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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Basil Gogos Has Merged With The Infinite



If you're a Monster Kid of any stripe, you know the work of Basil Gogos. Whether from his work painting covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland to album covers, Gogos spent the back half of the 20th Century and early 21st Century as king of a niche others are just now entering - illustrative portraiture of cinematic marvels and monsters.

Yesterday I became aware of the news that Basil Gogos has passed beyond this veil of tears.  But of this I am certain - his work is now as much a part of Monster Movie fandom as the films, actors and creators.  His uncanny visuals have been wonderful additions to pop-culture and modern culture itself.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Harry Dean Stanton Has Merged With The Infinite


Somehow, death has taken one of the best, Harry Dean Stanton.

A notice in the New York Times.

No matter what he was in, he elevated the movie. Ebert himself said: "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad."

Truth.
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • Kelly's Heroes
  • Godfather: Part II
  • Alien
  • Escape From New York
  • Christine
  • Repo Man
  • Red Dawn
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Last Temptation of Christ
  • Wild at Heart
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With me
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • The Avengers
  • Twin Peaks
We're going to miss you, sir.  But thanks for everything.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Super Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Watch: Superman - The Movie (1978)


The other night Jamie and I watched Superman: The Movie for the first time in some time.  For us, that meansL it's been over a year since we sat down and watched it.  For me, it's been greater than 6 months.  It may be that same "more than a year" timeframe - these days I can no better remember a particular viewing of the movie than I can an airplane flight or yet another hotel room.  I've been trying to watch things new-to-me and kind of failing at it, and re-watching this movie, yet again, was not going to get me into anything novel.

What spurred us down this path was the recent article on a site called Polygon that discussed what most Gen-Xers and our forebears already knew:  Christopher Reeve is more than just a buff, cut dude in spandex.  He was a Julliard-trained actor.  And, he was working with a director and script that didn't just ask him to glower or look mournful across the span of two movies.  In comparison to the funeral dirge of Man of Steel and Cavill's limited acting opportunities and Batman v Superman and the inane use of the character, Superman: The Movie's myth-building, multi-tier, multi-faceted structure gave Reeves (and the film itself) the chance to do something deft and nuanced when it wasn't being broad and slapsticky.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kaiju Watch: Shin Godzilla (2016)



I had two failed attempts to see Shin Godzilla (2016) when it was released in October 2016 and then had a quick return to the screen around New Years 2017.  The first time something at work came up and I had to cancel.  The second time I went to see the movie with PaulT and Jamie and something was wrong with the film.  It started and a 1K tone was laid over the soundtrack to the movie.  Which was both awful and hilarious.  Anyway, they stopped the movie about three minutes in, we had this weirdly informal conversation with the manager about what we should do, and I got a couple passes to come back, but couldn't attend the next screening as it was my first day back to work after the holiday break.

And the more stuff I saw about the movie, the more goggle-eyed I became.  I really wanted to see this flick.

In case you don't know what Shin Godzilla is, essentially Toho Studios rebooted the Godzilla franchise from square one (it was also marketed in the US as Godzilla: Resurgence).  And if you've never seen Gojira, the 1954 Godzilla that is the Japanese version and lacks Raymond Burr (a) shaaaaaaame on you, and (b) fix that immediately.  It's a terrific film.  And aside from Godzilla 1985, Gojira is one of the only movies that's just about Godzilla (aka: Gojira) attacking Tokyo by himself and for mysterious reasons and is not fighting, say, Anguirus*.  Here, in a re-booted universe that's never heard of Godzilla, our scaly pal returns again for the first time to wreak just horrible, unthinkable havoc upon an unsuspecting Tokyo.

And it is really, really good.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Godzilla Man-In-Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima Has Merged With The Infinite



Harou Nakajima, the original Man-in-Suit, has passed.

Watching Godzilla movies will tell you that our gigantic, atomic-fire-breathing-pal had a definite personality.  And I think you can chalk a good chunk of that up to Mr. Harou Nakajima.

To get a better idea of what I mean, give those first few Godzilla movies a spin and watch as the big fella becomes more himself.  A sort of cranky giant who definitely has opinions.

I recently saw this video interviewing the actor.  It is absolutely inspiring and a testament to a certain mindset we could all stand to try on.








Happy Birthday, Michelle Yeoh


The all-around film star is apparently celebrating her birthday today.

This year, she's also been a space captain of some sort in a cameo in Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (and what I wouldn't give for the movie suggested by the grouping there at the end) and will be a very different kind of Captain in Star Trek Discovery.

She really is... out of this world.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

100 Years of Robert Mitchum


Today marks the 100th birthday of actor Robert Mitchum, born this day 1917 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  You hear a lot about Robert Mitchum off-screen, but there's no one else like him when he's on-screen.  TCM is running a marathon of his films in celebration.  Tune in if you got yourself some cable.

Here's to you, Bob.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Nolan Watch: Dunkirk (2017)


These days, I'm not writing up every movie I've seen.  And I'm not going to write up this one.  But I'm suggesting you catch this one while it's still in theaters.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great Andrea Romano, Voice Director for Animation, is Retiring


Like every other DC Comics nerd, I know Andrea Romano's name from watching my Batman, Superman and Justice league cartoons a little too closely.  And, of course, the extras on the DVD sets.

It seems she's hanging up her... headset?  microphone?  and passing off her duties as she heads into well-earned retirement.

It's hard to say how one measures the skill of a voice director for cartoons, but here's a sample of shows she's worked on:


  • Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers
  • Duck Tales
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Animaniacs
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Freakazoid
  • Superman
  • Batman Beyond
  • Static Shock
  • Justice League
  • Teen Titans
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • The Boondocks


and a whole lot more

I know the folks 10 or 15 years younger than me will disagree because they've got nostalgia on their side, but I couldn't ever figure out what was wrong with the acting in the Marvel cartoons of the 1990's (or, heck, today).  The voice acting always sounded rushed, like people just shouting lines into a mic.  But DC's work always sounded natural, like a radio show or movie, just animated.  Her characters were distinct, had their own cadences and personalities.

And when you think of shows like Animaniacs or Tiny Toons - those voices were so specific and as much a part of the characters as any cell animation - you can't really separate the two.  Hell, the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister) still bounce around in my head in perfect pitch.

Yeah, that's because WB has a great stable of voice actors, but they've also been working under Romano for decades now.   She brought in name talent like Clancy Brown for Superman, and she found a fellow by the name of Kevin Conroy and made him "the" Batman for two or three generations of fans, no matter who was putting on the cowl in the feature films.

Back when I was still buying DVDs and BluRays of DC movies and series, I'd always jump immediately to the extras and hope they'd have an interview with Romano, who was casual but a total pro every time she was on camera.  Her feel for the characters and, really, how to work with actors was superb, and it played out in every story, in every series and movie and arc.  And even though she's not associated with Justice League Action - which all of you should be watching - the show's production carries so much of her stamp, such is her legacy at at WB Animation.

I'm sad she's retiring, because it means less of her work, but it's important to say a big thanks to Ms. Romano, who has been such a huge part of so many hours of entertainment we've all been able to enjoy, and who's amazing abilities elevated an artform that many thought of hokey kid stuff.

Here's to you, ma'am.





Sam Shepard Merges With the Infinite


Actor, Playwright, Director and pretty-cool-guy Sam Shepard has passed at the age of 73.  He had been dealing with ALS for some time.

Shepard appeared in one of my favorite films, The Right Stuff, as real-life hero and pilot Chuck Yeager.  It's one of those roles and performances I imprinted on at a young age, and I still marvel at each time I watch the movie.

He'll be missed.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Espionage Watch: Atomic Blonde (2017)



It didn't occur to me that smoking was something that would become something people forgot to know how to do, let alone show on film.  The early 00's saw the end of smoking in film and as an acceptable habit for white urban and suburban middle-classes as well as a sign of rebellion or cool in film and television.  So when smoking - something that makes total sense for your 1989-era spies to be doing - becomes something they don't look like they know how to do, and your movie can't quite figure out that drawing attention to smoking (unless you're David Lynch) is antithetical to cool, anyway, you become somehow less cool than had you never tried in the first place.

Somewhere in the plot-drenched Atomic Blonde (2017) there's a deeply smart movie fully capable of keeping an audience used to cookie-cutter plots on its toes.  This movie also features one of the more ground-breaking action sequences you'll see in any movie this summer, merging the seamless combat sequences of Marvel's Daredevil show with the manic life or death choreography of one of the better Jason Bourne films - and it may be worth the price of admission just for that set-piece alone.

Unfortunately, it's a movie that relies of the same @#$%ing MacGuffin of most spy/ espionage films of the past 20 years - someone has a list of all the covert agents and our hero has to get it back before blah blah blah - while also trying to lift from Le Carre's moral DMZ of Cold War Berlin, and maybe trying to riff on Bowie and other late 20th Century musician's leaning on Berlin as a sort of crucible of self.  But that is giving someone's sexy spy actioner more credit than it's due, at least in presentation rather than intention.

The end result is an overly long movie which seems to believe it's delivering on style while dropping the ball on what 1989 looked like, fails to develop any characters - up to and including our lead - and lets James McAvoy run around looking like a Brad Pitt character a decade early.  But don't worry - someone went to Spotify and filtered for "'80's" and applied period-specific pop songs with a Zack Snyder-esque penchant for making the song so on-the-nose you start thinking about the mechanics of how this movie got made.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mustache You a Question: The Mustache Superman Meme has already produced this...

If you're not keeping up, Justice League is in reshoots (shocker, after Snyder left and Joss Whedon came on).  Therefore, our modern Man of Steel, Henry Cavillm is acting in two movies at the same time, and he's legally bound to wear a mustache for his part in what I think is a new Mission Impossible movie.

So, WB is going to film a mustachioed Superman and then digitally remove his cookie duster.

But - what if it were otherwise?  Well, the internet went nuts yesterday imagining how great that would be.

And, if you want to do more than imagine it or look at a few MS Paint photo manips, the internet hath provided...  (also, The Dug, who sent this to me)



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ape Watch: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)



I was skeptical when Matt Reeves and Co. relaunched the Planet of the Apes franchise a few years back.  We're big fans of the original five films here at The Signal Watch - but despite a certain affection for Tim Burton and an appreciation for anything with a simian in a featured role, I've only seen that remake once.  Because I kind of hated it and wound up having to apologize to several friends who agreed to go see the movie with me.

So, yet another go at the idea wasn't something I was looking forward to initially.

But, lo and behold, Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were released, and, yea, I dug them. They managed to find an astonishing line where they could break from the original narrative but still give nods enough, show respect for those movies and still be entirely their own thing.  If Caesar wasn't the child of apes who'd traveled through time and space, we still found a way to make him the founder of the Ape Society that didn't need to bend time and space to get the job done.  And if I always stood by the complex heart of the original slate of films, the new movies refused to be any less challenging.

I'm pleased to report that War for the Planet of the Apes is a worthy conclusion to the trilogy, an astonishing technical achievement, and - as all the apes movies have been (save the Burton one-off) a thoughtful character study and examination of morals.  And, of course, a dystopian sci-fi franchise that actually earns its dim view of humanity.  It isn't just ignorance or folly that leads to man's downfall, it's mankind's inability to tame our demons that drives us straight over the cliff.

"Professor Marston & The Wonder Women" - Trailer for WW Comics Origin Pic



Well, this is going to complicate things.

But, yes, I'll absolutely be going to see it.  First read about this circa 2001 in a book by Les Daniels.

Monday, July 17, 2017

RoboWatch: "RoboCop" at 30



Monday 7/17 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of RoboCop.  It's no secret that we here at The Signal Watch are fans of the 1987 sci-fi cyborg opus, and, so, over the weekend, we watched the movie for 476th time.

The first time we caught RoboCop, it was at a one-screen, old-fashioned movie house in Ishpeming, Michigan, when we were on our annual visit to see the grandparents in the summer of 1987, and - for whatever reason - my mom decided we needed to not spend another evening pounding soda in my grandparent's living room, and, instead, pound soda out of the house.

We alerted my mom to the idea that the movie was Rated-R, but the KareBear and Admiral were fairly liberal about this sort of thing, and in the era of Arnie, if my dad wanted to watch the latest Rated-R action releases, he was watching them with us, so we were getting pretty well desensitized to violence in movies, is what I guess I'm accidentally saying.*

Sunday, July 16, 2017

George Romero Merges With The Infinite


It's impossible to measure the impact this man had on pop culture and culture in general.  Legendary director and inventor of the modern zombie genre, George Romero, has passed.

We'll miss you, George.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Spider-Watch: Spider-Man - Homecoming


So, I hadn't actually paid all that much attention to Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) prior to showing up to see it in the theater Thursday night.  Sure, I'd watched the trailer and was pleased they went with The Vulture for a villain.

At this point, I'm fine with just noting the release date of a Marvel movie, paying my money and showing up.  Marvel hasn't always knocked it out of the park, but I'm generally guaranteed a pretty good time out at the movies, and some of the films have been spectacular, reminding me both why I love superheroes and a trip to the movies.

It wasn't too hard to figure out that this Spider-Man film would stick to the high-school years, abandon comic canon (all the Marvel movies have done that), but stick to the core of what makes the character work (also, all the Marvel moves have done that).  After feeling let down by Sony's reboot of Spidey with The Amazing Spider-Man - so much so (gulp) I never watched the sequel - I was thrilled that Marvel and Sony saw the light (and potential for profit) enough to bridge differences and make it work.

I'm pleased to say I enjoyed myself as much as I did at Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and many other Marvel films of the past decade.  And, while there are huge changes from the comics, Spider-Man: Homecoming reminded me why I ever liked Spider-Man, his world, and his niche in the Marvel Universe.  And, that I am very much not alone in wanting to see Peter Parker swinging from a web and trying his hardest.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Black Panther teaser trailer is go (and looks amazing)

I won't get into how much I dig the Black Panther concept in general, but if this trailer is any indication, I'll be there opening weekend.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wonder Watch: Wonder Woman (2017)




It's no secret I'm not a fan of the three prior entries in the shared DC filmic universe (which the kids are calling the DCEU, of DC Extended Universe, which makes no sense, but this train left the station without me).

If you want to extrapolate how much I was dreading the possibility of another weak entry from DC in the current superhero movie bonanza, you can check out my recent post on my love for Wonder Woman as a character and then, based on how I felt about Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, try to figure out how another movie as weak as the prior DC films was going to settle with me.

Of course, as the cinematic debut of The Amazing Amazon (despite 75 years in print and a well-known commodity), Wonder Woman (2017) carried an unreasonable set of both expectations and penalties for movies far beyond this single picture.  If it failed, who knew what this meant for Wonder Woman as a franchise, yes,* but, if it failed: what would happen to female-starring superhero movies in general?

With much of the same crew responsible for prior efforts involved in this venture, there was no reason to believe much had changed from the disappointing first three DC filmic installments.  And, no, I couldn't trust the trailers.  Man of Steel had a phenomenal trailer, and I actually went to see Suicide Squad in part because it had a different director than Snyder and had a fun trailer.

Whatever changed at DCEU's offices (Geoff Johns' rise to power, I'm guessing), I am ecstatic to say:  Wonder Woman has made it to the big screen, and I was absolutely thrilled with the movie.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

TL;DR: We Discuss Our Love of Wonder Woman as Character, Icon and Hero



This isn't a review of the movie, which I'm slated to see in a few hours.  But with the arrival of Wonder Woman in cinemas, I wanted to reflect on Wonder Woman as a character and my road with Diana.

Like most kids of my generation, I grew up with Wonder Woman as the default "superhero for girls".  Sure, DC had a wide array of female characters, but a lot of "team" concepts aimed at boys included 1 or maybe 2 girls on the team no matter how big the roster got (see: GI Joe).  And on Super Friends, Wonder Woman was the all-purpose female character who was not Jayna of The Wonder Twins of Wendy of Super Marv and Wendy (ahhh, the 70's).

but at least they gave WW two villains from her rogues gallery