Saturday, July 13, 2019

Poppins Watch: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)



Watched:  07/13/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2010's

Y'all, I @#$%ing love Mary Poppins. 

I already talked a bit about this movie back in December when we went to go see it as a holiday-timed family outing. 

Honestly, as much as I liked it the first time, on a second viewing, I liked it even more.  Once you're past the "what am I looking at?" aspect of such a big production and get over everything they're throwing at you and can process it as a movie with a story and things happening and songs you're not hearing one after another for the first time and dance sequences you're just trying to process...

Honestly, it's really a very well put together bit of entertainment and a fine companion piece to the original.  And I like it quite a bit. 

Yes, you can still both absolutely map the movie scene for scene as a remake of the original, but it is, in fact, a sequel, so it also has a new plot and new problems and works in elements of the original as plot points, creating some terrific continuity.  I *liked* the songs the first time, and on a second viewing, I really liked the tunes.  They may not have the immediate impact of soft-rock favorites in the manner of Moana or Frozen, and they remain so much in the vein of the Sherman Bros., we aren't going to get a Broadway showstopper akin to Let It Go, but the song-craft is still tremendous and the songs almost as powerful as carrying the story forward as Moana

And, of course, Emily Blunt's take on Mary Poppins is...  well, she's pretty great.

Anyway - I won't belabor it.  I rewatched the film, enjoyed it again, and will watch it again in the future.  This movie could have been a trainwreck and dimished the original - instead, the level of attention of detail in recreating the world of a movie from 60 years prior and updating it to a different period is phenomenal.  Not to mention the recreation of Disney's 2D circa 1960 animation house style brought into this new film.  The spirit is so much the same from head to tail on this movie, it's an astounding feat.

And whether it's the Julie Andrews original film or this belated follow-up, I still @#$%ing love Mary Poppins.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Stewart the Corgi Merges with The Infinite


2019 was the year I finally started watching Brooklyn 99, and like everyone else who watched the show, I became a big fan of Cheddar, the pet Corgi of Captain Raymond Holt and the lynchpin of more than one episode.

Sadly, a pup doesn't live forever, and Cheddar performer, Stewart, has merged with the Infinite.

Pouring one out for you, buddy.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

PODCAST: Spider-Man - Far From Home (2019) - a quick Marvel movie chat with Jamie and Ryan



Watched:  07/08/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan just saw ol' web-head's European tour, and rather than being all Mysterio about their reaction, we grabbed a microphone to shatter any illusions that we wouldn't cover this latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Join our first totally unedited reaction podcast!



Music:
Spider-Man (1967 cartoon theme song) - Paul Francis Webster and Robert "Bob" Harris

Marvel Movies Playlist

3D Noir Watch!: Inferno (1953)

absolutely no one swings into action on top of a couple having a cuddle in the course of this movie

Watched:  07/11/2019
Format:  Alamo South Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Well, somehow Wednesday became my Robert Ryan double-bill day.  SimonUK and I headed over to the local cinema to take in this novelty 1953 film.  Ostensibly noir, this movie is both in technicolor (not a disqualifier) and in 3D (a curiosity for noir, to say the least).  It also takes place in the desert and is 65% a tale of survival in extreme conditions, and - while I get why it gets lumped in with noir, I'm a bit on the fence. 

If the movie borrows from noir, it's trying to borrow from the best - in some ways asking "yes, but what if the husband in Double Indemnity had lived?" and pairing it with a survival tale in which the husband is not on an urban railroad track but thrown from a horse in the Mojave Desert. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Noir/ Lupino Watch: On Dangerous Ground (1951)


Watched:  07/10/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950s

If I were to buy this movie on Bluray (and it's Lupino, so don't count me out), I would wish it had Eddie Muller's conversations which bookended the showing on Noir Alley.  Muller says he's doing "barroom, not classroom", but I'll argue that by showing a wide variety of films on Noir Alley and talking about why we should pay attention, discussing what happened during production, etc... and not just lauding whatever it is we're about to see, Noir Alley is one of the best movie-watching experiences and educations you can hope for.  And, yeah, he makes it all as casual as a talk over cocktails. 

On Dangerous Ground (1951) is directed by Nicholas Ray and stars two of my favorite denizens of Noir Alley, Ida Lupino* and Robert Ryan (here wearing a coat and hat and a tough cops face in a way I wish with all my heart I could pull off).  I'd meant to watch it some time ago, and I can't recall why it fell off the list - but now was the time!  Muller certainly discussed details of the film and production, but his real focus was on the Bernard Herrmann score.  And it is very, very much a Bernard Herrmann score, which is almost off to see against an RKO b&w cop picture. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Picture Tour of Locations from "Anatomy of a Murder" - my vacation pics from the U.P. - Part 2


The week of the 4th of July, I was in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to visit some old family stomping grounds.  The Marquette/ Ishpeming/ Negaunee area is where my mom's people landed after arriving from Finland.  My grandfather worked in iron ore mines for forty years while my grandmother cleaned houses and other odd jobs.  And, when my mom arrived as a surprise when they were in their 40's, then raised the sparkplug that is the lady we call "Mom".

This area is also the setting for the novel Anatomy of a Murder.  When Otto Preminger decided to adapt the book circa 1958, he brought the entire production up to this remote area.




You can read more about it in Part 1 of this photo tour.

A Picture Tour of Locations from "Anatomy of a Murder" - my vacation pics from the U.P. - Part 1



This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder.  If you've never seen it, it's a terrific film and holds up far better than you'd expect considering the changing mores, attitudes, laws and and more since 1959.  In some ways, it's covering territory we seem to cover over and over as a society and may be more relevant now than ever.  A legal drama, it should be a bit out of my wheelhouse, but instead it's been one of my favorite films since college.

Starring Jimmy Stewart, it has a terrific cast of well-known and lesser known actors.  Eve Arden, a very young George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzarra, Arthur O'Connell, and Kathryn Grant (a University of Texas alumnus and, at the time, just married to Bing Crosby).  And, a bit bizarre for the time and place, Duke Ellington.

The movie, however, was based on a novel written by Robert Traver.  Traver was the pen name for attorney John Voelker, who lived in Ishpeming, Michigan and served as the city prosecutor, ran for other public office and was generally highly involved in public life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Signal Watch Reads: "The Long Goodbye" (1953) and "Playback" (1958)



At long last, I read both The Long Goodbye (1953) and Playback (1958), the last of Raymond Chandler's novels centered upon detective Philip Marlowe.

You'll note a lengthy dry spell between books here, and there's a precipitous drop-off between the two in depth and strength.  It's curious as The Long Goodbye feels less like a detective novel and more like an author wrestling with himself, working through the point in his life where he'd enjoyed success and some fame and found neither amounted to much as he was still living with himself as an alcoholic, a writer of genre fiction, and now a widower.*

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Noir Watch: Woman on the Run (1950)



Watched:  06/30/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: First
Decade:  1950's

First - this poster is doing Ann Sheridan no favors.  She's a gorgeous woman, and here she looks like a wax museum figurine that's been set too close to a lamp.  Second - like many-a-noir, this title isn't actually accurate.  The movie is about a woman seeking out her husband, who is a dude "on the run".  Unless this is when I find out "on the run" in this era meant "she's just moving about quickly", which I don't think it did.



Thursday, July 4, 2019

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Marx Bros Watch: At The Circus (1939)


Watched: 06/29/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1930's

Well, this was a bit of fun.

The Marx. Bros had been in Hollywood a full decade by the time (Marx Bros.) At the Circus (1939) was released.  It''s basically not all that different from A Night at the Opera or other Marx Bros. outings, at least in format.  There's a Groucho song, Harpo plays the harp, Margaret Dumont (bless her) plays the wealthy dowager.  There's a couple in love who have a song or two that would have gone to Zeppo and someone else back in the day. And an antagonist in need of a good come-uppance.

But if you're watching ta Marx Bros. film for structure or plot, something has gone terribly wrong. 

All in all, the circus is a terrific setting for the Marx Bros, animals and acrobats and all, setting up an ideal finale under the big top.  There's stunts and great visual gags, a flying Margaret Dumont, and a gorilla.  How can you not like it?

It doesn't hit the levels of absurdity that Duck Soup reaches, but nothing does. 

One thing I find curious about the Marx Bros. movies is that some, such as this one, contain scenes with all-Black casts plus a Marx Bros or three.  It's not unheard of for this in other movies, but clearly they were trying to bring people to the screen who weren't always there.  You always cringe a little when you're not sure we're not going to wind up in Blackface (they do in at least one picture), but not here. 

The movie also has a terrific scene with Groucho and a very young Eve Arden that now has one of my favorite "breaking the fourth wall" moments in a movie as he bemoans how he doesn't know how to do the scene without trouble from the Hayes Office. 

Anyway - we were going back and forth about what makes comedy work, what makes it feel like a movie versus comic actors just doing their thing as the camera rolls, and I'd argue, come back to a Marx Bros movie for what's possible on the screen.

Romance Watch: Sabrina (1954)



Watched:  06/29/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Everyone but me has seen this movie, but we were staying in on a Saturday and it seemed like a good option for a bit of a light movie and to check off a viewing box.

Somehow, until about two years ago, it had escaped my notice that Sabrina (1954) was actually a Billy Wilder film, and so I wanted to give it a real shot, and I'm glad I did - it did surpass whatever bar I'd set for the movie.  The movie isn't exactly what I expected, which was to see two brothers in escalating conflict, trying to win over Audrey Hepburn.  You can read that as: I didn't want to watch two middle-aged guys duking it out over an ingenue for 2 hours - but it's not really that.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Noir Watch: The Shadow on the Wall (1950)


Watched:  06/27/2019
Format:  Noir Alley TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

The core idea of this movie is so... evil... I almost think it'd make for a swell comedy. 

Ann Sothern - a sort of "America's sweetheart" of the era - plays a woman who murders her own sister but can pin it on her brother-in-law.  BUT!  Her niece saw the whole thing, so she won't go to the gas chamber, she's in a race to kill the little girl before Nancy Davis (read: Nancy Reagan) helps the the little girl recover her memory.

I mean, you can imagine the Looney Tunes quality of repeated murder set-up after murder set-up to kill a bright-eyed little girl who is working through her cloudy memories by playing dolls with Nancy Reagan. 

This movie plays it straight, is a lesser entry in everyone's resume but that of child actor Gigi Perreau (still living, people!), and is good enough as yet another entry in the "psychology is a an alchemical force toward unlocking the mind" films of the era.  It does co-star a pre-Ronald-betrothed Nancy Davis, who is better than I figured she'd be, but still very much Nancy Reagan.*  It does not feature nearly enough Zachary Scott, whom I always like. 

My favorite scene is one where Sothern poisoned the little girl's chocolate milk and it seems like anything can happen in this particular set-up, shot from the kids' eye level as her friend wanders in to see why she isn't drinking her milk.  Just great stuff. 


*I'm sorry - the lady just seemed like a scold all the time when I was a kid, and she feels that way here, too

Adventure Watch: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)



Watched:  06/27/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  4th or 5th
Decade:  1930's

Flat out, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is one of the most influential and best adventure films ever made.

Everything that came before it led up to it, and everything after stands in its shadow.  If you think superhero movies pitting quippy rogues in brightly colored outfits standing up against despotic thugs grasping for power is a new thing, my friend, have I got a movie for you.

Even by modern standards the film is a marvel - maybe especially so.  There's no wires, no wire removal, no CGI versions of Errol Flynn leaping onto a horse with his hands tied behind his back.  That's just dudes in tights doing some crazy stunts for your entertainment.  And it's far from just Flynn - it's an army of actors and performers jumping out of trees, swinging on ropes, and buckling swashes.  The pacing is rapid, especially for 1938, and sets the standard for today's adventure movies, but the dialog is 95% better than most films of its type - intentionally cheesy in many parts, lots of "look, we're pretending to be Ye Olde British People", but - at its heart - the movie will always resonate, as will the story of Robin Hood, of standing up for a nation and all people over the avarice and cruelty of those who would crush others to live with more than they can ever use.

As you can guess, the silent era figured out that you could get in audiences with wild stunts - actions speaking louder than title cards, after all.  Douglas Fairbanks was one the great stars of the era, his Zorro and other characters bouncing all over the screen, jumping off and on horses, swinging from anything that could bear their weight.  It's a hell of a thing to watch, and still absolutely thrilling.  1938 is only a decade into the sound era, and here you can see that the language of sound film has found its form.  Add in the fact this is in technicolor, popping off the screen, and that Flynn is the definition of "handsome fellow", and it's a movie that takes advantage of everything it's got.

One of those things is Olivia deHaviland, who plays the role of the Maid Marian.  This Marian isn't already charmed by the rogue-ish Robin, but is won over by realizing his true loyalty to England, the same which he's inspired in his men, and how he is true to his mission.  He's not just robbing to gather a ransom to free his King, he's also caring for the injured and battered who can't fight alongside him.  She has her moments of action within the confines of the story and era, and while she'll be given a side-eye perhaps by modern audiences, man, for the time, it's a cheeky role.

We also get Claude Rains as Prince John (just perfectly foppish), Basil Rathbone as utter dirtbag Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and the always wonderful Una O'Connor as Bess - Maid Marian's lady in waiting.  And, of course, dozens more. 

If you've never seen the movie, I can't recommend it enough.  It'll genuinely make you wonder why, between this and the Disney version, the past thirty years we've been handed somber, depressing versions of the story.  Part of the joy of the movie is Robin Hood's joy and good humor in the face of danger.  He's not an anti-hero out for vengeance, he's a hero in search of justice.  And Maid Marian.

So get ready for sword battles, archery, skullduggery and men in tights leaping from trees. 

I give it five thumbs up.


Marvel Re-Re-Watch: Captain Marvel (2019)


Watched:  06/28/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  2010's

You'd think I'd have less to say on a third viewing of the movie, but I was genuinely surprised how much more I liked this film on a third viewing.  In many ways, I now think the ad campaign for Captain Marvel and my prior knowledge of the character really got in the way of seeing a lot of what the movie does in bringing us along on Carol's journey - frankly, showing the destruction of the Kree ships in the trailer was crazy and shouldn't have happened.

And while I liked and appreciated the messages the movie makes regarding Carol coming into her own and pushing out the voices of those who would contain and control her - this time I also got a much better feel for the step-by-step journey to Carol's always intact sense of justice and the slow transformation to trusting herself as she learns what sort of people/ aliens she should be trusting.

I've made comment before that it's super-fun to have a Superman-level hero in the Marvel movies, it's also a joy to have someone who reflects the core of what's made Superman stand out since the inception of the character: someone with the moral centering to do the right thing who has the power to act on it without compromise or fear for their own skin, and who will not use that power for self-gain.

Anyway - fun to rewatch the movie again (and, I am sure, again and again in the future).

Friday, June 28, 2019

Noir Watch: Nobody Lives Forever (1946)


Watched:  06/28/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

A bit of lighter, post-war crime drama. 

Garfield plays a former con-man coming back to New York to reclaim the girl he left when he enlisted, and the wad of money he left in her hands.  She's thrown in with a club-owner and spent the money, and so he heads out to LA to reconnect with an old friend.

Running into some pre-war fellow goons, he's turned onto a scheme to rip-off a wealthy widow, who turns out to be less tired old lady and instead the lovely Geraldine Fitzgerald.  Trouble ensues.

The movie is so light in places and features so many comedic bits, it barely feels like noir - but structurally, it fits the bill.  Nothing ground-breaking here, but Garfield shows his chops as a strong leading man, and we get some great character actor performances and Fitzgerald demonstrates why she flirted with major stardom.

PODCAST! Teens in Space! "Space Camp" (1986) & "Last Starfighter" (1984) w/ Maxwell, Mrshl and Ryan


Watched:  06/17 and 06/20/2019
Viewing:  Second and unknown
Format:  DVD and BluRay
Decade:  1980's

It's "Teens in Space"! We get far out with one kinda-grounded adventure featuring some kids on an unscheduled voyage and then find trouble in Rylos City as playing video games actually DOES turn out to be a life skill (if you want to murder anonymous aliens). Join MRSHL, Maxwell and Ryan as we keep our feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.



Music:
Last Starfighter Fanfare - Craig Safan, Last Starfighter OST
In Orbit - John Williams, Space Camp OST

High School Movies Playlist

WWII Watch: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)



Watched:  06/25/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

A fascinating oddball of a movie - part epic, part recreation, part disaster film, part meditation on the futility of war, Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) is an all-star retelling the of the real life events leading up to, and a recreation of, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Originally this was supposed to be two separate movies, one Japanese and one American.  And it almost is - the Japanese parts were directed by Japanese directors (Kurosawa was notoriously fired off the film!), and the American parts: an American director.  I can only wonder how that would have worked in practice, perhaps better.  Both sections reflect the mistakes made along the way - failure of diplomacy, duplicitous use of diplomatic formalities, bureaucratic loggerheads, etc...  Each section reflects back the stance of the home country on what happened at Pearl Harbor in tone and approach, which can make for something of a split-personality to the film that doesn't always work, but probably informs the viewer in 2019 what was felt a generation after the war.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

TL;DR: In 1989 I was 14, and I saw "Batman"



The kids are never going to know that there is, literally, in the public consciousness, a world before Tim Burton's Batman from back in '89, and a world that came into being after that movie.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Batman, the Michael Keaton/ Kim Basinger/ Jack Nicholson-starring gothic caricature that changed the public's perception of superheroes in general.  This isn't hyperbole - nothing was ever the same after this movie came out.  You don't get an Iron Man or Avengers without Batman.  You really don't get the idea out to the general public that comics have moved to a teens-and-up audience until you get breathless write-ups about the Batmania phenomenon.  You also don't have piles of merchandise for adults with a superhero logo on it until Batman, or comics movie-related toys flying off the shelf.

But, mostly, you finally got people to stop thinking "Bam! Whap! Pow!" when they thought about superheroes.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Seafaring Watch: The Sea Wolf (1941)


Watched:  06/21/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

For some reason folks try to file this movie under "noir", and... maybe...?  But I'm going to just go ahead and say "drama".  I'm not willing to do mental the work to turn a Jack London story on a boat into a noir.

I actually broke one of my own rules and purchased this BluRay a couple of months ago having had never seen the movie.  Honestly, I looked at the starring names, looked at the source material and the name of the director and figured "I've spent money on far worse films".

A wildly timely movie - perhaps depressingly so - as the original story by novelist Jack London was adapted to reflect the times.  A man on the run played by John Garfield joins up with a ship (agreeing after almost getting shanghied).  Meanwhile, an escaped convict (Lupino) is hiding on a ferry to San Francisco when it's struck by a steamship.  She and a writer (Knox) are rescued by the crew of The Ghost, but with no intention of setting them back to land.  The Ghost is a 1900-era pirate ship, and those aboard are a crew of the worst of society, who hate themselves almost as much as they hate each other (and assume the worst in everyone).

Friday, June 21, 2019

PODCAST! "Ant-Man" (2015) - Jamie and Ryan's Avengers Countdown


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Watched:  06/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  4th
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan get small with a hero of dynamic proportions. It's "Ant-Man" (2015), Marvel's post "Avengers: Ultron" tone reset. Part heist, part retro-sci-fi, part superhero - it's the Gen-X superhero with a whole lot of supporting cast and the best van in superherodom.




Music
Plain Song - The Cure, Disintegration


Avengers Chronological Countdown Playlist


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Great "Big Red Cake" Taste Test - Part 2: Jamie Boogaloo


We covered some major territory in Part 1 of the Big Red Cake Taste Test.  But here at League HQ, we understand that science needs to be double-checked, and so we've signed up our better half to help calibrate the testing of tastes.

Jamie is a far pickier eater than myself.  She will decide well before she's seen, smelled or tasted a food that it is going to be "gross".  This is an ongoing battle in our house and has been waged relentlessly since Clinton's first term.*

But she will do taste tests.  I cannot imagine why, but she will.  Or steal a drink of my beer if I mention that I liked it.  She is a beer stealer.

She was the one who found the cake at HEB, but it was texted with a message like "barf!", to which I responded "BRING ME THE CAKE".  And, so, here is Part 2 of The Big Red Taste Test, where Jamie goes ahead and gives something new a shot.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Great "Big Red Cake" Taste Test - Part 1



So, we moved to Arizona in 2002.  And in 2003 I went to cook up some barbecue, and as part of that equation, I headed to the soda aisle.  It's a bit old school, but it's kind of a Texas tradition to drink Big Red Soda with your BBQ.  To my shock, they didn't have it.  That would be grounds for dismissal in Texas - we always have Big Red in any soda selection of quality.

I started looking around at convenience stores and other groceries, then finally asked my co-workers, and none of them knew what I was talking about.  Apparently Big Red is pretty regional.

So:  Big Red is a "red cream soda".  You can shorten that to "cream soda" and assume it's been colored red.  It has nothing to do with Big Red the cinammon-flavored chewing gum, so get that our of your head right now.  If you've had A&W Cream Soda or Dr. Brown's... something like that.  Only... redder.

I don't really drink sugar soda or any soda other than soda water these days (love me some Topo Chico), but every once in a while I still sneak a Big Red.  You don't need much... it's pure sugar.

HEB is a Texas-based grocery chain, and every once in a while they like to just mess with people and their weird Texas obsessiveness.  And that's how, I think, we ended up with a Big Red Soda Cake.

Of Course No One is Going to the Movies to See a Comedy



In what will now be a series of "how are you allowed to cover this business?  Do you know any actual humans?" responses to THR bone-picking articles and their "protect the industry!" take on news...  I guess I'm gonna talk about why no one is going to see comedies in the theater.

THR is confused as to why people are not going to see comedies at the movies, and talks about the theories being floated in Hollywood in what's turning out to be a dreadful summer if you aren't Ant-Man or a talking raccoon.

Let me help:

It's because there's no reason to see a comedy on the big screen.  It will be available via streaming within a couple of months, maybe for free.

There.  Very simple.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day, and the Things We Share From Generation to Generation

taken just this evening


This Father's Day I was thinking a bit about the words of wisdom that can be passed from father to child, the knowledge that can be imparted, generation after generation as parents - maybe even without really realizing what they're offering, maybe just a thought in passing, or maybe when sharing a specific life lesson - use just the right words, and those messages stick with you.  Become a part of you.

Not having any children, I'm the end of some part of the line.  I don't regret it, exactly, but I am missing out on some things, and certainly one of those will be sharing the things with my hypothetical kid that my dad shared with me.  And since I don't have any kids, I thought I'd share some things with you that I'd have passed down, that have become just how I think about things and see the world.


  • Don't expect a reward for generosity, the reward is in the giving and knowing you've helped lift someone else up
  • Wasting time is wasted time
  • Graduation is just the beginning of your education.  Learn something every day.
  • Nixon's only mistake was that he got caught.
  • Sometimes things don't work out.  Sleep on it.  Figure out how to do better tomorrow.
  • An education is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
  • In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
  • Always maintain at least two additional identities you can disappear into at the drop of a hat, complete with SSN's, passports, the whole shmear.  But not one for your wife.  She's on her own.  She's part of a you that doesn't exist anymore.
  • When God closes a door, he opens a window.
  • All that stands between you and making a new friend is a handshake and learning a name.
  • The Earth is hollow and populated by giants.  They are waiting for the next age at which time they will emerge at the behest of the Freemasons to purge the Earth of the non-believers.
  • An insult to the family name requires retribution in blood.
  • Treat the CEO and the Sanitation Engineer no different, and you'll always treat people right.
  • Eat right, exercise, do the crossword, and you're getting a great foundation every day.
  • Gold is not actually a precious resource.  You can make it from iron and brass cooked at just the right temperature.  The Freemasons don't want anyone to know this so they can control the global economy.  There is no such thing as aluminum.
  • UFO's are real, but they are transdimensional echoes of ourselves, drawn to this side to guide us on The Path.
  • No man with a dog is without friends.
  • If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.
  • Garfield wasn't assassinated.  That was a cover-up and he still lives in a complex beneath the National Archives that you can also enter if you take the elevator going down in the Washington Monument.  He's been the architect behind every major event of the past 120 years.  His lover is Amelia Earhart.

I know, pretty trite sorta stuff.  I guess it always sounds that way when you read it back out loud.  But my Dad said it, and it means a lot to me.  

Happy Father's Day!  


Rock Watch: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)



Watched:  06/15/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's

One of my earliest memories is being about three, hanging from the inside of the garage door and singing "We Will Rock You" and kicking the garage door to the beat.  Who knew a 3 year old would have that kind of appreciation for a Brian May guitar lick?

It's hard to piece together what I knew about Queen and when. It doesn't help that time for kids is so distended, and what were minor hiatuses for the band were epic blocks of time to me back then.  I do remember them coming back into my consciousness with "Radio Gaga".  I remember a bit of Live Aid on playback (but not live).  I remember Freddie passing.

And, of course, anyone around at the time remembers the post-mortem, Wayne's World supported explosion of "Bohemian Rhapsody", a song I can't say I'd heard before.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Noir Watch: Nora Prentiss (1947)


watched:  06/15/2019
format:  Noir Alley on TCM
viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Eddie Muller intro'd this movie by discussing how this film was marketed and considered "a woman's picture", and from what I've gathered about Women's Pictures of the mid-20th Century, I can see why that label got dropped on it.  But had he not mentioned this in the opening, I'd have seen this as soft-boiled noir and maybe mentioned women's films in passing.  Bear in mind, one of my favorite movies if Mildred Pierce, which one can see as equal parts Women's Picture and Film Noir, so that's not taking a particular stance, it just changes the formula a bit.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Silent Watch: Pandora's Box (1929)


Watched:  06/12/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1920's

I've been meaning to watch this movie for decades.  Literally.  I've even owned a copy of it for a few years, but - let's be honest - unless you're one of the Silent Film buffs, it takes a bit of extra energy and focus to get through a 2-hour silent movie.*

I first stumbled across Louise Brooks just as I exited film school (I believe the doc Looking for Lulu was airing on cable), and back then, finding her work was incredibly difficult.  I rented a few films in which she appears as a minor or background character, but the GW Pabst stuff eluded me.  The DVD copies you were supposed to be able to get were expensive and of notoriously bad quality.  But, the past few years, various groups have been restoring and making available some of that height-of-her-career/ powers material.

PODCAST: "Doomsday" (2008) - SimonUK Cinema Series (w/ Ryan!)


Watched:  05/27/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2000's

No matter how many parts of well-known movies you try to Frankenstein into one movie, you are not going to get that Voltron/ sum-is-greater-than-the-parts effect you're looking for. SimonUK and I look at this 2008 entry from Scottish filmmaker Neil Marshall as he runs our hero through a gauntlet of oddly familiar scenes and a hero who always has the same expression.



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Music:

Two Tribes - Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pleasuredome
Good Thing - Fine Young Cannibals, The Raw and the Cooked


SimonUK Cinema Series Playlist

Thursday, June 13, 2019

TL;DR: Happy Superman Day! (yesterday)




So, about halfway through the day yesterday the internet decided it was "Superman Day".  I have no idea what for or why.  Something to do with DC cashing in on the release of Man of Steel a few years back.  Why this isn't a Saturday so stores can promote Superman and bring in kids and stuff, I can't imagine.

Get your act together, all of comics.

Whatever the reason, we'd feel remiss if we didn't raise a glass to our favorite fictional undocumented alien, the man of tomorrow, the ace of action, Big Blue himself:  Superman.

Every once in a while over the years I've attempted to explain the appeal of Superman, but that's never gone over particularly well.  Explaining why you like a fictional character feels like weird and dorky gushing, especially when discussing one who has seen hundreds of writers, dozens of interpretations, and who has been on the outs in popularity for more than thirty years.

Still, I'm a fan.  I don't think this is a secret.

Maybe in this era of cultural division and splintering, featuring a low, dull tension that seems to be hang over us at all times, where we aren't sure what to believe in the news or from our elected leaders (or from other people who'd sure like to be a leader)... We know we're getting fleeced and we know there's plenty to come right back swinging if you push back...  Maybe standing in relief against that backdrop, a guy who tells the truth, stands up for those who can't stand up for themselves, who can shrug off bullets and shackles of the injust but powerful as he moves through the world righting wrongs and helping the helpless...  Maybe in this world a Superman who can pull open his shirt and appears in a blaze of primary colored action makes a lot more sense.

Monday, June 10, 2019

No, Hollywood, That is Not Why We Didn't See the New X-Men (or Godzilla)

oh, no.  I couldn't possibly.  No, thank you.



The Hollywood Reporter posted an article today explaining why X-Men: Dark Phoenix underperformed at the box office.  It's an article that explains how the execs at Fox were wrong about what went wrong with X-Men: Apocalypse and how they mis-course corrected with Dark Phoenix.*

I'll argue, the article is no more correct about what went wrong (re: why people didn't show up) than the condescending treatment it gives the execs trying to sort things out in the days after the poor performance of Apocalypse.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

TV Watch: Doom Patrol - Season 1


I really didn't know what to expect when DC announced their second show in their DC Universe app exclusive line-up would be Doom Patrol From the pictures shared, the comics would be roughly based on the late 1980's/ early-90's-era Grant Morrison-penned (with art by Richard Case, Doug Braithwaite, Scott Hanna, John Nyberg, Carlos Garzon) comics.  But with a slightly different line-up, what with Rita Farr there front and center.

My initial exposure to Doom Patrol as a team was via issue #1 of this series - Morrison had come on in the mid-30's - written by Paul Kupperberg.  Frankly, I'd been completely enamored with the first couple of issues (long since disappeared from my collection, even before The Purge).  It was so weird and dark and uncomfortable - starting at a point where people were assembling, talking about a team that had preceded them had died.  Badly.   Somehow it felt more adult and frank than the way X-Men never seemed to quite exit high school.

A List of Commonly Loved Things That Aren't Actually All That Great

absolute garbage, tbh

We take it for granted that some things are great, but when you really look at it... are they all that great?  We took a look at things people say they like, but which, on second thought, just aren't all that.


  • Kittens
  • Sunny Days in Spring
  • Crisp Days in Fall
  • Sleeping in a comfy bed
  • Warm Pancakes 
  • A baby laughing
  • The wag of a puppy's tail
  • The Beatles
  • Beach trips
  • Spaghetti
  • Westerns
  • Spaghetti Westerns
  • Amy Adams
  • Friendly conversation over cocktails
  • Friendly conversation with Amy Adams over cocktails
  • Pizza
  • Sex
  • That movie you like
  • Looking at the internet
  • memories of hugs from your grandma
  • Running water and indoor plumbing
  • Roofs

We make the same money whether you're clicking on this to stare at it in disbelief, to just be mad at this list or even more money if you share this dumb @#$%ing list.  So, please share it far and wide and keep rage clicking, dum-dums!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Outstanding Watch: RoboVampire (1988)



Watched:  06/07/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime (also on YouTube)
Viewing: First but certainly not the last
Decade:  1980's

So, a couple of weeks back JAL DM'd me and deeply recommended a small film from an overseas production company, and as a patron of independent and international cinema, I leaped at the opportunity to use a free Friday evening to finally watch RoboVampire (1988).

Friday, June 7, 2019

Noir Watch: Dead Reckoning (1947)


Watched:  06/06/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I know it seems like I heap praise on every single noir that comes along, but I'm usually trying to find some good in the film or a reason it was included in Eddie Muller's Noir Alley line-up.

Muller himself warned us up front that Dead Reckoning (1947) wasn't going to shake the Earth, and in practice - the movie has a wide variety of components that, if I were to tell you "it stars so-and-so, it has this and that plot element, it has a unique location" you'd be nodding and getting noir-jazzed for the movie.  But, in execution...  the movie just feels like a lesser picture almost immediately, and it just never manages to catch fire.

PODCAST: "Avengers - Age of Ultron" (2015) - ACC no. 11 w/ Jamie and Ryan


Watched:  05/24/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third?  Fourth?
Decade:  2010's


Jamie slogs through a movie she does not care for and about which Ryan is ambivalent. It's the second outing for Earth's Mightiest Heroes as we come face to face with an AI that's kind of a self-replicating Mean Girl. Join us as we puzzle through Avengers: Age of Ultron, the one you haven't seen in a while and that you only sorta remember.
 

The "Avengers Chronological Countdown" Playlist

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Marvel Repeat Watch: Avengers - Endgame (2019), Take 3

I'm ready for this buddy picture

Watched:  06/05/2019
Format:  Alamo - Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  2010's

Well...  I dunno what to tell you people.  We wanted to make sure we saw this again in the theater, and, indeed, we did.

Of course this time I noticed some new things, enjoyed some new stuff, appreciated what I'd seen before and generally had a good time of it watching the movie again.

The movie still flies by, and I'm still a bit drained by the time it ends.  I have a few corrections I need to make where I made some mistakes on the PodCast, so... you know, eventually we'll get to that.

oh, Pepper.  I can't quit you.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Noir/ Heist Watch: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)



Watched:  06/03/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  7th?  Unknown
Decade:  1950s

I know I throw a lot of soft recommendations around, saying "oh, you might like this" or "it's worth catching", but The Asphalt Jungle (1950) was one of those hit-me-like-lightning movies the first time I watched it, and, in a lot of ways, I've been chasing that same high ever since.  That viewing was way back in college from a rented tape on a 20" TV, and I've seen and owned various copies of the film ever since.  Frankly, when I just looked up the movie on this blog, I assumed I'd written it up 3 or 4 times, but, instead, I'm just finding mentions of it tucked into other posts.  So, it's been a while.

In some ways, in 2019 there's little new in The Asphalt Jungle - the film is one of those that reset the path for heist movies and created the template from which heist movies would flow from then til now.  But for a movie popping up just a few years after World War II, and because of the influence, it feels shockingly modern (especially for modern TV more than movies, which are largely toothless in comparison these days).  It's 3/5ths getting to and getting through the heist, and 2/5ths things going wrong and the fallout as our ensemble tries to sort out the mess they're in.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Noir Watch: Key Largo (1948)


Watched:  05/31/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's

The notion of a bunch of folks hanging out in a hotel in the Florida Keys probably doesn't ring very "noir" to folks who start and stop their definition of noir with Jane Greer in large hats, but there's a sub-genre of noir that's "people in remote locations trapped in a building/ held hostage by gangster while some sort of event occurs outside".  In this case, the gangster is Edward G. Robinson and the event is a hurricane.

I recalled loving Key Largo (1948) when I watched it a few years back, and I believe it made top marks in my end of the year Krypto Awards as the movie I most enjoyed watching at home.

Y'all...  this movie held up just fine.

Friday, May 31, 2019

PODCAST! "Live and Let Die" (1973) - Bond Watch 05 w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  05/26/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1970's

We get back to Bond with 1973's "Live and Let Die" - the one with the voodoo. James Bond heads to New York, New Orleans and the Carribbean in a herky-jerky thrillride! We take a look at what was going on when this movie was made, from the state of the States to our third Bond's debut - and, of course, how this looked in 1973 vs. 2019.




Music:

Live and Let Die - Paul McCartney, Live and Let Die OST


Bond Watch Playlist:





Thursday, May 30, 2019

Travel/ Sports Report: Cubs at Astros May 29. 2019



The last two years, we went to Chicago for Cubs games, but due to a few shifting things this year, no can do.  However, The Cubs came to Houston for inter-league play (The Astros used to play them all the time when the 'Stros were in the National League before deciding to mostly just play The Rangers in the American League).  We'd lost two to Houston before this evening's game, and Houston is excellent this season, but you gotta believe!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Action Watch: John Wick 3 (2019)



Watched:  05/24/2019
Format:  Alamo Mueller
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I'm not sure what to say about the John Wick franchise.  It is what it is.  A celebration of cinematic violence in a world set up specifically to support deeply stylized violence with no sense of consequences (despite what the movie keeps trying to say is the theme, but which, in no way, resonates with anything we're seeing).  Essentially a self-playing videogame, the movies are about the glamour of killing, and being unkillable in a world where the only real humans are a few named characters, with a sub-class of nameless henchmen, and then NPC's of the rest of humanity sort of appearing as shapes and colors the assassins can disappear into, but who aren't really there.

Friday, May 24, 2019

This Season - on "Supergirl"



At the end of last season, I'd kind of given up on the CW superhero shows.  Maybe there was some residual guilt - after all, I no longer have that mania for all things comics I once did, and whenever I realize I no longer care about something comics-related, it makes me... kind of sad?  That said - these days, there's so much superhero content out there, I long ago let go of watching *everything*, and now I'm lucky if I watch much of anything.*

I find a lot of network TV a chore - 22 episodes or so per year is a lot to watch in sheer time allotted.  But, more than that, unless you're talking 30 minute sitcom or a show that's more episodic in nature, keeping the thread over twenty-two 45-minute chapters is a lot of narrative to keep track of.  Frankly, it feels like it's too much for the writers a lot of the time on these shows, and by the time we'd get to the season finale, speaking especially of those CW superhero shows, it can feel like a tortured mess that you just want to see end more than you care about the events of the finale.

Anyway - after watching both The Flash and Supergirl for a few seasons, at the end of last year, Jamie and I decided to hang it up.

Noir Watch: White Heat (1949)



Watched:  05/22/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  Second (third?)
Decade:  1940's

Cagney made it big in films of the 1930's with breakout roles like The Public Enemy and Angels with Dirty Faces.  During the war, he had a massive hit with Yankee Doodle Dandy, but by 1949, he was back in tough-guy mode when he was brought on to play Cody Jarrett in White Heat, maybe one of the most famous outlaw films in American cinema.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Baseball Watch: Bull Durham (1988)




Watched:  05/15/2019
Format:  Amazon streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

I was about thirteen when this movie hit, and it was one of those movies that arrived that everyone else saw when it came out, but at the time I wasn't that interested in baseball or Susan Sarandon, so I skipped it.  Well, life changes things in some amazing ways.

I suppose if there's a marker to say "was this a good movie or not?" I can point to the fact that I put this on as I was about to do something else (edit a podcast) but was fiddling around before settling in, and just put it on to have something on for a few minutes to see what it was like, and the next thing I knew I was finishing the movie.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Kaiju Watch: Godzilla 1984/ Return of Godzilla (1984)


Watched:  05/21/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third/ First
Decade: 1980's

Way back in '86, I rented the American version of this film for my birthday.  And when I say "American version", it helps to know a bit about the original Godzilla: King of the Monsters from back in the 1950's.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Noir City Austin - Day 3 "Nightfall" (1957) & "Murder By Contract" (1958)






First, I forgot to mention that on Day 2, the TCM Backlot Austin Chapter met up at Noir City and grabbed a picture, and you'll see me awkwardly standing in the back.  Thanks to Jane, et al, for organizing.

Next: Upfront, I'll tell you, I only saw two of the four films on Day 3 of Noir City Austin.  This is not due to film programming, venue or any of that. I just had stuff I needed to go do as the coming week of work/life is set to be  busy one.  So, I was able to see the first two films shown on Sunday.

Noir City Austin continued exploring the 1950's, and by the late 1950's, the differences in style of dress, attitude and film-making choices between the first film shown on Friday night from '49 and by the time we hit boom-time/ post-Korea America in '57, a lot has shifted.  Hell, men aren't even wearing hats as a required feature.