Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Would the target audience even know what this is?
Friday, September 18, 2020
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
Viewing: First (all the way through)
Happy birthday to Cassandra Peterson, who you may know better as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
She's a bit of a thing around here at The Signal Watch, and we're hoping she's having a good birthday!
If you're not following her on social media, do so! She's active and has been doing sketches and updates in-character during lockdown. And, of course, no one gets fired up for Halloween like The Queen of Halloween.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
PODCAST: "Fantasia" (1940) and "Fantasia 2000" (1999) - a Disney History PodCast w/ NathanC and Ryan
More places to listen
Time: 8:30 Central
Amazon Watch Party link coming Friday
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Format: Watch Party
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Watched: The Bigamist 09/02 and ACAJ 09/09/2020
|Lupino ponders how Edmond O'Brien of all guys landed two women at once|
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Diana Rigg, actor and icon, has passed at the age of 82.
Rigg was a cult favorite in the U.S. and a bonafide star in the U.K., and would have been well remembered just from her work on the UK whack-a-doodle adventure show The Avengers as Emma Peel - which laid the foundation for about 10,000 imitators and arguably indirectly to the most popular iterations of Black Widow in the Marvel Universe. She also has the most solid of Bond-girl credits as Traci, the woman who Bond would marry in On her Majesty's Secret Service (and a favorite of the PodCast). Most recently she'd been on Game of Thrones (which I didn't watch, but I know she's a fan favorite).
She, of course, did so much more and was just one of those actors it seems everyone could agree upon.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
So, apparently there's a sequel that was never released, and it includes actors like Louise Fletcher, John Rhys Davies, George Clooney and.. most importantly.. Laura Dern. Shot in 1983, it's just NOW about to get a release. And I figured "well, I don't want to not know what happened in the first one...", and even though the original is 100% Laura Dern-free, Jamie and I fired it up.
Friends: what if Jaws, but bear?
That is the question posited by Grizzly, the highest earning independent movie ever when it was released in 1976. And I'm not exaggerating - someone went to see Jaws and wrote down the events of that movie, and tried to map their own script onto the story of Jaws. But instead of a 25 foot shark, we have a 15' grizzly bear. Instead of a Sheriff, we have a Captain of the Park Rangers.
They even include scenes like the Captain getting drunk when someone gets killed, and a spooky monologue about a herd of grizzlies eating people. There are three main characters, but one of them (played by "that guy" actor Richard Jaeckel) is a mix of Hooper and Quint (he even wears Hooper's little hat).
There's a Park Manager who doesn't want to shut the park down, invites in hunters... you're maybe familiar with the plot.
Anyway - it's also kind of plodding and gives you an idea what Spielberg and his editors did so well that this movie did not. But, again, wildly successful!
Anyhoo... I want to podcast this with Simon at some point. So, more to come.
Monday, September 7, 2020
Watched: I dunno. A couple of months ago.
- Chuck Berry
- Gerry and the Pacemakers
- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
- Marvin Gaye
- The Blossoms (group featuring Signal Watch patron saint Darlene Love)
- Lesley Gore
- Jan and Dean
- The Beach Boys
- Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas
- The Supremes
- The Barbarians
- James Brown and the Famous Flames
- The Rolling Stones
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Director: Joe Wright
For More Ways to Listen
It's not all-genre-all-the-time at The Signal Watch! We jump on a literary classic translated to a very well received film from 15 years ago. We uncover Jamie's secret passion for this film, Ryan gets out of character discussing Jane Austen, and it's time to talk 19th-Century norms, fantasies that don't include being Batman, and much, much more!
Dawn - Dario Marianelli, Pride & Prejudice OST
Mrs. Darcy - Dario Marianelli Pride & Prejudice OST
Jamie's Cinema Classics Playlist:
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Delmer Daves
In a lot of ways, I'd categorize The Red House as "American Gothic". The story has DNA in Jane Eyre and other books about recluses living with a mystery.
The film stars Edward G. Robinson as a a farmer who keeps mostly to himself (he cohabitates with a niece and his sister, played by Judith Anderson of Rebecca fame). His niece brings a classmate over to see if he can work the farm to assist Robinson, who is aging and can't do what he used to, especially as he has an artificial leg. The teen is warned to stay away from some woods near the house, and not cut through them for an obvious shortcut.
In general - I liked the film. It's got a sort of twisty mystery, and at least the female heroine was likable (jury is out on the male lead). Robinson and Anderson are terrific, and Rory Calhoun is a lot of fun as a dick-swinging country boy after the male lead's girl (played by chanteuse Julie London, who seems like 10x too much woman for the male lead).
Glad Jenifer chose it because I might have easily missed this one.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Day: Friday 09/04
Time: 8:30 Central
Amazon Watch Party Link
So. I've never seen this. It stars a very young Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt and Shannon Doherty.
I don't know what it's about.
What I do know is that girls around my age apparently loved this movie in secret, because I'd never heard of it until I was dating Jamie and somehow it came up (I think I saw it for sale at Suncoast Video) and Jamie was all, like, "oh, wow! Yeah! That's fun and not something for you AT ALL."
So, easy enough. I did not watch it. But it's been probably 23 years or so since that conversation, and so... it is time.
Let's find out why the girls want to have fun, and who is causing the dramatic tension by preventing them from having said fun and what kind of fun they'll have!
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Format: Amazon Watch Party (Texas Public Radio)
Director: Norman Jewison
What a phenomenal film, and so shockingly, depressingly timely for something 53 years old.
The energy between Poitier and Steiger is famously some of the best on screen. The entire cast is on fire in this one, which uses the Buddy-Cop formula to highlight people from different worlds and show how they clash. Of course, this story is that of an African-American, Philadelphia-based homicide detective who happens to stumble into murder in a hick town in Mississippi, who partners with the local Sheriff who, while totally out of his depth, has the intelligence to be *aware* he's out of his depth.
Anyway - this is a terribly famous film, and - I'd argue - well worth a watch.
I happened to have the delight of watching the film with the Texas Public Radio film fan community via Amazon Watch Party. Hosted by our own NathanC, the chatter during the movie was lively, Nathan brought the trivia, and after the movie we met up in a GoToMeeting to chat about it. Good times! A+ Would do again.
Monday, August 31, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First, as it turns out
Director: Mark L. Lester
More ways to listen!
SimonUK and Ryan explore the 1991 film that brought Dolph Lundgren to the mean streets of LA's Little Tokyo as the ultimate Japanese man. It's action, mayhem, adventure and lots of nudity as Lundgren teams with the son of Bruce to take down the Yakuza before they something something protection racket/ sell pills in beer bottles. It's hard to say, but Tia Carrere is wrapped up in this mess, so you do have that going for you.
Showdown in Little Tokyo - David Michael Frank
SimonUK Cinema Series Playlist!
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Director: Tom Ford
A lot of the coverage of the release of this film was that it was directed by Tom Ford, a fashion designer - which is an interesting idea. One would assume a fashion designer has an eye for visuals, lifestyle cues, wardrobe and staging. And - arguably, Ford delivers on all of these things.
He's cast beautiful people and dressed them well. He's hired some beautiful people and dressed them down. And, of course, there's the opening sequence which casts some (let's be honest) not gorgeous people and dressed them not at all. For Ford - this is a hellish horror, absurd and tasteless, open to interpretation and meaningless, so awful its funny. And knowingly hard to look at. And... is, at best, a very small building block of what is arguably his point with the film, and set me to thinking about what and who a Tom Ford is and how that would set them for empathy and sympathy with characters in a story.
Friday, August 28, 2020
Chadwick Boseman, actor, has passed at the age of 43. I am absolutely heartbroken.
Boseman played T'Challa in Black Panther as well as in Civil War, Infinity War and Endgame. Since I was a kid, I've enjoyed the character of Black Panther, but Boseman brought T'Challa to life - and, by extension - the world and promise of Wakanda.
In interviews, Boseman struck me as a good man who we were lucky was the person selected for the role. Like a Christopher Reeve or Chris Evans, he seemed humbled by what the role meant, and understood his role within the role. A fine actor, certainly, but you could see something in Boseman that existed on its own and shone through the costume and CG.
I was ready to start following his career and was excited to see what he'd do next as an actor or wherever the world might take him.
And, of course, I don't think many of us knew he was sick.
I don't have much more to say. 43 was far too young and far too early for him to go.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Time: 8:30 Central
Amazon Watch Party Link HERE
Look, I get the skepticism - but this movie has a huge cult following, and that's not by mistake.
I was going to hold off for Halloween, but this leaves Prime at the end of the month.
Monster Squad is about a group of monster-movie fans who realize that Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a Mummy have arrived in their small California town to... well, it's not friendly.
It's got a great version of all the Universal Monster staples, some good storylines, and answers one question you never thought to ask!
And under the make-up are some cult-favorite actors. Guys, it's @#$%ing Tom Noonan as Frankenstein's Monster. And Duncan Regehr is AMAZING as Dracula. And you'll be amazed at who plays Wolf Man.
Written by Shane Black, directed by Fred Dekker - I think you'll enjoy it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Norman Foster
Show on TCM as part of "Summer Under the Stars", Journey Into Fear (1943) was pitched as a Dolores Del Rio movie, and as I'd never seen a Dolores Del Rio movie and just knew who she was via a general awareness of classic film and talent.
Well, first, Dolores Del Rio was a delight, and I look forward to watching her in more movies. But I was also deeply curious as the film had Agnes Moorehead, my fave Joseph Cotten, and Orson Welles. And if you're like "hey, that sounds like a Mercury Theatre production..." you are not wrong!
Honestly - this movie was terrific and I'd watch it again in a heartbeat. It's a bit before the noir movement, but it features an everyman getting in way over his head by circumstance (but not obsession, which leaves me on the fence for calling it 100% noir). There is a foxy dame (Del Rio) who is not his wholesome and unhelpful wife, shady characters abound, and the aesthetic kind of hollers noir.
Cotten plays a munitions engineer on loan from the US to Turkey. The Nazis figure if they bump him off, it sets the Turks back months or a year in Naval military advances. And all Cotten wants to do is stay in the hotel with his wife - when he's whisked away by a cloying company man. At a nightclub he's nearly missed as the target of an assassination attempt. Welles, playing a bombastic head of the Turkish security forces makes moves to get him out of the city to meet up with his wife later.
The boat which Cotten takes is full of folks who don't travel luxury class or in refined circles - and it's pretty great.
There are a lot of really clever bits and touches that give the film character and texture. Cotten himself wrote the screenplay, and he has a real knack for it. The ending isn't even all that tidy, and we see his character go through a chance and arc. But other characters are so well imagined (the businessman who became a Socialist to annoy his overbearing wife is brilliant), it's just a delight to watch.
I'd honestly love to watch it with an audience as there's plenty for classic film fans to chew on.
As a wartime movie, it's interesting none of these players served, and you get a bit of that "we're all on the same side here" stuff that makes wartime movies in non-American locales so interesting. Before 42 and after 45, its tough to say that characters like Welles' Turkish character would be ancillary heroes of the film. We'd return to making those characters untrustworthy and antagonistic.
Format: Watch Party
Director: Arthur Hilton
This is a very, very silly movie, but it stars Marie Windsor, so it can't be all wrong.
They aren't women who are cats, they are women in cat suits. Cat women. You know.
Monday, August 24, 2020
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing: certainly not the first
Director: James Signorelli
I've both watched and discussed Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) numerous times here on Ye Olde Internets.
I noticed it's currently streaming on Amazon Prime, and so - breaking with tradition where we watch a less-than-amazing movie and discuss in real time, knowing that most people dismiss the movie out of hand, I decided to foist it upon those who joined us.
Frankly, I enjoyed watching a not-bad movie! In fact, one people seemed to enjoy!
Anyway, I forgot to mention while we were doing the Watch Party I actually have an Elvira sticker on my current laptop, but I think - after Jenifer and I kept dropping Elvira trivia on them left and right - they got the idea that we happen to like Elvira.
|I will be able to identify my laptop in case of theft|
Director: Bob Fosse
I'd never been terribly curious about Sweet Charity (1969), but I watched - and was a huge fan of - Fosse/ Verdon last year (highest recommendations) and felt I owed the movie a look-see, especially after seeing Fosse in Kiss Me Kate. And, I'm enough of a fan of Cabaret that I own a copy.
I'm not sure 51 years on what the legacy or reputation is of Sweet Charity. In 2020 it wears its late-60's-ness like a cement block tied with a chain. There's just a level of misogyny that pervades the whole film - which is essentially about a dime-a-dance-girl/ stripper/ possible sex-worker (depending on your reading) seeking marriage and happiness but who - for reasons the movie finds inessential - has no tools for doing so. There's just no interest in ever really exploring who Charity is, herself. And the characters feel oddly two-dimensional throughout.
In the inevitable comparison to Cabaret, Sally Bowles may have exactly the same issues and hang-ups, but we know who she is and get a few lines about how she got there. Which I don't think we ever get about Charity.
The dance numbers are, of course, Fosse and in them the movie shines. Absolutely. Worth the price of admission. Sammy Davis Jr. guests in a terrific number, and Maclaine is better than I figured as a song and dance girl.
The movie has some interesting editing quirks that now feel deeply dated.
But the ending... doesn't. It's an unnecessary ellipses that doesn't leave the viewer feeling the ambiguity is the point - it feels like they failed to finish the script or didn't know how to wrap up the story and wanted it to have a sort of bittersweet ending that would feel heady, but it fails to earn it. Like, literally anything could have happened as the movie wrapped, good or bad, and it would have not just felt like air coming out of a tire.
Have a point, movie.
Anyway - if nothing else, watch the most famous scene from the film, which is - frankly, amazing stuff.*
*and should be assigned viewing for any person about to enter a gentleman's club for the first time
Sunday, August 23, 2020
PODCAST: "The Straight Story" (1999) - featuring an interview with screenwriter John Roach! Disney History w/ NathanC and Ryan!
Director: David Lynch
For more ways to listen
NathanC returns for more Disney History - and this time he brings an interview with screenwriter John Roach! We're discussing the only G-Rated entry in the filmography of David Lynch, bringing his brilliance to a completely different kind of story. And - we have an interview with one of the key storytellers! Get some insight into this remarkable film courtesy a screenwriter who was there from start to finish! It's a very different (and special!) episode of The Signal Watch.
Laurens Walking - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Country Theme - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Playlist - Disney History w/ NathanC:
Format: TCM Underground
Director: Ken Kwapis
Ostensibly movies are there to be a popular entertainment enjoyed by many people, which will earn the filmmakers, collaborators and investors some money.
I am reminded of the comedian Amber Ruffin and her series, Amber Says Why?
Who was Vibes made for, and why did they think people would enjoy it? Why? Was it made on a dare? And if it was a dare, who was daring whom? And was this the winner or loser of that dare? Why did they choose to make this, and what is the this that they made? Is it a comedy, and if so, what part of it is funny? How did they get to the point where they had a camera and a set and people there to make the movie, and how did they think this was a good script? And if they thought it was good, why did they think it was good? Did they want to make money or did they hate money and try not to earn it, and if they thought it would make money, who did they think would pay for watching this movie? Why did Jeff Goldblum chose to do this movie? And did he know he'd be cast with Cindy Lauper? Did they cast them because he is tall and she is short? Why did they think psychics and Ecuador were a good fit? And why did they go to Ecaudor for real and a soundstage other times with terrible props? Was that Elizabeth Pena? Why was she in the movie for five minutes?
First - I always thought this was a Manhattan-based comedy about psychics running a scam with other psychics. Second - this is like a no-budget version of Romancing the Stone but furious at the idea you should like the leads. Third - wow, clearly Lauper and Goldblum had absolutely no chemistry. And - Fourth - what could have maybe partially redeemed the film with FX and character moments in the end is just a plastic prop that must have looked so bad they avoid showing it, and Cyndi Lauper telling us something that happened off screen.
But, I am still mostly mad this had Elizabeth Pena and then immediately took her away. Like, what is wrong with you, movie?
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Roger Vadim
I've never actually *liked* Barbarella (1968), and watching it a third time did nothing to improve that opinion. Even back in high school when the hint of boob was a welcome thing, I thought the movie was so clunky (and not in a fun way) I turned it off.
As a grown-assed watcher, it's a slog. I am sure a certain kind of 1960's beatnik probably liked it, but I am not one of those beatniks. For a movie that prides itself on sexiness, it's attempts at sexiness are so awkward, it's deeply unsexy and boring to boot.
Visually, though? - it's astounding, so I recommend putting it on mute and playing it on your TV during a party.
Friday, August 21, 2020
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming Watch Party
Director: Robert Klane
This was Jenifer's choice of movie for a Watch Party on Wednesday, and it was a great choice. Not a *bad* movie, but a fun one with lots of stuff to talk about. It all takes place in one night at a disco in LA, following multiple storylines. And! it features Donna Summer, Jeff Goldblum, Debra Winger, the actual Commodores, and a cast of dozens you will never see again.
It's super goofy and has that belief in discos that you one saw in a handful of movies by people you suspect hadn't really spent all that much time in a disco, but it is full of 70's-flavored male chauvinism, 70's sexism, 70's-flavored ideas about dating and marriage, and the eternal power of Goldblum and the Commodores.
Donna Summer can't act, exactly, but she was *fun*, so there's that.
You will spend a good amount of the movie runtime wondering if the movie is going to go for an endorsement of swinging, which feels odd, and in the end, I think it split the difference.
Good pick, Jenifer!
Thursday, August 20, 2020
|normally I wouldn't include a poster featuring spanking, but this was the image they stuck on *every* poster|
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: George Sidney
You know, I liked this one a lot.
Yeah, a lot of stuff dated very badly, but, I mean...*
No, Kiss Me Kate (1953) didn't feature enough Ann Miller, but nothing does. The idea and execution worked for me. The film works in the age-old tradition of a "play within a play", which is only fitting when adapting Shakespeare - as Howard Keel's leading man of Broadway tries to woo his ex-wife (Kathryn Grayson) back to the stage and back into his arms. Even if he's also got Ann Miller lined up, and cast as Grayson's sister in the show.
I've seen *some* Shakespeare, but never The Taming of the Shrew, which is the basis for the musical in the movie. Still, it's tough to get through life in the English speaking world without getting some reference to the show at some point in life, and I'm familiar with the idea. The film is adapted from a 1947 Broadway show - and in the film, Howard Keel has teamed with someone playing a fictional version of Cole Porter to put on a musical of Taming of the Shrew, so we get a framing first act and then jump to the opening of the show, including backstage antics, and parts of the show mixed in. Complete with a theater full of extras on the stage and in the seats.
Of course the backstage and on-stage stories intermingle in theme and character arcs, and everyone ends up happy in the end. But there's something about the contrivances and even "you said the quiet part out loud" bit where watching Shakespeare makes people feel smart - that actually kind of works. Musicals have notoriously goofy plotlines piled on the oddness of people just busting into song, so keeping you busy with this much story just sort of works.
Miller has the big show starter with Porter's "It's Too Darn Hot" as a sort of tap burlesque, and with Porter providing songs, it's kinda hard to go wrong. Of course Keel and Grayson were musical stars of no small stature (well, Grayson looks to be about 5'1"), and play well together.
The film is a visual spectacle, shot and released in 3D - I can only imagine how the sets and dance numbers looked for 1950's audiences. That includes some sets and costumes designed with an almost Mary Blair palette approved by Technicolor.
It's also worth noting that the film includes a young Bob Fosse, who apparently got a big boost from his work on the film that led to him getting work on Broadway.
Anyway - light, fun, better than I figured - it's a good time. But I'd love to see it in 3D on the big screen.
*sometimes you have to think of the past as an exotic locale where you can have your opinions, but the locals are gonna do what they're gonna do. You just gotta do better when you get home.
Today is the birthday of one of the brightest actors on the big and small screen, Amy Adams.
I *think* the public understands what we have in Adams, so I won't belabor the point. Anyway, take a second today and raise a glass to one of the best.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Where: Amazon Watch Party
Day: Friday, 08/21/2020
Time: 8:30 PM Central time
This Friday, we're doing something unthinkable and watching a movie I genuinely really like! Normally, I watch this film annually around Halloween, but I'm not taking the risk they're pulling it from Prime between now and October 1. So we're doing it now, friendos!
It's 1988's Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, a goofy supernatural comedy featuring a lead with two terrific things going for her: acting chops and a terrific sense of comedy.
In the 1980's, Elvira started with a local show in LA hosting creature feature movies, made some appearances on Carson, and went national. I am 90% sure we never got Movie Macabre in the Austin market, but by 1987 or so, she was in beer commercials, guest starring on TV shows and generally everywhere. By 1988, she released a movie, and maybe it didn't do so great at the box office? But over the years, folks have found the movie and watching it now, in a way, it was just ahead of its time.
It's a classic fish-out-of-water story, a journey of self-discovery and has some truly quotable lines (and visuals). If ever you doubted the power of Elvira, this may be your game changer. And you're really gonna want to hang in there for the final sequence. You are not prepared.
Monday, August 17, 2020
PODCAST: "Le Samourai" (1967) and "The Conformist" (1970) - a European Neonoir Watch w/ JAL and RYan
Watched: Le Samourai 07/28, The Conformist 07/31
Format: HBOmax/ BluRay
Viewing: third for both, I believe
Decade: 1960's/ 1970's
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville & Bernardo Bertolucci
For more ways to listen
Justin and Ryan head to Europe for some neo-noir! We swing through France for a hitman film and over to Italy for... well, he's not much of a hitman, really. One of these is absolutely noir and the other, we're kind of calling a noir - and we're pretty excited about both of them. Join us as for a double-bill, continental style!
Le Samourai Title Theme - François De Roubaix
The Conformist Title Theme - Georges Delerue
Playlist - Noir Watch: