Thursday, November 14, 2019

Noir Watch: Force of Evil (1948)


Watched:  11/12/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's


I recalled liking Force of Evil (1948) the last time I watched in 2011, and it's hilarious to read my write-up from what I'd argue was pretty early in my dive into noir (were we ever so young, Leaguers?).  Apparently this was also my first John Garfield movie, and it's a heck of an introduction to the guy, but I knew Marie Windsor and was thrilled to see her appear (as one should always be excited to see Windsor).

But, dang, was I happy to see I was appreciative of the film back then, because rewatching it now, I was stunned by what a remarkable film this is, was and shall be, and am shocked - watching it now - that it doesn't have a deeper fanbase.  Hell, you can't buy this on BluRay in Region 1, as near as I can tell.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Concert Doc Watch: Amazing Grace (2019)



Watched:  11/11/2019
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's/ 2010's

If asked to compile a list of the greatest popular American singers of the 20th Century, I'd assume Aretha Franklin would make the top few - if not the number one slot - for much of the US populace.

We lost Franklin in 2018, and it's unclear who can begin to fill her role in the zeitgeist, but maybe it's too soon, and maybe we don't need to.  Maybe she was a singular talent.

Shot in 1972 and unreleased until the last 12 months or so, Amazing Grace (2019) is an attempt by Sydney Pollack to record and capture the experience of Franklin recording a live Gospel album at a church in Los Angeles over the course of two nights.  Backed by a local choir and supported by the Reverend James Cleveland, Franklin takes to the pulpit and - as one would expect - nails every song before her.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Happy Birthday, Claude Rains


Today marks the 130th birthday of Claude Rains, one of the best that the movies ever saw and will ever see.

Linda and Arnie Watch: Terminator - Dark Fate



Watched:  11/09/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Look, I'm on the record going to the mat for the first two Terminator movies.  And way, way less so for T3 and whatever the Christian Bale one was called.  And I never saw Genisys.  I did like the TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

WTF was that? Watch: The Little Mermaid - Live!



Watched:  11/06/2019
Format:  TV broadcast on ABC
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

This "show" was some rough going, and I hope it's not how anyone would introduce their child to The Little Mermaid, stage musicals or entertainment in general.

In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the animated The Little Mermaid, Disney, for reasons that remain totally unclear, decided to show the original The Little Mermaid, but when the movie reached the musical numbers, cut over to actors performing the numbers on a stage in front of their big movie screen.

Look, I've seen The Little Mermaid maybe twice and neither of those times occurred in the past 20 years.  As with about 1 in 2 Disney movies, I just don't really click to the movie about a young, dumb mermaid in love with a guy she only met when he was wet and unconscious.  I skipped TLM at the theater because I thought it was for very young children, and missed the memo that this movie the thing to tell people Disney was no longer making kinda bad movies.  I finally saw it summer 1992, thought it was better than I expected, but was more into what Disney was doing when I did hit the theater for Beauty and the Beast in '91.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sayles Watch: Matewan (1987)


Watched:  11/02/2019
Format:  Criterion BluRay
Viewing:  4th, I believe
Decade:  1980's

Back in the go-go 1990's, I stumbled across John Sayles, as one was want to do if in film school at the time.  People would name drop him as he had a rep as the same guy who wrote Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and other more mainstream flicks, but was basically funding his ability to also write and direct independent film.  It's something he still does (apparently), but given the number of times I've heard his name or seen it online or in print the past twenty years, he's fallen away from film-nerd discussion, I suppose - which makes me really wonder who else we've forgotten.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Hallow-Watch: "Frankenstein" (1931) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)


Watched:  F - 10/30/2019, BoF - 10/31/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Ha ha ha...
Decade:  1930's

Every Halloween I now watch both of these films.  They're literally two of my favorite movies - the sort of which I'd include if there was a Signal Watch Five Film Marathon in which to partake. 

Next year we're scheduled to talk about them during Halloween, so I want to hold off til then to say much more - and I have plenty of prior posts on these two films. 

Here's to James Whale and Gods and Monsters.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween Watch: Night of the Living Dead (1968)


Watched:  10/28/2019
Format:  Criterion BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's

50 years on, Night of the Living Dead (1968) continues to do more than "work" as a film.  In addition to the anxiety and dread I felt rewatching the movie, almost nothing within Romero's film has aged or lost urgency.*  And, of course, while the relevance as a mirror and social experiment is discussion worthy, it also demands discussion as patient zero in a cultural shift in media extending beyond horror.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

PODCAST: Halloween Watch - "The Fog" (1980) and "The Mist" (2007)



Watched:  10/15/2019 and 10/20/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Second/ First
Decade:  1980's/ 2000's

Things get a little hazy as SimonUK and Ryan take on two spooktacular movies about what happens when the barometer drops, the humidity rises and things go bump in the water vapor. It's our final Halloween movie of 2019! One about ghostly seafaring folks and the other about... I dunno. It's real bad, though.



Music:
The Fog Theme - John Carpenter, The Fog OST
The Host of Seraphim - Dead Can Dance, The Serpent's Egg and The Mist soundtrack

Halloween 2019 Playlist


Halloween 2018 Playlist

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Halloween Watch: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)


Watched:  10/25/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  I dunno.  4th?  5th?
Decade:  1980's

So, I love this movie poster.  It tells you an incredible amount about the movie without spilling the beans, but it's beautifully designed for balance, terror, and and the uncanny pushing through into reality. 

It turns out the poster is by Matthew Peak, who happens to be the son of legendary illustrator Bob Peak - but this was his first movie poster at age 25.  Amazing! 

It does remind me of other artists who were bursting on the scene at the time, but that's not a criticism.  If it falls on a continuum of the Dave McKean/ Bill Sienkiewicz/ Drew Struzan, well... okay then. 

Anyway - Jamie alerted me she'd never seen A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and 'tis the season, so we watched it.  But you've seen this movie, and I wrote it up a year or two ago, so.  Anyway. 

I will say - I really appreciate how tight this movie is.  No fat on it at all.  And you can see immediately how and why they wanted a sequel to expand on the concept. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Halloween Family Watch: Addams Family Values


Watched:  10/24/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  no idea
Decade:  1990's

I'm not sure Addams Family Values (1993) is actually better than the original, but one could make the argument.  It certainly finds things that worked in the first film and builds on them, and finds new environs in which to put at least the kids.  And the villain of the piece, such as she is, works incredibly well.*

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Halloween Watch: Creepshow (1982)



Watched:  10/19/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

No, I'd never seen Creepshow (1982), which, I guess, horror fans find to be a straight up problem.  So, I went ahead and put it on this last weekend while Jamie flew to California to see The Dug.

I like a horror anthology film!  If you're not into what's going on, you just wait til the next segment.  And, honestly, a lot of what folks try to build up as tension in horror but dragging things out in (poorer) horror, I just wish they'd get on with it - so short stories are a great way to go.

Turns out I'd seen all of one segment at some point back in the day on cable (the chapter with Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen), and parts one or more others.  But I don't think I knew that was + when I watched it back around 1989.

I got not much to say.  It was fun.  I liked the part with the crate monster best, I think.  But it's a highly quotable movie that I'm not sure gets quoted. ("I want my cake!" should be a horror catch phrase.  Is it one?  Is it T-shirt slogan worthy?)

Anyhoo... some terrific make-up effects and some good practical and puppet FX, too.


Bruce Watch: Army of Darkness (1992)




Watched:  10/23/2019
Format:  Paramount Theater - Austin
Viewing:  ha ha ha... oh, mercy
Decade:  1990's

Last night Simon and I went to see Bruce Campbell host a screening of Army of Darkness (1992) at the Paramount Theater here in Austin, TX. 

Like so many of us who have stumbled across Army of Darkness and Evil Dead over the years, the movie left a "kill the dinosaurs" type of impact on 17-year-old Ryan's psyche when he saw this movie in the theater. Maybe a post for another time, but there's a not insubstantial part of my young-adult years where this movie was part of the lingua franca of my people, and it's one I quoted so much, I've forgotten that some of my personal verbal ticks came from this movie.

The movie holds up incredibly well, and Bruce Campbell may actually have the best Q&A skills I've ever seen.  He's heard every question 1000x before, and he doesn't actually play along as "the nice guy" celebrity.  He kinda let people know "that's a dumb question".  And, man, they really were about 80% dumb questions.  But he got paid, so what does he care?

Anyway, Bruce is charming as all hell, and it was a fun night out at the picture shows. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Noir Watch: The Harder They Fall (1956)



Watched:  10/20/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Noir Alley host Eddie Muller knows a thing or three about boxing.  His father (the senior Eddie Muller) was a longtime sports writer for the Examiner, and a prominent boxing reporter.  As he said in talking about this movie - there are movies about boxers and which occur around boxing (Wise's The Set-Up is straight up a great film), but The Harder They Fall (1956) is *about* boxing.  And, hey, bonus, it's a really good movie.

The movie features a dynamite cast of actors pulling from old school and modern traditions, as well as former boxers and players from the boxing world all working from a tight script and with a terrific crew behind the camera.

Happy Birthday, Una O'Connor



I believe today would mark the 139h birthday of Una O'Connor, a character actress who appears in a number of movies in the first half of the 20th Century.  Born in Belfast in 1880, O'Connor made her way to Hollywood where she was in dozens of pictures.  Just last weekend I re-watched her in The Invisible Man

I *always* find O'Connor hilarious, and frankly find her a great reason to watch anything.

Monday, October 21, 2019

HALLOWEEN PODCAST! "Amityville Horror" (1979) & "Poltergeist" (1982) with Marshall and Ryan!



For more info and places to listen to The Signal Watch PodCast

Become a Patron!

Watched:  10/03/2019 and 10/05/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming (both)
Viewing:  Unknown (both)
Decade:  1980's/ 1970's

Marshall and Ryan throw a Halloween (Haunted) House Party with two favorites of the ghosts & real estate genre! We compare notes on a make-believe story that some think bled into reality, and a real story which feels kinda fakey, if we're being honest. But only one has Margot Kidder. Let's talk what makes for a captivating tale of houses with more than plumbing issues, and we ponder the handsomeness of James Brolin.



Music:
Amityville Horror Theme - Lalo Shifrin, Amityville Horror OST
Poltergeist Theme - Jerry Goldsmith, Poltergeist OST


Halloween 2019


Halloween 2018



Happy Birthday, General




We miss you.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Catch-Up Halloween Watch: Get Out (2017)


Watched:  10/19/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade: 2010's

Look, this is one of the most written about movies of the past decade.  I'm not really sure I have anything new to add.  But I finally saw it, and it was very good.  Frankly, it was exactly what I was expecting from seeing the trailers, and I only was marginally off in two guesses I made while watching the film.  Still, it's an ambitious film and an uncomfortable film, and I can see why Peele is Hollywood's favorite new director. 

Amazon Streaming is including the alternate/ original ending of the film, and, frankly, I think they should have kept that as the final word, but no one is asking me. 


Halloween Watch: Night of the Creeps (1986)


Watched:  10/18/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's (so, so 1980's)

I've been meaning to watch this one for a few years as I've not seen much of the work of Monster Squad director Fred Dekker.  Dekker both wrote and directed Night of the Creeps (1986), and it does feel like part of the lineage of films by the likes of Landis and Joe Dante - a sort of boutique film by horror movie dorks by horror movie dorks.  But it's still broad enough to work even if you don't realize the entire movie is a collection of references frankensteined together to make a narrative.

First - I found this movie to be straight up Rated-R horror movie fun.  And I guess, deep down, if a horror film doesn't have anything in particular to say, or isn't going to be a cinematic tour-de-force, give me a good time at the movies.  Night of the Creeps absolutely delivers.  Aliens.  1950's flashbacks with "the escaped axe murderer" trope on Lovers Lane.  Dorky college dudes trying to get into an incredibly d-baggy frat (in my old age, 1980's frat dudes are just absolutely delightful).  And references.  So many references. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Halloween Horror Watch: The Invisible Man (1933)


Watched:  10/19/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's

It's been years since I watched James Whale's Universal Monsters classic The Invisible Man (1933), but it's not because I don't like the film, I just don't always make time for it the way I do Dracula and the Frankenstein films. 

James Whale most famously directed Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) with The Old Dark House (1932) released prior to this entry.  I'm unsure if most folks know the impact of Whale on horror, even if they've seen the terrific Gods and Monsters, but he, Tod Browning and a few others were busily defining a genre for decades to come, interleaving their horror work with more traditional films. 

Halloween Family Watch: The Addams Family (1991)


Watched:  10/16/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's

I am unsure how The Addams Family movies are considered by my own generation or succeeding generations.  They tend to get play on basic cable and I think most people saw them at least once. 

In 1991, a 16 year old me saw this movie and it checked off a whole lotta boxes.  And, you know, over the years, that hasn't changed in the slightest - in fact, now I get a few more references, a few more gags, and as I don't watch it all that often - the movie hasn't ever gotten stale. 

I almost used this movie and its sequel for my "What is Love?" podcast (which I guess I'm not going to do) - after all, who is more in love than Gomez and Morticia Addams?  Years into a marriage that's produced two children and with their loving family all around them, that's some very public amore going on between our parental units. 

And, of course, in 1991, I'm not sure what else was out there with quite as gleeful gallows humor for the whole family.  I certainly found it a delight then, and I'd hope that folks are still sharing this movie with their kids. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

PODCAST: Vampire Halloween Watch: "Vampire Circus" (1972) and "Innocent Blood" (1992)



Watched:  09/13/2019, 09/0152019
Format:  Amazon Streaming/ DVD
Viewing: Second/ First
Decade:  1970's/ 1990's

For more information on the PodCast and places/ services where you can find the PodCast

Become a Patron!

SimonUK and I rise from the grave with two more takes on the Vampire Genre! In the first film, vampires make a killing running a circus while carrying a grudge and harassing a small European town. In the other, Italian mafia stereotypes collide with a French vampire in a 90's-tastic take on The City of Brotherly Love, and we can't figure out which sangria anyone is drinking. It's a Halloween vampire fest!





Music:
Vampire Circus Suite - David Whitaker, Vampire Circus OST
Night - Jackie Wilson, A Woman, a Lover, a Friend


Halloween 2019



Halloween 2018

Happy Birthday, Margot Kidder


The late, great Margot Kidder would have turned 71 today.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Television Watch: Fleabag - Season 1



Of late, if someone is going to mention a television show to you, it often comes with a wild look in their eye I recall occurring most elsewhere when my glance would occasionally meet that of the Hare Krishnas who used to roam The Drag in the 1990's. 

One does not "enjoy" a show anymore, they area devotee.  They advocate for it.  They seek converts.

So, lately, has it been with Fleabag, the short-seasoned show from England that, as was discussed at my house over the weekend, on paper, does not at all sound like my cup of tea.  Self-immolating, possibly alcoholic and definitely caustic young woman behaves badly, who runs up against the people she loves, and who love her, with poor results.  And does it whilst literally winking at the camera.

I mean, sure, fine, but is there at least a robot she drinks with?  Then we might have something.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

PODCAST: High-School Halloween Watch: "Carrie" (1976) and "Jennifer's Body" (2009)




Watched:  Carrie 08/11 - Jennifer's Body 08/12
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  unknown, many/ First
Decade:  1970's/ 2000's

Maxwell and Ryan double dip on Halloween films and High School films for a frighteningly festive film review! We take a look at two films where two very different high school girls both manifest powers! What do these films examine? What's tucked in there between the, uh... murders and more murders? Maxwell takes the reins and Ryan tries to keep up as we ponder a horror classic and a new cult favorite!



Music:
The Haunting Main Theme - Henry Searle
Carrie's Theme - Pino Donaggio, Carrie OST
Through the Trees - Wilding as Low Shoulder, Jennifer's Body OST

Playlist - Halloween 2019


Playlist - High School Movies





Sunday, October 6, 2019

Halloween Read: Carmilla (1872) - Audiobook


Finished:  10/03/2019
Author:  Joseph Sheridan LeFanu
Reader:  Tracey Childes
Format:  Audiobook
Decade:  1870's
Recording:  2009

Growing up, I'd read that the book that had pre-dated Dracula and which likely inspired Stoker was Varney the Vampire (or: The Feast of Blood), a mid-19th Century penny dreadful that I've still not got around to reading.  I think I'd heard of Carmilla 1872) by J.S. LeFanu in passing, but it wasn't until I was reading up on the Hammer horror film The Vampire Lovers (based loosely on the book) that I did the Googling necessary to spark real interest in Carmilla -at least enough to get me to intend to read the book. 

As I am no longer working from home and once again enjoy a commute, I went ahead and got the audiobook of Carmilla for what will be one of my Halloween reads.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bette Noir Watch: The Letter (1940)



Watched:  10/01/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I am well aware of the hurricane force that is Bette Davis, but for whatever reason, I don't wind up taking enough advantage of her expansive filmography.  Sometimes I feel genuine guilt in regards to this deficiency, and - as this Davis-induced-remorse had occurred once again recently - I decided to remedy the issue by force-marching Jamie through a 90 minute movie that, frankly, I knew nothing about.

A prestige picture of sorts from pre-war Warner Bros., The Letter (1940) makes not just for an interesting time capsule, but a fascinating melodrama and noir, punctuated by Davis' terrific performance.  With a script based upon a 1927 play (and previously made into a movie during the silent era), the material of the film is well honed, a tight, taught narrative with a number of fascinating characters and smart dialog.

Friday, October 4, 2019

PODCAST: "Fright Night" (1985) and "Vamp" (1986) - Halloween 2019 at The Signal Watch


Watched:  09/01/2019, 09/02/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming/ DVD
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's

Ryan and SimonUK bite into two vampire movies with two very different takes, both landing in the go-go Mid-80's! One is a cult classic for horror fans, about horror fans! The other, a less known film starring artist Grace Jones as an exotic nosferatu. We take a look at what works and what sucks as these films return from the dead to give us a thrill and a chill!





Music:
Fright Night - J. Geils Band, Fright Night OST
Vamp Theme/ Seduction Surrender Longing Fix - Grace Jones, Vamp OST


Halloween 2019



Halloween 2018



Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Thriller Watch: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)




Watched:  09/30/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

I tell you kids, sometimes mid-century cinematic gender roles are a real killer.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Noir Watch: Nocturne (1946)


Watched:  09/30/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Look.  They can't all be winners.  And, frankly, whatever draw George Raft had at one point as a huge movie star, I just... do not get.

The pieces are there for a solid noir film, but every scene feels like it's the second take after maybe three run-throughs.  Raft is wooden in the best of circumstances, but he sort of sets the tone for everyone else, bringing down the energy around near everyone but Queenie Smith, whom Raft seems to just sit back and enjoy during their shared scenes.

The movie follows the investigation of the suicide of a well-known song composer who also happens to go through women like they're on a conveyor belt coming to his door, not bothering to learn their names and calling them all "Dolores" (which never gets resolution or meaning in the film).  Raft plays the milk-drinking cop who becomes obsessed with the idea the guy was plugged.  Lynn Bari plays the dame who maybe did it.  Who, for reasons that are not at all clear, Raft decides he's fallen for.

The titular "Nocturne" is a song written by the composer, left unfinished when he died.

That's it.  That's the movie.  Raft running around questioning people, fighting improbably with his own bosses, and having his mom do all the real detective work.

Sure, the movie looks good - RKO knew who to put behind the camera (Harry J. Wild was no slouch in my book), and there's a good idea in there somewhere about a good cop who doesn't think a suicide is just that and wants to investigate it for murder.  But at the end of the day, we don't know much about the victim, we know less about the cop's dogged motivation, and the movie tips its hand as to what's happening at the 30 minute mark.  Honestly - that's just strange.

I really, really did not like this movie, so I think I will stop writing about it now.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

PODCAST - Halloween Watch: "An American Werewolf in London" (1981)/ "Ginger Snaps" (2000) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  08/16/2019
Format:  BluRay/ DVD
Viewing:  unknown/ First
Decade:  1980's/ 2000's

It's Halloween 2019! SimonUK and Ryan kick off the spooky season with a pair of scare-tacular films about coming to grips with change. And, of course, discovering you're now kinda undead and become a blood-thirsty kill-machine when the moon is particular round. We talk new-classic An American Werewolf in London (1981) and horror-icon-contender Ginger Snaps (2000).




Music:
The Haunting Main Theme - Henry Searle
An American Werewolf in London Suite - Elmer Bernstein, An American Werewolf in London OST
Bad Moon Rising - CCR, man, Green River


Halloween 2019 Playlist



Last Year's Halloween episodes:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

TV Re-Watch: Mad Men - Season 1


In my head, I walked around knowing full well that Mad Men was the best television I had ever, or would likely ever, see.  And the minute the show ended, I pledged to rewatch the whole show from beginning to end, but other things catch up with you, new shows come on, and at some point you start to say to yourself: you know, you may well put the show on and start to get that uneasy feeling as you realize that this thing you loved?  It doesn't hold up.  You weren't wrong at the time, but we've all moved on.  But, sure, rewatch out of nostalgia.

Having just completed a rewatch of Mad Men Season 1, I am reporting that Mad Men is better than I remembered.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Netflix Watch: Between Two Ferns - the Movie (2019)



Watched:  09/22/2019
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I am well aware that Zach Galifianakis is not a fit to everyone's comedy palette.   I may be one of two people I know who is sad that the FX series Baskets has drawn to a conclusion (and both of those people live in this house), and while I am aware people liked him as a supporting player in The Hangover films, that hasn't necessarily translated into leading-man-comedian status after several mid-budget Hollywood films came and went. 

Not long ago, SimonUK and I were discussing the difference between American comedy and British comedy, and the conversation boiled down to "I think Americans like a trickster underdog who gets it over on a pompous bully, and Brits like a buffoon who has no idea he is his own problem."  Galifianakis's Funny or Die based web-series Between Two Ferns sits somewhere uncomfortably in the middle - Galifianakis playing a version of himself as a local basic cable public access host who somehow lands everyone from Charlize Theron to former (and then sitting) President Barack Obama.  It's punching up comedy - he's deflating any sense of self-importance a Hollywood-type might have - but doing so as a buffoon lacking any notion of the impact of his questions, and - amazingly - he's pretty irritable with his guests. 

The web series makes for a fascinating watch, partly because you can see which Hollywood folk are comfortable enough in their own skin to actually sit through one of the interviews, which can actually deliver some devastating questions (the only direction the guests seem to be given is: deadpan).  Some engage, returning the favor, others simply go blank, and it's always just a long, awkward gag. 

There's something of a story to Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019) - essentially it posits that Galifiankis is a NC-based public tv host who has been picked up by Funny or Die, and coked-up CEO of FoD, Will Ferrell, sends his Hollywood pals to do the access show as a gag and to drive clicks.  A taping goes horribly wrong, but as the outcome, Ferrell sends Zach and his crew on the road to get 10 new episodes recorded in 2 weeks.  If he makes it, he gets a fancy late night talk show.

As one would assume, the film is more or less a road picture as the crew heads East to West, catching celebrity interviews along the way (Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, etc...), en route to deliver the episodes to Ferrell's desk.  So, if you like rough sketches on the road and the web-interview format of Between Two Ferns, I have some good news for you. 

The supporting cast of Jiavani Linayao, Ryan Gaul and Lauren Lapkus really are pretty hilarious, but so are a lot of the interviewees, whether it's the interview clips or the ostensible documentary footage that we're supposed to be watching.  Special hat tip to Chrissy Tiegen for her part (and, of course, John Legend).  And I hadn't seen Mary Scheer in anything in a decade, but I swear she makes the absolute f'ing most of her 2 minutes of screentime.  holy cats.

I dunno.  I thought it was hilarious, but this is a true Your Mileage May Vary film.  I assume many people do not care at all for Between Two Ferns, in which case... this isn't going to improve that for you.





Thursday, September 19, 2019

Horror Watch: Hello Mary Lou - Prom Night 2 (1987)



Watched:  09/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

I sometimes listen to the How Did This Get Made? podcast, but usually only to episodes featuring movies I've seen.  And it may be a testament to my poor choice in movie viewing that I've seen about 2/3rds of the movies the show covers.  But, I had not seen Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987), which they covered with very special guest stars, Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron.

I'm not sure I share their unbridled enthusiasm for the movie, but as a post-Carrie, post Nightmare on Elm Street, mid-horro-budget Canadian horror film - I could see the charm in the movie.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happy Birthday, Cassandra Peterson


Today is the birthday of Cassandra Peterson, who you may know better as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Happy b-day to the hostess with the mostest!

Noir Watch: The Big Clock



Watched:  09/15/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1940's

I... I may now be a fan of Ray Milland.  I used to not think of him one way or another, but after The Long Weekend and a re-watch of The Big Clock (1948), and thinking back on some of this other films like Dial M for Murder, Alias Nick Beal...  he's not quite Cary Grant or James Stewart to me yet, but I may actually seek out more of his work just to see what he does.

I read the novel of The Big Clock maybe two decades ago, and my memory of the book is that it was, as the kids say, a real page turner.  One of those books you keep picking up to see where it's headed.  Shortly after, I found the movie and give it a viewing, and while they're substantially different, also a good watch.  A few years ago, I watched it again and liked it significantly more than even the first time - and on this viewing, I am pretty sure I was correct to like it all the more.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

90's Comedy Watch: Cabin Boy (1994)


Watched:  09/13/2019
Format:  BluRay from Kino Lorber
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's

Well.  I mean.  We may not agree on Cabin Boy (1994), is what I'm saying.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Catch-Up Watch: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)


Watched:  09/11/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I wouldn't say this movie was mismarketed, exactly.  But how reviews I read described it made it sound exceedingly joyless, but interesting.  The premise held enough promise that I planned to get to it eventually, but wasn't in a mad dash to do so.  However, Jamie watched it somewhere along the line when I was off at a breakdance party or whatever I do, and informed me it was very much in my wheelhouse, and, indeed, she was correct.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) is the true story of Lee Israel, an NYC based writer of bios of celebs of bygone eras (she's working on a Fanny Brice book during the movie's circa 1991 timeframe), which don't really sell, so she tries to hold copy-editing positions, etc...  to pay the bills.  But as a caustic, misanthropic drunk, turns out holding a job can be tough. 

She becomes re-acquainted with a down-on-his luck bon vivant, played by the always-amazing Richard E. Grant (a charming drunk, here), just about the time she has some bills due (cat gets sick), and has to make some money, quick.  Through a series of small discoveries, she learns of the world of memorabilia and letter collectors, and begins forging letters supposedly penned by luminaries long since passed, including everyone from Noel Coward to Louise Brooks. 

Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and it's not exactly a revelation to see her this good - I think she's kinda brilliant as a comic actor, so seeing what she can do with a dramatic part was a "well, sure" revelation.  She's always been so specific, with undercurrents and layers of sympathy, pathos, and thoughtfulness, even in goofy stuff like The Heat (which I really enjoy, y'all), doing same but for a dramatic role makes sense.  And, it seems, the work done here by she and Grant earned them both Oscar nods.*

Because the arc of the film is fairly obvious, I'll refrain from spoilers.  Instead, I'll just tip my hat to the actual technical work, character work, and script.  Director Marielle Heller has a sparse directing and acting filmography, but seems to know how to get a performance, and I'm now doubly interested in the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Mr. Rogers biopic coming, as she's the one wearing the puffy director's pants there, too. 

I also quite liked the DP work by Brandon Trost, and almost laughed out loud seeing this is the same DP as the Crank movies, which I'll just let all of us ponder if we think we ever have someone's style nailed down. 

Anyhoo... I'm just recommending this one.  Give it a go.


*which... honestly, we should be expecting movies with these levels of performance in movies all the time, but that's reserved for TV these days.

Friday, September 13, 2019

PODCAST: "Secret Origins: Brandon Zuern" - It's a Kryptonian Thought-Beast Episode

The man, the myth, the manager - our own Brandon Zuern

We're trying this thing out where we're trying to stray a bit from the "let's talk about a movie" formula and we delve into comics and the people who love them.








It's the launch of "Secret Origins", where we talk to comic-folk about how they got into comics and how they got to where they're at as collector, creator, comic retail pro, etc, et al. We start off by visiting with the manager of what's been our longtime LCS (Local Comic Shop, for you new kids). Get to know Comic Book Brando, our own Brandon Z! Learn about Austin Books and Comics, its sister stores, and two guys discussing the winding paths to comics fandom.

For more Kryptonian Thought-Beast, you can always visit our, uh, satellite site?  Something like that.  OR our sister Soundcloud.

The Center of Austin Fandom below...!