Showing posts with label movies 2015. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies 2015. Show all posts

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The 2015 Kryptos! We Talk the Best and Worst and What Made an Impression in 2016

Hey, everybuddy!

Welcome to the 2015 Signal Watch Awards, or, as we're calling them here - The Kryptos!  We've named the awards after everyone's favorite flying super dog.  We were going to call them The Jimmies, but that sounded like a crappy local pop-punk band, or some sort of speed the kids would be doing by crushing up their ADD meds, and we're not doing it.

So, welcome to the First Annual Kryptos - for 2015!

It's sepia for class

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - A Year in Movies (Let's Talk Numbers!)



When I came back to the site at the end of 2014, I picked up in 2015 with enough hubris and energy to decide to write about each movie I watched this year.  Unless something weird happens in the next few hours, I am able to accurately state that I posted on every movie I watched which I watched in its entirety in calendar year 2015.

I did not mention every movie I did not watch all the way through, usually because I tuned in for a bit to a movie I'd seen before and wouldn't bother to finish or came in very late.  I also didn't do full write-ups of a few movies, but no one seemed to mind that I had nothing to say about Spies Like Us.

So, in this post - let's talk numbers.  I'll give out awards later.

For the breakdown on a spreadsheet, feel free to click here.  It's also at the bottom of the post, if you hate clicking things.

As of 2:18 PM on December 31, 2015 I watched and said something about 181 movies.  

The last time I kept count was 2012, when I watched just 136 movies.  As I recall, we were watching a lot more TV that year and I was working like crazy.

That said - that's a whole 45 more movies, at about 1.75 hours a piece, that's about 79 more hours of movies - or two working weeks.  Plus, I dunno, maybe 45 minutes per post.  That's about 34 hours of post-time.  So, a total of about 113 hours more than 2012.

(edit:  I actually checked and back in 2012, we were double-posting movies a lot.  It was 136 posts and 147 movies.  Corrected numbers - 34 more movies in 2015, an average of 59.5 hours of movies, 25.5 hours of posts, so - let's call it 85 hours more than 2012).

Yikes.

If we figure 181 movies at 2.5 hours of watching and posting, that's 452.5 hours I've give you people this year, or more than 11 weeks of work.  And it's likely more than that as a lot of the movies were more than 1.75 hours, so let's not think too hard about this before I start really worrying about what I'm doing with my life.

Anyway, here we go...

New Years Watch: Sunset Boulevard (1950)



The movie neither begins nor ends on New Years.  Instead, it's the morbid spectacle of New Years Eve in the Desmond mansion that's the crucial turning point in the movie as screenwriter Joe Gillis decides to stop fighting the pull of Norma Desmond.

With a night out (a rarity of late) ahead of us for New Years, I figured whatever I put in at 9:30 PM on 12/30 would be the last movie I'd watch for the year.  Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a movie I am afraid I came to quite late, and one I wish I'd paid attention to years ago, though I am uncertain that - as a 20-something - if I would have seen it as much more than highly enjoyable melodrama and camp.  Certainly I'd understand it was loaded with enough real star power behind it to lend it an air of legitimacy, but it's in watching the movie as an older viewer that the movie resonates in a way that I'm unsure it would in quite the same way for a younger viewer.

Joe Gillis is a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, a tarnished golden-boy, unable to produce the same kind of work that landed him some big gigs in Hollywood in recent memory.  Now, though, at 30-ish, he's yesterday's news, unable to sell a story, laden with debts at his heels, the finance company ready to take his car.

Avoiding those repo men, he turns into an overgrown driveway on Hollywood's famed Sunset Boulevard, finding himself on the grounds of a decaying mansion, an echo of the glory days of the silent era.  Inside he finds former silent star Norma Desmond, an actress who vanished - as so many did as the industry moved from silent to sound.  She's survived, wealthy enough to keep the world outside at bay, her manservant, Max, helping to protect and shield her from the world which has forgotten her and moved on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bond Watch: Goldfinger (1964)

So, we just finished Goldfinger (1964), and I may have mixed myself a Vesper halfway through.



A Vesper is:

  • 3 parts Gordon's Gin
  • 1 part whatever Vodka I have around (Tito's.  God bless Austin, TX)
  • 1/2 part Lillet 
  • and a lemon twist

Shaken, not stirred.  And operate no heavy machinery after enjoying one.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars Watch: Episode VII Re-Watch



These were the tickets I'd bought a while back when I found out I was responsible for getting my family out to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).  In case you missed it in my prior Star Wars posts about Growing Up Star Wars back in the 70's and 80's, Star Wars was for me (and a lot of us) a family affair.  So, I couldn't be too surprised when my mom and brother (everyone lives in Austin.  Don't knock it til' you haven't had to travel on a holiday in five years.) separately suggested we get together to see the movie.  In the end, once we added on JuanD, there were eight of us, total, out to see the movie.  Jamie, her dad, my dad, my mom, Jason, Amy, Juan (Solo), and myself.

I now have the official Alamo Drafthouse collector's glass and magazine and all that.

Oh, yeah, spoilers below the "read more" break.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bond Watch: From Russia With Love (1963)



As I mentioned in my chat on Dr. No, Jamie got us the "50 Years of Bond" BluRay boxed set for Christmas.  We're fans of 007, and it looks like we're going to gradually make our way through the Bond movies in chronological order.

I should also mention, I'd seen this movie another time in recent years, but my comments were brief, to say the least.

It's amazing to see the jump from a sort of rough sketch of Bond movie we get with Dr. No (1962) to a full Bond film with From Russia With Love (1963).  Of course, if you start in the Marvel Cinematic U, even the much-celebrated Iron Man that launched the whole enterprise feels a bit primitive in comparison to what we're now getting.*

This adventure sends Bond to Istanbul in 1963 as the Cold War is underway.  SPECTRE has recruited a top SMERSH agent (Rosa Kleb, who has effectively defected to SPECTRE), but only the top Kremlin brass have that intel.  This agent grabs one of the top SPECTRE prospects, played by Robert Shaw, to execute the plans given to her by the chief SPECTRE strategist.  Their plan is... incredibly convoluted - but they'll have an attractive staffer at the Russian Embassy in Russia throw herself at Bond with the gift of a Russian code-device.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Bond Watch: Dr. No (1962)


It's been so long since I've seen Dr. No (1962), and I remembered so little of it, that I'm calling this the first time I've seen the movie.  I remembered a few things from the movie - the look of Dr. No, Ursula Andress and Quarrel, the local fellow who rightfully does not want to get all that mixed up in Bond's adventures.

For good or ill (for you people), Jamie's Christmas gift to me was a 2012 boxed set of "50 Years of Bond", so, yes, I now have every single Bond movie on BluRay, so you can probably expect we'll be looking at a lot of Bond over the next few months.

The timing isn't entirely coincidental (I just asked for confirmation on this).  Jamie ordered the set partially because (a) she knows I've always liked Bond, and I've become more interested in Bond in recent years and (b) I was reading the books.  Also, Jamie (almost) always likes Bond, so it's not like I need to wait for her to go to bed to put one of these movies on.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars Watch: Return of the Jedi (1983)



Ah, Return of the Jedi (1983).  The much-debated finale to the original trilogy, where people get mad that the Empire is defeated by a band of teddy bears.

Look, it doesn't bother me.  In fact, I like it.  The Emperor has "foreseen" how all will unfold.  He's moved the pieces into place so that the Alliance will finally be crushed, caught in a Battle of the Bulge scenario as the Rebel Fleet is trapped between the fully-operational Death Star and some portion of the Imperial Fleet.  But ol' Darth Sidious here did not account for the forest weirdos he considered so lowly they couldn't play a part in his schemes.  And, not only do they show the Rebels a backdoor to the Imperial Base/ Generator - they take out local security in guerrilla warfare.  So they were kinda cute mammal things.  So what?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Watch: White Christmas (1954)



It seems like Holiday Inn (1942) used to be the Bing Crosby Christmas movie of choice for television, but the past few years, probably because it's in color and because they don't have to cut out any super-racist blackface scenes, White Christmas (1954) has been the Bing Crosby film that AMC has really been pushing.  

In my book, White Christmas is the Pepsi to Holiday Inn's Coke - both are fine, but I'll usually start with Coke (well, Coke Zero or Diet Coke) and work my way backward to Pepsi.  Again - I don't want to say Holiday Inn isn't hugely problematic by any standard after 1952 or so.  It is.  But when you cut out that President's Day sequence (shudder) the story just works better.  For me, anyway.  Plus, I like Fred Astaire a magnitude more than I'll ever like Danny Kaye.

But we don't have Holiday Inn, we have White Christmas.

Star Wars Watch: Star Wars Episode V -The Empire Strikes Back (1980)



This is the holy mother of Star Wars movies, and it's always a funny one to watch, because I don't disagree, but it's a movie that doesn't make a lot of sense.  The Empire Strikes Back (1980) should be the measuring stick you're using when you start coming at me with plot holes in the new movie, because if you found a few there, this one is like the remains of a tattered sheet hanging on a laundry line after ten years in an Oklahoma back yard.

But I still love it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars Watch: The Force Awakens (2015)



Due to the surge and servers blowing up, etc...  when the pre-sale began, I didn't buy tickets for opening weekend of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).  I was also deeply skeptical of another stab at the movies by a director for whom I have no particular affinity, and who has been involved with some things I thought were downright bad.  In October I wrote a bit about trying to remain optimistic, but cautiously so.  After all, I'd already had not one but three bad experiences with Star Wars, and this would mean the end of my interest in the franchise.

My original plan was to just wait for the reviews to roll in and then pull the trigger on buying tickets or (shudder) not buying them and waiting for the movie to eventually cross my path, but I was talked into buying tickets for my family.  And, good luck finding a day or time before Christmas to get that whole crew in one place.  So, we were headed to see the movie on December 27th.

Then the reviews came out, and they averaged toward very, very good  Not that I read any (I still haven't), but a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score is usually a good indicator of something.  Then word of mouth from trusted sources came back, all spoiler-free, and I was a bit sad I wouldn't see the movie for many days yet.  Then my former boss, who has a 7 year-old son who thinks he's Anakin Skywalker, started texting me, assuming I'd seen the movie, and I realized:  I am going to get this movie ruined for me by accident.  If not the internet (which has done a remarkable job of keeping it's mouth shut.  Which... when has that ever happened?), then someone at the comic shop or at work on Monday was going to blow it.

So, I bought two tickets for 8:00 AM today, the only two remaining seats, I think.  And after getting up at 6:30 AM and arriving at the theater at 7:30, we sat in our front row seats and waited for the scroll.

I am happy to say, I actually very much enjoyed The Force Awakens.

Before continuing - I am well aware of the Spoilers problem around this movie, so if you want to remain Spoiler-Free, best to just say "okay, Ryan was cool with it" and move on.  Because we're just going to talk about the movie after this.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars Watch: Star Wars (or, as you kids call it, Episode IV: A New Hope)

where the hell are Leia's sleeves?


I believe I've already done a fair job already talking Star Wars Episode IV in context in recent posts, so I'll let you kids read that and come back, if the Force compels you or whatever.

Back in October I posted about how I was trying to remain calm and reasonable about the new Star Wars movie until reviews were in.  I wasn't even planning on buying tickets until after the first mass of reviews hit Rotten Tomatoes.  So, I wasn't supposed to be seeing the movie until the 27th.  I know, crazy, right?

Well, I also realized - Disney is not really all that hyped about not making money, so my belief that Episodes IV-VI would be readily available on cable this week was just fundamentally stupid.  And, to give you guys how much of an idea of how much I've been not paying attention to Star Wars, I didn't own a copy in any format.  But, a quick perusal of Amazon fixed that, and my BluRay copies of the Special Edition discs showed up (don't worry, they were pretty cheap, actually).

But it may have been 10 years since I last watched Star Wars, which is mind-boggling when I realize I've seen Three Amigos twice in the past two years.

Tonight we threw Episode IV in the ol' BluRay and gave it a whirl.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tracy & Hepburn Watch: Desk Set (1957)



I admit to not having watched too many/ any of the classic Spencer Tracy/ Katherine Hepburn pairings.  It's not that I don't like either Tracy or Hepburn.  Look, I'm busy, okay?

I'm not.  There's no excuse.

But I have wanted to watch Desk Set (1957) for some time.  Neither Hepburn nor Tracy were kids anymore by the time this movie shot - Hepburn at 50, Tracy at 57.  And the movie dealt with the era when computers were first making their way into companies as a sign of progress as much as for the practical considerations.  What I didn't know was that the movie would actually touch the area I work in, tangentially, but certainly in recognizable ways.

Holiday Watch: Christmas in Connecticut (1945)



I'm at the tail end of low-grade but extremely annoying cold.  Today it settled in my chest as this loud, dry cough.  So, I've been basically laying around since about Wednesday, which may explain why you've seen so much blogging and movie watching.

I really miss being twenty-five and never being sick for more than 48 hours.

I can't say I'm the world's biggest fan of Christmas in Connecticut (1945).  It's a sort of mid-century American farce.  Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the Martha Stewart of 1945, a popular home-making writer for a Redbook-like magazine, providing lifestyle and cooking tips from her New England farm as she makes delectable meals for her husband and baby.  What America doesn't know is that Lane is actually a city girl, unmarried and childless, who is sharing the recipes of her friend Felix, a restaurateur.  It's a wartime film, and so it follows a sailor who survives a U-Boat attack by drifting at sea and is considered a war hero.  Through some convoluted chicanery, Lane's publisher, Alexander Yardley (the always fantastic Sydney Greenstreet) invites both the sailor and himself to Lane's farm for Christmas.

Not wanting to lose her job, Lane borrows her stuffy suitor's farm for the event, having him pose as her husband and she manages to borrow a baby.  Like I said, it's got quite a bit of farce to the whole thing.

The movie is a bit of frothy Christmas fluff, a bit of something for the whole family.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sci-Fi Watch: Tomorrowland (2015)



Before typing up anything, I had to re-read NathanC's take and Gerry's comments on Tomorrowland (2015).  Both are parents, both have an affinity for the Disney Parks that I get, but I am not in the same league.  I'd highly recommend you guys read their posts as Nathan and Gerry cover both the Disney aspect and other aspects of the context of the film in a way I'm just not going to.

Frankly, this movie is a mess - something that explained itself immediately when I saw the name Damon Lindelof appear in the credits as soon as the movie ended.  But it was the beginning of the movie, the clunky framing device of George Clooney's Frank Walker talking at the screen and being unable to decide where to start the story, where I felt my hackles first rise.  The conceit feels like an in-joke, like the creators couldn't figure out how to start their movie, and made their indecision part of the film.

From there on, I'd argue we have two or three completely different scripts competing for screentime, something I felt to be true of Lindelof's Prometheus script as well.  Is this a straightforward sci-fi thriller where we have a Chosen-One who has to outrun the baddies until the mystery of their special-ness is explained and they fulfill the prophecy?  Is it a talky sci-fi film exploring deeper ideals?  Are the characters wacky 2D stand-ins or three-dimensional people with motivations?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pixar Watch: Toy Story (1995)



Well.

I sure as heck am not bothering with a plot synopsis on this one.  If you're old enough to read, you've seen this one.

Disney had a special on Thursday evening talking about the production and legacy of Toy Story (1995), and it was well worth catching.  I'd forgotten Joss Whedon was on scripting duties for the movie, and its actually a bit of fun to remember the state of technology and animation from the era.  If you get a chance to catch the special on TV or on a DVD extra sometime, I suggest giving it a whirl.

This year marks 20 years since Toy Story hit the big screen and changed animation and entertainment forever.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)



I think the first time I saw Miracle on 34th Street (1947) was in high school when some teacher or other was trying to kill time before Christmas break.  Between you, me and the wall, what I probably remember most from that first viewing was Maureen O'Hara.  Yes, I was a teenage boy.  Sue me.

But even with that viewing, I dug the spirit of the whole thing.  It's a great example of a true all-ages movie you could take the kids and Grandma to and enjoy it yourself.  It's a fantasy, yeah, but it's one that exists in the adult world of drunk Santas, incompetent counselors, exhausted parents, Bellevue Hospital, legal issues, politics and divorce.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Watch: Krampus (2015)



Yeah, yeah.  Someone was going to go see this, so it might as well have been me.  SimonUK and I talk each other into all sorts of things.

I don't think I'd ever heard of the notion of The Krampus until sometime in the last decade, and I can't remember if the Venture Bros. were my first exposure to the character or not, but I remember being very, very excited about The Krampus.  It certainly wasn't part of American Yuletide tradition when I was growing up.  All we had was The Grinch, and that was a very, very different kind of story.

In a way, The Krampus is both enforcer of the spirit and meaning of Christmas and the antithesis of the Coca-Cola version of Santa that I think maybe people get a little worn out on, so the idea that there's a version of St. Nick/ Santa/ Father Christmas/ Papa Noel that goes around with a demonic jerk that will hit you with birch switches just sort of appeals, I guess.  After all, Christmas is a holiday of behavioral extremes.  This season of goodwill and charity is also topped off with family violence, Black Friday brawls over electronics, and spikes in depression.

Krampus (2015) is a product of Michael Dougherty, the same guy who wrote and directed Trick r' Treat, which we watched and quite liked just this last Halloween.  Unlike the latter film, Krampus is not an anthology film - it's a pretty straightforward pressure-cooker horror flick that, instead of going after sexy but dumb teenagers or college-kids, or yuppies in a secluded house, takes place in what seems to be the suburban mid-west and pretty much your typical American whitebread family Christmas get together.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bogie Watch: To Have and Have Not (1945)



Based on an Ernest Hemingway novel, To Have and Have Not (1945) stars Bogart and Bacall as two folks avoiding the war who stumble across one another on the French-Caribbean island of Martinique.  As near as I can tell from a quick glance at Wikipedia, in the 8 years or so from the book's publication and WWII led to the adaptation undergoing some significant alterations, changing up quite a bit, including Nazi-sympathizing Frenchmen, and basically - WWII in general.  I haven't read the book yet (actually getting through most of Hemingway's novels is a bucket list item for me, but I get so easily distracted), so I'll have to trust the internets.

The movie takes place on the French island of Martinique, a place in a precarious position as Germany has taken over France, and the influence is felt even this close to the United States.  Bogart plays a captain of a small fishing vessel who has successfully avoided participation in the war and is mostly interested in getting by and saving his own skin.  Bacall plays a pickpocket and hustler who has landed on the island with no money and no prospects except for grabbing the wallet of Bogart's latest client who owes him nearly $1000 (and who planned to skip without paying).  He's also being asked to help out some French Resistance locals, but doesn't want to get involved, but when the German-controlled authorities get into a shootout with the resistance, Bogart's customer dies in the crossfire before he can pay and the local police Captain seizes what money Bogart does have.

Holiday Watch: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)



My understanding is that, for a span of years, It's a Wonderful Life (1946) fell into some sort of legal limbo and the film entered the public domain.  Back when cable was still a relatively new concept and far more attention was paid to local affiliates, the movie became a staple for UHF channels to play over and over during the Christmas season.

That's not really my memory of the movie, but I came in on the tail end of that.  By the time I became aware of It's a Wonderful Life, it may have already been spoofed on Saturday Night Live and elsewhere.  It was already baked into the zeitgeist.

I actually do remember seeing the movie for the first time, but I'd have to do some math to figure out which year that would have been.  I know I watched the movie on a Christmas Eve when I was in middle school, and I recall I was in a mood because - as was usually the case - our house was packed with relatives and had become quite stuffy with that many warm bodies.  To make a showering and prep schedule work, I had been ordered to get cleaned up for Christmas Eve services very early in the evening.  This mission accomplished, I was sitting around in church clothes, overheated, hours before we were scheduled to leave.  So, I watched almost the entire movie, as I stewed in my least comfortable clothes, but I was absolutely rapt.  I loved the movie.  I won't say it saved Christmas for me (as long as I got to get home and get into street clothes again, I was good), but it certainly cast how I was thinking of the next few hours in a new light.