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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Friday Night: Let's Watch and Live Tweet "The Rocketeer"



I don't remember exactly where we came down on the vote, but on Friday night I'm going to watch the 1990's Disney live-action classic The Rocketeer.

Time:  9:15 Central huddle time with a 9:20 start
Runtime:  about 2 hours (we'll take a potty break)
Where to watch:  Amazon Options including streaming
Twitter Hashtag:  #bettyteers
I'm at:  @melbotis
Cocktail of Choice:

Cliff's Undrinkable Rocketfuel

  •      1 part vodka
  •      1 parts gin
  •      1/2 part dry vermouth
  •      twist of lemon


1.  Add liquid to shaker with ice
2.  Shake for five seconds
3.  Pour into class (without the ice, you heathen)
4.  Add lemon twist
5.  Stop complaining, it's good for you

Trek Watch: Star Trek Beyond (2016)



No big secret to anyone with whom I talk Star Trek, but I hated Star Trek: Into Darkness.  That's not a term I use lightly.  Generally, I "didn't like" a movie, it "wasn't aimed at me", "wasn't my cup of tea" or I might have believed "it sucked".  But, nope, I hated Into Darkness.

The movie, which could and should have been about the launch of the Enterprise and establishing the universe around the characters set up in the first movie (which, in many ways, was a glorified version of Space Camp), didn't just feel like a betrayal to the spirit and (pardon the pun) enterprise of the Star Trek universe I've enjoyed as both an avid enthusiast and sometimes occasional fan, depending on which incarnation of Trek we're discussing.  Into Darkness felt like it was picking the bones of a better, much-loved franchise to tell a lousy story and try to steal some of the gravitas along the way rather than creating anything of its own or lending anything new and not doing anything compelling with what bit of novelty it did contain.

With this third installment, Paramount does a yeoman's job of righting the ship and getting it back on course.  I won't try to oversell the movie - it's far from a perfect film (but name the Citizen Kane of Star Trek movies, I dare you), but for the first time in three movies, it feels like Trek.  And, man, that is actually terribly important.  Not only does this installment understand the universe of Trek better than its forebears, it does that thing of spiffying it up and adds some new bits along the way.

I hadn't actually planned to see the movie.  The first trailer I saw alongside The Force Awakens was so cringe-inducing and tone deaf (and, as it turns out, a bad representation of the actual film), that I just laughed it off and decided I'd get back to Star Trek at some other point with some other relaunch after the public wrote off this series for good.

The Star Trek reboot, in my opinion, was a failure.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Comic-Con Trailer Discussion! DC, Marvel, Kong!



Randy suggested I take a look at the trailers that came out during Comic-Con, and while I haven't looked at every one of them, and some of them I have no opinion on in general (like the new Harry Potter), I guess I can do this fairly quickly and painlessly.


DC


Wonder Woman



I've already been asked how accurate this is to the original comics, but as one always has to say with DC comics and characters, in particular, the specifics aren't that important.  Especially trying to bring the character to the big screen in 2017 versus what the characters were like in their 1941 original first appearance.

The question needs to be:  how did they handle the origin in general (do the producers understand the character well enough to understand the importance and resonance of the most important details of the character), and what did they do to demonstrate that the character is not a new character masquerading as the titular character?

I am not expecting the poly-sexual, bdsm subliminal antics of the original comics to ever make the big screen (we can make arguments about Season 1 of the Lynda Carter show some other time).  This is the Wonder Woman of the Greg Rucka era, who still carries the lasso, but is like to pick up a sword and shield.  To avoid comparisons to her contemporary creation, Captain America, the origin story has been transported to WWI instead of WWII, a change which I feel doesn't exactly make sense for a downed aviator to find Themyscira by accident (the range on those flyers was not putting them out over the mid-Atlantic, and aircraft carriers barely existed at the time).

But, ignoring the logistics of aviation history, I have to say I'm as excited by this trailer as I likely am to be about anything spinning out of DC/WB's theatrical efforts.  Gadot isn't my first choice, but she seems fine in the part.  The action looks like it's not softened in the slightest and the Amazons are living up to their potential from the comics if this trailer is to be believed.

Like Captain America, the action is likely to move to the modern era for any sequels, which kind of begs the question "why set it in WWI when it's going to draw so many comparisons to Captain America?"  It's not like we've lacked for military conflict in the past 20 years.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bourne Watch: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)



Tickets are already purchased for Jason Bourne for next Sunday, and so it was time to wrap up the original trilogy here at home. Eventually I'll make time for the Jeremy Renner Bourne movie, but... anyway.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) wraps up the storyline started in the first movie, answering the questions of "who is Jason Bourne?" and gives Pam Landy a conclusion to her arc as the non-compromised CIA agent trying to do right within the agency.

It has some incredible car chases and whatnot, and I highly recommend it if you've seen the first two and want more of same, but it's not like it's an incredible story on its own. It does feature Albert Finney and David Strathairn with about 30 seconds of Scott Glenn.

Texas Watch: Texas Carnival (1951)


Some forms of comedy just don't work for me, and it's safe to say that I'm not a huge fan of Red Skelton.  I know the guy was huge in his day, but whatever he's up to always feels a bit like he's opted for the obvious, crowd-pleasing, least offensive choice.  If we were active today he'd be on a sitcom with an improbably good looking wife who would always be putting her hands on her hips and saying, "Oh, Red!"

I watched the movie for two reasons.  (1)  It took place in Texas in the 1950's, and I wanted to see what Hollywood thought Texas was like in 1951.  (2)  Ann Miller is in a smaller role in the movie as a girl with showbiz dreams and also ready to marry the first idiot who comes along.

The marquee names are Red Skelton and Esther Williams, the bathing beauty famous for her aquatic acrobatics and perfect make-up at 10 feet below sea-level.  Which is an odd fit for the deserty Texas where the action occurs.

Look, I basically wanted to see what numbers they'd give Ann Miller, which was one song and dance number you can already find on YouTube.  The rest of the movie, including an effects sequence with Esther Williams superimposed "swimming" around a bar as Howard Keel thinks about how much he's in love with her, is barely memorable.

There's an element or two that requires the movie take place in Texas, but 90% of the movie takes place anywhere but the titular carnival.

So.  You got that going for you.

What was kind of funny was that i gave up on the movie, thinking it had about ten minutes of denouement left to work through and I'd catch it later.  So I turned it back on this evening and it had literally 30 seconds left to go.  I guess that tells you how much I felt invested in the movie.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ghost Watch: Ghostbusters (1984)



I wasn't feeling well on Wednesday night.  Allergies, I think.

Anyway, by the time Jamie turned around to see what I was watching, I was 15 minutes into Ghostbusters (1984), which I'd been curious to re-watch since catching the 2016 remake.

There's not much to say other than that I was paying a lot of attention to Harold Ramis in particular this go-round, partially because of how different his take on the mad scientist character was than Kate McKinnon's Holtzmann.

It's interesting to consider that Ramis is credited as a co-writer, and that he also has a writer credit on Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes, all of which feature a sort of devil-may-care, wise-cracking protagonist(s) always played by other people, such as Bill Murray or Chevy Chase.  When he did appear, Ramis himself took a back seat as the quiet, brainier/ more sensitive guy with a lower-key sense of interaction, clearly aware of where his sweet spot really was as a performer.   Fans of the movie aren't surprised to hear Egon Spengler's side remarks, or his "Your mother!" as one of the laugh out loud moments of the movie, but, man, Egon is a really, really funny character.

It was funny, I was watching that scene after the Ghostbusters catch Slimer where Bill Murray seems to be pulling the prices out of thin air, and I had the thought "where did they come up with those prices?" when Jamie said "hold it".  So I paused the DVR and backed it up, and though I have seen Ghostbusters no fewer than 25 times, I had never noticed - when Murray is rattling off the prices for proton pack charging, etc...  Spengler is actually indicating the prices to him with his fingers.  It's fully in shot, but I'd never seen it before.  You probably have, but I had not.

It's not like people don't appreciate Ramis as performer, writer and director, but it may be that a lot of what I've attributed to Bill Murray in some of those earlier pictures was a collaborative effort in a way maybe I didn't give enough credit where it was due.  We all know the early drafts of the Ghostbusters scripts were envisioned very differently as Dan Aykroyd/ John Belushi weirdo movies, and it may be that Ramis' touch for the absurd in the mundane mixed with Aykroyd's wild ideas and with all the performances put together is where we wound up with the Ghostbusters we think of when we're not thinking of Kristen Wiig and friends.

Here's to Ramis.  That guy was all right.

new poster for Wonder Woman movie


Still praying this will be good...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Still pretty jazzed about "Rogue One"



I forgot to post the new footage shared at the Star Wars Celebration. I've only really talked to JuanD about the footage so far.

But it's safe to say my enthusiasm remains for this offshoot first film.

While it's becoming an increasingly remote possibility that this movie is all X-Wing action, and, in fact, seems to have no X-Wing action, everything else about this makes me happy as a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, the new trilogy and film-making.

The decision Kathleen Kennedy seems to have made to make these movies on real locations and with constructed sets rather than against green screens has given the actors the tools to imagine their scenarios and give the universe the lived in, semi-plausible concrete world of living beings that was always part of the Star Wars aesthetic.  While the culture is a mish-mash from planet to planet, seeing trees and buildings actually constructed - seeing Storm Troopers on a beach - it's all part of the scope and scale of war and war films.

While we use the words "star" and "wars" together, we sort of more think of this as a cosmic family drama/ buddy adevnture, but by pulling out and following this band of literal rebels, we're going to get another peek at the greater Star Wars Universe in filmic form, and see this as a war film.  To me, that's exciting as hell.




Saturday, July 16, 2016

Should We Watch Penelope Ann Miller or Jennifer Connelly? (The Shadow vs. Rocketeer)

yeah, yeah.  There's pulp superheroes in these movies too, somewhere, I guess


Hey, y'all -

It's been a while since we did a live tweet of a movie.

After watching The Phantom, I remember thinking we were going to do The Shadow or The Rocketeer as our next selection, and now I can't remember which 90's retro-throwback we were going to take on.  And, really, I don't care.  The real question here is, "which will we watch first?"

Shall it be the tongue-in-cheek Yellow Peril adventures of The Shadow?  Or the Retro-Joe Johnston stylings of The Rocketeer?  Both have a lot to recommend them, are full of fun and adventure, and both have excellent casting in the leading lady role.

So, speak up.

Plus, if you know what Friday night will work for you in the next few weeks, drop it in the comments.

Video for "Closer Than We Think" doc


Closer Than We Think from Clindar on Vimeo.

I was sent this video by pal-Andrew (Jamie's brother's wife's brother), and now I totally want to see this video. It's a documentary being made about Arthur Radebaugh and his sci-fi futurist strip, "Closer Than We Think". This hits so many positive buttons, I sincerely hope this film is made and gets a release.

For more on Radebaugh

The official website
Indiegogo site

a blogspot site
From the Ohio State Library
Paleofuture at Gizmodo




Friday, July 15, 2016

Bourne Watch: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)



As Jason Bourne is headed soon for theaters, I'm catching up with the three Matt Damon starring Bourne films, and may watch the one with Jeremy Renner (thereby becoming the one person who has seen the one starring Jeremy Renner).

I didn't actually remember much about the plot to The Bourne Supremacy (2004), only moments from the film.  It's the one where he fights a dude with a rolled up magazine, his girlfriend takes a headshot, a massive car chase in Moscow...  stuff like that.  And, of course, Joan Allen.

But it turns out that the story picks up very, very well from the first movie, both the threads from Treadstone and Jason Bourne's evolution as a character, culminating in a heartbreaking scene in the final minutes of the movie that tell you how much this programmed assassin has managed to restore of his humanity.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ghost Watch: Ghostbusters (2016)



I haven't written much about Ghostbusters (2016) up to this point for a few reasons.

I wasn't entirely certain how good the remake would actually be, for one, and so I was watching the trailers with cautious optimism as I quite like all four of the main cast members.  And, while I was aware of the Ghost-Bro nonsense, social media kind of went from having it well in hand to the story being about how we were all going to support this movie and protect it from a few neckbeards online, and somehow that, in and of itself, took on a life of its own that got kind of...  I dunno.  It had taken on a life of its own.

Like many of you, I saw Ghostbusters in the theater as a kid.  My mom took Jason and me one sunny day around opening weekend to a matinee, and the theater was totally packed.  And like a lot of you, I grew up loving the 1984 movie (and, to a lesser extent, the 1989 sequel).  I was never really pulling for a Ghostbusters 3 with the original cast as the last thing I wanted was a third installment that was anything less than the first movie, and I think the sequel proved that the original was a bit of lightning in a bottle.  You could try to get it back, but asking guys twenty years on to do the same again?

So, a reboot it was going to be.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Musical Watch: Show Boat (1951)



Show Boat (1951) is one of those movies you see classic movie buffs referencing a lot, but which I'd never seen and didn't know anything about.  Except that it stars Ava Gardner (bonus!) who doesn't do her own singing (...yeah...).

It is, indeed, about a big paddle-wheel steamer on the Mississippi that acts as stage and home to a troop of river-bound performers in a sort of vaudeville show, and the story of the Hawks family that runs the show.

Familiar faces include the aforementioned Ava Gardner, Agnes Moorehead playing a tightly wound matronly figure (shocking, I know), Joe E. Brown as the ship's owner and stage producer, and Kathryn Grayson as the daughter of Moorehead and Brown, who wants to be a performer herself.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

MST3K Watch: Bride of the Monster (1955) (MST3K episode 1993)


I've seen this movie a few times thanks to the power of MST3K.  And if you're ever curious to see one of the movies covered in the Tim Burton film Ed Wood, I strongly recommend this one.

But I am not spending time writing up this movie.  We all have lives.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Musical Watch: Oklahoma!



The first time I saw Oklahoma! (1955) was in Spring of 1994.  I was sitting on my bed/ couch (it's hard to explain, but anyone who ever lived in Jester at UT understands), when my roommate, Peabo, burst in through the door.
"Oklahoma! is on TV!  Right now!"
"Y'okay."
And we turned it on and watched the whole thing, complete with commercial breaks.

I don't know that I saw it again for a few years, but I saw a rendition of the stage play at the Paramount in Austin circa 2000, and we own the DVD and have seen it at least twice.  

Jamie's actually from Oklahoma (the state, not the musical), and her mom was a big fan of the show, so when Jamie arrived, part of the package was a baked-in enthusiasm for the music from the Rodgers & Hammerstein production.  

Tuesday night Jamie and I hit The Paramount Film Series for the first time this summer (along with Cousin Sue) to see the movie on the big screen.

Whether you've seen Oklahoma! or not, it's a bit like Westside Story or other big musicals - you've heard the big hits whether you know that's where they came from or not.  And in the case of Oklahoma!, the big hits are nigh every song in the show.  So, even as bits in a commercial or co-opted elsewhere, you've heard 'em.  The album has been a #1 record in both the US and the UK (circa 1957), certified multi-platinum and is consistently in production.  If you don't know the music, I assure you - your parents do.

A lot of it's pretty damn catchy.

What's weirdest to me about Oklahoma! is the utter disparity between the sunshiney image of the movie - complete with upbeat music, sweetly naive bumpkin characters, hokey imagery - and the really pretty dark story at the middle of the play, as well as some pretty adult content.  In short, you absolutely could not perform this play in a middle school without a lot of cutting.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ann Miller Watch: On the Town (1949)



I watched On the Town (1949) just last year at The State Theater downtown, so there was no good reason to watch the movie again.  But, Ann Miller.  Sometimes these things happen.

Here's my write up from last time.

best not to think on it too much



Marvel Watch: Iron Man III (2013)


In some ways, all I want to write about here is how much I like Gwyneth Paltrow in movies and how at odds that is with what little I know about her from what we all get to hear about her real life.  Pepper Potts I want to hang with.  But Paltrow?  It's hard to say.

When I went to see Iron Man III (2013), I was laboring under the misconception it was about Pepper Potts as much as it would be about Tony Stark, but, alas, that was not to be.  It was just a few moments that they chose to use in the trailers.

While I really like all three Iron Man movies, gigantic flaws and plotholes and all (and Iron Man 2 has plotholes you could navigate in a steamliner), there's just no comparing what goes down in this movie - scale-wise - with, really, any of the Captain America movies or even Thor.  Or Guardians of the Galaxy.  It's a personal story for Tony, and that focus gives it a certain sense of a 90's actioner to it except in two or three big-scale sequences (like saving everyone who fell out of an airplane).  The consequences of the story seem entirely tied to Tony, and that makes the movie all the more personal while also really making it seem consequence-free in a lot of ways that, say, The Winter Soldier felt like it mattered to everyone on Earth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Jungle Watch: The Legend of Tarzan (2016)



In some ways it's a goddamn crime that the version of Tarzan that Millennials grew up with was saddled with Phil Collins music and Rosie O'Donnell's voice blasting like an air-horn throughout.  I recently tried to re-watch the Disney version of Tarzan, and for all the technical achievements of the film, that "let's do things tied entirely to what's popular in the moment", upon reconsideration, makes the film a grating mess.

I guess Gen X may have been the last generation to be given Tarzan to enjoy in steady doses.  I remember watching black and white Tarzan on TV as a kid, and I have to assume it was Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan with Cheeta.  It's also possible we were watching later movies, the 1960's TV series...   Who knows? Tarzan has known a lot of incarnations in film and television, including maybe the version that really informed me most about Tarzan, the 1970's-era cartoon show.

Before the release of 1984's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Marvel put out a Tarzan magazine comic which covered the first half of the first Tarzan novel.


And this was really what informed me as to the more detailed version of Tarzan's origin.

Like a lot of kids, we played "Tarzan", even if I can't really recall what that meant other than climbing whatever we could get a grip on around the yard and imagining we'd made friends and foes of the 10 or so jungle animals we could name.  But being able to talk to monkeys and lions seemed like a pretty good deal to us.  The 70's and 80's were still safely within the 20th Century, and the notion of High Adventure was still very much a marketable commodity at the time, across nearly all genres, and Tarzan was right at the center of that.

I finally watched the original Johnny Weissmuller movie and read the actual Edgar Rice Burroughs novel of Tarzan of the Apes just last year.  The book is a book of its time, as is the movie, and both have their place in history.  While the prose of the novel may be purple and many ideas in the book would now seem dated, the story still holds as an adventure and romance.  And if we're looking for our own cultural DNA, both Tarzan and ERB's John Carter are vital to understanding what was to come with superheroes and superhumans in fiction and popular culture, and - of course - that's now escalated to culture writ large with fifth generation offspring of Burroughs' creations throwing shields in billion dollar movies.

All that to say, I was a bit pre-disposed to want to see a new Tarzan movie, and, yet, I've seen very, very few of them to date.  Not even Greystoke, which I am told again and again is not worth seeing.

Noel Neill Merges With The Infinite



In an article appearing on The Superman Homepage a statement by her manager, biographer and friend, Larry Thomas Ward has informed us that, Noel Neill has passed at the age of 95.  The New York Times has also released an obituary.

I never took advantage of the opportunities to meet Noel Neill that were available when she was still doing comic conventions and The Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.  By the time I made it to Metropolis, she was 94 and no longer attending.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bond Watch: The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)



The last time I remember watching The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) was during a summer sleep-over in middle school.  At the time, my folks had a tent, and Peabo and I had the bright idea that we'd set up the tent in the backyard and sleep out there.  Of course, this was summer in Texas, and about 9:00 someone figured out it was really hot in that tent, so we went inside to watch TV until it cooled off outside.  The Man With the Golden Gun was just starting, we watched it, and then just slept inside, because camping in your yard makes no sense.

Flash forward to 2016:  As the movie wrapped up this time, Jamie and I had differing opinions.  This is more or less one of the better Moore movies, says I, and Jamie found it "very silly".  I guess it boils down to how you feel about Sheriff JW Pepper, slide whistles and elaborate, carnival-like death traps.  These things, of course, I take deadly seriously.

Bond is told a master-assassin, Scaramanga (Christoper F'in' Lee!) is gunning for him and is taken off his current case about a missing solar energy scientist.  He goes after Scaramanga, tracking him around the planet, and it seems the two cases could be dovetailing.

The cast is an interesting ensemble.  The aforementioned Christoper Lee, model/ actress Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, HervĂ© Villechaize (Tattoo from Fantasy Island) and some Bond stalwarts like Lois Maxwell.  And, of course, Roger Moore.

The locations include Hong Kong and Thailand, and more than one person I've met has been to "James Bond Island" in Phuket.

I kind of dig the change of pace in this movie - that it's an equal to Bond picking a fight with him to see who's the better man.  Of course, that gets an echo of sorts in Skyfall, but Javier Bardem didn't have a shooting gallery with a Roger Moore life-sized doll, did he?  No.  He did not.

This one features karate schools, a half-assed boat chase, an amazing car trick (completely undercut with highly questionable sound effects), lasers, and lots of good stuff.  Including a flying car.  Like, a legit flying car.

I dunno.  I enjoyed it.