Sunday, June 24, 2018

90's Watch: The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)


Watched:  06/23/2018
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  I dunno.  4th?
Decade:  1990's

Huh.  So, the original Brady Bunch ran from 1969 - 1974 and then endlessly in reruns.

Here's the math:

  • End of show to release of the movie - 21 years
  • Release of the movie to now - 23 years

Yeah, Gen-X'ers, I know.

Oh Hai Watch: The Disaster Artist (2017)



Watched:  06/22/2018
Format:  Amazon Prime Video
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Friday, June 22, 2018

Noir Watch: Pitfall (1948)


Watched:  06/21/2018
Format:  TCM Noir Alley on the DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's

This was the second time I'd watched Pitfall (1948), an indie produced noir starring Dick Powell, Raymond Burr and Lizabeth Scott.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Koko the Gorilla Merges With The Infinite



We are sad to report that Koko the Gorilla has passed.

I first learned about Koko the Gorilla back in Elementary School.  For some reason, my class read an article on Koko, the gorilla who was learning sign-language.  She'd been raised by Penny Patterson, who taught her sign-language, and she'd develop a 1000 word vocabulary.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

PODCAST: Jamie and I Talk "Justice League" (2017)!!!


Jamie humored me - and we watched Justice League (2017) and then she agreed to do a podcast.



Ryan welcomes a very special guest - Jamie, the light of his life - as they talk DC Entertainment's "Justice League", and Jamie works through her feelings about the movie. And Ryan maybe goes on a Kirby tangent.

Also available on
Stitcher
iTunes
PocketCast

Monday, June 18, 2018

Super-Comics Talk: Man of Steel # 2 and #3 (2018)


Man of Steel 2 and 3

Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Artists:  Issue 2 - Doc Shaner, Steve Rude, Jason Fabok
              Issue 3 - Ryan Sook, Jason Fabok, inks pages 12-12, 15: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Letters:  Josh Reed
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham
Cover:  Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lynch Watch: Wild at Heart (1990)



Watched:  06/17/2018
Format:  Shout Factory BluRay
Viewing:  Not sure.  At least a fourth viewing.  But it's been at least 15 years.
Decade:  1990's

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Marvel Watch: Thor | Ragnarok (2017)


Watched:  06/13/2018
Format:  BluRay (purchased)
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  2010's

I've already seen (twice) and talked about (once) Thor: Rangarok (2017), so the rest of this post is just me reflecting on what an excellent idea it was to cast Cate Blanchett as Hela.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"Jurassic Park" at 25


Shortly after I graduated from high school, the first Jurassic Park movie hit theaters.  As a bonafide blockbuster hit, it made everyone a pseudo-dino expert (there are worse things), packed folks into theaters, made Sam Neill a bankable actor who sort of shrugged that off and went off to be Sam Neill, taught us that young girls imprinted on Jeff Goldbum as a sex symbol, made us all wonder where cliffs begin and end in dinosaur paddocks, and convinced me khaki shorts were an excellent look on paleontologists.

It's now 25 years on.  Yesterday, June 11, marked the release of Jurassic Park in the U.S.

Happy National Superman Day!


Apparently this is a thing.

and there ain't no Superman without Lois Lane. So.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Horror Watch: The Fog (1980)


Watched:  06/09/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's


Lately I've been having an ongoing conversation with Stuart about the tendency of critics to use the phrases "it's not really a horror film" or "but it's good" in discussing the horror genre when they want to get folks to at least consider viewing something made as a horror movie.  This thinking and talk offends the horror purists, but as someone who tends to think of the endless line of cheapo slasher flicks that lined the walls of video stores during his formative years - I kinda get it.  I understand the coded message: this is horror, but it's not going to just make you queasy and wonder why this is supposed to be a good way to spend 90 - 120 minutes of your life.

I'm of the firm belief that horror is a pretty good indicator that nobody goes to the movies for the same reasons (I usually get very little from horror, but I will have to be carried into a Katherine Heigl RomCom on one of those Silence of the Lambs dolleys).  Still, this does make me think a bit about how I talk about horror films - what I like and don't.

During the course of the chat, Stuart was stunned to learn somehow I'd never seen The Fog (1980), and I had no real reason I hadn't seen it and one convincing Adrienne Barbeau to suggest I absolutely *should* see The Fog.  It's not like I don't dig John Carpenter's other films I've watched - so I broke it up over a couple of nights as I was winding down in Bozeman.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Travelogue: Up to Bozeman, Montana and a day in Yellowstone

So, on June 2nd I flew out from Austin to Bozeman, Montana to attend a conference.  I never tack vacation days onto my work trips, but this year I'm doing it twice.  I had never been to Montana, and as this event took place on the campus of Montana State University - and I really had no idea when or if I'd get back this direction - I booked a few extra days to just take it in.

A lot of us stayed at the Lewis & Clark Motel. 

My colleagues feel welcomed, indeed!

A fine place for a bed and some sleep.  They were really pushing the sauna, but... I dunno.  I don't want to see my colleagues in just a towel any more than I suspect that's how they want to see me.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Where In The World Is The Signal Watch?


For the next week, I am in Bozeman, Montana on a work trip.  Big conference.  And if noir has taught me anything, we will all wear matching fezzes and get drunk and provide cover for someone trying to hide out in a hotel

I'm also taking some vacation days while I'm here because I've never been to this part of the world, and I'd like to see a mountain, a moose, a bear and water that is neither gross Texas creek water or gross Texas lake water.

Thus far I've eaten lunch here, had some coffee and walked around to see Downtown Bozeman, which is high-end knick-knackery and touristy eateries.  Which serves my purposes well.

So, no movies for me this week, I'd guess.  I might read a Superman comic or two.  But expect a slowdown in posting, etc...

Yes, Jamie is still in Austin, but The Dug is set to be there by this evening and is hanging with her all week.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Musical Watch: An American in Paris (1951)


Watched:  03/26/2018
Viewing:  First
Format:  TCM on DVR
Decade:  1950's

I just found this in my drafts.  Yeah, so back in March I watched An American in Paris (1951).  Never wrote it up, just started the post. 

So I'm not writing one now.  But there's plenty out there on this movie, so...  there you go.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Super-Reviews: Man of Steel #1



Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  (mostly) Ivan Reis and 2 pages by Jason Fabok
Inks:  Joe Prado
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Lettering:  Cory Petit
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham

Well, it finally arrived.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Noir Watch: Crime Wave (1953)



Watched:  05/28/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM - DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade 1950's

Sometimes casting can save the day for a fairly standard plot in a movie - it can be a real pleasure to see your favorite actors, character or otherwise, play out the parts in your boilerplate movie.  Other times that same old jazz standard gets a new look, a new interpretations and the execution is enough to make you stand up and applaud.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Signal Watch Reads: I'll Be Gone In The Dark (2018 - Audiobook)



I'd intended to read Michelle McNamara's true-crime book, I'll Be Gone In The Dark (2018), this year at some point, but was propelled to listen to the audiobook when, in late April, the subject of the book was apprehended in California.

Before the book is run-over, borrowed-from, and absorbed by osmosis as documentaries and news stories rushed into production - and likely a feature film or three - I wanted to hear what McNamara had to say and where she was in her crowd-sourced, DIY investigation into the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who was active in multiple California communities in the late 70's and into the early 80's, before simply vanishing.

Noir City Austin: The Unsuspected (1947) & The Threat (1949) - Sunday shows




Watched:  05/20/2018
Format:   Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz in 35mm
Viewing:  fourth/ first
Decade:  1940's

We attended two films on the final day of Noir City Austin, The Unsuspected (1947) and The Threat (1949).  Two extremely different movies, but both a real treat.  The Film Noir Foundation isn't just Eddie Muller, and as he had to depart, we were lucky to have author Alan K. Rode in attendance to introduce the films.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Noir City Austin: The Accused (1949) & The Underworld Story (1950)



Watched:  05/19/2018
Viewing:  First/ First
Format:  Noir City Austin at the Alamo Ritz
Decade:  1940's/ 1950's

Both films were shown as part of Noir City Austin, hosted by TCM Noir Alley host, Eddie Muller and presented in 35mm. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Super-Reviews: Superman Special #1


Release:  05/16/2018
Creators:  Various/ Anthology Book

I believe this is our last Super-stop before Man of Steel #1 arrives.  Tomasi and Gleason return to a story from what seemed very early in their run on Superman (issues 8 and 9) where Superman and Jon went to Dinosaur Island and ran into Captain Storm of The Losers.  We get a Superman short-story from Mark Russell and Bryan Hitch, and a possible teaser for future Super-content with a few pages from Ian Flynn as Writer and Kaare Andrews on Art and Colors.

Noir City Austin: I Wake Up Screaming (1941) and Quiet Please: Murder (1942)



Watched:  05/18/2018
Format:  Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  Second/ First
Decade:  1940's

It's Noir City Austin 2018 down at The Alamo Ritz!  As in prior years, Eddie Muller - the Czar of Noir and host of TCM's Noir Alley series is in attendance.  As he does so well for Noir Alley, Eddie introduces each film, providing Hollywood history and necessary context, as well as any anecdotes he's dug up over the years, often from first-hand interviews.

I can't make it to all the movies this year, but I am trying to make it out to see a few.  Friday night SimonUK and I took in the first two films, I Wake Up Screaming (1941) and Quiet Please: Murder (1942).

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Noir Watch: Caged (1950)


Watched:  05/15/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM (on DVR)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

There are probably two ways to watch Caged (1950), either as a camp classic or through the lens of 1950.  JimD taught me several valuable phrases, and in the top three I include "chronological snobbery".   Basically - chronological snobbery is that thing you do when you watch a movie made from a time probably before your birth and nod sagely to yourself saying "oh, thank goodness we figured out how to make better movies, people sure were dumb as both filmmakers and as an audience back then."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Okay Watch: Revenge (2017 - US Release 2018)


Not all movies are for all people.  Sometimes a movie, despite a rip-roaring ad, when I see the movie, in practice, I am fifteen minutes in and realize "oh no..." but there you are.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Margot Kidder - My Generation's Lois Lane - Has Merged With The Infinite


Multiple news sources are reporting the passing of actor Margot Kidder.

Kidder was, to my generation, Lois Lane.

Arguably, Kidder's portrayal was the one that reset Lois as the Rosalind Russell-model news woman that she'd been in the Golden Age and that we simply expect in portrayals of Lois today.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Rifftrax Watch: Honor & Glory (1993)


Watched:  05/11/2018
Format:  Rifftrax on Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's

It's possible that Cynthia Rothrock movies aren't as good as I remember finding them in high school.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Noir/ Windsor Watch: The Narrow Margin (1952)


Watched:  05/11/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM - DVR
Viewing:  Fourth
Decade:  1950's

Holy smokes I love this movie.

Friday, May 11, 2018

DC has a "Death of Superman" Problem



I wasn't reading Superman comics in 1992 when DC killed Superman.

Noir Watch: Armored Car Robbery (1950)



Watched:  05/10/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

It will surprise you that a movie entitled Armored Car Robbery (1950) is, indeed, about the robbery of an armored car and the fallout of that same robbery.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Regret Watch: The Hard Way (1991)


Watched:  05/07/2018
Viewing:  First
Format:  DVD sent by JimD
Decade:  1990's.  So very early 1990's.


The trend so far for 2018 is me watching movies other people put in front of me.  Whether it's watching whatever is served up on TCM's "Noir Alley" by Eddie Muller, what my collaborators want to watch for a podcast, or - in this case - The Hard Way from 1991.

A couple of weeks back I watched a movie from 1943 called The Hard Way, a backstage melodrama featuring Signal Watch favorite Ida Lupino.  More than one of you asked me if I'd seen the 1991 Michael J Fox starring feature of the same name, and, no... I had not.  I did look it up, and remembered the film from the posters and commercials and it wasn't too hard to pin down why I didn't see it back then.  And before you ask - there is no connection whatsoever between the Lupino film and this thing.

Flashforward about a week and I get a package at my door, open it, and sure enough... once again Jim D has sent me a movie I had absolutely no intention of watching and told him several times I did not want to see.  So, I'm now the proud owner of a copy of The Hard Way starring James Woods and Michael J. Fox.

So, let's talk about the movie, 1991, and why I didn't see it.  Because I did watch this dumb movie and I have opinions.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Noir Watch: Hollow Triumph/ The Scar/ The Man Who Murdered Himself (1948)


Watched:  05/06/2018
Viewing:  First
Format:  TCM Noir Alley on the DVR
Decade:  1940's

If you're wondering why I have three names listed for this movie, it's because this movie was released under three different names at three different times - but I think it was first released under Hollow Triumph (1948).  However, I can't find a poster I like better than the one for The Scar, so.. behold!

This movie was a *lot* of fun.  It's not a glossy studio movie, but acting talent, direction and cinematography carry you really far in a picture.

Marvel Watch: Avengers | Infinity War (second viewing)


Jamie and I went and saw Avengers: Infinity War (2018) again.  And realized we were glad Thanos was not a fan of beat poetry.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Superman Comics Talk: Action Comics Special #1 / DC Nation #0

Superman variant for DC Nation #0 by JLGL


With DC's Rebirth event now a couple of years in the rear-view mirror and a status quo set-ish for the DCU at this point (at least until the next reboot), the Superman books seem to be on solid ground, even as they head into the next series of changes as Brian Michael Bendis arrives at DC and takes over both Action Comics and Superman.

I've been considering writing more often on Superman comics the past year, but it was impossible to write about them without spending half the post explaining to anyone not reading Superman titles what was going on - continuity wise - in the comics.   Tomasi and Gleason's take on Superman and Dan Jurgens and a rotating group of artists' run on Action Comics worked very well for me, messy continuity and all - but getting past the "now Superman is married to Loid with a 10 year old son" bit - not that hard, but he's from another dimension (no he's not!), he lives on a farm except when he lives in Metropolis...  all that stuff was hard to talk about, and, frankly, when Superman and family didn't just make the jump back to Metropolis and the Daily Planet the way I expected, began to feel a bit like a holding pattern awaiting some coming change.  Still, the tone was right, the adventures depicted hit the right Super-buttons, and I returned to regularly reading comics (because I always start my stack with my Super-books).

Ancillary titles have been shakier, with occasional highlights.  Supergirl isn't exactly critical reading, but found footing in recent issues.  I am so far behind on Superwoman and New Super-Man that I can't comment.  

Bendis's first pages showed up in Action Comics 1000.  While there's a novel hook to get folks interested in the Man of Steel mini in June Action Comics #1001 and Superman #1 arriving in July, if someone was expecting Shakespeare on the page in the few pages penned by Bendis - what we did get was pro-level comics, Bendis' first pages of set set up that actually kinda worked, and a feel for "Superman is back in his regular environs".

Action Comics Special #1

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ho, boy. We Should Talk About "Krypton" on SyFy

The most exciting thing in this show is a piece of fabric


Ignore Jamie's guffaws to the contrary, but I quite like being proven wrong about (some) things.  Example:  I started watching Supergirl because I like Kara Zor-El quite a bit as a comics character (and mad props to Helen Slater for being better than her bad movie).  I found the first couple of episodes of Supergirl hilariously bad, and then the show start playing against expectations and I found myself enjoying Supergirl in a sort of "this is okay TV and pretty fun" sort of way.  It's not exactly The Americans, and it can't sustain 22 episodes per year and I wish they'd cut it to 13, but it's in my TV rotation.

So despite the David S. Goyer association and SyFy channel "we're doing serious Sci-Fi now" and some pretty boring adverts for the show (which, weirdly, ran incessantly during the Winter Olympics on NBC), I wanted to give Krypton a try.  Sure, it looked plodding and joyless in the vein of Goyer's Man of Steel work, selling that "but this is seeerious, Mom" vibe that one can only get when everything is gray and poorly lit like a nightclub that will have a brief but forgettable existence.

Krypton has an uphill battle no matter what.  It's not a mistake that DC Comics has only explored Superman's home planet in bursts via single issue appearances and the occasional brief mini-series.  If the stories don't arc toward Superman - you're more or less looking at a planet knowing "oh, you guys are boned".  After all - the point of Krypton (the planet, not the show) is to be either a near Utopia that made some critically bad choices about getting out of Dodge, or to exist as a highly advanced planet that should have been named "Hubris".

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Avengers Bonus Post! Answering Your Questions About the Movie

the parade of pretty people

As the foremost world expert on all things cinematic and Marvel Comics, my words on Avengers: Infinity War are already making their way around the world as the definitive statement on what any right-thinking human should believe about this movie.  So it's natural that so, so many of you would come to me with your questions in all things Thanosy.

Here, I shall address your queries, both penetrating and dumb as hell.

Let us begin with the following question paraphrased from an actual bit of correspondence:

Dear The League, 
I have somehow spent the last decade not seeing all - or even most of - the Marvel films.  Obviously, this is a sign that I should not be trusted with any decision-making whatsoever.  
Therefore, I must bow to your superior wisdom, which is great in so, so many areas, and ask the following: 
If I've only seen, like, five Marvel movies, should I see Avengers: Infinity War?   
Humbly yours, 
(name redacted to prevent a torrent of well-deserved shame)

Needless to say I was simply shocked that one of my readers - nay, one of my FRIENDS - would have fallen so far.  But I wanted to put some serious thought into this, and share my answer for everyone, give them a chance to ponder my response and apply that knowledge - yes, innate genius but also hard-earned - into their own life.

If you have not seen all 18 movies or whatever of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - will, indeed, Avengers: Infinity War be worth the viewing?  Will you glean all there is to grasp in each moment, in each line of dialogue, each meaningful glance?  Despite the less-informed experience, can you still squeeze some joy, taste the fruit of the labors of both creators and audience, or will the ambrosia be robbed of flavor for your lack of understanding?

My answer may surprise you in it's thoughtfulness and sincerity, it's consideration of every angle.  It follows after the break.

Marvel Watch: Avengers | Infinity War (2018)



Watched:  04/28/2018
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Warning - this write-up will have spoilers.  Do not read this post until you've seen Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

Monday, April 30, 2018

PODCAST: Laura M-S and Ryan talk HIGH SCHOOL MOVIES! "Brick" (2005) and "Lady Bird" (2017)



Laura M-S has been around the blog since time immemorial.  But did you know she and I went to high school together?  It's true.  We also live in the same area here in modern times, and decided to get together for what will be the first in a series on High School Movies.

To kick it off, we decide high school movies are a poor reflection of the high school experience - so what movies do reflect those crucial years (for us)? We talk 2005's "Brick" (dir. Rian Johnson) and 2017's Oscar contender "Lady Bird" (dir. Greta Gerwig).




Friday, April 27, 2018

Belated Oscars Watch: Lady Bird (2017)


Watched:  04/27/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Watched this one for an upcoming podcast.  Saving it for then, I'm afraid.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Melodrama Watch: The Hard Way (1943)


Watched:  04/26/2018
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  first
Decade:  1940's (wartime)

The Hard Way (1943) is a wartime melodrama and probably counts as a "Women's Picture", which was a thing, as it starred women, had them front and center as career-centered ladies with romance as a conflict.

It's not a genre with which I have a lot of experience, and I'm not a huge follower of soapy melodrama.  "So, The League," you say, "Why did you watch it?"

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Noir Watch: Mystery Street (1950)



Watched:  04/25/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM/ DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Noir Watch: Brick (2005)


Watched:  04/24/2018
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  third
Decade:  2000's

There's probably plenty to say about this movie, but I'm saving it for a podcast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Wedded Bliss in New Orleans - Congrats Lauren and Steven



This weekend Jamie and I flew to New Orleans for the wedding of two folks I met via blogging and have become good pals with as we all lived in Austin for a few years before they departed for San Francisco and then NYC.  On Saturday Steven H and Lauren R tied the knot in City Park with yours truly officiating.

The Peristyle in City Park.  This is from the internet, but it is where the wedding occurred.


This was the third time I've officiated and every time it's no less nerve-wracking, and it is no less special as I've known all the couples well and know their stories.  It's truly an honor and privilege to be asked, and to get to play that role is a truly memorable experience.

It's also the best seat in the house, if you're going to show up for a wedding, anyway.  You want to see people having a moment as up close as it gets?  That's where you want to be.  You'll also see your friends looking as dashing and beautiful as they will ever be from, like, three feet away.

In short - I hope I didn't mess up the ceremony too much.

Monday, April 23, 2018

I think March 30th was the 15th Anniversary of the Start of my Blogging


So, I guess I missed my own 15th Anniversary of blogging.  We were over at League of Melbotis back then.  Here's a link to the first batch of posts.

Back then, kids, we had no facebook, no twitter, barely had iTunes and it took me forever to figure out how to upload photos and have a comment section.  I was a lad of about 27 and living as a Texas ex-pat in Arizona at the time.  I was busily learning about Superman and comics, and I was oh, so, sweetly naive.  Reading those early posts is sometimes a teeth-gnashing experience but also a journal of what was going on in my head in the blogging salad days.