.  I think there's a rule that all of us have to watch this movie every 3 years or the Elder Gods will return, or something.

I also had the stray thought watching the movie this time that Trading Places could make for a pretty good Broadway Musical, if you got the right music.  It has a ludicrous set-up, unlikely romance, stereotypes interacting, and a pretty simple structure.

Call me, Broadway Producers.  I'm here to help you make money.  I'll also share my thoughts on Police Academy IV with you.

*Buddy Matt and I had an idea for a show called "Ghost C.O.P's." we wanted to do as a web video, but we got lazy and never did it, and I've always been sad about that.  C.O.P's, of course, stood for "Challengers of the Paranormals".  Trust me, it was really, really good.**

**this may or may not be true

SW Watches: Captain America (2011)

It had been a while since we watched 2011's Captain America (or, Captain America: The First Avenger, if you want to get fancy).  I mean, not that long a while, but we kind of forgot to watch it to get prepped for Agent Carter, which, it seems, people aren't watching in significant numbers.

Which... what are you people doing out there?  Stop watching CSI.

If you saw Captain America 2 this summer, the difference between the two movies is certainly striking.  One a warm-hearted nostalgic superhero romp in a world of skeleton-faced villains and good guys on one side and bad guys in black jodhpurs.  Heck, it's got a musical number.  And, of course, Cap 2 being all about the excesses and compromised values of shadow wars and secret power grabs.

I don't have much to add.  You guys know I'm in the bag for the Cap movies.

I'm still glad Marvel didn't see any reason they needed to make Cap edgy or extreme or whatever.  Even in he context of our throwback nostalgic era of the movie people still like to think of in Capra-esque terms, and which the movie plays to, Steve is the idealist to the point of getting beat up on the regular for standing up for himself and for pushing back against bullies.  And that adherence to ideals is refreshing not just in this movie, but puts Rogers on a whole other level, giving his allies something to cling to in the storm in the sequel.  It would have been great to see a bit more of Steve Rogers as baritone voiced leader and less as buddy-calling-on-his-friends, because I think that informed a bit about how Cap was made the hapless straightman a bit in Avengers.   But Cap 2 certainly took a different tack on that, and I expect something different in the coming Avengers sequel.

And, of course, the movie introduced us to Agent Carter played by Haley Atwell, and that is a very good thing.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

SW Watches: Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Man, I have no idea how I never saw this movie.  I remember renting it at least once back in the dark ages when you had to return a movie in 48 hours, and then sometimes you'd get home with it and some friend would be all like "Hey, we're gonna go to Slippy Village for a super rad time!" and by the time you recovered from that journey, all you had time to do was return the videotape.

Anyway - this movie was @#$%ing awesome.  I am not sure it would have been this much in my wheelhouse back in college, but these days, it's absolutely the kind of thing I totally dig.  Super taut thriller with a dude in way over his head, and starring actors I can take seriously?  Sign me up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Fant4stic 4 Trailer is in no way exciting

I confess I hoped Fox would embrace the Kirby-ness of the FF, but, instead, they clearly translated this from Ultimate FF, a comic nobody ever cared about and I wouldn't recommend.

Maybe the next trailer will knock my socks off, but this looks as lackluster as the last two FF movies.  Which, wow, that's actually kind of hard to do.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

SW Watches: Raising Arizona (1987)

Truly, one of the great comedies and a movie everyone should see.  I like to think it has something for everyone, and it's one of the few movies in my life I actually kind of forced on my folks, KareBear and The Admiral.

It's also a movie that, if you grew up with it, you probably quote twice a day at this point without realizing it.  Just an absolutely brilliant script.  Good enough that you've seen a man's repeated crimes and incarcerations, a couple's entire courtship, and marriage, their failure to conceive and the hatching of a plan, and you haven't even seen the credits roll.

And, of course, the theme song, Way Out There, one of the most instantly recognizable movie soundtracks I can think of that wasn't the work of Johns Williams or Barry.

Jamie and I are Childfree or Childless Americans or whatever you want to call it, but that doesn't men we don't like the childrens.  We just want them to not be in our home 24 hours a day.  Or to touch our stuff.  This April, Steanso and Aimers are welcoming their own little Nathan Jr..  It's a blessed event and all that, but as HI is stressing over Dip-Tet tests and saving for the orthodonture, the stuff played for comedic effect is kind of much funnier.  It doesn't hurt that I've been watching all of y'all go through this, one after another.

Of course, that kind of makes me and Jamie Gayle and Evelle Snoats in this scenario.  I suspect this makes me Evelle.

So, we'll see if Jason starts to feel the pressure and returns to his old ways with arrival of The Wee Baby Seamus (as we've insisted on calling the baby until he arrives), but I'm not sure Austin is ready for that much bad guitar playing.

Anyhow, y'all don't need me telling you how good this movie is.  And I don't have the energy to write up anything about the deeper themes of the movie.  You guys can ponder than on your own.

But I guess I'm on a bit of a Coen Bros. kick.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream Merges With The Infinite

As noted in the title, we lost a musical pioneer this week.  Edgar Froese has merged with The Infinite.  (Thanks to Cavender for the link.)

My first exposure to Tangerine Dream was, oddly, as a reference in cult sci-fi book The Architect of Sleep that I read at summer camp when I was a kid.  The hero of the book was a Tangerine Dream fan who accidentally made his way to a parallel Earth where apes had not evolved to be the bipedal species.  Instead, raccoons were living in a sort of feudal, dark-ages-like society.  I dunno.  It's been almost 30 years.*

My take away was the hero was kind of a slacker-stoner who was into stuff even more mellow than Dark Side of the Moon's second half.  At some point in my youth, then, I was buying Tangerine Dream on vinyl and cassette and chilling out like a champ under my Captain America and Michael Jordan posters.

I also recall, not too long after reading the book - and I can't remember if it was before or after I owned any Tangerine Dream, this movie came on the local UHF station, and it was directed by Michael Mann and had a score by Tangerine Dream.  Thief?  you ask.  Ha.  NO.  The Keep, one of the most unjustly hidden gems of the 1980's.  (edit: this is now available on Amazon Instant!  holy cats!)

Anyway, after that I noticed Tangerine Dream did a lot of scores.  The aforementioned Thief, Sorcerer, Risky Business**, Near Dark.  Legend, anybody?

Yeah, Tangerine Dream can sound dated, but I put that up to how much they stamped a certain period of music, the massive influence they had and the army of imitators who flooded movie scores - never quite hitting the same level.

But we're not going to do this post and then not give you some examples.

So, here we go.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SW Watches: To Live and Die in LA

It's not entirely clear how I've never seen this movie as I've wanted to see this movie since at least 7th grade.  Somehow I never connected free time + availability + making it a priority.  But that's the magic of being friends with SimonUK.  You can say things like "Hey, I've never seen To Live and Die in LA." and he'll say "Cheerio, pip pip!  Why, I 've loads of copies of To Live and Die in LA., Gov'nuh!"*  But, yes, it's SimonUK, so of course he owned a copy.  Because he's a hoarder and he has a problem I'm more or less enabling.

And, thus, with Manhunter included, I somehow watched two William Petersen vehicles in less than 24 hours.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Because life is funny, we watched both Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002) in the same week

Late edit:  It occurs to me I should have prefaced this post by saying - Manhunter is the 1986 adaptation of Thomas Harris' excellent 1981 novel, Red Dragon.  It was directed by Michael Mann, who brought us Miami Vice, Heat and a version of Last of the Mohicans that is one of manliest damned movies you'll see in this life or any other.  The novel and Manhunter predate the 1988 release of Harris' follow up, Silence of the Lambs.  To get you up to speed, both feature Hannibal Lecter, America's favorite serial killer.  Anthony Hopkins, of course, made the role famous in the 1991 film of the same name.  In 2002, seeing an opportunity to make some dough, someone decided to remake the book Red Dragon as a movie with Hopkins instead of Brian Cox as Lecter.

I didn't see Red Dragon when it came out for a a few reasons.
  • I had already read the Thomas Harris book Red Dragon
  • I had seen Manhunter at least three times
  • Brett Ratner is not my favorite director
  • I had skipped the other Hannibal Lecter movie, I think.  The one with Juliann Moore and Ray Liotta, because nothing about what I read made me want to see it.  And I never have seen it.

I've also never seen The Hannibal Prequel or the NBC TV show.  I just don't know that I'm that into a protagonist who consumes other humans.  That's not a judgment on the wide Hannibal Lecter  fanbase, that's more a "wondering aloud" sort of comment.  I will say this, having watched Silence of the Lambs again prior to the New Year, and then watching both movies did restore my appreciation for the subtleties that originated in Harris' novels that have made it to the big screen, and for how Hopkins and his fellow actors brought that to life.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

SW Watches: The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

I'm not entirely clear on the reason, but The Hudsucker Proxy took a beating both critically and at the box office upon its release in 1994.  I saw it for my 19th birthday with JAL, and we loved the hell out of this thing.  It was immediately added to the list of highly quotable movies, and added the word "Dingus" to my vocabulary.  In '95, when we all showed up for the first day of the highly competitive film production program at UT and people asked what we wanted to make, I said something about Star Wars and then paused as all the folks who just talked about Truffaut and whatnot around the room glared at me, and said "You know...  for kids!".

JAL thought it was funny, at least.

Maybe the movie is too ambitious for it's own good.  Maybe it broke the Coen Bros' SOP a bit too much to work with a real budget and to have name stars like Paul Newman in the room.  The plot is less ambitious than Miller's Crossing, but perhaps too complicated for the light-comedy audience that doesn't want to keep up with the whole "circles and wheels of time" symbolism, metaphor, imagery, etc..  that absolutely permeates the film, right down to a Hula Hoop as the failure and success of a corporation's fortunes (and we can talk about throwing a disc out the window as the film' conclusion some other time).

I dunno.  But reviews at the time weren't good, and even when critics discuss the movie today, it's with a bit of a sigh, like Jennifer Jason Leigh doesn't totally kill it in every scene she's in.

Those critics can kind of go to hell, in my humble opinion.

SW Watches: The Producers (1967)

Way, way back when was in college, for reasons that now escape me, one of my film school faculty showed us just the "Springtime for Hitler" sequence from Mel Brooks' The Producers.  The class went bananas, and when the video ended, the professor immediately said "Don't get too excited, it's not Brooks' best work."

So I never bothered to see the movie.  I have seen most of the movie version of the musical*, but seeing the original just never happened.

Friday night is "let's not think too hard" movie night, and this was still in ol' Netflix queue, so I finally gave it a whirl.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

SW Watches: Jurassic Park (again)

If one thing is clear by your 40th viewing of this movie, it's that John Hammond spared no expense.

In 1993, an 18-year-old me went to his first midnight, opening-night screening of a movie to see the technical marvel that is Jurassic Park.  We got our tickets early, hit the Taco Cabana, had some nachos and then went back to the theater and saw the closest thing to real dinosaurs we'd ever seen before cross the screen to John Williams' tremendous score.

hope you brought a change of undies, doctor

During that first viewing, I drank my large Coke, then chewed apart the straw, then chewed apart the lid, and was making my way down the cup when Sam Niell looked out the window of the helicopter at the flock of pelicans.  I'll bag on a lot of crowd-pleasing directors, but I will fist-fight you over Steven Spielberg.  Not every one of his movies is my favorite, but the man knows how to make an entertaining-as-hell two-hour movie.

When I left for college that fall, it was with a Jurassic Park pillowcase and an even firmer idea that pursuing a film degree was a totally keen idea.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

SW Watches: The Imitation Game (2014)

Like a lot of historical drama, a quick Google search of the lead characters in the film will more or less fill you in on the details that might comprise the story.  And, of course, it's likely you've heard of The Turing Test and Turing Machines.  I dunno.  Maybe if you work in needlepoint or dog grooming it doesn't come up as often, but it's at least a bit in the zeitgeist where I work.

The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and includes Keira Knghtley, Mark Strong and Charles Dance (among many others).  Alex Lawther plays a young Turing, and should get some sort of junior award for one of the best performances I've seen from a young actor in a decade.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

SW Watches: A League of Their Own

There are going to be some short posts here, because there's not much to say about all of this, but I am going to document every movie I watch.

And that includes A League of Their Own, a movie that seems to run every Saturday on basic cable - somehow, somewhere.

As saccharine and formulaic as the movie is, it's also an important one.  It did a lot to discuss the transformation of women's roles in the US during World War II, and the strange way we deal with gender when it comes to sports (and it's pretty honest about the marketing of a League that wasn't what people were used to).

I'm not sure it's either the best performance by Geena Davis or Tom Hanks, but they're both pretty damn good and they go a long way to define the buddy-system that it never hurts to have at work (ask me about KP sometime.  She's pulled my bacon out of the fire for six years.).

SW Watches: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimenstion

We have a fairly recently instated rule at League HQ that Friday movies must be "fun".  It's the end of the work week for me, and Jamie's usually worn out by this point - so it's the kind of night when we'll put on something with more than two Amigos, but fewer than four.

But we've also run through the pile of lightweight comedies of late, and I dusted off a DVD I'd purchased probably ten years ago and put it in, and when the DVD menu came up, I learned:  Jamie had never seen The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.  Or, as most folks call it, Buckaroo Banzai.  

yes, all of these people are in this movie, and more...
I first saw the movie during its theatrical run.  The Admiral, being no dummy, drove us all the way across town to the one cinema showing the film.  As I recall, Steanso and I loved the thing, totally and with no hint of irony.  I had no idea it was a throwback to the Doc Savage concept of the super-human leader with his trusty band of do-gooders.  I just knew it had everything I wanted in a movie at the time.  A brilliant neurosurgeon/ particle physicist/ martial artist/ rock star hero (and what right thinking kid didn't want to be that in the mid-80's?).  Aliens.  Other Dimensions.  Space Ships.  Ellen Barkin.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To?: Movies in 2013 and 2014

I guess the last time I checked in was just after seeing Man of Steel (2013), and, frankly, if I wasn't already about to bail on blogging for a while prior to seeing the movie, the third reel of Zack Snyder's Super-Opus might have gotten me to throw in the towel.

My movie-going is probably slowed a bit.  That's been partly a monetary decision and a work/life/occasionally-being-home balance issue.  And, I don't feel the need to see everything new that comes to the theater the way I might have once felt.

If you want to get me talking, ask me about this fellow

The curious thing about getting older is the mix of feelings that (1) you aren't really going to miss anything if you miss a movie, even a super popular one, and (2) you've kind of already seen this before in some form or another.  In fact, one of the most baffling things I keep reading is how crazy Guardians of the Galaxy felt, how staggeringly original.  Look, I loved GotG, but "a rag tag group of lovable scoundrels get together and stop a menace/ save the day" hasn't been a fresh idea since before The Magnificent Seven.  And if you need a space version - I point you to a dozen low-budget sci-fi movies from the 80's.  But... I guess they really haven't had one in a while, so it felt new to the current audience.

We'll talk a bit about the changes in audience expectations at some other point, but I saw a newish article today that outright stated that trying something that wasn't a complete cookie cutter picture was "trolling" the audience, that it was the studio's "hubris" to try something that didn't already have widespread pre-awareness, vis-a-vis Guardians of the Galaxy.

Y'all, that's just a @#$%ed up thing to say as a pop culture or movie writer.

As per my movie watching habits: I'm still watching movies off Turner Classic, cable, Alamo Drafthouse screenings of older movies, the Paramount Classic Film Series, BluRay, NetFlix streaming and now Hulu.  The Alamo Drafthouse even hosted Noir City Austin, a multi-day Film Noir Fest with Eddie Mueller.  Lots of channels for taking in movies.  And I've seen some great stuff that way.

And, honestly, I've missed writing about it.  And I miss being able to look at this site and review what I said about a movie I've seen (or even to check if I've already seen something I'm about to watch off cable).

To make the post overly long, I'll go ahead and talk about what new movies I saw in the theater with a sort of quick, judgey statement for each.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

3 Movie Day: Sorcerer (1977), Spaceballs (1987), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)

With the holiday season on, today was the first day without guests or an event to attend to since before Christmas Eve.  I did have a few buddies over, including PlacesLost and SimonUK, but it was in order to eat some pizza and watch a movie.

Sorcerer (1977)

Simon picked up the BluRay of this one recently, and I'd seen the trailer at the Alamo last winter and had been looking to see it ever since.  The movie may be most infamous for opening against Star Wars in 1977 and, thusly, doing pretty poorly at the box office.  Undeservedly so, as many who have seen the movie were big fans.  But it's also an interesting  juxtaposition as Star Wars would go on to define what Hollywood would spend the next forty years trying to recreate as blockbuster/ tentpole/ extremely profitable popular entertainment, and this was a smaller movie with precious little dialogue about men driving trucks through the jungle.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Official Signal Watch TL; DR "Man of Steel" Discussion

I went to the midnight show of Man of Steel and returned home in the wee hours.  I left kind of a rambling initial reaction here.  I went to work, I came home.  I've seen the movie again (in 3D IMAX with Simon, Angela and Jamie), and I've had time to process the film much, much more.

And, since that first post, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach commentary on the movie.  As this will be one of my final posts going into hiatus, we might as well talk about this movie as the intersection between the two major topics of this blog: film and Superman.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Man of Steel" has now been witnessed

Well, yup.  It's 3:10ish in the AM and I am home.  Just saw Man of Steel with Kevin and Juan.

spoilers below

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Noir Watch: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

I have no idea when the last time was that I watched this movie.  Likely 7 or 8 years ago when I got the DVD and again right after we moved back to Austin.

It's weird I don't watch it over and over, because there's a perfectly good reason The Maltese Falcon carries the reputation its got.  Smart, ruthless, and lean down to the bone, and with every actor in the film turning in terrific performances, its a great ride.  It carries the tone and at least the echo of Dashiell Hammett's spitfire dialog, and definitely retains the labyrinthine plotting that even Hammett's short stories are known for.

actually, those two guns belong to Elisha Cook Jr., but whatever