Saturday, December 4, 2021

Music Doc Watch: The Beatles - Get Back (2021)




Watched:  12/3/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  uhhhh...

I have what I'd describe as a non-relationship with The Beatles.   

I can't remember a time I wasn't aware of the existence of The Beatles, and since middle-school, I could pick out one of their tunes playing on the radio or over Muzak - but at some point when I was getting into music, I think I found the enormity of The Beatles as cultural force daunting, and their discography too big for me to get my head around.  I also think I had a hard time - as a high schooler - reconciling the Ed Sullivan Beatles with the late-years Beatles.  It was just so much.

I do know that in 1984 my parents took me to the movie theater to see Give My Regards to Broad Street. (That was when I first heard Eleanor Rigby and my wee brain was blown).  But they, themselves, weren't huge Beatles fans.

Friday, December 3, 2021

WATCH PARTY FRIDAY - a Christmas Surprise!

 


Ho-Ho-HO!!!!

Tis the Season for Friday Watch Parties!

Each week, we're going to watch a different film that will be a surprise when you click on through at the link.  So until you do so, you'll be filled with the anticipation of Christmas, not knowing what is in the box under the tree!

oh, boy!  It's (insert movie name here)!

No, I am not telling you what it is.  All I'll say about this week's movie is that I haven't seen it, but it's supposed to be watchable.


Day:  Friday - 12/3/2021
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon Prime
Cost:  FREE



Thursday, December 2, 2021

PODCAST 172: "Scrooged" (1988) - Christmas 2021 w/ MRSHL & Ryan



Watched:  11/12/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Richard Donner




Marshall delivers a visitation upon the podcast to impart the lesson he knew in life - everyone likes Bill Murray as Frank Cross. Join he and Ryan as they talk an 80's Christmas favorite, one of the best retellings of Dicken's immortal classic, and much is made of television then and now. It's a Christmas favorite here at Signal Watch HQ, and we're delighted to get to talk on it.




Music:
Scrooged Suite - Danny Elfman, Scrooged OST 
Put a Little Love in Your Heart - Al Green and Annie Lennox, Scrooged OST 


Christmas 2021 PodCasts

Monday, November 29, 2021

Light Noir Watch: The Big Steal (1949)




Watched:  11/29/2021
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Don Siegel

A tight little film from RKO, I thought maybe I'd seen The Big Steal (1949) when I saw it listed just based on the cast.  William Bendix, Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum is plenty to get me to take a look.  And, yes, given the non-descriptive names of many-a-film noir, I have to check to see what the movie is and if the summary of plot rings any bells.  And even then, I'm often 5 to 10 minutes into a movie and realize "say... I've seen this before".    

But... no.  I hadn't seen the movie.

It's a lot of plot, a minimum of character, and swings between comedy, road trip movie and crime movie surprisingly deftly.  Mitchum plays a guy on the run from the US Army, looking for Jane Greer's fiancé (Patric Knowles), Fiske.  The fiancé swears he's on the up and up to Greer when she finds him in a Mexican hotel minus the $2000 he took when he split without a word.  But he swears he'll have it.  That very day, in fact.

And then he bounces as Greer takes a shower.  

Mitchum and Greer team-up and go after him, and do that "they irritate each other" to "romance is blossoming" thing.  Bendix pursues semi-ruthlessly.  But the Mexican setting and characters are marginally more than a back-drop in this film.  Ramon Navarro as the Inspector General and Don Alvarado as Lt. Ruiz are watching our Americans flail around and set their own plan in motion that's 2 steps ahead of our leads.  Greer speaks Spanish and has an understanding of her surroundings that Mitchum lacks - and is way too distracted to learn more.  But you do get an idea that this movie is trying harder than some others that treat Mexico as one big resort via Greer and our police officers and a few other players (the road crew boss is excellent).

Anyway - it's Mitchum playing Mitchum, Bendix playing Bendix and Jane Greer looking lovely and having some excellent beats, both comedic and otherwise.  This film is two years after Out of the Past, which also teamed Greer and Mitchum, and my guess is they must have liked working together.  But it's so... different.  But, still, within their personas all three leads could really stretch and do whatever was needed.  The much lighter tone here - I mean, the movie ends on a punchline callback - allows Greer to do some very different work than the few other films of this era where I've seen her.  And we know Mitchum and Bendix can do comedy, and it all holds.  The movie doesn't feel tonally off as it leaps around, it just goes with the adventure of the high-stakes road trip.

I dug it.  Not going to set the world on fire, but it was enjoyable.  And, hey, we got to see Jane Greer drive like a maniac.

Signal Watch Christmas Music Playlist




Hey! 

Here's just over an hour of carefully selected Christmas tunes for you to rock to all month long. Play 'em in order and have an egg nog or cider and know The Signal Watch is giving you a confident nod and a lifting of the glass to share in your holiday merriment.


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Holiday Watch: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)




Watched:  11/28/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Hughes

This may be a misperception, but it often seems to me that people discuss and possibly remember Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) differently from what the movie actually is (to me).  The film definitely has some large and broad comedic moments, but it's not really a slapsticky comedy.  And for long stretches, it's not actually funny.  

I wouldn't say I don't like it, but it's also not a movie I rush into rewatching - as evidenced by the fact that Jamie and I have been married 21 years and tonight she mentioned she'd never seen this film.  So, we put it on.

John Hughes wrote, directed and produced the film and it was part of his move away from the Ringwald teen movies and his move to not just be known as a director of those famous films.  What's curious is how odd it feels seeing the same flow of his teen comedies, that move from comedy to more serious beats in the third act where lessons are sincerely learned, is applied here as well.  And it works - I'm not saying it doesn't, but I think when I hear people discuss this movie, they always just laugh and say "those aren't pillows!", which, honestly is a gag that aged kinda badly and is nowhere near the funniest part of the movie (that's the car bursting into flames as they sit on the trunk on the side of the road).

Friday, November 26, 2021

Holiday Regret/ Rifftrax Watch: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

I like how you can see Harrison Ford thinking about literally anything but where he is in this moment



Watched:  11/22/2021
Format:  YouTube
Viewing:  third?
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Steve Binder

Hubris, thy name is Signal Watch.  

Jamie put up three options for us to watch the other night, and I was like "ha ha!  I'm feeling daffy!  Let's watch The Star Wars Holiday Special!  It'll be great with Rifftrax!"  

Friends, it was not great.

Look, Rifftrax is/ are fun, but they can't turn a broken sewer line into the fountain in front of the Bellagio.  It's more about standing there, cracking wise at the broken sewer line.  I mean, Lucas disavowed and tried to hide the existence of the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) for decades, but early tape decks and bootlegs at sci-fi conventions kept it alive and kicking despite best efforts to quash this thing's existence.  

Star Wars was once upon a time a thing where there wasn't that much of it - unlike today's Disney-fueled production factory, we got a movie every three years and then some occasional oddball items.  But every attempt to expand beyond the narrow confines of the feature films seemed to be met in disaster.  I was jamming to Christmas in the Stars as a kid (a record that drives Jamie into a fury when I put it on), live-action Ewok movies, an Ewok cartoon and a Droid cartoon, all of which were...  not great.  But I hadn't even heard of the Holiday Special until college.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving


I know that Thanksgiving is not always ideal.  May you have as good a day as possible, and if you can, spend it with your squad, no matter what that looks like.  Lord knows, ain't none of us perfect.

Take a beat and be grateful for what you've got.  Maybe this isn't the year where it's a lot, and that's okay.  Maybe next year.  The holidays can be tough.

Wishing you the best.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

PODCAST 171: "Jingle All The Way" (1996) - Christmas 2021 w/ Stuart and Ryan


Watched:  11/03/2021
Format:  YouTube
Viewing: Second?  Third?
Decade:  1990's
Director:   Brian Levant




Stuart and Ryan are in a mad-cap race to find the perfect gift for you, our listeners - and that would be a terrific podcast, just like all the other kids want this year. Will we deliver as trip each other, threaten media outlets, terrorize children and generally fail to deliver as podcast hosts and law-abiding citizens? We take a look at a movie that was panned upon its release, but that younger generations have decided is GREAT (they are wrong). But you gotta love Arnie. And Sinbad, too.




Music:
Jingle Bells - Brian Stezer Orchestra 
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Johnny Mathis


Christmas 2021

Thanksgiving - to the tune of "Africa" by Toto




This is not by me.  This is by The Dug, my brother-in-law.  Credit where it's due.

Thanksgiving (to the tune of "Africa" by Toto)

I hear the drumsticks calling me to biiite /
in between the whispers of some racist conversaaaation /
I show up tired from the flight /
Scents compose a symphony of promised masticaaation /
I saw my uncle nine sheets to the wind /
braced myself for Trump quotes and his new conspiracy theeeory /
Mom turned to me as if to say, "Hurry boy, there's gravy there for youuuu" /
Gonna smile and nod and then preteeend to praaay /
Gonna gain a hundred pounds and chug some Caberneeet /
It's Thanksgiving not in Aaafrica /
Gonna drink a lot and pass the yams and humor Daaaaad



you're welcome