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.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Noir City Austin - Day 2: "City That Never Sleeps" (1953) & "Private Hell 36" (1954)






Watched:  05/18/2019
Format:  Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Long ago I had purchased tickets to see a baseball game in the evening, so I was only scheduled to see two films for Noir City Austin, Day 2.

The theme for 2019 was a follow up on 2018, which was Noir in the 1940's, year-by-year.  This 10 film cycle was tracing noir as we left the 1940's and how and why the films changed as we hit the 1950's as cultural issues crept into the films and television competed with the big screen and informed the lives of characters on screen.  And, by the mid-to-late 1950's, began influencing how movies were shot so they'd work on the television sets of the era as Hollywood looked to cash in on the secondary income stream.

Noir City Austin - Day 1 - "Trapped" (1949) and "The Turning Point" (1952)




Viewed:  05/17/2019
Format:  Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  First for both
Decade:  1940's/ 1950's

Eddie Muller is back in Bat City for Noir City Austin, our annual showing of films I'd never find on my own, and always can't believe the gold Muller is able to surface.   Muller isn't just host of TCM's Noir Alley weekly dose of crime, implied sex and moral gray areas - he's also head of the Film Noir Foundation.  Proceeds from the festival and merch sales go back to the FNF, who, in turn use the money to rescue films from obscurity and eventual loss.

Friday, May 17, 2019

PODCAST: "The Italian Job" (1969) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  05/07/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1960's


SimonUK finally gets around to talking about one of his favorite films, a heist film about a scrappy team pulling off the impossible with cheer and good spirits. Honestly, it's mostly just a love fest for a movie both Simon and Ryan enjoy immensely.




Music:

Get a Bloomin' Move On/Self Preservation Society - Don Black/Quincy Jones, The Italian Job OST

The mentioned poster for The Italian Job that seems to have nothing to do with the film:



SimonUK Cinema Series:

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gen-X Watch: Wine Country (2019)




Watched:  05/15/2019
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I wish I'd disliked this movie enough so that I could have a spoofy title to the post like "Whine Country" to tag onto Wine Country (2019).  I guarantee you, some bright-eyed reviewer has used it out there somewhere.  After all the film is about a bunch of upper-middle class to upper class women coming together to go through the entirely predictable steps of a "girls weekend"/ reunion film and all of the weirdly specific predictable beats (despite the fact that reunion movies are not my jam) that fall out.

People be having lives that are more complicated than when you're 21 working for minimum wage, y'all.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Noir Watch: Nightmare Alley (1947)


Watched:  05/12/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's

I remember reading that film-reviewer Pauline Kael made it a rule to only ever watch a film once - maybe a practicality of her business, maybe a personal quirk (as in all things, it's only mostly true).  I think about this a lot, because - as anyone who has followed the blog or PodCast knows - I find returning to movies fascinating, both to see what my now-brain thinks of a movie versus what I thought of it then, and because of how those differences reflect on your own experience, making films something all the more personal.

I saw Nightmare Alley (1947) about four years ago, and I remembered thinking it was good - but not really clicking to it in particular.  But on this viewing, despite the fact I remembered the film fairly well, it just reached out and hit me over the head.  This is a brilliant, wonderfully crafted movie, tackling deeply sensitive material and plowing right through, and getting away with it like the low-level conman who inserts himself with the right clothes and patter - the movie sure looks like a morality tale and crime movie, while questioning the nature of anyone selling you salvation, spiritual insight or deep insight into your own psyche. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

We're Starting a Newsletter: The Signal Watch Planet



Everything old is new again.

A while back pal Max Romero started a newsletter (recommended), and I've been thoroughly enjoying his routine missives.  They're thoughtful, insightful and keep me up to date with Max who lives in Chicago and who I don't get to talk to often enough, me still in Austin.

So, newsletters - the thing people started doing about ten minutes after inventing the printing press - are back.  Frankly, I think it's a good thing.

Twitter has its place and purpose, but isn't great at getting a complete thought expressed, and tweet threads tend to feel like someone shouting points at you.  Frankly, as a content creator - you're fighting against a sea of noise and algorithms as people scroll on by.  Facebook is... facebook.  Its ways mysterious and inscrutable.

I've subscribed to a few newsletters myself.  Writers, internet personality types, people I just happen to know...  Everyone does it a bit different.  Updates on what they're watching, reading, recipes, etc...  recommendations.  Sure, why not?  I just like to keep up with folks.

So, yeah...



I'm not sure I'm going to do what Max and others are doing.  I already blog a-plenty, so if you want what my brain is generating, you can see those writing or hear me podcast for an hour every week or two...  Going into it, my notion is to gather together recent blog posts and related links, maybe comment a bit on the posts, etc...  Nothing too heavy.

But I also care a lot about what people are doing around me.  Paul works on movies, Hilary and Stuart are musicians/ singers/ songwriters, Amy does Nerd Nite, Nathan has jazz shows and interviews, Maxwell has any number of projects going on at any time both personal and work-related...  People win awards.  People blog.  People make stuff.  I want to point out that stuff, too.

Maybe I'll occasionally get old school League of Melbotis-style and share more personal stuff in the newsletter which, frankly, I just don't want to do on a public blog anymore.

And... recipes!  You never know.  I could learn how to make something.

So, if you want to sign up - you can always look at the tab I put in the horizontal menu bar, or you can just fill out the complicated form here:




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Friday, May 10, 2019

PODCAST(s)! "Legend of Billie Jean" (1985) and "Pump Up the Volume" (1990) - Teens in Revolt! w/ Maxwell, Marshall and Ryan!


Watched:  05/02/2019
Format:  LoBJ - Amazon Streaming, PUtV - DVD
Viewing:  LoBJ - First!, PUtV - unknown
Decade:  1980's, 1990s

For more on The PodCast - where to find the podcast with your favorite service, etc...

The Signal Watch blog - we also write essays and review movies and stuff

Become a Patron!

*NSFW* Maxwell and Marshall come into the studio to talk TEENS IN REVOLT!  It's "The Legend of Billie Jean" (1985) and "Pump the Volume" (1990), two movies where teens grab the airwaves and tap into the spirit of being a teen and find themselves on the wrong side of the law!  We take a look at two classic teen movies for our generation and try to decide: what are these kids so dang grumpy about?

Part 1



Part 2




Music

Part 1
Invincible - Pat Benatar, Legend of Billie Jean OST
Rebel Yell - Billy Idol, Legend of Billie Jean OST

Part 2
Everybody Know - Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man
Titanium Exposé - Sonic Youth, Goo/ Pump Up the Volume OST



High School Movies


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Way TL;DR - Tracking Superheroes from Source-of-Shame to $2 Billion Dollars in 2 Weeks



The kids today will never *quite* appreciate what Marvel pulled off, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with this week's mega-release of Avengers: Endgame.  But, more than that, they'll never really understand what it was like to go from an era where you'd stay home on a Friday night to see a TV movie of the week starring David Hasslehoff as Nick Fury.  Truly, any crumb of a glimpse of a live-action version of the comics you enjoyed was like a signal beamed from weirdo space and invading the lowest-common-denominator normalcy of broadcast TV.  Any cinematic appearance of anything even superhero adjacent was a reason to trek to the movies (a habit I am just now breaking, pretty unsuccessfully).

These days every basic jerk out there tries to claim nerd status for just *liking* something other than sports and *admitting* they have something they enjoy (heads up!  you cannot be a wine-nerd.  You can be a vintner, wine enthusiast, sommelier or lush.  Pick one.  But a "wine nerd" is not a thing.).   But in an era before Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a box office smash, and the internet gave us hidey-holes into which we all disappeared and Watchmen made the 100 Greatest Novels Since 1923 list...   comics were for children.  Or for nerds, losers, the mentally slow, the emotionally damaged, perverts and delinquents.

Movies might come out based on graphic novels or comics, and sometimes that source was acknowledged - but I grew up in the 1980's, and my comics habit made the adults around me visibly nervous.*  Parents, teachers, etc... knew to be disapproving and angry about musical selections (thanks, Tipper!), but comics?  What were we even doing?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Workin' Watch: 9-to-5 (1980)


Watched:  05/ 03/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's


I was about five when 9-to-5 (1980) came out, and the theme song by co-star Dolly Parton was everywhere for about a year or two, remaining a staple of radio play to this day.  Because the movie dealt with non-space-battle, gorilla or robot related issues, and I think was an R-Rating in the era of G, PG and R, I did not see the movie at the time.  I was pretty sure then that it was not a sex romp based mostly on how many people went to see it (it was huge), and just never got around to seeing it as I grew up. 

Which is weird - I'm not a giant Jane Fonda fan, but I find Lilly Tomlin brilliant whenever she's on a screen in front of me, and... I mean, Dolly Parton!  If you don't love Dolly Parton, I don't want to know you.  And Dabney Coleman was a thing back in this era - people loved him (he might have been a great take on J. Jonah Jameson in a 1980's-era Spidey movie if a studio had gotten its ac together.  I'm just saying.)

From a purely sociological standpoint, it's fascinating to see a movie about the women of my parents generation who were going through the first phases of a lot of what we deal with today, but based upon the rules of the era where women were housewives, teachers, nurses and... secretaries.  And we've all seen the role of secretaries on Mad Men (or should.  Sucks to your GoT, give me ad executives drinking on the job). 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Peter Mayhew Has Merged With The Infinite

Peter Mayhew during filming of Star Wars

Peter Mayhew, actor who brought Chewbacca to life, has passed.

I was just over two years old when I saw Star Wars in the theater, and - like everyone - I loved Chewbacca.  How could you not?  A giant with a heart of gold, a loyal best pal, a co-pilot and a strong right hand - Chewie was the ideal buddy in a galaxy where you needed someone you could trust at your side, watching your back.

The scene I probably remember best from Star Wars as a kid was realizing how *tall* Chewbacca was when he was in shackles beside Han and Luke in the Death Star, and realizing the man inside that yak-hair suit was pretty much that tall, too.  I recall being about seven and measuring out how tall he would be with a ruler against my friend's bedroom wall while we stood on chairs (I have no idea how or where we got the figure for Chewbacca's height).

The other scene I recalled was Chewbacca and pretty much everything about the trash compactor.  Even as a wee kid, I found that bit terrific.  Ford and Mayhew had their schtick down pat.

In 2000 I saw Peter Mayhew for the first time in person - he was signing autographs in a longline at a Disney theme park where Jamie and I were honeymooning.  I didn't stand in line then, and I regretted it later.  Flash forward to about four years ago, and the same happened at a comic convention in San Antonio - and as I walked out, regretted I hadn't jumped in line. 

That I didn't wait is odd, in retrospect - when The Force Awakens was announced, I was possibly more excited to see Chewbacca and R2 back on the screen than General Leia or Han Solo - they would be the aged versions of themselves, but Chewie could be ageless, walking through these movies, one after another, no silver showing up in that fur. 

But, of course, the man who brought Chewbacca to life was now not a kid himself, and I was aware his large frame had aged hard - I'd seen him in a wheelchair, and gravity is a bear for us over-six-foot-humans.  I was not surprised when I heard he had a stand-in for all the walking scenes and was mostly the one playing the seated bits.  But I still figured Peter Mayhew would be online, a pleasantly upbeat and chirpy presence - that he'd put on a tux jacket for a premier somewhere in LA. and maybe I'd see him at some other con and get his signature this time.

I'm genuinely sorry he's gone, but I am grateful that he spent the last few decades as a genuine celebrity, knowing his face and name meant (almost) as much to Star Wars fans as the fellow he brought to life, and that he got to be a part of it all over again in both the Prequels and the latest trilogy. 

My understanding is that Peter Mayhew was an orderly in a hospital before being cast as Chewbacca in Star Wars.  It's funny how a single casting call and some luck can change everything. 

PODCAST: "Avengers: Endgame" (2019) - Avengers Kinda Chronological Countdown w/ Jamie & Ryan


Watched:  04/25 & 26/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane/ South Lamar
Viewing:  First/ Second
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan went to see "Avengers: Endgame" twice in two days. We talk the epic conclusion to the first ten or so years of Marvel Studios, what worked for us, what challenged us, and how it fits in with the world of comics from which it sprang. Don't listen in if you're avoiding spoilers - because we've got plenty.




Music:
Portals - Alan Silvestri, "Avengers: Endgame" OST 




Thursday, April 25, 2019

So, yes, I have now seen "Avengers: Endgame"



I expect Jamie and I will be putting a PodCast together on Avengers: Endgame, so... bear with us until that gets recorded, posted and edited.  We are seeing it again tomorrow, so we get 2x the chance to miss things, I suppose.

All I will say for now, in spirit of keeping everyone spoiler-free, is:  I didn't think any time was a good time to go to the bathroom, so plan soda intake accordingly.  It is a LONG movie, but dense.

And, I genuinely wasn't spoiled by toys or anything else on the shelf.  The trailers I've seen mostly covered the first 20 minutes of a 180 minute film, so...  lots of movie there to grapple with.  But Marvel has done a great job of keeping the movie under wraps.

1 SPOILER after the break...

Animation Watch: Justice League vs The Fatal Five (2019)



Watched:  04/25/2019
Format:  DCUniverse
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Aside from Justice League Action and Young Justice, I have a hard time getting excited for the DC animation films or shows.  While a country mile better than Marvel's cartoons and their paceless plotting (but kudos as their animation has finally caught up), with the end of Brave and the Bold and the hard pivot with Flashpoint, DC decided the only thing to do was aim squarely at 22 year olds and everyone else could go @#$% themselves.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PODCAST! "Lifeforce" (1985) - SimonUK Cinema Series w/ Ryan!


Watched:  04/09/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's


SimonUK brings a charming, home spun sort of tale about (nude) space vampires, not-Michael Caine, a blank Texan astronaut, a London-based Zombie plague, forced kissing on Patrick Stewart and more story than a movie has a right to contain.





Music:
Lifeforce Theme - Henry Mancini, Lifeforce OST
Call of the Wild - Henry Mancini, Lifeforce OST



Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Tidings from The Signal Watch

I dunno about this team-up, y'all

Growing up, Easter was a pretty big deal in our house.  My folks are good Lutherans, and until about high school we got together with family and friends - hosting them for the weekend, or they'd host us - and insert the sort of small riot that can occur when you've got four boys born within 27 months of each other.  There was always shenanigans on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday was Easter Eggs, church and then a substantial dinner.  If we were out of town, then a 3 hour drive back.

The trick to Easter was that teachers didn't care about your long weekend (we often had Good Friday off from school), and the holiday rolled on through lunch and into the late afternoon, but that didn't mean I didn't have a book report or a test to deal with on Monday.  So, good job, my teachers.  That was super cool of you.*

Of course, school days are decades in the past.  No one lets me participate in egg hunts, I haven't dyed eggs in 15 years (it's way more work than its worth as an adult), and I've realized the chocolate at Easter is weirdly, uniformly terrible even as its just as bad for you as good chocolate.

But, you *can* often land a solid brunch or dinner out of the deal.

Aside from Biblical epics (an early and overlooked part of film's history which faded in the 60's), the entertainment offerings for Easter are pretty few and far between.   No one really wants to trample all over the Passion story or the religious import of the holiday to a lot of people quite as cavalierly as they're willing to do with Christmas.  I did see Hallmark took a stab at recycling their Christmas movie formula to make an Easter movie or two this year (never stop being you, Hallmark Channel).  And, of course, we've got Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade.

It's not the best movie - pretty standard romantic comedy stuff, and Garland and Astaire are typically great, but it does feature Ann Miller shaking the blues away.  And to that, we tip our hat.




Saturday, April 20, 2019

Marvel Watch: Infinity War (2018)


Watched:  04/19/2019
Viewing:  Third
Format:  Bluray
Decade:  2010's

We re-watched Avengers: Infinity War (2019) not to blog or podcast it, but more as a refresher before heading into Endgame next week.

There's an incredible amount of good stuff in this movie, and as much as others are dumbfounded by Avengers pulling together a superhero team on screen, this is the one that I watch, dumbfounded.  Getting people on the same screen is a matter of money and scheduling  Getting a storyline to work across 20 movies over a decade while being purchased by Disney is... well, you try it.

Unlike most actual comic book superhero cross-overs - Infinity War actually works.  Characters remain in character, everyone's arcs line up and get them here, and even in the small bits we see them, we understand who they are, where they're at, and how they fit in.  If Hickman's Infinity failed to deliver, it was because it felt like a jumbled mess of heroes in costumes in non-descript locales performing meaningless tasks while shouting under fire with no real relation to who was saying what. Somehow, that is not what we have here.  Everything is specific, even new places and characters.

Part of comics reading that, to this date, we never really saw translated to the big screen, is that sometimes our heroes lose, man.  Even when they win the big battles, there's often fallout, sacrifice and calamity to deal with.  Infinity War apparently freaked out a whole lot of people who don't read comics, who expect that reset to the status quo to wrap up the story every movie.  But that's not what cross-overs are for, when done right (which is why every ten years is probably the right frequency for comics cross-overs of epic scale, Big 2 publishers..., not every year.)

Looking forward to Endgame and whatever's to come for the Marvel U


Noir Watch: 99 River Street (1953)



Watched:  04/18/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1950's

I've written up 99 River Street (1953) once before, and watched it something like 1.5 times before, but I genuinely really like this movie.  Starring John Payne as a former champion boxer, now a cab driver - he's trying to adjust to a world of broken dreams and settle in with the dishy blonde he married at the height of his fighting days when he finds her cheating on him.

In a twist of just insanely bad timing,* a pal - Evelyn Keyes - lures him to a theater to show the body of a man she accidentally killed when he tried to #MeToo her during an audition.  Just to make matters worse, the guy Payne's wife is running around with is a jewel thief who just heisted $50K in diamonds.

Friday, April 19, 2019

PODCAST! "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



For prior blog post on this screening, click here.

SimonUK and Ryan delve into the 1991 sci-fi actioner and talk about the impact of the film on culture, on action film, and maybe ourselves. We also discuss the awesomeness of Linda Hamilton, CGI in 1991, violence then and now and a whole lot more.




Music:

Terminator 2: Judgment Day Theme - Brad Fiedel, T2 OST
You Could Be Mine - Guns N' Roses, T2 OST



SimonUK Cinema Series





Thursday, April 18, 2019

Huh Watch: Hellboy (2019)



Watched:  04/17/2019
Format:  Alamo Mueller
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Stuart's flight was canceled, grounding him in Austin til tomorrow and I was planning to see Hellboy (2019) at 7:20 with SimonUK, so world's collided this evening as SimonUK and Stuart met, sat on either side of me and then both proudly announced their fealty for director Neil Marshall.  Truly, these two dudes are two peas in a pod.

So - yeah, I'd heard Hellboy was supposed to be terrible, which is a good place to set your gauge when watching the movie.  It both earns the bad reviews and maybe defies them a bit.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Maintenance Watch: Stuart, Wedding, B-Day

Friday was my birthday.  Please, please... hold your applause. 

I'd already gone out last week with some pals (including JuanD, who created the music that is the current opening and closing to the PodCast), and so wasn't planning anything much as I had a busy weekend ahead of me.

For my b-day, I got a noir movie box set from my brother's family and Jamie got me a Mickey Mouse lamp and Mickey Mouse Lego set.  I don't talk about it a lot, but I'm a fan of the Mouse and part of our living room decor is "Vintage Mickey" (it's semi-tasteful, I guess.  I've lost track of these things.). 

After watching Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, my brother dropped in.  A former semi-permanent fixture on my sofa, Steanso long ago fell prey to romance, the vagaries of domesticity and - eventually - child-rearing, but for one evening he showed up and we shared some bourbon and chatted.

Saturday we both attended the wedding of a family friend, which was lovely.  Outside and thus windy, but lovely.

Sunday, longtime reader and internet pal Stuart came into town a bit early for a work trip, and I did my best to point him at some sites around Austin before dropping him at the location of his conference.

Showing anyone Austin is very weird to me.  I don't really get the appeal of Austin as a tourist town - you can drink anywhere.  Yet, folks fly in from all over to drink here.  We have no gambling, Sixth Street is a cess pool, and any music worth hearing in Austin is not happening in a bar on Sixth.  I mean, I love my town, but it's the same way you love your favorite t-shirt that's been perfectly worn in.  And I know I take a lot of what we do have for granted, so I don't think to show it to anyone. 

Stuart and I get along pretty darn well, which I knew from our previous meet-up in Metropolis, Illinois about 4 years ago.  We chat online, but it's always best to have face-time and tacos.  I hope he wasn't too bored.

Following, I watched some baseball and then the first episode of Fosse/ Verdon, and then did some PodCast editing. 

So - this is all a long way of explaining how I watched so few movies over the weekend and why the PodCast may drop late this week.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

DC Watch: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018)



Watched:  04/12/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Honestly, if you'd told me 20 years ago that in 2018 there would be so much superhero stuff on TV and at the movies I wouldn't blink to miss a Teen Titans tv show, let alone a movie (and, indeed, that Teen Titans would be a household word), I think you would have blown my 1998 mind. 

So, I don't watch Teen Titans Go! 95% because I only have so many hours in a day.  When the film of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) came out, I was busy and just didn't see it, but everyone was telling me it was great, so I picked it up "on-sale" via Amazon Streaming (thanks for the tip, Stuart). 

Yeah!  It's weird, super fun stuff.  Kid safe, but wonderfully absurd for the adults - it's just amazing how the movie works on two different levels in virtually every scene and with every line.  When the kids who saw it now return to it in a few years, I think they'll be genuinely surprised at what WB and DC signed off on here - it all feels like one long in-joke for comics fans, paired with the absurdities of comics AND the superhero movie boom, playing as a moral lesson the movie explicitly does not care about (giving us the best/ most honest ending I've seen in a kiddie cartoon in a while).

Anyway - I totally dug it.  And cannot believe this gem exists. 

Kudos to the Teen Titans Go! voice cast - that is some A+work.  And to the celebrity voices who dropped in, like Nic Cage as Superman.

Friday, April 12, 2019

44



(Fast) Slow Disco - St. Vincent

I sway in place to a slow disco
And a glass for the saints and a bow for the road

Am I thinking what everybody's thinkin'?
I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave?

Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost
Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost

There's blood in my ears and a fool in the mirror
And the bay of mistakes couldn't get any clearer

Am I thinking what everybody's thinkin'?
I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave?

Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost
Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost

Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?

Slow Disco


Slow Slow Disco


Official Video Slow Disco


ACL Fest Slow Disco

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Noir Watch: Border Incident (1949)


Watched:  04/08/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

...so...

We've essentially not only just *not* made any progress on how we deal with our border with our Southern neighbor since the release of this film in 1949, but we're now actively and intentionally worse about how all of this works.

Border Incident (1949) follows law enforcement working together from both the Mexican and American governments, seeking not to punish the braceros crossing illegally so much as to stop the exploitation and criminal behavior of the coyotes, who use the undocumented status of their victims to exploit them for terribly low wages, awful living conditions and potentially violent treatment.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Baseball Watch: The Natural (1984)



Watched:  04/07/2019
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's

When I was a kid, for some reason my parents took me to see The Natural (1984).  My memory is that I walked out, told them I didn't understand it, and somehow got in trouble for making that statement - which just led to further confusion.  I dunno.  Not everything makes sense when you're 8 or 9.

In the intervening 35 years, I hadn't rewatched the film.  Not because I was traumatized, but I just never got around to it.  And that's unfortunate - because The Natural is a fine movie and the sort no one is making anymore.   Lyrical, with craftsmanship to spare, spanning decades, borrowing from other myths to create a new mythology, blending grounded reality with fantasy and the remarkable stories embedded in sport - it's an ambitious film, and I can't knock it.

PODCAST: "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014) - Avengers Countdown 10 w/ Jamie & Ryan


Watched:  03/29/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown.  8th?
Decade:  2010's

We get to the surprise hit of the Marvel Cinematice Universe, a story of a ragtag group of space losers, including a talking raccoon and tree. Honestly, it's just a fun time at the movies - and it's one of Jamie's favorites, so we're gonna talk about it. A lot.




Music:
"Hooked on a Feelin'" - Blue Swede, Guardians of the Galaxy OST
"Moonage Daydream" - David Bowie, Guardians of the Galaxy OST


Avengers Chronological Countdown w/ Jamie & Ryan

Sunday, April 7, 2019

DC Movie Watch: Shazam! (2019)



Watched:  04/07/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

When I saw the first trailers for Shazam!(2019), I sort of died a little inside.  The notion of a superhero who doesn't know how to superhero getting tips from a geek he doesn't really want to know on how to superhero as they go to the mall, pose for cameras, enjoy the fame but are still a selfish jerk despite the powers...  it all seemed like something a 90's kids movie would do.  Were it any character but Captain Marvel/ Shazam, it would have been the stuff of a TV movie of the week from the 1980's, upgraded to a $30 million film with JTT in 1996.

I'm not sure this movie isn't exactly that movie in 2019 terms, but if you're going to do it, this one is at least charming, and - for a superhero movie from DC - shockingly upbeat throughout.  While the stakes are high, the scale of the movie remains contained, and I was surprised how much I missed a superhero movie that wasn't immediately going to end in genocide if the lead character failed in their duty.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

TL;DR: Spielberg, Netflix and Cinema - You're All Wrong On This One



Most people suck at going to the movies.  I don't know how or why this is, but you do.

Yeah, you.

Literally every movie you go to see, theaters ask you to please not talk, to turn off your phones, and to basically please not cause any distractions for the hundred or so other people in the room.  Despite the fact this is done for very good reasons, somehow, a good 1/3rd of people can't seem to follow these basic guidelines.  Chatting, looking at phones, not turning off ringers, or, my favorite, actually taking a call.

My point is - going to the theater is a nightmare of our own making.   Most people treat the shared space of the theater, of the multimillion-dollar production in front of them, in a room designed specifically for an ideal experience, surrounded by people they don't know, the same as if they were watching a film on a laptop in their living room, and with all the same behavior that's totally fine if you're at home under a blanket and not surrounded by dozens of strangers.

Which is weird, right?

Whatever magic-of-the-cinema films like Cinema Paradiso or Hugo try to capture about the theatrical experience is not part of the common religion in an era when movies are something you let the kids put on over and over so they give you 30-90 minutes of peace, or you consider movies one way to zone out while you're crammed into an airplane seat.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Marvel Watch: Captain Marvel (2019)



Watched:  03/25/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

(editor's note:  I wrote most of this post and then forgot to post it, so consider this my thoughts from a week ago or so)

Normally I wouldn't do a write-up of a movie about which I've already done a podcast, but I also know a whole bunch of you read posts and don't listen to the Marvel podcasts.  So... hey...  here we go.

Look, I'm not going to come out and say Captain Marvel (2019) is or was the *best* Marvel movie.  We are living immediately in the wake of when Black Panther just showed up at the Academy Awards for Best Picture nominee, and which may have skewed our expectations a tad.  Pretty far cry from being delighted Marvel didn't poop the bed with Iron Man.

What I will say is - I've seen a whole lot of dudes, good dudes, shrugging off Captain Marvel as muddled, not that great. And, my dudes, you don't have to like Captain Marvel, but I am going to suggest that from comments some have made in my general direction - maybe you misread the movie.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Cyborg Watch: Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (1991)



Watched:  03/31/2019
Format:  Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  oh, god... who knows?
Decade:  the 1990's, buddy

I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day opening weekend in the theater with my girlfriend at the time, who, upon seeing a Terminator endoskeleton crush a human skull turned to me and said "that's a REAL man" (she was kidding), thereby hitting the nail on the head, in her own way, for what this movie was going to be on so many levels.  Despite its fame as a CGI pioneer and predictor of Marvel's weirdly death & bloodless ultraviolence, there's an actual story about mothers and sons and overcoming juvenile distrust of your parents once their flaws are exposed, and how a cyborg learns to laugh and love.  Indeed, the Judgment Day may be the friends we made along the way.

Also, so many gasoline-fueled fires making just huge, puffy blossoms of red and orange with lots of loud ka-booms.

Monday, April 1, 2019

PODCAST: "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) w/ Alfredo4



Watched: Did not
Format: BluRay/ 70mm
Viewing: unknown
Decade: 1960's

We get epic as Alfredo joins us for his first podcast and takes us on a journey with "Lawrence of Arabia", one of our favorite films! Settle in for a lengthy discussion as we ponder Lawrence the man and the character and how this movie blends myth and fact to create one of the most engaging films of all time.

The Dropout - Podcast and ABC 20/20 feature



I'll be honest - after watching the Netflix doc The Inventor, I'm still stuck on the saga of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes.

At Maxwell's recommendation, I turned to a multi-part podcast called The Dropout to see what wasn't in the Netflix doc, which seemed to just raise questions without ever really providing answers.  Produced by ABC news, The Dropout covers much of the same territory and the same figures, gets more on-the-record interviews, details more of what occurred, giving specific stories, certainly revealing points that I'm surprised the Netflix doc left out, and generally does a good job of building a solid case for what - at least transactionally - happened at Theranos.

But... I'm still baffled by how this even got started in the first place.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Batman at 80


They tell me Batman is now 80 years old.  Happy Anniversary/ Birthday, Bruce. 

This week, DC Comics released Detective Comics #1000, a big event book as it well should be.  I'll pick up my copy at my local comics shoppe (I asked for the Steve Rude cover - we'll see what I wind up with, because I genuinely don't care  All the covers were terrific, imho).  What happens in #1000 matters less than the stunning achievement of 80 years of Batman, a character dreamed up in the wake of Superman's overnight success, and whose most outstanding achievement is the ability to fit into any tone or version of the character you want and still remain, fundamentally, Batman. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Comedy Watch: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)



Watched:  03/26/2019
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1970's

It's been decades since I last watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).  I'm glad I took the break, because it was genuinely fun watching the movie again.  Honestly, the movie was something both myself and every nerd around me had managed to kind of ruin at some point after high school.  

The version on Netflix looks amazing - literally the best I'd ever seen it - and while I still knew every joke, it was fun to see them again and see Monty Python at the height of their powers.

And, yeah, it was weird to realize how many things I say by reflex these days that came from quoting the movie once upon a time, so often, it seems, I'd forgotten this was where it came from.  (example:  I'd forgotten the origins of "and there was much rejoicing", which I do drop from time to time.)

Anyhoo...  you've all seen this numerous times.  I assume you either love it or hate it at this point, and I hope nerds didn't ruin it for you in the long, long ago.  But if they did, give it a go again - it's still remarkably great.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

PODCAST: "Innerspace" (1987) - SimonUK & Ryan watch an 80's sci-fi comedy!


Watched:  03/19/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Unknown.  Probably 3rd of 4th.
Decade:  1980's


It's Spring Break, and SimonUK is looking for something breezy and light. Ryan hasn't seen this movie in 30 years. We talk 1980's sci-fi comedies, director Joe Dante's ideas, and what actually works pretty well in this not-much-discussed artifact of the 1980's.
 

SimonUK Cinema Series:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Doc Watch: The Inventor - Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019)


Watched:  03/24/2019
Format:  HBO Go
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

A few years back I recall reading about Theranos, the "disruptive" tech company getting into the ultra-sexy field of phlebotomy.  The articles were fawning, talking about a young genius inventor out in Silicon Valley who had dropped out of school to start a tech company that was going to change... something.  The article was a little vague on how smaller blood draws were the biggest thing since sliced bread, but it insisted - no, really,  this is it, and we all need to get excited about the company, Theranos, and - really - the head of the company, Elizabeth Holmes - a prodigy who apes the fashion sense of Steve Jobs and who dropped out of Stanford as an undergrad to pursue her vision.

I wanted to check my biases on age and gender, shrug a bit at someone cosplaying Steve Jobs, and admit I don't really know much about phlebotoy other than watching a whole lotta blood draws when Jamie has been in the hospital.  Which is: a lot.

At the same time...

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Noir Watch: His Kind of Woman (1951)


Watched:  03/23/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's

If you're looking for a fun, kinda-noirish movie with a great sense of humor and a bit of sexiness, action and character, you can do a lot worse than His Kind of Woman (1951).

Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and a terrifically camp-tastic Vincent Price - the movie also features a few other notables.  Charles McGraw, Raymond Burr, Jim Backus and Marjorie Reynolds also show up as various antagonists.

Mitchum plays a small-time hood who is given a wad of cash and sent to a really nice Mexican resort where he's supposed to just wait for further instruction, no matter how long it takes.  En route he meets Jane Russell, a society gal-turned-chanteuse, who - as would happen - draws Mitchum's eye.  Russell is there to meet up with her actor boyfriend, Price.  For a bit there's a tad of Casablanca as Mitchum wanders around trying to figure out who is who and what's going on and a few colorful characters drift in and out of the scenes. 

I don't want to spoil the plot, but it is.... goofy.  But it's fun.  And Russell is... well, there's a reason we're still pondering Russell seventy years after the fact.

Weirdly, I didn't really remember the ending of the movie which is insane.  Muller's story about the making of the film explained a ton (Howard Hughes, y'all), but it does make for a crazy series of events that doesn't really match the first half, tonally, but does match up narratively.

Give it a shot!  It's a hoot and Vincent Price is hysterical.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Noir-ish Watch: High Sierra (1941)



Watched:  03/21/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  at least fourth
Decade:  1940's

I've surely written this movie up before, but it's a great heist flick.  Maybe not Ashpalt Jungle good, but one for the pantheon.  And, it was a breakout movie for Bogart, hot on the heels of Petrified Forest.  And, of course, it broke Ida Lupino, which is a boon to us all.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Doc Watch: Apollo 11 (2019)


Watched:  03/17/2019
Format:  Alamo South Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight, during which Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reached the moon and during which Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to ever walk the surface of our satellite.

This evening, JuanD, Jamie and I hit the local cinema to take in the spectacle that is Apollo 11 (2019), and if you can tear yourself away from whatever new shows got dumped on Hulu and Netflix on Friday, I'm going to go ahead and recommend you give this movie a go.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Noir Watch: D.O.A. (1949)


Watched:  03/13/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

You know how sometimes you hear about the premise of a movie and you write the whole thing in your head in about 5 seconds?  I mean, I'm often wrong, and I find that really nice, but other times the movie wraps and you say "that is exactly what I thought it was going to be"  And even that isn't all bad.  But that's more or less why I never bothered seeing this film, and, here we are, and I am reporting out that D.O.A. (1949) was more or less exactly what I expected it was going to be.

A fun ride, yes, and... no - I didn't guess every twist and turn (who could?), but "sounds like a dude running around trying to figure stuff out as he tries to beat the clock" - done in one, mi amigos.  What I wasn't anticipating was the weird tone of the film which, alone, kind of makes it worth a peek.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

PODCAST! "Captain Marvel" (2019) - Jamie, The Dug, K and Ryan and a Not Quite Chronological Countdown



Watched:  03/09/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Jamie's brother and sister-in-law were in town, and we all saw the screen debut of Marvel's cosmic-type Avenger. Join Jamie, The Dug, K and Ryan as we share our "first reaction" takes on what happens the 90's collide with aliens, space faring adventure, Annette Benning, and Marvel's first female lead (it's about time, y'all).




Music:
Captain Marvel Theme - Pinar Toprak, Captain Marvel OST


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Avengers Chronological Countdown



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Monster Watch: Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)


Watched:  03/07/2019
Format:  Alamo S. Lamar
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's

This evening the Alamo S. Lamar and Birth.Movies.Death's Scott Wampler hosted a screening of Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) along with a Q&A and book-signing with Mallory O'Meara, a film maker who just released a non-fiction book about Milicent Patrick, the original designer of The Creature entitled The Lady From the Black Lagoon.

PODCAST: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) - Bond Watch 04, w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  03/03/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  unknown
Decade:  1960's

SimonUK and Ryan take on that one Bond movie starring George Lazenby as 007. Bond falls in love and fights Telly Savalas on a toboggan run. SimonUK and Ryan puzzle out what sort of lady gets Bond to want to settle down, what led to an Australian men's wear model putting on the tux, and what it all means 50 years after the film's release.




Music: 
James Bond Theme - Monty Norman & John Barry
We Have All the Time In the World - performed by Louis Armstrong, written by John Barry with lyrics by Hal David

Bond Playlist:

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Luke Perry Merges With The Infinite



So, Luke Perry has passed and the internet is ablaze with remembrances.  And on the face of it, it seems odd so much ink is getting spilled over a guy who had his peak of popularity in about 1993, never really landed any major roles in zeitgeisty Hollywood movies and has been a workman actor in mid-tier TV shows for most of the past twenty years.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the state of shock you're seeing has less to do with a tremendous and still-massive Luke Perry fanbase as it has with two things:

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Third Time Around Watch: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018)


Watched:  03/03/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  2010's

This was the third time.  I'm still seeing all-new things in this movie, still totally swept up in the story and characters, still getting weepy multiple times...  I love this movie so much.

In case you didn't hear - it did win

Academy Award - Best Animated Feature
Golden Globe - Best Animated Feature
Critic's Choice - Best Animated Feature
New York Film Critics Circle - Best Animated Feature
BAFTA - Best Animated Feature
PGA - Producer of the Year Award in Animated Feature

I don't care too much about awards, but there are a lot of people out there who like this movie who kinda know movies.  And I would genuinely try not to steer you wrong.

MST3K Watch: The Day Time Ended (1979)


Watched:  03/02/2019
Format:  MST3K on Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970s

This movie is a bizarre mess with no story.  Now, sometimes MST3K cuts these movies for time, so its possible we lost some key moments or elements on the floor, but...  I don't think so. 

The MST3K episode DOES feature an astonishing musical number lifting music from The Music Man.  The current crew has really hit their stride.  And - there's a Kim Cattrall callback.

But, yeah, it's a bunch of unmotivated special FX and a cast that I can't not talk about.