Friday, July 17, 2020
I can't begin to sum up the importance and achievements of John Lewis, and what he has meant to this country. He has passed at the age of 80, still calling for a better way, every day, to the end.
From the New York Times
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Billy Wilder
I found this movie some hard going, but given it starred Monroe and was directed by Billy Wilder, I'm going to give it some grace. It's not just a product of its time, it's a distilled crystallization of its time. Add in that it's been so copied from, borrowed from, and it's novelties have been so co-opted and, in fact, are a mainstream method of visual comedy for the past 20 years, it's a bit odd to see it in its nascent form.
Based on a stage play, The Seven Year Itch (1955) is a movie about a married man who sends his wife and young son out of New York City and into the country during the hot summer months so he can get some work done, kick cigarettes and lay low. Until he returns home the first night and finds Marilyn Monroe living upstairs, sub-letting his neighbor's apartment.
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Viewing: Third or Fourth
Director: James Gunn
For more ways to listen
It's Family Issues in Spaaaaaace! Join Jamie and Ryan as we consider the second installment in the unlikeliest of the Marvel movie sub-franchises! After a ragtag bunch of misfits comes together, what's next? And what makes this series different from other Marvel films? It's all here! Check it out!
The Signal Watch PodCast · 111: "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" Avengers Countdown 15 w/ Jamie & Ryan
Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) - Looking Glass
Father and Son - Cat Stevens
Director: Max Barbakow
To get it out of the way: this movie featured a song I used to love but had not heard it in 30 years, and it kind of freaked me out. So here's to The Brazilian, from Invisible Touch by Genesis.* Middle School Me was delighted to hear it again.
Also - to get it out of the way: SPOILERS
I highly recommend watching this movie with zero spoilers, including skipping the trailer.
Join us this Friday as we check out the 1975 classic, The Stepford Wives! I've never seen it, but I bet it'll be a good model for Jamie to watch so she can be a better wife and I can be a better husband.
Day: Friday - 07/17/2020
Time: 8:30 PM Central
Amazon Watch Party Link
We really liked Amazon Watch Party last time we gave it a go, and we think you'd like it, too!
So, join us, chatter along, and we'll talk about the movie as it unfolds!
Format: Criterion BluRay
Director: Byron Haskin
War of the Worlds (1953) the movie and the Mercury Theatre radio play from 1938 are so baked into my formative years, they're alongside Superman, King Kong, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and other popular fictions that make up the mythology and common language for a lot of born in the shadow of the mid-20th Century.
I saw the movie after buying and listening to the Orson Welles radio program when my dad found out I was interested in the radio show and the events surrounding it that I'd read about in a magazine. My dad, always one to say "if you liked that, you need to check out this", got me to the video store within a few days and we sat down and watched it together.
What's remarkable is how genuinely *thrilled* I was by the movie, in both senses of the word. The movie only has one or two quasi-jump scares, but - as was the novel (which I finally read about 15 years ago) and the radio show - the movie is so relentless in putting all of Earth on its heels, from the moment the three pals approach the ship waving a white flag onto get atomized, it's some weird viewing. There's no brilliant but dangerous plan to be enacted that defeats the aliens - humanity loses this one.
As I've pitched the movie - in the middle of a pandemic, it's a lovely reminder of the time germs were our friends.
Lovingly restored by Paramount and just released by Criterion, War of the Worlds is a movie geek's dream. There's so many technical aspects to the movie worth discussing, from the original three-strip technicolor to the construction of the Martian crafts, to the myriad visual effects, matte paintings and absolutely perfect sound effects - an army of character actors, and two leads who've somewhat otherwise fallen through the cracks of film nostalgia - it's an amazing technical achievement, done so well it holds up as a visual masterpiece. And, in fact, with this restoration, is just an astonishingly crafted, visually beautiful film.
If the last time you've seen the movie was from the 2005 re-release, run (don't walk!) to watch this version, which recovers the original color palette employed in almost punchy candy colors, restores the visual effects to maximum effectiveness, and has cleaned up audio and re-created sound effects by no less than Ben Burtt.
The movie features the typically generous collection of extra features that get me to pay the entry fee for Criterion discs. There are a few documentaries, the 1938 radio drama, an interview from San Antonio's KTSA with Orson Welles and HG Wells, and more.
The movie itself is just as gripping as ever. From small town America to the final scenes in the fall of Los Angeles, it's anchored by focal characters Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) - a scientist and professor of Library Science, who happened to be there when one of the initial craft came down and are there throughout. And, of course, there's a romance a-bloomin' between the two. Through Barry and Robinson, we get the realization of the horror of the situation, but the still very human need for connection in the darkest hour. A parable for any time, really.
If you've never seen the movie - now is the time! This restoration is utterly remarkable. If you have seen it but it's been a while - do it for the same reason and to remind yourself of one of the md-20th Century's finest technical filmic achievements, and to get all the bonus materials from Criterion.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Last night the news hit that Grant Imahara, one of the main cast members of Mythbusters, had passed at the age of 49.
This one shook me.
The Mythbusters cast never came across as celebrities - they came across as people you might know who someone had bestowed a budget and granted time to answer all sorts of questions you might think about but never be able to pursue. To this day, I can't tell you how many times per month I still say "I think Mythbusters covered that" when we're pondering a question. And those questions are not just whether and to what degree something might explode.
Imahara was the purist engineer of the crew, and seemed genuinely more interested in the process and data than being on TV. He made a great third side of the triangle for "the build team", ensuring engineering and data driven practices were part of what they were up to. And he did it with a joyfulness that was positively inspiring. We should all strive to have Grant's excitement about opportunity and discovery.
The cast seemed to be roughly of my generation, and so of course it's a shock when someone your own age suddenly goes. We aren't really there yet. But especially someone who had become famous somewhat by accident, who never became a jerk or let it go to his head, and never seemed to lose his curiosity. We *liked* Grant.
I can't imagine what his family and friends are going through. It seems incredibly unfair.