Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Here's to a year where, hopefully, we all learned something, even if it was a hard-earned or hard-fought lesson. Here's to a year where the shadows seemed to grow darker, and where we found light, it shone brighter. Here's to knowing what the coming year can bring, and not being on our heels this time when it comes.
Every night has a morning, and the sun always comes up.
Let's get our game faces on and be those lights shining brighter.
Let's extend a hand and help others to their feet. Let's stand between those who are looking to strike and those who can't raise their hands. Let's do it because we know the right thing to do, even when it's hard.
I have a lot of improvements I want to make in 2020. Now, we're gonna try and make this work.
May we all be the people we want to be in 2020.
Monday, December 30, 2019
I don't know that I need to write up Tangled (2010). But here's what I think:
This movie is a letter of permission for some young women to realize that maybe their relationship with their parents is kinda toxic.
By that I do not mean that all young women have a toxic relationship with their moms, but dang... there is a reason that this movie ends with a young woman cutting off her girlish long locks as she severs her relationship with the woman who has been gaslighting her and filling her head with bad ideas for her entire life. And I think we've all sorta known that young woman who went to college, realized maybe the world was not the place she'd been taught, and wound up shaving their head by second semester.
There is some phenomenal character animation in this movie in the classic Disney tradition - I mean, Maximus is a frikkin' delight - and I really enjoy the number by all the tough-guys singing about their dreams. The new stuff was in the effects - sure - but the movement and camera work in the movie is kinda breathtaking when you watch Rapunzel zipping around like Spider-Man on her own hair. They really make the space inside the tower work, as well as in the construction-site sequence.
But, yeah, this movie is going to hold up for a very, very long time as it works with timeless themes, for both Rapunzel and Flynn, and the animation may look marginally dated by Frozen II standards, but I'll argue the Disney styling will keep it fresh for decades.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
Format: Criterion Channel
Look, it's possible Bette Davis is one of 5 or so finest actors to have graced the screen, at least in Hollywood films. Yeah, she is "of the era" on some things, but - man, even in not-great films she's a power house, and then in something that plays to her range and strengths?
Format: Amazon Streaming
Decade: So, so 1990's
Prepping for New Year's Eve, AmyC and Ryan return to the indie film scene of the 1990's when Tarantino could do no wrong and Miramax was the hottest game in movies. But what if they decided to Voltron their talent into a single, unimpeachably delightful and quirky movie made up of four separate segments by four separate auteurs? It'd be great, right? ...right?
Vertigogo - Combustible Edison, Four Rooms OST
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Happy birthday to Star Trek phenom Nichelle Nichols, who is a pioneer of television and pop culture as well as a pioneer in making a 10 year old The League's heart go pitter-patter.
And a 44 year old The League's heart go pitter-patter. But I digress.
Here's to one of the greats on her b-day! May she have cake, family and friends!
Format: TCM on DVR
I've been aware of Victor/ Victoria (1982) since, probably, college. Just never got around to seeing it. The movie is famous for it's plot of "woman posing as a man presenting as a female impersonator (re: Drag Queen)", but you hear little else about it. It had no radio hits from the songs and hadn't really permeated the culture the way many-a-musical will.
Thursday, December 26, 2019
Format: BluRay (Warner Archive)
I finally got around to watching my new Thin Man (1934) bluray from Warner Archive. I won't talk about the movie's plot, because I've done that a few times. Also, it's one of the most famous movies that ever was, so if you don't know about it or haven't seen it - well, you're bad at movies. No, I'm not kidding or taking that back.
So why did I buy this movie? Again? Well, I'd heard the transfer and restoration were really good - and even if you enjoy the hell out of The Thin Man, sometimes the print or transfer could look a bit rough. The movie is 85 years old. That's gonna happen. But, dang, this BluRay looked phenomenal. And who doesn't want to see Myrna Loy kinda glow even more? See her in even more detail?
We could or should have easily covered this movie for our "Holiday Adjacent" podcasts, but did not. Maybe next year? It'd be fun to talk about this movie for a long time while Day Drinking.
Viewing: God. Too many.
For longtime readers of the League of Melbotis and Signal Watch blogs, you will know that the 1987 sci-fi opus, R.O.T.O.R., holds a special place in my heart. I first stumbled across the movie on late-night basic cable, and every few years I revisit the film, and, like any fine piece of art, find new things to appreciate and enjoy.
This Christmas Eve, Doug and I chose to punish ourselves by re-watching this movie, but this viewing was enhanced with the power of RiffTrax, some of the same fine fellows who you may know from their work on Mystery Science Theater 3000. And, I am, of course delighted to have the help as I'm watching the movie.
Look, I love a movie that leads to more questions than answers as the thing plugs along, and that's ROTOR in a nutshell. The movie is a phenomenal collection of odd-ball movie cliches, dialog tics, generic Texas racism, inevitable dashes of pretension, unexplored but tedious romance, and 1980's non-union talent. The plotting/ pacing is wild, and an amazingly inept filmmaking on a budget. That the movie was finished seems like an act of sheer will and a sort of bright-eyed Hollywood dream backed by nothing but wantin'-to-put-on-a-show that can make for some of the brightest spots in movie-dom.
RoboCop managed to spawn a *lot* of bad knock-offs. It's not actually clear this was one of them as both films came out in 1987. But who knows? There was just something magical in the air of Dallas, where both were shot!, that produced futuristic policing cyborg movies, I guess.
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Format: Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
(Our most NSFW episode yet!) We hit the Alamo Drafthouse, settled in and ordered up some cocktails, for we were watching "CATS" - the adaptation of the 1980's musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber! Join us in a Day Drinking the Movies episode as we discuss 2019's favorite (and deserving!) movie punching bag - with special guests Doug and K!
Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats - Cast, Cats OST
Memory - Jennifer Hudson, Cats OST
Monday, December 23, 2019
We've all seen this movie, and the weirdest part to me is still that they got Michael Caine to sing and (kinda?) dance.
I like it, too. It's probably as safe a bet as you've got for introducing your kids to the notion of A Christmas Carol, which they might as well get to know at some point. But it is genuinely a sweet movie, even if not my favorite adaptation of the book (the George C. Scott version is incredible, the Patrick Stewart version surprisingly moving, and I'm always in the bag for Scrooged).
But, hey, you get penguins ice skating, some great muppet-eering, and Paul Williams providing excellent musical numbers. The sets are absolutely mind-boggling, and the "let's put a ton of Muppets on the screen" approach totally pays off.
Anyhoo, I'm a fan.
Sunday, December 22, 2019
It's a Signal Watch Stocking Stuffer! SimonUK and Ryan watched the 2010 Finnish sorta-horror import "Rare Exports" (2010), all about Santa maybe not being the fun-loving fellow who drops down chimneys to drop off presents, and maybe more a bit of "hold my beer, Krampus".
Holiday 2019 Playlist
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
I'm not writing this up. I might podcast on it at some point, but I don't feel like a first viewing of this movie is quite enough to give it a thorough thinking-through.
Thanks to a very special secret pal who secured me tickets dead center of the theater! My seat was shaking during the last reel of the movie. It was awesome.
I will say this: I thought Anthony Daniels was fan-freakin'-tastic in this episode, as always, and I wished for way more C3PO over the course of the movie.
I'll get around to doing something at some point, but, for now - acknowledging that I'd seen it.
Also - here's me outside the theater.
|crazily, the two Jedi thought I didn't want them in the picture. They looked rad as hell!|
Format: Netflix streaming
I am pretty sure I've written up this movie a half-dozen times, because I watch it every year or two.
I will say this for this viewing - the last time I watched it, I was watching a restored version, and I don't think that's what Netflix has. And, it's weird. The cast looks way rougher with the tint in the film. Look for the restored version.
Saturday, December 21, 2019
Friday, December 20, 2019
I still like Force Awakens both in spite of and due to its many flaws. It's a good level of goofy, and has a few great bits that supersede a lot of the clunkiness and retreading of New Hope.
I genuinely liked the characters a lot in this film, and cared about what happened to them. The lightsaber flying into Rey's hand is the Star Wars stuff that gives me chills. As was Finn lighting it up to protect his friend.
It has it's fair share of issues, but overall - I liked it as an adult - and as a kid, I think this movie would have hit me where I lived. I'm still wow'ed by how close to the plotting of Episode IV it hews (unnecessarily!), but I do appreciate the differences.
Viewing: Unknown. 7th?
It's Christmas Noir! From a first-person-perspective! It's kinda weird, honestly! Join Jamie and Ryan as they discuss "Lady in the Lake", a movie about murder with a very twisty mystery, with a lot of the story taking place on Christmas! For some reason. And Ryan finally gets to talk about Audrey Totter, noir and whatnot.
Holidays 2019 Playlist:
Gallery of Ms. Totter in Lady in the Lake (1947)
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Superman #18Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
DC wasn't coy about the coming storyline for Superman comics. Issue 18 of the current comic entitled Superman (this is, I think, the 5th volume of an American comic to carry that name), delivered. And rather than make Superman's reveal/ confession to the world a surprise, or play it as a trick or cliff-hanger or any of the other usual stunts I'm used to from many-a-comics-creator or editorial mandate, they simply did the thing.
Sunday, December 15, 2019
PODCAST: "Long Kiss Goodnight" (1996) w/ SimonUK, Jamie and Yours Truly! It's a Holiday Adjacent Special!
Format: Streaming - Amazon
The Signal Watch hearts Geena Davis. And here she is! In a movie that takes place at Christmas - because it's written by Shane Black. SimonUK, Jamie and Ryan talk this mid-90's actioner that predates Jason Bourne movies but post-dates the Bourne books about a secret assassin recovering her memory as the baddies movie in.
Long Kiss Goodnight Intro - Alan Silvestri, Long Kiss Goodnight OST
Signal Watch Holidays 2019:
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Format: Alamo Mueller Movie Party
I saw Gremlins (1984) during its original theatrical run back when I was a kid. I wasn't someone who watched any horror yet, so I do recall the movie scaring the crap out of me in one or two scenes, but as the same kid who thought Ewoks were *great*, I also loved me some Gizmo.
In fact, I started 4th grade with an official Gremlins backpack that had Gizmo screenprinted on the outside like I was Billy Peltzer chasing me down some Stripe with my little buddy.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Decade: oh, so 1990's
(NSFW) Maxwell and Ryan review 1999's indie darling, "Go", a movie which absolutely occurs maybe at Christmas, borrows the "Pulp Fiction" narrative structure and shines a light on shenanigans occurring in the greater LA area for hip young people.
Gangster Trippin - Fatboy Slim, Go OST
To All The Lovely Ladies - Goldo, Go OST
Signal Watch Holidays 2019:
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Friday, December 6, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Look, if a movie has Sydney Greenstreet in it, I'm watching it. And I've never been disappointed.
Of course, this movie *also* features Peter Lorre, so, that's two great performers of the era. Add in Zachary Scott in his screen debut, and I was positively jazzed to watch The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), a movie I'd oft-head referenced, but never seen.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
(mildly NSFW) SimonUK, Jamie and Ryan hold a holiday roundtable to discuss "Jaws: The Revenge", which, for reasons unknown, takes place at Christmas. Join us as we puzzle through the chapter in the Jaws saga no one asked for, added psychic powers, Michael Caine, and a plot that doesn't even bother to make sense.
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
|The amazing Elizabeth Mitchell, partially blocked by some guy|
Format: Hallmark Channel, baby!
Mostly I don't write up the Hallmark Christmas movies that I watch, because I don't really watch them. I put them on and do other things, how I'll sometimes watch a 4 hour baseball game on a Saturday or Sunday. You do some work or check email or talk on chat to someone while the movie is on. And when you do look up, it's mostly a game of Hallmark movie bingo, teasing out what the new formula themes are this year (military, servicepeople - mostly men, and veterans have been big the past two years).
But The Christmas Club (2019) was one of the more expensive version of the formula, where they'd hired actors you may have seen somewhere before rather than the usual "who is that?" stars of other than Hallmark movies, assembled from spare parts found in a vat of pumpkin spice, Coach purses, bedazzled iPhones, Lululemons and Uggs.
Monday, December 2, 2019
Jamie came out of right field and asked if I wanted to live-blog a Netflix Christmas movie with she and her pal, Angel. Well, of course I did, it looked terrible. But I figured this whole deal was more Jamie's thing than your usual Signal Watch programming, so she should also write up the movie. So, without further ado...
- your host, Ryan
Last weekend, to kick off the holidays, Ryan and I (mostly Ryan) Christmassed up the house and then capped it off with a viewing of the Netflix Hallmark-style movie, The Knight Before Christmas (2019). Joined by my overseas friend Angel (hi, Angel!), we took to Twitter and made it a three person live-blogging extravaganza.
Woof. I don’t know that my expectations for this film were sky high, but I was honestly disappointed in Netflix. I’ve seen some decent original content there recently, and they’re not bad with romantic comedies. With the Hallmark channel turning into a holiday movie factory churning out cookie cutter romantic fluff, I felt that Netflix should be able to take a slightly higher concept plot, more money and talent, and produce something at least slightly entertaining. Silly me. It felt exactly like they took a discarded Hallmark movie and threw in some time travel to attract attention, then did nothing with it.
Friday, November 29, 2019
Format: Alamo S. Lamar
I have a feeling Rian Johnson is going to be, with this movie, one of those directors twitter decides they need to prove they think is overrated. He hasn't made that many movies, seems pretty lucky to have done what he's been able to do (if you ignore how he scraped to get Brick made), and hasn't ever delivered exactly what people are expecting when they show up at the theater - up to and including The Last Jedi.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
May your day be spent the way you'd wish, and may all of us take a moment to count the things for which we can be grateful.
It's no secret I prefer a classic take on the day, starting with the broadcast of the parade, then walking the dog on our little trail around the neighborhood, and then dinner with my family - many of whom live here in town, making things pretty easy, honestly.
I've a lot to be thankful for this year. A change of jobs/ careers that went well. Good health for me and my family. Friends near and far, and that includes all of y'all, as we'd say down here in Texas. Heck, I'm grateful for all the work and time my friends have put into this ridiculous podcast. And I'm grateful for the time to do it, and support I've received (thanks, Patrons!).
There are a million other little things that also make me happy, but which are the niceties, and don't fall super high in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, so I'll keep it short. But I do hope you know I'm grateful for all of y'all.
Happy Thanksgiving, every buddy!
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Somehow I'd never seen Kansas City Confidential (1952), but if I'd known it starred John Payne, Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam, I would have tried a lot harder to see it sooner.
A windy, twisty heist caper - this one is told from the outside as John Payne plays an ex-con who is accidentally/ sorta framed for a bank heist when masked robbers pull a job worth $1.2 million (that's about $11.6 million now), using a duplicate of his flower delivery van.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
To see a list of recommended comics and images of comics we talk about, visit: Kryptonian Thought-Beast!
Monday, November 25, 2019
Format: Netflix Original
Back in college my pal Shoemaker would wait til we were about four drinks in and then I'd turn around he'd have put Dolemite movies on, and so I vaguely remembered them from the heyday of the mid 1990's. Between being four drinks in, not focusing on the movies and the passage of 2.5 decades, sadly, my memory of the movies was vague at best.
Bad kung-fu, stilted acting and gratuitous nudity were more or less what registered and stuck with me. And, I never did listen to any Rudy Ray Moore records, just saw images of the covers. I like blue humor as much as the next guy, I just never made the time.
When I heard Dolemite Is My Name (2019) was coming out, I decided to revisit the original film. And, if you follow this blog closely, you'll note that there's no post for Dolemite from this year. Because, honestly, it's a movie you should be watching with other people. Watching it by yourself just feels kinda weird. It is a *bad* movie, but it is a fun bad movie that asks to be talked over and discussed as it goes along. And, yeah, my memories of bad kung-fu, stilted acting and gratuitous nudity were verified. Way to go, 1990's brain cells!
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Friday, November 22, 2019
I was on hiatus with The Signal Watch when I saw Frozen (2013) the first time, so there's no record here of what I thought at the time. I do regret not having any of my reaction caught, because it was the most I'd loved a new Disney movie since Lion King, and, now, Frozen and Moana are probably my two favorite Disney animated features produced post Walt's passing.
Frozen became a smash in a way even Disney hadn't anticipated, becoming the soundtrack of choice for kids for a two year stint there, with merchandise everywhere, and with BluRays on repeat. I know it became one of those things that a lot of people turned on, simply burnt out on a thing they'd initially liked. It got so crazy, I recall Mommy Blogs ranting about how Disney was ruining their lives by way of under-producing Anna and Elsa dolls (btw, not Disney's fault there, moms... That's a toy company's issue, or a sudden case of supply and demand not meeting.).
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
We welcome special guest, Eric S, as Maxwell and I discuss one of the greatest episodes of TV of all time, from one of the greatest sitcoms of all time! It's a 2019 Thanksgiving edition of The Signal Watch! We talk about the series in general, but all through the lens of one turkey of an episode. Oh, the humanity! (We recommend watching S1: Episode 7 of "WKRP in Cincinnati" before listening)
My entries for The Signal Watch Challenge!
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Monday, November 18, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
It's odd how little we talk about cinematography. Of course we discuss actors and dialog. FX are a big topic. We talk about soundtracks and directors. When we're feeling like showing some insidery-type knowledge about film, we'll talk editors. But I'm not sure we always notice the names of the people who actually sit behind the camera, working out the actual look of a movie, which, as we're not listening to radio or watching a play, seems kinda key.
From composition to placement to depth of focus to lighting to movement of perspective... and probably 9 or 10 other factors I'm not thinking of, what we see in a movie is defined by someone who thought about every shot (in theory). Sometimes it draws attention to itself, but more than 95% of the time, when we talk about a movie, we seamlessly discuss story and how we felt, basing it on any of those factors above, but how often do we discuss what the camera did? Or where it was placed?
Thursday, November 14, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I recalled liking Force of Evil (1948) the last time I watched in 2011, and it's hilarious to read my write-up from what I'd argue was pretty early in my dive into noir (were we ever so young, Leaguers?). Apparently this was also my first John Garfield movie, and it's a heck of an introduction to the guy, but I knew Marie Windsor and was thrilled to see her appear (as one should always be excited to see Windsor).
But, dang, was I happy to see I was appreciative of the film back then, because rewatching it now, I was stunned by what a remarkable film this is, was and shall be, and am shocked - watching it now - that it doesn't have a deeper fanbase. Hell, you can't buy this on BluRay in Region 1, as near as I can tell.
Monday, November 11, 2019
Decade: 1970's/ 2010's
If asked to compile a list of the greatest popular American singers of the 20th Century, I'd assume Aretha Franklin would make the top few - if not the number one slot - for much of the US populace.
We lost Franklin in 2018, and it's unclear who can begin to fill her role in the zeitgeist, but maybe it's too soon, and maybe we don't need to. Maybe she was a singular talent.
Shot in 1972 and unreleased until the last 12 months or so, Amazing Grace (2019) is an attempt by Sydney Pollack to record and capture the experience of Franklin recording a live Gospel album at a church in Los Angeles over the course of two nights. Backed by a local choir and supported by the Reverend James Cleveland, Franklin takes to the pulpit and - as one would expect - nails every song before her.
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Look, I'm on the record going to the mat for the first two Terminator movies. And way, way less so for T3 and whatever the Christian Bale one was called. And I never saw Genisys. I did like the TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Format: TV broadcast on ABC
This "show" was some rough going, and I hope it's not how anyone would introduce their child to The Little Mermaid, stage musicals or entertainment in general.
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the animated The Little Mermaid, Disney, for reasons that remain totally unclear, decided to show the original The Little Mermaid, but when the movie reached the musical numbers, cut over to actors performing the numbers on a stage in front of their big movie screen.
Look, I've seen The Little Mermaid maybe twice and neither of those times occurred in the past 20 years. As with about 1 in 2 Disney movies, I just don't really click to the movie about a young, dumb mermaid in love with a guy she only met when he was wet and unconscious. I skipped TLM at the theater because I thought it was for very young children, and missed the memo that this movie the thing to tell people Disney was no longer making kinda bad movies. I finally saw it summer 1992, thought it was better than I expected, but was more into what Disney was doing when I did hit the theater for Beauty and the Beast in '91.
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: 4th, I believe
Back in the go-go 1990's, I stumbled across John Sayles, as one was want to do if in film school at the time. People would name drop him as he had a rep as the same guy who wrote Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and other more mainstream flicks, but was basically funding his ability to also write and direct independent film. It's something he still does (apparently), but given the number of times I've heard his name or seen it online or in print the past twenty years, he's fallen away from film-nerd discussion, I suppose - which makes me really wonder who else we've forgotten.
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Watched: F - 10/30/2019, BoF - 10/31/2019
Viewing: Ha ha ha...
Every Halloween I now watch both of these films. They're literally two of my favorite movies - the sort of which I'd include if there was a Signal Watch Five Film Marathon in which to partake.
Next year we're scheduled to talk about them during Halloween, so I want to hold off til then to say much more - and I have plenty of prior posts on these two films.
Here's to James Whale and Gods and Monsters.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Format: Criterion BluRay
50 years on, Night of the Living Dead (1968) continues to do more than "work" as a film. In addition to the anxiety and dread I felt rewatching the movie, almost nothing within Romero's film has aged or lost urgency.* And, of course, while the relevance as a mirror and social experiment is discussion worthy, it also demands discussion as patient zero in a cultural shift in media extending beyond horror.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Happy Birthday to one of the great artists of Hollywood, Edith Head. If you don't know Edith Head, I highly recommend at least looking at her Wikipedia entry and imdb page.
|"Yes, I am that damn good"|