Friday, August 28, 2020
Chadwick Boseman Merges With the Infinite
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
Watch Party for Friday: The Monster Squad (1987)
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
Noir Watch: Journey Into Fear (1943)
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.
Forgot to Post Watch: Catwomen of the Moon (1953)
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
Watch Party Watch: Elvira - Mistress of the Dark (1988)
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|
Musical Watch: Sweet Charity (1969)
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.
The Signal Watch PodCast · 116: "The Straight Story" (1999) Plus - Interview with John Roach! Disney History w/ Nathan & Ryan
Laurens Walking - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Country Theme - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Playlist - Disney History w/ NathanC:
Regret Watch: Vibes (1988)
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?
Forgot to Mention It Watch: Barbarella (1968)
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.
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