Monday, December 31, 2018

Here's to 2019



May Papa Legba open the gates for us all in 2019

Action Watch: The Raid (2011)



Watched:  12/30/2018
Format:  DVD
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's

Jamie Watch: Santa Jaws (2018)


Watched:  12/23/2018
Format:  DVR from SyFy
Viewing:  2nd
Decade:  2010

Before I forget, we rewatched Santa Jaws (2018) while Jamie's brother and sister-in-law (The Dug and K) were in town. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Second Watch: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018)


Watched:  12/28/2018
Format:  Alamo
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

No real write-up other than to mark that Jamie and I caught Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a second time.  Generally prepared for what we were going to see, I think I was able to appreciate the animation far more this time, and... dang.


Catching Up Watch: Boyhood (2014)



Watched:  12/30/2018
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I missed Boyhood (2014) during its theatrical release, and it's basically taken me this long to slog through the gushing, near-manic insistence folks had that I HAD to see this movie.*  I'm okay with some of Linklater's output, but aside from Slacker, haven't ever really responded to it the way you're supposed to.  Especially as an Austinite of a certain generation. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Holiday Watch: White Christmas (1954)


Watched:  Some time in December
Viewing:  Unknown
Format:  Netflix
Decade:  1950s

I watched White Christmas (1954) a couple of weeks ago and forgot to write it up.  It's a Michael Curtiz flick, which means it's automatically a decent sort of film.  I understand Bing Crosby thought the film's final product was a disappointment, and I have to say - there's something odd about the movie I can never quite put my finger on that doesn't work.

Likely my main issue is that the third act misunderstanding between Rosemary Clooney and Crosby makes no sense at all (and seems like a single question posed by Clooney's character would have cleared things up).  And I learned this viewing that the part played by Danny Kaye was originally supposed to be Donald O'Connor, which...  we'll just have to let our imaginations fill in the blanks, but some of what's in the script makes more sense if that's who you wrote the part for.

While mostly a bit of holiday fluff, it is an interesting peek into the Post WWII American mindset and does give us a bit of the returning soldier's melancholy as some try to find their useful place in society when they aren't commanding a regiment.

Also, Rosemary Clooney wears a black dress that Jamie and I are going to have to agree to disagree about.

RiffTrax-Watch: Ready Player One (2018)


Watched:  12/25/2018
Format:  Rifftrax
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's

I am not a gamer.  The only console I own is one of those 2600 emulator boxes and it hasn't been out of the closet in a year.  I get that people spend a lot of time on video games, and that I have no stones to throw about people wasting their time and money on non-real-things.  I write on a blog that needlessly analyzes movies and occasionally comics and talks a lot about comic-based movies.  Take all of the below with the necessary grain of salt.

RiffTrax-Watch: Santa's Summer House (2012)


Watched:  12/23/2018
Format:  Rifftrax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Finally, a movie that raises infinitely more questions than it answers.

Let's start with foundational queries (that we will never answer):

What is this?  Why does it exist?  Who is this for?  How did it happen?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas Day!


Merry Christmas, every buddy!

Hope everyone had a good Christmas Eve and has something to enjoy today, even if it's just the right cup of coffee.  Man, I could go for some coffee.

Best from all of us at The Signal Watch (that'd be me, Jamie and Scout).



Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve from The Signal Watch



It's Christmas Eve here at The Signal Watch.  By now the sun is down and, if you're lucky, there's not much to do but make yourself a cup of cocoa or pour a cocktail or two.  Unless you're headed for Midnight Mass or late service.  If so, we'll catch you on the other side.

I hope your Christmas Eve is spent as you'd wish.  For me, it's a small gathering of family.  We're planning to eat tacos and tamales (this is Texas, after all), and stay up a bit late watching movies and maybe indulging in those cocktails.  I'll be the last one up, most likely.  I am every year and have been since I was a kid.

stockings are hung by the chimney with care

I like that image from Paul Dini and Alex Ross's graphic novella Peace on Earth.  As Scrooge might have learned on his own Christmas Eve - there's more joy in others than in the accumulation of riches, more satisfaction in knowing we've reached out somehow to our neighbors here on this big, blue marble.  Let's all strive to do better and raise each other up in 2019.

For the past several years I've closed out with Ms. Darlene Love and one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  If I didn't love the song before (and I did), then seeing Ms. Love perform the song as her show closer here in Austin a few years back was one of the best live performances I've ever seen.  After the melancholy tunes of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, some Nat King Cole, some Sinatra and some new favorites - this is how I want to say goodnight before Christmas morning arrives and a new round of celebration begins.

This version has the incredible addition of Ms. Patti LaBelle.

Peace on Earth.  Goodwill towards all.  God bless us, every one.




Saturday, December 22, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

PODCAST: "Love Actually" (2003) - Episode 4 in the Signal Watch Holiday Cinema Series - w/ SimonUK and Ryan!


Watched:  12/17/2018
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2000's

Simon brings a bit of British Christmas into the PodCast to class the place up a bit. We talk 2003's new-classic, "Love Actually", a multi-story, ensemble romantic comedy featuring an all-star cast. And Simon explains to Ryan the stuff he didn't get as a slow-witted American.




Music:

Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas
Christmas is All Around - Bill Nighy as "Billy Mack" Love Actually OST
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas


Holiday Cinema Series Playlist


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Penny Marshall Merges With the Infinite


According to numerous press sources, director and actor Penny Marshall has passed.

Like everyone else my age, I grew up with Laverne & Shirley, where Marshall played a working class girl cohabitating with her best pal, Shirley, as they had weekly misadventures for years on network TV. 

She disappeared briefly, only to re-emerge as a director of a number of movies I saw and liked in formative years, including Jumping Jack Flash and Big.  Honestly, I've thought of her more as Director Penny Marshall for decades at this point, and it's a remarkable two-part career she was able to pull off.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Noir Watch: "The Naked City" (1948)


Watched: 12/15/2018
Format: TCM on DVR (from Criterion, natch)
Viewing: first
Decade: 1940's

"There are 8 million stories in the Naked City.  This has been one of them." is probably a line you've heard used somewhere - maybe not from this movie, exactly, but from the television show loosely based on this movie that was a sort of crime-anthology series that started off in the late 1950's, aping the style of police procedural that The Naked City (1948) may not have originated, but it did get down to a T. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Noir Watch: The Big Sleep (1946)


Watched:  12/14/2018
Format:  Big screen at Austin Film Society
Viewing:  unknown.  Fifth?
Decade:  1940's

I'm not actually going to write up this movie.  You should watch it.  And behold Bacall.  I need to re-read the novel.  It's been a long time.

Friday, December 14, 2018

PODCAST: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964) & "Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) - Episode 3 of Holiday Cinema Series (w/ Jamie and Ryan)



Watched:  12/09/2018
Format:  DVR off network TV
Viewing:  Dozens.  Unknown.
Decade:  1960's

It's time to talk TV Christmas specials! Jamie brings us back to kid-hood with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964) and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965). We ponder these two perennial favorites for all ages, how they look now and what we still get out of them.




Music:

Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Burl Ives, Rudolph he Red-Nosed Reindeer OST
Hark! The Herald Angels Sings - Vince Guaraldi Trio and children's choir from A Charlie Brown Christmas
Silver and Gold - Burl Ives, Rudolph he Red-Nosed Reindeer OST
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas


Holiday Cinema Series Playlist


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Doc Watch: "Hal" (2018)


Watched:  12/12/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Hal (2018) is a documentary about prominent 1970's film director Hal Ashby, best known these days for, probably Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Coming Home and Being There.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Watch: "Holiday Inn" (1942)


Watched:  12/07/2018
Format:  streaming on Prime, I think
Viewing:  7th or so
Decade: 1940s

Holiday Inn (1942) is a terrific movie, except for the deeply problematic blackface sequence.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

"Superman: The Movie" 40th Anniversary


Superman: The Movie premiered at the Uptown Theatre in Washington DC on December 10th, 1978.

I don't think I need to tell you guys I'm a bit of a fan of Superman, as both character and media staple.  And, I imagine, it started with this film.  After all, one of my earliest memories, writ-large, is my dad taking me to see Superman: The Movie in the theater and telling my mom how much I liked it when I got home.  It was all in that era before you know our hero will be fine when Lex dumps them into a pool with kryptonite chained around their neck.

In the 40 years since, the movie has aged incredibly well - a few bits now dated, others pointing the way for superhero movies and beyond, and all part of an era of filmmaking of sweeping cinematography, cutting edge practical effects, classical scoring and sincerity and humor in spades.  The performances have become classics upon which everything else is (rightly) judged, embedded in the (pop) cultural lexicon. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

PODCAST: "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) - Episode 2 of Holiday Cinema Series (w/ NathanC and Ryan)


Watched:  12/02/2018
Format:  Horrendous colorized version streaming on Amazon, I believe
Viewing:  Unknown.  Dozens.
Decade:  1940's


NathanC and Ryan take on the big Christmas classic about a guy who meets an angel who deeply improves his Christmas Eve. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) is an annual favorite, but it's also a movie that gets pretty dang dark. We take a look and ponder why the film has endured.





Music:
Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas
Main Title/ Heaven - Dimitri Tiomkin, It's a Wonderful Life OST
It's a Wonderful Life (finale) - Dimitri Tiomkin, It's a Wonderful Life OST
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Show Notes:

~29:55 articles on gender and libraries (nowhere near complete on the topic)
31:45 Gloria Graham at IMDB


Holiday Cinema Series Playlist

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Not a drill! "DANGER: DIABOLIK" now available for streaming on Amazon


ALERT!  Danger: Diabolik is now available streaming in HD on Amazon Prime

Now - you can watch this movie ANY TIME, and 2018 has finally redeemed itself.

Well, that and Giant Cow.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Noir Watch: The Killing (1956)


Watched:  12/02/2018
Viewing:  Unknown.  6th?
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Decade:  1950's

First of all, "The Killing" that occurs in this movie is not an assassination.  It could refer to about five or ten different things, and I suppose that's intentional.  I'd start with "they're gonna make a killing on this heist", but, of course, this is a 1950's-era heist movie, so you know it's not ending in sunshine and flowers.

The Killing (1956) sits on a curious edge when it comes to crime dramas/ noir.  Marking maverick, young filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's first foray into studio-backed cinema, the movie feels part and parcel of the noir movement with a structure and an ending not atypical for a dime-store crime novel, retaining those rough edges that some noir eschewed.  As much as I like The Asphalt Jungle and Rafifi - likely The Killing had more impact and reflects more of where the heist genre would go - especially in American cinema (at least marginally).

Friday, November 30, 2018

President George Herbert Walker Bush Merges With The Infinite


Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, our 41st President, has passed at the age of 94.

From the New York Times.

I genuinely always liked Mr. Bush as Vice President and then as President.  When I think of the age in which you may not agree with policies and procedures of a politician, but respected the integrity of the person, I often think of G.H.W. Bush.

PODCAST: "A Christmas Story" (1983) HOLIDAY CINEMA SERIES w/ Maxwell and Ryan



Watched  11/25/2018
Viewing:  Oh god, who knows?
Format:  On-demand from TBS
Decade:  1980's

Oh, fudge...! Maxwell and Ryan get nostalgic for a nostalgia film, "A Christmas Story" - the tale of a boy who just wants a BB gun for Christmas. The Signal Watch crew is celebrating the Holiday season with discussions of some of our seasonal favorite films and specials, so we go deep on a movie we can all relate to (maybe a bit too much).




Music:

Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Shownotes:

24:40 - on Amazon Prime A Roadtrip for Ralphie
30:10 - video for Hot for Teacher by Van Halen
45:55 - article on Jane Krakowsi in A Christmas Story Live 
1:09:25 - A Christmas Story House Museum in Cleveland

SANTA BONUS:

When we hit 50 listens, Maxwell sent me some choice family photos

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Signal Watch Reads: All the Answers (Kupperman, 2018)



I started reading All the Answers (2018) a couple of weeks ago, got ten pages in and realized that I wouldn't have time to read it cover to cover in one sitting, the way one generally wants to watch a film, and so I put away the book and picked it up again when I had uninterrupted time.

Written, researched, drawn and lived by Michael Kupperman, a cartoonist and artist I've followed for well over ten years at this point, the book is more than a minor pivot from a particular brand of humor comic that I would fail to capture here if I tried (and what is explaining a joke, anyway?) - this is also a biographical and autobiographical graphic novel.  I believe Snake n' Bacon strips were my entree into Kupperman's work, followed by Tales Designed to Thrizzle - something that should be a staple in any comics-studies course.  And, of course, Mark Twain's Autobiography, 1910-2010.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Christmas Watch: The Christmas Chronicles (2018)


Watched:  11/24/2018
Format:  Netflix Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I mean, honestly, they had me at "and Kurt Russell as Santa".  Does Russell's participation immediately suggest "amazing film"?  No.  But he will elevate whatever he's in just by showing up, so I figured - hey, I already have Netflix, if it's painful, we turn it off.

I'm happy to say, The Christmas Chronicles (2018) is the rare Christmas movie that's actually pretty funny and accomplishes its goals in a surprisingly uncynical, actually-earns-it way.  All of which is remarkable, because describing the plot of this film will make you raise your eyebrow and say "I've seen this movie.  Several times.  And it's always terrible."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 from The Signal Watch


Let's do this

Thanksgiving is actually supposed to be about being grateful at harvest-time for what we *do* have, and how we can share that with our fellow humans.  After all, it was President Lincoln who instated Thanksgiving during the dark days of The Civil War as a balm to the nation's ills and a reminder of what was good and how we could look to those less fortunate as we recognized our good fortune.

The holiday is expressed in many ways, from meals provided by volunteers to the needy to people trying to fly across the country in terrible weather to spend three uncomfortable days with extended family and then fly back, more exhausted than when we left.  As part of the crass commercialism that *is* American freetime, of course there's also a tradition of watching football (and therefore ads) and the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade from New York City (and therefore ads).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Mickey Mouse Turns 90



Happy birthday, Mickey Mouse!

November 18, 1928 Mickey made his first appearance on the screen at New York's Colony Theatre in the short Steamboat Willie.  The short holds up incredibly well, retains every bit of energy it had nine decades ago and remains just as clever, creative and funny as anything in animation today.

If you've never seen Steamboat Willie, here you go:

Saturday, November 17, 2018

PODCAST! AVENGERS COUNTDOWN - "AVENGERS" (2012) - Jamie and Ryan take on the great big superhero mashup


Watched:  11/02/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown.  6th or 7th.
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan return and we finally get to the big team-up movie! Which... people seem to like. We take a look at how it stacks up as part of the bigger Marvel picture, what we like, what we don't (brace yerselves), and try to sort out what Loki was actually up to in this movie.



Avengers Chronological Countdown Playlist



Today Marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of the "Star Wars Holiday Special"

If I'm reading the internet correctly, today marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of The Star Wars Holiday Special.


We look back now at the Star Wars Holiday Special as the trainwreck that it, indeed, is.  But I also think it's worth mentioning what a @#$%ing miracle Star Wars itself was when it was released, and that these same actors in the same wardrobe were totally capable of making something absolutely, insanely awful.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mary Poppins Watch: Mary Poppins (1964)



Watched:  10/09/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's


I @#$%ing love Mary Poppins  (1964), man.  Both the character and the movie.  Like, unironically, unabashedly - there is not one thing I do not like in Mary Poppins.  It is, as they say, practically perfect in every way.  As is Julie Andrews.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Noir Watch: Pickup on South Street (1953) w/ special guest to Austin, Karina Longworth


Watched:  11/13/2018
Format:  Alamo Ritz hosted screening
Viewing:  second
Decade:  1950's

This evening Karina Longworth, host of the much-discussed You Must Remember This podcast, came to Austin for a book signing and screening.  Longworth has a new book available, Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood, which she's promoting.   If she's coming to your town, stop on by and see her and pick up the book.

For the film selection, Longworth and the Alamo programmed Pickup on South Street (1953), which starred Jean Peters, one of the main figures in Longworth's book.  The film also stars noir star  Richard Widmark and high-quality character actor (and multiple award nominee but never the recipent) Thelma Ritter.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Stan Lee Merges with The Infinite



Excelsior!

I am, like everyone, mourning the loss of Stan Lee who passed at age 95.

But.  What a world we live in where everyone is mourning a comic book writer/ editor/ huckster!  What an amazing guy we had with us for almost a full century!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Noir Watch: Follow Me Quietly (1949)


Watched:  11/09/2019
Format:  Noir Alley of TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Noir Watch: He Ran All the Way (1951)



Watched:  11/10/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1951


I admit - I started watching this movie a while back shortly after it aired on TCM and then got busy and forgot to finish watching it, until now.  And I'm very glad I did.

PODCAST: Dead White Girls in the Water - "Twin Peaks: Pilot" (1990) and "The River's Edge" (1986) - High School Movies with Laura and Ryan



Twin Peaks: Pilot
Watched:  10/12/2018
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown.  5th or so.
Decade:  1990's

River's Edge
Watched:  10/24/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  5th or so
Decade:  1980's

Laura and Ryan's exploration of High School Movies takes a turn for the grim when they pick the topic of "Dead White Girls in the Water".  Join us as we talk the pilot to Twin Peaks (1990) and seminal 80's flick River's Edge (1986).  It's a look at two pieces of media where the death of a young woman means very different things, but maybe under the plastic, how and why they work means they have more in common than we think at first glance.





Music
Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno
River's Edge Theme - J├╝rgen Knieper - River's Edge Original Soundtrack
Laura Palmer's Theme - Angela Badalamenti - Twin Peaks Original Soundtrack
On Some Faraway Beach - Brian Eno


For more from the Signal Watch PodCast, including playlists, where to listen, etc...  Click Here



High School Movies w/ Maxwell and Ryan Playlist



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Noir Watch: The Sniper (1952)



Watched:  11/06/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's

My recollection of the first time I watched The Sniper (1952) was that it was a much, much better picture than I was assuming I was about to watch, and that helped me overcome the fact that while I'd watched the movie to see Marie Windsor, her screentime isn't as much as any of us would like in your average Marie Windsor picture.

Kudos to TCM host Eddie Muller for (a) not shying away from showing the movie, and (b) a nuanced discussion about film violence and how we think about it in regards to real-world violence that will, no doubt, go right past a lot of the hot-take approach to film discussion that crawls past all of us on social media as "film twitter" rushes to fill in their rubrics for "good/ bad". 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Halloween (Night) Watch: Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Watched:  10/31/2018
Format:  TCM (live, for once)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

Again, still pretty tired.  A Roger Corman produced Poe-derived horror film starring Vincent Price.  It's been a long time since I read the story of Masque of the Red Death, but this movie... doesn't really do that.  Kinda weird that the one, 30 second scene in Phantom of the Opera captures the spirit better than a whole film with that name.

Apparently this is a mix of Poe stories I haven't read, so... maybe I need to get back into reading some Poe.

Still, visually striking and with some complexity to the exploration of morality in an inscrutable world, it's not half bad.  Not 100% my thing, but I'd watch it again for how good Price is here in a non-camp role and how much I was digging the script.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

DISNEY HISTORY PODCAST: EPCOT - Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow! NathanC and Ryan talk about the park! Yesterday, today and tomorrow!




Walt Disney had a vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a city he'd build from scratch with businesses, living spaces, arts, science, universities, etc... And we got an amusement park. NathanC and Ryan delve into the history of EPCOT from concept to execution to today to tomorrow! Are we nostalgic for the future?
 

Music
Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno
Innoventions - Future World - EPCOT park soundtrack
The Universe of Energy - EPCOT park soundtrack
Promise - Leaving EPCOT song - EPCOT park soundtrack
On Some Faraway Beach - Brian Eno


Disney History with NathanC

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween (Night) Watch: Cat People (1942)


Watched:  10/31/2018
Format:  TCM/ DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Well, I finally watched Cat People (1942).

I wish I had not been so tired when I put it on, but I figured "now or never" as I was winding down my Halloween night, post trick or treaters and family heading home.

Halloween 2018

Well, it was a whirlwind of a Halloween evening.  I knocked off work a tad early to get into my costume - and because my parents, Jamie's dad, Jason, Amy and Raylan were all headed over for tricks or treats.

This year, Scout went as Captain America, because she does not like bullies at all.


Jamie went conceptual and went as Santa Jaws, and my mom sported her "Keep Austin Batty" blouse.

Halloween Watch: Monster Squad (1987)


Watched:  10/31/2018
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  6th or 10th
Decade:  1980's

I've written about Monster Squad (1987) before, so I won't cover it again this time around.  But after covering horror movies since about July in order to have PodCasts ready to go and then watching a lot of stuff once we hit October - the mix of classic monsters, scares, jokes, the 1980's and coming of age digging monsters all in one place seemed like a good way to put a button on my Halloween movie watch.

Now get out there and enjoy some perfect Stan Winston make-up and terrific monster performances by catching this movie if you haven't already.

Oh, and apparently this exists: