Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In a Time of Virus: Days With No Meaning

I'm not writing these posts so much for all of us going through this *now*.   When this is over, I'd like to remember what...  happened.  Because, like any trauma, we're going to collectively want to block this out.  And what there is to remember will be so vague and weird, and our timelines will be skewed.

We all kind of laugh about how days lose all meaning in that period between Christmas and New Year.  At least once a day, someone will ask "what day is it?" and sometimes you may have to think about it.  With nowhere to be, no one looking for you and the weekends looking like a weekday, it takes no time at all.  And while we have weekends, when you're looking at the same walls and people, days do sort of lose their meaning.  Last week on Friday, I had to be told at least once it wasn't Thursday.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Disney Watch: Timmy Failure - Mistakes Were Made (2020)




Watched:  04/04/2020
Viewing:  First
Format:  Disney+
Decade:  2020's

My guess is that you're sleeping on Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (2020).  This would be a mistake.  This will be one of the finest movies you could watch this year.

Honor Blackman Has Merged With The Infinite


Honor Blackman, who starred in Goldfinger and on TV's The Avengers has passed at the age of 94.

For me, Blackman sets the bar for all "Bond Girls", up to and including Diana Rigg and Eva Green, and remains my favorite (she literally saves thousands of lives in Goldfinger while Bond is in jail).  Look, Blackman was a stone cold fox who could make a white pantsuit sing, but she also plays the role of Pussy Galore to perfection.  She's among the few female costars who ever gave a Bond a run of their money, and there's a reason (beyond the colorful name) that she's remembered so well 50-odd years later.


It was always great to know she was out there, and she'll be missed.


I mean, purple works, too


You can hear me wax rhapsodic about Pussy Galore on our Goldfinger podcast.



Noir Watch: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)



Watched:  04/05/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on BluRay
Viewing:  3rd or 4th
Decade:  1940's

I'd already seen this, so I wasn't going to watch it, but I've been on a Victor Mature kick lately, and Laird Cregar is so damn good in this movie I wanted to at least watch his scenes.  I also hadn't really contextualized I Wake Up Screaming (1941) in the timeline of the noir movement, and it's crazy to see a movie that so thoroughly *already* has down the noir style visually when the form was just getting started. 

Victor Mature is a little cagey

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Kaiju Watch: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) AND Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)



Watched:  04/01/2020 and 04/03/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second?  First as an adult
Decade:  1970's

Frankly, on top of and due to Coronavirus happenings, work has been a bear, and - thus - in the evenings I've mostly just been looking for something *fun* when I peel myself out of my office chair and mosey down to the living room.   For some time, my Criterion Godzilla set has been calling to me from the bookshelf, so we finally broke into it a while back and started watching some Kaiju Kraziness.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

PODCAST: "Streets of Fire" (1984) - Ryan's Random Cinema w/ Jamie


Watched:  03/14/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's


Jamie and Ryan revisit one of Ryan's inexplicably favorite movies, 1984's "Streets of Fire" (which he is well aware is probably not a good movie, but it's somehow a movie he'll always stop to watch). Another time! Another place! It's sorta the retro 1980-50's, a sprawling urban landscape where rock rules and so do dudes in leather gear on motorbikes! But a steely-eyed dude with a high powered rifle and Amy Madigan at his side can save the day AND the cute girl (Diane Lane!)! Adventure! Excitement! Cool cars! Bad bad guys! Rock AND Roll!




Music: 
Nowhere Fast - Fire Inc., Streets of Fire OST
I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman, Streets of Fire OST
Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young - Fire Inc., Streets of Fire OST


Friday, April 3, 2020

Proto-Super Reboot Watch: Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)



Watched:  03/30/2020
Format:  Amazon streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

I remember being confused that, in 1981, I was not allowed to see either Legend of the Lone Ranger or Zorro the Gay Blade.   I'd catch Zorro in the summer of 1993 on TV  - summer I graduated high school, and it confirmed what I'd heard from friends at the elementary school lunch table about why I'd not been taken to see a movie about the original superhero.  Legend of the Lone Ranger held a lot more mystery - partially because it was just harder to find and partially because of what little I'd heard.  "It's really violent" I was told.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Action 252 - First Supergirl - Arrived March 31, 1959!




Action 252 is the first appearance of the second time DC floated a super girl,* but it brought Kara Zor-El to Earth, not from a dimensional wormhole or anything like we get in fancy, modern stories, but from a loose chunk of Krypton that was just hurling through space with a city and an atmosphere.

Monday, March 30, 2020

In a Time of Virus: That First Week in Lockdown

We've been in some form of lockdown since March 13th.

In some ways, this hasn't been entirely different from the nearly two years when I worked from home when I was at Northwestern University.  I wake up, I shower, make coffee, eat something and sit down and get to work.  I use my office, which is also my "collection room", ie: The Fortress, which I had decommissioned for work when I went back to UT.

When we were sent home from work, the home office was full of "stuff" all over the floor, making the room unusable.  We'd recently had a remodel of our bathroom, and to make room for the contractors, I'd cleared things and just dumped them in my office and shut the door.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Honestly, what I piled in there was sitting on top of things I hadn't yet cleared away from Christmas, waiting for some time when I'd have some downtime and clean up, which I usually do when we're set to have company.

The first weekend, starting on the 13th, we just sort of blanked out.  There was a run to HEB Saturday morning, buying food for a full week or more.  The store was busy, but not hectic.  Jamie and I put on nitrile gloves before going in - and I never saw anyone else with them on.  No masks.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pirate Watch: Against All Flags (1952)




Watched:  03/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  fourth
Decade:  1950's

Ah, Maureen O'Hara in technicolor as a pirate captain.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Amazing Watch: Sorceress (1982)



Watched:  03/27/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's (oh, how very 1980's.  Specifically, how very EARLY 1980's)

On facebook a friend (Hi, Laura S.) asked if I'd ever seen Sorceress (1982), and I was pretty sure I hadn't.  When I went to look it up on Amazon Prime, I realized I'd once watched the first two and a half minutes of the movie and then gave up.  People - this was a mistake.

The poster above does absolutely nothing to relate anything about the events or actual characters of the movie.  There is a sort of lion-winged thing, a blonde woman and an ape guy.  A snake appears on screen for about five seconds.  But there are two blonde women: that's the entire thing of the movie.  And it seems like that should have made the poster.  The titular sorceress of the film: not shown.

Lockdown Birthday Watch: Avengers Endgame (2019)


Watched:  03/26/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  fourth.  fifth?  I don't know.
Decade:  2010's

For Jamie's birthday she wanted to watch Avengers: Endgame (2019), one of her favorite recent movies - even if spring of 2019 now seems like it occurred several decades ago.

In a time when we're in lockdown, watching a movie about a group of people reeling in the face of loss, disaster, tragedy and personal failure that impacted a universe is a hell of a thing.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Noir Watch: Ride the Pink Horse (1947)


Watched:  03/25/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I've been meaning to read some Dorothy B. Hughes, and now I'm deadly curious.  She wrote the novel this movie - a gritty, all-in-one-night (well, two nights) - is based on, and it sounds like the book is even meaner.

But you kind of have to know that anything that's called "Ride the Pink Horse" is either a children's book, porn or something rough and tumble enough that it can have a goofy name and walk away with it.  Sort of the "Boy Named 'Sue"" effect.  I won't pretend Ride the Pink Horse (1947) is a great film, but it's different and interesting enough that I can see why it's got it's own reputation among noiristas and landed a Criterion edition release.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

PODCAST! "Doctor Strange" (2016) - Avengers Chronological Countdown #14 w/ Jamie & Ryan


Watched:  03/22/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan delve into the multiverse of madness that is the 2016 Marvel entry, "Doctor Strange". It's no one's favorite Avengers film, but it's got some interesting stuff and absolutely pushes us forward toward what would become Infinity War. It's a hero who may be a bit of a jerk, but he's got some neat special FX.



Music:
Doctor Strange Main Theme - Michael Giacchino, Doctor Strange OST

Avengers Chronological Countdown


Everyone Wish Jamie/ @mcsteans a Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Jamie.  I wish you were not stuck in the house.  I wish I had thought to buy cake ingredients two weeks ago.  Frankly, I wish I'd bought you something for your birthday.

I can only make it better through the power of Greg Louganis in his prime.


Here's to a future where we can leave the house and not pretend we're on the International Space Station.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Musical Watch: It's Always Fair Weather (1955)


Watched:  03/23/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

This movie had a lot of things converge to recommend it.  It's from the same writing team that did On the Town from a few years prior, it was directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, it *starred* Gene Kelly, and, if I'm being honest, Cyd Charisse.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Kaiju Watch: Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971)



Watched:  03/21/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

I had never seen Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), and I remember asking Stuart about it about a year or two ago, and he sort of said "it's the psychedelic one" and sort of gave an amused shrug, so... I didn't really know what to expect. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

In a Time of Virus: Start of Lockdown

The first thing I remember hearing was that people were hoarding toilet paper.

It had a "man bites dog" element to the news - for whatever reason, they'd realized they might run out of toilet paper, something they'd never previously considered, I suppose.  And, so, people were buying mass amounts of the stuff, leaving those super market shelves empty.  That was early, during the week of the 9th, before the employers sent anyone home .

Kenny Rogers Merges With The Infinite


Musician Kenny Rogers has passed at the age of 81.

Country music went through a boom in the late 70's and early 1980's, and it's hard to think of anyone who crossed over to mainstream Soft Rock popularity more than Kenny Rogers.  For a few years there, Rogers was everywhere on the radio and in my parents' record collection.  His stardom rose enough that they put him in movies (see: Six Pack) and even based a series of TV movies on his hit song, "The Gambler". 

On the back of a huge duets album, Rogers shared a headline act with Dolly Parton at one of the first concerts I ever attended at age 10 (it seems this was November 3rd, 1985).  I mean, we all remember "Islands in the Stream".*

By the 90's, Rogers had settled into veteran star status and continued putting out albums, touring, appearing in movies, etc...   but it would probably be a surprise to anyone under the age of 38 or so what a huge deal this guy was for a while.

Anyway, I can't say I kept up with Kenny Rogers much since... 1987 or so.  But there's no question Rogers was a huge part of a certain era.  At our house, his records spun on the turntable and we were called into the room if he was going to appear on TV (and my mom would exclaim "oh, he's so good!").  Circa 1995 my brother and I treated Jamie to an impromptu duet of "The Gambler" which she first found charming and then alarming as we would not stop.

Here's to Kenny Rogers. 






*or, as the kids know it, that old skool Diddy track, "Ghetto Superstar"

Kaiju Watch: Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)


Watched:  03/20/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

Well, the poster is an amazing summary of this film, so I'll let it speak for itself.

Friday, March 20, 2020

PODCAST: "Gemini" (2018) - Noir Watch w/ JAL & Ryan



Watched:  03/07/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's


It's a neo-noir! Join JAL and Ryan as we delve into a modern mystery thriller full of twists and turns in the world of Hollywood-pointed Los Angeles! There's murder, suspects and a personal assistant on the run, languidly pursued by no less than John Cho! Join us as we talk the world and rules of noir and doing it without pointing out that you're doing noir!




Music: 
Gemini - Keegan DeWitt, Gemini OST

Noir Watch Playlist:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Lockdown St. Patrick's Day Watch: The Quiet Man (1952)


Watched:  03/17/2020
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's

Not to be weird about it, and no surprise to longtime readers, but Maureen O'Hara was a screen-crush for me since catching Miracle on 34th Street back in high school.  Watching The Quiet Man (1952) did nothing to slow that train down.

In a Time of Virus: Not Seen In Generations

Sometimes you read about World War I or II and you wonder what you'd have been like in those circumstances.  What would it be like to be sitting in Austin, Texas one day and boarding a boat to cross the English Channel a year later, pretty sure you were being used for cannon fodder?  Or being ordered over the wall and into No Man's Land?  Over and over?  Day after day?  Could I get back in a B-17 and fly back over Germany and drop bombs *again*, uncertain if *this* was the time I was shot down?

It doesn't need to be the threat of war and violence.  We've had plenty of other creeping horrors around mankind in recent and living memory.

But my generation, maybe the one before, maybe those that have come after... we sat in classrooms and heard how the Commies wanted to drop nuclear bombs on us because they hated our Capitalist ways.  But mostly that's an existential threat - if it was going to happen, it was going to happen.  And I wasn't old enough to be part of the AIDS crisis, but am old enough to get cross-eyed hearing about "dating" apps as someone who came of age just after Magic Johnson taught us suburban kids about how we *all* needed to be careful.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Lyle Waggoner Merges With The Infinite


Actor and businessman Lyle Waggoner has passed at the age of 84.

Waggoner did three things in his career which I find inspiring.

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Here is one of Ireland's Finest Exports - Maureen O'Hara


Happy Birthday To My Brother

Steanso rehearses for his next gig

Happy birthday to my brother, who is marginally older than me, and nowhere near as handsome (or smart, but let's not rub it in).

These days, I mostly just like his kids and wife, but he's okay, too, I guess.

It's a real kick in the crotch that we can't go out and celebrate his birthday, but that's what next year is for.  I got him a present, and when we're de-quarantined, I'm sure this cake I made will still be fine.  I'll keep it in the garage til whenever we see each other again.

Anyhoo... Happy birthday, dummy.  I hope you enjoy whatever it is you're up to for the day.



PS:  Mom likes me best.



Monday, March 16, 2020

Lockdown Watch: Frozen 2 (2019)


Watched:  03/16/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  third
Decade:  2010's

One of my favorites from last year, I went ahead and picked this up on BluRay.

And, you know what, I think I continue to like this movie more every time I watch it.

Frozen 2 is a funny thing to like as a near 45 year old dude.  I'm used to picking up an action figure or whatnot when I like an Avengers movie.  Heck, I have an Ant-Man and The Wasp t-shirt.  But, you know, as much as I don't care what cashiers think when I'm buying my usual dumb stuff, there's not much Frozen 2 stuff I thought would make sense for *me*.  So, I bought the BluRay.  And the extras are really excellent.  So, heads-up if you have a chance to watch them.  It's fascinating to see how story is developed at Disney these days.

But do feel free to point me at Frozen II plastic stuff I can own that is not, like, an Elsa wig or 12" doll.

Anyway, refer to my last write-up on this.

And, frankly, I find this scene amazing.





Saturday, March 14, 2020

PODCAST: "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (2014) w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  02/08/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

We take a break from Bond to look at a sort of surreal spy adventure, also from Jolly Olde England! It's "Kingsman", the 2014 action adventure with some exciting stuff, a decidedly hard-R rating, a dash of "Moonraker" and how to climb the social ladder in London through grit, street smarts, parkour, and a penchant for looking good in a suit! Plus, Samuel L. Jackson chewing the scenery in a role he's about 35 years too old to play.



Music:
Manners Maketh the Man - Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson,  Kingsman: The Secret Service OST


SimonUK Playlist

Friday, March 13, 2020

In a Time of Virus: People are Terrible in a Crisis

I'm not going to lecture you on COVID-19/ the coronavirus.  You know what it is. 

The plan was not to return to work on Monday (it's Friday, for posterity's sake).  I'd received approval from higher-ups to show some caution and work from home until we had the all-clear.  In the morning as I readied for work, I was checking a news story about our local K-12 school district closing and telling people to deal with their situation, and half-way down the page it mentioned my employer, the University of Texas at Austin, was also closed. 

I checked the emergency page, and it said "all clear", but literally at the same time, my Slack channel for work started popping and I saw that, no, we were closed.  An email had come through and we weren't to come to campus today. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Max Von Sydow Merges With The Infinite


Max Von Sydow has passed at the age of 90

How do you talk about someone like Von Sydow?  Who worked with Bergman, starred as Ming the Merciless and was in hundreds of roles of all shapes and sizes?  I'm not going to.  He was Von Sydow, and he's going to be one of those guys we understand on one level now, and in time will stand back in awe at the breadth and depth of what he did. 


PODCAST: "Xanadu" (1980) - Jamie's Cinema Classics Selection #1 (w/ Ryan)


Watched:  03/07/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

It's the inaugural episode of Jamie's Cinema Classic Selections! If you liked Cats, we've got us some more movies to discuss.

For no reason in particular we decided to watch "Xanadu" (1980) and talk about it. It seems neither of us had ever seen it, and, honestly, we now have more questions than answers. Not a musical, not-not a musical, starring a legend of the silver screen in his swan song and an up-and-coming film siren in the movie that kept her off the big screen for decades - it's roller skating, disco, rock, big band, 40's and 80's, and more rollerskating! XANADU!



Music:
Magic - Olivia Newton John, Xanadu OST
Xanadu - Olivia Newton John, Xanadu OST


and just in case you missed it:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Trek Watch: "Picard" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation"


I am not a "Trekker" like I'd consider some of my friends.  I do not have a tattoo of the Enterprise on my forearm (hi, Stuart).  I do not know the names of episodes as chapter and verse.  I mostly only watched Star Trek (the Original Series) and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And I quite liked both.

Y'all can go to bat for DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.  I'm aware they all have their plusses, but I didn't really watch them.  And I honestly mostly watched ST:TNG out of order in syndication after season 4 wrapped up (why our local channel showed them out of order when I was in college, I will never know, but I generally knew what season it was by which uniform they were wearing).

When Picard was coming on, I realized it'd been a while since I spent much time with ST:TNG.  In theory, I liked the show, and I'd watched bits here and there on BBC America during lunchbreaks when I worked from home, but I was genuinely not sure the show held up.  Further, I wasn't ready to wade through 22+ episodes per season of 7 seasons of TV (plus a few movies) to catch up and be ready for Picard.

Thus, I turned to Stuart, who gave me the following watch list:

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

James Lipton Merges with The Infinite



In the 1990's, James Lipton burst onto the basic cable scene with Inside the Actor's Studio, a TV interview show where Lipton interviewed name-actors.  It was a fun program, not devoid of talk-show cheesiness, but also occasionally insightful and felt like actors sort of let their guard down, but also basked in the attention of starry-eyed young actors.

Lipton became a household celebrity himself, his mannered approach and just off-center style entertaining on its own.

James Lipton has passed at the age of 93.


I was never an aspiring actor, but I was always fascinated by the 10 final questions Lipton would ask as he closed down an episode.  So, here are my answers:
  • What is your favorite word? -  howdy
  • What is your least favorite word? - abbatoir
  • What turns you on? - intelligent curiosity
  • What turns you off? - lack of empathy
  • What sound or noise do you love? - dog feet on the stairs or the crack of a bat on ball hitting a homerun
  • What sound or noise do you hate? - beep of medical monitors
  • What is your favorite curse word? -  Fuck (it's so flexible!), but especially in the context of JFC
  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? - K9 officer
  • What profession would you not like to do? - flight attendant
  • If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? - "all the dogs you ever had are over there with those books you never got around to reading"
Feel free to drop your own in the comments!  Do it for Lipton!




Monday, March 2, 2020

Western Watch: Shane (1953)


Watched:  03/02/2020
Format:  Alamo Mueller
Viewing:  Unknown - more than 5
Decade:  1950's

It was a delight to see Shane (1953) on the big screen at Alamo Mueller this evening with SimonUK.  Si had never seen it, so that was kind of cool. 

Back in 7th grade my Reading teacher, Ms. McDowell, had us read the original novel, and then we watched the movie.  I've been a fan ever since and am not objective in any way about Shane.  I will say, seeing it on the big screen was stunning - the Grand Tetons loom large in the background and Wyoming's magnificent landscapes provide epic sweep to the story. 

And while it's no mystery that Shane is largely about violence, the impact of the sound in the theater versus confined to my TV speakers provided an intensity to the film I wasn't expecting. 

If it's been a while or you've never seen it, give Shane a shot.  It's been endlessly ripped off and borrowed from, but the original holds up amazingly well.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Catch-Up Watch: Ford v Ferrari


Watched:  03/01/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

My biggest surprise was that Ford and Ferrari both had a mom named "Martha".

Heist Watch: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)



Watched:  02/29/2020
Format:  HBO
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  1990's

Back in the 90's, in an era where not every movie needed to kick-start a franchise or go for Oscar gold, sometimes you'd just have an entertaining movie.

It's been years since I last saw The Thomas Crown Affair remake from 1999, then 31 years after the release of the original - which I didn't see until the last ten years, but I recalled liking the 1999 edition, even if I did not feel like I needed to have it in my DVD collection.  Stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are charismatic and effortless in their parts, the story isn't a mind-bender, but engaging, and the supporting cast - while distinctly 90's-ish in stance and dialog, works well around our leads.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Huh Watch: Phantom of the Paradise (1974)


Watched:  02/23/2020
Format:  Cable TV
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's, baby!

I have no idea why we aren't all constantly talking about Phantom of the Paradise (1974).

Written and directed by Brian DePalma, starring and with songs by Paul Williams, it's a 70's-splosion take on Phantom of the Opera and Faust, with impressionistic and stylized art design and cinematography mixed with oddball performances and larger-than-life glam rock fantasy - it's a hell of a thing to watch (and hear). 

For my music-aficionado pals and those of you who like something just amazingly, audaciously over the top - give it a shot.

It's Superman's Birthday


It's Superman's birthday!

Back in the day the editors of Superman comics decided to be cheeky and said the reason Superman didn't seem to age was that his birthday was on Leap Day.  So, now, we only get to celebrate Superman's birthday every four years, so you gotta take advantage.  Go out there and eat a pint of ice cream or a whole cake in honor of Superman's b-day.  It's only every four years.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

PODCAST! "Laura" (1944) - Noir Watch w/ JAL & Ryan


Watched:  02/22/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  5th or 6th
Decade:  1940's


We welcome all-new co-contributor and longtime pal JAL to the PodCast for a new series: Noir Watch! We're kicking it off with a dreamy murder mystery, Laura (1944) - a whodunnit about a detective who falls for a painting, a venom tongued columnist and Vincent Price in his pre-Master of Horror Days. And, of course, the lovely Gene Tierney.




Music:
Laura - Dan Raskin, Laura OST

Noir Watch Playlist:





Show notes:

Whiskey:  Bonesnapper Rye

Some films mentioned:
His Kind of Woman starring Vincent Price, Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell
Kiss of Death starring Richard Widmark and Victor Mature

Laura as cover song
by Sinatra
by Charlie Parker
by Ella Fitzgerald

Laura portrait








Dan Didio Exits DC



Friday afternoon, I saw news that Dan Didio, former writer, promoted to Executive Editor, then promoted to Publisher at DC Comics, was no longer with the company.  No circumstances regarding his departure have been reported from DC or Didio, so at this time, it's safe to say Didio's exit was possibly due to a difference of direction from WB and/ or the head of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences - Pam Lifford, who took over DC leadership when Diane Nelson resigned and the structure of DC Entertainment was folded back into WB.  There are also rumors about the perceived impact of the coming "5G" event and reshaping of DC Continuity, which, frankly... sounded exhausting as a reader.  Other possibilities included workplace issues and the good old fashioned lay-off as ATT goes about restructuring WB.

A lot of artists and writers took to twitter to talk about how Didio had done good by them, with a few popping off here and there.  Honestly, some of what I saw about how Didio is a great guy just sounded like basic human decency or Management 101, which really makes me wonder what the heck it's like actually working in comics when "he said he'd take responsibility for the thing he is responsible for" is the bar for a great humanitarian in comics.  But, still, the expressions seemed sincere, and while I'm aware there's a tendency in creative fields to not burn bridges and overly laud anyone exiting, I'll take these creators at their word.

Longtime readers will know - I am not a fan of Dan Didio. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Noir Watch: Kiss of Death (1947)



Watched:  02/20/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  3rd?
Decade:  1940's

Kiss of Death (1947) was one of the first "noir" films I watched years back when I was trying to sort out "what... is noir?".   It took a second viewing a couple of years later for me to get how it fit into the category, but I do feel it is a good example of a certain kind of noir.  More importantly, it's got a great set-up that plays into a tight, engaging story, and has three fantastic performances.  And Brian Donlevy.

I kid.  Brian Donlevy is fine, but this film is famous for a ground-breaking psychotic performance by Richard Widmark as mad-dog criminal, Tommy Udo.  Flat out, that's probably what the movie is best known for - and there's no question, it's the Joe Pesci-before-Joe Pesci performance of it's day.  Maybe even the Heath Ledger-Joker performance of its day?  He's a lit stick of sociopathic dynamite who thinks nothing of killing someone's kids just to make a point, and he'd have a good laugh about it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

PODCAST! "Teen Wolf" (1985) - w/ all-new co-contributor StuartW and, of course, me


Watched:  02/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's

From the great state of Missouri, StuartW joins us to talk about one of his favorites from the 1980's - and one you probably haven't seen in a long while - it's "Teen Wolf"! The movie that brought us Urban Surfin', a girl named "Boof" and a curiously blase attitude about a lycanthrope wandering the halls of a typical American high school.

There are three rules that I live by. 1) Never get less than twelve hours sleep 2) Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city. And 3) never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.
-Coach Finstock, Teen Wolf, 1985




Music:
Big Bad Wolf - The Wolf Sisters, Teen Wolf OST
Win in the End - Mark Safan, Teen Wolf OST

Stuart's shirt:


Monday, February 17, 2020

100th Birthday of Curt Swan - comic book artist


Today marks the 100th birthday of the late, great Curt Swan.  For those taking any kind of deep dive into Superman as a long-running comic book character, it doesn't take long before you start producing your list of giants associated with the character's creation and adventures - and Curt Swan is top of the list. 

Siegel and Shuster created Superman, but eventually many of the art duties fell to first Wayne Boring, and then as we transitioned into the mid-Silver and Bronze Age, Swan became the primary pencil behind Superman.  For about three decades Swan drew covers and interiors of Adventure ComicsSuperman and Action Comics, and saw the end of his reign with the new era that began post COIE.  In his tenure he created such characters as Supergirl, Titano, Lucy Lane and many more. 

I became familiar with his work through a mish-mash of back-issues and collections of Silver Age comics, and he's very much locked in my mind as one of the best of the best.  It's astounding to see the care put into every panel of his art and how his own style evolved to meet (and often exceed) the times.

More about Curt Swan from Comic Vine and Wikipedia

Sunday, February 16, 2020

DC just canceled the "Supergirl" comic. Again.



Hooo boy.

The Supergirl TV show has run for five seasons on, first, the CBS network and now The CW.  That's roughly 22 episodes (plus) per season with a cast that has shifted, story elements come and gone, and now survived a Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It's a bit messy to explain how the events of Season 1 line up with what's happening now on the show, but one can if they're willing to experience nose bleeds and dizziness.

It's one of the shows I am probably watching now more out of habit than anything, but I don't *dislike* the show.  Every season has an arc and gives the characters arcs of their own to work through.

DC Comics released their solicitations for May comic releases, and announced that issue 42 will be the final issue of this run of the Supergirl comic book series.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

PODCAST! "Casino Royale" (2006) - Bond Watch w/ SimonUK, Jamie and Ryan


Watched:  02/07/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  2000's

We're back with more Bond, and this time we've got Jamie along for the ride! We take a gamble on the 2006 relaunch of the Bond Franchise starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Dame Judy Dench as "M". All our cards are on the table as we examine this movie and how it fit into the world building they tried this go-round, how to make a Vesper cocktail, and what makes this movie so unique in the series. It's "Casino Royale"!



Music:

James Bond Theme - Monty Norman
You Know My Name - Chris Cornell, Casino Royale OST


No Time to Die Trailer



James Bond Popsicle



Eva Green in a cocktail dress

Bond Playlist:


Monday, February 10, 2020

DC Watch: Birds of Prey (2020)


Watched:  02/09/2020
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's

Uh.  Look.  I wasn't really planning to see this movie.  I wasn't a fan of Suicide Squad or even Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn in the movie, which many found winning.  She's kind of a perky Mary Sue for fans of My Chemical Romance.  I get it.

Friday, the movie was, at one point, tracking over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has settled in at a comfortable 80% as of this writing.  Filmmakers I like vouched for it, and Jamie expressed some interest, and I have an Alamo Season Pass, so money is already sunk for tickets, so we went.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Noir Watch: The Woman on the Beach (1947)


Watched:  02/07/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

This film lands somewhere just on the other side of what could have been an interesting one-set play, but requires film as the medium to tell the story Jean Renoir had in mind, and we'd lose some key scenes and beautiful visuals.

Muller's intro and outro on Noir City are more than what most of the hosts on TCM provide - there's lots of contextualizing, from historical notes to researched portions that shed light on aspects of the film you might not have picked up on as a modern viewer or not knowing what was happening with the creators of the film either professionally or personally.  And the outros usually leave you with something similar, but best saved for after you've already seen the movie.  And this movie had plenty of curious stuff surrounding it, not the least of which was that I never knew famed French director Jean Renoir (Rules of the Game) was the son of the famed painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Fleeing the Germans, Renoir came to the states and made the least memorable films of his career.  There's a long and painful story behind the making and release of The Woman on the Beach (1947), but the end result was a deeply shortened final film following reshoots and months and months in the edit room.

I don't actually doubt that the film counts as noir, but it's a noir living inside a melodrama.  The stakes are almost entirely personal, and no crimes, exactly fit into the picture.

Coast Guardsman "Scott" (played by Robert Ryan) is recovering from a ship going down under him and suffering from what we'd now call PTSD.  He's found a nice girl (Nan Leslie) in the coastal town where he's recuperating, and would marry her, but they have a schedule they're sticking to.  He keeps seeing a woman on the beach (natch) collecting firewood and hanging around, and eventually finds she (Joan Bennett) is married to a well known painter who has gone blind (Charles Bickford).  The robust and younger figure Scott (Ryan) cuts is appealing, and Peggy and Scott feel a mutual attraction.  The artist, Tod, is no charmer but Peggy doesn't feel she can leave him as she's responsible for him losing his eyesight.  Apparently they used to have bursts of boozing and passion, both angry and sexual (and at the same time, I'd gather).

Scott doesn't believe Tod is blind and believes he has to rescue Peggy (Bennett), becoming an obsession - but it becomes clear that Scott isn't the first gentleman Peggy has lured in.

The movie begins with some fascinating and oddball visuals of Ryan drowning, super imposed underwater in a series of effects shots - visual representations of his PTSD-fueled dreams.  But the cinematography captures the world of the film as a desolate beachfront, sand and scrub against weather, water and sun.  And plenty of "shot on location" footage brings the movie to life - including a scene in which Scott tests whether Tod is actually blind, clearing the question for both audience and himself.

The movie isn't color by numbers, and doesn't resolve its conflicts in ways that I realize maybe I'd come to expect from the movies appearing on Noir Alley, but it does have tight ending that I still didn't really see coming til it occurred.

Robert Ryan and Joan Bennett (and some beach)

Brief at 75 minutes, it's worth a spin.  Joan Bennett is pretty great (they suggest she's aging in the film, but looks younger than her mid-30's, so.... good genes, there, Joan), as is all the cast.  Maybe the weirdest to see in the film is a pre-Beverly Hillbillies Irene Ryan, playing a colorful but not over-the-top local woman and friend to Ryan's fiancee.

According to Muller, the movie was far longer in its original cut and tested badly - which would be obvious, this isn't a movie for teens and kids and the usual folks who show up for "movie" because it's free.  Although made inside the studio system, The Woman on the Beach reads more like an arthouse film, and it's kind of amazing it hasn't been remade in the years since in exactly that context.  The sort of confused love triangles are more reminiscent of The Piano than anything I can readily think of - especially those 90's and 00's potboilers about infidelity.