Saturday, August 15, 2020

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Grease 2 (1982)

Watched:  08/14/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Patricia Birch

Well.  I didn't pick this movie because I thought it was good.  Lately Grease 2 has had a resurgence with people of a certain age thinking because they watched it as kids and liked it, it is a good movie.  That is the Space Jam Fallacy talking.  Grease 2 is not good.  And unnecessary.


  • Michelle Pfeiffer exists/ "dances"
  • Tab Hunter having a good time
  • Connie Stevens
  • the *other* movie I've seen featuring Maureen Teefy
  • Gave young me some very wrong ideas about how high school was going to work
  • Pool water disintegrates tuffs and their motorcycles

Anyway, we watched this thing.  A good time was had.

Ann Miller Watch: The Opposite Sex (1956)

Watched:  08/15/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  so very 1950's
Director:  David Miller

This is essentially a remake of The Women (1939), still rightfully hailed as a Hollywood classic. 

I dunno.  The Opposite Sex (1956) is somehow more dated than its 1939 counterpart, although both take place in Manhattan's society page sort of environment.  The real reason to watch this one is probably to see a movie so chock full of "oh, wow, she's in this" actresses of the era.

Ann Miller
Joan Collins
Dolores Gray
Ann Sheridan
Agnes Moorehead
Joan Blondell
Alice Pearce
June Allyson

and two of the main dudes in the movie are Leslie Nielsen (back when he was straight leading man material) and a favorite around here: Sam Levene.

I don't think *any* men appear in The Women, they're just discussed.  And it's arguable both films fail the Bechdel Test, despite the female centric casts- but they do give a curious bit of insight into the topsy turvy world of wealthy women dependent on men, alimony, and bouncing back over and over - in both good and mercenary ways.

Frankly, it doesn't make anyone look *great*, but it is silly and dishy, and goes by fast.

I didn't particularly like this movie, but Ann Miller looked stellar.  But she wasn't in it enough for my dollar, so.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Friday - Amazon Watch Party: GREASE 2

Day:  08/14/2020
Time:  8:30 PM Central
Amazon Watch Party Link is here

No movie with Michelle Pfeiffer is all that bad.  But Grease 2 isn't all that good, either.

If you were looking for the further adventures of Danny and Sandy and how things worked out for them - well, tough nuts.  Laura says they died.  So, instead, we get a different group of kids a year or so later at dear old Rydell High!  Want to see Rizzo and Kanicki?  TOUGH.  We have... Goose and... I dunno.

But the movie has Christopher McDonald and Adrian Zmed!

It's all of the rough plot of Grease with none of the music you liked, a lot you won't, and a lot of returning teachers and principals.

Forewarning: we will cut you if you say anything negative about Eve Arden.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Doc Watch: Howard (2018)

Watched:  08/10/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Don Hahn

Let me start by saying: in a lot of ways Disney+ is much better than I ever expected.  I've enjoyed the Disney "from the vaults" content, catching new material, behind the scenes at parks, movies, etc... with One Day at Disney and two series - one on the making of The Mandalorian and an exceptional doc series on the making of Frozen 2

And, of course, then the release of Hamilton.  I haven't watched Black is King yet, but that's a pretty big line in the sand for the Disney brand to put out on their flagship, no-doubt-this-is-Disney streaming service when Disney has usually just avoided anything that invites cultural critique.*

But Disney+ putting a doc about Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of complications from AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and being honest and open about his sexuality and struggle with the disease, is... kind of mind-blowing.  There's something about the platform of their own streaming service and that you've already paid your money to have it that seems to have freed up the Disney Corp to tell some stories well worth telling I don't know we'd see if they didn't have this avenue.

The doc, itself, is the life story of Howard Ashman who - paired with Alan Menken - wrote the musical numbers for Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  He also wrote and originally produced Little Shop of Horrors - which was his big breakout hit off-Broadway. 

It's really a pretty great story, well told, and has the heart-breaking knowledge of what happened to Ashman in the back of your head.  And, sadly, the fact he was the musical partner of Menken and that he died of AIDS was all I'd known about him until watching the doc. 

I don't want to get into details too much, but as loving as it is, it isn't shy about who Howard Ashman was and doesn't make him into a saint - while illustrating pretty clearly what sort of mind he had that helped push the Disney cartoon back into prestige territory (and why Disney was flailing at the time he showed up).

For fans of animation, musical theater, or Disney-history - well worth the viewing. 

*Disney tends to get lambasted no matter what they do, and I've stood there and listened to lines of people parrot back the criticisms of Aladdin, Lion King and Little Mermaid during 3 summers at The Disney Store.  I would invariably listen and then say "well, I make $4.50 an hour working here and while I'll tell my manager...  really, your best bet is writing the studio in California."

Musical Watch: Guys and Dolls (1955)

Watched:  08/09/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Third?
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Joseph L. Mankiewicz

This movie is so kooky.  Dancing hoods and a singing Marlon Brando.  Big, expensive sets, extravagant costuming, and a cast out of central casting who all seem game. 

It's got maybe one of the dopiest stories in a genre that includes @#$%ing Brigadoon, but the off-kilter dialog, the surreal scene-design and catchy numbers (half of which you already know even if you never saw the play or movie) are all very winning. 

I like some parts of it more and some parts of it less - I think Sinatra is genuinely funny in the movie.  I am not in love with the ear-piercing voice Blaine effects, but find her character endearing.  I am deeply jealous of how good Brando looks in a suit.  Jean Simmons is, as always, lovely and can act!

But if you're looking for some fluff, it's some quality fluff.  And get ready for some dynamic dance sequences there in the sewer sequence.

Ann Miller Watch: Hit the Deck (1955) and Reveille with Beverly (1943) and The Great American Pastime (1956)

shut the hell up, Tom Ewell

Watched: 08/8 (HtD), 08/9 (RwB), 8/11 (GAP)
Format:  Ann Miller Day of TCM
Viewing:  First for all 3
Decade:  1950's, 1940's

Look, I've been clear about the whole Ann Miller thing, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

It's August, and therefore "Summer Under the Stars" time on TCM, which means 24 hours of movies from one actor each day all month.  And this last week featured Ann Miller day, and here we all are.

Three very different movies.

Hit the Deck (1955) is pretty clearly a "I like Guys and Dolls" and "wow, was On the Town a decent movie" mash-up.  I dunno.  It was fine.  Little Debbie Reynolds is cute as a button.  Ann Miller got a couple of numbers.  It's okay.  It has a lot of deeply sexist set-up that kind of unravels in a pleasant way and has a great few numbers by the women in the movie.  And it's always great to see Russ Tamblyn.  And I need to look into this Kay Armen.  She was terrific.

Reveille with Beverly (1943) is war-time spirit-boosting propaganda and was one of the movies that was essentially an excuse to do a musical variety show with everyone from Duke Ellington to Bob Crosby.  Ann Miller plays a feisty and insanely perky radio host.  The film, however, ends on a very strange pivot as they remind you, all the soldiers are going off to war - and it was this odd, incredibly sad transition, with Beverly still in her show costume watching them go.

The Great American Pastime (1956) is a post-war movie trying to recapture some of the magic of Seven-Year Itch and reminding me "I don't particularly care for Tom Ewell".   What could have been a Bad News Bears instead is kind of a sitcom dad who seems oblivious to the fact he's married to Anne Francis and that Anne Francis has decided Ann Miller is a sexual threat (she is not, which...  I mean).  Anyway - the movie felt really under-written and I kind of hated the way they wrote Tom Ewell's son.  Seemed like a dopey ingrate.

But Ann Miller looked great in all of these movies.  So.

Greatest Movie Ever Made Watch: Airplane! (1980)

Watched:  08/07/2020
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  Man, who knows?
Decade:  1980's
Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker

I have never not enjoyed watching Airplane!  (1980).  Yes, it's jokes are dated, there's a flavor of what would now be considered low-key racism and punching down at some people.  But, goddammit, Airplane! is, minute by minute, *trying*.  It doesn't have some message that drives the movie off cliff as it gives us some low-rent stakes (thanks, Jud Apatow, for giving us two decades of movies about guys all learning the same lessons over and over).  The only stakes in Airplane are dumb and don't matter - the plot there so we have a reason to do the gags.

Heck, the movie doesn't really care if the leads are "likeable" - it's beside the point.  But they are, and Julie Haggerty doesn't get the credit she deserves.  A lot of the humor isn't "gentle".  Personally, I find the line-up of people waiting to calm the passenger in hysterics to be a nigh-perfect visual.

And, of course, Leslie Nielsen is at his best here.

Anyway.  Airplane! is the finest in film comedy and I won't tolerate dissent on this subject.

Monday, August 10, 2020

PodCast: 114 "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) - A Bond PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched: 07/30/2020
Format: BluRay
Viewing: Unknown
Decade: 1970's
Director: Lewis Gilbert

For more ways to listen

It's Roger Moore, and nobody does it better! One of the biggest-scale Bond movies, with some great villains, a terrific romance and cool-as-hell gadgets! What's not to like about this one? SimonUK and Ryan discuss a Bond movie that may be at sea, but is never adrift. Plus - Ryan gets to talk about Caroline Munro for a bit.


Nobody Does it Better - Carly Simon (like you didn't know)


Caroline Munro is here to remind you that just because you're trying to kill people doesn't mean you can't look your best

Watch Party Watch: Cherry 2000 (1980-something)

Watched:  08/07/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Steve De Jarnatt