Friday, November 13, 2015

Tragedy in Paris

Like all of you, I am furious to read about the terrorist attacks in Paris.  May all free nations unite to fight and end this barbarity.

We're with France.  May the U.S. always remember the great debt we owe France, and always be among the first to lend aid.

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Turkey Day 13

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Noir Watch: The Unsuspected (1947)

It's Noirvemeber, and I haven't really been doing my duty to keep up.  Plowing through October and horror films and then thinking about watching mostly just one genre again sounded like being asked to eat a second turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day.   I may like both genres but, man...  So, I have not taken too much of a noir plunge yet this month outside the superlative Fargo on FX.

But if we were going to jump into Noirvember, I was either going to do it by watching Narrow Margin and see Marie Windsor bust everyone's chops, or with another one of my favorite actresses of the genre, Audrey Totter.  And, man, is she ever good in this movie.  I appreciated her the last time I watched the movie, but this time... yowza.

Turkey Day 12

Mad Watch: Mad Love (1935)

We all grew up liking Peter Lorre thanks to the many imitations Mel Blanc performed of his voice in a sea of WB cartoons, and if that worked for you, I can't really recommend enough catching him in roles from his younger days, such as this film - Mad Love (1935) - or in something like The Maltese Falcon.

I'd recorded Mad Love during TCM's October horror movie sprint, but, a bit like The Black Cat, its a tough one to pin down exactly as a horror film, but it's a label that works better than, say "rom-com" in this instance.  Not only does the film partake in acts of horror and madness, it actually begins within a theater clearly meant to be the original Grand Guignol (a topic worth reading up on if you've got a minute).

Not only does the film star Lorre, we also get Colin Clive, an actor I've enjoyed in Frankenstein films but who pops up all too infrequently in other roles.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Turkey Day 11

Tarantino Watch: Pulp Fiction (1994)

By Fall of 1994, I was in my second year at the University of Texas.  Back in the 80's and 90's, Austin was a much smaller town, but the avid film scene for both film production and film fans, which would become fertile territory for the Alamo Drafthouse to take hold and grow.  You're welcome, America.  Our 90's love of beer and movies is now our gift to you.

For reasons upon which I am unclear, Quentin Tarantino was well aware he had a particularly vocal fanbase in Austin.  I suspect screenings of Reservoir Dogs at either The Dobie (a small "art house" theater on the edge of campus) or the Village (a larger, equally dumpy art house theater a few miles north of downtown) might have gone well for the director, but I was living in North Houston from 90-93, and missed that window.  

Anyway, Tarantino booked a screening of his new film, Pulp Fiction (1994), on campus at UT Austin about two months before the film's broad release.  I've written before about the experience*, but it was pretty amazing.  Hogg Auditorium, an old-style movie and performance house, was filled to capacity.  The place was rowdy as hell.  People were dressed in black suits and ties.  In sports parlance, this was a hometown crowd.

So, it should come as no surprise that when Amanda Plummer's character took the screen, shouted spittle our direction and then the credits appeared, the crowd went monkey-shit.  Standing en masse, cheering, clapping, roaring really.  And not for the last time.  The adrenaline shot didn't just get the crowd on its feet, if there'd been a police cruiser to turn over and set ablaze, it would have happened.  We were up and down in our seats throughout the screening, and I guess at that point Mr. Tarantino had a good idea there was an audience for his movie.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Inexplicable BudK Catalog

I have no @#$%ing idea

So, this showed up in the mail.  That's right, it's a Christmas Knife!  These people aren't making the same mistake as those heathens at Starbucks!  And, with their product, you could kill a man.

I have no idea who this company is, but they had my name and mailing address.

Oh, yeah.  That's a lousy picture.  Here you go.  From their website:

Pretty exciting!  And something that you will totally not throw in a sock drawer and forget about.  

But, like the page says:  You may also like...

Turkey Day 10

Supergirl Watch: Season 1, Episode 3

Much like Smallville, I suspect that any critical viewing of Supergirl will be an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel.  So, I've brought my 12-gauge and CBS has provided the barrel.  Let's maim some metaphorical fish.

good thing this bronze statue is actually lead.  Hope no one misses it so I don't have to find a pipe or literally anything but this valuable looking statue.

I came to many realizations watching this week's episode.

  1. Reactron is not a terribly creative villain.  He was kind of a one-trick-pony/ no personality guy in the comics, and here...  more of same.  Why did I used to like that guy?  Costume design?  No idea.  I like the name, though.  Could be that's it.
  2. If Cat Grant were anymore one-note on this show, she'd be a tone in Koyaanisqatsi
  3. The writers have just absolutely nowhere to go with Win.  That dude is going to die horribly so anyone can give him a passing thought and he'll ever have mattered in the show.  Also, I am not sure working a low-tier job at CatCo would set you up to hack satellites, get you $30K in equipment, and all the rest of the Smallville Watchtower responsibility he's taken on.  He's so forgettable, I have to place him every time he appears in frame.
  4. I have no idea what Kara's sister's name is after 3 hours of television.  She's just "Kara's-Sister".
  5. By episode 6, not one character in the DCU will have a secret identity unknown to Win.  truly, that man is the nexus of the DCU

Three episodes in, I'm a little stunned at how badly the writers are handling Cat Grant.  I have no huge expectations, but that the "interview" scene was incredibly poorly managed after the big build up last episode.  It's like Cat's terrible dialog is infecting everyone else's forgettable or fortune-cookie dialog.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Snoopy Watch: The Peanuts Movie (2015)

I don't consider myself a hardcore Peanuts fan, but then you have that moment when you realize that somewhere along the line you did, in fact, pick up some Peanuts-related trivia along the way.  I guess reading the newspaper strips your entire youth and watching the same Christmas and Thanksgiving special every year for your entire life will make that happen.

So, this Sunday we were the creepy people who came to the mid-day show of The Peanuts Movie (2015) with no kids in tow.

The movie is so fundamentally a Peanuts project that you half-expect ads for Dolly Madison pastries to pop up, and I did waste a stray thought or two wondering what year this was set in as not a single game console or mobile device made an appearance, and there were gags that included telephone cords and kids going outside without a parent or being fitted with a helmet.

While the movie does reference the Peanuts holiday specials you know and love, it doesn't hang on referencing them for the movie to work.  It's not necessarily an all-new story - it's the story of Charlie Brown becoming infatuated with The Little Red Haired Girl - but it feels like a solid entry in the decades of Peanuts cartoons.

Turkey Day 8

Hanks Watch: Bridge of Spies (2015)

Normally when I want to get out to see a movie like this, work and life get in the way, and I never get around to making time to see them.  Ask me about any Oscar-nominated film of the past ten years and I'll give you a blank stare, because getting out to see a grown-up type movie during the months of November and December is usually not in the cards if I also want to catch superheroes and whatnot.

But, as we were leaving Bond the other night, SimonUK, Jamie and I decided to catch Bridge of Spies (2015) on Saturday morning.

Yes, it's Spielberg, and yes, I know you feel very clever pointing out that Spielberg is emotionally manipulative.  Well, kids, that's sort of the point of telling a story and making a movie, so, kudos to you for noticing that Spielberg is pretty effective at making you feel something other than generating a modest chuckle.

I am utterly unfamiliar with the real-life story upon which the movie is based.  Outside of hearing once that a U2 was shot down over Soviet airspace, I have no recollection of anything else which occurs in the movie, and - you know, one day I will, and I'm sure the movie will have gotten it wrong.  In the meantime, it's a pretty solid screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen (yeah, who knew?), about an attorney who takes up the challenge of defending a Soviet spy at the height of the Cold War.

40 Years of Lynda Carter Wonder Woman

This weekend marks the 40th Anniversary of the debut of the TV show Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter.

If you've never seen the show, or not watched it since the 1970's, it's my official position that you should correct that situation.  Over three seasons across two networks and a story taking place across 30-odd years, the show went from post-Batman '66 campiness to a straight family-friendly action-drama and covered Nazis, alien invasion, small time crooks, leprechauns and super-dolphins.  And robots and smart-assed computers.  And twirling.  So much twirling.

Pixar Watch: Inside Out (2015)

The last time I saw a wide-release movie that was intended as one really long metaphor for what was happening elsewhere in the movie was probably when I watched Tron way back in the day.

I didn't catch Inside Out (2015) when it was released earlier this year.  Something about it struck me as a riff on a 1950's educational film where some baritone-voiced omniscient narrator would explain how "Mr. Angry" was responsible for all those bad feelings you have inside, while "Ms. Happiness" was wrestling with him for control.  And, you know, that's more or less exactly what the movie was.  That's not a dig, just kind of my take-away.

George Barris Merges With The Infinite

A quick note to mark the passing of George Barris.  He's a designer of hotrods and cars for movies and TV, not the least of which was the classic TV Batmobile, literally my favorite car in all of TV and movies (but a close tie with the Enterprise, X-Wing and Millennium Falcon for favorite vehicle).